Click here to get started today!
by Adam Clarke
Introduction to the Book of the Prophet Micah
Micah, the Morasthite, or of Moresa, a village near the city Eleutheropolis, in the southern part of Judah, is the sixth in order of the twelve minor prophets. He prophesied under Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, for about fifty years. Some have confounded him with Micaiah, son of Imlah, who lived in the kingdom of the ten tribes, under the reign of Ahab.
The spurious Dorotheus says that Micah was buried in the burying-place of the Anakim, whose habitation had been at Hebron, and round about it. This prophet appeared almost at the same time with Isaiah, and has even borrowed some expressions from him. Compare Isaiah 2:2 with Micah 4:1, and Isaiah 41:15 with Micah 4:13.
The prophecy of Micah contains but seven chapters. He foretells the calamities of Samaria, which was taken by Shalmaneser, and reduced to a heap of stones. Afterwards he prophesies against Judah, and declares the troubles that Sennacherib should bring upon it under the reign of Hezekiah. Then he declaims against the iniquities of Samaria. He foretells the captivity of the ten tribes, and their return into their own country. The third chapter contains a pathetic invective against the princes of the house of Jacob, and the judges of the house of Israel; which seems leveled against the chief of the kingdom of Judah, the judges, the magistrates, the priests, the false prophets, etc. He upbraids them with their avarice, their injustice, and falsehood; and tells them they will be the occasion that Jerusalem shall be reduced to a heap of rubbish, and the mountain of the temple shall be as a forest. We are informed, Jeremiah 26:18-19, that this prophecy was pronounced in the reign of Hezekiah; and that it saved Jeremiah from death.
After these terrible denunciations, Micah speaks of the reign of the Messiah, and of the establishment of the Christian Church. And as the peaceable times which succeeded the return from the Babylonish captivity, and which were a figure of the reign of the Messiah, were disturbed by a tempest of a short continuance, Micah foretold it in such a manner as agrees very well with what Ezekiel says of the war of Gog against the Jews. Micah speaks in particular of the birth of the Messiah; that he was to be born at Bethlehem; and that his dominion was to extend to the utmost parts of the earth. He says that God should raise seven shepherds, who should reign by the sword over Assyria, and in the land of Nimrod; which Calmet explains of Darius, son of Hystaspes; and of the seven confederates that killed the magian, and who possessed the empire of the Persians, after the extinction of the family of Cyrus. The fifth chapter, from verse 7 to the end, describes the flourishing estate of the Jews in their own country, from the reign of Darius, and after the Maccabees; yet in such a manner, that he mingles several things in it that can apply only to the Church of Jesus Christ.
The two last chapters of Micah contain, first, a long invective against the iniquities of Samaria: then he foretells the fall of Babylon; the re-establishment of the cities of Israel; the greatness of the country possessed by the Israelites; their happiness; the graces wherewith God will favor them; and all this in such lofty terms, that they chiefly agree with the Christian Church. St. Jerome says that Micah was buried at Morasthi, ten furlongs from Eleutheropolis; and Sozomenes says that his tomb was revealed to Zebennus, bishop of Eleutheropolis, under the reign of Theodosius the Great. He calls the place of his burial Beretsate, which is probably the same as Morasthi, ten furlongs from Eleutheropolis.
Bishop Newcome observes that Micah was of the kingdom of Judah, as he only makes mention of kings who reigned over that country. It is supposed that he prophesied farther on in the reign of Hezekiah than Hosea did; although Micah 5:5 was written before the captivity of the ten tribes, which happened in the sixth year of Hezekiah. It is plain from Micah 1:1, Micah 1:5, Micah 1:9, Micah 1:12-13, that he was sent both to Israel and Judah. Like Amos and Hosea, he reproves and threatens, with great spirit and energy, a corrupt people. See Micah 2:1-3, Micah 2:8-10; Micah 3:2-4, Micah 3:6, Micah 3:10-12; Micah 7:2-4. And, like Hosea, he inveighs against the princes and prophets with the highest indignation. See Micah 3:5-7, Micah 3:9-12; Micah 7:3. The reader will observe that these similar topics are treated of by each prophet with remarkable variety, and copiousness of expression.
Some of his prophecies are distinct and illustrious ones, as Micah 2:12-13; Micah 3:12; Micah 4:1-4, Micah 4:10; Micah 5:2-4; Micah 6:13; Micah 7:8-10.
We may justly admire the elegance of his diction: -
Micah 2:12 - "I will surely gather, O Jacob, all of thee:I will surely assemble the residue of Israel.I will put them together as sheep of Bozra, As a flock in the midst of their fold: They shall make a tumult from the multitude of men.
Micah 2:13 - He that forceth a passage is come up before them:They have forced a passage, and have passed through the gate; and are gone forth by it: And their King passeth before them, even Jehovah at the head of them."
Micah 4:1 - "But it shall come to pass, in the latter days,That the mountain of the temple of Jehovah shall be Established on the top of the mountains, And it shall be exalted above the hills; And the people shall flow into it:
Micah 4:2 - And many nations shall go, and shall say,Come, and let us go up unto the mountain of Jehovah, And unto the temple of the God of Jacob: That he may teach us of his ways, and that we may walk in his paths.
For from Sion shall go forth a law, And the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem.
Micah 4:3 - And he shall judge between many people,And he shall convince strong nations afar off: And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, And their spears into pruninghooks: Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they any longer learn war."
His animation -
Micah 1:5, lines 3, 4 - "What is the transgression of Jacob? - is it not that of Samaria?And what are the high places of Judah? - are they not those of Jerusalem?"
Micah 4:9 - "And now why dost thou cry out loudly?Is there no king in thee?Hath thy counsellor perished?For pangs have seized thee, as a woman in travail."
There are few beauties of composition of which examples may not be found in this prophet. For sublimity and impressiveness in several places, he is unrivalled. The Lord's controversy, Micah 6:1-8, is equal to any thing even in the prophet Isaiah. It has a powerful effect on every attentive reader.
His strength of expression: -
Micah 1:6 - "Therefore will I make Samaria a heap of the field, a place for the plantings of a vineyard: And I will pour down her stones into the valley, and I will discover her foundations."
Micah 3:2 - "Ye who hate good and love evil: Who pluck their skin from off them, And their flesh from off their bones."
Micah 3:3 - Who have also eaten the flesh of my people, And have flayed their skin from off them, And have broken their bones; And have divided them asunder, as flesh in the pot: And as meat within the caldron."
Micah 7:1 - "Wo is me; for I am becomeAs the gatherers of late figs, as the gleaners of the vintage.There is no cluster to eat: My soul desireth the first-ripe fig.
Micah 7:2 - The good man is perished from the land,And there is none upright among men. All of them lie in wait for blood; They hunt every man his brother for his destruction."
His pathos: -
Micah 1:16 - "Make thee bald, and cut off thine hair for thy delicate children; Enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; For they are gone into captivity from thee."
Micah 2:4 - "In that day shall a proverb be taken up against you; And a grievous lamentation shall be made: Saying, 'We are utterly laid waste: He hath changed the portion of my people:How hath he departed from me, To bring again him that divided our fields!'"
His sublimity: -
Micah 1:2 - "Hear, O ye people, all of you:Hearken, O land, and all that are therein.And let the Lord Jehovah be witness against you; Even the Lord from his holy temple.
Micah 1:3 - For, behold, Jehovah will go forth from his place: And he will come down, and will tread upon the high places of the earth.
Micah 1:4 - And the mountains shall be molten under him; And the valleys shall cleave asunder; As wax before the fire, As waters poured down a steep place."
Micah 6:1 - "Hear ye now what Jehovah saith: Arise, contend thou before the mountains; And let the hills hear thy voice."
Micah 7:16 - "The nations shall see, and shall be confounded because of their might: They shall lay their hand upon their mouth; their ears shall be deaf.
Micah 7:17 - They shall lick the dust as the serpent; As the creeping things upon the earth, they shall tremble from their close places: Because of Jehovah our God, they shall stand in awe; and they shall fear because of thee."
the Fifth Week after Easter