Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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JUDGES - Chapter 17

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Judges xvii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. At that time, is not in the Hebrew or Septuagint. It only means that the event which is recorded took place at some time, which the sacred writer does not determine. We should conclude, that the histories which fill up the remainder of this book, ought to be placed after the death of Samson, (Serarius, &c.) if some passages did not determine us to allow that their proper order must be soon after the death of Josue and of the ancients. The grandson of Moses must, on the former supposition, have been extremely old, whereas he is said to have been a young man, ver. 7. The tribe of Dan was still straitened for room, chap. xviii. 1, &c. (Calmet) --- Josephus, ([Antiquities?] v. 2,) who passesover the history of Michas. (Salien, in the year of the world 2622, the 22d year of Othoniel and Phinees.) (Haydock) --- Anarchy at that time prevailed, (ver. 6,) so that we need not wonder to behold such confusion among the Israelites. (Menochius) --- Ephraim. The country was mountainous for nine miles. (Adrichomius)

Ver. 2. Mother. A rich (Calmet) old widow, since she had grandchildren, one of whom was appointed to serve her domestic chapel. (Menochius) --- She had lost a sum of money, and was venting imprecations against the thief, when her son came and informed her that he had it safe, upon which she changed her curses into blessings. --- Swear, may have another meaning, as if she had made a vow of this money. (Calmet; Menochius) --- Lord. Hebrew Yehova, the title of God, which she gives to idols, (Menochius) or perhaps she preposterously adored both the true and false gods at the same time. (Calmet) --- Many Protestants assert that her intention was good, in what she did. (Monceius; Grotius, &c.) --- So willing are they to excuse all from idolatry but Catholics! (Haydock) --- Almost all interpreters condemn Michas and his mother of superstition, and of acting contrary to the express orders of God, in appointing a priest who was not of the family of Aaron, &c. (Calmet) --- Their graven image was an idol. But this is no proof against the sacred images of Catholics. (Worthington)

Ver. 3. God. Hebrew pesel umaseca. The word thing, would perhaps be as well substituted, as (Haydock) all are not convinced that the woman was guilty of idolatry. (Cajetan) --- The same figure might be both graven and molten. The image was first carved, and then covered with plates of gold, &c., in the more ancient times. (Calmet) --- There might be two figures made by Michas. (Salien) --- The Theraphim denote "images which foretel what is to happen." (Rabbins; Tirinus) --- But this is not always the case. (Haydock)

Ver. 5. That....idols is added by the Vulgate. St. Jerome supposes that the ephod denotes all the sacerdotal vestments, and the theraphim whatever else was requisite for priestly functions, ep. ad Marcel. Grotius is of opinion that these theraphim, or cherubim, are styled elohim, gods, (ver. 5) and that the altar, candlesticks, &c., are designated above by whatever was to be graven or molten. Michas had a mind to represent the tabernacle, with its ornaments, in miniature. By the theraphim he might imitate the urim, &c., at the expense of 200 sicles, while 900 might be set apart for the other ornaments. (Calmet) --- Many think that he wished to have domestic gods, like the Lares or Penates. --- Hand. That is, appointed and consecrated him to the priestly office. (Challoner) --- He put in his hand the offerings which he had to make, as was customary, Exodus xxviii. 41. (Calmet) --- Priest, contrary to all order. (Menochius) (Numbers iii. 10., and Hebrews v. 4.) (Calmet) --- The anointing of his hands with oil, prescribed, (Leviticus viii.) could give him no authority. (Worthington)

Ver. 6. Himself. Serarius thinks this took place before Heli was appointed to succeed Samson. But the opinion of Salien (Menochius) is more probable. For, though he places this history in the 22d year of Othoniel, yet we must remember that he attributes to him all the years of anarchy, so that this liberty was taken by an individual, when none had power or zeal enough to restrain it. How much would Phinees be mortified at this prevarication if he were still alive! (Haydock) --- The title of king may be applied to the judges. But this book was probably written after the appointment of Saul. (Calmet)

Ver. 7. Another, is not in Hebrew or the Septuagint but it refers to the former young priest, the son of Michas, whose place he took. --- Thereof. It is uncertain whether this be spoken of the city or of the man. Some think that this Levite's mother was of Juda, though his father was the son of Moses, chap. xviii. 30. (Calmet) --- He was poor, as the people neglected to pay tithes, and he imitated their irreligion, being of a fickle temper. He was yet single, (ver. 10 though he married among the Danites, chap. xviii. 30. (Menochius) --- Being a Levite, he is esteemed fitter for the priesthood; so Protestants receive with joy an apostate Catholic priest. (Worthington)

Ver. 10. A father. So he styles him out of respect, as we do our directors. (Haydock) --- It is a title of dignity, Esther xvi. 11., 2 Machabees xiv. 37., and 2 Paralipomenon ii. 13. (Calmet) --- Pieces, sicles. --- Double suit, one for summer and another for winter, (Menochius) or such as might be worn on common, or on sacred occasions, unless it rather mean a cloak and a tunic; (Calmet) a change of dress, chap. xiv. 13.

Ver. 13. Good. He was in hopes that the people would come and make their offerings with more zeal, so that he would derive greater advantage: the true character of superstitious misers, 1 Timothy vi. 5. (Calmet) -- He foolishly flattered himself that God would be pleased with his devotion; though he had done so many things contrary to the law. (Menochius) --- Thus many form a religion to themselves, and would still claim the title of Christians. But the judge will drive them away with, I never knew you, Matthew vii. 23. They think that if they believe some things (which they are pleased to call fundamental, though they cannot agree what they are) they may form a "true Catholic church" out of all the contradictory heresies which have made such havoc in the world! Perhaps Michas thus deluded himself with the idea that his innovations were not fundamental. It is rather ridiculous to hear J. Wesley, and a late very weak defendant of his, (Mr. Slack,) refusing the title of Christian to Roman Catholics, while they prostitute it to almost every sectary. But heretics have, indeed, no just pretensions to it. See St. Athanasius, &c.


Bible Text & Cross-references:

The history of the idol of Michas, and the young Levite.

1 There was at that time a man of Mount Ephraim, whose name was Michas.

2 Who said to his mother: The eleven hundred pieces of silver, which thou hadst put aside for thyself, and concerning which thou didst swear in my hearing, behold I have, and they are with me. And she said to him: Blessed be my son by the Lord.

3 So he restored them to his mother, who said to him: I have consecrated and vowed this silver to the Lord, that my son may receive it at my hand, and make a graven and a molten god; so now I deliver it to thee.

4 And he restored them to his mother: and she took two hundred pieces of silver and gave them to the silversmith, to make of them a graven and a molten god, which was in the house of Michas.

5 And he separated also therein a little temple for the god, and made an ephod, and theraphim, that is to say, a priestly garment, and idols: and he filled the hand of one of his sons, and he became his priest.

6 In those days there was no king in Israel, but every one did that which seemed right to himself.

7 There was also another young man of Bethlehem Juda, of the kindred thereof: and he was a Levite, and dwelt there.

8 Now he went out from the city of Bethlehem, and desired to sojourn wheresoever he should find it convenient for him. And when he was come to Mount Ephraim, as he was on his journey, and had turned aside a little into the house of Michas,

9 He was asked by him whence he came. And he answered: I am a Levite of Bethlehem Juda, and I am going to dwell where I can, and where I shall find a place to my advantage.

10 And Michas said: Stay with me, and be unto me a father and a priest, and I will give thee every year ten pieces of silver, and a double suit of apparel, and thy victuals.

11 He was content, and abode with the man, and was unto him as one of his sons.

12 And Michas filled his hand, and had the young man with him for his priest, saying:

13 Now I know God will do me good, since I have a priest of the race of the Levites.