Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
This identity of locality with the scene of Samson's birth and death indicates that both narratives are drawn from the same source, probably the annals of the tribe of Dan.
It does not follow that they had known him before, and recognized his voice, though it may be so. But the Hebrew equally bears the sense that they heard the voice of the Levite; and, attracted by it, went into the chapel Jdg 18:18 where Jonathan was. They were probably just starting on their journey, but were still within the court or precincts of Micah's house. Micah had evidently not told them of his house of God, and his Levite. Their questions indicate surprise.
The sight of the ephod and teraphim suggested the notion of inquiring of God.
Before the Lord ... - i. e. He looks favorably upon it. (Compare Ezr 8:21-22.)
Laish - Afterward called "Dan" Jdg 18:29. The exact site has not been identified, but it was the northern extremity of Israel, near the sources of the Jordan, and about four miles from Panium, or Caesarea-Philippi. It is thought to have stood where the village Tell-el-Kadi now stands.
After the manner of the Zidonians - The genius of the Zidonians being mechanical and commercial, not military, their colonists were apt to neglect fortifications and similar warlike precautions. In Solomon's time the Zidonians were especially skillful in hewing timber Kg1 5:6; Ch1 22:4, and it is highly probable, from their proximity to Lebanon, that such was the occupation of the men of Laish.
Quiet and secure ... - This is a very obscure and difficult passage. Translate thus: "Quiet and secure, and none of them doing any injury in the land, possessing wealth," or "dominion."
Kurjath-jearim - "City of forests," otherwise called "Kirjath-Baal" (marginal reference.), identified by Robinson with the modern "Kurit-el-Enab," on the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem and by Conder with Soba.
In these houses - This agrees with what we saw at Jdg 18:2-3 that the "house of God" and Jonathan's house were detached from Micah's. There were other houses besides Jdg 18:22. The whole settlement was probably called Beth-Micah, contained in one court, and entered by one gate Jdg 18:16.
The five went back to Micah's chapel (Micah's house, Jdg 18:18) and took the ephod, teraphim, etc., and brought them to the gate where the priest was talking to the 600 men.
And put the little ones, etc., before them - They expected a pursuit from Micah's people, and arranged their order of march accordingly.
The carriage - Rather, "the valuables." Some interpret it "the heavy baggage."
Were gathered together - literally, "were called together." The men, who were all Micah's workmen, were probably in the fields with their master at the time of the robbery. When the women saw what was done they gave the alarm, and Micah called the men together as quickly as possible, and pursued the Danites and overtook them.
The things which Micah had made - Rather, from Jdg 18:24, "the gods which Micah had made." See Jdg 18:31; Deu 27:15; Exo 20:4.
Rehob (as Dan afterward) is mentioned as the northernmost point of the land of Canaan Num 13:21, and its position is defined with reference to the entering in of Hamath.
A city - Rather, "the" city. They rebuilt Laish, which they had burned down Jdg 18:29.
In the Hebrew text the name here rendered Manasseh is written MN)- SH. Without the "N" (nun) suspended over the line, the word may be read: Moses, whose son was Gershom Exo 2:22, whose son or descendant Jonathan clearly was. The Masoretes, probably grieved that a descendant of Moses should have been implicated in idolatrous worship, adopted this expedient for disguising the fact without absolutely falsifying the text. The Vulgate has "Moses", the Septuagint "Manasses".
These verses seem to tell us that Jonathan's descendants were priests to the tribe of Dan until the captivity Kg2 15:29; Kg2 17:6; and that the graven image was in their custody until David's time, by whose order, perhaps, it was destroyed, though the idolatrous worship continued, or was revived, at Dan.