Judges 17

Appendices: Stories of Dan and Benjamin[a]

Chapter 17

Micah and the Levite. 1 There was a man named Micah in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 He said to his mother, “I have those eleven hundred pieces of silver that were stolen from you and over which you uttered a curse. I took them.” His mother said, “May the Lord bless you, my son.” 3 He returned the eleven hundred silver pieces to his mother. His mother said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the Lord for my son to produce a molten image. I will give it back to you.”

4 When he returned the silver to his mother, his mother took two hundred pieces of silver and gave them to the silversmith, who made a molten image and a carved idol. They were placed in the house of Micah. 5 This Micah had a temple, and he made an ephod and a teraphim. He consecrated one of his sons as his priest. 6 In those days Israel had no king,[b] and everyone did what in his own opinion he thought to be right.

7 There was a young man from Bethlehem in Judah. He was living among the clan of Judah.[c] 8 The man left the city of Bethlehem in Judah to seek another place to live. On his way he came to the hill country of Ephraim, to the house of Micah. 9 Micah asked him, “Where do you come from?” He answered, “I am a Levite from Bethlehem in Judah, and I am seeking a place to live.” 10 Micah said to him, “Live with me; you can be like a father and a priest to me. I will give you ten silver pieces a year along with your clothes and your food.” So the Levite went in.

11 The Levite was pleased to live with the man. It was as if the young man were one of his sons. 12 Micah consecrated the Levite, and the young man became Micah’s priest, and he lived in his house. 13 Micah said, “Now I know that the Lord will be good to me, for the Levite has become my priest.”[d]


  1. Judges 17:1 The ancient traditions with which the Book of Judges ends were collected at a time when Jerusalem, capital of the Davidic dynasty, was also regarded as the only legitimate sanctuary of God. Every other place of worship, therefore, was suspect of separatism and impiety. Thus one of the chroniclers does not fail to give prominence to the following ancient story that presents in a somewhat flattering light, the origins of the sanctuary of Dan: it was founded in defiance of the traditional prohibition against any image of God (Deut 4:15f) and in the absence of any real authority that would later guarantee the legitimacy of religious practices.
  2. Judges 17:6 Israel had no king: this lament, repeated in Jdg 18:1; 19:1; 21:25, indicates that the Book of Judges was written during the time of the monarchy and reiterates that lawlessness and cultic behavior were a continuing problem while there was no king among the Israelites.
  3. Judges 17:7 The Levite’s name, Jonathan, will be given later (Jdg 18:30).
  4. Judges 17:13 Micah was hedging his bets when he appointed a Levite as his priest. God, however, would never condone Micah’s sinful behavior and deceptive ways.

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