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MICAH CHAPTER 1
The time when Micah prophesied, Micah 1:1.
Micah showeth the wrath of God against Israel and Judah for idolatry, Micah 1:2-9
A lamentation for them, Micah 1:10-16.
The word of the Lord that came: thus Hosea begins his prophecy, Hosea 1:1, and Joel 1:1, and Jonah 1:0:, and Zephaniah 1:1, which see.
Micah: though Hierom, Epiphanius, and Dorotheus are said to report this Micah to be the same with the son of Imlah, 1 Kings 22:8, yet R. Sol. Jarchi's reason why this could not be is satisfactory, for one generation and almost a half intervened between Ahab and Jotham; Ahab died about A.M. 3046, Jotham began to reign about A.M. 3190, by which it appears there were one hundred and forty-four years between Micaiah the son of Imlah and Micah our prophet.
The Morasthite: whether Mareshah, rebuilt by Rehoboam 2 Chronicles 11:8, (called also Beth-gebarim in after-time,) of which 2 Chronicles 11:14 of this chapter, or whether Moresheth, of which 2 Chronicles 11:15, gave him this surname, and whether because Micah was born there or else did dwell there, is not easily resolved, nor material if it were resolved.
In the days of Jotham: it is not said what year of Jotham this prophet begun, it is probable it was about the beginning of Jotham's reign, A.M. 3190, of which we have this character, 2 Kings 15:34,2 Kings 15:35, He did right, &c., yet the high places were not removed. Religion was not wholly corrupted as in Israel, yet was it exceedingly abased with their own mixtures.
Ahaz; the very worst of all Judah's kings, all things considered; he brought the Baalitical idolatry into Judah.
Hezekiah; the best son of the worst father, who reformed Judah. How long Micah prophesied during his reign we can but conjecture, possibly till the fourteenth year of Hezekiah. So this prophet may be supposed to have prophesied sixteen years in Jotham's time, as many under Ahaz, and fourteen under Hezekiah, in all forty-six years, and survived the captivity of Israel ten years, which he lamented as well as foretold.
Kings of Judah; Judah only named, but Benjamin is included.
Which he saw: see Amos 1:1.
Concerning Samaria; the metropolis of the kingdom of the ten tribes, and by a well-known figure put for the whole kingdom, as Jerusalem, chief city of Judah, is, by the same figure, put for the whole kingdom. As both had linked together in sinning, God doth link them together in suffering, and commands Micah to do so.
Hear: the prophet here by proclamation requires earnest attention to his word. So Moses, Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 32:1; so the psalmist, Psalms 50:1,Psalms 50:4; and so Isaiah, Isaiah 1:2; Isaiah 34:1.
All ye people; either all the people of both kingdoms, all Israel and Judah, or else universally all people of all kingdoms whatever, both of that present age and all of future ages. Hearken, O earth: it may be taken for the meaner sort of people, the commonalty; but I rather incline to interpret it as both a tacit reproof of the deafness of this sinful and hardened people, with whom Micah now contends, and an appeal to the senseless creatures, or a summons to bring them in evidences for God against those kingdoms.
All that therein is; animate or inanimate creatures, all that are on the earth. If we interpret earth for the meaner sort of people, then this fulness of the earth will be the whole multitude of the people. It is a lofty strain, such as those of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:1, David, Psalms 1:1; Isaiah 1:1,Isaiah 1:2, and Jeremiah 6:19.
Let the Lord God; the mighty, holy, gracious, and faithful God, Lord of heaven and earth; who knows all your ways, who is a just judge, and a severe avenger of obdurate sinners.
Be witness against you, by his word, the voice of his law, by his prophets whom he hath sent, by the judgments he doth execute according to his menaces; as by his sovereignty he is supreme judge, so by his omniscience and truth he is an authentic witness against you, O house of Jacob.
From his holy temple; either from his temple at Jerusalem, or else from heaven, as Psalms 11:4; Habakkuk 2:20.
For, behold; there is great reason for my earnestness with all people, and therefore once more I advise you to consider it well. Behold, attend to what is said.
The Lord cometh forth; who is Judge himself, Psalms 50:1,Psalms 50:4, whose holy majesty you have provoked to displeasure, who is a jealous God, and hath an almighty power to dash his enemies into pieces. He cometh forth as a judge prepared to hear, determine, and punish. Now when God, who is in all places at all times, is said to come forth, it is not to be meant of his leaving a place where he was, to come to a place where before he was not; but it is to be understood of his discovering his presence by some effects of it, which before in that place were not, discovered.
Out of his place; heaven, the place of his glorious throne.
Come down; show by the effects of his power, justice, and wisdom that he is more eminently present there.
Tread upon; trample under foot, stain, abase, and break.
The high places of the earth; all that is high, excellent, and matter of your glorying, whether the flourishing state of your kingdoms, or the power of your kings, or strength of your fortresses, temples, and altars, or cities and palaces. In that day the haughtiness of man shall be laid low, and the pride of man shall be brought down, Isaiah 2:17. Your sins will procure this to you, O Samaria and Jerusalem, of which God is my witness I have plainly told you.
The mountains shall be molten: if literally understood, we know it hath been so: when God will kindle that fire which shall burn up the earth, and the works of it, as he will when he cometh finally to judge the world, it shall be done again. But figuratively mountains are mighty states and kingdoms, flourishing with prosperity, and which do think the foundation of this sure as mountains. So Amos 6:1,Amos 6:2; Habakkuk 3:6; Isaiah 2:14, Or possibly these mountains may be, by a synecdoche, put for those who dwell on them, mountaineers, who were usually more fierce, secure hardy, and of difficult access, and therefore less regardful of threats and punishments.
Shall be molten under him: which way soever you take mountains, yet the effect of God’s powerful anger and justice shall be this, they shall be no more able to bear his indignation, or withstand it, than that which like wax melts before a strong fire.
The valleys; which either are emblems of the lower sort of men, or the men that dwell in the valleys with their cities built there, which might hope to escape the storm, lying more under covert. But such shall be the sweeping, searching, and rapid storm of God’s judgments, that no places, no persons shall either withstand or divert them.
Shall be cleft; or rent in sunder, broken up, as the word Genesis 7:11, and slide away.
As wax, which doth easily and speedily dissolve, and run before the fire.
And as the waters that are poured down a steep place; which immediately spreads itself and runs down the precipice, not able to keep together in one body, but scattered one part from other, loseth itself without remedy; so shall the glory and strength of Samaria melt away before the fire of God’s displeasure executed by Shalmaneser, and by Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar on Judah.
For the transgression; the singular for the plural, the many transgressions committed amongst them; but especially that flood of iniquity which, springing up in Samaria, did overflow the whole kingdom, idolatry, pride, luxury, cruelty, and oppression.
Of Jacob; the sons of Jacob: the ten tribes most likely are here meant by Jacob.
Is all this; all these, many and great, inevitable and irresistible, judgments of God foretold. and which will overtake and utterly ruin these sinners.
The house of Israel; the people of the kingdom of Judah, called here by the name of Israel. Or else this and the former phrase may comprehend the twelve tribes, which were fallen from God’s law and worship, and be an elegant ingemination to confirm the thing spoken.
What is the transgression? or, who is, i.e. the spring and cause of that overflowing transgression? who brought in the abominable idolatry?
Of Jacob: here is meant the kingdom of the ten tribes, (he head of which was Samaria, where the kings of that kingdom had their royal residence, where they worshipped idols, whence they issued out their edicts, and which became example to the rest of the Israelitish kingdom.
What are the high places? or, who is, i.e. cause of the high places, and the idolatry there practised?
Jerusalem; which was chief city of that kingdom, and place where their kings dwelt; had the same influence on that kingdom as Samaria had on the ten tribes; there was the example they imitated, thence the laws they obeyed contrary to God’s law.
Therefore; for these sins of Samaria, and the kingdom of Israel.
I will make; not by an immediate hand from heaven, but by the Assyrians under the conduct of Shalmaneser, they shall do it as my servants, saith the Lord.
Samaria as a heap of the field; much like Isaiah 25:2; that beautiful city shall be made, and so left, as a ruinous heap in the field.
And as plantings of a vineyard: in planting vineyards, they did dig up the earth, and cast it up in hillocks, cast out all the stones; so shall they make this city.
I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley: the city was built on a high hill, and a deep valley beneath it; now when it was sacked by the Assyrians, they pulled down the buildings, and cast the stones thereof into that valley; so God did by them throw down the stones of Samaria.
And I will discover the foundations thereof; raze the walls, fortresses, and public buildings of this city to the very foundations of it, nor leave one stone upon another, as Matthew 24:2; Luke 19:44 desolation upon Samaria for her sin such a desolation as shall not leave the least footsteps of Samaria in the place where once it stood.
All the graven images; erected in honour to the idols they worshipped, which usually were the images or similitudes resembling their idols, their gods of silver, gold, or stone and brass, or wood.
Shall be beaten to pieces; pulled out of their chapels, shrines, or repositories by the conquering Assyrians, who would as was customary with such nations, deal with the gods as with enemies conquered, trample upon them, and use them most contemptibly; and when they break into pieces idols of rich materials, it was to carry them away with them as their booty; others were broken in contempt of them.
All the hires, or rewards, or gifts, which idolaters thought their idols gave them, as Hosea 2:5; or the rich gifts given for the honour and service of the idols by deceived idolaters; or all the wealth Israel got by leagues with idolaters.
Shall be burnt with the fire; when their cities or temples are burnt, as no doubt many were burnt by the Assyrian before he could reduce them to obedience, in which conflagrations many rich donatives belonging to idols were consumed to ashes, or melted down.
And all the idols thereof will I lay desolate; thus shall the idols of Samaria be made desolate, i.e. their temples burnt, their images either beaten in pieces in contempt, or to be carried away (if the materials they were made of were worth the carriage); however, they shall neither remain, nor be worshipped any more in Israel or Samaria, but be carried away captives with their captive worshippers.
For she, the kingdom of the ten tribes, or Samaria, gathered it, their wealth, or the rich presents made to their idols, or both, of the hire of a harlot; as harlots get rich gifts of their lovers, so did this deceived people think, and say, that their idols gave them the wealth they had; or else as impudent adulteresses, that hire lewd men to come in to them; so this hire was that these blind idolaters (like shameless adulteresses) gave to their idols.
And they, these rich presents,
shall return to the hire of an harlot; shall be either turned by the Assyrians to the service and honour of their idols, presented as gifts in acknowledgment of their greatness and prosperity, to be the blessings their idols have. given to them, as Hosea 10:6; or else thus, as what is got by harlots brings shame and a curse with it, and never continues long, but is as basely wasted as it was gotten, so shall it be with all the ill-gotten goods of these Samaritan idolaters, and all their wealth.
Therefore, because of those dreadful slaughters and devastations made in Israel and Samaria,
I will wail, solemnly, as when they who are skilful in lamentation do at funerals bewail in most affective manner to stir up the like sorrow in others: see Amos 5:16.
And howl; the same in a word of like sense, to ascertain the thing, and to intimate the doubled sorrow, the multiplied miseries of this people.
I will go stripped and naked; as one spoiled of his clothes by force, or as one that in bitterness of passion hath cast off his upper garment, or as if discomposed in mind through the greatness of his vexations; now this the prophet either speaks as fellow sufferer with them, or as intimating what they should be reduced to at last: so Isaiah 20:2,Isaiah 20:3; whether of these, or whether both, I determine not.
Dragons: see Malachi 1:3; rather jackals, which haunt desolate places, and make great and hideous noise by night, by their wailing, or doleful cries, in which it is said they answer one another, and fill the air with the sound and travellers with fear: these creatures are between a fox and wolf for bigness, and seem somewhat like each in qualities, and probably their noise may be as mixed of the barking of the fox and howling of the wolf. It is possible the prophet by this kind of wailing would intimate the near approach of the Assyrian lion, hungering and thirsting, and pursuing the prey; as the jackal runs a little before the lion, so this wailing of the prophet should be followed very suddenly with the roaring of the lion.
Owls; a melancholy creature, and loves night, and makes a most unpleasant noise, haunts desolate places, and so fitly is an emblem of Israel’s doleful, desolate state: others render it ostrich, which makes a doleful cry in the deserts: either will fit the place.
Her wound is incurable; the wounds of Samaria and the ten tribes; her own sins, God’s just displeasure, and the enemy’s rage have deeply wounded her, she is senseless, impenitent, and furious against her Physician, and she shall at last die by sword, famine, pestilence, and captivity.
It is come unto Judah; the contagion of her sins, and the indignation of God against it, and the enemy’s successes, viz. Sennacherib’s, or Nebuchadnezzar’s, like a flood have reached to Judah also; and this is the reason why the prophet foretells such mourning, and is willing to personate it to awaken both kingdoms to repent and turn to God.
He is come; the insulting, conquering, and cruel enemy, or, in the neuter gender, it, i.e. the evil, is come, i.e. in the prophetic style, will certainly and suddenly come.
Unto the gate of my people; either signifying the Assyrians besieging Jerusalem, as Sennacherib son of Shalmaneser did some few years after the sack of Samaria, or else by
gate of my people is meant the city where the sovereign court of judicature to the whole kingdom is, denoting the victories of the Assyrian over the rest of the kingdom of Judah, or else the victories of Nebuchadnezzar.
Even to Jerusalem: this seems added to explain the former phrase.
Declare ye it not at Gath; do what you can to keep your griefs to yourselves, let them not be public, that the Philistines, your bitter enemies, should know how sad it is with you and rejoice at it. Gath was a principal city of the Philistines, and though this only is mentioned the rest are understood: such phrase you have 2 Samuel 1:20. Weep ye not at all; you that are of Israel or Judah, make no public weeping, that your cries and tears should inform your enemies in Palestine how deplorable your state is, let not your griefs be their joys.
In the house of Aphrah: we render it as a proper name of some city or town; though of no great note, yet we meet with one, 1 Samuel 13:23, in the tribe of Benjamin; a second we find in Manasseh’s lot, and was the place where Gideon’s father dwelt, Judges 6:11; these towns were somewhat remote from the Philistines, and there the prophet does direct then, to weep with the greatest expressions of it, and to keep it private from the Philistines. Others account the word to be a common name denoting
dust, and so give the sense, in the house of dust roll thyself in dust. Roll thyself, or, I have rolled myself, viz. in compassion to the miserable Israelites, or as a pattern to which they shall conform; so the word as written, but as by direction of the Masorets it is read, and as there it is rendered,
roll thyself, it directs and foretells; it foretells what they shall do at last, and directs what they should do at present. They shall be brought to sit, nay, to wallow in the dust, and in foresight of this it would become them to sit in the dust now.
Pass ye away: the imperative is here put for the future, and the prophet does here foretell and threaten what shall befall this people, they shall go before the enemy into captivity. Saphir denotes either the beautiful and pleasant habitation, and so may be applied to any pleasant seat, such as were many in Judea; such were Samaria and Jerusalem, which perhaps are here intended. Or else it is the proper name of some particular town or city: who read Eusebius will meet with such a village in the mountains between Ashkelon and Hebron, or (as later it is called) Eleutheropolis.
Having thy shame naked; stripped by thy conquering enemy, so that thou shalt not have so much left as shall cover thy nakedness; with shame shalt thou be thus led into captivity, and change all thy beauty into shameful nakedness.
Zaanan; a place rich in pastures and sheep, say some; others take it for the proper name of a particular place in the tribe of Judah; it is likely at this time it might be some considerable garrison full of people and soldiers.
Came not forth; neither sent out succours to relieve their neighbouring besieged town Bethezel, but stood on their own guard, nor yet durst send out any to condole the captive state of their neighbours.
Bethezel; a strong town taken and wasted by the Assyrians, the people carried captive under the eye of the inhabitants of Zaanan, who mean time dare not stir or make many signs of sorrow.
He; the invading enemy, say some, others say it is the inhabitant of Zaanan.
Shall receive of you his standing: who refer this to the enemy make this the sense, viz. That the enemy should make his stay among them till he had conquered, spoiled, and captivated them; or, that he should by severe dealing make them pay dear for their obstinacy in defending their town against his forces, that he should strip them of all to recompense his expenses of treasure, time, and blood in taking them. But they that refer this to Zaanan and its inhabitants make this the sense, That they should take their measures, and judge what the enemy would do against them by that which he had done against Beth-ezel their neighbour.
For; yet, or certainly, as the Hebrew particle is often to be rendered.
The inhabitant; one put for all, because all should fare alike.
Maroth: some say it is by transposing the letters put for Ramoth; others say it is, as the word imports, the grieving, imbittered cities; others take it for the proper name of some lesser place in Judah.
Waited carefully; long, earnestly, and patiently.
For good; for peace, prosperity, and what might make them happy.
Evil; of trouble, sword, famine, and pestilence, all sorts of evil comprised in this one:
Came down, in mighty tempests, or as a sweeping rain.
From the Lord; by his special command and charge, and as a punishment inflicted on them from heaven.
Unto the gate of Jerusalem; the flood of affliction by the Assyrian swallowed up other towns and cities, and swelled high to the head city Jerusalem, as partly by Sennacherib’s invasion, but more fully by Nebuchadnezzar’s besieging and taking Jerusalem, and carrying the citizens captive to Babylon.
Lachish; a very strong fortress on the confines of Judah towards the kingdom of the ten tribes, and which, as it did to the last stand out against Sennacherib, so it is very probable they did boast of their strength and valour.
Bind the chariot to the swift beast; either to flee from the sword of the enemy, and to seek safety in-another country, forsaking their own; or else by way of derision, You will be besieged and cooped up by the Assyrian, and then you may harness your horses or mules to carry you in chariots about your own streets; or else the prophet foretells Sennacherib’s commanding post-chariots to carry his messengers to summon Jerusalem to yield up all to him.
She Lachish, is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion; from thence idolatry spread itself into Judah and Jerusalem. Lachish, nearest to idolatrous Israel, took the infection of them, and conveyed it to Judah, or Jerusalem, here called
the daughter of Zion.
For the transgressions, not only the idolatry, but other sins also,
of Israel, of the ten tribes,
were found in thee; thou didst receive and worship the same idols that Samaria did.
Therefore; forasmuch as thou hast imitated Israel in sin, and been at least an occasion to Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah to commit the same sins.
Shalt thou, Lachish,
give presents: though I do not remember the sacred story reporting this in matter of fact, we read not what presents were given, or by whom sent, or when; yet as it was foretold by the prophet, so no doubt it was fulfilled, and the inhabitants of Lachish courted the assistance of the Philistines against the Assyrian, and possibly against the Babylonian.
Moresheth-gath; a known city or town of the Philistines, called here Moresheth-gath to distinguish it from a town of the same name in the tribe of Judah and in the valley of Zephathah, where Asa smote Zerah, the Ethiopian king, who invaded Asa with a million of men.
Achzib: this was also a city of the Philistines not far from Mareshah, Ashkelon, and Gaza; it was a maritime town and strong. There was another city of that name toward Tyre also, but of this the prophet doth not speak in this place.
A lie; a lying refuge, or a prop that should break under them that leaned upon it, as Egypt proved a broken reed to Judah when trusted to: in the Hebrew there is an elegant allusion, which the translation cannot express.
To the kings of Israel; some say it is meant of the kings of Judah, but we find not that Hezekiah made any use of the houses of Achzib when Sennacherib invaded him. It is more probable the kings of the ten tribes are meant, and that Hoshea did rely on Gath. Achzib, &c., and on the friendship of the rest of the Philistines, to join with the Egyptians, or to give them a quiet passage through their country to help Israel against the Assyrian.
Yet will I bring; the Lord will cause the Assyrian to rise up and prosper in his wars, to the subduing and possessing of the cities of Israel and the Philistines.
An heir; the Assyrian, who in the right of conquest shall possess, and account himself heir of what he possesseth.
Mareshah; most think the prophet speaks of Mareshah in his own country, but I think the Assyrian did not inherit that, though he might inherit that of the Philistines.
Adullam; famous for its strength, say some; but I rather think it better known for the cave where David lay hid, 1 Samuel 22:1. It was made a town of defence by Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 11:7. It was once a royal city, and had several villages belonging to it, Joshua 12:15.
The glory of Israel; ironically (say some) called thus, minatorily threatening that the glory of Israel should be brought as low, into as mean condition, as Adullam. Others think it should be read, and to the glory of Israel, that is, Jerusalem; so there should be an ellipsis of (וצד) the particle conjunctive. Others think it is the prophet’s deep sigh at the thoughts how the glory of Israel is laid in the dust. Others think it was then considerable enough at that time to be called the glory of Israel, though we know not how.
Make thee bald; O Judea and Israel, in token of sorrow for these wasting judgments, tear off thy hair with thine own hands.
Poll thee; shave off with the razor and by others’ hand what thou canst not tear off.
For thy delicate children; for the loss of them, some being slain, others starved or swept away with pestilence, and the residue carried captive; express thy deep sorrow for these miseries conformably to the custom of bitter mourning, Job 1:20; Isaiah 3:24; Isaiah 15:2; Jeremiah 7:29.
Enlarge thy baldness; make thy baldness greater than usual, for the occasion does require and will justify it.
As the eagle; which loseth at once her strength, courage, and beauty, and languisheth in her baldness.
For they, thy delicate children,
are gone into captivity from thee; never to return more: or not till a long captivity expire.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Micah 1". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany