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nying it, were enough for their purpose. Leading the way, the rest following, they soon came to the gate of Micah's residence. Here they were met by the young Levite, whom they accosted with the usual friendly salutations, and, leaving him with the six hundred armed men, they entered the house. No time was lost in gaining access to the sanctuary, which they spoiled of its sacred articles, carrying them out to the party at the gate. On being asked by the priest what all this meant, they commanded him to make no re. sistance or noise, informing him that their design was to have him accompany them to the place of their destination, and be to them “a father and a priest.” “Is it better,” said they, “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 l’” The Levite was eager to accept the proposal. He seems to have been an aspiring young man, anxious to promote his own interests and advancement in the world, with little or no regard to the means he might employ to accomplish his ends. New hopes now inspired his ambition; and bearing the ephod and other articles, he took his station in the centre of the band, as the place of the greatest security should Micah and his friends attempt an attack. It may have been done, too, in imitation of the order in which the Israelites marched through the wilderness, the ark and the priests being in the middle of the procession. The whole party were soon on their way; having arrayed the children, the cattle and the baggage in front, the rear being the part exposed to danger, should pursuit be made. They had advanced some considerable distance, when they were overtaken by Micah and a collection of his neighbors and friends, who began to reproach them for what they had been doing. “What aileth thee,” was the reply of the Danites, “ that thou comest with such a company t” “Ye have taken away my gods which I made,” said Micah, “and the priest, and ye are gone away: and what have I more 1 and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee T’’ The answer was such as might have been expected, “Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy household.” The threat had its effect. Micah saw that their force was powerful enough to carry it easily into execution, and turning back with his party, went again to his home. The Danites, exulting in the success of their "roject, kept on their course, and came, at length, to Laish. They found the people unsuspicious of danger, and without the means of defence, and rushing unexpectedly upon the city, destroyed it with fire, putting the inhabitants to death. They soon, however, rebuilt it, and gave it the name of Dam. It afterwards became remarkable as one of the eartremities of the promised land at the northern limit, as Beersheba was at the southern ; so that the whole extent of the Jewish territory, in that direction, was usually described by the expression, “From Dan to Beersheba.” The graven image which they brought with them, was set up by the Danites in their newlyestablished city, and the young Levite continued to be their priest. His descendants officiated in that capacity after him, during the whole time that the true tabernacle and altar were standing at Shiloh, and probably until the captivity of the ten tribes by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria. Thus was idolatry first introduced among the Israelites. The tribe and city of Dan must bear the reproach of giving rise to it. From them it was spread, from time to time, throughout nearly the whole nation, and drew down upon this disobedient and covenant-breaking people the severest judgments of the Almighty. We wonder at such infatuation. The worshipping of idols, the workmanship of men's hands, seems to us the height of folly. It is a sin into which we think we can never be so brutish as to fall. But in what consists the sin of idolatry It is in having other gods before the true Jehovah. It is the not yielding to him the supreme love and homage of our hearts. It is the love of something else in the place of God.
My young friend, has nothing usurped the place of God in your affections ! Have you no idol, which, if you do not bow the knee before it, and offer it your prayers, you still make the object of your supreme regard?
Treatment of the Levites’ concubine at Gibeah. Determination of the Israelites to redress his wrongs.
Some other events which occurred about this time, and before the Judges began to exercise their authority, serve to cast additional light upon the state of society among the Israelites, and to show that immorality and crime, as well as idolatrous practices, were making rapid progress in the nation. We shall see in them, also, a striking illustration of what enormities will take place when men are left to act without the salutary restraints of government, both divine and human.
These events, it is true, are of the most odious and appalling kind. But God himself has made the recital of them, in the revelation of his will, a part of the instructions which he designs for our benefit; and with his fear before us, and invoking his Spirit to dispose our minds to suitable thoughts and feelings, we will proceed in the narrative.
There was a Levite, residing at Mount Ephraim, who had a wife of the second rank, (called in the Scriptures a concubine,) from Beth-lehem-judah. Her conduct was wholly inconsistent with the duty which she owed her husband, and of the most licentious kind. She soon left his house, and went to that of her father, perhaps ashamed of the course that she had pursued, and intending to reform. This would seem to be the case, from the fact that, four months afterwards, her husband went to Beth-lehem-judah, to persuade her, in the kindest manner, to return, which she consented to do.
Her father was greatly rejoiced at the reconciliation, and it was not until the fifth day that the Levite and his wife could withdraw from his hospitality, and commence their homeward journey. He pressed his claims for their continuance at his house with so much urgency from day to day, that they had, at length, to force themselves away, and the evening was drawing nigh as they left his door.