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Judges 18:2-3 (KJV)

2 And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men of valour, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, 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 house of Micah, they lodged there. 3 When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice of the young man the Levite: and they turned in thither, and said unto him, Who brought thee hither? and what makest thou in this place?

The young Levite is said to have come from Bethlehemjudah.

But when the five spies came they seemed to recognize the voice of the young Levite in Micah's house.

How were the Danites acquainted with this Levite?

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  • Tangential, but I happened upon this video today showing the actual 6,500 year old city of Dan which still exists today (in Lebanon): youtube.com/watch?v=y3tSrhdIcxM – Ruminator Apr 20 '18 at 23:57
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Great question.

The KJV may be a bit misleading here. While the Hebrew word kol literally means "voice", in this specific context it would be more correct to translate the word as "speech". Indeed the JPS translation reads:

While in the vicinity of Micha's house, they recognized the speech of the young Levite

The CJB and CEB translations render "voice" by "accent" as well. It seems most likely that the Danites were able to identify this Levite through his distinct Levite accent and dialect rather than his voice that was familiar to them, thus we have no reason to suppose that they were acquainted with this particular Levite gentleman as the KJV and others would have it. Ellicott and Gill seem to concur with this view, that they may have recognized him simply through a dialectical peculiarity. The tribe of Dan was situated between Judah and Ephraim (see also v. 12 where the Danites settled in Kiriath Yearim in Judah), so it is not surprising that the Danites could tell from this gentleman's accent or dialect that he was not native Ephramaite but a Levite who left his homeland and settled in Ephraim. This would be somewhat similar to a Northerner American recognizing a southerner through his distinct southern accent.

For evidence from the bible that the Israelite tribes didn't all share a similar accent, see Judges 12:6.

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  • I agree that your answer is quite plausible and I have up-voted it. But various translations (Young and Darby and KJV and Green) have all translated kol by 'voice' and it remains quite possible that the Danites knew the individual personally. He was, after all, a Levite priest and his calling was to minister to others and the region was not heavily populated at the time. – Nigel J Apr 20 '18 at 15:10
  • @NigelJ taking into consideration the ambiguity of the given text it is highly unlikely that this was the original intention of the author. The JPS seems more logical here as it explains how they were able to recognize him. Since the reader has never been told that there was any connection between the Danites and this particular Levite, it is improbable that the author would leave us in the dark as to how they knew him. – Bach Apr 20 '18 at 16:56
  • This seems like a viable answer, but I'd like to see some sources that dig more into it. – user2910 Apr 20 '18 at 18:11

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