Judges 18:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Judges 18:19, NIV: They answered him, 'Be quiet! Don't say a word. Come with us, and be our father and priest. Isn't it better that you serve a tribe and clan in Israel as priest rather than just one man's household?'

Judges 18:19, ESV: And they said to him, “Keep quiet; put your hand on your mouth and come with us and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and clan in Israel?”

Judges 18:19, KJV: And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?

Judges 18:19, NASB: And they said to him, 'Be silent, put your hand over your mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?'

Judges 18:19, NLT: 'Be quiet and come with us,' they said. 'Be a father and priest to all of us. Isn't it better to be a priest for an entire tribe and clan of Israel than for the household of just one man?'

Judges 18:19, CSB: They told him, "Be quiet. Keep your mouth shut. Come with us and be a father and a priest to us. Is it better for you to be a priest for the house of one person or for you to be a priest for a tribe and family in Israel? "

What does Judges 18:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

With a small army of reinforcements outside (Judges 18:16–17), the five scouts of the tribe of Dan are looting Micah's house shrine (Judges 17:1–5). They are taking all his religious artifacts, wrongly believing those objects will give them some supernatural advantage in their quest for a new homeland (Judges 18:1).

Micah's hired family cleric has finally questioned them, asking what they are doing (Judges 18:18). The Danites respond harshly, saying something like the modern English expression "shut up!" or "keep your mouth shut!" They might be trying to make the robbery quick and quiet.

Their response doesn't end there, however. The Danites also tell the Levite (Judges 17:13) to come with them. They want him to be their spiritual leader and the priest of their tribe. From their perspective, it's more prestigious to be the priest of an entire clan, instead of just one family. These opportunistic scouts are excited about this young Levite man for the same reasons as Micah. They superstitiously believe Levites had a special connection to the Lord. Surely, they thought, the God of Israel would bless a family who employed a Levite priest to see to all their religious needs.

It's true that God designated the tribe of Levi as the only suitable priests (Numbers 3:5–10). Yet this did not mean every Levite, by mere virtue of birth, had supernatural access to the Lord's endorsement. This was especially the case for those who had obviously stopped obeying the Lord's commands. This Levite had been all too happy to receive money and a home (Judges 17:7–12) for helping a family commit crass idol worship (Exodus 20:1–5). Rather than steering them towards truth, he cynically took their money and told them what they wanted to hear.

Many centuries later, Jesus would pronounce a series of "woes" against Israel's religious leaders. In Matthew 23, He called them hypocrites and blind guides. This was a well-deserved condemnation for all the ways they served themselves and failed to lead God's people to understand who He was and what He wanted.