Judges 17:4
Yet he restored the money to 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. After he had prayed to the Lord for strength for this last great deed, he embraced the two middle pillars upon which the building was erected, leant upon them, one with his right hand, the other with the left (viz., embracing them with his hands, as these words also belong to ילפּת), and said, "let my soul die with the Philistines." He then bent (the two pillars) with force, and the house fell upon the princes and all the people who were within. So far as the fact itself is concerned, there is no ground nor questioning the possibility of Samson's bringing down the whole building with so many men inside by pulling down two middle columns, as we have no accurate acquaintance with the style of its architecture. In all probability we have to picture this temple of Dagon as resembling the modern Turkish kiosks, namely as consisting of a "spacious hall, the roof of which rested in front upon four columns, two of them standing at the ends, and two close together in the centre. Under this hall the leading men of the Philistines celebrated a sacrificial meal, whilst the people were assembled above upon the top of the roof, which was surrounded by a balustrade" (Faber, Archol. der. Hebr. p. 444, cf. pp. 436-7; and Shaw, Reisen, p. 190). The ancients enter very fully into the discussion of the question whether Samson committed suicide or not, though without arriving at any satisfactory conclusion. O. v. Gerlach, however, has given the true answer. "Samson's deed," he says, "was not suicide, but the act of a hero, who sees that it is necessary for him to plunge into the midst of his enemies with the inevitable certainty of death, in order to effect the deliverance of his people and decide the victory which he has still to achieve. Samson would be all the more certain that this was the will of the Lord, when he considered that even if he should deliver himself in any other way cut of the hands of the Philistines, he would always carry about with him the mark of his shame in the blindness of his eyes-a mark of his unfaithfulness as the servant of God quite as much as of the double triumph of his foes, who had gained a spiritual as well as a corporeal victory over him." Such a triumph as this the God of Israel could not permit His enemies and their idols to gain. The Lord must prove to them, even through Samson's death, that the shame of his sin was taken from him, and that the Philistines had no cause to triumph over him. Thus Samson gained the greatest victory over his foes in the moment of his own death. The terror of the Philistines when living, he became a destroyer of the temple of their idol when he died. Through this last act of his he vindicated the honour of Jehovah the God of Israel, against Dagon the idol of the Philistines. "The dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life."
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