Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
jdg 18:1Those days - Not long after Joshua's death. The tribe - A part of that tribe, consisting only of six hundred men of war, with their families, Jdg 18:16, Jdg 18:21. Inheritance - The lot had fallen to them before this time, but not the actual possession, because the Philistines and Amorites opposed them.
jdg 18:2There - Not in the same house, but near it.
jdg 18:3Knew - By the acquaintance which some of them formerly had with him.
jdg 18:5Ask - By thine Ephod, and Teraphim, or images, which they knew he had, Jdg 18:14.
jdg 18:6Before the Lord - That is, your design is under the eye of God; that is, under his care, protection and direction. This answer he either feigns to gratify their humour; or, did indeed receive from the devil, who transformed himself into an angel of light, and in God's name gave him answers, and those not sometimes very true, which God suffered for the trial of his people. But it is observable, his answer was, as the devil's oracles usually were, ambiguous, and such as might have been interpreted either way.
jdg 18:7Manner of the Zidonians - Who living in a very strong place, and abounding in wealth, and perceiving that the Israelites never attempted anything against them, were grown secure and careless. Put to shame - Or, that might rebuke or punish any thing, that is, any crime. Putting to shame seems to be used for inflicting civil punishment, because shame is generally the effect of it. Zidonians - Who otherwise could have succoured them, and would have been ready to do it. No business - No league or confederacy, nor much converse with other cities, it being in a pleasant and plentiful soil, between the two rivulets of Jor and Dan, not needing supplies from others, and therefore minding only their own ease and pleasure.
jdg 18:10Given - This they gather partly from God's promise which they supposed they had from the Levite's mouth; and partly from his providence, which had so disposed them, that they would be an easy prey.
jdg 18:12Mahaneh - dan - That is, the camp of Dan.
jdg 18:13To the house - That is, to the town in which his house was, for they were not yet entered into it.
jdg 18:14Answered - That is, spake, the word answering being often used in scripture of the first speaker. These houses - That is, in one of these houses. What to do - Whether it be not expedient to take them for your farther use.
jdg 18:17Thither - Into the house, and that part of it, where those things were. The gate - Whither they had drawn him forth, that they might without noise or hindrance take them away.
jdg 18:18These - The five men.
jdg 18:19Lay thy hand - That is, be silent. A family - Namely, a tribe, that is, a family.
jdg 18:20Was glad - Being wholly governed by his own interest. The midst - Both for the greater security of such precious things, and that Micah might not be able to come at him, to injure or upbraid him; and, it may be, because that was the place where the ark used to be carried.
jdg 18:21Before them - For their greater security, if Micah should pursue them.
jdg 18:24I made - So far was he besotted with superstition and idolatry, that he esteemed those gods, which were man's work. But he could not be so stupid, as to think these were indeed the great Jehovah that made heaven and earth; but only a lower sort of gods, by whom, as mediators, he offered up his worship to the true God, as divers of the Heathen did. What have I - I value nothing I have in comparison of what you have taken away. Which zeal for idolatrous trash may shame multitudes that call themselves Christians, and yet value their worldly conveniences more than all the concerns of their own salvation. Is Micah thus fond of his false gods? And how ought we to be affected toward the true God? Let us reckon our communion with God our greatest gain; and the loss of God the sorest loss. Wo unto us, if He depart! For what have we more.
jdg 18:25Thy voice - Thy complaints and reproaches. Angry fellows - The soldiers, who are in themselves sharp and fierce, and will soon be enflamed by thy provoking words. Thy Life - Which, not withstanding all thy pretences, thou dost value more than thy images.
jdg 18:27Burnt - Not wholly, but in great measure, to make their conquest more easy.
jdg 18:28And they built a city - That is, rebuilt it.
jdg 18:29Of Dan - That it might be manifest, that they belonged to the tribe of Dan, though they were seated at a great distance from them, in the most northerly part of the land; whereas the lot of their tribe was in the southern part of Canaan.
jdg 18:30Image - Having succeeded in their expedition according to the prediction which, as they supposed, they had from this image, they had a great veneration for it. The captivity - When the whole land of the ten tribes, whereof Dan was one, was conquered, and the people carried captive by the Assyrian, Kg2 17:6, Kg2 17:23, which is called by way of eminency, the captivity. It is not said, that the graven image was there so long, for that is restrained to a shorter date, even to the continuance of the ark in Shiloh, Jdg 18:31, which was removed thence, Sa1 4:3-5. But only that Jonathan's posterity, (so his name is at last mentioned) were priests to this tribe or family of Dan, which they might be under all the changes, even 'till the Assyrian captivity, sometimes more openly, sometimes more secretly, sometimes in one way of idolatry, and sometimes in another.