1. Judges 17:3–5 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

How do the collective actions of mother and son underline the decay in Israel?

Judges 17:3–5 (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.”

In these first five verses in the chapter, we have a woman who confesses devotion to the Lord in blessing and dedication, but whose act of making idolatrous objects conflicts with that confession. We have a son who bears a thoroughly orthodox name, but who steals, dishonours his mother, and commits a damnable crime with his private shrine and everything in it. But the most tragic of all is that neither mother nor son gives any indication of knowing they are doing wrong.1 It is a scene of religious confusion and chaos, of mixing true and false worship. This is a climax in the book on this score. We see at the beginning of the book that Israel struggled with the temptation to consort with foreign gods (Judges 2:6 – 3:6). There is no such struggle now, at the end of the book: Israelites are cheerfully manufacturing their own gods and blurring the lines of division between false deities and the true God, Yahweh.2