Judges 17:3: The Silver Dedicated to Micah, to Idolatry...and to the Lord!

Verse 3:[1] 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 (see Ex. 20:4, 23; Lev. 19:4) make a graven image and a molten image: now therefore I will restore it unto thee.

[He returned to his mother] But the same thing is said in verse 4, he returned to his mother. Responses: 1. He returned, that is, he prepared to return. In Scripture what is in readiness that it might be done is constantly said to be done (Bonfrerius). He restored; he declared his intention to restore (Rabbi Salomon in Drusius). 2. He restored to her twice. For on the first occasion his mother had returned it to him (Drusius). 3. That וַיָּשֶׁב, and he restored, in verse 4, I translate, but he restored, etc., that is, being unwilling to receive the silver, he proceeded in the first restitution (Dieu). He restored, that is, no matter how urgent his mother was, he refused to keep it in his possession (Junius).

[Who had said to him, I consecrated and vowed this silver to the Lord, that my son might receive it of my hand, הִקְדַּ֣שְׁתִּי אֶת־הַכֶּסֶף֩ לַיהוָ֙ה מִיָּדִ֜י לִבְנִ֗י לַֽעֲשׂוֹת֙] I set the silver apart to the Lord from my hand for my son in order to make, etc. (Montanus, thus most interpreters). It is a Hebraism; I had resolved to deliver it to thee in order to make, etc. (Vatablus). To my son, that is, to thee. The noun in the place of the pronoun (Drusius). I sanctified…to Jehovah, being about to send it from my hand, etc. (Junius and Tremellius). I would prefer it thus, From my hand (understanding, it belongs) to my son in order to make, etc. In this sense the Hebrews use the ל/to. לְךָ זֺאת, this is thine; לִי זֺאת, this is mine. Thus in this place, from my hand it belongs to my son, that is, with me as donor, it belongs to my son: and so I render this to thee as thine. But since, so that he might free himself from all guilt of theft, he was unwilling to accept it, verse 4, but he restored, etc. (Dieu).

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, verse 13; but only to worship God by an image; which also it is apparent that both the Israelites, Exodus 32:1, etc., 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.

[And that he might make a graven and a cast (thus Montanus, Munster, Pagnine), פֶּ֣סֶל וּמַסֵּכָ֔ה] A graven and a molten (Septuagint, Jonathan, Syriac, Tigurinus, Junius and Tremellius, Druius); a molten, graven thing (Arabic). Question: Whether the graven thing is here diverse from the cast or molten thing? Response: It is not evident (Piscator). 1. Some make them Diverse (thus Lapide, Bonfrerius, Menochius, Piscator). The idol was twofold, one sculpted from marble, the other from silver cast by art (Menochius). It is proven: 1. The graven and the cast thing are expressly distinguished, Judges 18:14, 17, 18 (Bonfrerius, Lapide). Indeed, they mentioned there, not conjointly, but with other words placed between (Piscator). 2. More idols are necessarily to be admitted here, since mention is made of Teraphim, which we show are also to be classed among idols (Bonfrerius). 2. To others the graven and the cast are the same thing (Tostatus, Martyr, Drusius, Moncæius). It was one image, graven indeed within, but molten on the outside, that is, covered in a silver overlay (certain interpreters in Piscator, Martyr out of Kimchi). They approve this, 1. Because it is mentioned in the singular number, which was in the house of Micah,[2] not, which were (Tostatus). It is able to be added that the Lord is mentioned in the singular number. But, if it is permitted to say, a graven and a cast thing was in the house of Micah, why was not the relative which, in the singular number, able to refer to both? (Bonfrerius). 2. Because in Judges 18:20, 30, 31, mention is made of the graven thing alone (Tostatus). Response: That was done, either, because under the graven thing he wished the cast thing to be understood; or, because it was enough to indicate the one here related to the end, namely, to indicate the idolatry brought from the house of Micah to the Danites, etc.; or, finally, because the graven thing was able to endure among the Danites, with the cast thing destroyed (Bonfrerius). 3. The quantity of silver, namely, two hundred shekels, appears to favor these. For, from two hundred shekels not even one graven or molten image of any adequate size was able to be made: but from these an overlay was able to be made, whereby an idol of tolerable size might be covered. Nevertheless, it appears from these words, from this, that is, from the silver, that it is to be said that the material from which a molten and graven thing was made is not signified, but the price wherewith those idols were purchased (Piscator). 4. It is confirmed by example. A single idol, which is called an idol of the grove, 2 Kings 21:7,[3] elsewhere, namely, in 2 Chronicles 33:7, is called by the same twofold name of graven and cast.[4] 5. Isaiah introduces such an image, The workman melteth a graven thing, and the goldsmith formed that with gold, or the silversmith with silver sheets, Isaiah 40:19. Hence also they are called gilded gods in Baruch 6:57, 58.[5] Thus Juvenal in Satires 13, Let him engrave the thigh of the gilded Hercules…. Moreover, although silver alone in mentioned in the material [of this idol], but not any sort of wood, and a silversmith alone, and not likewise a craftsman, to have intervened in the forming of that; it appears that this work, with the silver first melted into one mass, was then sculpted with a scalpel or chisel; whence it was suitably called a graven and cast thing (Moncæius’ Concerning the Golden Calf 1:17). Now, that it is read a graven and cast thing, that and is put in the place of or (Tostatus). Whether the sense is, a graven or molten thing? Or, it was part molten, and part graven? But it appears that it was molten, not graven. For she gave that לַצּוֹרֵף, to the founder/refiner, or to the metal-caster (Drusius).

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.

[And now I deliver that to thee] Which is to say, What need is there that thou returnest that to me, since, if I should have it, I would render it to thee? (Malvenda out of Junius). I will deliver, in the Hebrew[6] and Septuagint;[7] that is, I will soon deliver, namely, when thou wilt have restored it. Now, she wills that it be restored to her before she delivers it, because she does not will that the whole sum be spent upon the idol, etc. (Bonfrerius).

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

[1] Hebrew: וַיָּ֛שֶׁב אֶת־אֶֽלֶף־וּמֵאָ֥ה הַכֶּ֖סֶף לְאִמּ֑וֹ וַתֹּ֣אמֶר אִמּ֡וֹ הַקְדֵּ֣שׁ הִקְדַּ֣שְׁתִּי אֶת־הַכֶּסֶף֩ לַיהוָ֙ה מִיָּדִ֜י לִבְנִ֗י לַֽעֲשׂוֹת֙ פֶּ֣סֶל וּמַסֵּכָ֔ה וְעַתָּ֖ה אֲשִׁיבֶ֥נּוּ לָֽךְ׃

[2] 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 it was in the house of Micah (וַיְהִ֖י בְּבֵ֥ית מִיכָֽיְהוּ׃).”

[3] 2 Kings 21:7: “And he set a graven image of the grove that he had madeאֶת־פֶּ֥סֶל) הָאֲשֵׁרָ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה) in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever…”

[4] 2 Chronciles 33:7: “And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made (אֶת־פֶּ֥סֶל הַסֶּ֖מֶל אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָשָׂ֑ה; sculptile quoque et conflatile signum, in the Vulgate), in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever…”

[5] Epistle of Jeremiah 57, 58: “Neither are those gods of wood, and laid over with silver or gold, able to escape either from thieves or robbers. Whose gold, and silver, and garments wherewith they are clothed, they that are strong take, and go away withal: neither are they able to help themselves.”

[6] Hebrew: אֲשִׁיבֶנּוּ.

[7] Greek: ἀποδώσω.

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