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, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Yet.—Rather, And.

Two hundred shekels of silver.—Bertheau supposes that these two hundred shekels were not apart of the eleven hundred, but the trespass-money of one-fifth, which by the law Micah had to pay for his theft (Lev. 5:24). But apart from the sum not being exact, no such impression is given by the narrative. It is left to be understood that the remaining nine hundred shekels were spent in other parts of the idolatrous worship. (It may be mentioned, by way of passing illustration, that when Sir John Hawle was murdered in Westminster Abbey, the £200 paid in penance by his murderers seem to have been expended upon the purchase of a costly image, which was placed in the Chapel of St. Erasmus.)

Gave them to the founder.—An illustration of the folly which Isaiah pursues with such a storm of irony and contempt (Isaiah 46:6-13). These pesîlîm were originally of all sorts of materials (e.g., wood, brass, stone, and clay, Daniel 2:33; Daniel 5:23; Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3, &c.), but usually of metal (Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 44:10, &c.), adorned with plates and chains of precious metal, and embroidered robes (Jeremiah 10:9; Ezekiel 16:18, &c.). (See Excursus I.: Calf-Worship. )

EXCURSUS ON NOTES TO JUDGES.

EXCURSUS I.—ON Judges 17:4. (CALF-WORSHIP.)

IT may be regarded as certain, from the testimony of Scripture itself, that the calf of Aaron and those by which the rebel king

“Doubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan,

Likening his Maker to the grazed ox,”

were not idols in the ordinary sense of the word, but were intended as symbols of the one God. The calf-worship was a violation not of the first, but of the second commandment. The main element of the fourfold cherub was certainly an ox, as is clear from the comparison of Ezekiel 10:14 with Judges 1:7-8; and the knowledge of this cherubic emblem was not confined to the Jews, but was spread at least through all Semitic races. That the calf was intended to be an emblem of God seems to be the opinion of Josephus, who in such a matter would represent creditable Jewish traditions (Antt. viii. 8, § 4). Aaron in proclaiming the feast at the inauguration of his golden calf distinctly calls it a feast to Jehovah (Exodus 32:5). It was the well-understood purpose of Jeroboam not to introduce a new worship, but to provide a convenient modification of the old; and it appears from 1Kings 22:16 that the prophets of the calf-worship still regarded themselves, and were regarded, as the prophets of Jehovah; but the fate of Amos is sufficient to show that they must have sanctioned, or at least tolerated, the use of these unauthorised symbols, against which, so far as we are informed, not even Elijah or Elisha ever raised their voices, though the former was so implacable a foe to all idolatry, and the latter lived on terms of close friendship with at least one of the northern kings. (See the article “Calf,” by the present writer, in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible.)

Jdg 17:4. Yet he restored the money to his mother — Though she allowed him to keep it, he persisted in his resolution to restore it, that she might dispose of it as she pleased. His mother took two hundred shekels — Reserving nine hundred either for the ephod, or teraphim, or other things relating to this worship.

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 Judges 8:27, note; Genesis 31:19, note. 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]. Yet he restored the money unto his mother; though his mother allowed him to keep it, yet he persisted in his resolution to restore it, that she might dispose of it as she pleased; and did actually restore it, as was said before; and now confirms the former restitution, and therefore is twice said to restore it.

His mother took two hundred shekels of silver; reserving nine hundred shekels, either for the ephod and teraphim, or for other things relating to this worship, or for her own private use; being, it seems, cooled in her first zeal, and willing to have as cheap a religion as she could, as also her son Micah was, Judges 17:10.

Who made thereof; made them, either first, of that matter; or secondly, for that money.

Yet he restored the money unto his mother,.... Gave it to her a second tithe, not as disapproving her idolatrous intention, as the sequel shows, but being desirous to be entirely free of it, and not have his mind disturbed with it as it had been, and that she might do with it as she thought fit:

and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image, and a molten image; the other nine hundred pieces she kept to herself, repenting of her vow, and being unwilling to part with so much money for such an use; or else they were laid out in an ephod, and teraphim, and what else were thought necessary for the idolatrous worship they were about to set up; though Kimchi is of opinion, that the two hundred shekels were what she gave the founder for making the images, and of the nine hundred the images were made; and indeed the images must be very small ones, if made out of two hundred shekels of silver only; some have thought there was but one image, called both molten and graven; because after the silver was melted, and cast into a mould, it was fashioned with a graving tool, as the golden calf was by Aaron; but they are manifestly distinguished and represented as two, Judges 18:17 and they were in the house of Micah; in an apartment in his house, peculiar for them, as appears by the next verse; here they were put and continued.

Yet he restored the money unto his mother; and his mother took two hundred shekels of silver, and gave them to the founder, who made thereof a graven image and a molten image: and they were in the house of Micah.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. two hundred pieces of silver] Because the whole sum was given to Jehovah it does not follow that the whole was wanted for the image. Elsewhere the founder is a maker of idols, Isaiah 40:19; Isaiah 41:7.

Verse 4. - Yet he restored. Rather, so he restored, repeating what was said in ver. 3, and adding the consequence, that his mother took two hundred shekels and gave them to the founder. It is a great puzzle to explain why two hundred shekels only are here spoken of, and what became of the other nine hundred. Bertheau thinks the two hundred were different from the eleven hundred, and were the fifth part of the whole value stolen, which the thief, according to Leviticus 6:5, was bound to give in addition to the principal. He therefore translates ver. 4 thus: "So he restored the money to his mother (and his mother took two hundred shekels), and she gave it (the money 1100 shekels) to the founder," etc. Others understand that two hundred only were actually made into the graven and molten image, and the other nine hundred were devoted to other expenses of the worship. In the house of Micah. This explains, Now I will restore it unto thee, and, for my son to make, etc., in ver. 3. Judges 17:4Hereupon-namely, when her son had given her back the silver ("he restored the silver unto his mother" is only a repetition of Judges 17:3, introduced as a link with which to connect the appropriation of the silver)-the mother took 200 shekels and gave them to the goldsmith, who made an image and molten work of them, which were henceforth in Micah's house. The 200 shekels were not quite the fifth part of the whole. What she did with the rest is not stated; but from the fact that she dedicated the silver generally, i.e., the whole amount, to Jehovah, according to Judges 17:3, we may infer that she applied the remainder to the maintenance of the image-worship.

(Note: There is no foundation for Bertheau's opinion, that the 200 shekels were no part of the 1100, but the trespass-money paid by the son when he gave his mother back the money that he had purloined, since, according to Leviticus 6:5, when a thief restored to the owner any stolen property, he was to add the fifth of its value. There is no ground for applying this law to the case before us, simply because the taking of the money by the son is not even described as a theft, whilst the mother really praises her son for his open confession.)

Pesel and massecah (image and molten work) are joined together, as in Deuteronomy 27:15. The difference between the two words in this instance is very difficult to determine. Pesel signifies an idolatrous image, whether made of wood or metal. Massecah, on the other hand, signifies a cast, something poured; and when used in the singular, is almost exclusively restricted to the calf cast by Aaron or Jeroboam. It is generally connected with עגל, but it is used in the same sense without this definition (e.g., Deuteronomy 9:12). This makes the conjecture a very natural one, that the two words together might simply denote a likeness of Jehovah, and, judging from the occurrence at Sinai, a representation of Jehovah in the form of a molten calf. But there is one obstacle in the way of such a conjecture, namely, that in Judges 18:17-18, massecah is separated from pesel, so as necessarily to suggest the idea of two distinct objects. But as we can hardly suppose that Micah's mother had two images of Jehovah made, and that Micah had both of them set up in his house of God, no other explanation seems possible than that the massecah was something belonging to the pesel, or image of Jehovah, but yet distinct from it-in other words, that it was the pedestal upon which it stood. The pesel was at any rate the principal thing, as we may clearly infer from the fact that it is placed in the front rank among the four objects of Micah's sanctuary, which the Danites took with them (Judges 18:17-18), and that in Judges 18:30-31, the pesel alone is mentioned in connection with the setting up of the image-worship in Dan. Moreover, there can hardly be any doubt that pesel, as a representation of Jehovah, was an image of a bull, like the golden calf which Aaron had made at Sinai (Exodus 32:4), and the golden calves which Jeroboam set up in the kingdom of Israel, and one of which was set up in Dan (1 Kings 12:29).

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