“O sing to Yahweh!
Sing a new song!
Sing to Yahweh,
All the earth!
Sing to Yahweh!
Bless his name!
Tell of his salvation
From day to day!
Declare his glory
Among the nations!
Declare his marvelous works
Among all the peoples!
Yahweh is great!
He is greatly to be praised!
He is to be revered above all gods.
All the gods of the peoples are idols.
But Yahweh made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before him.
Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.”
Once again, this Psalm 96 is a worship Temple psalm without any title. This psalmist calls for a new song to be sung to Yahweh. All the earth should sing to Yahweh. His name should be blessed. His salvation should be made known daily. His glory and marvels should be known among all peoples and nations. Yahweh is great. Thus he is revered over all the other idol gods. Yahweh made the heavens so that honor and majesty are due him. His strength and beauty can be seen in his sanctuary.
“Then Simon brought forward his force. He engaged the phalanx in battle because the cavalry was exhausted. They were overwhelmed by him and fled as the cavalry was dispersed in the plain. They fled to Azotus. There they entered Beth-dagon, the temple of their idol, for safety. But Jonathan burned Azotus and the surrounding towns and plundered them. He burned with fire the temple of Dagon and those who had taken refuge in it. The number of those who fell by the sword, with those burned alive, came to eight thousand men.”
Simon then brought his reserve forces into play. They overwhelmed the army of Apollonius as it dispersed. The troops of Apollonius fled to the city of Azotus and to their temple of Dagon. The mention of Dagon at Azotus or Ashdod goes back to Samson in Judges, chapter 16 and the Philistines with the Ark of the Covenant in 1 Samuel, chapter 5. Jonathan was not very tolerant of other religious beliefs so he burned down the temple with the refugees inside it. Altogether he wiped out 8,000 people either with the sword or by burning.
“There was a man of the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Micah. He said to his mother. ‘The eleven hundred pieces of silver that were taken from you are in my possession. You uttered a curse. You spoke about it in my hearing. But now I will return it to you.’ His mother said. ‘May my son be blessed by Yahweh! Then he returned the eleven hundred pieces of silver to his mother. His mother said. ‘I consecrate the silver to Yahweh from my hand for my son, to make an idol of cast metal.”
This is an appendix to the judges that shows that there was anarchy during that time, with no central authority. Idol worship appears to be rampant. This Micah shrine story is a little odd. It combines idol worship with Yahweh and a Levite priest in a private house. Micah means, ‘Who is like Yahweh?’ There will be another Micah, who is considered a minor prophet a few years after this. The 1,100 pieces of silver is same amount that the Philistines lords were going to give to Delilah in the preceding chapter. There is no indication of why he took this money from his mother unless he is the son of Delilah, but that is not indicated here.
“So when he returned the money to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver. She gave it to the silversmith. He made it into an idol of cast iron. This was in the house of Micah. This man Micah had a shrine. He made an ephod and teraphim. He installed one of his sons who became his priest. In those days there was no king in Israel. All the people did what was right in their own eyes.”
The mother of Micah gets her money back, but takes 200 of it to silversmith to make a cast iron idol for Micah’s shrine. He made an ephod as in Exodus, chapter 28. He also made a teraphim as a house god or shrine for himself. He made one of his sons the priest of this shrine with its images. Since there was no king in Israel at this time, everyone did what they thought was right.