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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Micah 1

 

 

Verse 1

The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

In the days of Jotham. The kings of Judah alone are mentioned, as the line of David alone was recognized by God. Only prophets of Israel add kings of Israel.

Concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Samaria is put first, because, its iniquity being ripe, its punishment was nearest.


Verse 2

Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord GOD be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.

Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is - Hebrew, whatever fills it. Micaiah, son of Imlah, our prophet's namesake, begins his prophecy similarly - "Hearken, O people, every one of you." Micah designedly uses the same preface, implying that his ministrations are a continuation of his predecessor's of the same name. Both probably had before their mind Moses' similar attestation of heaven and earth in a like case (Deuteronomy 31:28; Deuteronomy 32:1 : cf. Isaiah 1:2 , "Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth").

And let the Lord God be witness against you - namely, that none of you can say, when the time of your punishment shall come, that you were not forewarned. God, whose mouthpiece I am, is witness against you, that when these, my prophecies of judgment, come to pass upon you, ye cannot say ye did not hear the word of God beforehand, so as to repent in time. The punishment denounced is stated at Micah 4:3, etc.

The Lord from his holy temple - i:e., heaven (1 Kings 8:30, "Hear thou in heaven, thy dwelling place;" Psalms 11:4, "The Lord is in his holy temple: the Lord's throne is in heaven;" Jonah 2:7; cf. Romans 1:18, "The wrath of God is revealed from heaven"). From heaven the Lord will come forth "to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity" (Isaiah 26:21).


Verse 3

For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.

The Lord ... will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. He shall destroy the fortified heights (cf. Deuteronomy 32:13, "He made him (Israel) ride on the high places of the earth;" Deuteronomy 33:29). (Grotius.) Amos 4:13 uses the same language. It symbolically expresses that God treads under His feet those who proudly exalt themselves. The high places were also the scene of idolatries. These God would tread down.


Verse 4

And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.

And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft. Imagery from earthquakes and volcanic agency, to describe the terrors which attend Yahweh's coming in judgment (cf. Judges 5:5, whence the language seems derived: "The mountains melted from before the Lord:" a proof of Micah's and Judah's familiarity with the earlier sacred books). Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, can secure themselves or their land from the judgments of God. Moreover, it is implied that not only the high grounds but the low grounds shall be made lower still. A yet deeper dissolution than that whereby the mountain is made a plain shall rend open the very valleys, at the coming dissolution of the earth, before the new heavens and earth appear. Of that judgment the one coming on Israel is threatened.

As wax before the fire - (Psalms 97:5 : cf. Isaiah 64:1-3). The third clause "as wax," etc., answers to the first in the parallelism, "the mountains shall be molten;" the fourth, "as the waters," etc., to the second, "the valleys shall be cleft." As wax melts by fire, so the mountains before God, at his approach; and as waters poured down a steep cannot stand, but are diffused abroad, so the valleys shall be cleft before Yahweh. The melting is not merely as that of metals, but as of wax, which is dissolved completely. In Judea the autumnal heavy rains cause torrents to pour down the mountain sides. The decrease of the waters is as rapid as their rise.


Verse 5

For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?

For the transgression of Jacob is all this - all these terrors attending Yahweh's coming are caused by the sins of Jacob or Israel - i:e., the whole people. What is the transgression of Jacob? Taking up the question, often in the mouths of the people when reproved, 'What is our transgression?' (cf. Malachi 1:6-7, "O priests that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? Ye offer polluted bread ... and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee?") He answers,

Is it not Samaria? The Hebrew is literally, Who is the transgression of Jacob? - i:e., Who is its cause? [ miy (Hebrew #4310)] Is not that city (the seat of the calf-worship) the cause of Jacob's apostasy (1 Kings 14:16, "He shall give Israel up because the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin?" 1 Kings 15:26; 1 Kings 15:34; 1 Kings 16:13; 1 Kings 16:19; 1 Kings 16:25, "Omri (the builder of Samaria) wrought evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him;" 1 Kings 16:30).

And what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem? What city is the cause of the idolatries on the high places of Judah? is it not Jerusalem (cf. 2 Kings 18:4, "He (Hezekiah) removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves); Jerusalem had once been the center of Yahweh's worship; but Ahaz had polluted it with the cruel worship of Moloch, to whom he had dedicated his children by burning (in the valley of Hinnom), and had "made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem" (2 Chronicles 28:3; 2 Chronicles 28:24).


Verse 6

Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof.

Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field. Samaria's punishment is mentioned first, as it was to fall before Jerusalem.

As an heap of the field - (Micah 3:12). Such a head of stones and rubbish as is gathered out of fields, to clear them (Hosea 12:11). Palestine is of a soil abounding in stones, which are "gathered out" before the vines are planted (Isaiah 5:2).

And as plantings of a vineyard - as a place where vines are planted. Vineyards were cultivated on the sides of hills exposed to the sun. The hill on which Samaria was built by Omri, who bought it from Shemer, its original owner, had been, doubtless, planted with vines originally; now it is to be reduced again to its original state (1 Kings 16:24).

And I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley - I will dash down the stones of the city into the valley beneath. A graphic picture of the present appearance of the ruins, which is as though 'the buildings of the ancient city had, been thrown down from the brow of the hill' ('Scottish Mission of Enquiry,' pp. 293, 294).

And I will discover the foundations thereof - I will destroy it so utterly as to lay bare its foundations (Ezekiel 13:14). Samaria was destroyed by Shalmaneser.


Verse 7

And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.

All the hires thereof shall be burnt with the fire - the wealth which Israel boasted of receiving from her idols as the "rewards" or hire for worshipping them (Hosea 2:5; Hosea 2:12).

And all the idols thereof will I lay desolate - i:e., give them up to the foe to strip of the silver and gold with which they are overlaid.

For she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot. Israel gathered (made for herself) her idols from the gold and silver received from false gods, (as she thought) the hire of her worshipping them; and they shall again become what they had been before, the hire of spiritual harlotry - i:e., the prosperity of the foe, who also being worshippers of idols will ascribe the acquisition to their idols (Maurer). Grotius explains it, The offerings sent to Israel's temple by the Assyrians, whose idolatry Israel adopted, shall go back to the Assyrians, her teachers in idolatry, as the hire or fee for having taught it. The image of a harlot's hire for the supposed temporal rewards of spiritual fornication is more common in Scripture (Hosea 9:1, "O Israel ... thou hast gone a whoring from thy God; thou hast loved a reward upon every grain-floor." Literal prostitution of the person was practiced in Babylon, Cyprus, and Syria, and the hire was dedicated in honour of their impure goddesses (cf. Hosea 4:14; also the precept in Deuteronomy 23:18, "Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any vow").


Verse 8

Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.

Therefore I will wail. The prophet first shows how the coming judgment affects himself, in order that he might affect the minds of his countrymen similarly, so that they should shed tears of true repentance.

I will go stripped - i:e., of shoes or sandals, as the Septuagint translate. Otherwise, "naked," which follows, would be a tautology. Pusey prefers the English version, stripped - i:e., despoiled by the enemy. For, Micah does not use the ordinary Hebrew term for 'barefoot.' Micah represents in his own person that was about to befall his people. "Naked" means divested of the upper garment (Isaiah 20:2, "At the same time spake the Lord by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot"). Isaiah's symbolic acts herein correspond to his contemporary Micah's symbolical language. "Naked and barefoot," the sign of mourning (2 Samuel 15:30, "And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went up, and had his head covered; and he went barefoot"). The prophet's upper garment was usually rough and coarse-haired (2 Kings 1:8, "He (Elijah) was an hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins;" Zechariah 13:4).

I will make a wailing like the dragons - so Jerome. Rather, 'the wild dogs,' jackals or wolves, which wail like an infant when in distress or alone (Maurer). (See note, Job 30:29, "I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.")

And mourning as the owls - rather, 'female ostriches,' which give a shrill and long-drawn sigh-like cry, especially at night.


Verse 9

For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.

For her wound is incurable - her case, politically and morally, is desperate (Jeremiah 8:22). The English version is better than margin. The Hebrew plural, 'her wounds' (literally, 'her strokes,' inflicted by God), joined with the verb singular, 'is incurable,' implies that the assertion is true both of all generally and of each individually.

It is come unto Judah - literally, quite up to Judah-the wound or impending calamity (cf. Isaiah 10:28).

He is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem - the evil is no longer limited to Israel. The prophet foresees Sennacherib coming even "to the gate" of the principal city. The use of "it" and "he" appropriately distinct. It, the calamity, "came unto" Judah, many of the inhabitants of which suffered, but did not reach the citizens of Jerusalem, "the gate" of which the foe (he) "came unto." but did not enter (Isaiah 36:1, "Sennaeherib king of Assyria came up against all the defensed cities of Judah, and took them;" Isaiah 37:33-37).


Verse 10

Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust.

Declare ye it not at Gath - on the borders of Judea, one of the five cities of the Philistines who would exult at the calamity of the Hebrews. The language is derived from the elegy of David over Saul and Jonathan, "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised tnumph" (2 Samuel 1:20). Gratify not those who exult over the falls of the Israel of God.

Weep ye not at all - do not betray your inward sorrow by outward weeping, within the cognizance of the enemy, lest they should exult at it. Reland translates, 'weep not in Accho,' [ baakow (Hebrew #1058), a contraction for b


Verse 11

Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing.

Pass ye away - literally, 'Pass thou (feminine) away for yourselves, thou inhabitress of Saphir' - i:e., thou shalt go into captivity.

Inhabitant of Saphir - a village amidst the hills of Judah, between Eleutheropolis and Ascalon, called so from [ Shaapiyr (Hebrew #8208)] the Hebrew word for beauty. Though thy name be beauty, which heretofore was thy characteristic, thou shall have thy "shame" made "naked." Pusey translates, 'in nakedness and shame.' This city shall be dismantled of its walls, which are the garments, as it were, of cities; its citizens also shall be hurried into captivity, with their persons exposed (Isaiah 47:3; Ezekiel 16:37; Hosea 2:10).

The inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth. Its inhabitants did not come forth to console the people of Bethezel in their mourning, because the calamity was universal-none was exempt from it (cf. Jeremiah 6:25, "Go not forth into the field, nor walk by the way: for the sword of the enemy and fear is on every side"). Zaanan [ Tsa'


Verse 12

For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.

For the inhabitant of Maroth - possibly the same as Maarath (Joshua 15:59). Perhaps a different town, lying between the previously mentioned towns and the capital, and one of those plundered by Rabshakeh on his way to it.

Waited carefully for good - i:e., for better fortune, but in vain (Calvin). Her name was indicative of her portion-bitternesses: originally applied to her for the brackish springs in the soil. Gesenius translates [ chaalaah (Hebrew #2470)], 'is grieved [from chuwl (Hebrew #2342)] for her goods' taken away from her. This accords with the meaning of Maroth, 'bitterness,' to which allusion is made in 'is grieved.' But the antithesis favours in the English version, "waited carefully (i:e., anxiously) for good; but evil came down."

Evil came down from the Lord - not from chance.

Unto the gate of Jerusalem - after the other cities of Judah have been taken.


Verse 13

O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee.

O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast - steed, in order by a hasty flight to escape the invading foe. Compare note, Isaiah 36:2, on "Lachish," at which Sennacherib fixed his headquarters, whence he despatched "Rabshakeh to Jerusalem with a great army" (2 Kings 18:14; 2 Kings 18:17; Jeremiah 34:7).

She is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion. Lachish was the first of the cities of Judah, according to this passage, to introduce the worship of false gods, imitating what Jeroboam had introduced in Israel. Rehoboam, the perverse son of Solomon, was its builder (2 Chronicles 11:9). Since lying near the border of the northern kingdom, Lachish was first to be infected by its idolatry, which thence spread to Jerusalem. Lachish (meaning strong) shall be strong only to flee.


Verse 14

Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moreshethgath: the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel.

Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moresheth-gath - that its inhabitants may send thee help. Maurer explains it, thou shalt give a writing of renunciation to Moresheth-gath' - i:e., thou shalt renounce all claim to it, being compelled to yield it up to the foe. "Thou" - i:e., Judah.

The houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel. "Israel" in this verse is used for the kingdom of Judah, which was the chief representative of the whole nation of Israel. Moresheth-gath is so called because it had fallen for a time under the power of the neighbouring Philistines of Gath. It was the native town of Micah (Micah 1:1). "Therefore" implies the inseparable connection which exists in the divine mind between sin and its consequent punishment. This accounts for the rapid transitions in Micah from upbraiding to threatening, and from threatening to mercy, and back again to upbraiding. The mercies to come he subjoins either suddenly, without any conjunction, or with the simple "and" (Micah 2:12; Micah 4:13).

Achzib - meaning 'lying.' Achzib, as its name implies, shall prove a "lie to ... Israel" - i:e., shall disappoint Israel's hopes of succour from her (cf. Job 6:15-20). Achzib was so called from such a winter-torrent soon dried up, and disappointing in summer (Jeremiah 15:18). Achzib was in Judah between Keilah and Mareshah (Joshua 15:44). Perhaps the same as Chezib (Genesis 38:5).


Verse 15

Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel.

Yet will I bring an heir unto thee - rather, 'the heir.' As thou art now occupied by possessors who expelled the former inhabitants, so will I bring "yet" again the new possessor-namely, the Assyrian foe. Other heirs will supplant us in every inheritance but that of heaven. There is a play upon the meaning of Mareshah, an inheritance: there shall come the new heir of the inheritance.

He shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel - so called as being superior in situation; when it and the neighbouring cities fell, Israel's glory was gone. Maurer, as margin, translates, 'the glory of Israel (her chief citizens: answering to "thy delicate children," Micah 1:16) shall come (in flight) to Adullam.' The English version better preserves the parallelism, "the heir," in the first clause, answering to "he" in the second.


Verse 16

Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.

Make thee bald ... - a token of deep mourning (Ezra 9:3; Job 1:20). Mourn, O land, for thy darling children.

Poll thee - shave off thy hair.

Enlarge thy baldness - mourn grievously. The land is compared to a mother weeping for her children.

As the eagle - the bald eagle; or the dark-winged vulture. In the moulting season all eagles are comparatively bald (cf. Psalms 103:5, "Thy youth is renewed as the eagle's").

Remarks:

(1) Micah designates himself by the humble village to which he belonged, "the Morasthite." But while he humbleth himself he exalts his office. He spake not words of himself, but "the word of the Lord that came to" him, and "which he saw" (Micah 1:1). The glory of the minister is to forget himself while he glorifies his Master.

(2) Beginning with the same appeal as that used by his namesake, the former Micaiah, "Hear all ye people," Micah implies that the fulfillment of the word of God spoken by his predecessor is an earnest of the fulfillment of it as spoken by himself. The pagan peoples being, before the event, apprised of the judgment coming on the people of God, could not attribute that judgment to want of power or faithlessness on the part of Yahweh, but would have to recognize therein the hand of the just and holy God. So, at the coming judgment, the righteousness of God shall be revealed before all His creatures: and it is for this end that the Lord shall "call the earth, from the rising of the sun unto the going down thereof." "He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people" (Psalms 50:1; Psalms 50:4).

Every judgment on the nations now is an earnest of the final judgment. Especially so is the judgment under which Israel and the Jews have been for ages suffering. God, by the fulfillment of His threats against His ancient people, is a "witness" alike to His own justice and truth and against their apostasy. In the last judgment He shall witness against evil doers and for them that do well (Micah 1:2 ).

(3) The coming of the Lord is always drawing nigh. He abides in His place while He is now unseen. He "cometh forth out of His place" (Micah 1:3) when He shall manifest Himself as the Avenger of sin and the Rewarder of obedience. That shall be the day when "the high places of the earth," as well as the haughty men that resemble them, shall be trodden under foot. Nor shall the deep valleys, and the sinners who hide in them, escape the searching glance of the Almighty, Judge. As wax melteth before the fire (Micah 1:3), and as waters dashed down a precipice, so shall the ungodly perish before the presence of Yahweh.

(4) The judgment inflicted on Israel by Assyria was not through any change of purpose in God, but on account of "the transgression of" the degenerate descendants of "Jacob." The Assyrian was but the instrument in the hand of God for the chastisement of His people. The unfaithfulness was on their part, not on God's part. The very name of Jacob and Israel which they bore was a standing witness against their degeneracy: just as the name Christian testifies against all who dishonour "that worthy name by the which they are called" (James 2:7). The capital city, Samaria, was the center of evil whence, as from a fountain-head, the streams of corruption overflowed the land. Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, too, had fallen away from its past spiritual eminence. Sin in the people of God is peculiarly offensive and provoking to Him.

(5) Samaria having been foremost in guilt was to be the first in the punishment. Its site, originally occupied by 'vine-plantings,' was to be reduced to the same state again (Micah 1:6). The stones of its buildings would be gathered in "heaps," to make way for cultivation, after they had been "poured down into the valley," beneath the crest of the hill on which the city, "the crown of pride," once stood (Isaiah 28:1). Such is the miserable end of those who depart from God.

(6) All whatever of wealth, pleasure, or fame a man promises to himself to gain by giving his heart to any object out of God is the "hire" of spiritual fornication, and shall be consumed by "the fire" of the last day (Micah 1:7). Whosoever turn their glory into shame, their glory shall be turned into shame, and their temporary gains into everlasting losses.

(7) The prophet, when desiring to move his people to penitential weeping, weeps first himself (Micah 1:8). Example is more powerful than precept: at least, example most effectually recommends precept. The minister or Christian who would win souls must be a man of sympathy-one who grieves for the misery awaiting the impenitent, and who, by personal experience, knows the preciousness of the love of God, which the unregenerate forfeit. Let us seek to have some measure of the apostle's sympathy, when he says, "Who is weak, and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?" (2 Corinthians 11:29).

(8) The moral wound of the sinner is incurable (Micah 1:9), and only to be dealt with by utter excision, when a man has so long hardened himself against the love and grace, and light of God that the Spirit of God has ceased to strive with him in mercy. Then nothing "remaineth but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation" (Hebrews 10:27).

(9) Such was the case of Israel as a nation in Micah's time." Still the prophet would not have it declared in Gath (Micah 1:10), lest the pagan Philistines there should exult over the downfall of Israel, as the triumph of pagandom over the religion of Yahweh, the God of Israel. To be indifferent to the honour of God, and to have no sorrow at reproach being brought on the cause of religion through the fall of its professors, is the mark of the carnal, unregenerate mind. On the other hand, to be tenderly alive to all that affects the interests and glory of the Lord's kingdom on earth is the mark of one who is himself a member of the heavenly citizenship.

(10) The inhabitant of Maroth "waited carefully for good; but evil came down from the Lord" (Micah 1:12). The reason why such was the result was, because he waited for the good which God gives, rather than for the good which God is. None who truly wait on Him and for Him shall be disappointed. For He hath said, "They shall not be ashamed that wait for me" (Isaiah 49:23). But they who look for good from the Lord, but are not willing to give up the evil of their own ways, shall look to Him in vain.

(11) Whosoever is "the beginning of sin" to the people of God shall be foremost in the punishment (Micah 1:13). Nor shall any creaturely power avert it. The human stays on which the sinner had relied shall fail, and prove but a "lie" in the time of sorest need (Micah 1:14). Heaven is the only abiding inheritance, and the Lord the only lasting portion. Let us seek, through the Saviour, and by His Spirit, that abiding and glorious portion from which no enemy can ever supplant us!

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Micah 1:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/micah-1.html. 1871-8.

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Saturday, October 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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