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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Micah 1

 

 

Verse 1

(1) Micah the Morasthite.—Unlike Joel, who identifies himself by his father’s name, Micah introduces his personality with reference to his native village, Moresheth-gath, which was situated in the lowland district of Judah. The name—a shortened form of Micaiah, meaning “Who is like Jehovah”—was not an uncommon one among the Jews, but it was chiefly famous in times prior to the prophet, through Micaiah, the son of Imlah, who, about 150 years previously, had withstood Ahab and his false prophets.

Samaria and Jerusalem.—The younger capital is placed first because it was the first to fall through the greater sinfulness of the northern kingdom. The chief cities are mentioned as representatives of the wickedness of the respective nations.


Verse 2

(2) Hear, all ye people.—The three-fold repetition of the appeal, “Hear ye,” seems to mark three divisions in the book: 1. “Hear, all ye people” (Micah 1:2); 2. “Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob” (Micah 3:1); 3. Hear ye now what the Lord saith” (Micah 6:1).

From his holy temple—i.e., from heaven; for “the Lord is in His holy temple, the Lord’s throne is in heaven” (Psalms 11:4).

Micaiah, the son of Imlah, ended his appeal to Ahab and Jehoshaphat with the words with which Micah opens his prophecy, “Hearken, O people, every one of you” (1 Kings 22:28).


Verse 4

(4) The mountains shall be molten.—The manifestations of the presence of God are taken from the description of the giving of the Law, when “the hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth” (Psalms 97:5). Dean Stanley refers the imagery to the memorable earthquake mentioned in Amos 1:1 :—“Mountains and valleys are cleft asunder, and melt as in a furnace; the earth heaving like the rising waters of the Nile; the sea bursting over the land; the ground shaking and sliding as, with a succession of shocks, its solid framework reels to and fro like a drunkard” (Jewish Church, Lect. 37).


Verse 5

(5) The transgression of Jacob . . . the sins of the house of Israel.—The corruption of the country came from the capital cities. Samaria, on her hill, set an example of idolatry, drunkenness, and all the evils of a most profligate society; and even Jerusalem, the city “set on an hill,” gave a home in the Temple of Jehovah to heathen deities.


Verse 6

(6) Samaria as an heap of the field.—Samaria was to be reduced to what it had been before the days of Ahab; the palatial city of the kings of the northern kingdom should return to the normal condition of a vineyard, which it had before Shemer sold it to Omri. The fruitfulness of its vines suggests one cause of its ruin. “Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, whose glorious beauty is a fading flower, which are on the head of the fat valleys of them that are overcome with wine” (Isaiah 28:1).


Verse 7

(7) And all the hires thereof.—The falling away of Israel from her loyalty to God is compared generally by the prophets to a wife deserting her husband; and these “hires” are the offerings made to the shrines of the idols to which the Israelites forsaking Jehovah had transferred their worship. All these treasures shall be destroyed; the Assyrians shall carry them off for the adornment of their temples.


Verse 8

(8) Dragons . . . owls.—Literally, jackals and ostriches. They are selected by reason of the dismal howls and screeches they make during the night.


Verse 9

(9) Her wound is incurable.—The state of Samaria is incurable: she is doomed: the destroyer is approaching—nay, he comes near, even to Jerusalem. The outlying towns are described as shuddering at the invader’s advance, but Jerusalem itself is spared.


Verse 10

(10) Declare ye it not at Gath.—The prophet lets his lament flow after the strain of David’s elegy, “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon.” In this passage the parallelism seems to require the name of a town where the English Version has “at all.” But the Hebrew word thus represented may, by the addition of a letter which has dropped out of the text, be rendered “in Accho,” or Ptolemais, now called Acca. The LXX. translation οἱ ἐν γεθ, μὴ μεγαλύνεσθε οἱ ἐν ακιμ, μὴ (= οἱ ὲ ν ἀκ ε ὶ μή), accords with this reading. The parallelism is thus maintained, and the thought is completed: “Mention not the trouble in our enemies’ cities; bewail it in our own.”


Verse 11

(11) Saphir . . . Zaanan.—The sites of these cities, like that of Aphrah, are a matter of conjecture. They were probably south-west of Jerusalem, the prophet following the march of the invading army.

The inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth—i.e., they remained in their city through fear of the enemy.

In the mourning of Beth-ezel.—Rather, the wailing of Beth-ezel shall take from you his standing—i.e., no support will be found in the inhabitants of Beth-ezel.


Verse 12

(12) Waited carefully.—There are various ways of arriving at the interpretation of the words, but the result is the same. The people of Maroth were in distress; they were grieved at the spoiling of their property; they longed for good, but evil was the Lord’s decree against Jerusalem.


Verse 13

(13) Bind the chariot to the swift beast—i.e., make haste to escape with thy goods. Lachish was the most important of the cities enumerated. It was fortified by Rehoboam, and was sought as a refuge by Amaziah from the conspiracy formed against him in Jerusalem. After the capture of the Holy City by Nebuchadnezzar, Lachish alone remained, with Azekah, of the defenced cities of Judah. It appears, from its position as a border city, to have been the channel for introducing into the kingdom of Judah the idolatry set up by Jeroboam in Israel.


Verse 14

(14) Give presents—i.e., thou shalt cease to give to Moresheth-gath the protection due from a husband to a wife: thou shalt give her a bill of divorce. The Hebrew word means either the presents sent with a daughter or the dismissal sent to a wife.

Achzib.—A town on the sea-coast between Accho and Tyre. Its name means false, deceptive; it is used of a river drying up, and disappointing the traveller. In like manner Achzib shall fulfil the import of its name, and prove a lie, a broken reed, to the kings of Israel. (See also Jeremiah 15:18, where the prophet asks God, “Wilt Thou be altogether unto me as a liar [Heb., Achzab], as waters that fail?”)


Verse 15

(15) Yet will I bring an heir.—Rather, the possessor, one who shall take it by force—i.e., Sennacherib.

Mareshah was a city in the plain of Judah, near the prophet’s native place, Moresheth-gath. It was fortified by Rehoboam, and became the scene of Asa’s victory over the immense host of Zerah the Ethiopian. Dr. Robinson is of opinion that after its destruction the town of Eleutheropolis was built out of its materials.

Adullam the glory of Israel.—Adullam, in the neighbourhood of Mareshah, was situated at the base of the hills, and gave its name to the famous cave in which David took refuge. Joshua mentions a king of Adullam in the list of those conquered by the Israelites. This, now the last refuge of the glory of Israel, shall be seized by the invader.


Verse 16

(16) Make thee bald.—Joel appeals to the land of Judah to go into deep mourning by reason of the loss of her children, slain in war or carried into captivity. The shaving of the head as a token of grief was common amongst Eastern nations, and is distinct from the idolatrous custom of cutting the hair in a peculiar shape denounced by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:26, margin), and forbidden by the Jewish Law (Leviticus 19:27-28).

As the eagle.—The Hebrew name for eagle includes the different kinds of vultures. Entire baldness is a marked feature of the vulture.

The terms in which Joel speaks of the entire desolation of the cities of Judah must refer to a more complete calamity than that inflicted by Sennacherib; they rather suit the period of the Babylonian captivity.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Micah 1:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/micah-1.html. 1905.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, September 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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