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Richter 17

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1 Und es war ein Mann vom Gebirge Ephraim, sein Name war Micha.

2 Und er sprach zu seiner Mutter: Die 1100 Sekel Silber, die dir genommen worden sind, und worüber du einen Fluch (Vergl. 3. Mose 5,1) getan und auch vor meinen Ohren geredet hast, siehe, das Silber ist bei mir; ich habe es genommen. Da sprach seine Mutter: Gesegnet sei mein Sohn von Jehova!

3 Und er gab die 1100 Sekel Silber seiner Mutter zurück. Und seine Mutter sprach: Das Silber hatte ich von meiner Hand Jehova geheiligt für meinen Sohn, um ein geschnitztes Bild und ein gegossenes Bild zu machen; und nun gebe ich es dir zurück.

4 Und er gab das Silber seiner Mutter zurück. Und seine Mutter nahm zweihundert Sekel Silber und gab sie dem Goldschmied, und der machte daraus ein geschnitztes Bild und ein gegossenes Bild; und es war im Hause Michas.

5 Und der Mann Micha hatte ein Gotteshaus; und er machte ein Ephod und Teraphim und weihte einen von seinen Söhnen, und er wurde sein (Eig. ihm zum) Priester.

6 In jenen Tagen war kein König in Israel; ein jeder tat, was recht war in seinen Augen.

7 Und es war ein Jüngling aus Bethlehem-Juda vom Geschlecht Juda; der war ein Levit (Die Leviten wurden betrachtet als dem Stamme angehörend, in dessen Gebiet sie ansässig waren) und hielt sich daselbst auf.

8 Und der Mann zog aus der Stadt, aus Bethlehem-Juda, um sich aufzuhalten, wo er es treffen würde. Und indem er seines Weges zog, kam er in das Gebirge Ephraim bis zum Hause Michas.

9 Und Micha sprach zu ihm: Woher kommst du? Und er sprach zu ihm: Ich bin ein Levit aus Bethlehem-Juda; und ich gehe hin, mich aufzuhalten, wo ich es treffen werde.

10 Da sprach Micha zu ihm: Bleibe bei mir, und sei mir ein Vater und ein Priester, (Eig. zum Vater und zum Priester) so werde ich dir jährlich zehn Sekel Silber geben und Ausrüstung an Kleidern und deinen Lebensunterhalt. Und der Levit ging hinein.

11 Und der Levit willigte ein, bei dem Manne zu bleiben; und der Jüngling ward ihm wie einer seiner Söhne.

12 Und Micha weihte den Leviten; und der Jüngling wurde sein (Eig. ihm zum) Priester und war im Hause Michas.

13 Und Micha sprach: Nun weiß ich, daß Jehova mir wohltun wird, denn ich habe einen (O. den) Leviten zum Priester.

  

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Exploring the Meaning of Judges 17

     

Napsal(a) Rev. Julian Duckworth

The Story of Micah’s Idols

In this chapter, the story moves from the various judges of Israel to an anecdote that illustrates the overall worsening spiritual situation in the land. The people turn from the Lord and do more and more wrong among themselves. The last verse of the book of Judges is very telling, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The same words come in the present chapter, in Judges 17:6.

In this story, a man named Micah (not to be confused with the prophet Micah) took a lot of silver money from his mother. He confesses that he did this, and returns the money to her. She says, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my son!” She finds a silversmith to melt down the silver money to make an idol which gets set up in their house. One of Micah’s sons is then appointed as the priest to serve this idol.

The spiritual meaning of this is that an idol of any kind is a falsifying of our own worship and sense of the Lord. An idol is a ‘thing’ in a ‘place’, vested with power, whereas our worship and sense of the Lord is that he is fully everywhere and in everything. (Arcana Caelestia 3479, 3732) The essence of idolatry is that it emphasises external forms with no attention to the place and purpose of internal forms and realities. Our ‘idols’ can be whatever we love or desire or feel is important to us, over and above the Lord.

The story then shifts to a wandering Levite, a priest of Israel, who came from Bethlehem in Judah, and is looking for any place to stay. Israel had appointed six cities for Levites to live in, but this Levite is a wanderer. He eventually meets Micah, who takes him into his house and makes him a paid priest. Micah feels important because of this development.

This part of the story depicts the decline of Israel from its worship of the Lord to a state of allowing anything to be done if it seems right in someone’s eyes. The Levite is a trained priest, trained in the law of Moses, someone who should know the commandments of the Lord and also their prohibitions. This Levite is ‘looking for a place to go to’ which describes his apparent falling away from true priesthood. (See the description in Apocalypse Explained 444, about the Levites, and in Doctrine of Life 39 about priests.)

As well as indicating the extent of the spiritual fall of Israel into idolatry and wrong practices, this chapter representatively describes our own scope for moving away from a genuine worship of the Lord into a worship of ourselves and of the world, and the change that comes within us in doing this. It often changes very gradually and inexorably so that it is imperceptible even to ourselves. This is a danger, and the reason for our self-examination and vigilant care.

The name Micah means, “Who is like Jehovah God?” which is an ironical name for someone who turns away from God to substitute an idol made from silver money, in a completely false worship. In genuine repentance, we may ask, “Who is like Jehovah God?” implying that no one is like God, including ourselves, because we are all involved in wrong feelings, thinking and actions, and we know our need of and dependence on the Lord. (Apocalypse Revealed 531)

It is important to note the mother’s first words, “May you be blessed by the Lord, my son!” saying this for his confession and return of the money. She begins her part in the story with the truest of statements, i.e. that the Lord wants to bless us, even while she may just be glad to have all her money back.

“Silver” in the Word can mean truths, truths of faith and truth of good, but in an opposite sense, when used dishonestly, it means falsities. (Arcana Caelestia 1551)

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Arcana Coelestia # 1551

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1551. That 'silver' means truths is clear from the meaning of 'silver' as truth. The most ancient people compared the goods and truths present in man to metals. Innermost or celestial goods which flow from love to the Lord they compared to gold, truths deriving from these to silver. Goods of a lower or natural kind however they compared to bronze, and truths of a lower kind to iron. Nor did they just compare them; they also called them such. This was the origin of periods of time being likened to those same metals and being called the golden, silver, bronze, and iron ages, for these followed in that order one after another. The golden age was the time of the Most Ancient Church, which was celestial man. The silver age was the time of the Ancient Church, which was spiritual man. The bronze age was the time of the Church that followed, and the iron age came after that. Similar things were also meant by the statue which Nebuchadnezzar saw in a dream, whose head was of fine gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, and shins of iron, Daniel 2:32-33. That periods of the Church were to follow one another in that order, and actually did so, is clear in that very chapter of the same prophet.

[2] That 'silver' in the internal sense of the Word wherever it is mentioned means truth, or in the contrary sense falsity, is clear from the following places: In Isaiah,

Instead of bronze I will bring gold, and instead of iron I will bring silver, and instead of wood, bronze, and instead of stones, iron. And I will make peace your assessment, and righteousness your tax-collectors. Isaiah 60:17.

Here it is evident what each metal means. The subject is the Lord's Coming, His kingdom, and the celestial Church. 'Instead of bronze, gold' is celestial good in place of natural good; 'instead of iron, silver' is spiritual truth in place of natural truth; 'instead of wood, bronze' is natural good in place of bodily good; 'instead of stone, iron' is natural truth in place of truth acquired through the senses. In the same prophet,

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the water, and he who has no money, 1 come, buy and eat! Isaiah 55:1.

'He who has no money' 1 is the person who does not know the truth but who nevertheless possesses the good that stems from charity, as is the case with many people inside the Church, and with gentiles outside it.

[3] In the same prophet,

The islands will wait for Me, the ships of Tarshish at their head, to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, to the name of Jehovah your God, and to the Holy One of Israel. Isaiah 60:9.

This refers specifically to a new Church, or a Church among gentiles, and in general to the Lord's kingdom. 'Ships from Tarshish' stands for cognitions, 'silver' for truths, and 'gold' for goods, which are those things they 'will bring to the name of Jehovah'. In Ezekiel,

For your adornment you took vessels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and you made for yourselves figures of the male. Ezekiel 16:17.

Here 'gold' stands for cognitions of celestial things, 'silver' of spiritual things. In the same prophet,

You were adorned with gold and silver, and your raiment was fine linen and silk, and embroidered cloth. Ezekiel 16:13.

This refers to Jerusalem, by which the Lord's Church is meant, whose adornment is being described in this manner. In the same prophet,

Behold, you who are wise, there is no secret they have hidden from you; by your wisdom and by your intelligence you have acquired riches for yourself, and you have acquired gold and silver in your treasuries. Ezekiel 28:3-4.

Here, in what is said in reference to Tyre, 'gold' is plainly identified with the riches of wisdom, and 'silver' with the riches of intelligence.

[4] In Joel,

You have taken My silver and My gold, and My good and desirable treasures you have carried into your temples. Joel 3:5.

This refers to Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia, which mean cognitions, and these are 'the silver and the gold they took into their temples'. In Haggai,

The elect of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory. Mine is the silver, and Mine is the gold. The glory of this latter house will be greater than that of the former. Haggai 2:7-9.

This refers to the Lord's Church to which 'gold and silver' have reference. In Malachi,

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi. Malachi 3:3.

This refers to the Coming of the Lord. In David,

The words of Jehovah are pure words, silver refined in an earthen crucible, poured seven times. Psalms 12:6.

'Silver purified seven times' stands for Divine truth. At the time of their exodus out of Egypt the children of Israel were commanded that every woman should ask of her neighbour, and of her who sojourned in her house, vessels of silver and vessels of gold and garments, and that they should put them on their sons and on their daughters, and so despoil the Egyptians, Exodus 3:22; 11:2-3; 12:35-36. Anyone may see from this that the children of Israel would never have been ordered to steal and despoil the Egyptians of those possessions in that way if these did not represent some arcana. But what those arcana are may become clear from the meaning of 'silver and gold, garments, and Egypt', and from the fact that what these possessions represented is similar to the words here 'rich in the silver and gold from Egypt', used in reference to Abram.

[5] Just as 'silver' means truth so in a contrary sense it means falsity, for people under the influence of falsity imagine falsity to be the truth, as is also clear in the Prophets. In Moses,

You shall not covet the silver and the gold of the nations, nor take it for yourself, lest you be ensnared by it, for it is an abomination to Jehovah your God. You shall utterly detest it. Deuteronomy 7:25-26.

'The gold of the nations' stands for evils, and 'their silver' for falsities. In the same author,

You shall not make gods of silver to be with Me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold. Exodus 20:23.

In the internal sense these words mean nothing other than falsities and evil desires, falsities being meant by 'gods of silver', and evil desires by 'gods of gold'. In Isaiah,

On that day everyone will spurn his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your hands have made for you - a sin. Isaiah 31:7.

'Idols of silver and idols of gold' stands for similar things that are false and evil 'Which your hands have made' stands for what is a product of the proprium. In Jeremiah,

They are foolish and stupid; that wood is a way of learning vanities! Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work of the smith and of the hands of the moulder. Their clothing is violet and purple These are all the work of the wise. Jeremiah 10:8-9.

Here 'silver' and 'gold' quite clearly stand for similar things that are false and evil.

Footnotes:

1. or silver

(Odkazy: Exodus 20:26; Genesis 13:2)

  
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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.


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