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 and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee.
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(3) I had wholly dedicated the silver.—Literally, Consecrating, I consecrated—either, “I have now consecrated it” as a thanksgiving for its restoration, or “I had done so before it was stolen.”

For my soni.e., for your benefit.

To make a graven image and a molten image.—Whether in the universal decadence of religion, the people, untaught by a careless priesthood, had become ignorant of the second commandment, or whether she justified her conduct by the same considerations which have been used even in the Christian Church in favour of image-worship, we cannot tell. The word used for a graven image is pesel, and for a molten image is massecah. They are the very words used in the curse against idolaters in Deuteronomy 27:15. Some suppose the two words to be used by Hendiadys (like “cups and gold” for “golden cups” ) to describe one silver image adorned with sculptured ornament. All that is clear is that the pesel is the more prominent, but the details are left quite vague. It is therefore impossible to determine whether the graven and molten image consisted of one or of two silver “calves,” like that of the wilderness, and those afterwards set up by Jeroboam at Dan and Bethel. This, however, was a form which the violation of the second commandment was constantly liable to take, and it probably involved much less blame than other violations of it—not, as is often stated, because the Israelites had become familiar with the worship of Apis and Mnevis in Egypt, but because the calf was a recognised cherubic emblem, and had consequently been deliberately sanctioned in the symbolism of the Temple. (See Exodus 20:4; Exodus 20:23; Exodus 32:4-5; 1Kings 7:25, &c.) Some suppose that the massecah was the pedestal of the pesel, and that it was too heavy for the Danites to carry away, since it is not mentioned among the things which they seized.

Now therefore I will restore it unto thee.—Rather, for thee—in which case “I will restore it” may possibly mean “use it for its original purpose for thy advantage.” If not, a slight correction would give us the much simpler reading of the Syriac, “restore it to me.”

Jdg 17:3. I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the Lord — The meaning seems to be, that when she had lost the money, she vowed, that if she recovered it, she would dedicate it to the Lord, and her superstitious ignorance made her conceive that she could do this in no better way than in laying it out in images of some kind to be made use of in his worship. In the Hebrew here, the word for Lord is Jehovah, the incommunicable name of the true God, whereby it is apparent that neither she nor her son intended to forsake the true God, but only to worship him by an image, which also the Israelites designed to do when they made the calf in the wilderness, (Exodus 32:1,) and Jeroboam afterward. Hence this Micah rejoiced when he had got a priest of the Lord’s appointment. Their error lay in worshipping God according to their own fancies, and not as he had commanded. But this chapter and the following show that the Israelites were at this time fallen into a most deplorable and shameful ignorance of God and his law. For my son — For the benefit of thyself and family; that you need not be continually going to Shiloh to worship, but may do it at home. Therefore I will restore it unto thee — To dispose of it, as I say, in making an image.

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.Such a superstitious and unlawful mode of worshipping Yahweh is quite of a piece with Judges 8:27; Judges 11:31; 1 Kings 12:28, etc. It argues but slight acquaintance with the Ten Commandments, which, from the ignorance of reading and writing, were probably not familiar to the Israelites in those unsettled times. The mother intimates that the consecration of the silver was for the benefit of her son and his house, not for her own selfish advantage: and that she adheres to her original design of consecrating this silver for her son's benefit. 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 (at 2 shillings, 4 pence each, is about 23 pounds) would be a sum not adequate to the formation of large statues [Taylor, Fragments]. The Lord; in the Hebrew it is Jehovah, the incommunicable name of God; whereby it is apparent that neither she nor her son intended to forsake the true God or his worship; as appears from his rejoicing when he had got a priest of the Lord’s appointment, of the tribe of Levi, Judges 17:13; but only to worship God by an image; which also it is apparent that both the Israelites, Exodus 32:1, &c., and Jeroboam afterwards, designed to do.

For my son; either, first, For the honour and benefit of thyself and family; that you need not be continually going to Shiloh to worship, but may do it as well at home by these images. Or, secondly, That thou mayst cause these things to be made; to which end she restored all the money to him, as it here follows.

A graven image and a molten image; many think this was but one image, partly graven, and partly molten. But it seems more probable that they were two distinct images, because they are so plainly distinguished, Judges 18:17,18, where also some other words come between them. It is true, the graven image alone is mentioned, Judges 18:20,30,31, not exclusively to the other, as appears from what is said just before; but by a common synecdoche, whereby one is put for all, especially where that one is esteemed the chief.

I will restore it unto thee to dispose of, as I say.

And when he had restored the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother,.... The whole sum, having embezzled none of it:

his mother said, I had wholly dedicated the silver unto the Lord from my hand, for my son to make a graven image and a molten image; this she had done either before it was stolen, and it troubled her the more, and caused her the rather to curse the man that had taken it; or after it was stolen, that if it should be recovered again she would appropriate it to such an use; so Abarbinel; and by the Lord, or Jehovah, she doubtless meant the true God; for she had no intention to forsake him, but to worship him in and by these images, and which she designed for the use of her son and his family, that they might not go so far as Shiloh to worship at the tabernacle there:

therefore I will restore it unto thee; for that use, and so gave him the money again, to be laid out in images, or to make images of it.

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 {b} graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee.

(b) Contrary to the commandment of God and true religion practised under Joshua, they forsook the Lord and fell into idolatry.

3. from my hand for my son] LXX. cod. A and Luc. reads from my hand alone, with a slight change in the Hebr.; i.e. the mother alone, the rightful owner, could carry out the vow; so Moore, Lagrange. But the emphasis on alone is not particularly required, and the text may be retained. Following the rearrangement above, the mother, not suspecting who the culprit is, consecrates her money for the benefit of her son.

a graven image and a molten image] According to etymology the one (pesel) was carved out of stone or wood, the other (massçkah) cast in metal; elsewhere both are named together to denote idols of any kind (Deuteronomy 27:15, Isaiah 42:17); and in usage the etymological distinction was not always observed, a pesel, for example, could be cast in gold and silver (Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 44:10). In the present narrative the two words are combined, as though two images were meant; but Jdg 17:4 end and Jdg 18:20 refer to only one pesel in Micah’s house, the one which was afterwards set up at Dan, Jdg 18:30-31. Probably, therefore, we must take and a molten image as an explanatory addition inserted here and in Jdg 17:4, Jdg 18:14; Jdg 18:17-18 by a scribe who thought that the silver and the founder in Jdg 17:4 necessarily implied a massçkah.

The pesel here must have been an image of Jehovah, for it was made of silver which had been consecrated to Him; and the writer, so far from expressing an objection to the thing, records the making of it as a pious act. Throughout the early period images were used in the worship of Jehovah. Golden bull-calves symbolized Jehovah at Dan and Beth-el, 1 Kings 12:28, cf. Exodus 32:4; the prohibition of molten gods (massçkah) in the ancient code Exodus 34:17 J may be aimed at these. It was not till the viiith century that the prophets began to oppose the use of images (Hosea 10:5; Hosea 10:8; Hosea 13:2, Amos 8:14); and in agreement with the prophets, the Decalogue forbids an image (pesel) of any kind, Exodus 20:4 E = Deuteronomy 5:8. But while images of Jehovah existed in the various local shrines, we hear of none at Shiloh (Jdg 18:31) and Jerusalem, where the ark was kept; these sanctuaries had a different character, and probably maintained a higher type of worship.

Verse 3. - I had wholly dedicated. It is not clear whether the words are to be rendered as in the A.V., had dedicated, expressing the dedication of them before they were stolen, or whether they merely express her present purpose so to dedicate them. But the A.V. makes very good sense. Her former purpose had been that the money should be given for her son's benefit to make his house an house of gods. Now that he had confessed, she resumed her purpose. Now therefore I restore it unto thee - that is, in the shape of the graven and molten images, as it follows in the next verse. The narrative gives a curious example of the semi-idolatry of the times. A graven image and a molten image. There is a good deal of difficulty in assigning the exact meaning of the two words here used, and their relation to one another in the worship to which they belong. The molten image (massechah), however, seems to be pretty certainly the metal, here the silver, image of a calf, the form which the corrupt worship of Jehovah took from the time when Aaron made the molten calf (Exodus 32:4, called there 'egel massechah, a molten calf) to the time when Jeroboam set up the golden calves at Dan and Bethel (1 Kings 12:28, 29). And that massechah means something molten is certain both from its etymology (nasach, to pour) and from what Aaron said in Exodus 32:24: "I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf." Here too Micah's mother gives the silver to the founder, i.e. to the fuser of metals. The pesel, or graven image, on the other hand, is something hewn or graven, whether in wood or stone, and sometimes overlaid with gold and silver (Deuteronomy 7:25). One might have thought, from the language of ver. 4, and from the mention of the pesel alone in Judges 18:30, 31, that only one image is here intended, which was graven with the chisel after it was cast, as Aaron's calf seems to have been. But in Judges 18:17, 18 they are mentioned separately, with the ephod and teraphim named between them, so that they must be distinct. From the above passages the pesel or graven image would seem to have been the most important object, and the difficulty is to assign the true relation of the massechah or molten image to it. Hengstenberg thinks the massechah was a pedestal on which the pesel stood, and that the ephod was the robe with which the pesel was clothed, and that the teraphim were certain tokens or emblems attached to the ephod which gave oracular answers. But this is not much more than guess-work. Berthean considers the ephod, here as elsewhere, to be the priest's garment, put on when performing the most solemn services, and specially when seeking an answer from God. And he thinks that the massechah formed a part of the ornament of the ephod, because in Judges 18:18 the Hebrew has "the pesel of the ephod." The teraphin he thinks are idols, a kind of Dii minores associated with the worship of Jehovah in this impure worship. But there does not seem to be any means at present of arriving at any certainty. The massechah might be a rich gold or silver overlaying of the wooden image, possibly movable, or it might be the separate image of a calf supposed to belong, as it were, to the pesel, and to symbolise the attributes of the Godhead. Judges 17:3A man of the mountains of Ephraim named Micah (מיכיהוּ, Judges 17:1, Judges 17:4, when contracted into מיכה, Judges 17:5, Judges 17:8, etc.), who set up this worship for himself, and "respecting whom the Scriptures do not think it worth while to add the name of his father, or to mention the family from which he sprang" (Berleb. Bible), had stolen 1100 shekels of silver (about 135) from his mother. This is very apparent from the words which he spoke to his mother (v. 2): "The thousand and hundred shekels of silver which were taken from thee (the singular לקּח refers to the silver), about which thou cursedst and spakest of also in mine ears (i.e., didst so utter the curse that among others I also heard it), behold, this silver is with me; I have taken it." אלה, to swear, used to denote a malediction or curse (cf. אלה קול, Leviticus 5:1). He seems to have been impelled to make this confession by the fear of his mother's curse. But his mother praised him for it, - "Blessed be my son of Jehovah," - partly because she saw in it a proof that there still existed a germ of the fear of God, but in all probability chiefly because she was about to dedicate the silver to Jehovah; for, when her son had given it back to her, she said (v. 3), "I have sanctified the silver to the Lord from my hand for my son, to make an image and molten work." The perfect הקדּשׁתּי is not to be taken in the sense of the pluperfect, "I had sanctified it," but is expressive of an act just performed: I have sanctified it, I declare herewith that I do sanctify it. "And now I give it back to thee," namely, to appropriate to thy house of God.
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