MICAIAH

MICAIAH
MICAIAH (Micah; Heb. מִיכָיְהוּ, מִיכָה), an Ephraimite in whose house was a shrine. Micaiah lived in the hill country of Ephraim though the exact location of his dwelling is not known. According to the Talmud (Sanh. 103b), his house was in Gareb, 3 mi. (5 km.) from Shiloh, which is perhaps Khirbet Arabah, about 2½ mi. (4 km.) west of Shiloh. The Bible relates that Micaiah took 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother but returned them because of her curse (Judg. 17–18). The mother consecrated the money to God: she gave 200 pieces of silver to a silversmith to make a graven image and a molten image and the rest she apparently consecrated to the shrine of God in her house. In the shrine were placed the graven and molten images, and an ephod and teraphim. It is difficult to ascertain their significance: the images were apparently cultic symbols while the ephod and teraphim were used for asking counsel of God (Judg. 17:3–5; 18:3–7, 14–15, 18–21). At first one of Micaiah's sons served as a priest but later a young levite who had come to the hill country of Ephraim from Beth-Lehem in Judah was hired as a "father and priest." The men of the tribe of Dan, passing through Ephraim on their way to capture Laish, forced the young levite to accompany them and take the graven image. Henceforth the image stood in the sanctuary of the city of Dan and the young levite, whose name was Jonathan the son of Gershom, son of Moses (or son of Manasseh), served there as a priest; and his sons continued to serve "until the day of the captivity of the land" (18:30). This ancient story, which is connected with the description of the capture of Laish in the north, may possibly reflect cultic customs during the period of the Judges when affluent men set up their own houses of God and used the cultic objects to inquire of God. Along with local attendants (or in their place) they installed levites who worked for wages and whose merit as inquirers of God was greatly valued as "father and priest." The purpose of the story of Micaiah is to explain how the sanctuary was established in Dan and how a body of priests – perhaps descendants of Moses – came to be based there after having had their beginning in a private house of God in the hill country of Ephraim. The Bible stresses the greater importance of priestly service "unto a tribe and a family in Israel" as against serving "the house of one man" (18:19) and draws a parallel between the end of the sanctuary at Dan and that at Shiloh, perhaps as a result of some unknown historical event. From Judges 18:30–31 it can be concluded that the worship of Micaiah's graven image at Dan did not continue after the destruction of Shiloh. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ha-Ḥevrah le-Ḥeker ha-Mikra be-Yisrael, Iyyunim be-Sefer Shofetim (1957), 184–208, 547–84; Y. Kaufmann, Sefer Shofetim (1964), 8–9, 56–57, 267–77; Noth, Personennamen, 107, 144; G.F. Moore, Judges (ICC, 1949), 365–402. (Samuel Abramsky)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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