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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Micah 1

Verse 1

Introduction

Micah means ‘who is like Yahweh? He lives up to his name. In his book he presents the LORD – Hebrew Yahweh – as the righteous Judge and the faithful Shepherd of Israel. He shows that God hates sin, lawlessness, idolatry and religious formalism. Because of these iniquities, God must judge His people as the righteous Judge. But God is also the God who cannot be compared to anyone. Who is like Him (Micah 7:18)? As a God of forgiveness, He is willing to give His people a glorious time of peace under the rule of the Messiah.

We learn from the book of Micah that God values faith that is actually practiced and lived out. Anyone as a mere creature who takes the place that best suits him before God, the Creator, will come to know God as a wonderful God of forgiveness.

As said, the name Micah means ‘who is like Yahweh?’ When Micah’s mother called her little boy by his name to enter, a loud testimony shouted through the streets of Moresheth that the LORD – our translation of the word Yahweh – cannot be compared to anyone.

If this testimony sounded that way through the city, it may have reminded the pious Israelite of the song that Moses and the Israelites sang after their redemption from Egypt. The same testimony sounds in that song (Exodus 15:11). Unfortunately, this memory will only have been present in a few people. The masses of the people no longer think of the LORD, of His redemption and His purpose with it. They live for themselves and do injustice to their neighbors.

That is why more is needed than the testimony of his name when his mother called him or when he later introduced himself as ‘Micah’. His name will gain substance through a powerful preaching to break with sin and do what the LORD asks (Micah 6:8). He concludes that preaching with a powerful testimony of the meaning of his name: “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity?” (Micah 7:18).

The Micah of this Bible Book can be found only in Jeremiah 26 (Jeremiah 26:18). There, as here (Micah 1:1), he is called “Micah from Moresheth. This clearly distinguishes him from all the other Micah’s (or: Micaiah) mentioned in the Bible, of whom we often read no more than the name of their father. There are two namesakes of whom we read more.

One is “Micaiah, the son of Imlah” (1 Kings 22:8-Song of Solomon :). In this son of Imlah, Micah of Moresheth has an inspiring forerunner. The son of Imlah was fearless in bringing God’s Word to kings and prophets who did not take God into account. This man was not impressed by the splendor of the kings and the threatening language of the false prophets. Indeed, beyond these high-ranking persons he has seen the majesty of the LORD, in which all earthly glory fades and loses its threat. Micah from Moresheth will prove to be a worthy namesake, because he brings his message equally fearlessly.

The other Micah stands in stark contrast to both of these faithful, devoted Micah’s. We meet him in Judges 17-18. This man has had his very own idea of how he wanted to serve God. His idolatry has led a whole tribe to follow him in his idolatry (Judges 17:1-1 Chronicles :; Judges 18:1-Joshua :Judges 18:27; Judges 18:30-Obadiah :).

Moresheth, the town where the Micah of this Bible Book comes from, is a small town southwest of Jerusalem that borders directly on the Philistine region. The addition of ‘Gath’ further on in Micah 1 indicates this (Micah 1:14). It is an ordinary rural town in the province. Just like Amos, who lived a few decades before him, he is someone from the countryside. That is not to say that he lived in isolation to whom all the world news passes by. He lived on the road that runs from the Philistines to the Judean mountains. That road is an access road to the country. Micah lived in a place where he was informed about everything by the passers-by. He is no stranger to the world in which he lives and is therefore able to give an appropriate testimony.

As far as his origins are concerned, there is similarity with Amos. As far as the content of his message is concerned, there is clear similarity with Isaiah, of whom he is a contemporary. They have both spoken a lot about the Messiah. Micah is also sometimes called ‘the little Isaiah’. That there is similarity with Isaiah is also shown by the number of similar passages of both prophets:

Micah 1:9-Nehemiah :Isaiah 10:28-Jonah :
Micah 2:1-Exodus :Isaiah 5:8
Micah 2:6; Micah 2:11Isaiah 30:10-1 Kings :
Micah 2:12Isaiah 10:20-:
Micah 3:5-Judges :Isaiah 29:9-2 Kings :
Micah 3:12Isaiah 32:14
Micah 4:1Isaiah 2:2
Micah 4:4Isaiah 1:19
Micah 4:7Isaiah 9:7
Micah 4:10Isaiah 39:6
Micah 5:2-Numbers :Isaiah 7:14
Micah 5:6Isaiah 14:25
Micah 6:6-Ruth :Isaiah 43:6-Judges :
Micah 7:7Isaiah 8:17
Micah 7:12Isaiah 11:11

The fact that there is clear similarity between Micah and Isaiah does not mean that Micah is a copy of Isaiah. He is not a copycat of Isaiah. What he says, he does not ‘borrow’ from Isaiah, but is ordered by the LORD. The people who hear Isaiah hear the same things from Micah. One prophet therefore underscores what the other has said. Thus the testimony which the LORD has given is confirmed. By the way, God never lets contradictory sounds be heard. His messengers are always in harmony with one another because His Spirit guides them. Each messenger’s own style is always preserved.

Compared to Isaiah, Micah is a little prophet. We regularly see Isaiah at the king’s court, while Micah is more the man of the people. Such a position can mean a special exercise of faith. After all, it is not easy to stand in the shadow of a great prophet. Yet Micah did not think: ‘Isaiah does all the work. I don’t have to do anything.’ He knows himself personally called to his task by the LORD and therefore fulfills it with devotion.

The application to today, for the church, is easy to make. Every gift is important, even the in our eyes ‘small’ gift. Every ‘small’ gift should not think: ‘The great gifts will do it.’ This is also an often used argument in the church today not to be engaged in God’s kingdom. Not that it is always said out loud, but practice proves it.

Paul shows that such a view in fact stems from jealousy. For this he uses the picture of a human body: “If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not [a part] of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less [a part] of the body” (1 Corinthians 12:15). Here we see that dissatisfaction with one’s own place in the church, seen as a body, stems from jealousy at someone else’s place. This attitude leads to the foolish notion of not belonging to it, of not having a task.

In any case, Micah does not use the excuse: ‘Because I am not Isaiah, I am not a prophet.’ It does not bother him to carry out his ‘small’ task too. Again, God has assigned a task to each of His children. If each of the many so-called small gifts becomes more aware of this, there will be much more fruit for God in the church and much less struggle and division.

Like the prophecies of Hosea and Amos, the prophecy of Micah deals with the spiritual state of the people of the Jews, the two tribes. He also clearly denounces the social wrongs. Samaria is also mentioned, the ten tribes, so it is about the whole of Israel. He prophesied about ten years before the fall of Samaria, caused by the Assyrians in 722 BC, an event about which he also prophesied (Micah 1:6-Judges :).

Because of all the wrongs in the relations that have arisen in Israel, the people have become ripe for the sickle of the Assyrians. These wrongs are summarized in 2 Kings 17 (2 Kings 17:6-Isaiah :). The judgment that Micah had to announce was not given by him with dry eyes. It was close to his heart (Micah 1:8-1 Samuel :).

It has already been pointed out that in Jeremiah 26 (Jeremiah 26:18) what Micah announced is quoted in Micah 3 (Micah 3:12). In the days of Jeremiah one remembers Micah’s words. That is more than a century later, after he spoke them. The priests and prophets want to kill Jeremiah because he proclaims the judgment to them if they remain disobedient. But the princes quote the prophecy of Micah and how Hezekiah reacted to it.

For Jeremiah, this reminder means that the threat of killing him is removed. There is a great deal of reverence for Hezekiah. After all, this God-fearing king did not let Micah be killed for his words. If they did kill Jeremiah for his words, it would be tantamount to condemning the God-fearing Hezekiah, as if he had let Micah live unjustly.

It is also interesting to see that Micah is quoted several times in the Bible.
1. The first quotation, which has already been mentioned before (Jeremiah 26:11-Psalms :), takes place one hundred years after his performance.
2. After that there is a reference to Micah in the time of the Lord Jesus. Thus an appeal is made to Micah to bring the sages from the East to the place of the birth of the Messiah (Micah 5:1Matthew 2:5-Joshua :).
3. The Lord Jesus Himself uses Micah when He sends out the seventy. On that occasion, the Lord Himself tells His messengers that the prophecy of Micah will be fulfilled in their preaching (Micah 7:6Matthew 10:21; Matthew 10:35-Zephaniah :).
4. When Christ presents Himself as the good Shepherd, this is also something we find in Micah (Micah 2:12-1 Chronicles :John 10:9; John 10:11John 10:14).

Division of the book

The book can be divided into three parts, with each part starting with ‘hear’:
1. Admonition of sin (Micah 1-2)
2. Announcement of the verdict (Micah 3-5)
3. Promise of blessing by the Messiah (Micah 6-7)

The Word of the LORD Comes to Micah

Micah has heard “the word of the LORD”. The origin of his message lies in God. What Micah must speak, are words that God has given him. He has also seen the effect of the words of God in what is happening with Samaria and Jerusalem. God never speaks empty words. When He speaks, something happens that is perceptible to faith.

The time of His prophecy falls in the time of three kings of Judah. Although his prophecy is also about Samaria, only the kings of Judah are mentioned because they are in the line of David. Because of this we also know that Micah prophesied within a range of forty to fifty years. God has only let him write down of his words what is of lasting significance for the coming generations and also for us.

“Jotham” reigns from ca. 758-742 BC and is a king after God’s heart (2 Kings 15:32-Zechariah :). “Ahaz” reigns from ca. 742-727 BC and is an ungodly king (2 Kings 16:1-Proverbs :). “Hezekiah” reigns from ca. 727-698 BC and is a God-fearing king (2Kgs 18-20). He restores what Ahaz has corrupted. These three kings show the different circumstances under which prophets must speak the words of God. God has a fitting word for every time, without any adaptation of His Word to that time.

In Jotham we can see a picture of Israel’s blessed position in the past. Ahaz is a despiser of the service of the LORD (2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 16:10-Ezra :). He is a picture of the antichrist and the apostasy in the end times. Hezekiah is a type of Christ and represents the restoration of a remnant in connection with Him in the end times.

Promises and threats are mixed up in this book. We hear how Micah, under the reign of wicked rulers, preaches comfort to the faithful. To the righteous in that period he says that they are going to be all right. In the time of the pious rulers he acts as a preacher of repentance for the unfaithful members of God’s people. He says to them that they are going to have a bad time. For even though times change, the Word of the LORD remains the same.

The book of Micah is about the two realms, that is to say, the northern ten tribes realm and the southern two tribes realm. The message of Micah applies to all the inhabitants of both realms. However, he does not mention the realms, but the names of their capitals. This will be because the leaders of these influential centers are mainly responsible for social injustice (Micah 1:5-Judges :; Micah 3:9-2 Kings :). Jerusalem is emphasized in his prophecy. For with this city it is not only about the corruption of the leaders, but also about the future glory that will be the part of Jerusalem.

Verse 2

The Judge Comes

Micah presents without further introduction of the LORD as the coming Judge. The peoples are called as witnesses, as observers, in this process (cf. 1 Kings 22:28). The judgment that affects God’s people is a harbinger of the judgment that will affect the people at large. The judgment about the cities of Samaria (Micah 1:6) and Jerusalem (Micah 3:12) contains education for the peoples. Therefore, the earth is called to listen.

The purpose of this general call is to emphasize its great weight (cf. Deuteronomy 32:1; Isaiah 1:2; Jeremiah 6:19). Micah sees, just like Isaiah, that the fate of the nations depends entirely on the fate of God’s people. The song of Moses and the book of the law were once set by God as witnesses of the sins of the Israelites (Deuteronomy 31:19-Ecclesiastes :; Deuteronomy 31:26). They testify to the judgment that will strike them if they transgress His covenant.

In the same way, the destruction of Samaria and Jerusalem testifies to the nations how God hates sin. It warns them not to think that He will spare them, the nations, if “the Lord GOD” (Adonai Yahweh) acts so with His own people (1 Peter 4:17). He Himself acts as a Witness, because His people, who should have witnessed to His Name, have abandoned Him and started to serve other gods.

The Lord, Adonai, that is the Commander, the Sovereign, comes in majesty from the place where His throne stands (Psalms 11:4). His coming out of His holy place strengthens the impression of His majesty. Micah speaks of “His holy temple”. With this he emphasizes the enormous contrast with the sinful earth, where the atmosphere breathes one and all unholiness and impurity. Fortunately, God will first come out of His sanctuary in Christ and appear on earth to give men the opportunity to be reconciled with Him (2 Corinthians 5:20), before He will appear as Judge, as is suggested here.

When He must judge, He goes out of His place (Isaiah 26:21). If He postpones judgment and thereby shows mercy, He remains in His place (Hosea 5:15). If He has to judge, He does it briefly, it is the work of a moment (Isaiah 54:7-Ruth :). His actual work is to prove grace and mercy (Joel 2:13).

Verse 3

The LORD Comes Forth From His Place

Here the day of the LORD has dawned. He appears. Until now He has hidden Himself (Isaiah 45:15), but now He is going to create order on earth, where sins have risen to a climax (cf. Genesis 18:21). His steps “on the high places of the earth” show that He is the unlimited Ruler of the world (Amos 4:13; Job 9:8; Deuteronomy 32:13). This expression also implies that He judges the arrogant ones (Isaiah 2:11-Psalms :). High places are also places of idolatry.

He deals with everything that is high with people in a way that shows the nullity of that high. His performance emphasizes His majesty. What seems high and mighty, what impresses people, is for God less than what the dust is for people who step on it.

In this performance of the LORD we see that God is above the world created by Him. He is not part of His creation. Creation was created by Him, by His word of power, and exists in Him (Colossians 1:17). He is also able to intervene at any moment in history to carry out His will.

If in Christ He participates “in flesh and blood” (Hebrews 2:14), it does not mean that He becomes a creature and as such becomes part of His creation. Even as a Man on earth, He is God, for He was conceived by God the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). He is the One “Who was revealed in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16), the incarnate Word (John 1:14). Only of Him can it be said that He “has come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2). This cannot be said of anyone else. As the only Man, He has come into the world from a place outside of creation.

Verse 4

Consequences of His Coming

When He steps on the earth, the consequences become immediately noticeable. When He touches the mountains, they become like wax before the fire. His majesty is a consuming fire. The valleys diverge, they lose all cohesion and have no firmness anymore, like water flowing down a steep place.

Micah uses visual language here. Now the world does not perish through fire, which will literally happen in the end times (2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:102 Peter 3:12). The judgment of God that Micah announces seems to change the earth into chaos. The events that will bring about this in the short term are the imminent destruction of the northern ten tribes realm by Assyria led by Shalmaneser and the subsequent invasion by the Babylonians led by Nebuchadnezzar of the southern two tribes realm. What Micah says here finds its final fulfillment at the return of the Lord Jesus, when “He is coming to judge the earth” (Psalms 96:13).

There is also a comforting application of this verse. We can see in the mountains the great difficulties for which we are sometimes placed. If we cannot look over them, we can look up to Christ. He is able to let these difficulties melt like wax in order to make them a passable path for us (cf. Isaiah 49:11).

Verse 5

Reason for the Coming of the LORD

“All this” refers back to the awesome appearance of God as Judge in the previous verses and what the consequences are. The reason for God’s action lies in the transgression and sins of the people. The seat of corruption is located in the capital of each empire: Samaria and Jerusalem. By mentioning these names separately, the ten and the two tribes are seen as objects of God’s judgment.

The fact that Samaria is “the rebellion of Jacob” means that all the sins of the ten tribes are found concentrated in the capital. It does not mean that they are found only in Samaria, but what is found in Samaria is an outburst of the sins that are present everywhere. People from all over the country go there to express their sinful desires in the most awful way. There the pus of the sin of the whole country comes to a stinking outburst.

In the same way Jerusalem is called “the high places of Judah”. The sin of Judah is here more specifically referred to as the high places, i.e. places where idolatry is committed (Jeremiah 32:35). High places here are places on mountains and hills where altars have been erected to sacrifice to the idols. These places are an abomination to God. He has His temple in Jerusalem as the only place of worship. That the people have made other places of worship to worship other gods, God cannot let go unpunished.

In the capital the government is seated. That is where policy is determined. That is to bless or to corrupt. The capital can be seen as the beating heart of the people. Today the city is also the center where people go to have a good time. There is a wide range of options for meeting sinful desires. Of course, there are also places in the countryside where that is possible, but the city has a special attraction when people are looking for entertainment. We hear that also when Peter speaks about the “cities of Sodom and Gomorrah” (2 Peter 2:6), where people have lived ungodly and as a result have been judged by God.

Verse 6

Samaria Will Be Destroyed

Here the destruction of Samaria by the Assyrians is described. Only a heap of ruins will remain of the beautiful city, there is nothing left that reminds you of a city . Of Samaria, only a heap of ruins will be visible in the open country. It has become arable land, vineyards can be planted. The laying bare of her foundations mean that the city will be destroyed to the ground (cf. Psalms 137:7).

Yet this thorough judgment also contains an element of hope. After Samaria has been made a heap of ruins and its full strength has broken down and collapsed, it can serve as “planting places for a vineyard”. Since wine is a picture of joy, we can note in this description that after the exercise of judgment, new joy can arise.

This also applies spiritually. If we judge the wrong thing in ourselves, it clears the way for us to be happy in the Lord. That is why the foundations have to be laid bare. We have to see what the cause of the wrong is. We have to find out on what certain deeds of our lives are based. For that purpose God sometimes breaks down things we have built ourselves. That is with the purpose of giving joy in its place.

Verse 7

Idols Smashed

Here we find a more detailed explanation of the devastation. Not only the city is being demolished, but also elements that have entered God’s land and service and that the people have used in their idolatry are being dealt with. Micah says what will happen to them.

He points to the images. This handiwork, to which God’s people bow down, will be smashed. In this way everything that has taken the place of God can and must be dealt with as it is worthless and empty. What foolishness to put his trust in such things.

God speaks of smashing the idols as a work that He Himself takes in hand. Although He uses the Assyrians, it is His personal interference in the irreparable destruction of all idols. He wants to convince His people that any support outside of Him will turn out to be a support on air.

By “harlot’s earnings” are meant the gifts of the idolaters. These gifts become a harlot’s earnings again when they are taken by the conquerors and used for their own idols and for the payment of their idolatrous feasts.

In a spiritual sense, harlotry is the unauthorized unification of what belongs and what does not belong to God (Exodus 34:15; Judges 2:17; Ezekiel 23:30). Here it refers to all the riches Samaria has gained from illicit connections with heathen nations by taking over their gods. All this will perish through the fire of God’s judgment. Nothing will remain of it.

If we think that idolatry is an evil found only in uncivilized parts of the world, it is a serious misconception that urgently needs to be corrected. Idolatry is everything that takes our eye away from the Lord Jesus as the center of our lives. It is not for nothing that John concludes his first letter, which is full of the Lord Jesus as eternal life, with the words: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

This is in line with what Paul says: “greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). In the light of this, does anyone still dare to maintain that idolatry does not play a role with us? If we agree with that, it should not stop at this conclusion. Then we must remove everything from our lives to which we are greedily attached. If we do not do that, God will take it away from us in judgment.

Verse 8

Lament and Wail

Until Micah 1:7, Micah is the voice of the LORD to men. In Micah 1:8-1 Samuel : he is the voice of the people, that is, of a God-fearing remnant who still has an understanding of the sins committed by the masses of the people. It is a remnant that shares and expresses God’s feelings about the condition of the people. We may ask ourselves: To what extent is this awareness present with us regarding the condition of God’s people now?

With the word “because of this” Micah means the foretold downfall of Samaria. But he does not limit his lament to Samaria. The following verse shows that he thinks mainly of Jerusalem. He knows that the judgment on Samaria is a harbinger of the judgment on Jerusalem. That is Micah’s city, the judgment about it touches him personally. Partly because of this his grief is not superficial, but deeply felt and noisy. The cries he makes in the process are reminiscent of those of the jackal and ostrich (cf. Job 30:29).

In any case, he is not ashamed. He does not hold back (cf. Jeremiah 9:1). His expressions of sorrow show that he feels closely connected with these people. For him, the prophecy of the coming of the LORD does not mean the mechanical delivery of a message. Nor is there any trace of gloating with him, as if he would rejoice in the fact that this unfaithful people are in trouble. He is intensely concerned with the impending doom that threatens the people.

Micah is not only audibly affected about what will affect the people, it can also be seen in him. The disasters that will affect the people have touched him in such a way that he is putting off everything that could give the impression that he is having a good time. “Naked” is to be understood in the sense of undressed, that is without the upper garment (2 Samuel 15:30; Isaiah 20:2; John 21:7). It gives the appearance of misery and sorrow.

From this we can learn the necessary things in view of the judgment that awaits the world. What does it do to us when we think about it? Judging by the luxury with which we surround ourselves, we are not really impressed by the calamity that awaits the world. We participate in enjoying all the wealth and prosperity as much as possible. If we really realize what God is about to do with the world, it will lead us to a sober lifestyle.

Verse 9

The Wound Is Incurable

Micah gives two reasons for the loud, powerful exclamations of his sorrow. First, is because the judgment of Samaria is so radical. The wounds resulting from the plagues with which God strikes it are “incurable”. There is no way out anymore. God’s patience is finished. The armies of Assyria will destroy the city and take the population with them.

The second reason for his great sorrow is that he sees in his vision how the Assyrians invaded Judah. This is probably the first invasion (2 Kings 18:13). The enemy has set his foot on his land, his home. This is unbearable for him. God’s land is his land, God’s people are his people. It cannot be the case that others are entitled to it. That God allows it is because of the sins of the people. Micah acknowledges this, but that does not take away the fact that bringing the enemy into God’s land causes him great sorrow.

Yet Jerusalem is not conquered. The conqueror stops at the gate of Jerusalem. He may reach the gate, reach Jerusalem. That he does not come into Jerusalem is the result of the intercession of Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:14-Proverbs :) . By this the LORD grants Jerusalem a delay of one hundred and twenty-four years.

Verse 10

Gath and Beth-le-aphrah

From Micah 1:10 the invasion of the Assyrians and their siege of Jerusalem is described. Also in Isaiah this march is described (Isaiah 10:28-Jonah :). But there is a difference. Isaiah lists more the different places as stops on the march of the Assyrians. The description of Micah is more mixed, with the causes of the different cities being affected by this judgment.

In Micah 1:10-Ezra : different places are mentioned that will be the scene of misery. Most of the places are known to be in the vicinity of Micah’s birthplace. The prophet thus sees a terrible doom coming over his place of birth and its immediate surroundings.

Ten cities are mentioned. Ten is the number of responsibility. That is where Israel and Judah have failed and as a result of that now comes the judgment of them. The first cities mentioned are located in the hilly country of Judah on the route of the enemy from Samaria to Jerusalem. The next cities are near Jerusalem. The cities of Judah that have experienced its scourge are listed, each in terms that show a play on words with the name of the city.

The list is divided by Micah 1:12, where again the gate of Jerusalem is mentioned. Two times, five disparate cities on each occasion are mentioned. This has given rise to the suspicion that the first five cities are located to the north and the next five to the south of Jerusalem, with which Micah at the same time indicates that the judgment takes place from the north.

The section of Micah 1:10-Ezra : begins with words reminiscent of David’s grief over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:20). The section ends with the name of the cave where David hid from Saul (1 Samuel 22:1). These dark moments in David’s life form as it were, the backdrop for the description of the fall of the cities Micah speaks of. The fall of Saul symbolizes the fall of the entire kingdom of Israel. In the cave we see that during times of judgment there is a refuge for those who acknowledge God’s judgment as justified. There is and hides the glory of Israel (Micah 1:15).

The first thing Micah does is to warn the people that this message will not be passed on to Gath of the Philistines. The prophet fears the vengeful cheers of these enemies of God’s people (cf. 2 Samuel 1:20). They should not even show any expression of sadness there.

It also determines that they have to carry the judgment in their own city. They are not allowed to seek support from others. The full weight of it must enter them. It is also a warning that they should not seek pity in the wrong places, with the wrong persons. If they do, it will only make their pain worse.

The first city in Judah is “Beth-le-aphrah”, which means “house of the dust”. Micah’s call to this city to roll themselves in the dust is a play on words. It is a call to behave according to the meaning of the name of their city. To roll themselves in the dust is a sign of mourning (Joshua 7:6; Job 16:15; Isaiah 47:1). God always wants to work with His judgment, that man humbles himself before Him and acknowledges the righteousness of His judgment.

Verse 11

Shaphir, Zaanan and Beth-ezel

The play on words applies to all the places mentioned by Micah. For each city, Micah has a call that matches the meaning of its name. “Shaphir” means “clean”. Micah speaks of the shame to which Shaphir will be abandoned. Of her beauty nothing remains. The city will experience the opposite of the meaning of her name: she will undergo a humiliating treatment.

“Zaanan’ means ‘place of crowds’ or ‘that has gone out’. With a crowd we can think of strength to fight the enemy. But no one will leave the gate. For fear of the enemy they will stay inside the gates. There is no question of any heroism. Micah mentions that they will not venture out to escape.

“Beth-ezel” means house of the neighbor’. But they will not be able to give help to their neighbors. The city will not be a place where refugees can stay because the city itself is full of misery. The misery into which the enemy has plunged the city will make it impossible to serve as a stop place for those who have been driven away. They are powerless to be a support for their loved ones because the LORD takes His support away from them. He takes His support away from them because they do not rely on Him.

Verse 12

Maroth

“Maroth” means ‘bitterness’. The inhabitant looks forward to the good, but it does not come. If bitterness is the hallmark of the city, there is no connection with the good and looking forward to it is unfounded and in vain. Because the city has left the LORD, it has left the source of the good. Judgment is imminent. That will mean the loss of all the good that is still there. The good can only be looked forward to with joy from the relationship with Him.

In the center of the description of the conquest of the Assyrians, Micah reminds that all the doom that the enemy brings comes down from the LORD. It is He Who punishes His people for their sins. Assyria is the rod with which He punishes His people for their persistence in deviating from Him (Isaiah 10:5-Joshua :). Micah also indicates the boundary which the LORD has set for His discipling rod and therefore will not be crossed by the enemy. It is “to the gate of Jerusalem” and not through it into the city (cf. Micah 1:9).

Verse 13

Lachish, the Beginning of Israel’s Sin

Lachish means, among other things, ‘invincible’. But Lachish is called upon to flee from the approaching enemy and to do so as quickly as possible. Horses, which are an example of fearless strength in warfare (Job 38:24-Lamentations :), are commended by Micah as the means for a quick and defamatory retreat. After Sennacherib has taken Lachish, he establishes his headquarters there and receives there the envoys of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:14; 2 Kings 18:17; Isaiah 36:2).

In Lachish is the “beginning of sin” of Judah. The beginning of sin is where sin started and in which she also revealed her full strength. It will mean that in Lachish, as the first city in Judah, idolatry was ‘imported’ from Israel and from there spread further into Judah. The sins of Israel did not stop at the border of Judah. Lachish opened the gate for it and brought sin in.

Verse 14

Moresheth-gath and Achzib

Also “Moresheth-gath” will fall into enemy hands. Moresheth-gath means ‘possession or inheritance of Gath’. The city will have to give up its inheritance. It will become the property of the enemy, while its inhabitants will go into exile. In view of this, Micah says that a parting gift should be given to that city. It is like a gift that a father gives to his daughter at her wedding, when she leaves the house. It means that this city will also be lost to the realm.

“Achzib” means ‘lie’, ‘deceit’. The city will disappoint the kings who have placed their hopes in it. The achzabim in the Old Testament are brooks or wadi’s that are dry in summer and thus deceitful for the thirsty traveler (cf. Job 6:15; Jeremiah 15:18). “The houses of Achzib” are named because they can be compared to the brook bed that deceives. There cannot be confidence in it, no counting on, they offer no protection whatsoever.

The kings of Judah are here called “the kings of Israel” because they are not inferior to the kings of Israel in anger. They will embrace the greatest deception if they accept the Antichrist. They will think that they have in him their deliverer. But how deceived they will come out with that. This man will “become a deception”. He will turn out to be an unparalleled ‘brook of lies’.

Verse 15

Mareshah and Adullam

Mareshah means ‘possession’ or ‘conquest’. Once conquered by the Israelites, now it is about to be conquered by their enemies. All their possessions will fall into the hands of the Assyrians, “one who takes possession”. Here Micah emphasizes once more that the LORD is the Processor of their doom (cf. Micah 1:12).

All distinguished people, people of standing, will flee to Adullam, the cave for chased peoples (1 Sam 22:1). “The glory of Israel” is the nobility (Isaiah 5:13), but can also mean the whole people, those who have no right to exist (Hosea 9:11-1 Chronicles :). Because this place is so reminiscent of the flight of David and all who have joined him, it may also be that God designates this cave as a refuge for all faithful believers.

Verse 16

Signs of Mourning Because of Exile

Micah returns to his mourning, which he started in Micah 1:8 in connection with the deportation of the people, which he described in the verses that follow. Here, he no longer addresses a particular city, but makes a general appeal to the whole land. It can be about the deportation by the Assyrians (2 Kings 18:13-Psalms :) as well as about the deportation to Babel (Micah 4:10).

By talking about “the children of your delight”, Zion (Micah 1:13) is addressed as the mother of her people. The members of the people are the children of her delight. They are the children about whom she has rejoiced so much as a mother. Now that her children are gone into exile, her joy over them turns into great sorrow.

Micah calls to express that sorrow. He wants them to make themselves bald and cut their hair as a sign of mourning (Job 1:20; Ezekiel 27:31; Amos 8:10). Bald and cut off the hair are two words for the same act, they are synonyms. By using both expressions the thought of mourning is strengthened. This amplified thought is reinforced by connecting the baldness spot to the eagle or the vulture. An external characteristic of the vulture is that it is bald on the head and in the neck. With the mention of the eagle or the vulture the aspect of judgment is emphasized even more (Matthew 24:28).

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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Micah 1". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/micah-1.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.