Judges 17:13
Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(13) That the Lord will do me good.—In this anticipation we find a very little further on that he was rudely undeceived, and we are hardly in a position to know whether it was due to hypocrisy or to mere ignorance. So far as Micah was devout and sincere, we must feel that the Lord did him good by stripping him of his gorgeous instruments of superstition and humbling his pride.

I have a Levite to my priest.—Rather, the Levite. The article may be generic, meaning “one of the Levites;” but Jonathan, as a son of Gershom, has a special right to be called “the Levite,” as a representative of the tribe. It is at least doubtful whether the priestly functions expected of him in this instance included sacrifice; but, in any case, Micah could hardly have been entirely unaware that the Levites were incapable of priestly functions (“Seek ye the priesthood also?”—Numbers 16:10), or of the fact that the authorised worship of the nation was to be confined to the place which God should choose, which in this instance was Shiloh. In any case, however, the passage furnishes us with a fresh proof of the utter neglect of the Mosaic law, as represented in the Book of Leviticus, from a very early period. His “house of God” seems to have resembled the high places, which even the faithful kings of Israel were unable or unwilling to clear away. They were ultimately cleared away by Hezekiah, but not without so great a shock to the then established custom, that Rabshakeh actually appeals to the fact in proof of Hezekiah’s impiety, and as a sign that he has forfeited the favour of Jehovah (2Kings 18:22).

Jdg 17:13. Do me good — I am assured God will bless me. So blind and grossly partial he was in his judgment, to think that one right circumstance would answer for all his substantial errors, in making and worshipping images against God’s express command, in worshipping God in a forbidden place, by a priest illegally appointed. “He persuades himself,” says Calmet, “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 which he here calls the blessing 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.” 17:7-13 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.This shows the ignorance as well as the superstition of the age (compare 2 Kings 18:22), and gives a picture of the lawlessness of the times. The incidental testimony to the Levitical priesthood is to be noted; but the idolatrous worship in the immediate neighborhood of Shiloh is passing strange. 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. I am assured God will bless me. So blind and grossly partial he was in his judgment, to think that one right circumstance would answer for all his substantial errors, in making and worshipping images against God’s express command, in worshipping God in a forbidden place, and in that he, being an Ephraimite, presumed to make a priest, &c. Then said Micah,.... Within himself, pleased with what he had done, and with what he engaged in:

now know I that the Lord will do me good; that I shall enjoy his favour, be a happy man, and prosper; and by this it appears, that notwithstanding the idolatry he had fallen into, he had not utterly forsaken the Lord, but worshipped him in and by his images; there was a mixture of the worship of God, and of the worship of images:

seeing I have a Levite to my priest; who was of the same tribe the priests were, and so the nearest to them of any, and which he thought would be acceptable to God, and an omen of good to himself.

Then said Micah, Now know I that the LORD will do me {i} good, seeing I have a Levite to my priest.

(i) Thus the idolaters persuade themselves of God's favour, when indeed he detests them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. This verse may belong to either of the two narratives.Verse 13. - Then said Micah, etc. We may notice this incidental proof that the Levites in the time of Micah held the religious position which is ascribed to them in the Pentateuch. I have a Levite. Rather, the Levite, meaning the particular Levite of whom it is the question. A Levite would be without the article, as in ver. 7, or would be expressed as in Judges 19:1 (Hebrews), a man a Levite.



Appointment of a Levite as Priest. - Judges 17:7. In the absence of a Levitical priest, Micah had first of all appointed one of his sons as priest at his sanctuary. He afterwards found a Levite for this service. A young man from Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who, being a Levite, stayed (גּר) there (in Bethlehem) as a stranger, left this town to sojourn "at the place which he should find," sc., as a place that would afford him shelter and support, and came up to the mountains of Ephraim to Micah's house, "making his journey," i.e., upon his journey. (On the use of the inf. constr. with ל in the sense of the Latin gerund in do, see Ewald, 280, d.) Bethlehem was not a Levitical town. The young Levite from Bethlehem was neither born there nor made a citizen of the place, but simply "sojourned there," i.e., dwelt there temporarily as a stranger. The further statement as to his descent (mishpachath Judah) is not to be understood as signifying that he was a descendant of some family in the tribe of Judah, but simply that he belonged to the Levites who dwelt in the tribe of Judah, and were reckoned in all civil matters as belonging to that tribe. On the division of the land, it is true that it was only to the priests that dwelling-places were allotted in the inheritance of this tribe (Joshua 21:9-19), whilst the rest of the Levites, even the non-priestly members of the family of Kohath, received their dwelling-places among the other tribes (Joshua 21:20.). At the same time, as many of the towns which were allotted to the different tribes remained for a long time in the possession of the Canaanites, and the Israelites did not enter at once into the full and undisputed possession of their inheritance, it might easily so happen that different towns which were allotted to the Levites remained in possession of the Canaanites, and consequently that the Levites were compelled to seek a settlement in other places. It might also happen that individuals among the Levites themselves, who were disinclined to perform the service assigned them by the law, would remove from the Levitical towns and seek some other occupation elsewhere (see also at Judges 18:30).

(Note: There is no reason, therefore, for pronouncing the words יהוּדה ממּשׁפּחת (of the family of Judah) a gloss, and erasing them from the text, as Houbigant proposes. The omission of them from the Cod. Vat. of the lxx, and from the Syriac, is not enough to warrant this, as they occur in the Cod. Al. of the lxx, and their absence from the authorities mentioned may easily be accounted for from the difficulty which was felt in explaining their meaning. On the other hand, it is impossible to imagine any reason for the interpolation of such a gloss into the text.)

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