1. Judges 17:4 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

Why does Micah’s mother give only 200 pieces to the silversmith?

Judges 17:4 (ESV)

4 So when he restored the money to his mother, his mother took 200 pieces of silver and gave it to the silversmith, who made it into a carved image and a metal image. And it was in the house of Micah.

Micah’s mother said she would dedicate the silver to the Lord, but then she only gave part of it, two hundred pieces, to the silversmith. What happened to the remaining nine hundred pieces is unknown, and has puzzled many modern commentators. Some have suggested that Micah pocketed the difference for donating to the treasury of his shrine. Others, like the medieval commentator Rabbi David Kimchi, suggest that the two hundred pieces of silver were the silversmith’s wages, and that the rest of the amount was cast into the idol. This would not have amounted to much of a cult statue, given that this amount of silver was about five pounds in weight.1 In the end, we cannot be certain. Regardless, it is not entirely clear whether we should view this as entirely good or bad. For on the one hand, she should have given all the silver to the Lord, as she declared she would. But on the other hand, she should not be involved in making idols. The narrative is a bizarre, strange, and confusing one, and so it comes as no surprise when more trouble arrives later.2