August 3, 2004

Micah's idols

Judges 17-18 is, in my opinion, among the most bizarre stories in the OT. It opens with Micah, saying to his mother, that the eleven hundred pieces of silver stolen from her about which she utters are curse, were actually stolen by him. When she hears this, she blesses him. He returns the silver and she in turns dedicates the silver to the Lord to make a graven image and a molten image. (What an image is exactly I'm not sure...) Micah sets up a shrine, makes an ephod, puts together some idols and appoints one of his sons to be the priest.

Some time later, a young Levite, an "official" priest by blood, leaves Bethlehem in Judah to basically find a place where he can hang out. He stumbles onto Micah who, realizing that he is a holy man by blood, invites me to be "a father and a priest" to him, pays him, gives him clothes and takes care of him. Micah then says, "Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, seeing I have a Levite as priest."

It gets even stranger...

Enter the Danites. The Danites, i.e., a tribe of Israel descended from Dan, send out five men to scout for land to possess, since an inheritance had not yet been alloted to them. These five guys end up lodging not far from Micah's home where they then recognize the young Levite's voice. Realizing that he is a holy man, and a priest, they ask him to ask God if they are going the right way. He says, "Your way in which you are going has the LORD'S approval."

So, the five men continue on and find some people living in quietly and securely far from everyone else. So, they come back to their brothers and say, we've seen the land, it's good, let's take them. On the way there, the entourage of six hundred men "armed with weapons of war" come to Micah's house. The priest meets them, and while he stands at the gate with the six hundred men, the five guys go into the shrine and heist the graven image, the ephod the household idols and the molten image. The priest says, "Hey, what are you doing!" They say, "Be silent, put your hand over your mouth and come with us, and be to us a father and a priest. Is it better for you to be a priest to the house of one man, or to be priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?" That seems pretty reasonable to the young priest, so he takes off with them.

Shortly there after, Micah and his neighbors catch up to the Danites. The Danites say to Micah, "What is the matter with you?" Micah says, "How can you say 'What's the matter with you?' You have taken away my gods which I made, and the priest, and have gone away, and what do I have besides?" The Danites basically threaten him, and Micah seeing their numbers, goes home. They eventually get to the land and wipe out the population, taking over the city and setting up the graven image. This graven image becomes their idol for years, as the good book says, all the time that the house of God was at Shiloh.

Judges 19 is even more crazy... why does Judges have such bizarre stories? It is to show what happens when every man does what is right in his own eyes - Judges 17:6. Isn't that the theme of the day? Every one should decide what's right for themselves.

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