Note: The following question is for those who have a relative understanding of the following incident in Tanach. If you think you can help answer my question but need the necessary background I embedded the links that will take you to material discussed (Via Sefaria). Thanks in advance!

My Question:

In regard to the incident of the פסל מיכה in Sefer Shoftim (See פרקים י"ז-י"ח), one of the last verses (the second last, to be exact) in פרק י"ח reads:

וַיָּקִ֧ימוּ לָהֶ֛ם בְּנֵי־דָ֖ן אֶת־הַפָּ֑סֶל וִ֠יהוֹנָתָן בֶּן־גֵּרְשֹׁ֨ם בֶּן־מְנַשֶּׁ֜ה ה֣וּא וּבָנָ֗יו הָי֤וּ כֹהֲנִים֙ לְשֵׁ֣בֶט הַדָּנִ֔י עַד־י֖וֹם גְּל֥וֹת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

The Danites set up the sculptured image for themselves; and Jonathan son of Gershom son of Manasseh, and his descendants, served as priests to the Danite tribe until the land went into exile.

Rashi elaborates that שבט דן continued this idolatrous practice until the first exile of Sancheireb.

If it is said of Kings like Chizkiyahu (and presumably even before then [i.e. David and Shlomo]) who cleansed the land of all idol worship, how could have this continued?

Is possible to say that Laish (or Leshem)-The land which the Danites conquered in that incident- was not a part of Eretz Yisrael? If so how could the claim be that the Danites worshiped idolatry until the exile of Sancheireb despite the implication of other times in Tanach that the Jewish kings were able to totally cleanse the land of it?

  • 1
    Chizkiyahu lived during and after the conquest of Sancheireb. Did he clean up before? Citing how you know he cleaned up at all (and that David and Solomon did too) would be very helpful.
    – Double AA
    Aug 10, 2016 at 3:57

1 Answer 1


On verse 18:30 the Malbim deals with the issue of how could it be that the Danites worshipped idolatry until the first exile.

כל ימי היות בית האלהים בשלה: זה לעומת זה, ומ״ש שיהונתן ובניו היו כהנים עד גלות הארץ פירש״י על גלוח סנחריב וכן דעת חכמינו ז״ל בירושלמי פרק ט׳ דבברכות שמקשה לרשב״נ דאמי שבואל ששב לאל בכל לבו והכתיב עד גלות הארץ ומתרץ שאחרי מות דוד העבירו שלמה וחזר לסורו והוא היה הנביא הזקן בבית אל, ומה שמקשה הרד״ק איך אפשר ששמואל ודוד ושלמה לא בערו פסל זה י״ל דבאמת בימי שמואל בטל, ועז״א כל ימי היות בית אלהים בשילה ואז חזר בתשובה ודוד מינה אותו על האוצרות ובימי ירבעם שהעמידו העגל בדן היו בניו כהנים עד גלות סנחריב

All the days the house of G-d was in Shilo: This was a result of this (i.e. The cause of the Danites worshipping idolatry was a result of Micha's graven image) and that which it says that Yehonason and his sons were priests (of idolatry) until the exile from the land according to Rashi and our Sages of blessed memory in the Talmud Yerushalmi in the 9th chapter of Brachos where it was asked of Rav Shmuel Bar Nachmeini of Ami Shebal that they returned to G-d wholeheartedly yet it says (in the verse) "until the exile of the land" and the answer is after the death of (King) David, Solomon transgressed (in idolatrous practice [NOTE:SEE THE OTHER COMMENTARIES ON THAT TOPIC] ) and (the Danites) returned to follow (idolatrous practices) and (Yehonason) was the elder prophet (as well) in Beth El.

And that which the Radak asks how is it possible that Samuel, David and Solomon not rid of the (graven) image? The answer is that in truth in the days of Samuel it was rid of, and because if this it is said and at that time the house of G-d (i.e. the Tabernacle) was in Shilo, and then (afterwards) they (the Danites) repented and David placed it in treasuries and in the days of Yeravam they placed a (one of the two Golden) calves in Dan and (Yehonason's) son's were (idolatrous) priests until the exile of Sancheireb

So the idolatrous practice did seize in the time of Samuel, David and Solomon. However it was short lived one the Kingdom's of Israel were split and Yeravam ben NeBat made his Golden Calves for the kingdom of Israel whereupon idol worship continued in a different form.

Now regarding weather Laish (Or Leshem) was in Eretz Yisrael, both the Malbim and the Metzudos agree that it was not a part of Eretz Yisrael.

Metzudos David on 18:1

עד היום ההוא: עד אשר כבש לעצמו מחוץ לגבול ארץ ישראל

Until that very day: Until they conquered for themselves outside the border of the land of Israel

The Malbim similarly agrees with this

בנתלה: ר״ל הנחלה שנפלה לו לא היה בתוך בני ישראל רק חוצה להם

In heritage: Meaning that the inheritance which fell to (the tribe of Dan) was not amongst the children of Israel, rather away from them

  • It is also to be noted that kings like Chizkiyahu existed after the split of the kingdom of Israel so it's not a question when it is said that he cleansed the land because that was simply in Judea. Israel was a separate issue. Aug 11, 2016 at 21:48

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