1. Judges 17:3 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

What is the meaning of “a carved image and a metal image”?

Judges 17:3 (ESV)

3 And he restored the 1,100 pieces of silver to his mother. And his mother said, “I dedicate the silver to the LORD from my hand for my son, to make a carved image and a metal image. Now therefore I will restore it to you.”

There is some disagreement concerning the precise meaning of this phrase. Some argue that it points to two separate objects, “a carved image and a cast idol" (for example, NIV). Others argue that this phrase is a hendiadys, the grammatical term for the use of two nouns that are connected with the word and to designate a single object; in this case, the two nouns should be understood to refer to an idol, or a cast-metal object (for example, NRSV).1 It is hard to be certain, but it seems more likely that the term points to two separate objects. Support for this is found in what is added in Judges 17:5, which indicates that Micah made an ephod and household gods. These are naturally understood as two separate objects. Furthermore, Judges 18:15 has the five Danites listing the items in Micah’s house separately. So, a carved image and a metal image and “an ephod and household gods" are likely more than a hendiadys; they are two fixed pairs. Together, they encompass all aspects of idolatrous worship.