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Judges 18:19: "An Offer You Can't Refuse"

Verse 19:[1] And they said unto him, Hold thy peace, (Job 21:5; 29:9; 40:4; Prov. 30:32; Mic. 7:16) lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, (Judg. 17:10) 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?


[Be silent, and lay thy finger upon thy mouth[2]] The placing of a finger upon the mouth is a symbol of maintaining silence. Hence among the Romans, Angerona, the goddess of silence, with a finger moved to her mouth, prompts to silence. Similarly Harpocratess was wont to be depicted, the god of silence among the Egyptians. Hence, in Job 21:5, Attend me…and place your finger upon your mouth;[3] so also in Job 29:9.[4] It is wont to be said, hand to mouth, when we appoint silence upon someone. Such also is that, …restrain thy lip with thy finger[5] (Drusius).

Lay thy hand upon thy mouth, that is, be silent, as this phrase is used, Job 21:5; 29:9; 40:4; Proverbs 30:32. The same thing repeated in other words.

[That we might have thee as a father] Thus priests were wont to be called for the sake of honor, Judges 17:10. Thus from a private sacral it was made a tribal (Grotius).

A father and a priest: see on Judges 17:10.

[In one tribe and family] Hebrew: of a tribe (nation [Syriac]) and a family[6] (Montanus, Drusius, Pagnine, Tigurinus), or, a house (Septuagint), or, lineage (Jonathan). By tribe here it is necessary that some notable part of the Tribe be understood. For in this tribe sixty-four thousand were numbered, Numbers 26:43. Neither did all the Danites change their seat, since it is also certain that afterwards the Danites dwelt near the Philistines (Bonfrerius). In a tribe there are many families. Sometimes family is put in the place of tribe (Drusius).

A family in Israel, to wit, a tribe that is (and being oft put for that is) a family. For it is certain this was not an expedition of the whole tribe, which numbered sixty-four thousand men, Numbers 26:43, but only of one family, which it seems were more vexed with the Philistines or Amorites, and therefore resolved to seek new habitations at a great distance from them. And after this time we find the body of the Danites in their old and proper portions in Samson’s time, which, though placed before this, was long after it.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּאמְרוּ֩ ל֙וֹ הַחֲרֵ֜שׁ שִֽׂים־יָדְךָ֤ עַל־פִּ֙יךָ֙ וְלֵ֣ךְ עִמָּ֔נוּ וֶֽהְיֵה־לָ֖נוּ לְאָ֣ב וּלְכֹהֵ֑ן הֲט֣וֹב׀ הֱיוֹתְךָ֣ כֹהֵ֗ן לְבֵית֙ אִ֣ישׁ אֶחָ֔ד א֚וֹ הֱיוֹתְךָ֣ כֹהֵ֔ן לְשֵׁ֥בֶט וּלְמִשְׁפָּחָ֖ה בְּיִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃

[2] Hebrew: הַחֲרֵ֜שׁ שִֽׂים־יָדְךָ֤ עַל־פִּ֙יךָ֙.

[3] Thus the Vulgate. Job 21:5: “Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth (וְשִׂ֖ימוּ יָ֣ד עַל־פֶּֽה׃).”

[4] Job 29:9: “The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouthוְ֜כַ֗ף) יָשִׂ֥ימוּ לְפִיהֶֽם׃; et digitum superponebant ori suo, in the Vulgate).”

[5] Juvenal’s Satires 1.

[6] Hebrew: לְשֵׁ֥בֶט וּלְמִשְׁפָּחָ֖ה.

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