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Judges 17:2: The Superstition and Idolatry of Micah's Family

Verse 2:[1] And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee, about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me; I took it. And his mother said, (Gen. 14:19; Ruth 3:10) Blessed be thou of the LORD, my son.

[He said to his mother] She was, as it appears, elderly, since she had adult grandchildren, and quite superstitious, etc. (Bonfrerius).

[Which thou hadst separated to thyself[2]] That is, which thou hadst reserved for certain uses, or, for uncertain cases and occasions (Lapide, Bonfrerius).

[אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֻֽקַּֽח־לָ֗ךְ] Which was taken, or received, to thee (Montanus, Jonathan, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius); which thou hadst taken to thyself (Septuagint). Others: which were taken away, or stolen, with respect to thee (Syriac, Pagnine, Tigurinus). Which was taken, that is, stolen by theft (Piscator, Drusius). לֻקַּח, it was taken, is here taken in the place of נִגְנַב, that is, it was carried away by theft: For it is put in the passive Piel (Munster). I noted elsewhere that to take is in the place of to seize. Rabbi Salomon here adds that לָךְ, to thee, is put in the place of מִמָּךְ, from thee. Thus elsewhere, עצירה לנו, she is kept to us, in the place of מִמֶּנּוּ, from us, Genesis 34:2 (Drusius). [But there is no such thing in that place, but, in 1 Samuel 21:5, עֲצֻרָה־לָנוּ, she is kept to us,[3] occurs.] But our version is preferable; for לָקַח, when it is taken for to steal, is not constructed with ל/to, but with מִן/from; as in Genesis 2:22, 23;[4] Deuteronomy 3:4;[5] Isaiah 49:24.[6] But, on the other hand, when one is said to receive something to himself, or for his own use, it is always constructed with ל; Genesis 6:2;[7] 7:2;[8] 12:19;[9] 21:21;[10] 24:4,[11] and always elsewhere (Bonfrerius).

[And over which thou hadst sworn, וְאַ֤תִּי אָלִית֙] And thou hast sworn (Jonathan), or, adjured (Montanus), or, cursed (Vatablus), or, devoted (Munster), devoted with imprecations (Tigurinus); because thou hast execrated (Junius and Tremellius); because of which thou hast cursed (Pagnine, similarly the Syriac, Vatablus, Osiander, Piscator), namely, the thief, him that took that silver (Piscator, thus Drusius, Malvenda). That is to say, I, having been smitten by thine execration, acknowledge my fault (Junius). A threefold sense is set forth: 1. Thou hadst sworn, that is, by swearing thou hadst vowed that thou wast going to fashion an idol. 2. Thou hadst sworn, that is, by imprecations thou hadst cursed the thief: 3. and more plainly, thou hadst sworn, that is, thou hadst adjured me, that, if I knew anything concerning these silver pieces which thou hadst lost, I should declare it to thee. Therefore, the son (whom the mother adjured) confessed that he had taken them (Lapide, Bonfrerius). Perhaps she was suspecting that her son knew something of this matter (Bonfrerius).

About which thou cursedst, that is, didst curse the person who had taken them away, and that in my hearing, as it follows. I took it; the fear of thy curse makes me acknowledge mine offence, and beg thy pardon.

[Blessed be my son by the Lord (thus the Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac)] Others: my son[12] (Pagnine, Montanus). Blessed, understanding, be thou, or, art thou; that is, the Lord bless thee: which is to say, Be thou happy and blessed, and let all things fall out prosperously to thee from God (Vatablus); because thou hast been so prompt to render to me the money dedicated to sacred uses (Osiander). Others thus: that is to say, Be thou free from this my execration (Junius, Piscator). Whom she had cursed she now blesses, since she knows it to be her son. In this manner she frees him from the execration (Drusius). How superstitious this woman was is apparent from these words: She commends her son because he had returned the money; but she does not reprehend him because he first stole. Immediately she began to treat with him concerning the idol: To thee, says she, that money shall not be lost: Thou shalt have it indeed, but in an idol (Martyr). Question: Who is he that is here called יְהוָה, the Lord? Response 1: That idol, or fictitious god for whom she prepared the idol, as follows (Lapide, Bonfrerius, Malvenda, Drusius, Menochius). You will say, This is the proper name of the true God. Response: Just as Divinity and Divine worship were transferred to idols by the impious, so also the name of God, etc. (Bonfrerius, Lapide). Thus the calf in Exodus 32 is called Jehovah; and, in Wisdom of Solomon 14, they attributed the incommunicable name to stocks[13] (Bonfrerius). Thus she calls her god, which she was considering to be the true. thus idols, in accordance with the opinion of idolaters, are called Gods, although they are no gods (Drusius). Response 2: To others it is the true God (Estius out of Origen, similarly Martyr). And so this woman was a worshipper of the true God, and of idols at the same time (Estius, Lapide); of which sort were the Cuthæi, 2 Kings 17. Or she fashioned her idol, as if a lesser god, unto the honor of the true God, actually joining God to a Demon, and willing by the worship of a Demon to honor God (Lapide). Hence it is to be concluded that idolatry is twofold; 1. a foreign god is invoked; 2. the true God is worshipped, but not with that worship that He has prescribed, but by images, or in some other manner contrived by us. This was of the second sort. As often as we hear that an image has been made, and no foreign god is added, that image was fabricated under the pretext of the worship of the true God (Martyr). [See what things were said at length on Exodus 32.] These works of Micah and his mother were intended for the worship of the true God: for it was not in their minds to relinquish their ancestral Religion, but, just as He was served publicly at that time in Shiloh, to transfer that service into his own house, for the convenient use both of himself privately, and of his neighbors. 1. For both profess the worship of Jehovah here. 2. And they exceedingly congratulate themselves concerning the finding of a priest of Levitical stock, verse 13 (thus Moncæius’[14] Concerning the Golden Calf[15] 1:7).

Blessed be thou of the Lord; I willingly consent to and beg from God the removal of the curse, and a blessing instead of it. Be thou free from my curse, because thou hast so honestly restored it.

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר לְאִמּ֡וֹ אֶלֶף֩ וּמֵאָ֙ה הַכֶּ֜סֶף אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֻֽקַּֽח־לָ֗ךְ וְאַ֤תִּי אָלִית֙ וְגַם֙ אָמַ֣רְתְּ בְּאָזְנַ֔י הִנֵּֽה־הַכֶּ֥סֶף אִתִּ֖י אֲנִ֣י לְקַחְתִּ֑יו וַתֹּ֣אמֶר אִמּ֔וֹ בָּר֥וּךְ בְּנִ֖י לַיהוָֽה׃

[2] Judges 17:2a: “And he said unto his mother, The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from thee (quos separaveras tibi, which thou hadst separated for thyself, in the Vulgate), about which thou cursedst, and spakest of also in mine ears…”

[3] 1 Samuel 21:5: “And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us (אִשָּׁ֤ה עֲצֻֽרָה־לָ֙נוּ֙) about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel.”

[4] Genesis 2:22, 23: “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from manלָקַ֥ח) מִן־הָֽאָדָ֖ם), made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man (מֵאִ֖ישׁ לֻֽקֳחָה־זֹּֽאת׃).”

[5] Deuteronomy 3:4: “And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them (לֹא־לָקַ֖חְנוּ מֵֽאִתָּ֑ם), threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan.”

[6] Isaiah 49:24: “Shall the prey be taken from the mighty (הֲיֻקַּ֥ח מִגִּבּ֖וֹר מַלְק֑וֹחַ), or the lawful captive delivered?”

[7] Genesis 6:2: “That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives (וַיִּקְח֤וּ לָהֶם֙ נָשִׁ֔ים) of all which they chose.”

[8] Genesis 7:2: “Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee (תִּקַּח־לְךָ) by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.”

[9] Genesis 12:19: “Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me (וָאֶקַּ֥ח אֹתָ֛הּ לִ֖י) to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.”

[10] Genesis 21:21: “And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him (וַתִּקַּח־לוֹ) a wife out of the land of Egypt.”

[11] Genesis 24:4: “But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac (וְלָקַחְתָּ֥ אִשָּׁ֖ה לִבְנִ֥י לְיִצְחָֽק׃).”

[12] As Direct Address.

[13] Wisdom of Solomon 14:21: “And this was an occasion to deceive the world: for men, serving either calamity or tyranny, did ascribe unto stones and stocks the incommunicable name.”

[14] Francis Moncæius was a French archeologist and author, whose work flourished during the late sixteenth century.

[15] Aaron Purgatus, sive de Vitulo Aureo.

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
06 mar 2019

John Brown of Haddington's Systematic Theology: '[The third] commandment forbids our neglecting to promote God's honour in the matter and manner angrily or sportfully cursing and devoting ourselves or others to damnation, devils, mischiefs, etc. 1 Kings 19:2; 2 Kings 6:31; Numbers 22:11; Judges 17:2...'

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
06 mar 2019

Matthew Henry: 'Here we have, I. Micah and his mother quarrelling. 1. The son robs the mother. The old woman had hoarded, with long scraping and saving, a great sum of money, 1100 pieces of silver. It is likely she intended, when she died, to leave it to her son: in the mean time it did her good to look upon it, and to count it over. The young man had a family of children grown up, for he had one of age to be a priest, Judges 17:5. He knows where to find his mother's cash, thinks he has more need of it than she has, cannot stay till she dies, and so takes it away privately for hi…

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Dr. Dilday
Dr. Dilday
06 mar 2019

Hebrew: As you read through, you will notice that this verse is difficult.

Some points of interest:

1. Notice how the definition of לֻקַּח changes when it is constructed with certain prepositions.

2. Laqah is here found in the Pual conjugation. Munster describes it as the Piel passive. Interesting...

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