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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Micah 2

 

 

Verse 1

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it. They do evil not merely on a sudden impulse, but with deliberate design. As in the former chapter, sins against the first table are reproved, so in this chapter, sins against the second table. A gradation: "devise" is the conception of the evil purpose; "work" or fabricate,' the maturing of the scheme (Psalms 58:2); "practice," or effect,' the execution of it.

Because it is in the power of their hand - for the phrase, see Genesis 31:29; Proverbs 3:27. Might, not right, is what regulates their conduct. Where they can, they commit oppression; when they do not it is because they cannot.


Verse 2

And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.

And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage - parallelism. "Take by violence" answers to "take away; "fields" and "houses," to "house" and "heritage" (i:e., one's land).


Verse 3

Therefore thus saith the LORD Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time is evil.

Behold, against this family - against the nation, and especially against those reprobated in Micah 2:1-2.

Do I devise an evil - a happy antithesis between God's dealings and the Jews' dealings (Micah 2:1). Ye "devise evil" against your fellow-countrymen, "I devise evil against" you. Ye devise it wrongfully, by righteous retribution in kind.

From which ye shall not remove your necks - as ye have done from the law. The yoke which I shall impose shall be one which ye cannot shake off. They who will not bend to God's "easy yoke" (Matthew 11:29-30), shall feel His iron yoke.

Neither shall ye go haughtily - (cf. note, Jeremiah 6:28, "walking with slanders") - i:e., walking for the purpose of slandering. The accusative, with the Hebrew verb 'to walk,' implies not the manner, but the end. [ Haalak (Hebrew #3212) rowmaah (Hebrew #7317), 'to go' or emerge to elevation, not to go with uplifted neck] (Maurer). Ye shall not be able to raise your heads on high, because the yoke shall press down your "necks."

For this time is evil - rather, 'for that time shall be an evil time'-namely, the time of the carrying away into captivity (cf. Amos 5:13, from whom Micah derives the phrase, joining on his own inspired prophecies to those of his predecessor; Ephesians 5:16, " Redeeming the time, because the days are evil").


Verse 4

In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.

In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We be utterly spoiled - namely, some of your foes shall do so, taking in derision from your own mouth your "lamentation," namely, "We be spoiled," etc.

Lament with a doleful lamentation - literally lament with a lamentation of lamentations. The Hebrew 'naha, nehi, nihyah,' the repetition representing the continuous and monotonous wail.

He hath changed the portion of my people - a charge of injustice against Yahweh. He transfers to other nations the sacred territory assigned as the rightful portion and inheritance of our people (Micah 1:15).

How hath he removed it from me! - namely, removed from me all that once was mine.

Turning away he hath divided our fields - turning away from us to the enemy, he hath divided among them our fields. Calvin, as margin, explains, 'instead of restoring our territory, He hath divided our fields among our enemies, each of whom henceforward will have an interest in keeping what he hath gotten: so that we are utterly shut out from hope of restoration.' Maurer translates as a verbal participial noun [ showbeeb (Hebrew #7728)], 'He hath divided our fields to a rebel' - i:e., to the foe, who is a rebel against the true God and a worshipper of idols. "Backsliding" is used for backslider Jeremiah 49:4. So Grotius translates: the English version gives a good sense, and is quite tenable in the Hebrew. It is, literally 'for turning away' (so the Hebrew is used, Isaiah 47:10) - i:e., so as to be turned away from us, "He hath divided our fields."


Verse 5

Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the LORD.

Therefore - resumed from Micah 2:3. On account of your crimes, described in Micah 2:1-2.

Thou - the ideal individual ("me," Micah 2:4 ), representing the guilty people in whose name he spoke.

Thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot - none who shall have any possession measured out. God had originally divided to Israel the land by lot, using a line or cord for measurement (Joshua 13:6, the Lord said to Joshua, "Divide thou it by lot unto the Israelites for an inheritance"). Such a distribution or division of Israel's inheritance was now about to be made by Israel's enemy, not by Israel herself.

In the congregation of the Lord - among the people consecrated to Yahweh. By covetousness and violence (Micah 2:2) they had forfeited "the portion of Yahweh's people" (Micah 2:4). This is God's implied answer to their complaint of injustice, "He hath changed the portion of my people." God replies, they shall no longer be reckoned "in the congregation of the Lord" (Ezekiel 13:9, "They shall not be in the assembly of my people"): nor as such divide inheritances by lot. The congregation of the Lord [ qaahaal (Hebrew #6951) Yahweh (Hebrew #3068)] was the court before which the assignment or inheritances was decided.


Verse 6

Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame.

Prophesy ye not, say they - namely, the Israelites say to the true prophets, when announcing unwelcome truths. Prophesy ye not, say they - namely, the Israelites say to the true prophets, when announcing unwelcome truths.

They shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. Therefore God, judicially abandons them to their own ways: 'The prophets, by whose ministry they might have been saved from shame (ignominious captivity), shall not (i:e., no longer) prophesy to them' (Isaiah 30:10, "Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits;" Amos 2:12; so Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, said to Amos the prophet, "Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac," Amos 7:16). Maurer translates, 'Do not drop thy word ... they (the Israelites) drop their word: they (the true prophets) shall not (i:e., let them not) drop their word concerning such things; their (the prophets') insults (to us) never cease.' The 'such things' are those which Micah had uttered against them (Micah 2:3-5). The English version is supported by the parallelism; wherein the similarity of sound and words implies how exactly God makes their punishment answer to their sin, and takes them at their own word. "Prophesy" - literally drop (Deuteronomy 32:2; Ezekiel 21:2, "Drop (the same Hebrew as here) thy word toward the holy places"). The last clause, perhaps, had better, be translated, 'shame shall not depart from them'-literally 'calumnies depart not' [ lo' (Hebrew #3808) yicag (Hebrew #5253) k


Verse 7

O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?

O thou that art named The house of Jacob - priding thyself on the name, though having naught of the spirit of thy progenitor. Also, bearing the name which ought to remind thee of God's favours granted to His because of His covenant with Jacob.

Is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? - is His compassion contracted within narrower limits now than formerly, so that He should delight in your destruction? (cf. Psalms 77:7-9; Isaiah 59:1-2).

Are these his doings? - i:e., are such threatenings His delight? Ye dislike the prophet's threatenings (Micah 2:6): but who is to blame? Not God, because He delights in blessing rather than threatening; but yourselves, (Micah 2:8) who provoke His threatenings (Grotius). Calvin translates, 'Are your doings such as are prescribed by Him?' Ye boast of being God's special people: do ye then conform your lives to God's law? I prefer this.

Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly? - are not my words good to the upright? If your ways were upright, my words would not be threatening (cf. Psalms 18:26; Matthew 11:19; John 7:17). Your ways are not such that I can deal with you as I would with the upright.


Verse 8

Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war.

Even of late - literally yesterday: 'long ago.' So "of old," Hebrew, 'yesterday,' Isaiah 30:33; "heretofore," Hebrew, 'since yesterday,' Joshua 3:4.

My people is risen up as an enemy - i:e., has rebelled against my precepts; also has become an enemy to the unoffending passers-by.

Ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely - not content with the outer "garment," ye greedily rob passers-by of the ornamental "robe," fitting the body closely, and flowing down to the feet (Ludovicus de Dieu). (Matthew 5:40.)

As men averse from war - in antithesis to (my people) "as an enemy." Israel treats the innocent passers-by, though "averse from war," "as an enemy" would treat captives in his power, stripping them of their habiliments as lawful spoils. Grotius translates, 'as men returning from war' - i:e., as captives over whom the right of war gives the victors an absolute power. The English version is supported by the antithesis.


Verse 9

The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory for ever.

The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses - i:e., the widows of the men slain by you (Micah 2:2 ) ye cast out from their homes, which had been their delight, and seize on them for yourselves.

From their children - i:e., from the orphans of the widows.

Have ye taken away my glory - namely, their substance and raiment, which, being the fruit of God's blessing on the young, reflected God's glory. Thus Israel's crime was not merely robbery, but sacrilege. Their sex did not save the women, nor their age the children, from violence.

Forever - there was no repentance. They persevered in sin. The pledged garment was to be restored to the poor before sunset (Exodus 22:26-27); but these never restored their unlawful booty.


Verse 10

Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.

Arise ye, and depart - not an exhortation to the children of God to depart out of an ungodly world, as it is often applied; though that sentiment is a scriptural one. This world is doubtless not our "rest," being "polluted" with sin: it is our passage, not our portion; our aim, not our home (2 Corinthians 6:17; Hebrews 13:14). The imperatives express the certainty of the future event predicted. 'Since such are your doings (cf. Micah 2:7-8, etc), my sentence on you is irrevocable (Micah 2:4-5), however distasteful to you (Micah 2:6), ye who have cast out others from their homes and possessions (Micah 2:2; Micah 2:8-9), must arise, depart, and be cast out of your own (Micah 2:4-5); for this is not your rest," though once it was (Numbers 10:33; Deuteronomy 12:9; Psalms 95:11). Canaan was designed to be a rest to them after their wilderness fatigues. But it is to be so no longer. Thus God refutes the people's self-confidence, as if God were bound to them inseparably. The promise (Psalms 132:14, "This is my rest forever: here will I dwell, for I have desired it") is quite consistent with temporary withdrawal of God from Israel for their sins.

Because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction - the land shall spue you out, because of the defilements wherewith ye polluted it (Leviticus 8:25; Leviticus 8:28; Jeremiah 3:2 ; Ezekiel 36:12-14).


Verse 11

If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.

If a man walking in the spirit - the Hebrew means also wind. 'If a man professing to have the spirit of inspiration' (Ezekiel 13:3; so "the man of the spirit" - i:e., one claiming inspiration, margin, Hosea 9:7), but really walking in wind (prophecy void of nutriment for the soul, and unsubstantial as the wind), "and falsehood, do lie, saying (that which ye like to hear), I will prophesy," etc.

He shall even be the prophet of this people - even such a one, however false his prophecies, since he flatters your wishes, shall be your prophet (cf. Micah 2:6; Jeremiah 5:31, "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so").

I will prophesy unto thee of wine - i:e., of an abundant supply of wine.


Verse 12

I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.

I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee. A sudden transition from threats to the promise of a glorious restoration. Compare a similar transition, Hosea 1:9-10. Yahweh, too, prophesies of good things to come, but not like the false prophets, "of wine and strong drink" (Micah 2:11). After I have sent you into captivity, as I have just threatened, I will thence assemble you again (cf. Micah 4:6-7).

All of thee - the restoration from Babylon was partial. Therefore that here meant must be still future, when "all Israel shall be saved" (Romans 11:26). The restoration from "Babylon" (specified Micah 4:10) is the type of the future one.

Jacob ... I will surely gather the remnant of Israel - the ten tribes' kingdom (Hosea 12:2, "Judah ... and Jacob") and Judah (2 Chronicles 19:8, "In Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set ... of the chief of the fathers of Israel:" whence it appears that the name "Israel" was applied to Judah; 2 Chronicles 21:2; 2 Chronicles 21:4).

The remnant - the elect remnant, which shall survive the previous calamities of Judah, and from which the nation is to spring into new life (Isaiah 6:13; Isaiah 10:20-22, "The remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob, unto the mighty God" of Jacob).

I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah - a region famed for its rich pastures (cf. 2 Kings 3:4). Bozrah was in Moab. Gesenius, for Bozrah, translated, 'sheepfold.' But thus there will be tautology, unless the next clause be translated, 'in the midst of their pasture.' The English version is more favoured by the Hebrew usage.


Verse 13

The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.

The breaker is come up before them - "the breaker," Yahweh-Messiah, who breaks through every obstacle in the way of their restoration: not as formerly breaking forth to destroy them for transgression (Exodus 19:22; Judges 21:15), but breaking a way for them through their enemies.

They have broken up - "they," the returning Israelites and Jews.

And have passed through the gate - i:e., through the gate of the foe's city in which they had been captives. So the image of the resurrection in Hosea 13:14 represents Israel's restoration.

And their King - "the Breaker," peculiarly "their King" (Hosea 3:5; Matthew 27:37).

Shall pass before them - as He did when they went up out of Egypt (Exodus 13:21; Deuteronomy 1:30; Deuteronomy 1:33). And the Lord on the head of them - Yahweh at their head (Isaiah 52:12). Messiah, the second person, is meant (cf. Exodus 23:20; Exodus 33:14; Isaiah 63:9, "In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old")

Remarks:

(1) Bad as it is to do evil under any circumstances, it is worse when it is premeditated. From the conception and the maturing of the iniquitous plan upon the bed at night, the transgressor passes on to the execution of it in the daylight (Micah 2:6). Covetousness and selfishness are the parents of violence and oppression. The greedy self-seeker's only restraint is inability, not regard to right. Fear of man, not fear of God, is the sole controlling principle of the carnal heart.

(2) They who will not bend their neck willingly to the easy yoke of the Lord, shall, against their will, be forced to bear the iron yoke of the enemy of souls, to whom God will judicially give them up. They who now go haughtily (Micah 2:3) shall in the coming evil day be brought low. Those most proud in prosperity are often the most abject in adversity.

(3) Since Israel had apostatized from the Lord, who had originally divided the land among His people, the land was now, in just retribution, to be divided among Israel's enemies (Micah 2:4-5). Blessings abused are at last removed and withdrawn by the Almighty Giver.

(4) They who, like Israel (Micah 2:6), wish the ministers of God no longer to importune them, shall be righteously punished by getting their wish. It is well for the profane that God does not immediately take them at their word. Let all see that they prize the ministry of preaching, even when it condemns their pleasant sins. For the time of probation is short: and now, or else never, must pardon and peace be obtained.

(5) The prophet appeals to the conscience of the people, once the elect of God, and asks whether the fault of their dislike to those who spoke by the Spirit of God lies with God or themselves. Conscience, if it be not seared, must convince every backslider that the true cause of alienation between himself and God is not that "the Spirit of the Lord is straitened" or "shortened" (Micah 2:7), but that his own heart is straitened by the practice of sin, so as to grieve and exclude the entrance of the blessed Spirit.

Thus ministers may say to such, in the language of the apostle (2 Corinthians 6:12), "Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels." The "words of God do good," not to him who accepts them with the lips and ignores them in his heart and life, but to him alone "who walketh uprightly."

(6) As Israel treated the unoffending passers by "as an enemy," so should she be treated herself as an enemy by God (Micah 2:8). As she had stripped the poor, and those "averse from war," of their all in times of peace, so should she be stripped of all which once was hers by the invader. As she had "cast out from their pleasant houses" helpless women, so the voice of Omnipotence pronounces her own corresponding doom;" Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest, because it is polluted" (Micah 2:10). When sinners have "polluted" a land, the land itself, which they had looked upon as their home, proves to be the scene of their "sore destruction." Where sin is, there no lasting rest can be. So in the case of this sin defiled earth, which the carnal make to be their resting-place, God its Lord shall say to them at last, "Depart;" and fire shall consume both their earthly habitation and themselves, previously to the setting up of the kingdom of God and His Christ on the regenerated earth. They who make the present defiled world their rest and home shall perish with the world. They who live in it as pilgrims now shall have their abiding rest in the "new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13).

(7) How many there are who would gladly attend the ministry of one who should promise carnal indulgences, but who, like Israel, dislike the faithfulness of him who preaches self-denial as necessary for the realization of spiritual joys! (Micah 2:11.)

(8) Yet such is the grace of God to His elect nation, that He closes this chapter with promises of their complete restoration through Messiah their Shepherd (Micah 2:12). How comforting to the spiritual sheep of Christ's "flock" to know that they shall "all" at last be safely "gathered" into the heavenly "fold!" The Breaker, who hath burst through the gates of hell and death for them, and broken the fetters of Satan, shall, as their Lord going before them, make a safe and easy passage for them through the grave and gate of death to a joyful resurrection. Be this our continual hope and confidence!

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Micah 2:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/micah-2.html. 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 14th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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