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Bible Commentaries
Judges 17

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name [was] Micah.

And there was a man. — The Vulgate hath it, And at that time there was a man, … And some Rabbins say that this fell out soon after Samson’s death. But they do better who place this story and the rest that follow, to the end of this book, in the interim between the elders that survived Joshua and the judges that next followed. See Judges 2:11 ; Judges 5:14 .

Verse 2

And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred [shekels] of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver [is] with me; I took it. And his mother said, Blessed [be thou] of the LORD, my son.

And he said unto his mother. — His conscience troubled him when he heard his mother curse the thief, which he knew to be himself:

Conscia mens ut cuique sun est, …

The eleven hundred shekels of silver. — Lyra telleth us of some that held Delilah to be Micah’s mother, because she received one thousand one hundred pieces of silver of each lord of the Philistines, to betray Samson into their hands. But this is but a blind guess, and no whit likely; let it therefore pass for a Jewish fable. I like his note better who saith, Bp. Hall. Old wood is apt to take fire. After all the airing in the desert, Micah’s mother will smell of Egypt. And again, As civilly, so also morally, the birth followeth the belly, as Micah, his mother. Hence most of the kings’ mothers are named.

About which thou cursedst. — Whilst her wealth lasted, she could dedicate a good part of it. But now she hath lost it she falleth a-cursing; as a parrot when beaten falleth to her own hoarse and harsh voice. Wicked men’s mouths are "full of cursing and bitterness." But cursing men are cursed men.

And spakest of also in mine ears. — He started at and was terrified by a mother’s curse. And indeed if there be just cause, God sometimes says Amen to parents’ curses, as were easy to instance. See Genesis 9:25 See Trapp on " Genesis 9:25 "

I took it. — Of robbing parents, see Proverbs 28:24 , with the note.

Blessed be thou of the Lord, my son. — "Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing." James 3:10 So doth it out of the Pope’s eftsoons, as in the case of Henry IV of France.

Verse 3

And when he had restored the eleven hundred [shekels] of silver to his mother, his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee.

And when he had restored. — Restore your ill-gotten goods, saith father Latimer, or else you will cough in hell, and the devil will laugh at you.

I had wholly dedicated the silver. — Many women are very superstitious. In the Papacy, sundry crosses graven in the pavements of their churches, have indulgences annexed for every time they are kissed: which is so often done, by the women especially, that hard marble is worn with it. Spec. Europ.

To make a graven image. — To despite the Lord with seeming honours. A good intention here excused not. Men that would be approved in Christ, as Apelles was, Romans 16:10 must "come to the light" of God’s word, "that it may be made manifest that their deeds are wrought in God." John 3:21

Verse 4

Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred [shekels] of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah.

Yet he restored the money unto his mother. — And so disburdened his conscience, which was grated upon by this guilt, worse than the kidneys are by gravel. I myself, saith a reverend divine, Mr Burroughs. knew one man that had wronged another but of five shillings, and fifty years after could not rest till he had restored it.

And gave them to the founder. — For his pains, haply, in making her gods of the other nine hundred: or, two hundred she laid out upon the images, and nine hundred upon the other trinkets. Idolaters "lavish money out of the bag." Isaiah 46:6 Canutus bestowed as much upon a crucifix as a year’s revenue of his kingdom came to. He gave a hundred talents of silver and one of gold for St Augustine’s arm, which he bestowed on Coventry. Our Edward I prepared thirty-two thousand pounds to have his heart carried to Jerusalem, which he charged his son upon his deathbed to see done.

Verse 5

And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.

And the man Micah had an house of gods.Aediculam sacram. The devil is ειδωλοχαρης , saith Synesius, a great promoter of idolatry. His champion Julian was by the Christians merrily called Idolian.

And teraphim,i.e., Seraphims and cherubims, saith Hugo: but it seemeth rather to signifiy certain statues, whereby the devil gave answers or oracles. Ezekiel 21:21 Zechariah 10:2

Verse 6

In those days [there was] no king in Israel, [but] every man did [that which was] right in his own eyes.

In those days there was no king in Israel,i.e., No ordinary supreme magistrate: hence this idolatry and the following outrages. Of the two, tyranny or ochlocraty, that rule of rascality, is better than anarchy. It is noted as a just wonder, that "the grasshoppers have no king, yet go they forth in bands": Proverbs 30:27 for the body of the commonwealth which lacked a chief ruler, is like the body of Polyphemus, without an eye. Ulysses, asking what kind of kingdom the Cyclopes had, was answered by Silenus, Nομαδες, ακουει ουδεις ουδενος , they wander at pleasure, and do what they want without control. The inhabitants of Brazil are said to be sine fide, sine rege, sine lege, without religion, law, or government, and must therefore needs be miserable. Look what a ship is without a steersman, a flock without a shepherd, a house without the father of the family, or a school without a schoolmaster; such is a state without a supreme government. This when none would take upon them, the prophet showeth that confusion followed, Isaiah 3:6 and men became as fishes, devouring one another.

But every man did that which was right in his own eyes. — So they did in the interregnums at Rome, and do still in Turkey, to the great disturbance of the public welfare. Stobaeus Orat., xlii. telleth us, that by the Persian law, there was at the death of their king a five days’ lawless liberty proclaimed, to the end that, by the want of good government for such a time, people might be made to know the worth of it, and so might prize it the better ever after.

Verse 7

And there was a young man out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who [was] a Levite, and he sojourned there.

And there was a young man.Puer: so he is called ratione ministerii Exodus 33:11 saith Junius. And why not for his folly? as Genesis 34:19 . Neque distulit puer? A novice he was, Cereus in vitium flecti, one that would murder souls for a morsel of bread; Ezekiel 13:19 which was the worse in him, because this was Jonathan, the nephew of Moses the man of God: for men are therefore worse than others, because they ought to be better. See Judges 18:30 .

Verse 8

And the man departed out of the city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn where he could find [a place]: and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed.

To sojourn where he could find a place. — By the iniquity of the times, he was put to his shifts, and forced to seek a subsistence where he could get it. See the like in Nehemiah 13:10-11 . Ministers are not of the chameleon kind: they cannot live upon the air. It was a sad thing that Luther should be forced to complain, Spoliantur parochiae et scholae non aliter ac si fame necare nos velint: Parishes and schools are robbed, as if they meant to starve up the ministry. It was an ingenuous confession of that Popish priest, but a shame for those that put him to it, We preach the gospel, tantum ut nos pascat et vestiat, only for food and raiment. In many places they allow the ox nothing but the straw for treading out the grain: and so much straw as themselves please. O tempera!

Verse 9

And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? And he said unto him, I [am] a Levite of Bethlehemjudah, and I go to sojourn where I may find [a place].

Whence comest thou? — He should have asked him more questions than this, ere he had agreed with him: as, Can you preach? can you produce a good testimonial? how happens it that you are thus necessitated? …

Verse 10

And Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee ten [shekels] of silver by the year, and a suit of apparel, and thy victuals. So the Levite went in.

Be unto me a father and a priest, — As a father he would respect him, though but a young man, because a priest. The Papists’ respect to their hedge priests, under the name of padres, fathers, will rise up in judgment against us.

And I will give thee ten shekels of silver, … — A poor slender salary. This man had eleven hundred pieces of silver to bestow upon his idols, but ten shekels is held wages enough for his priest. So Louis XI of France allowed his chaplains twenty shillings a month: but for his physician, [Barber; Cottier, p. 348.] one John Cotiers, he allowed him ten thousand crowns a month. In Ireland formerly ministers had no more maintenance than the pasture of two milk cowes, … In the whole province of Connaught, the stipend of the incumbent was not above forty shillings, in some places but sixteen shillings. Heyl., Geog. Now, blessed be God, the matter is well amended there, and very good encouragement promised to preachers that shall go over, Stipendia honoraria, with an honourable respect.

So the Levite went in.Graeculus esuriens. Hunger will snap at anything, where there is not grace to restrain men.

Verse 11

And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man was unto him as one of his sons.

Was unto him as one of his sons. — For good usage, good will, and good cheap titles, it was better with this Levite than with him in Plautus, who said, - and so may many ministers now-a-days, - Ego non servio libenter, herus meus me non habet libenter: tamen utitur me, ut lippus oculis.

Verse 12

And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah.

And Micah consecrated the Levite. — Which none might lawfully do but the high priest. See how one sin draweth on another.

Verse 13

Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to [my] priest.

Now know I that the Lord. — In his blind devotion he promiseth himself prosperity: so do Papists in their priests’ absolution, Pope’s pardon. But it happened otherwise with Micah; Judges 18:18-20 like as it did with the riflers of Semiramis’ tomb, who expected rich treasure, but met with a deadly poison.

Fallitur augurio spes bona saepe suo.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Judges 17". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/judges-17.html. 1865-1868.
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