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Micah and the Levite

17

There was a man in the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Micah. 2He said to his mother, “The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you, about which you uttered a curse, and even spoke it in my hearing,—that silver is in my possession; I took it; but now I will return it to you.” And his mother said, “May my son be blessed by the Lord!” 3Then he returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother; and his mother said, “I consecrate the silver to the Lord from my hand for my son, to make an idol of cast metal.” 4So when he returned the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver, and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into an idol of cast metal; and it was in the house of Micah. 5This man Micah had a shrine, and he made an ephod and teraphim, and installed one of his sons, who became his priest. 6In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.

7 Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the clan of Judah. He was a Levite residing there. 8This man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah, to live wherever he could find a place. He came to the house of Micah in the hill country of Ephraim to carry on his work. 9Micah said to him, “From where do you come?” He replied, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to live wherever I can find a place.” 10Then Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year, a set of clothes, and your living.” 11The Levite agreed to stay with the man; and the young man became to him like one of his sons. 12So Micah installed the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. 13Then Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will prosper me, because the Levite has become my priest.”


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Jud 17:1-4. Micah Restoring the Stolen Money to His Mother, She Makes Images.

1. a man of mount Ephraim—that is, the mountainous parts of Ephraim. This and the other narratives that follow form a miscellaneous collection, or appendix to the Book of Judges. It belongs to a period when the Hebrew nation was in a greatly disordered and corrupt state. This episode of Micah is connected with Jud 1:34. It relates to his foundation of a small sanctuary of his own—a miniature representation of the Shiloh tabernacle—which he stocked with images modelled probably in imitation of the ark and cherubim. Micah and his mother were sincere in their intention to honor God. But their faith was blended with a sad amount of ignorance and delusion. The divisive course they pursued, as well as the will-worship they practised, subjected the perpetrators to the penalty of death.

3. a graven image and a molten image—The one carved from a block of wood or stone, to be plated over with silver; the other, a figure formed of the solid metal cast into a mould. It is observable, however, that only two hundred shekels were given to the founder. Probably the expense of making two such figures of silver, with their appurtenances (pedestals, bases, &c.), might easily cost, in those days, two hundred shekels, which (at 2 shillings, 4 pence each, is about 23 pounds) would be a sum not adequate to the formation of large statues [Taylor, Fragments].

5. the man Micah had an house of godsHebrew, "a house of God"—a domestic chapel, a private religious establishment of his own.

an ephod—(see on Ex 28:6).

teraphim—tutelary gods of the household (see Ge 31:19 and see on Ge 31:26).

consecrated one of his sons who became his priest—The assumption of the priestly office by any one out of the family of Aaron was a direct violation of the divine law (Nu 3:10; 16:17; De 21:5; Heb 5:4).

6. every man did that which was right in his own eyes—From want of a settled government, there was no one to call him to account. No punishment followed any crime.

7. Beth-lehem-judah—so called in contradistinction to a town of the same name in Zebulun (Jos 19:15).

of the family—that is, tribe.

of Judah—Men of the tribe of Levi might connect themselves, as Aaron did (Ex 6:23), by marriage with another tribe; and this young Levite belonged to the tribe of Judah, by his mother's side, which accounts for his being in Beth-lehem, not one of the Levitical cities.

8. the man departed … to sojourn where he could find a place—A competent provision being secured for every member of the Levitical order, his wandering about showed him to have been a person of a roving disposition or unsettled habits. In the course of his journeying he came to the house of Micah, who, on learning what he was, engaged his permanent services.

10. Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father—a spiritual father, to conduct the religious services of my establishment. He was to receive, in addition to his board, a salary of ten shekels of silver, equal to 25 shillings a year.

a suit of apparel—not only dress for ordinary use, but vestments suitable for the discharge of his priestly functions.

12. Micah consecrated the LeviteHebrew, "filled his hand." This act of consecration was not less unlawful for Micah to perform than for this Levite to receive (see on Jud 18:30).

13. Now know I that the Lord will do me good—The removal of his son, followed by the installation of this Levite into the priestly office, seems to have satisfied his conscience, that by what he deemed the orderly ministrations of religion he would prosper. This expression of his hope evinces the united influence of ignorance and superstition.




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