Having succeeded in their expedition according to the prediction which, as they supposed, they had from this image, they had a great veneration for it.
Until the day of the captivity of the land; either,
1. When the ark and the Israelites were taken captives by the Philistines, 1Sa_4:10,11; though there is no mention of any who were then taken captives, or that the Philistines did pursue the victory, and conquer the land at that time, for their victory was quickly damped, and turned to mourning, 1Sa 5. Or,
2. After that time, when the Philistines slew Saul and Jonathan, and discomfited the whole host of Israel, and made the rest of the people flee out of their cities, and took possession of their cities and land. Or,
3. When the whole land of the ten tribes, whereof Dan was one, was conquered, and the people carried captive by the Assyrian, 2Ki_17:6,23. which is called by way of eminency the captivity, 1Ch_5:22. But against this it is objected, that it is not probable that this idolatry should continue so long in such a public place and manner; or that David and Solomon would suffer it.
Answ. It is not said that the graven image was there so long, for that is restrained to a shorter date, even to the continuance of the ark in Shiloh, Jud_18:31, which was removed thence, 1Sa 4; but only that Jonathan’s posterity were priests to this tribe or family of Dan, which they might be under all the changes, even till the Assyrian captivity, sometimes more openly and allowedly, sometimes more cunningly, sometimes more secretly, sometimes in one way of superstition or idolatry, and sometimes in another; and in and after Jeroboam’s time, in the worship of the calves, for which service, though he did make priests of the meanest of the people, 1Ki_12:31, yet that was not by choice, but out of necessity, because the priests and Levites generally forsook him, 2Ch_11:13,14; and therefore when he could engage any of the priests or Levites in that service, he was doubtless very glad of them to gain reputation to his impious and absurd device.