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Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Judges 17

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 1


Micah, an Ephraimite, restores the money which he had taken from his mother; from which she commands a graven image to be made; Micah hires a Levite to be his priest.

Before Christ 1426.

Judges 17:1. And there was a man of mount Ephraim The second part of the book of Judges begins here; containing an account of several transactions in and about the time of the judges, which the sacred historian omitted in their proper order, that he might not interrupt the thread of a narrative relating to the transactions of the whole nation.

Verse 2

Judges 17:2. About which thou cursedst Houbigant renders this, and for which you put me to my oath; connecting the whole sentence thus: the eleven hundred shekels of silver which thou saidst in my hearing were taken from thee, and for which thou didst put me to my oath, behold, are with me, &c. In which he nearly follows the Arabick. See Dr. Hammond on St. Matthew 26:0 annot. 1.

Verse 3

Judges 17:3. For my son, to make a graven image, and a molten image It is very plain, from the sequel, that the intention of this woman was, not to form any images of false gods to herself, but to make a representation of the tabernacle in Shiloh. She says, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto Jehovah; and therefore it has been reasonably conjectured by some, that these images, as well as the teraphim mentioned in the 5th verse, were made in imitation of the cherubim; the ephod being formed like that which God appointed for the priests, and the rest of this idolatrous preparation being designed to imitate the ark, with all its sacred furniture. See Spencer de Leg. Heb. lib. iii. c. 3. dissert. 7.

Verse 5

Judges 17:5. An house of gods This might be rendered more properly, a temple or house of God; אלהים בית beith elohim: so the LXX and the Vulgate render it, as well as Houbigant, aedes deo sacra. Micah and his family were desirous to have a little tabernacle, a place consecrated to the elohim, at their own house, without the trouble of going up to Shiloh. Respecting the teraphim, see Genesis 31:17.

Verse 6

Judges 17:6. In those days there was no king in Israel That is to say, no supreme governor; and, consequently, a total anarchy prevailed, (see 2 Chronicles 15:3.) which words are inserted, not only as a reason why Micah set up this sanctuary at home, being afraid, through the deficiency of government, and the danger of the times, to go up to Shiloh; but also as a reason why he did it with impunity. Note; (1.) Corruptions in the church arise from small beginnings; to avoid idolatry, we must keep from superstition. (2.) It matters little whether the idol be set up in the heart or the house; whatever alienates the affections from God leads us into idolatry. (3.) The reason is given why this conduct of Micah met with no reproof; there was no judge in Israel; and they must be bad days indeed when no magistrates restrain sin, and ministers are negligent to reprove it.

Verse 13

Judges 17:13. Then said Micah, now know I, &c.— What a strange infatuation! Micah is at the summit of his wishes because the Levite has accepted his offers, and because he sees his chapel consecrated, and a priest of the sacerdotal line minister of the new religion planned out by his mother.

Micah had rendered himself capitally guilty in making a common Levite a priest. See Num 3:10 and Witsii Egypt. Psalms 133:0.—Idols, teraphim, a prophane altar, an intruded minister,—what noble grounds for self-approbation! The crime of Micah is strongly set forth by Calmet. "He persuades himself," says he, "that the people, seeing his chapel served by a man of the family of Levi, will come thither with greater confidence, and that this concourse, together with the offerings to be brought, will procure him considerable gain. It is evidently this gain, that he here calls the blessings of God. How just a representation is this of those superstitiously covetous persons who would connect religion with the love of riches, and who, as St. Paul expresses it, fancy that piety should serve as a means of enriching themselves!"

REFLECTIONS.—Micah had probably been content with his son's service, if an accident had not brought him a more acceptable chaplain in a Levite of Bethlehem-judah, who was by his mother's side of the tribe of Judah, and had resided at Bethlehem; either, through the neglect of God's worship which now began to take place, he could no longer gain a maintenance from the ministry, and was forced to seek a livelihood; or, perhaps, being of a rambling disposition, unsettled, and uneasy at being confined at home: it may be also, hearing of Micah's house of gods, and hoping for better preferment in his service, abominable as it was, than at the altar of God. Note; (1.) They must be bad times indeed when God's ministers want a maintenance. (2.) The priest who sets out with an eye to preferment is certainly in the high road to perdition. (3.) The ministry is the best calling, but the worst trade in the world.

Micah having inquired whence he came, and learning his profession, invites him in; offers, if he will officiate for him, to treat him with respect as a father, and to provide for him. The Levite consents, the bargain is concluded; and as he found it a good house, though the work was scandalous and the wages mean, he thought himself well settled. Note; (1.) They, whose office and duty it is to rebuke sin, are often, for the sake of their belly and a good table, wicked and mean enough to sit by and countenance it. (2.) They, who choose their own delusions, would fain flatter themselves that God approves of them. (3.) More, like Micah, derive their hopes from the priest and the altar, their worship, and external devotions, than from spirituality of temper and real purity of heart. (4.) The deeds that the self-righteous boast of, as commending them to God's favour, are those which God most abhors, and which most effectually seal them up under wrath.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Judges 17". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/judges-17.html. 1801-1803.
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