The private shrine of Micah (Judg 17:1-17:6)

“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.