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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Micah 1

 

 

Verses 1-16


Judgment on Samaria and Judah

Sargon destroyed Samaria, the capital of North Israel, 722 or 721. Micah, about 720 b.c., declaring (Micah 1:6) that Samaria's fall has been due to its sin, announces a like fate for Jerusalem, guilty of a like sin (Micah 1:9). To the prophet this ruin of the people is not like that of the other nations Assyria has destroyed. Since God is manifesting Himself in it, Micah summons the nations to witness the event (Micah 1:2-4). The scourge will fall most heavily on the capitals, because the sin of the people has centred there (Micah 1:5).

Micah sees the route of the invaders through Philistia and SW. Judah, and as he was a native of the district, he laments the fate of the villages he has known (Micah 1:10-16). Sargon may have marched along this route to attack Egypt at Raphia, 720 or 719 b.c.

1. Micah] A shortened form of Micaiah, 'who is like Jehovah.' Morasthite] native of Moreshethgath: cp. Micah 1:14. Which he saw] The revelation was made to his inward eye: cp. 1 Samuel 9:9.

2. All ye people] RV 'ye peoples, all of you.' His holy temple] i.e. heaven, as in Habakkuk 2:20; Isaiah 63:15. Israel's ruin is to be an object-lesson to the nations.

4. God's judgments in figures taken from earthquake, storm, and lightning.

5. The first Jacob must mean the whole nation, the second the ten tribes. High places of Judah] LXX and Syr. read, 'sin of the house of Judah.' The capitals, Samaria and Jerusalem, were the centres of moral and religious corruption.

6, 7. The verbs should be read as presents, 'I am making,' etc.

6. Plantings of a vineyard] Samaria is to become heaps of stones, like the stoneheaps over which vines were trained. Into the valley] Samaria stood on a hill (1 Kings 16:24).

7. The hires thereof] the offerings at the idol shrines. For she gathered, etc.] The wealth of the offerings and plating on the idols, part of which has been gathered through the unchasteness of their women at the idol shrines (cp. Deuteronomy 23:17-18), will be carried to foreign lands, and dedicated to similar idolatries and similar foul rites.

8. Stripped and naked] i.e. without the outer garment (cp. 1 Samuel 19:24); here used as a sign of mourning. Dragons] RV 'jackals.' Owls] RV 'ostriches.' As a patriot Micah laments the calamities he predicts.

9. He is come] RV 'it' (i.e. the wound) 'reacheth.' The gate was the seat of the old men, the scene of justice. Jerusalem is called the gate of the people, as the centre of its wisdom and justice.

10-16. The vv. contain a series of wordplays on the names of villages in SW. Judah. The text is often obscure, and the point of some of the references depends on local allusions which we have lost. The district may have suffered when Sargon marched by this route to attack Egypt at Raphia, and when he captured Ashdod in 711 b.c.

10. At Gath] cp. 2 Samuel 1:20. In both cases the meaning is, 'Let us in our defeat be spared the malicious glee of our foes.' There is a word-play in the Hebrew here which may be imitated by saying, 'Tell it not in Tell-Town.' The Heb. for 'tell' and for 'Gath' being somewhat similar in sound. Weep ye not at all] read, 'in Akko (or Bokim) weep ye not.' 'Bokim' means 'weeping.' House of Aphrah] or, Beth le Aphrah. Aphrah and dust (Heb. aphar) are very similar. 'In House of Dust, roll thyself in dust.'

11. Saphir] 'beauty-town' with its beauty shamed. Zaanan] in sound like the Heb. for 'outgoing.' The town of outgoings shall be straitly shut up. In the mourning, etc.] RV 'the wailing of Bethezel shall take from you the stay thereof.' Bethezel may mean 'the house of stay.' Bethezel shall be so busy lamenting its own fate that it cannot support any one.

12. For the inhabitant, etc.] RM 'for the inhabitant of Maroth is in travail (labour) for good, because evil is come down.' This fresh bitterness gives a new justification to the name of Maroth = 'bitternesses' when good was so much desired.

13. Bind the chariot to the swift beast] i.e. 'you shall need your swiftest beasts for your flight.' Lachish suggested by similarity of sound, the Heb. reckesh, i.e. 'swift beast.' We have not the key to the allusion in the end of this verse. It may mean that Israel's idolatry made its first entry into Judah through Lachish.

14. Presents] RV 'a parting gift,' the marriage portion of a bride: cp. 1 Kings 9:16. Judah shall be obliged to relinquish Moreshethgath ('the possession of Gath'), once her possession, to the conqueror. The houses of Achzib] shall be achzab, 'deceitful,' i.e. the kings of Judah shall no longer be able to rely on their support.

15. Mareshah] which may mean possession. 'I will bring to the possession a new possessor,' i.e. the king of Assyria. He shall come, etc.] read, 'the glory of Israel shall come even unto Adullam.' David, the glory of Israel, had already found shelter there (1 Samuel 22:1). If those who are the glory of Israel return thither for refuge, it may be to rise with new vigour as David did. The threat is also a promise.

16. Make thee bald] artificial baldness was a sign of mourning (Leviticus 19:27; Deuteronomy 14:1). Eagle] probably griffon vulture. Judah is here addressed as a woman mourning over the loss of her children.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Micah 1:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/micah-1.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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