Lectionary Calendar
Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
StudyLight.org has pledged to help build churches in Uganda. Help us with that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Micah 5

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Now gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops: he hath laid siege against us: they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.

Now gather thyself in troops - i:e., thou shalt do so, to resist the enemy. Lest the faithful should fall into carnal security because of the previous promises, he reminds them of the calamities which are to precede the prosperity.

O daughter of troops. Jerusalem is so called on account of her numerous troops.

He hath laid siege against us - the enemy hath.

They shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek - the greatest of insults to an Oriental. Zedekiah, the judge (or king, Amos 2:3) of Israel, was loaded with insult by the Chaldeans, So also the other princes and judges (Lamentations 3:30). Hengstenberg thinks the expression, "the judge," marks a time when no king of the house of David reigned. The smiting on the cheek of other judges of Israel was a type of the same indignity offered to Him who, nevertheless, is the Judge not only of Israel but also of the world, and who is "from everlasting" (Micah 5:2; Isaiah 50:6, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting;" Matthew 26:67; Matthew 27:30).

Verse 2

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Beth-lehem Ephratah - (Genesis 48:7, where Jacob says, "Rachel died by me in the land of Canaan in the way, when yet there was but a little way to come unto Ephrath, and I buried her in the way of Ephrath: the same is Bethlehem"); or, "Bethlehem Judah," so called to distinguish it from Bethlehem in Zebulun. It is a few miles southwest of Jerusalem. Bethlehem means the house of bread; Ephratah means fruitful: both names referring to the fertility of the region.

Though thou be little among - though thou be scarcely large enough to be reckoned among, etc. It was insignificant in size and population; so that in Joshua 15:21, etc., it is not enumerated among the cries of Judah; nor in the list, Nehemiah 11:25, etc. Under Rehoboam it became a city (2 Chronicles 11:6, "He built Bethlehem"). In the scribes' quotation of Micah, in answer to Herod's inquiry, prompted by the wise men of the East, who asked, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" Matthew 2:6 seems to contradict Micah, "thou art not the least." But really he, by an independent testimony of the Spirit, confirms the prophet. Little in worldly importance, thou art not least (i:e., far from least, yea, the very greatest) among the thousands or princes of Judah, in the spiritual significance of being the birthplace of Messiah (John 7:42). God chooses the little things of the world to eclipse in glory its greatest things (Judges 6:15, The Lord looked upon Gideon, and said, "Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel;" and Gideon said unto the angel of the Lord, "Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house;" John 1:46; 1 Corinthians 1:27-28, "God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty"). The low state of David's line when Messiah was born is also implied here.

The thousands - each tribe was divided into clans, or "thousands" (each thousand containing a thousand families, like our old English division of counties into hundreds), which had their several heads or "princes;" hence, in Matthew 2:6 it is quoted "princes," substantially the same as in Micah, and authoritatively explained in Matthew. Since it is not so much this thousand that is preferred to the other thousands of Judah, but the Governor or Chief prince out of it who is preferred to the governors of all the other thousands. It is called a "town" (rather, in the Greek, 'village,' John 7:42); though scarcely containing a thousand inhabitants, it is ranked among the "thousands" or larger divisions of the tribe, because of its being the cradle of David's line, and of the Divine Son of David. Moses divided the people into thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, with their respective "rulers" (Exodus 18:25: cf. 1 Samuel 10:19).

Yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me - unto God the Father (Luke 1:32): to fulfill all the Father's will and purpose from eternity. So the Son declares (Psalms 2:7; Psalms 40:7-8; John 4:34); and the Father confirms it (Matthew 3:17; Matthew 12:18: cf. with Isaiah 42:1, "Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth"). God's glory is hereby made the ultimate end of redemption.

That is to be ruler - the "Shiloh," "Prince of peace," "on whose shoulders the government is laid" (Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 9:6). In 2 Samuel 23:3, "He that ruleth over men must be just," the same Hebrew word [ mowsheel (H4910)] is employed: Messiah alone realizes David's ideal of a ruler. Also in Jeremiah 30:21, "Their governor shall proceed from the midst of them;" answering closely to "Out of thee shall come forth the ruler," here (cf. Isaiah 11:1-4).

Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting - literally, from the days of eternity, or the days of the ages [ miymeey (H3117) `owlaam (H5769)]. The plain antithesis of this clause, "come forth out of thee" (from Bethlehem), shows that the eternal generation of the Son is meant. The terms convey the strongest assertion of infinite duration of which the Hebrew language is capable (cf. Psalms 90:2; Proverbs 8:22-23; John 1:1). Messiah's generation as man, coming forth unto God, to do His will on earth, is from Bethlehem; but as Son of God His goings forth are from everlasting. The promise of the Redeemer at first was vaguely general (Genesis 3:15). Then the Shemitic division of mankind is declared as the quarter in which He was to be looked for (Genesis 9:26-27); then it grows clearer, defining the race and nation whence the Deliverer should come-namely, the seed of Abraham, the Jews (Genesis 12:3); then the particular tribe, Judah (Genesis 49:10); then the family, that of David (Psalms 89:19-20); then the very town of His birth, here: and as His coming drew nigh, the very parentage (Matthew 1:1-25; Luke 1:1-2); and then all the scattered rays of prophecy concentrate in Jesus as their focus (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Verse 3

Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel. Therefore will he give them up until the time that - `Therefore (because of His settled plan) will God give up to their foes His people Israel, until,' etc.

She which travaileth hath brought forth-namely, "the virgin" mother, mentioned by Micah's contemporary (Isaiah 7:14). Zion "in travail" (Micah 4:9-10) answers to the virgin in travail of Messiah. Israel's deliverance from her long travail-pains of sorrow will synchronize with the appearance of Messiah as her Redeemer (Romans 11:26) in the last days, as the Church's spiritual deliverance synchronized with the virgin's giving birth to Him at His first advent. The ancient Church's travail-like waiting for Messiah is represented by the virgin's travail. Hence, both may be meant. It cannot be restricted to the Virgin Mary; because Israel is still "given up," though Messiah has been "brought forth" eighteen and a half centuries ago. But the Church's throes are included, which are only to be ended when Christ, having been preached for "a witness unto all nations" (Matthew 24:14), shall at last appear as the Deliverer of Jacob, and when "the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled," and Israel as "a nation shall be born in a day" (Isaiah 66:7-11; Luke 21:24; Revelation 12:1-2; Revelation 12:4; cf. Romans 8:22). Sufferings are, in the purpose of God, the necessary travail-pains that precede the joy of the birth (cf. Micah 4:9, "Now, why dost thou cry out aloud ... for pangs have taken thee as a woman in travail;" cf. John 16:20, "Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world").

Then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel - (cf. Micah 4:7). The remainder of the Israelites dispersed in foreign lands shall return to join their countrymen in Canaan. The Hebrew for "unto" [ `al (H5921)] is, literally, upon, implying super-addition to those already gathered.

Verse 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 unto the ends of the earth.

And he shall stand - i:e., persevere: implying the endurance of His kingdom (Calvin). Rather, His sedulous care and pastoral circumspection, as a shepherd stands erect to survey and guard on every side his flock (Isaiah 61:5). (Maurer.)

And feed - i:e., rule: as [ poimanei (G4165)] the Greek word similarly in Matthew 2:6, "Out of thee shall come a governor that shall rule my people Israel" (feed, margin, means both feed and rule; Isaiah 40:11, "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young;" Isaiah 49:10 "They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them;" Ezekiel 34:23; cf. 2 Samuel 5:2; 2 Samuel 7:8).

In the majesty of the name of the Lord - possessing the majesty of all Yahweh's revealed attributes ("name") (Isaiah 11:2; Philippians 2:6; Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 2:7; Hebrews 2:9).

His God - God is "his God" in a oneness of relation distinct from the sense in which God is our God (John 20:17). His God - God is "his God" in a oneness of relation distinct from the sense in which God is our God (John 20:17).

And they shall abide - the Israelites ("they" - namely, the returning remnant and "the children of Israel" previously in Canaan) shall dwell in permanent security and prosperity (Micah 4:4; Isaiah 14:30).

For now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth - (Micah 4:1; Psalms 72:8; Zechariah 9:10).

Verse 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.

This man - in Hebrew simply this. The One just mentioned; He and He alone. Emphatic for Messiah (cf. the same use of "this" - i:e., this same one, Genesis 5:29).

Shall be the peace - the fountain-head of peace between God and man, between Israel and Israel's justly offended God (so "Shiloh" means in Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 9:6, "The Prince of Peace;" Ephesians 2:14; Ephesians 2:17; Colossians 1:20); and, as the consequeuce, He is the fountain of "peace on earth," where heretofore all is strife (Micah 4:3; Hosea 2:18; Zechariah 9:10; Luke 2:14, "on earth peace").

When the Assyrian shall come into our land. Being Israel's most powerful foe at that time, Assyria is made the representative of all the foes of Israel in all ages, who, shall receive their final destruction at Messiah's appearing, (Ezekiel 38:1-23.) It is striking how the two contemporary prophets, Isaiah and Micah, concur in foretelling the deliverance from Assyria, though then it was in the height of its world-empire (Isaiah 10:24-34).

Then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight. Seven expresses perfection; seven and eight is an idiom for a full and sufficient number (Job 5:19; Proverbs 6:16; Ecclesiastes 11:2, "give a portion to seven, and also to eight").

Principal men - literally, anointed [ nªciykeey (H5257)] (humble) men [Psalms 62:9 uses 'aadaam (H120), of men of low degree], such as the apostles were. Their anointing, or consecration and qualification to office, was by the Holy Spirit (Calvin). (1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27.) "Princes" also were anointed, and they are mentioned as under Messiah (Isaiah 32:1, "Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in judgment"). The English version therefore gives the probable sense.

Verse 6

And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.

And they shall waste - literally, eat up: following up the metaphor of shepherds (cf. Numbers 22:4, "Now shall this company lick up all that are round about us, as the ox licketh up the grass of the field;" Jeremiah 6:3).

And the land of Nimrod - Babylon (Micah 4:10; Genesis 10:10); or including Assyria also, to which he extended his borders (Genesis 10:11).

In the entrances thereof - the passes into Assyria (2 Kings 3:21, "in the borders"). The margin and Jerome, misled by a needless attention to the parallelism "with the sword," translate [biptaacheyhaa], 'with her own naked swords;' as in Psalms 55:21 the Hebrew is translated, "drawn swords:" but "in the entrances" of Assyria answers to "within our borders;" moreover, the Hebrew here is masculine, whereas the Hebrew for sword [ chereb (H2719)] is feminine. As the Assyrians invade our borders, so shall their own borders or "entrances" be invaded.

Thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land - `He ... he:" Messiah shall deliver us when the Assyrian shall come.

Verse 7

And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men.

And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew - already mentioned in Micah 5:3. It in its comparative smallness stands in antithesis to the "many people." A remnant though Israel be amidst many nations, after her restoration, yet she shall exercise the same blessed influence in quickening them spiritually that the small imperceptible dew exercises in refreshing the grass (Deuteronomy 32:2; Psalms 72:6; Psalms 110:3). The influence of the Jews restored from Babylon in making many Gentile proselytes is an earnest of a larger similar effect hereafter (Isaiah 66:19; Zechariah 8:13, "It shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the pagan, O house of Judah, and house of Israel: so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing").

From the Lord. Israel's restoration, and the consequent conversion of the Gentiles, are solely of grace.

As the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man - translate, 'that tarry not for man:' the relative "that" refers to the antecedent "showers." Moreover, in [ kirbiybiym (H7241), from raabab (H7231), to multiply] showers, composed of multitudes of drops, there is implied the coming multiplication of Israel after its long-continued, diminution in power and numbers-entirely God's work, as independent of human contrivance as the dews and rains that fertilize the soil.

Verse 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 go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.

The remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion. In Micah 5:7 Israel's benignant influence on the nations is described; but here her vengeance on the godless hosts who assail her (Isaiah 66:15-16; Isaiah 66:19; Isaiah 66:24; Zechariah 12:3; Zechariah 12:6; Zechariah 12:8-9; Zechariah 14:17-18). Judah will be "as a lion," not in respect to its cruelty, but in its power of striking terror into all opponents. Under the Maccabees, the Jews acquired Idumea, Samaria, and parts of the territory of Ammon and Moab (Grotius). But this was only the earnest of their future glory on their coming restoration.

Verse 9

Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.

Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries. In Isaiah 26:11 ("Lord, when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see) it is Yahweh's hand that is lifted up; here Israel's, as Micah 5:8 implies, just as "Zion" is addressed and directed to "beat in pieces many people" (Micah 4:13: cf. Isaiah 54:15; Isaiah 54:17). For Israel's foes are Yahweh's foes. When her hand is said to be lifted up, it is Yahweh's hand that strikes the foe by her (cf. Exodus 13:9 with 14:8).

Verse 10

And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots:

I will cut off thy horses ... chariots - namely, those used for the purposes of war. Israel had been forbidden the use of cavalry, or to go to Egypt for multiplying horses (Deuteronomy 17:16), lest they should trust in worldly forces rather than in God (Psalms 20:7). Solomon had disregarded this command (1 Kings 10:26; 1 Kings 10:28). His disobedience brought on him its consequent punishment. Hadad, his enemy, was supported by aoh of Egypt, and not only sheltered, but was given in marriage the sister of Tahpenes, the queen. Hereafter, saith God, I will remove these impediments to the free course of my grace, horses, chariots, etc., on which ye trust. The Church will never be safe until she is stripped of all creature-trusts, and rests on Yahweh alone (Calvin). The universal peace given by God shall cause warlike instruments to be needless. He will cut them off from Israel (Zechariah 9:10) as she will cut them off from Babylon, the representative of the nations (Jeremiah 50:37; Jeremiah 51:21, "With thee (Israel) will I break in pieces the horse and his rider: and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider"). As Isaiah (Isaiah 2:7) prophesied the cutting off of horses and chariots, cities and strong towers, in which Judah trusted, rather than in God: so Micah foretells that their removal should be a mercy to those who trust in Messiah.

Verse 11

And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds:

And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds - such as are fortified for war. In that time of peace men shall live in "unwalled villages," in the Holy Land, especially the "land of unwalled villages" (Ezekiel 38:11: cf. Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 49:31; Zechariah 2:8).

Verse 12

And I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand; and thou shalt have no more soothsayers:

I will cut off witchcrafts out of thine hand - i:e., which thou now usest.

Verse 13

Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.

Thy graven images also will I cut off - (cf. Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 2:18-21; Isaiah 30:22; Zechariah 13:2).

And thy standing images - statues.

Verse 14

And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: so will I destroy thy cities.

And I will pluck up thy groves ... so will I destroy thy cities. The "groves" are the idolatrous symbol of Astarte (Deuteronomy 16:21, "Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the Lord thy God:" so as to have no resemblance to the idolatrous usages of the pagan; 2 Kings 21:7, Manasseh "set a graven image of the grove in the house"). "Cities," being parallel to "groves," must mean cities in or near which such idolatrous groves existed. Compare "city of the house of Baal" (2 Kings 10:25) - i:e., a portion of the city sacred to Baal.

Verse 15

And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.

And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen, such as they have not heard - or, as the Hebrew order favours, 'the nations that have not hearkened to my warnings.' So the Septuagint (Psalms 149:7).


(1) The prophet guards against the carnal security which the preceding glorious promises might have otherwise generated in the elect nation, by reminding them of the indignities which were awaiting their judges and princes soon. Even the Messiah, the coming Saviour, was to be smitten on the cheek-the greatest of insults-before the glory and kingdom should be fully manifested. Let us hence learn that in our own case also, if we are to win the heavenly crown, we must bear the cross, and mortify our earthly members;

(2) In the appointment of Bethlehem as Messiah's birthplace, the universal principle of God's way of redemption is exemplified, that out of seeming littleness and weakness God has perfected strength. Not royal Jerusalem, but humble Bethlehem; not the best house of that petty village, but a common inn; not the best room in the inn, but a stable or outhouse-was the scene of the nativity of Him "whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).

(3) This Divine "Ruler in Israel," moreover, came forth unto the Father. God's glory was and is the ultimate end of redemption. To fulfill the eternal counsel of the Father, "to the praise of the glory of His grace," was the purpose of the Son in His incarnation: as He saith, "Lo, I come ... I delight to do thy will, O my God." (Psalms 40:7-8). As Son of God, His "goings forth are from everlasting" (Micah 5:2): as Son of man, He "cometh forth," to fulfill the will of the Father on earth.

(4) God's giving up Israel to her foes is to "last until she which travaileth hath brought forth" (Micah 5:3). The virgin-mother's travail before the first coming of Messiah is to have its counterpart in Zion's pains, which shall precede the second coming of the same Jesus as the "Deliverer who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob" (Romans 11:26): at which time also "the remnant of Israel's brethren shall return" from their long-continued dispersion. There is another counterpart also, in the sighing prayers of the elect Church for the second coming of the Lord, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20-21): in concert with which are the groans of the whole creation, travailing in pain together (Romans 8:22), and longing "to be delivered from the bondage of corruption."

Thus a principle of interpreting Scripture prophecies is given us-namely, we are to remember that, while they receive a fulfillment in the immediate future, and in Messiah's first advent, they also look forward to their exhaustive fulfillment in the final consummation of all things at Messiah's second advent in glory. (5) The accurate knowledge which the scribes evinced to Herod of the exact birthplace of Messiah according to the prophecy of Micah, is a striking confirmation alike of the supernatural character of the inspiration of the prophets, and of the reality of Jesus' claim to be both the Son of God and the Son of Man. The scribes were constrained by the power of the truth involuntarily to confirm, from Jesus' very birth, the Messiahship of Him whom they then neglected, and subsequently rejected and condemned.

Thus alike friends and foes, the testimony of his contemporaries and that of the holy men of the Old Testament, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21), assure us that Jesus is both Lord and Christ.

(6) The Saviour now "feeds" His people in the green pastures of His Word, and by the inward teaching of His Spirit. Hereafter "He shall stand and feed" (Micah 5:4), or rule "in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God," fully manifested. Now but a "little flock" (Luke 12:32) follow Him: hereafter "He shall be great unto the ends of the earth." Now he is "the peace" of His believing people, giving them peace with God and with their own consciences, through faith in Him (John 14:27; John 16:33; Romans 5:1). Hereafter He shall give them external peace also, so that no longer shall they have, as now, "tribulation in the world;" for the Church shall be then co-extensive with the world, and the world with the Church; and all enemies of both the literal and the spiritual Isr ael shall be destroyed (Micah 5:5-6).

(7) Israel restored to God's favour and to her own land, though at first but a "remnant in the midst of many people," shall soon be multiplied as the drops of rain, and shall act with the same happy influence spiritually on the surrounding nations that the rain or dew exercises in reviving the withering grass (Micah 5:7). The spiritual dews from above are as independent of man, so far as power or merit is concerned, as are the literal dews of the atmosphere above and around us. Conversion and sanctification are altogether of grace, not of works. This shall be specially manifested in the new birth of all Israel and of the nations as in a day (Isaiah 66:8).

(8) As Israel and Israel's King shall wear a benignant aspect to the obedient, so shall He and the elect nation be formidable as a lion to all that oppose themselves, tearing them in pieces, so that "none can deliver" (Micah 5:8). Her "hand" shall be strengthened by Yahweh's hand against her "adversaries," and when lifted up shall cut them off (Micah 5:9).

Thus, ever the Lord's coming wears a double aspect to the believing and to the impenitent respectively. Let us see that we take our portion with Israel and with Israel's God.

(9) While the Lord is to "execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the disobedient pagan" (Micah 5:15), He will "cut off," not His people, but His people's idols, and their past creature-confidences, such as horses chariots, and strongholds (Micah 5:10-14). Israel shall no longer need the appliances of war when there shall be universal peace and security. Believers are never so safe as when stripped of all other dependencies, they rest on Yahweh alone. Let us pray earnestly for that blessed time to come, and meantime, as "the Israel of God," keep ourselves from idols of every kind, and trust in the Lord alone.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Micah 5". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/micah-5.html. 1871-8.
Ads FreeProfile