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Bible Commentaries
Micah 5

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 3284. B.C. 720.

In this chapter we have,

(1,) The troubles of Israel, Micah 5:1 .

(2,) The birth and advancement of the Messiah, Micah 5:2-4 .

(3,) His protection of his people, and victory over their enemies, Micah 5:5 , Micah 5:6 .

(4,) The increase of the church and destruction of her enemies, Micah 5:7-15 .

Verse 1

Micah 5:1. Now gather thyself, &c. It seems this verse ought to be joined to the foregoing chapter, as it evidently belongs to it, and not to this, which is upon a quite different subject. Thus considered, after the promises given of a restoration from the captivity into which they should be carried, and of victory over their surrounding enemies, the prophecy concludes with bidding them first expect an enemy to come against them, who should lay siege to their chief city, and carry their insolence so far as to treat the judge of Israel in the most indignant and despiteful manner, such as striking him on the cheek, or face, with a rod, or stick. This, it is likely, was fulfilled on Zedekiah, who was treated in a contumelious manner by the Chaldeans, as if he had been a common captive, 2 Kings 25:6-7. And as the singular number is often used for the plural, by the judge of Israel may be meant the judges of Israel, including their principal men, as well as the king, for they doubtless were treated no better than he was; nay, probably, still more indignantly.

Verse 2

Micah 5:2. But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah Here we have evidently the beginning of another subject, quite different from any thing that the first verse can relate to, and with which it seems to have no connection. The word Ephrah, or Ephratah, is here added, to distinguish Beth-lehem in the tribe of Judah, from another Beth-lehem in the tribe of Zebulun. It is called Ephratah, from the fruitfulness of the land where it stood: the word whence that term is derived importing fruitfulness. Though thou be little

The word though is not in the Hebrew, but supplied by our translators. And the sense of the sentence, it seems, is unnecessarily altered by its introduction. Many interpreters render the clauses interrogatively, thus; Art thou little among the thousands of Judah? The expression, the thousands of J u dah, seems to have been used in allusion to the first division of the people, into thousands, hundreds, and other subordinate divisions. The rendering of the clause thus, Art thou little, &c., which implies the contrary, thou art not little, is certainly the right way of rendering it, because St. Matthew understood it, and quotes it, in this sense, chap. Micah 2:6, And thou Beth-lehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah. Bishop Newcome’s translation of the clause accords still more exactly with St. Matthew’s, “Thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, art thou too little to be among the leaders of Judah? Out of thee shall come, &c.,” the word אלפו , rendered thousands, often signifying heads of thousands. Yet out of thee, &c. The word yet also is not in the Hebrew; and if the preceding clause be rendered, as is here proposed, interrogatively, it is not necessary to complete the sense of the verse; indeed, it would only obscure it. Out of thee shall come forth, &c., that is to be ruler in Israel This prophecy can be applied, with no propriety, to any other but the Messiah. The words must be very much wrested and changed from their natural meaning, or deprived of their full force or signification, before they can be applied to any other person. The Jews, even the most learned ones, before and at our Saviour’s time, understood this to be spoken of the Messiah; for St. Matthew informs us, Matthew 2:5-6, that when Herod inquired of the chief priests and scribes, assembled together, to give him information where Christ should be born, they agreed unanimously that it was in Beth- lehem of Judea, alleging these very words as a certain and undeniable proof of it. And so did the generality of the Jews of that age, who speak of it as an undoubted truth, that Christ was to come of the seed of David, and of the town of Beth-lehem, where David was, John 7:42. The Chaldee agrees with their sentiments, and expressly applies the prophecy to the Messiah; and our Lord was born at Beth-lehem by an especial act of Providence, that this prophecy might plainly be fulfilled in him: see Luke 2:4. The expression, come forth, is the same as to be born. Whose goings forth have been of old from everlasting Hebrew, מימי עולם מקדם , rendered by the LXX., απ αχης , εξ ημεων αιωνος ; and exactly in the same sense by the Vulgate, ab initio, a diebus æternitatis, from the beginning, from the days of eternity. So these Hebrew expressions must of necessity signify in divers places of Scripture, being used to signify the eternity of God: see Psalms 55:19; Psalms 90:2; Proverbs 8:23; Habakkuk 1:12. The words naturally import an original, distinct from the birth of Christ mentioned in the foregoing sentence, which original is here declared to be from all eternity.

Verse 3

Micah 5:3. Therefore will he give them up The particle לכן rendered therefore, should rather be here rendered, nevertheless. The meaning is, Notwithstanding the promise of so great a blessing, God would give up his people into the hands of their enemies, or leave them to be exercised with troubles and afflictions, till the appointed time of their deliverance should come. Until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth Until the daughter of Zion, compared here to a woman in travail, shall be delivered out of captivity. Or rather, till the church of God, of which the daughter of Zion was a type, shall bring forth spiritual children of Jew and Gentile extraction unto God, by the preaching of the gospel: see Galatians 4:27. This prophecy will be more fully completed in the general conversion and restoration of the Jewish nation in the latter days: see Isaiah 66:7-11. Then the remnant of his brethren The brethren of the Messiah, those of Judah and Benjamin especially, who were carried captive; shall return unto the children of Israel Or, be converted with the children of Israel. Then the remnant of the dispersed Jews, upon their conversion, shall join themselves to the true Israelites, and make one church with them. Both the LXX. and Chaldee read, the remnant of their brethren: but if we follow the present Hebrew, we may understand it of the believers that were to be added to the church; for Christ vouchsafes to call all believers his brethren: see Hebrews 2:11; Matthew 12:50.

Verse 4

Micah 5:4. And he shall stand and feed Or rule as the word רעה , here rendered feed, often signifies: that is, he shall go on, he shall continue to rule, or feed, his people. Christ shall diligently perform the office of a shepherd, or governor, over his church. In the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord God, or the indwelling Deity, strengthening and exalting his human nature. The expression, the name of the Lord his God, might be intended to signify the Messiah’s acting by commission from the Father, in whose name he came, preached, wrought miracles, and instituted his gospel church. And they shall abide His church, made up of converted Jews and Gentiles, shall continue; the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. For now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth Some interpret this as signifying the making the true God known over all the earth: but it seems rather to be intended of the Messiah; for the angel, who foretold his conception to his virgin mother, as is related Luke 1:32-33, seems plainly to allude to this prophecy, saying, He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, &c. And he is dignified with such titles as were never given to any creature, as the apostle proves at large, Hebrews 1:4-14.

Verse 5

Micah 5:5. This man shall be the peace Christ is our peace as a priest, making atonement for sin, and reconciling us to God: he is our peace as a king, conquering our enemies, protecting us against their attacks, and preserving our minds in peace and tranquillity. In this latter sense the expression seems to be taken here: as if he had said, The Messiah, in all ages, whether before or after his incarnation, secures the peace and welfare of his church and people, against all the attempts of his and their enemies. When the Assyrian, &c. After the illustrious prophecy relating to the Messiah, in the foregoing verses, the prophet passes on to the subversion of the Assyrian empire, and, under the type of that ancient enemy of God’s people, foretels the overthrow of all their enemies, especially of the antichristian powers which should attack his church in the latter days. Shall come into our land As Sennacherib did with an overwhelming army, within a few years after this prophecy was delivered, when, by the power and authority of the Messiah, the Son of God, in his pre-existent state, (see Micah 5:2,) the Assyrian army was defeated, and Judea’s peace secured. When he shall tread in our palaces Which Sennacherib did in all the cities or Judah, except Jerusalem, against which he could not prevail, because Immanuel was with Hezekiah and that city, as foretold Isaiah 8:8-10; Isaiah 37:32-35, where see the notes. Then shall we raise against him Namely, Hezekiah, and with him the prophets and people, by prayer shall prevail with God to send deliverance. This seems primarily to refer to the deliverance of Hezekiah and his kingdom from the Assyrian army who invaded them. Seven shepherds and eight principal men Or, seven rulers and eight princes of men, as Archbishop Newcome renders it, who thinks the prophet means the chiefs of the Medes and Babylonians, the prefects of different provinces, who, some time after the fall of Sennacherib, took Nineveh, overthrew the Assyrian empire, and thereby delivered the Jews from that oppressive power. Their number, he thinks, may have been what is here specified. Or, seven and eight may stand for an indefinite number, as similar expressions often do.

Verse 6

Micah 5:6. And they The seven shepherds and eight principal men; or, the rulers and princes of men, mentioned in the preceding clause; those great and successful instruments of God’s revenge, and his church’s deliverance, shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword Which the Medes and Babylonians did, under the conduct of Merodach-baladan, king of Babylon, who, taking advantage of the weakness of the Assyrian kingdom, humbled partly by the great destruction of Sennacherib’s army, and the murder of that mighty monarch, and partly by the civil wars which ensued between the regicides and Esar-haddon, took arms, and succeeded in the attempt of subduing the Assyrian kingdom, with much slaughter and bloodshed. This Merodach-baladan was the person who sent the congratulatory letter and embassy to Hezekiah, lately cured by a miracle of his otherwise mortal disease, and delivered from the Assyrian power, Isaiah 39:1-2. And the land of Nimrod The same with the land of Assyria. In the entrances thereof The fortified frontiers, the garrisons, which kept all the entrances of the kingdom. Or, by the land of Nimrod, the Babylonish empire may be understood, which afterward by Nebuchadnezzar’s hand destroyed the Jews, Jerusalem, and the temple, and was overthrown by the Medes and Persians, whom God raised up to punish Babylon, and release the Jews. Thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian Whether considered literally as the present enemies of God’s people, or as types of all their other and future enemies.

Verse 7

Micah 5:7. And the remnant of Jacob Those who remained after the Assyrian invasion in the days of Hezekiah and Josiah, in whose reigns a considerable reformation was effected; and the remnant that should be carried captive into Babylon, who during their captivity should contribute to spread the knowledge of the one true God among the Chaldeans; (see Daniel 2:47; Daniel 3:29; Daniel 4:34; Daniel 6:26;) and more especially those that should return from captivity under Zerubbabel; shall be in the midst of many people as the dew, &c. Shall multiply, and become numerous as the drops of dew. Or rather, as the dew refreshes and fertilizes the earth, so shall they be a blessing to all around them that use them friendly. The remnant, however, here principally meant, is that spoken of by Joel 2:32, the remnant which the Lord should call, on which the Spirit should be poured out, and which should be saved, (Romans 9:27,) namely, the Jewish converts to Christianity, among whom were the apostles, evangelists, and other first ministers of the word. These, dispersed through divers countries, like the drops of dew, or showers of rain scattered over the face of the earth, and refreshing and fertilizing the vegetable creation, shall, by their doctrine, example, exhortations, and prayers, refresh and render fruitful, in piety and virtue, the formerly barren nations, and make them grow in grace and goodness, like the grass that tarrieth not for man, but flourishes in places on which man bestows no culture, only by the divine blessing. Thus shall God, by the gospel of his grace, and the influence of his Spirit, unaided by human wisdom or power, render the barren deserts of the Gentile world fruitful to his praise, in a large increase of spiritual worshippers, and holy faithful servants to him.

Verse 8

Micah 5:8. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles as a lion For strength and courage, which the beasts of the forest dare not oppose, and cannot resist. This seems to be a prediction of what was to be effected in the times of the Maccabees, and those following them, when the Jewish people gained great advantages over the Idumeans, Moabites, Ammonites, Samaritans, &c. Or, as the former verse describes the benefits which the converted Jews should bring to those Gentiles that were disposed to embrace the gospel; this shows us what the enemies and opposers of the truth had to expect: see notes on Psalms 2:5; Psalms 2:9; Isaiah 60:12.

Verses 10-11

Micah 5:10-11. And in that day Namely, in that time when the threatenings against the enemies, and the promises to the people of God shall be made good; I will cut off thy horses, &c. Not in judgment, but in mercy, for there shall be no need of them, nor shall the church of God any more rely on them. And will destroy thy chariots Chariots prepared for war. And I will cut off the cities, &c. Cut off the occasion of fortifying thy cities: thou shalt need no other defence than what I will be to thee. And throw down all thy strong holds Demolish thy forts, watch- towers, and garrisons. In the preceding verse, offensive preparations for annoying the enemy are intended; here, means of defence against the assaults of the enemy; in both which Israel had too much trusted. But in that time of peace and safety here spoken of, as there would be no enemy to invade the Israel of God, or put them on their defence; so neither should they have any need to make an attack upon any enemies.

Verses 12-15

Micah 5:12-15. And I will cut off witchcrafts, &c. Here is foretold the downfall of all unlawful arts and devices, which had been used by the Jews in former ages, to obtain the knowledge of future events: that God would, in mercy to his people, take away these occasions of sinning. Thy graven images also will I cut off I will abolish every species of idolatry. This was effected, even among the Jews, by that severe judgment the Babylonish captivity, from which time they have abhorred the use of images in divine worship, and indeed have been kept from worshipping any false god. And I will pluck up thy groves The usual scenes of idolatrous worship. It is justly observed by Mr. Scott here, that though the reformation of the Jews, after their return from Babylon, might be alluded to in this passage, yet the purification of the Christian Church from all antichristian corruptions of faith and worship, and all idolatry and superstition, seems more immediately to be predicted. “The reliance on human merits for justification, the external pomp used in worship, and the oppressive exercise of human authority in mere matters of conscience, will be entirely destroyed by the clear light of divine truth, and the power of divine grace; and simplicity and purity in doctrine, worship, and practice, will prevail, when the enemies of the church shall be destroyed.” And I will execute vengeance in anger, &c. When I have purged my people from their corruptions, I will severely vindicate their cause, to the utter destruction of all their unbelieving enemies. Such as they have not heard In an unprecedented manner. God will give his Son either the hearts or necks of his enemies, and make them either his friends or his footstool.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Micah 5". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/micah-5.html. 1857.
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