Judges 17:1
And there was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(1) There was.—The Vulg. has, “there was at that time” which is an error, for these events happened before the days of Samson.

A man of mount Ephraim.—The hill-district of Ephraim, as in Judges 2:9. The Talmud (Sanhedr. 103, b) says that he lived at Garab, not far from Shiloh, but the name (“a blotch”) is probably a term of scorn (Deuteronomy 28:27). Similarly, we find in Perachim, 117, a, that he lived at Bochi. (See Judges 2:1-5.) Most of the idolatrous violations of the second commandment occurred in the northern kingdom (Gideon, Judges 8:27; Micah, Judges 17; Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12, 13). These apostasies were not a worship of other gods, but a worship of the true God under unauthorised conditions, and with forbidden images.

Whose name was Micah.—Scripture does not deem it necessary to say anything more about him. His very name—here Micayehû, “Who is like Jehovah “—seems to show that he had been trained by pious parents. The contraction Micah is adopted throughout the rest of the story.

Jdg 17:1. Here begins what may be called a supplement to the book of Judges; which gives an account of several memorable transactions, in or about the time of the judges: whose history the author would not interrupt, by intermixing these matters with it, but reserved them to be related apart by themselves, in the five following chapters. In these he first gives an account how idolatry came into the tribe of Ephraim; which he doth in this chapter: secondly, How it came to be introduced in the tribe of Dan, chap. 18. And then he relates, in chap. 19., a most barbarous and shameful act done by some Benjamites, and the entire destruction of that tribe, except six hundred men, for countenancing it, chap. 20. And lastly, in chap. 21., he relates how the tribe of Benjamin was kept from being extinguished. Whose name was Micah — When Micah lived, and did what is related in this chapter, we may with some certainty gather from Jdg 17:6, which tells us, there was no king in Israel at that time; that is, no supreme governor, with a power to keep the people to their duty; which is supposed by learned men to have been between the death of those elders who survived Joshua, and the first oppression of Israel by Cushan. In which space of time, it is manifest, the Israelites first fell from the worship of God, and polluted themselves with idolatry, Jdg 2:13, and Jdg 3:7. The beginning of which defection from God’s described briefly in this chapter.17:1-6 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. Jud 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.See the introduction to the Book of Judges. The only point of contact with the preceding history of Samson is, that we are still concerned with the tribe of Dan. See Judges 18:1-2, note. Josephus combines in one narrative what we read here and in Judges 1:34, and places it, with the story in Judges 18-21, immediately after the death of Joshua. CHAPTER 17

Jud 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 Jud 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.Micah stealeth money of his mother; then confesseth and restoreth it. She dedicates it to the Lord; maketh images: he sets them up in the house of his gods; and consecrates one of his sons for his priest; there being then no magistrates in Israel, Judges 17:1-6. A Levite travelling that way, he hireth and consecrateth him to be his priest, Judges 17:7-12; is confident that God would therefore favour and bless him, Judges 17:13.

The things mentioned here, and in the following chapters, did not happen in the order in which they are put; but much sooner, even presently after the death of the elders that overlived Joshua, Judges 2:7, as appears by divers passages; as first, Because the place called Mahaneh-dan, or the camp of Dan, Judges 13:25, was so called from that which was done, Judges 18:12. Secondly, Because the Danites had not yet got all their inheritance, Judges 18:1, which is not credible of them above three hundred years after Joshua’s death. Thirdly, Because Phinehas the son of Eleazar was priest at this time, Judges 20:28, who must have been about three hundred and fifty years old, if this had been done after Samson’s death, which is more than improbable.

And there was a man of Mount Ephraim,.... This and the four following chapters contain an history of facts, which were done not after the death of Samson, as some have thought, and as they may seem at first sight, by the order in which they are laid; but long before his time, and indeed before any of the judges in Israel, when there was no king, judge, or supreme governor among them, as appears from Judges 17:6 even between the death of Joshua and the elders, and the first judge of Israel, Othniel; and so Josephus (e) places them in his history, and the connection of them is with Judges 2:10 and so accounts for the rise of idolatry in Israel, how it got into the tribe of Dan, and spread itself over all the tribes of Israel, Judges 2:11 which brought on their servitude to Cushanrishathaim, in which time the Jewish chronology (f) places those events; but they were certainly before that, for the idolatry they fell into was the cause of it; yet could not be so early as the times of Joshua, and before his death; because in his days, and the days of the elders, Israel served the Lord; the reasons why they are postponed to the end of this book, and the account of them given here, are, according to Dr. Lightfoot (g), that the reader observing how their state policy failed in the death of Samson, who was a Danite, might presently be showed God's justice in it, because their religion had first failed among the Danites; that when he observes that 1100 pieces of silver were given by every Philistine prince for the ruin of Samson, Judges 16:5 he might presently observe the 1100 pieces of silver that were given by Micah's mother for the making of an idol, which ruined religion in Samson's tribe; that the story of Micah, of the hill country of Ephraim, the first destroyer of religion, and the story of Samuel, of the hill country of Ephraim, the first reformer of religion, might be laid together somewhat near. That the facts after related were so early done as has been observed, appears from the following things; the priest of the idol Micah made was a grandson of Moses, Judges 18:30, the Danites' seeking to enlarge their possessions, related in the same chapter, was most probably as soon as they were driven into the mountains by the Amorites, Judges 1:34. Mahanah Dan, from whence they marched, and had its name from their expedition, Judges 18:12 is mentioned before in the history of Samson, Judges 13:25 and therefore the expedition must be before his time. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, was alive at the battle of Gibeah, Judges 20:28 and Deborah speaks of the 40,000 Israelites slain by Benjamin at it, Judges 5:8. This man with whom the idolatry began was of the tribe of Ephraim, and dwelt in the mountainous part of it:

whose name was Micah; in the original it is Micajehu, with part of the name Jehovah affixed to it, as Dr. Lightfoot (h) remarks, till he set up his image, and thenceforward was called Micah; but, according to Abarbinel, the former was his name while he was a child, and in his youth, and with his mother, being a diminutive term, and when he became a man be was called Micah, Judges 17:5.

(e) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 2. sect. 8, &c. (f) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 12. p. 33. (g) Works, vol. 1. p. 46. (h) Works, vol. 1. p. 45.

And there {a} was a man of mount Ephraim, whose name was Micah.

(a) Some think this history was in the time of Othniel, or as Josephus writes, immediately after Joshua.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. the hill country of Ephraim] See on Jdg 3:27. In view of its subsequent connexion with the sanctuary at Dan, some think that Micah’s house was at Beth-el. The narrative, however, leaves the situation vague; it may imply that he lived somewhere on the road which ran northwards along the Central Highlands, Jdg 18:13.Verse 1. - We here light upon quite a different kind of history from that which has preceded. We no longer have to do with judges and their mighty deeds in delivering Israel from his oppressors, but with two detached histories, which fill up the rest of the book, relating to the internal affairs of Israel. There is no note of time, except that they happened before the time of Saul the king (Judges 17:6; Judges 18:1), and. that Phinehas the son of Eleazar was alive at the time of the occurrence of the second (Judges 20:28). Both, no doubt, are long prior to Samson. The only apparent connection of the history of Micah with that of Samson is that both relate to the tribe of Dan, and it may be presumed were contained in the annals of that tribe. Compare the opening of the Books of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1). Mount Ephraim; i.e. the hill country of Ephraim, as in Judges 3:27; Judges 7:24, etc. When their hearts were merry (יטוב, inf. of יטב), they had Samson fetched out of the prison, that he might make sport before them, and "put him between the pillars" of the house or temple in which the triumphal feast was held. Then he said to the attendant who held his hand, "Let me loose, and let me touch the pillars upon which the house is built, that I may lean upon it." הימישׁני is the imperative Hiphil of the radical verb ימשׁ, which only occurs here; and the Keri substitutes the ordinary form המישׁ from מוּשׁ. "But the house," adds the historian by way of preparation for what follows, "was filled with men and women: all the princes of the Philistines also were there; and upon the roof were about three thousand men and women, who feasted their eyes with Samson's sports" (ראה with בּ, used to denote the gratification of looking).
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