The beginning of idolatry in Israel, Micah and his mother. (1-6) Micah hires a Levite to be his priest. (7-13)
Verses 1-6 What is related in this, and the rest of the chapters to the end of this book, was done soon after the death of Joshua: see chap. ( Judges 20:28 ) . That it might appear how happy the nation was under the Judges, here is showed how unhappy they were when there was no Judge. The love of money made Micah so undutiful to his mother as to rob her, and made her so unkind to her son, as to curse him. Outward losses drive good people to their prayers, but bad people to their curses. This woman's silver was her god, before it was made into a graven or a molten image. Micah and his mother agreed to turn their money into a god, and set up idol worship in their family. See the cause of this corruption. Every man did that which was right in his own eyes, and then they soon did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.
Verses 7-13 Micah thought it was a sign of God's favour to him and his images, that a Levite should come to his door. Thus those who please themselves with their own delusions, if Providence unexpectedly bring any thing to their hands that further them in their evil way, are apt from thence to think that God is pleased with them.
Judges 17:1-4 . MICAH RESTORING THE STOLEN MONEY TO HIS MOTHER, SHE MAKES IMAGES.
1. a man of mount Ephraim--that is, the mountainous parts of Ephraim. This and the other narratives that follow form a miscellaneous collection, or appendix to the Book of Judges. It belongs to a period when the Hebrew nation was in a greatly disordered and corrupt state. This episode of Micah is connected with Judges 1:34 . It relates to his foundation of a small sanctuary of his own--a miniature representation of the Shiloh tabernacle--which he stocked with images modelled probably in imitation of the ark and cherubim. Micah and his mother were sincere in their intention to honor God. But their faith was blended with a sad amount of ignorance and delusion. The divisive course they pursued, as well as the will-worship they practised, subjected the perpetrators to the penalty of death.
3. a graven image and a molten image--The one carved from a block of wood or stone, to be plated over with silver; the other, a figure formed of the solid metal cast into a mould. It is observable, however, that only two hundred shekels were given to the founder. Probably the expense of making two such figures of silver, with their appurtenances (pedestals, bases, &c.), might easily cost, in those days, two hundred shekels, which would be a sum not adequate to the formation of large statues [TAYLOR, Fragments].
5. the man Micah had an house of gods--Hebrew, "a house of God"--a domestic chapel, a private religious establishment of his own.
teraphim--tutelary gods of the household (see Genesis 31:19 and
consecrated one of his sons who became his priest--The assumption of the priestly office by any one out of the family of Aaron was a direct violation of the divine law ( Numbers 3:10 , 16:17 , Deuteronomy 21:5 , Hebrews 5:4 ).
6. every man did that which was right in his own eyes--From want of a settled government, there was no one to call him to account. No punishment followed any crime.
7. Beth-lehem-judah--so called in contradistinction to a town of the same name in Zebulun ( Joshua 19:15 ).
of the family--that is, tribe.
of Judah--Men of the tribe of Levi might connect themselves, as Aaron did ( Exodus 6:23 ), by marriage with another tribe; and this young Levite belonged to the tribe of Judah, by his mother's side, which accounts for his being in Beth-lehem, not one of the Levitical cities.
8. the man departed . . . to sojourn where he could find a place--A competent provision being secured for every member of the Levitical order, his wandering about showed him to have been a person of a roving disposition or unsettled habits. In the course of his journeying he came to the house of Micah, who, on learning what he was, engaged his permanent services.
10. Micah said unto him, Dwell with me, and be unto me a father--a spiritual father, to conduct the religious services of my establishment. He was to receive, in addition to his board, a salary of ten shekels of silver.
a suit of apparel--not only dress for ordinary use, but vestments suitable for the discharge of his priestly functions.
12. Micah consecrated the Levite--Hebrew, "filled his hand." This act of consecration was not less unlawful for Micah to perform than for this Levite to receive
13. Now know I that the Lord will do me good--The removal of his son, followed by the installation of this Levite into the priestly office, seems to have satisfied his conscience, that by what he deemed the orderly ministrations of religion he would prosper. This expression of his hope evinces the united influence of ignorance and superstition.