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Judges 18:2: Five Danite Explorers Commissioned

Verse 2:[1] And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men (Heb. sons[2]) of valour, from (Judg. 13:25) Zorah, and from Eshtaol, (Num. 13:17; Josh. 2:4) to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to the (Judg. 17:1) house of Micah, they lodged there.

Of their family; which shows that it was but one, though a large family, which was engaged in this expedition.

[Five men, etc., חֲמִשָּׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֣ים מִקְצוֹתָם֩] Five men of their extremity. The same expression is found in Genesis 47:2[3] (Munster). [Some take it of the lowest sort;] the meanest of their soldiers: they were sending such so that they might more readily deceive (Castalio). Objection: What follows refutes this sense, sons of war, or of fortitude (Munster). Response: Those called בְּנֵי־חַיִל, sons of might, are not always mighty, but soldiers, as it is evident from any passages in Numbers, and in 2 Samuel 17 (Castalio). [Others, of the foremost men, or nobles, of the people.] Thus the Spanish interpreter. Thus they take 1 Kings 12:31[4] (Malvenda). It is not taken for the lower sort, but for the extremity of those that hold a high degree. And the מ/Mem here is not a preposition, since the Dagesh (ּ) does not follow, but constitutes the denominative. But the Hebrews misuse this expression for a certain or some one, since the extremity is a part in something whole and entire (Munster). Others translate it, men of the borders (cities [Dutch], parts [Jonathan]) of them (Pagnine, Montanus, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, English).

[The bravest, בְּנֵי־חַיִל] Sons of strength (Septuagint, Jonathan, Vatablus), or, of activity (Piscator); mighty sons (Pagnine, Tigurinus, Vatablus); men trained for military service (Munster).

Eshtaol; of which see Joshua 19:41; Judges 13:2, 25.

[So that they might spy out, לְרַגֵּל[5]] To explore on foot (Montanus).

[And so that they might diligently inspect, וּלְחָקְרָהּ] And so that they might thoroughly search, or, inspect (Vatablus). חָקַר signifies ἐξιχνιάζειν[6] (that is, to investigate) (Drusius).

[And they entered the house of Micah, עַד־בֵּ֣ית מִיכָ֔ה] They proceeded into the house of Micah (Arabic, thus Syriac). Others: all the way to the house of Micah (Pagnine, Montanus, Septuagint, Jonathan, Tigurinus, Drusius).

[They rested there] Not in the house, but in his neighborhood; perhaps in that village (Drusius).

They lodged there; not in the same house, but near it, as appears from the next verse, in a neighbouring place.

[1] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלְח֣וּ בְנֵי־דָ֣ן׀ מִֽמִּשְׁפַּחְתָּ֡ם חֲמִשָּׁ֣ה אֲנָשִׁ֣ים מִקְצוֹתָם֩ אֲנָשִׁ֙ים בְּנֵי־חַ֜יִל מִצָּרְעָ֣ה וּמֵֽאֶשְׁתָּאֹ֗ל לְרַגֵּ֤ל אֶת־הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ וּלְחָקְרָ֔הּ וַיֹּאמְר֣וּ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם לְכ֖וּ חִקְר֣וּ אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַיָּבֹ֤אוּ הַר־אֶפְרַ֙יִם֙ עַד־בֵּ֣ית מִיכָ֔ה וַיָּלִ֖ינוּ שָֽׁם׃

[2] Hebrew: בְּנֵי.

[3] Genesis 47:2: “And he took some of his brethren (וּמִקְצֵ֣ה אֶחָ֔יו לָקַ֖ח), even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.”

[4] 1 Kings 12:31: “And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the extremity of the people (מִקְצ֣וֹת הָעָ֔ם), which were not of the sons of Levi.”

[5] רָגַל, clearly related to רֶגֶל/foot, signifies to go about on foot, or to explore.

[6] Thus the Septuagint.

13 views3 comments


Yes, this was a good Hebrew exercise today. As far as Munster's argument regarding the "mem" I am uncertain. As far as I understand a denominative simply means "from the noun." The noun קְצוֹתָם֩ is clear and the מִ comes before, which makes sense; as to say "from the coasts." But perhaps I am missing something. Anybody else have any thoughts?


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Mar 20, 2019

Matthew Henry: 'The enquiry which this family of the Danites made concerning Laish: They sent five men to search the land (Judges 18:2), that they might know the character of the country, whether it was an inheritance worth going so far for, and the posture of the people, whether the making of themselves masters of it was a thing practicable, what force was necessary in order thereunto, and which was the best way of making an attack upon it. The men they sent were men of valour, who, if they fell into their enemies' hands, knew how to look danger in the face. It is prudent to look before we leap. Dan had the subtlety of a serpent by th…


Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
Mar 20, 2019

Hebrew: There is some good wholesome exercise for your Hebrew skills in this verse.

Note in particular Munster's argument that the מ/Mem in מִקְצוֹתָם֩ is not a preposition, but denominative. What do you think of his argument?

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