Judges 17-18

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Text:   Judges 17-18

 III. Apostasy of the Period of the Judges, 17:1 - 21:25


            A.  Micah and the Migration of the Danites, 17:1 - 18:31


17:1 – (RSB) The remaining chapters of the book are appendices that give insights into Israelite life during the period of the judges. They are not in chronological order.


                        1.   Micah and his private priest, 17:1-13


Judges 17:1 And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.


Judges 17:2 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.


Judges 17:3 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 [i.e. a carved image which would be silver plated] and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee. [A molten image is a molded image. The silver would be melted and poured into a mold, then be allowed to cool, and then be removed from the mold. It would be made of solid silver.]


17:2-3 – (RSB) Micah, fearing the curse his mother had placed on the thief who stole her 1,100 shekels of silver. . . ., confessed to the crime. Then, hoping to neutralize the curse, his mother dedicated the money to the Lord and ordered that a graven image (wood overlaid with silver) and a molten image (of solid silver) be made. [note on 16:5 – (RSB) eleven hundred pieces of silver. About 27.5 lb . . . of silver. . . .]


On May 16 the price of silver was $17.21/ounce. In today’s currency, this means that it was worth $7572.40.


Judges 17:4 Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder [i.e. the silversmith], who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah.


17:4 – (RSB) two hundred shekels of silver. Five pounds of silver.


Judges 17:5 And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod [i.e. a garment worn by a priest], and teraphim [i.e. household gods], and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest.


Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes.


Judges 17:7 And there was a young man [i.e. Jonathan – He is named in Judges 18:30 .] out of Bethlehemjudah of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned [i.e. stayed] there.


Judges 17:8 And the man [i.e. Jonathan] departed out of the city from Bethlehemjudah to sojourn [i.e. to stay] where he could find a place: and he came to mount Ephraim to the house of Micah, as he journeyed.


Judges 17:9 And Micah said unto him, Whence comest thou? [i.e. Where do you come from?] And he said unto him, I am a Levite of Bethlehemjudah, and I go to sojourn [i.e. to stay] where I may find a place.


Judges 17:10 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 [i.e. your food]. So the Levite went in.


17:10 – (RSB) ten shekels. 4 oz [Dr. Q. about $69.00/year a the current price of silver. It was less than 20¢ a day.]


Judges 17:11 And the Levite was content to dwell with the man; and the young man [i.e. Jonathan] was unto him as one of his sons.


Judges 17:12 And Micah consecrated the Levite; and the young man [i.e. Jonathan] became his priest, and was in the house of Micah.


Judges 17:13 Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.


17:12-13 – (RSB) Micah now had all the external features of syncretistic religion, along with self-sufficient superstitious belief. [Dr. Q. – He had a house of Gods, a priestly garment, household gods, a carved image, a molded image made of silver which was dedicated to the LORD, and, supposedly, he also had the LORD.]


a syncretistic religion is an amalgamation of various religions


                        2.   Danite migration, 18:1-31


Judges 18:1 In those days there was no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day all their inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel.


18:1 – (RSB) The Amorites had forced the Danites into the mountain areas of their allotted territory (1:34).


Judges 18:2 And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts [i.e. from their territory], men of valour, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there.


Judges 18:3 When they were by the house of Micah, they knew the voice [i.e. the sound – the accent] of the young man [i.e. Jonathan] the Levite: and they turned in thither [i.e. turned in there], and said unto him, Who brought thee hither? [i.e. Who brought you here?] and what makest thou in this place? [i.e. What are you doing here?] and what hast thou here? [i.e. Why are you here?]


Judges 18:4 And he said unto them, Thus and thus dealeth Micah with me, and hath hired me, and I am his priest.


Judges 18:5 And they said unto him, Ask counsel, we pray thee, of God, that we may know whether our way which we go shall be prosperous.


Judges 18:6 And the priest said unto them, Go in peace: before the LORD is your way wherein ye go.


18:5-6 – (RSB) Unable to possess their allotment of land (v. 1), the Danites sought God’s blessing on their search for other territory. Jonathan, the priest, told them what they wanted to hear. Though outwardly successful, the Danites had abandoned God’s revealed will, which resulted in Dan becoming a major center of idolatry (18:30-31; I Kings 12:28-30 ).


Judges 18:7 Then the five men departed, and came to Laish, and saw the people that were therein, how they dwelt careless, after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure [i.e. peaceful and unsuspecting]; and there was no magistrate [i.e. no ruler] in the land, that might put them to shame in any thing; and they were far from the Zidonians, and had no business with any man.


18:7 – (RSB) Laish. . . . A town N of Israel, which later became known as Dan. It had no internal government and was isolated from other tribes.


Judges 18:8 And they came unto their brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol [i.e. they went back to the original tribe of Dan]: and their brethren said unto them, What say ye?


Judges 18:9 And they said, Arise, that we may go up against them: for we have seen the land, and, behold, it is very good: and are ye still? [i.e. will you sit still? will you do nothing?] be not slothful to go [i.e. do not hesitate to go], and to enter [i.e. and enter] to possess the land.


Judges 18:10 When ye go, ye shall come unto a people secure [i.e. unsuspecting], and to a large land: for God hath given it into your hands; a place where there is no want of any thing that is in the earth.


Judges 18:11 And there went from thence of the family of the Danites, out of Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hundred men appointed with [i.e. armed with] weapons of war.


Judges 18:12 And they went up, and pitched [i.e. encamped] in Kirjathjearim, in Judah: wherefore they called that place Mahanehdan unto this day: behold, it is behind Kirjathjearim.


Judges 18:13 And they passed thence unto mount Ephraim, and came unto the house of Micah.


Judges 18:14 Then answered the five men that went to spy out the country of Laish, and said unto their brethren, Do ye know that there is in these houses an ephod, and teraphim [i.e. household gods], and a graven image [i.e. a carved image], and a molten [i.e. molded] image? now therefore consider what ye have to do [i.e. what you should do].


Judges 18:15 And they turned thitherward [i.e. turned aside there], and came to the house of the young man [i.e. Jonathan] the Levite, even unto the house of Micah, and saluted [i.e. greeted] him.


Judges 18:16 And the six hundred men appointed [i.e. armed] with their weapons of war, which were of the children of Dan, stood by the entering of the gate.


Judges 18:17 And the five men that went to spy out the land went up, and came in thither [i.e. there], and took the graven image [i.e. the carved image], and the ephod [i.e. the vest worn by the priest], and the teraphim [i.e. the household gods], and the molten [i.e. molded] image: and the priest stood in the entering of the gate with the six hundred men that were appointed [i.e. armed] with weapons of war.


Judges 18:18 And these went into Micah’s house, and fetched [i.e. took] the carved image, the ephod [i.e. the vest worn by the priest], and the teraphim [i.e. the household gods], and the molten [i.e. the molded] image. Then said the priest unto them, What do ye?


Judges 18:19 And they said unto him, Hold thy peace [i.e. be quiet], lay thine hand upon thy mouth, and go with us, and be to us a father and a priest: is it better for thee to be a priest unto the house of one man, or that thou be a priest unto a tribe and a family in Israel?


18:19 – (RSB) Jonathan was offered a promotion from household priest to tribal priest!


Judges 18:20 And the priest’s heart was glad, and he took the ephod, and the teraphim, and the graven image, and went in the midst of the people [i.e. of the Danites].


Judges 18:21 So they turned and departed, and put the little ones and the cattle and the carriage before them [i.e. and the possessions (or goods) in front of them].


18:22-26 – (RSB) Micah and some friends chased the Danites in order to try and recover his objects of worship and his priest. But when the Danites threatened their lives, they returned home. Note Micah’s bankrupt spiritual condition as he complained that in taking away the gods he had made, the Danites had taken away everything (v. 24).


Judges 18:22 And when they were a good way from the house of Micah, the men that were in the houses near to Micah’s house were gathered together, and overtook the children of Dan.


Judges 18:23 And they [i.e. Micah and the men accompanying him] cried unto the children of Dan. And they turned their faces, and said unto Micah, What aileth thee, that thou comest with such a company?


Judges 18:24 And he said, Ye have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and ye are gone away: and what have I more? and what is this that ye say unto me, What aileth thee?


Judges 18:25 And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us, lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy household.


Judges 18:26 And the children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they were too strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house.


Judges 18:27 And they took the things which Micah had made, and the priest which he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people that were at quiet and secure [i.e. peaceful and unsuspecting]: and they smote [i.e. struck] them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire.


Judges 18:28 And there was no deliverer, because it was far from Zidon, and they had no business with any man; and it was in the valley that lieth by Bethrehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein.


Judges 18:29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father [i.e. ancestor], who was born unto Israel [i.e. unto Jacob]: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.


Judges 18:30 And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.


Until the day of the captivity of the land. Either a reference to the deportation by Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria in 733-732 (II Kings 15:29 ) or to the time of the exile of the ark from Shiloh in the eleventh century B.C. (I Samuel 4:11 ). Verse 31 may favor the latter view.


Judges 18:31 And they set them up Micah’s graven [i.e. carved] image, which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.