Judges 17

Micah Makes His Own Religion

1There was a man named Micah from the Ephraimite hill country. 2He said to his mother, “You know
The words “You know” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
the eleven hundred pieces of silver which were stolen
Heb “taken.”
from you, about which I heard you pronounce a curse? Look here, I have the silver. I stole
Heb “took.”
it, but now I am giving it back to you.”
In the Hebrew text the statement, “but now I am giving it back to you,” appears at the end of v. 3 and is spoken by the mother. But v. 4 indicates that she did not give the money back to her son. Unless the statement is spoken by the woman to the LORD, it appears to be misplaced and fits much better in v. 2. It may have been accidentally omitted from a manuscript, written in the margin, and then later inserted in the wrong place in another manuscript.
His mother said, “May the Lord reward
Traditionally, “bless.”
you, my son!”
3When he gave back to his mother the eleven hundred pieces of silver, his mother said, “I solemnly dedicate
Heb “dedicating, I dedicate.” In this case the emphatic infinitive absolute lends a mood of solemnity to the statement.
this silver to the Lord. It will be for my son’s benefit. We will use it to make a carved image and a metal image.”
Heb “to the LORD from my hand for my son to make a carved image and cast metal image.” She cannot mean that she is now taking the money from her hand and giving it back to her son so he can make an image. Verses 4–6 indicate she took back the money and used a portion of it to hire a silversmith to make an idol for her son to use. The phrase “a carved image and cast metal image” is best taken as referring to two idols (see 18:17–18), even though the verb at the end of v. 4, וַיְהִי (vayehi, “and it was [in the house of Micah]”), is singular.
4When he gave the silver back to his mother, she
Heb “his mother.” The pronoun (“she”) has been substituted for the noun (“mother”) in the translation because of English style.
took two hundred pieces of silver
The Hebrew text has “and gave it.” The referent (the pieces of silver) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
to a silversmith, who made them into a carved image and a metal image. She then put them in Micah’s house.
Heb “and it was in Micah’s house.”
5Now this man Micah owned a shrine.
Heb “house of God.”
He made an ephod
Here an ephod probably refers to a priestly garment (cf. Exod 28:4–6).
and some personal idols and hired one of his sons to serve as a priest.
Heb “and he filled the hand of one of his sons and he became his priest.”
6In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right.
Heb “Each was doing what was right in his [own] eyes.”

Micah Hires a Professional

7 There was a young man from Bethlehem
For location see Map5-B1; Map7-E2; Map8-E2; Map10-B4.
in Judah. He was a Levite who had been temporarily residing among the tribe of Judah.
Heb “There was a young man from Bethlehem of Judah, from the tribe of Judah, and he was a Levite, and he was temporarily residing there.”
8This man left the town of Bethlehem in Judah to find another place to live. He came to the Ephraimite hill country and made his way to Micah’s house.
Heb “He came to the Ephraimite hill country, to Micah’s house, making his way.”
9Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” He replied, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah. I am looking for a new place to live.”
Heb “And I am going to reside in a place I can find.”
10Micah said to him, “Stay with me. Become my adviser
Heb “father.” “Father” is here a title of honor that suggests the priest will give advice and protect the interests of the family, primarily by divining God’s will in matters, perhaps through the use of the ephod. (See R. G. Boling, Judges [AB], 257; also Gen 45:8, where Joseph, who was a diviner and interpreter of dreams, is called Pharaoh’s “father,” and 2 Kgs 6:21; 13:14, where a prophet is referred to as a “father.” Note also 2 Kgs 8:9, where a king identifies himself as a prophet’s “son.” One of a prophet’s main functions was to communicate divine oracles. Cf. 2 Kgs 8:9ff.; 13:14–19).
and priest. I will give you ten pieces of silver per year, plus clothes and food.”
The Hebrew text expands with the phrase: “and the Levite went.” This only makes sense if taken with “to live” in the next verse. Apparently “the Levite went” and “the Levite agreed” are alternative readings which have been juxtaposed in the text.
11So the Levite agreed to stay with the man; the young man was like a son to Micah.
Heb “the young man became like one of his sons.”
12Micah paid
Heb “filled the hand of.”
the Levite; the young man became his priest and lived in Micah’s house.
13Micah said, “Now I know God will make me rich,
Heb “do good for me.”
because I have this Levite as my priest.”

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