Judges 18:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 18:17, NIV: The five men who had spied out the land went inside and took the idol, the ephod and the household gods while the priest and the six hundred armed men stood at the entrance of the gate.

Judges 18:17, ESV: And the five men who had gone to scout out the land went up and entered and took the carved image, the ephod, the household gods, and the metal image, while the priest stood by the entrance of the gate with the 600 men armed with weapons of war.

Judges 18:17, KJV: And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in thither, and took the graven image, and the ephod, and the teraphim, and the molten image: and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men that were appointed with weapons of war.

Judges 18:17, NASB: Now the five men who went to spy out the land went up and entered there; they took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the cast metal image, while the priest was standing at the entrance of the gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war.

Judges 18:17, NLT: the five scouts entered the shrine and removed the carved image, the sacred ephod, the household idols, and the cast idol. Meanwhile, the priest was standing at the gate with the 600 armed warriors.

Judges 18:17, CSB: Then the five men who had gone to scout out the land went in and took the carved image, the ephod, the household idols, and the silver idol, while the priest was standing by the entrance of the city gate with the six hundred men armed with weapons of war.

What does Judges 18:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

With a small army of armed warriors standing at the gate to Micah's property (Judges 17:1–5; 18:16), the five scouts from Dan (Judges 18:1–6) do what they have come to do. On their first visit, they stopped here before investigating the northern town of Laish. Before arriving there, they noted Micah's extensive collection of expensive religious objects (Judges 18:14–15). Now they have returned to scoop up these items to take for their own.

The book of Judges notes often that Israel was without a king at this time (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). That was literally true; there was no central government or monarchy yet. Yet it also echoed Israel's deep spiritual anarchy. They rejected the will of their One True God, and depravity was the result. In this case, the army coming from Dan is committing theft (Exodus 20:15), but the theft is motivated by an even worse impulse: idolatry. That was among the main reasons God to repeatedly handed Israel over to subjection under their enemies (Judges 2:16–19).

Both Micah and the Danite spies believed these physical objects offered spiritual power to whomever possessed and worshipped them. In some cases, they believed that power to come from Yahweh: the God of Israel. For others, the power was believed to come from the other deities worshipped by the local nations (Deuteronomy 12:29–32). They had enough generic belief to accept the reality of supernatural power helping humanity in some way. They did not have true, submissive, faith leading them to trust the Lord. They did not remember or obey the commands He had given to them through Moses.

If these people respected any aspect of Yahweh's revelation, they would have known His command not to make religious images for use in worship, even for worshiping Him (Exodus 20:4–5). They would have remembered how seriously the Lord condemned even the suggestion of serving other gods (Deuteronomy 13:6). Instead, the army marching from Dan is more than happy to steal from Micah. They will take objects and idols, and soon a priest (Judges 18:18–20), since they believe these will bring them supernatural help.