This answer brings sources that suggest that the Idol of Micha was present in the tribe of Dan even in the desert. This is also implied by Targum Pseudo Jonathan when Amalek attacks in Exodus, (second to last paragraph), and mentioned by Rashi in Sanhedrin 103b.

Given the drastic action taken in response to the Golden Calf, or against the blasphemer, why was the Danites idol worship, or at least idol posession, abided by God and the rest of the tribes? Sources in the answer I've cited attributes the name of the Naftalite prince the objection against Dan's actions, so it seemingly was a known transgression.

  • My guess is that the idol was only possessed (but not worshiped) at that time, and it was allowed to exist in the same way Nachash ha-Nechoshet was allowed to exist after being used (Bamidbar 21:8-9), to become an object of Avodah Zarah by the time of king Hezekiah (Melakhim II 18:4).
    – Tamir Evan
    May 14, 2014 at 15:57
  • @TamirEvan doesn't really work. You aren't allowed to keep human or angel like forms even if you don't worship them. Snake would be fine. And even if mica's idol wasn't human or angel-looking, it was worshipped in egypt, presumably, which is why he took it, in which case it would be completely forbidden, like the dragon discussed in avoda zara.
    – Baby Seal
    May 14, 2014 at 16:26
  • So it seems like God did punish the Danites by excluding them from the clouds of glory. If we assume they didn't worship the idol, it would not be a capital offense.
    – Baby Seal
    May 14, 2014 at 16:32
  • Actually, I think you were right. If the forbidden possession of the idol was known about, action should have been taken by the court, like with the blasphemer (even if not as drastic).
    – Tamir Evan
    May 14, 2014 at 17:24
  • Thinking this over, I have other problems with the idea of the tribe of Dan possessing the idol in the desert: (1) The tribe of Dan only came into possession of the idol when they moved from their alloted territory to the Zidonite city of Laish (Shoftim 18:17-20). (2) Micha himself wasn't of Dan, but of Ephraim (Shoftim 17:1), and in fact tried to stop them when they took the idol (Shoftim 18:22-26). (3) The idol the tribe of Dan took was made after settling the land (Shoftim 17:6).
    – Tamir Evan
    May 14, 2014 at 17:27

1 Answer 1


Dan was punished for keeping the idol by being excluded from the clouds of glory, (as can be seen in the sources of the linked answer, and targum pseudo jonathan which I linked in the question). There is no indication that the Danites actually worshipped the idol in the desert, and as they were not delinquent to a capital degree, they were not overtly punished by their fellows, although they clearly were reprimanded, given Ahira's recorded name.

Sanhedrin 103b, (cited above, see Rashi), indicates that once the idol was worshipped during the period of the Judges, Israel was punished on its account, during the battle concering the concubine at Gibeah.

  • I seem to remember the gemoro asking this kind of question and answering 'mokom hanichu lhisgader bo'
    – preferred
    May 14, 2014 at 17:51
  • @preferred what does that mean?
    – Baby Seal
    May 14, 2014 at 17:52
  • They provided food for wayfarers.
    – preferred
    May 14, 2014 at 17:52
  • @preferred that was in the time of judges when the smoke of the tabernacle mingled with that of Micha and the angels wanted to get him.
    – Baby Seal
    May 14, 2014 at 17:53
  • מדוע משה לא ביער את פסל מיכה למעשה, קושיה חמורה זו יש להקשות על משה רבנו. במסכת סנהדרין (דף קג, ב) מובא שהפסוק בזכריה (י, יא): "וְעָבַר בַּיָּם צָרָה וְהִכָּה בַיָּם גַּלִּים..." מתייחס לפסל מיכה שעבר בים סוף יחד עם בני ישראל. ובוודאי שיש להתפלא על משה רבנו, שטחן ושרף את עגל הזהב שהקימו בני ישראל, ותמוה מאוד מדוע משה לא ניסה להשמיד גם את פסלו של מיכה1.
    – preferred
    May 14, 2014 at 17:57

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