DOMINO EFFECT (JUDGES 17-18)
A man remarked to a stranger standing near him, “Just look at that young person with the short hair and blue jeans. Is it a boy or a girl?”
The bystander angrily replied, “It’s a girl. She’s my daughter.”
The embarrassed man apologized, “Oh, please forgive me, sir. I had no idea you were her father.”
The bystander bluntly replied, “I’m not her father. I’m her mother.”
Judges was an upside down society and culture, the darkest period in Israel’s history, where men do not lead, leaders are weak and families are no better. This period produced more than its fair share of unhealthy and unhappy families, including Gideon and his idolatrous father (Judg 6:25), Jephthah, the son of a prostitute (Jud 11:1) and the father of a virgin (Judg 11:34), the disobedient Samson (Judg 14:2) and Micah. By chapter 17, it was a time of parenting without morality, ethics or standards. The domino effect spread from home to temple to cities. It engulfed the parent, the priest and the public - the home and the priesthood and the country.
The last chapters of Judges are a transition from the first part of Judges when “the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord” to the second part when “every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (v 6). Note that the transition includes from “doing evil” (Judg 2:11, 3:7, 12, 4:1, 6:1, 10:6, 13:1) in the beginning of the book to “doing right” (17:6, 21:25), but only in one’s eyes at the end of the book. Doing what was right in their own eyes from chapter 17 on, a mother’s self-style parenting negatively shaped her son’s life, her son’s self-taught religion disastrously impacted a priest’s life, and a priest’s self-made status determined a tribe’s destiny.
The story of Micah and the priest from Ephraim is inseparable from the rise of pagan idolatrous worship in Dan, where the worship of the golden calf was naturally officially established in the north after the death of Solomon(1 Kings 12:29).
What happens when people look to themselves and not God for answers, when they take things into their own hands? How can we turn things around?
Be Consistent and Not Contradictory with Words 言語一致不矛盾
1 Now a man named Micah from the hill country of Ephraim 2 said to his mother, “The eleven hundred shekels of silver that were taken from you and about which I heard you utter a curse? I have that silver with me; I took it.” Then his mother said, “The Lord bless you, my son!” 3 When he returned the eleven hundred shekels of silver to his mother, she said, “I solemnly consecrate my silver to the Lord for my son to make a carved image and a cast idol. I will give it back to you.” 4 So he returned the silver to his mother, and she took two hundred shekels of silver and gave them to a silversmith, who made them into the image and the idol. And they were put in Micah's house. (Judg 17:1-4)
The boss meets an employee and says: “You are here already one year. In the beginning, you were only a mail clerk. A week later, you started to handle sales. A month later, you were promoted as operation regional manager. In only four months, you were promoted to vice-president. Now, I’m ready to retire, I want you to be the new boss. How do you feel?”
The employee answers, “Thank you...”
The boss, “Anything else you would like to say?”
The employee, “Thank you .... dad...”
Micah is a last of a series of disastrous, liberal and upside down parenting from Judges. The family was from the region of mount Ephraim (v 1), therefore it is safe to suggest that he was not a Levite. The son Micah thought everything around the house was his, and his mother squandered and did not seize the chance to tell him otherwise when the opportunity came. It happened one day when he took eleven hundred shekels (v 2) from her, which was an incredible amount of money. It was more than double what Abraham paid for his wife Sarah’s burial plot that was worth 400 shekels of silver (Gen 23:15), so it was not surprising that Micah’s mother cursed her luck and cursed the thief (v 2) as well.
Micah’s mother was guilty of casually uttering a curse that eventually ended upon his son’s head and fate. It never occurred to her that her own son was the thief in the house. A curse should not be given, no matter if the sum was small or big. Sadly the son did not confess but conceal the problem until the curse was sworn. This is an unusual curse (v 2), the first of its kind, the second when Saul cursed the people, forbidding them to eat until evening, almost causing the death of Jonathan his son, if not for his men’s intervention (1 Sam 14:24, 45). This is more like an alarming, adversarial and abnormal oath and pledge. The consequences to a person are usually detrimental, disastrous and dreadful.