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Micah sheweth the wrath of God against Jacob for idolatry: he exhorteth to mourning.
Before Christ 750.
Micah 1:2. Let the Lord God be witness, &c.— "I call the Almighty to witness, that I have forewarned you of the judgments hanging over your heads, and which will inevitably fall upon you, unless you speedily repent; and the Almighty himself will become a witness against you, and convince you of your sins, in such a manner, that you shall not be able to deny the charge." This sublime and elevated beginning indicates the importance of what he was about to say, and the lively impression which was made upon him by the sins of Israel, and the misfortunes about to fall upon them.
Micah 1:3. For, behold, the Lord cometh, &c.— He pictures out to us the Lord as a mighty conqueror, marching forth from his royal palace to reduce his enemies. The prophet in this whole description manifestly alludes to God's descent on mount Sinai. See Exodus 19:16-2.19.18. Deuteronomy 4:11-5.4.12; Deuteronomy 32:13.Psalms 18:8; Psalms 18:8; Psalms 18:50.
Micah 1:4. The valleys shall be cleft— Shall be dissolved like water, &c. Houbigant.
Micah 1:5. What is the transgression of Jacob?— Who [makes] transgression in Jacob? Is it not Samaria? And who the high-places of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? But Houbigant prefers the translation of the LXX, and reads the latter words, What is the sin of Judah? by which means the two clauses aptly correspond to each other. The transgression, and sin, mean, the cause of sin and transgression, which Samaria and Jerusalem gave, as the whole nation followed their ill example.
Micah 1:7. And all the hires thereof— The love-presents, &c. The meaning is, "As your temples have been enriched with the presents offered by these shameless idol worshippers, to their riches shall return into the hands of the Assyrians, who shall make the like use of them in the temples of their gods."
Micah 1:8. I will wail and howl— "I will sympathize with my countrymen in their calamities; I will dress myself in the habit of mourning, and, like those who bewail the dead, go without my upper garment; in order to denote the naked condition to which the ten tribes shall be reduced by their enemies." Instead of dragons and owls, some read jackalls and ostriches; and a modern traveller assures us, that he has often heard the ostriches groan, as if they were in the greatest agonies; which is beautifully alluded to in this passage. See Dr. Shaw's Travels, p. 455.
Micah 1:9. For her wound is incurable— "The desolation of the ten tribes cannot be prevented, because they persist in their impieties; therefore no relief can be applied: it must terminate in their destruction. At the same time, one aggravating circumstance attends it, as being the forerunner of those evils which will come upon Jerusalem, whose gates Sennacherib will attempt to force, in order to make himself master of that city, and the whole kingdom of Judah." See Calmet.
Micah 1:10. In the house of Aphrah roll, &c.— Roll thyself in dust, in the very house of Aphrah, or dust. The word עפרה aphrah, has here a double sense; for it denotes the city of Aphrah, or Aphron, in the tribe of Judah, which Sennacherib was about to lay waste, for this and what follows respect the kingdom of Judah; and it explains what immediately precedes in the ninth verse, that the stroke was come even to the gate of Jerusalem, the neighbouring cities being laid waste by Sennacherib. See Houbigant.
Micah 1:11. Pass ye away, &c.— Take care thou that inhabitest Saphir [a city in the tribe of Judah] to pass away naked and in disgrace. The inhabitants of Zaanan [another city in the tribe of Judah] shall not go forth to the mourning: Bethezel shall be taken away from you, while itself shall stand. By Beth-ezel is meant Jerusalem, to which Ezel was near, as appears from Zechariah 14:5. But there is a twofold meaning given to the word אצל Ezel, which denotes separation, the prophet signifying that no aid could be expected from Jerusalem, because Jerusalem should fear for itself, and because the Syrian army should separate it from the city of Saphir, which is here addressed. The meaning of the last clause is, that though Jerusalem itself should stand or continue, yet no assistance should be obtained from it See Houbigant.
Micah 1:12. For the inhabitant of Maroth waited, &c.— For she who dwelleth in Maroth is sick even to death; because evil came down, &c. See 2 Kings 20:1. A reason is here given why Beth-ezel, or Jerusalem, could not assist Saphir; because she herself was sick, and about to perish, unless God should deliver her by miracle, as he did, by destroying the Assyrian army. Jerusalem is called the inhabitant of Maroth, or of rebellion, by a similar use of words with that in the preceding verse; Jerusalem is therefore sick unto death, because the Lord hath brought the calamity even to her gate. See Houbigant. In the next verse the prophet foretels the siege of the city of Lachish. The first clause should be rendered, O thou inhabitant of Lachish, the chariot is bound to the horses: thou art the beginning, &c.
Micah 1:14. Therefore shalt thou give presents— Therefore shalt thou send presents against Mareshah to Gath the house of a lie, that thou mayest deceive the kings of Israel. Lachish and Mareshah were two cities in the tribe of Judah. The sacred history is silent why Lachish, when it was besieged, should send gifts to Gath. Perhaps Lachish implored the help of Gath, and promised help to the people of Gath in return, when delivered from the siege, to assist them in the taking of Mareshah from the kings of Israel or of Judah. Therefore it is added, to deceive the kings of Israel. See Houbigant.
Micah 1:15. Yet will I bring an heir unto thee— Till I shall send unto thee that heir, who inhabiteth Mareshah; till the glory of Israel shall come even to Adullam: that is to say, "Till I shall send those citizens of Mareshah, whom thou "wouldst sell to the people of Gath, to possess thy walls, "after the army of the Assyrians shall be dispersed, and "after the glory of Israel shall come even to Adullam; "or, shall extend its boundaries to Adullam;" a city in the southern part of the tribe of Judah towards the Dead Sea. This interpretation is favoured by what follows; in which it is foretold, that the inhabitants of Lachish shall be carried into captivity. See Houbigant. It must be acknowledged that there is great difficulty in the conclusion of this chapter.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, Micah, or Micaiah, the author of this prophesy, was a Morasthite, so named from the place of his nativity. He lived under the best and worst of Judah's princes, and in all times of prosperity or adversity faithfully declared the word which God gave him concerning Samaria and Jerusalem, the capitals of the two kingdoms, the judgments which were ready to light upon them being the great burden of this prophesy.
1. A solemn call is given to pay deep attention to the word about to be delivered. Hear, all ye people of Judah and Israel; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is; if the former refuse to listen, the very inanimate earth, trembling before the Lord, shall condemn their insensibility and hardness of heart: and let the Lord God be witness against you, if ye disregard or despise these warnings, that I have faithfully delivered my message, and that your blood is on your own heads; even the Lord from his holy temple in heaven, whence he beholds the inhabitants of the world, and sends down thence his judgments on those who are disobedient to his word. Note; They who turn a deaf ear to the admonitions of God's ministers, shall shortly be terribly convinced by experience of the threatenings which they would not believe.
2. The desolating judgments of God are foretold, which were ready to overtake them. The Lord clothed with vengeance descends to destroy them: under his feet their strongest fortresses are trod into the dust, and the high places of their idols demolished. Their princes and great men, with all their lofty looks, are brought low, and the valleys cleft, the lowest of the people sharing in the general calamity; and all unable to resist his arm, as wax melts before the fire, or to bear up against his judgments, which as a torrent spread desolation on every side. Samaria, the capital, shall then be laid in ruins, and be made as the furrows of the field, razed from the foundations, and scarcely one stone left upon another; which, as Josephus relates, was fully accomplished by Hircanus. Note; When God arises to judgment, no place can protect the guilty.
3. The cause of all their miseries is their sin; and if it be asked, What is the transgression of Jacob? the crime peculiarly provoking; Is it not Samaria? the calf, and the idolatry there committed? See Hosea 8:5. And what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem? set up there with most impious effrontery against God's temple; yea, in the very courts of the sanctuary an altar is reared to idols, 2 Kings 16:10-12.16.18. Note; (1.) Sin is at the bottom of all suffering. (2.) Great cities and persons, whose bad conduct and example spread the contagion of iniquity, shall be first and deepest in punishment.
4. The demolition of their idols, as well as themselves, is threatened. They shall be broken in pieces by the Assyrians, and made utterly desolate. Such as were not worth carrying away for a spoil, shall be stripped of their ornaments, and left as naked logs; and all the hires thereof shall be burnt with the fire; their palaces and substance, which they esteemed the gifts of their idols, and the hire of their idolatry: thus what they gathered of the hire of an harlot, shall return to the hire of an harlot; be given to their idolatrous enemies, who would regard the spoil as the reward sent by their gods, and spend it in their service. Or the sense may be, that their wealth, which was as ill-gotten as the money earned by prostitution, would be, like it, under the curse of God, and quickly consumed. Note; The wages got by sin will be ever earned with a curse, and such gain cannot prosper.
2nd, We have,
1. The prophet deeply lamenting the desolations that he beheld approaching; wailing as a dragon, and mourning as an owl, because the wound is incurable, the decree being gone forth against Israel, and their impenitence determinately obstinate; and now the Assyrian army is at the very gate of Jerusalem. Note; The holy prophets are themselves deeply afflicted at the view of the threatenings which they are obliged to declare; and, so far from taking a delight in these sad messages of woe, they weep over sinners, while they warn them.
2. Other cities are called upon to join the prophet's mourning, but withal are admonished not to declare it at Gath, nor weep so as to let the Philistines see their grief, who would triumph with malicious pleasure in their calamities. In silent grief they are commanded to roll themselves in the dust, in the house of Aphrah, the house of dust, all their cities being reduced to ruinous heaps. The inhabitant of Saphir, once, as the name imports, fair and beautiful, must now go naked into captivity, stripped of all their wealth and riches. The inhabitant of Zaanan, once numerous as a flock, came not forth in the mourning of Beth-ezel, to condole with her, or to help her, being too much engaged with their own miseries; for he shall receive of you his standing; the enemy encamping near them, and making them pay dear for the resistance that their city made against him. The inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good, hoping at last to see some stop put to the ravages of the Assyrians; but were quite in despair, when the evil came down from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem, and they beheld the enemy preparing to besiege it. Lachish is now bid to flee, or rather ironically her attempts to do so are derided, she being doomed with the rest to captivity. She is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: lying contiguous to Israel, this city became first infected; and the idolatry which the inhabitants had learned spread through the land of Judah; and therefore, as ringleaders in sin, they justly deserve severest judgment, the iniquities of the land lying chiefly at their door. In vain by presents would they court the Philistines of Moresheth-gath to assist them; though they promised them fair, they would fail them in the day of trial. The houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel, as the name Achzib signifies. Mareshah also shall be a prey; God will bring an heir to her, one who should seize the country, as if it were his by inheritance. He shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel; shall seize this fortress on which they trusted; or even to the glory of Israel, to Jerusalem itself. Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; which seems addressed to the land in general: enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; shew every expressive sign of woe; for they are gone into captivity from thee; the prophet speaks of it as already done, because God had determined it.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Micah 1". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany