Judges 18:6: The Demonic Oracle

Verse 6:[1] And the priest said unto them, (1 Kings 22:6) Go in peace: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go.


Itching Ears

[Go in peace [thus most interpreters], לְכ֣וּ לְשָׁל֑וֹם] Go out to peace (Jonathan). Go according according to, or in pursuance of, peace (Piscator).


[The Lord hath regard unto your way, נֹ֣כַח יְהוָ֔ה דַּרְכְּכֶ֖ם[2]] Before the Lord is your way (Septuagint, Pagnine, Piscator, English), or, your journey (Junius and Tremellius, Munster). The Lord shall dispose (shall direct [Munster], shall prosper [Arabic]) your journey (Syriac). He is present to your journey (Tigurinus). It is a Hebraism: God regards, that is, He favors your travelling (Vatablus). God purposed to prosper their journey. He misuses the Tetragrammaton, since he is an idolater, at least in part. That is to say, The Lord goes before you, and will be a help to you (Drusius). He calls his idol, or Teraphim, the Lord: for he was a priest of this (Lapide, Bonfrerius). Moreover, either the Levite feigned a response returned to him (Bonfrerius, Lapide); what he knew to be pleasing to them he spoke, so that he might gratify them (Menochius, similarly Lyra): or the idol actually gave the response; which is easily able to be believed (Bonfrerius). The idol spoke, or from another perspective it responded by a ploy of the Devil (Menochius). At the same time, God permitted the Demons to foretell a truth (Drusius). He permits them to give responses to idolaters, because by reason of their ill will they are pleased thus to be encouraged in their errors: and such responses are sometimes true (Lyra). And all things actually happened according the sense that they were desiring. But matters are not to be evaluated based on the event or success, neither thence is it rightly gathered that our affairs please God. But God acts in this manner, because He tries whether we love Him, Deuteronomy 13. See also 2 Thessalonians 2 (Martyr). You might thus translate the Hebrew verbatim, the Direction of JHVH is your way, that is, He shall direct your way; or, the Rectitude of JHVH is your way, that is, it is right before the Lord.[3] Some render it, JHVH meets your way: A two-faced word that is able to be taken in a good and bad sense; as the oracles of the gods [I would prefer he had said Demons] were ambiguous (Malvenda).



Your way, that is, your journey or design, is under the eye of God, that is, under his care, and protection, and direction, which the eye of God being upon a person commonly notes in Scripture, as Psalm 32:8; 34:15. Compare Jeremiah 39:12;[4] 40:4.[5] So the phrase is here taken in a restrained sense, which is elsewhere taken more largely, as Proverbs 5:21. This answer he either feigns to gratify their humour, or did indeed receive from the devil, who transformed himself into an angel of light, and in God’s name gave them answers, and those not seldom very true, which God suffered for the trial of his people. See Deuteronomy 13:1-3. But it is observable, that his answer was, as the devil’s oracles usually were, ambiguous, and such as might have been interpreted either way, as they had success or disappointment.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֧אמֶר לָהֶ֛ם הַכֹּהֵ֖ן לְכ֣וּ לְשָׁל֑וֹם נֹ֣כַח יְהוָ֔ה דַּרְכְּכֶ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר תֵּֽלְכוּ־בָֽהּ׃


[2] נֹכַח signifies in front of.


[3] נָכֹחַ signifies straight, or right.


[4] Jeremiah 39:12: “Take him, and look well to him (וְעֵינֶ֙יךָ֙ שִׂ֣ים עָלָ֔יו, set thine eye upon him), and do him no harm; but do unto him even as he shall say unto thee.”


[5] Jeremiah 40:4: “And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee (וְאָשִׂ֤ים אֶת־עֵינִי֙ עָלֶ֔יךָ, and I will set mine eye upon thee)…”

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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