Micah is an obvious contemporary of Isaiah. And they have a very similar message. Although there are differences in their prophecies there are also great similarities. The greatest similarity is that Micah 4:1-4 and Isaiah 2:4-6 are almost identically word for word. Micah differs from Isaiah by including Samaria, the northern kingdom, and Judah together in his use of the word Israel. The difference is that Micah views the people of God as one entity; including Judah and Samaria in the term Israel as one unit. But the scope of his prophecy differs slightly which includes warnings to Samaria of its coming destruction while Isaiah considers (prophetically) Samaria to be already effectively lost.
The invasions of the Assyrians brought about the total destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel with the fall of Samaria in the 6th year of Hezekiah. (722 BCE) This supports the possibility that Micah may have preceded Isaiah chronologically as described further in the next paragraph.
Micah' prophecy may precede Isaiah by perhaps four years
Micah's prophecy appears to begin just slightly after Isaiah's beginning but this may only appear to be the case. Isaiah gives his call to the prophetic office in the last year of Uzziah in Isaiah 6. Jotham succeeded Uzziah and Micah says that he began to prophesy in the reign of Jotham. But from information gleaned from 2 Kings 15:5 and 15:30 it is certain that Uzziah (also called Azariah) transgressed in the temple and became a leper which made Jotham king regent for about four years. So it seems from 2 Ki. 15:5:
And the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king's son was over the house, judging the people of the land.
He is said to have reigned for 16 years in 2 Kings 15:33; Jotham was:
twenty five years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem.
but he was regent for at least, four years possibly longer, while Uzziah still lived separate from the people in a leper's sanitarium. This supports the idea that time of the regency of Jotham (four years) may be added to the time ascribed to his reign in 2 Kings 15:30 which mentions the 20th year of Jotham.
30And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and struck him, and killed him, and reigned in his place, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah
Thus it is possible that Micah may slightly precede Isaiah since it would be accurate to date his prophecy from the regency of Jotham while Uzziah still lived. But this is debatable since the historical background of Micah is almost identical to Isaiah. Isaiah's prophesy appears to begin in the year that Uzziah died. (See Isaiah 6:1) For a better understanding of the period it is important to read the articles that set the stage for the current events and to know the historical events of importance just preceding and following the lives Isaiah and Micah. These will be found in the directory of the Isaiah commentary.
The scope of the prophecy of Micah is similar to that of Isaiah. The coming punishments and exiles of Israel and Judah are given prominent positions. The consummation of Micah's prophecy, as with Isaiah's, is the introduction of the Messianic age and the call of the Gentiles. Accordingly, the prophets are singular in indicating that the Messiah would come after the Babylonian captivity and exile of Judah was complete. Isaiah plainly names Babylon as the instrument of punishment and exile for Judah. Micah does the same in chapter 4:10.
The basic message of Micah and Isaiah has the same outline. Which is: God's people, Israel, are to be punished because of their persistent sins, particularly idolatry. Assyria and Babylon are to be instruments of the punishment. But in spite of that, the messianic figure will fight against Assyria. In both Micah and Isaiah, the messianic figure is pictured as being present in the great events happening to Israel in all generations and he is portrayed as coming from eternity. Isaiah does this in Isaiah 48:14-16 and Micah in 5:2 below. As in Isaiah, Micah chronologically pictures the earthly visit of the Messiah as coming after the Babylonian captivity. Also Micah is similar to Isaiah in the fragmentary arrangement of the events he portrays. The historical chronological order of the events in both prophets can also be considered as different themes appearing in the book. This chronology is not presented in order in the Book of Micah. A major difficulty for the average reader is random introduction of a theme The themes are intermixed and shuffled. There is order but it is difficult to see since the themes are intermixed and may be repeated more than once. These may be considered as separate themes covered in Micah:
Israel's fall into sin
The need to trust in God and his Redeemer.
The crisis with Assyria and destruction of Samaria,
The Babylonian captivity of Judah,
The condition of the Remnant during the preceding periods.
The description of the Messiah coming from eternity.
The restoration of the nation including the northern tribes
The return of the Remnant of all twelve tribes to Zion after the Babylonian exile.
The appearance of the Messiah and
The call of the Gentiles into the messianic Zion.
One of the very real difficulties in reading Micah with understanding is that messianic references, current evils, warnings of punishment by Assyria and Babylon, exile, rebuilding of the nation, Messiah's appearance, the call of the gentiles into the remnant, and the ultimate appearance of Zion are interspersed and intermixed through all of the seven chapters of Micah.
Micah contains continuing paradoxes. The promised deliverer possesses the same paradoxes as he does in Isaiah. He comes from eternity, but he is born in Bethlehem, he is present in the current crisis, but he has also been in the past, in the future he will provide the deliverance from the Assyrian, and (as we now know) almost 200 years later he will deliver the people from the Babylonian oppression, he will suffer affliction himself, and the Gentiles will join the nation of Israel because of Him after the Babylonian captivity.
Stylistic notes: As in Isaiah Micah uses alliteration often but not with the strong mystic overtones that are found in Isaiah. The prophetic chronology is often difficult with visions into the distant future followed by warnings to his present generation. Assyria is mentioned as the near threat and Babylon as a future threat and the messianic hope as a far distant future event to look forward to. These themes are intermixed with warnings, admonitions, and pleadings and are sometimes confusing in their arrangement.
Futurists: Futurist interpreters (who are, at present, in the majority in the protestant world) err in ascribing the events described in Micah's prophecy to events in the future of the time that you as a reader are living in. As a result of the sins described and ascribed to all twelve tribes which Micah calls Israel, the scope of Micah's prophecy is to predict the loss of political identity of the kingdom of Israel (the so-called "ten tribes") and the exile of the southern kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians and their future redemption and their rebuilding of the nation in the future. One such place describing this is in chapter 7:
11 In the day that your walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree be far removed. 12 In that day also he shall come to you even from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain. 13 But the land shall be desolate because of those who dwell in it, for the fruit of their doings.
The continuing scope of Micah's view of the future sees (as in these verses above) the rebuilding of the nation which is followed by the advent of the Messiah who will call the gentile nations into the completed Zion. That closes Micah's view of the future. The Futurist sees these events as not having happened yet!
There are no "end time" or second coming prophecies in Micah. We have been living in the period in which the remnant is being gathered into Zion out of all nations for almost 2000 years. This period began with the Ministry of Jesus of Nazareth and the gathering of the remnant into the transcending Zion began on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after the resurrection of the Nazarene Jesus from among the dead. The Messianic period of ingathering will end at the second coming of Jesus the King Messiah. Micah's prophecy sees as far as the first advent of the Messiah after the restoration of the nation, This is the same scope that encompasses most of Isaiah, although Isaiah does contain an apocalyptic portion in chapters 24 to 26 that include the general resurrection and the end of the world and the end of Satan in the first portion of Isaiah 27. In this case Micah differs with Isaiah's scope because he has no corresponding view of the final end of the messianic period.
The Prophecy Of Micah
1 The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
Isaiah began to prophesy in the last year of Uzziah's reign and Jothan followed him; thus the period of their prophesy overlapped. Compare Isaiah 1:1 and see note above.
1. The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
The difference of scope from Isaiah is seen in that Micah includes Samaria and Jerusalem, (meaning Israel and Judah of which Jerusalem was the capitol) as a unit while Isaiah focuses on Judah and Jerusalem. Israel's captivity is emphasized in Isaiah 7-12 but only from the stand point of its influence on Judah. In Isaiah the land of Israel and Judah belongs to Emmanuel. Micah calls the land the possession of the people of Israel into which the deliverer will enter.
2 Hear the Lord from his holy temple, all you people; listen, O earth, and all who are in it: and let the Lord GOD be witness against you,.
Temple: Hebrew "heykal" meaning the building itself in Jerusalem. This is an indication here that the prophet recognized the temple building as the dwelling place of the Glory of YHWH called the Shekina by some.
3 For, behold, the LORD comes forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread on the high places of the earth. 4 And the mountains shall be melted under him, and the valleys shall be spilled, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place. 5 All this is because of the transgression of Jacob, and for the sins of the house of Israel.
Hyperbole: Just as in Isaiah and other prophets, hyperbole plays an important part in the descriptions of the prophet; mountains shall be melted under him, and the valleys shall be spilled, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place indicates the intensity of the Divine visitation not literal physical melting of mountains.. The judgement and punishment on the House of Israel is also to be visited upon the House of Judah because the sins of Israel were adopted by Judah.
What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?
Israel and Judah are equally guilty of Idolatry.
6Therefore I will make Samaria as a heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down its stones into the valley, and I will uncover its foundations. 7 And all its graven images shall be beaten to pieces, and all its wages shall be burned with the fire, and I will lay desolate all its idols: for she gathered it from the wage of a harlot, and they shall return to the wage of an harlot.
Verse 6: I will make Samaria: Samaria fell in 722 BCE. This verse is placed before the fall of Samaria and was given before the reign of Ahaz and Hezekiah and thus before the fall of Damascus and Galilee to the Assyrians. The city of Samaria was made desolate at its overthrow by Sargon II in 722 BCE. It was rebuilt and destroyed more than once and named Sebaste which existed for a time but after the New Testament period ultimately it was abandoned. It was abandoned and remained desolate and is still desolate today. Its extensive ruins and militarily advantageous site make a fine location for the many tourist visits it enjoys. Micah's book will continue to contain many chronological prophecies that are marked in time by their looking forward to the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians under Sargon II.
Verse 7: all its wages: Wages or KJV "hires" in Hebrew is "ethnan" which is the word for a gift given to a prostitute for her services. This was normal activity in the Idolatrous worship in the northern kingdom handed down from early Canaanite practices. Judah sent a kid to Tamar whom he mistook for a temple prostitute (Heb. qadeshah or "holy woman") as the "hire" or "ethnan" for what he thought was the offering due for her "religious services." See Genesis 38:14ff. Micah says that the profit derived from that industry was to be burned with fire. An obvious application can be made for not accepting money from sources connected with evil. Deuteronomy 23:18 plainly says that the "ethnan" is not an acceptable offering in God's temple.
8 Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls. 9 For her wound is incurable; for it is come to Judah; he is come to the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.
He is come to the gate of my people: The Assyrian assault on Jerusalem: is not described in the same terms as that of Samaria, which is to be made a heap. Calamity is to come to the gate of Jerusalem but not within the gate. While Samaria is to be laid low. This is repeated in verse 12 which see below for greater detail.
10 Do not declare it at Gath, do not weep at all: roll yourself in the dust in the house of Aphrah. 11 Pass away, you inhabitant of Saphir, having your shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan did not come out in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing. 12 For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD to the gate of Jerusalem.
Gath, Aphrah, Saphir, etc: The towns mentioned here are those which fell before the Assyrian advance. Except for Gath, which has continued to be a Philistine stronghold, alliteration in contrast plays a part in the descriptions for each of the cities mentioned. For instance Aphrah is related to the word dust or ashes and Maroth means bitternesses.
Gate of Jerusalem: Repeated again from verse nine. The Assyrian assault on the Kingdom of Israel (Samaria or sometimes called Ephraim) ended its political existence. But the Assyrian war against Judah, which was begun in earnest by Sennacherib after the fall of Samaria, resulted in Sennacherib taking the fortress cities of Judah and raising a siege against Jerusalem that lasted a full year. Jerusalem was not entered however. Many who revealed their unfaithfulness were lost in the siege or deserted. The faithful who trusted in the LORD experienced one of the greatest miracles of the Old Testament. A Shekina presence in a cloud of undulating and pulsating light with musical accompaniment passed over the city of Jerusalem and settled on the camp of the Assyrians resulting in 185,000 dead soldiers and the hasty withdrawal of Sennacherib and the rest of his Army. More space is given to this miracle in the Old Testament than any other historical event. For the background of Sennecharib's siege of Jerusalem see introduction to Isaiah 36 The description of the advance of the Assyrians from Samaria to Jerusalem resulting in Sennecherib shaking his fist at the city but not entering it, although his armies actually touched the gates of the city, is found in Isaiah 10.
See 2 Kings 18:13 through 19:37 and , 2 Chronicles 32:1-23.
13 O you inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in you.
beginning of the sin: This may mean as some propose, that Lachish was the first city of Judah to adopt the idolatrous ways of Samaria.
Lachish: Lachish was a fortress city and was taken by Sennacherib. From there about 695 BCE he sent an expeditionary army to besiege Jerusalem. Lachish was a tel. A tel is a location where a city has been built on the remains of a city that had previously been destroyed. Due to its strategic location guarding the approaches to Egypt it was often overcome and destroyed. After repeated sieges and rebuilding the newest city, with its many layers, would then be above the surrounding terrain and appear to be built on a hill. But the hill was created by the successive layers of previous habitations. The tel of Lachish is very high and a landmark for miles around its present location. It was destroyed last by Nebuchadnezzar around 575 BCE and has remained uninhabited since that time. Very little archaeological work has been done there.
14 Therefore shall you give presents to Moreshethgath: the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel. 15 Yet I will bring an heir to you, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come to Adullam the glory of Israel.
Give presents: The text says "give sendings concerning Moreshethgath." During the reign of Hezekiah, Sennacherib conquered the fortress cities of Judah. Diplomatic negotiations went on between the governments of Hezekiah and Sennacherib. Hezekiah stripped the temple of its gold and sent tribute to Sennacherib but this proved fruitless.2Ki 18:14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 2Ki 18:16 At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.
Bring an heir: There is a play on words here in Hebrew; Mareshah means "heritage" and a new possessor or "heir" of the heritage was taking over, meaning Assyria.
16 Make yourself bald, and poll for your delicate children; enlarge your baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from you.
They are gone into captivity: this is a prophecy and must refer to both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The captivity of Israel was imminent and that of Judah protracted but assured in chapter four verse ten .
1 Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work evil on their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. 2 And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage. 3 Therefore thus says the LORD; Behold, I devise an evil against this family, from which you shall not remove your necks; neither shall you go haughtily: for this time is evil. 4 In that day one shall take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We are utterly spoiled: he has changed the portion of my people: how has he removed it from me! turning away he has divided our fields. 5 Therefore you shall have no one who shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the LORD.
The Indictment: This description of the moral decline of the nation is a repeated theme in Michah. It echoes the same conditions that Isaiah cites in the first three chapter of his book as the cause of the coming punishment. You will find it repeated again through the book and at the end as well. See Micah 6:9-7:6
6 Do not prophesy, they say to those who prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, so that they shall not take shame. 7O you who are named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD narrow? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him who walks uprightly? 8 Even of late my people are risen up as an enemy: you pull off the robe with the garment from those who pass by securely as men averse from war. 9 You have cast out the women of my people from their pleasant houses; you have taken away my glory from their children for ever. 10 Arise, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. 11 If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood lies, saying, I will prophesy to you of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.
12 O Jacob, I will surely assemble all of you; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men. 13 The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD at the head of them.
The Remnant: Leaving the soon to come calamity Micah now describes the return after the punishment and exile of the two nations of Israel and Judah. He gives a description of the potential of then to be returned remnant which will grow to be as numerous as the large flocks of sheep in Bosrah. Bozrah, which is in northern Edom and south of Judah, was known for wool industry and especially for the red dyes used on the wool. See Isaiah 63. The large numbers expected to reinhabit the land are also described hyperbolically by Zechariah when the return had taken place but the settlement was still sparse. He said that there would be so many coming back that in Galilee "place would not be found for them." See Zechariah 10:10.
1And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and you princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?
You princes of the house of Israel: The word "prince" is "qetsiyn" and in both biblical and modern Hebrew is the word for a military officer. The whole phrase is "princes of the house of Israel" and in Hebrew is:
"qetsiyney beth yisrael" () This accurately describes the military dictatorships that characterized the leaders of the Kingdom of the northern tribes of Israel. This marks this prophecy as chronologically before the fall of Samaria in 722 BCE. The word is used again in the same way in verse nine below.
2 Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; 3 Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.
that is, they exploit the true believers. The true believers are described as those who dwell in or trust in Zion. That is, they trust in the ultimate consummation that God has promised for Zion. They may enjoy the physical blessing of those "who look to the earth" but their ultimate hope is in the future blessings. They suffer persecutions from the humanists of their generation but enjoy the physical benefits of the age they live in. They will also suffer the physical punishment and captivity won by those who reject God among whom they live. Their only difference is that they look for justification in the future of God's promises. Just as the remnant then, we do not know the future. The physical blessings of an advanced scientific age can disappear in a moment. The only difference between US and THEM is that the true believer trusts in the future according to God's promise. This is ridiculed by the humanists who call it "pie in the sky by and by" but it is still what motivates the true believer. See further comments under 7:1-6 and in verse 7:7.
Remnant: There is no doubt a play on words here. The Hebrew here for flesh is a homonym of She'ar which means remnant or remainder. It is not the usual word for flesh. The masoretic pointing is probably in error here. A related word meaning "kinsman" or "near" from which "flesh" is derived here is suggested by their vowel insertions, but it does not fit the context. The verse means "they take off the skin and then eat the rest right to the bone." Thus the vowel pointings should reflect those needed for the word "remnant" or "remainder" rather than a word from which "flesh" is only derived. The only difference is in the choice of vowels and those were supplied by helpful, but human, opinion. The text should read: "Who also eat the remnant of my people." The remnant, as in the rest of the prophets, are those who still trust in Zion although they suffer from the false leaders and prophets as well as sharing the physical sufferings to come, brought on by the disobedience of the leaders. The remnant, those who "dwell in Zion," will share the same captivity to come which is predicted for Israel and Judah in verse 12 in this chapter and for Judah in 4:10 below. But they trust in God's promise that He will wipe away all tears and Micah in his prophecy assures the remnant that they will finally be redeemed. To see the spiritual usage of the word "remnant" in the prophets it will be a good study to do a word search of my commentary on Isaiah, especially chapters 7-12 As an example click here. Isaiah10-11 Re: "flesh". .
4 Then shall they cry to the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
They cry: Not the remnant: "They" refers to the subject of verse one, the leaders of the house of Israel. A time is coming when they will seek help from God but he will treat them according to their habitual responses. In the same way that they despised the true believers, or the remnant, they will in like manner be accounted as of little value.
5 Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who make my people err, who bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he who does not put into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.
He who does not put into their mouths: That is The LORD himself.
6 Therefore night shall be to you, that you shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark to you, that you shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. 7 Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yes, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer from God.
8 But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.
9 Hear this, I pray you, you heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity.
Heads and princes: as in verse one the "heads" can refer to the leaders of Judah and Israel while the word for princes is "qetsiyn" (see note on this word) and means a military ruler and is more applicable to the military dictators of the northern kingdom who gained control through military coups and assassination and not through the will of the people, and therefore continues to mark this as a pre-fall-of-Samaria prophecy.
10 They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. 11 Their heads judge for reward, and their priests teach for hire, and their prophets divine for money: yet they will lean on the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? no evil can come on us.
Zion - Priests: This verse describes conditions in Jerusalem, not Samaria. There were no priests of YHWH in Samaria.
12 Therefore Zion, for your sake shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.
Shall become heaps: This relates to the future of Judah after the fall of Zion. The first prediction relating to the Assyrian invasion is that Samaria would be destroyed and be a "heap" found in 1:6 above. But Judah's invasion by the Assyrians would only reach the gates of Jerusalem but they would not enter stated in 1:8. Thus this prophecy is of a destruction of Jerusalem that is to be later. The destroyer that will make Jerusalem a heap is identified in 4:10 below. But before that identification, the assurance that Israel will survive this calamity and fulfill God's purpose for her as a blessing for all nations is given in the next verses.
1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it. 2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go out of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and no one shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken it. 5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
The verses above 1-5 that promise future glory for Jerusalem (Zion) are almost identical to Isaiah 2:4-6. One notable difference is that Micah does not use the phrase "last days."
Isa 2:2-62And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. 3And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 4And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 5O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.6 In that day, says the LORD, I will assemble her who halts, and I will gather her who is driven out, and her whom I have afflicted; 7 And I will make her who halted a remnant, and her who was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from now, even for ever 8 And you, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, it shall come to you, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.
Verses 6-8: are obviously messianic and connected with the exaltation of Zion or messianic Jerusalem in the future but there are hardships to pass through on the way to that bright future. This "hardship" has just been introduced in 3:12 just preceding the announcement of assurance of future glory. These difficulties and hard ships are exposed in the next few verses where Babylon is identified as the oppressor.
9 Now why do you cry out aloud? is there no king in you? is your counselor perished? for pangs have taken you as a woman in travail. 10 Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now you shall go forth out of the city, and you shall dwell in the field, and you shall go even to Babylon; there shall you be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem you from the hand of your enemies.
Babylon: Confirmation of the coming punishment and exile of Judah in Babylon and ultimate deliverance from that exile. Messiah's birth is announced as an event that will be after this one in 5:2 below
11 Now also many nations are gathered against you, who say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look on Zion.
The enemies of Zion will have time to ridicule and jeer during the Babylonian exile described in verse ten above.
12 But they did not know the thoughts of the LORD, neither did they understand his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor. 13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make your horn iron, and I will make your hoofs brass: and you shall beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain to the LORD, and their substance to the Lord of the whole earth.
1 Now gather yourself in troops, O daughter of troops: he has laid siege against us: they shall strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek.
The suffering Messiah motif is also given elaborate descriptions in Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 63.
2 But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you he shall come forth to me who is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
The place of the human origin of the judge of verse one who is called ruler here is given as Bethlehem. More important is his description as coming from eternity. He has a divine origin as well as a human origin. His eternal interaction with Israel is noted by Micah in places where his presence is indicated as orchestrating the fight against Assyria. It is said that Assyria is to be defeated by Israel with the help of the leader described here in verse 5 below. This can only be fulfilled according to God's time table and in spiritual terms. That is that Assyria ultimately disappeared from among the nations while Israel (all twelve tribes) was restored after the scattering accomplished by Assyria and the Chaldeans. In the period of the restoration many of the restoration prophecies outlining promised physical blessings were fulfilled in a three hundred year period of religious freedom. Following this period of restoration of the nation the appearance of the Messiah is promised. The eternal nature of the Messiah who is shown to be present in the centuries of Israel's history appears in many other passages including the Psalms but particularly in Isaiah. In Isaiah 7-12 under the name Emmanuel or "God with us" he is pictured as the owner of the land of Israel and as the one who is inviting Assyria into his land to punish His people Israel. In Isaiah 40-49 the Messiah is also seen as orchestrating the captivity and the rise of Cyrus the Persian to release the captives. He is described as being present at the creation and now being sent by YHWH and the Holy Spirit. See the comments particularly on Isaiah 48:14-16.
3 Therefore he will give them up, until the time that she who travails has brought forth: then the remnant of his brothers shall return to the children of Israel. 4 And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great to the ends of the earth.
Remnant: The word "remnant" refers to true believers among the children of Israel in all time periods. The remnant existed in sinning Israel before the deportation by the Assyrians and among their captors. The remnant existed in surviving Judah and in Judah under the siege and among those who were taken captive. These are described and "not looking to the earth" or "those dwelling in Zion" or as "daughters of Zion or Jerusalem." The remnant existed among the Babylonian captives and among those who returned to the second commonwealth. These descriptions make plain that many in the nation are not part of the true remnant. Paul indicates, that in his time there was still a true remnant made up of those who had accepted the Messiah Jesus and who had continued to remain in Zion with the Messiah King while the natural nation had opted for blindness and became enemies of Jerusalem which is above. The remnant is also described as those true believers in Zion still at large among the gentile nations
The word remnant in this verse refers to those who are brought back to Zion from among the gentiles "from the ends of the earth." As Paul teaches in Galatians, the remnant are those who are children of God through their affiliation to Abraham by their faith in the promises extended to him. One of them being that in his "Seed" that is the Shilow of David, all nations would be blessed. It is that hope of a Jewish Messiah who would call the gentiles into the "remnant" that comforted the nation during the agony of 200 years of exile by the Assyrians and Babylonians. The promise: (that they were to be restored again to their own land so that following their restoration the Messiah would appear) is paramount in the life of the nation from the time of Micah and Isaiah until the birth of Jesus of Nazareth in Bethlehem.
5 And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men. 6 And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in its entrances: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he comes into our land, and when he treads within our borders.
This man shall be the peace: The one who is the King born in Bethlehem is obviously the one spoken of here. How is he the "peace" and "deliverer?" His presence is stated in the land at the time of the Assyrian invasion and exile of The Kingdom of Israel. But his birth in Bethlehem is prophesied in chapter five verse two as happening afterward. This Man of destiny was preexistent as seen in the words "whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." Read the notes on Isaiah 48:11-16 in conjunction with these ideas. It is in this preexistent form that he orchestrated the entrance of the Assyrians into his land to discipline Israel and to weed out those who were not "dwelling in Zion.". Isaiah calls him Emmanuel and indicates that the Assyrians have been invited into "His Land." He is in charge and the Assyrians are doing his will and a time of destruction and complete extinction awaits them. The fall of Nineveh and Calah or Nimrud are particularly mentioned poetically as " the land of Nimrod in its entrances
7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers on the grass, that does not tarry for man, nor wait for the sons of men. 8 And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he goes through, both treads down, and tears in pieces, and no one can deliver. 9 Your hand shall be lifted up on your adversaries, and all your enemies shall be cut off. 10 And it shall come to pass in that day, says the LORD, that I will cut off your horses out of the midst of you, and I will destroy your chariots:
And the remnant of Jacob: This passage speaks of the time of captivity and promises the captives will be stronger than their captors. In fact in the event itself Babylon became financially and religiously the strongest center of world Jewry on earth for many centuries almost into the middle ages.
Cut off horses destroy chariots: This figure of speech usually refers to the decline in political power. Thus with the promise of power over their captives in the rest of the passage the power they are to exert must be political, economic and/or moral in nature. See Zechariah 9:10 which speaks of the loss of military power under the Messiah when he comes.
10And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace to the heathen:
This reminds me of the admonition given to Zerubbabel when the rebuilding was going on after the return from Babylon:
Zec 4:6 Then he answered and spoke to me, saying, This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts
11 And I will cut off the cities of your land, and throw down all your strong holds: 12 And I will cut off witch crafts out of your hand; and you shall have no more soothsayers: 13Your graven images also I will cut off, and your standing images out of the midst of you; and you shall no more worship the work of your hands. 14 And I will pluck up your groves out of the midst of you: so I will destroy your cities. 15 And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury on the heathen, such as they have not heard.
1 Hear now what the LORD says; Arise, contend before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. 2 Hear, O mountains, the LORD'S controversy, and you strong foundations of the earth: for the LORD has a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel. 3 O my people, what have I done to you? and in what have I wearied you? testify against me. 4 For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of servants; and I sent Moses before you, Aaron, and Miriam. 5 O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim to Gilgal; that you may know the righteousness of the LORD.
Verses 1-5: Chapter Six is a return to warning the concurrent generation, to whom Micah initially addressed his prophecy, of the calamities to come upon them as a result of their unfaithfulness. In these verses (1-5) he uses reasoning and reminds them of YHWH's past guidance and protection in spite of overwhelming odds against them. The conspiracy of Balak and Balaam is recorded in Numbers 22-25 and is used as an example of deliverance.
Verse 5: Shittim: a place on the east of Jordan, in the plain of Moab, nearly opposite Jericho. It was the forty-second encampment of the Israelites, their last resting-place before they crossed the Jordan. a plain or valley in the land of Moab where the Israelites were encamped after their two victories over Sihon and Og, at the close of their desert wanderings, and from which Joshua sent forth two spies "secretly" to "view" the land and Jericho (Josh. 2:1). For the events at Shittim see Numbers 25.
Verse 5: Gilgal means to roll: is named for the rolling of 12 huge stones from the midst of the Jordan to make a pile to mark the spot where the Jordan heaped up and parted when the Israelites crossed into the land for the first time. (See Josh. 4) This reference to Gilgal in Micah indicates that the trouble caused by Balak did not cease with the vengeance wrought by Phineas at Shittim when he put Zimri and Cozbi to death at Baalpeor or Shittim. Numbers 32 gives more of the history of the attempt to thwart the Israeli immigration including the death of Balaam. Thus this verse indicates that the harassment of Israel by the Midianite king Balak lasted all the time from its inception with the invitation to Balaam to curse Israel until they crossed the Jordan and encamped in the promised land for the first time at Gilgal.
6 With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what the LORD requires of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?
The same appeal to inner spirituality rather than to ritual observance is noticed by many of the prophets.
Amos 5:24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.Zechariah 7:9 Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother: 10 And do not oppress the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
9 The LORD'S voice cries to the city, and the man of wisdom shall see your name: hear the rod, and who has appointed it. 10 Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? 11 Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? 12 For its rich men are full of violence, and its inhabitants have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. 13 Therefore I will also make you sick by striking you, by making you desolate because of your sins. 14 You shall eat, but not be satisfied; and your casting down shall be in the midst of you; and you shall take hold, but shall not deliver; and that which you deliver I will give up to the sword. 15 You shall sow, but you shall not reap; you shall tread the olives, but you shall not anoint yourself with oil; and you shall tread sweet wine, but shall not drink the wine. 16 For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and you walk in their counsels; so that I should make you a desolation, and the inhabitants a hissing: therefore you shall bear the reproach of my people.
Verses 9 - 16: The recitation and repetition of the moral decline of the nation as the cause for the current economic downturn and agricultural shortages and resulting desolation and shame to be suffered has its fulfillment in the Assyrian invasion and the loss of statehood for the kingdom of Israel. The faulty application of these prophecies by futurists to events future to this reading is described further in the next notes under chapter 7:1-6 which continues these same thoughts. See also the first time the indictment is given in chapter 2.
1 Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grape gleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the first ripe fruit. 2 The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is no one upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net. 3 So that they may do evil with both hands earnestly; the prince asks, and the judge asks for a reward; and the great man, utters his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up. 4 The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of your watchmen and your visitation comes; now shall be their perplexity. 5 Do not trust in a friend, put no confidence in a guide: keep the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom. 6 For the son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.
Verses 1-6: Some past commentators similar to A. R. Faussett see too much of prophecy as future. They ascribe the conditions just described in these first 6 verses as Faussett does as existing just before the advent of the Messiah to establish an earthly kingdom. The error is then compounded since it is believed that the kingdom was postponed at the time of the first coming, and thus these conditions are yet future to that genre of expositors.
However the description refers to Micah's current events which precede the fall of Samaria and that which will precede the captivity of Judah. Isaiah did the same thing in the first three chapters of his prophecy. That is, he gave a summation of the reasons behind God's punishment of the nation. The social breakdown in the moral composition of the nation from the top to bottom is thus verified here as the cause for Assyrian intervention and coming extinction for Israel. The descriptions speak for themselves. On account of them Micah is assured that YHWH and the Messiah will intervene punishing the guilty but redeeming the remnant of faithful among the sinning nation. He will wait for YHWH's intervention which he has described in this book as having taken place in all past history of the nation which is Zion in prospect if not in very fact.
7 Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. 8 Do not rejoice against me, O my enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light to me. 9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause, and executes judgment for me: he will bring me out to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness. 10 Then she who is my enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her who said to me, Where is the LORD your God? my eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets. 11 In the day that your walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree be far removed. 12 In that day also he shall come to you even from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain. 13But the land shall be desolate because of those who dwell in it, for the fruit of their doings.
Verses 7-13: This and what follows is a good example of the discipline and punishment to be exercised on the land and people using the Assyrians as the instrument or rod in YHWH's hand. But then to be followed by the exultation of the nation when all the promises made to the nation from the time of Abraham onward will be completed. This is pictured physically by the promise of restoration of all the tribes to their land indicated by the words, Carmel. Bashan, and Gilead (mentioned in the next verse) which are abodes of the northern tribes. It was these northern tribes that would lose their national identity and be deported from their homelands within a very few years after the utterances of the prophecies relating to Samaria found in this book.
14 Feed your people with your rod, the flock of your heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. 15 According to the days of your coming out of the land of Egypt I will show to him marvelous things. 16 The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand on their mouth, their ears shall be deaf. 17 They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the LORD our God, and shall fear because of you.
Verses 14 - 17: Remnants of the Ten Tribes are clearly included in the future triumph that Micah continues to describe. This is seen in his use of the word Carmel, Bashan, and Gilead.
18 Who is a God like to you, who pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he does not retain his anger for ever, because he delights in mercy.
Micah expresses his own awe at the forgiving nature of the Almighty.
19 He will turn again, he will have compassion on us; he will subdue our iniquities; and you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. 20 You will perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
Although much of what was promised to Abraham and Jacob had already been fulfilled in the Kingdom of David, including the land promises. The promise that many nations would come from their seed were also fulfilled. Yet the promise that all nations would be blessed and fulfilled through the seed of Abraham and particularly through the tribe coming from Jacob's son Judah. This promise was later clarified as coming from the family descended from David. Thus Micah uses this as an assurance that He will restore the nation in the future and complete all the promises given at first to Abraham and the Patriarchs.