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Barb Wire

An Enigma from the Book of Judges


Among the portions of the Bible which challenge my understanding, there is the next-to-last story in the Book of Judges (Chapters 17-18).

For those who don’t know, a quick summary: A man named Micah steals a lot of silver from his mother. When he repents, and gives it back to her, she’s so pleased, she takes a bunch of it and has an idol made, which they install in their house. Soon Micah persuades a Levite to stay with him and be the priest to this idol.

Along comes a force of Danites looking for a new place to live, and they persuade the Levite to come with them and be their priest. This fickle Levite not only agrees; but he also steals Micah’s silver idol so it can be worshiped by the Danites.

The story is introduced and concluded by the same formula: “In those days there was no king in Israel, and every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”

Except we know from the rest of the Bible that this kind of behavior didn’t stop, once Israel had kings. Indeed, it got so bad, God had to punish Israel severely.

This subtly grim story of Micah and his idol is in the Bible for a reason. We are meant to learn a lesson from it. But what lesson?

I have held back from seeking out commentaries: because I find the story so elusive, so tantalizing yet forbidding, that I want to see what the Holy Spirit will teach me if I devote a lot of thought to it.

It should be noted that, when the Tribes of Israel are listed in the Book of Revelation, Dan is not among them.

God did make Himself quite clear, didn’t He, when he declared the Ten Commandments? Idolatry is one of those things that the Bible condemns without a trace of ambiguity.

Then again, so is homosexual behavior: and there are plenty of renegade churchmen today who teach otherwise.

Kind of like that Levite in the story.


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