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Judges 17:1-13

Context
Micah Makes His Own Religion

17:1 There was a man named Micah from the Ephraimite hill country. 17:2 He said to his mother, “You know 1  the eleven hundred pieces of silver which were stolen 2  from you, about which I heard you pronounce a curse? Look here, I have the silver. I stole 3  it, but now I am giving it back to you.” 4  His mother said, “May the Lord reward 5  you, my son!” 17:3 When he gave back to his mother the eleven hundred pieces of silver, his mother said, “I solemnly dedicate 6  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.” 7  17:4 When he gave the silver back to his mother, she 8  took two hundred pieces of silver 9  to a silversmith, who made them into a carved image and a metal image. She then put them in Micah’s house. 10  17:5 Now this man Micah owned a shrine. 11  He made an ephod 12  and some personal idols and hired one of his sons to serve as a priest. 13  17:6 In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right. 14 

Micah Hires a Professional

17:7 There was a young man from Bethlehem 15  in Judah. He was a Levite who had been temporarily residing among the tribe of Judah. 16  17:8 This 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. 17  17:9 Micah 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.” 18  17:10 Micah said to him, “Stay with me. Become my adviser 19  and priest. I will give you ten pieces of silver per year, plus clothes and food.” 20  17:11 So the Levite agreed to stay with the man; the young man was like a son to Micah. 21  17:12 Micah paid 22  the Levite; the young man became his priest and lived in Micah’s house. 17:13 Micah said, “Now I know God will make me rich, 23  because I have this Levite as my priest.”

1 tn The words “You know” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

2 tn Heb “taken.”

3 tn Heb “took.”

4 tn 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.

5 tn Traditionally, “bless.”

6 tn Heb “dedicating, I dedicate.” In this case the emphatic infinitive absolute lends a mood of solemnity to the statement.

7 tn 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 (vayÿhi, “and it was [in the house of Micah]”), is singular.

8 tn Heb “his mother.” The pronoun (“she”) has been substituted for the noun (“mother”) in the translation because of English style.

9 tn The Hebrew text has “and gave it.” The referent (the pieces of silver) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

10 tn Heb “and it was in Micah’s house.”

11 tn Heb “house of God.”

12 sn Here an ephod probably refers to a priestly garment (cf. Exod 28:4-6).

13 tn Heb “and he filled the hand of one of his sons and he became his priest.”

14 tn Heb “Each was doing what was right in his [own] eyes.”

15 map For location see Map5 B1; Map7 E2; Map8 E2; Map10 B4.

16 tn 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.”

17 tn Heb “He came to the Ephraimite hill country, to Micah’s house, making his way.”

18 tn Heb “And I am going to reside in a place I can find.”

19 tn 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).

20 tn 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.

21 tn Heb “the young man became like one of his sons.”

22 tn Heb “filled the hand of.”

23 tn Heb “do good for me.”



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