Judges 18:30

30 The Danites set up the god-figure for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his descendants were priests to the tribe of Dan down to the time of the land's captivity.

Judges 18:30 Meaning and Commentary

Judges 18:30

And the children of Dan set up the graven image
In their new city Dan, and very probably had a house built for it, peculiar to it, in the same place where Jeroboam, in later times, set up one of his golden calves. The Danites having succeeded, according to the oracle in Micah's house, they had a very great veneration for the images they brought away with them from thence, and set them up for religious worship in a proper place; for though only mention is made of the graven image, yet no doubt the molten image, and the teraphim, with the ephod, were all placed together for devotion and consultation:

and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons
were priests to the tribe of Dan:
not to the whole tribe, but to that part of it which resided in this city, called Dan; and this Jonathan seems to be no other than the Levite Micah took into his house, and made a priest of; and whom the Danites took with them to Laish, to be their priest, who is said to be the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh: now Gershom was the son of Moses, and this man is thought by some to be a grandson of his; and with this agrees the time in which he lived, for as Phinehas the grandson of Aaron was now living, ( Judges 20:28 ) so might a grandson of Moses; and though he is called a young man, he might be a younger son of Gershom's; nor is his being a Levite any objection, since it is a clear case that Moses made no provision for his family, so disinterested was he, which may be observed against the deists: and it is remarkable that the "nun", or "N" in Manasseh, is suspended over the other letters in our printed copies of the Hebrew Bible, and so without it may be read, Moses; and the Jews F3 have a notion, that this was done for the honour of Moses, and to observe that he was more like a son of Manasseh than of Moses; though rather this being the first letter of (hvn) , "to forget", may suggest, as Alting F4 observes, that he had forgot the virtues of his grandfather; and the Vulgate Latin version reads, the son of Moses; and some F5 are of opinion that this is the true reading of the text; though it may be that another Gershom than the son of Moses, and another Manasseh we know nothing of, are here intended, so Marcus Marinus F6: however, this man, and his sons in succession after him, were priests in Dan,

until the day of the captivity of the land;
not till the captivity of Sennacherib or Salmaneser, when Dan, with the rest of the ten tribes, were carried captives, as Jarchi; for this idolatry, and these idolatrous priests, can hardly be thought to be continued here through the times of Samuel, David, and Solomon: nor is it to be understood of the captivity of Israel by Jabin king of Canaan, as Ben Gersom; for as the other is too long a time, this is too short, since it is clear, by the next verse, that this idolatry continued all the time the house of God was at Shiloh; and which directs us to the captivity here spoken of, when the ark was carried captive by the Philistines, and the house of Shiloh was forsaken; which is the sense of Kimchi, R. Isaiah, and Abarbinel; and may be illustrated and confirmed by some passages in ( Psalms 78:58-61 ) .


F3 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 109. 2.
F4 Shiloh, l. 4. c. 28. p. 334.
F5 See Dr. Kennicott's Dissertation 2. p. 51
F6 Apud Glassium in Philolog. Sacr. l. 1. tract. 1. sect. 2.

Judges 18:30 In-Context

28 There was no one around to help. They were a long way from Sidon and had no treaty with the Arameans. Laish was in the valley of Beth Rehob.
29 When they rebuilt the city they renamed it Dan after their ancestor who was a son of Israel, but its original name was Laish.
30 The Danites set up the god-figure for themselves. Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his descendants were priests to the tribe of Dan down to the time of the land's captivity.
31 All during the time that there was a sanctuary of God in Shiloh, they kept for their private use the god-figure that Micah had made.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.