Whenever I read the book of Judges, I get to a certain point in the narrative where I stop and think I’m getting deja-vu. This is what happens when I start to read about the Danites, and the feeling usually starts when I read this verse from chapter 18.

In those days Israel had no king. And in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking a place of their own where they might settle, because they had not yet come into an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.

Judges 18:1 (NIV)

By the time I’m almost done, I know I’ve read about this before. Unless there are two cities named Dan.

They named it Dan after their ancestor Dan, who was born to Israel—though the city used to be called Laish.

Judges 18:29 NIV

The deja-vu comes from this verse in Joshua.

(When the territory of the Danites was lost to them, they went up and attacked Leshem, took it, put it to the sword and occupied it. They settled in Leshem and named it Dan after their ancestor.)

Joshua 19:47 (NIV)

The issue deals with the period of the events we read about in Judges 18 and this verse from Joshua. While there’s no author mentioned in Joshua, it’s believed that it was written by Joshua. The problem I have with Joshua 19:47 is that the same event is spoken of in Judges 18 when Joshua was dead, Israel had no king, and everyone did as they saw fit. The problem is exacerbated by the first verse in Judges 18 that tells us the Danites “had not yet come into an inheritance.” Well, that’s a problem because of what we read about the Danites in Joshua 19:48.

These towns and their villages were the inheritance of the tribe of Dan, according to its clans.

Joshua 19:48 (NIV)

The other problem is that we are told in Joshua 19:47 that the Danites attacked Leshem, but Judges 18:7 tells us the place they attacked was called Laish. The biggest problem is the problem of me. Apparently, I’ve been having this “crisis” for years, while never looking into it. I have no notes and no recollection of previously looking into these verses that have brought confusion to me for years! Hence, this devotion. 

It’s unlikely that I’ll come back to this devotion the next time I read Judges 18, which is why I did what I usually do and inserted notes into the Bible software I use. However, the Lord brought it to my attention that I might not be the only person to be confused about Judges 18. Hence, this devotion. 

Okay, now that I am done with my exceedingly long preamble, I can try and clear up any confusion by presenting what I’ve discovered. 

Understanding Joshua 19:47

First of all, we need to know that Joshua 19:47 was probably not written by Joshua. This verse will be surrounded by parentheses if you’re reading the NIV, Bible in Basic English (BBE), NET (New English Translation), or Berean Study Bible (BSB) version of the Bible. However, other versions won’t include parentheses. The parentheses indicate that this verse is a citation added later on. While only two versions include the parenthetical citation, several do use other indicators that the events of verse 47 happen later. However, our beloved King James does not. 

And the coast of the children of Dan went out too little for them: therefore the children of Dan went up to fight against Leshem, and took it, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and possessed it, and dwelt therein, and called Leshem, Dan, after the name of Dan their father.

Joshua 19:47 (KJV)

I’m not an expert in Old English. The indicator we get that this happened, later on, is the expression, “went out too little for them” which is poorly translated and would better read, “went beyond these” as we read in the New King James Version (NKJV). The meaning is the same. The Danites lost some territory. 

The other issue with Joshua 19:47 is the name of the city. It’s called Leshem in verse 47, but it’s called Laish in Judges. Only the Amplified version gives us both names in Joshua 19:47. 

Joshua 19:47 was added after Joshua’s death

Some of you might be wondering if the events in Judges 18 are the like summary of events we read about in Judges 1. Perhaps, you might be thinking someone added those events to Judges 18 instead of someone adding them to Joshua 19:47, as I have suggested. We can easily see that this is not the case from what we read about in Judges 18. If you haven’t read Judges 18, I invite you to do so since I’m not going to cover what happens here. Instead, I will point out the one verse that reveals that Judges 18 didn’t occur when Joshua was alive. 

There the Danites set up for themselves the idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses, and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan until the time of the captivity of the land.

Judges 18:30 (NIV)

Jonathan is the name of Micah’s priest and Moses’ grandson. Joshua died at the age of 110 (cf. Joshua 24:29). He was probably 45 years old when he spied out the Promised Land. After 40 years of wandering, he was 85. That leaves 25 years in the land of Canaan before he died. According to Levitical law, a man couldn’t become a priest before 30 years of age (cf. Numbers 4:3). We know Moses had Gershom shortly before going back to Egypt, so Gershom wasn’t old enough to be amongst those who died in the wilderness. Although we learn little else about Gershom, Jewish history indicates that he started his family after wandering for 40 years in the wilderness. Since Jonathan couldn’t have become a priest until he was 30 years old, and Joshua died after being in the Promised Land for 25 years, the events in Judges 18 had to have occurred after Joshua’s death. Therefore, Joshua 19:47 was inserted after Joshua’s death. 

I really don’t know why it’s taken me so long to look into this Danite issue since it bothers me every time I read it. However, I now know the truth behind it. Hopefully, you enjoyed reading about this as much as I enjoyed writing about it. 

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.