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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Judges 17

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-6

Judges - Chapter 17

Micah’s gods, vs. 1-6

The first thing the student of the Book of Judges needs to realize when he comes to the last chapters of the Book is that the events here are not chronologically successive to the events already studied about the various judges. In fact, internal evidence indicates that the events of Judges 17-21 occurred very soon after the conquest, this event now introduced likely occurred during the lifetime of Joshua. Note in connection with this Judges 18:1.

This account opens with an event already having occurred. Micah, a man of mount Ephraim, evidently in the tribe of Ephraim, is introduced. At once is seen the moral conditions of those early times, and they are not all good. Micah was a thief, stealing from his own mother. His mother was an idolator, already having relegated the Lord in her mind to graven and molten images. The woman had made a "curse" relative to eleven hundred shekels of silver she possessed. The curse does not mean that she had cursed because it was stolen, or cursed the one who had stolen it. It means that she had made a vow concerning the silver to dedicate it to the Lord, so that to use it otherwise would involve a curse on the one violating the vow.

This may be the reason Micah acknowledged having taken the silver, he being fearful of the consequences. The blessing the mother pronounced on Micah is surely not because he took the silver, but because he acknowledged it. When he returned it to her she told him she had dedicated it to the Lord to make a graven image and a molten image. This illustrates the warped conception of the worship of the Lord. To think that the Lord could be honored by making silver images to represent Him! She was either ignorant of the law of Moses or otherwise treated it lightly, and both are inexcusable.

Micah refused to keep the silver, so his mother took it to the foundry and had the images made with two hundred of the shekels. Micah built himself a god-house and set up the images in it. He also made an ephod, for a priest, and teraphim. These last were little good ­luck gods, or pieces. One of Micah’s sons was installed as priest of the god-house.

The last statement in the passage, verse 6, seems to indicate that Israel was handicapped by not having a king. However, the Lord did not intend for them to have a king yet. The problem was that they did not acknowledge that the Lord was their king and seek after Him. Without a strong king to compel them to his will they ignored the Lord and did whatever seemed to them right to do. This situation brought them havoc over and over, not only during the judgeship, but even after they had a king. What man thinks is right in his mind is always wrong.

Verses 7-13

Micah’s Priest, vs. 7-13

Another character enters the account in the person of a roving Levite from Bethlehem down in the tribe of Judah. It is learned from Judges 18:30 that his name was Jonathan. Bethlehem was not one of the cities assigned to the Levites from the tribe of Judah, so he had evidently already forsaken his God-appointed domicile. In fact, he was admittedly roaming the country looking for a place he could settle down and evidently do what he wanted instead of what the Lord had for him to do.

When Micah learned the circumstances with the young Levite he saw in him what he considered a chance to enhance his own private house of worship. He offered to hire Jonathan for ten silver shekels a year (actually only about $7.50 today, but a fair amount for those times), one new suit a year, and his food. This pleased the Levite and he accepted the offer. Micah proceeded to consecrate (ordain) his priest and install him favorably in his house, treating him as he did his sons.

The reference Micah made to the Levite as his "father and priest," means that he should be Micah’s spiritual advisor and mediator with God. This shows the shallow and false concept Micah had concerning the Lord. Verse 13 goes on to show that Micah actually felt that he had somehow obligated the Lord to him and his god-house by employing a Levite as his priest, because the tribe of Levi had been chosen by the Lord to be set apart to His service.

It may be emphasized with reference to chapter 13 that 1) when people go their own way they always go wrong; 2) sincerity in worship is not satisfactory when contrary to the Lord’s appointed way; 3) God’s ministers out of their place are not only wrong themselves, but they cause others to be wrong also.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Judges 17". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/judges-17.html. 1985.
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