Verse 30. "The children of Dan set up the graven image" - They erected a chapel, or temple, among themselves, as Micah had done before; having the same implements and the same priest.
"And Jonathan the son of Gershom" - Either this was the name of the young Levite; or they had turned him off, and got this Jonathan in his place.
"The son Manasseh" - Who this Manasseh was, none can tell; nor does the reading appear to be genuine. He could not be Manasseh the son of Joseph, for he had no son called Gershom nor could it be Manasseh king of Israel, for he lived eight hundred years afterwards. Instead of hnm Manasseh, the word should be read hm Mosheh, MOSES, as it is found in some MSS., in the Vulgate, and in the concessions of the most intelligent Jews. The Jews, as R. D. Kimchi acknowledges, have suspended the letter: n nun, over the word hm , thus, n hm which, by the addition of the points, they have changed into MANASSEH, because they think it would be a great reproach to their legislator to have had a grandson who was an idolater. That Gershom the son of Moses is here intended, is very probable. See the arguments urged by Dr. Kennicott, Dissertation I., p. 55, &c.; and see the Var. Lect. of Deuteronomy Rossi on this place.
"Until the day of the captivity of the land." - Calmet observes, "The posterity of this Jonathan executed the office of priest in the city of Dan, all the time that the idol of Micah (the teraphim, ephod, &c.) was there.
But this was only while the house of the Lord was at Shiloh; and, consequently, the sons of Jonathan were priests at Dan only till the time in which the ark was taken by the Philistines, which was the last year of Eli, the high priest; for after that the ark no more returned to Shiloh." This is evident; and on this very ground Houbigant contends that, instead of Årah haarets, the LAND, we should read rah haaron, the ARK; for nothing is easier than the w vau and final nun to be mistaken for the Å final tsade, which is the only difference between the captivity of the LAND and the captivity of the ARK. And this conjecture is the more likely, because the next verse tells us that Micah's graven image, &c., continued at Dan all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh; which was, till the ark was taken by the Philistines. Those who wish to see more on this subject may consult Calmet, and the writers in Pool's Synopsis. This chapter is an important supplement to the conclusion of the 19th chapter of Joshua, on which it casts considerable light. THE Danites were properly the first dissenters from the public established worship of the Jews; but they seem to have departed as little as possible from the Jewish forms, their worship being conducted in the same way, but not in the same place. Surely it was better to have had this, allowing it to be unconstitutional worship, than to have been wholly destitute of the ordinances of God. I think we have not sufficient ground from the text to call these persons idolaters; I believe they worshipped the true God according to their light and circumstances, from a conviction that they could not prosper without his approbation, and that they could not expect that approbation if they did not offer to him a religious worship. They endeavoured to please him, though the means they adopted were not the most proper.