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It is a coincidence a little singular, that we should have read of precisely this amount of money in the previous chapter; and yet there is no obvious connection in the two records.
“ About which thou cursedst.” Did the woman curse because some one had taken the money? The Vulgate makes her to curse or swear upon the money, or by it, as by something sacred. The Septuagint makes Micah the object of his mother's curses. This is not probable, as she had not known that Micah took the money.
What motive influenced Micah to take the money, and then confess that he had taken it, does not appear. The subject is introduced apparently with a view to the sequel that was thought worthy of a record.
Micah had a house of gods. This will bear a different rendering; and we judge from the context that a different rendering is required. The silver had been dedicated to Jehovah ; and both Micah and his mother appear to have worshipped Jehovah. The expression should therefore be, that Micah had a house of God. We have seen before that the plural form of God is often used for the singular.
“That the divine service might be performed with a greater resemblance of what was done at the tabernacle in Shiloh, he made priestly ornaments; for so some learned men take the Ephod to comprehend, not only the breast-plate adjoining to it, but all the rest of the vestments used by the high-priest. His intention was to set up an oracle in his own house, in imitation of the sanctuary of Moses; and therefore, to make the conformity greater, it is supposed that he erected a kind of ark, whereon be placed two Teraphims, to answer the two cherubims in the tabernacle; as he caused the priest who officiated for him to wear an Ephod, in the manner that the high-priest did when he consulted God.” Stackhouse. His. of the Bible, A. D. 1796, Vol. III, p. 161.
In much of this history there is a strange mixing of the Mosaic ritual with the ideas and forms of paganism
It is a state of things which we ought perhaps to expect, from the situation and circumstances of the people at that time.
Concerning the ephod, and the teraphim, the Vulgate adds an explanation, "a sacerdotal garment and idols.” This we knew before. Plainly the ephod of Micah was designed to carry out the Mosaic arrangement; and as plainly the idols were kept, out of respect to the Canaanitish worship, though they may have represented the true God.
We are here reminded of the gods of Laban, also denoted by the same original word. Laban was apparently a believer in Jehovah - he appealed to Jehovah, as really and truly as his son-in-law Jacob did — and yet, he kept his household gods or images. It was the same with Micah. He believed in Jehovah — had a house of God- and had a Levite for his priest - but for some reason he kept images in his house. Probably he wanted" to be on the safe side."
There was no king in Israel. Not that this was after the kings. It was before their day; and the allusion to kings was suggested by the kings of other nations. There being no king, is mentioned as a sort of apology for the conduct the author was about to relate. The reference seems to imply that there was a king when the record was made, though not when the events took place.
The young man was a Levite of a family of Judah. This has the appearance of a contradiction. Judah and Levi were two separate tribes. The man referred to could not belong to both ; and yet he is so represented!
The most consistent view is, that he was a Levite; but one of the Levites that had been assigned to the tribe of Judah. The Levitical cities were distributed among all the tribes. The Levites in the tribe of Judah would be considered as belonging to that tribe; those in the other tribes, as belonging to those tribes respectively.
The young man was probably younger than Micah; and yet the latter proposes to the former to become a
father and a priest to him, using the term father officially or as a title of honor. In the next verse, the young man is regarded as one of Micah's sons.
The annual salary of the priest looks to us rather small. He was to have a suit of clothes, his board, and ten shekels of silver, equal to five dollars of our money. The Septuagint furnishes entirely different figures. According to that he was to have five dollars per diem!
That is as much above our modern salaries, as the other is below. The original is day, and not year; but it is day in the plural, which appears sometimes to have the meaning of year. Besides, we know that wages in those eastern countries were much lower nominally than with us.
Our Gospels make a man work in a vineyard for a penny a day - equivalent to one of our shillings. And in this case the food and raiment are not added, as proposed by Micah.
We smile at serving as priest for five dollars per annum, besides food and clothing; yet many of us who serve in a similar capacity, under the Gospel, do not save that amount, after our living is paid for.
Micah consecrated the Levite. Hebrew, "filled the hands" of the Levite. The origin of this figure may be in the idea that the duties of the office were onerous and would keep one very busy. The same expression is used in reference to the setting apart of Aaron and his sons to the priestly office.
Verse 13th shows plainly that Micah was a believer in the Mosaic institutions. /e had now a Levite for his priest, and Jehovah would do him good!
JUD. XVIII. 1. In those days there was no king of their family five men from their in Israel: and in those days the coasts, men of valor, from Zorah, tribe of the Danites sought them an and from Eshtaol, to spy out the inheritance to dwell in; for unto land, and to search it; and they that day all their inheritance had said unto them, Go, search the land : not fallen unto them among the who, when they came to mount tribes of Israel.
Ephraim, to the house of Micah, 2. And the children of Dan sent' they lodged there.
8. When they were by the house the Zidonians, quiet and secure ; of Micah, they knew the voice of and there was no magistrate in the the young man the Levite ; and they land, that might put them to shame turned in thither, and said unto in any thing; and they were far from him, Who brought thee hither? the Zidonians, and had no business and what makest thou in this place? with any man. and what hast thou here?
8. And they came unto their 4. And he said unto them, Thus brethren to Zorah and Eshtaol: and and thus dealeth Micah with me, their brethren said unto them, What and hath hired me, and I am his say ye? priest.
9. And they said, Arise, that we 6. And they said unto him, Ask may go up against them; for we counsel, we pray thee, of God, that have seen the land, and, behold, it we may know whether our way is very good: and are ye still ? be which we go shall be prosperous. not slothful to go, and to enter to
6. And the priest said unto them, possess the land. Go in peace : before the Lord is 10. When ye go, ye shall come your way wherein ye go.
unto a people secure, and to a large 7. Then the five men departed, land: for God bath given it into and came to Laish, and saw the your hands; a place where there is people that were therein, how they no want of any thing that is in the dwelt careless after the manner of earth.
Here again the author is going to tell us something that requires an apology; and he offers one, which is, that there was then no king in Israel.
The Danites had a small territory, taken from the lot of Judah. It was found to be too small, and they send a commission, consisting of five men, to different parts of the country, to ascertain where they could make a settlement to the best advantage. The men were of Zorah and Eshtaol, and were the immediate neighbors of Samson, though not necessarily his cotemporaries.
Some of the circumstances have marvelously the ap. pearance of being connected with some of the doings of Samson. And the fact that the history is given immediately after the account of Samson's exploits, may be taken as evidence that the author or cornpiler saw a connection in these two records. The men were from the same neighborhood as Samson. They go to mount Ephraim, though that did not lie directly in their way to Dan or Laish. They appear to know Micah and the Levite who resided with him.
In this connection let it be remembered that the mother of Micah had a certain amount of money which she had dedicated to Jehovah. It was eleven hundred shekels of silver, the same amount precisely which was given to Delilah for betraying Samson. xvi. 5.
How these men came to know the Levite we can not say. It is said they knew the voice of the young man. This may mean only that they knew, from his voice, that he was a priest. He was probably reciting some part of the ritual. Or, it may mean that they know him not to be an Ephraimite like Micah, as we have seen that the Ephraimites did not pronounce the Hebrew language like the rest of the people. xii
. 6. It is not necessary to conclude that they knew him personally. It confirms this view that subsequently a company of Danites go to the same place and rob Micah of these images, and of the priest, and carry them forcibly away.
A writer in Smith's Dictionary of the Bible (Micah) suggests that the Levite, being a grandson of Moses, (verse 30,) was sufficiently noted to have been personally acquainted with these Danites, and therefore their ready recognition of him. We would hardly expect, however, that a man of his position would be seeking employment and serving for so small a salary! Besides, it is not certain that Jonathan, verse 30, is the same as the Levite. The latter is not named, and he may have been dismissed, and Jonathan the grand-son of Moses put in his place.
Ask counsel, we pray you, of God. They wish to learn, through the priest, whether their way was to be prosperous. The priest returns the ambiguous reply, “Before Jehovah is the way wherein ye go.'
The allusion to the Zidonians leads one to conclude that the people of Leshem were a colony from Sidon.
JUD. XVIII. 11. And there went from thence dred men appointed with weapons of the family of the Danites, out of of war. Zorah and out of Eshtaol, six hun 12. And they went up, and pitched