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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Micah 1

 

 

Verses 1-16

FIRST DIVISION

FIRST DISCOURSE

Micah 1

1Word of Jehovah, which came to Micah the Morasthite, in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

2Hear, all ye peoples,

Attend, O earth,1 and all that is therein!

And let the Lord, Jehovah, be a witness against you,

The Lord from his holy temple.

3For, behold Jehovah cometh forth out of his place,

And cometh down, and treadeth on the high places of the earth.

4And the mountains melt under him,

And the valleys cleave asunder,

As wax before the fire,

As waters poured down a descent.

5For the transgression of Jacob is all this,

And for the sins of the house of Israel.

Who is the transgression2 of Jacob?

Is it not Samaria?

And who are the high places of Judah?

Are they not Jerusalem?

6 And I3 will make Samaria a heap in the field,

Plantations of vines;

And will pour down into the ravine the stones thereof,

And lay bare her foundations.

7 And all her carved images shall be broken in pieces,

And all her hires be burned with fire;

And all her idols4 will I make a desolation:

For from the hire of a harlot has she gathered,

And to the hire of a harlot shall they return.

8 For this let me wail and howl,

Let me go stripped and naked;

I will make a wailing like the jackals, And a mourning like the ostriches.

9 For deadly are her wounds;

For it has come unto Judah:

He has reached unto the gate of my people, unto Jerusalem.

10 In Gath [Annunciation5] announce it not;

In Acco6 [vale of tears] weep not;

In Bethleaphra [Dusthouse] I wallow in the dust,

11Pass on with you, inhabitant of Shaphir [Fairview],

In shameful nakedness.

The inhabitant of Zaanan [Outlet] goeth not out;

The wailing of Beth-ezel7 [house of separation]

Taketh from you its standing-place.

12For the inhabitant of Maroth [Bitterness] is anxious about good,

For evil has come down from Jehovah,

To the gate of Jerusalem.

13Bind the chariot to the courser, inhabitant of Lachish;

The beginning of sin was she to the house of Zion;

For in thee were found the transgressions of Israel.

14Therefore must thou give a release8

For Moresheth-gath [Gath’s possession];

The houses of Achzib [Place of deceit]9 shall be a deception

To the kings of Israel.

15Yet will I bring an heir to thee

Inhabitant of Mareshah [Possession];10

To Adullam will come the glory of Israel.11

16 Make ihee bald and shave thy head,

For the sons of thy delight;

Enlarge thy baldness as the eagle;

For they are carried away from thee.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

The Judgment upon Samaria and the land of Judah. Concerning the inscription and the date of the writing, see the Introduction.12 The event fore told Isaiah, evidently, in the immediate historical sense, besides the capture of Samaria ( Micah 1:6), the. expedition which, after this conquest, the Assyrian king (Salmanasar, [Shalmanezer,] or Sargon) sent out, under his general Tartan, against Philistia and Egypt ( Isaiah 20 :), and which sorely wasted Judah ( Micah 1:9 ff.). The same fact formed the subject also of the prophecy of Isaiah 5:5 ff, with which ours has otherwise much similarity (cf. also on Micah 1:10).

The discourse, in a rapid but beautiful flow, runs through a great circle of thought. Its structure is outwardly characterized by several leading themes which are expressed in brief sentences of lively rhythm, and about which as fixed centres the discourse revolves (5 b, 9 b, 12 b). It thus fells, in respect to its contents, into two main portions, each of which has an exordium and two subdivisions:

1. The threatening of the destruction of Ephraim, Micah 1:2-7.

(a) Exordium, Mic 1:2.

(b) General threatening, Micah 1:3-5.

(c) Special threatening, Micah 1:6-7.

2. The lamentation over the chastisement of the land of Judah, Micah 1:8-16.

(a) Exordium and new theme, Micah 1:8-9.

(b) Song of Lamentations, Micah 1:10-12.

(c) Particular description, Micah 1:13-16.

In form, we clearly distinguish the two parts, symmetrical in the number (25) of their members, Micah 1:2-7; Micah 1:10-16, from the lyrical part thrown in between Micah 1:8-9.

1. The threatening, Micah 1:2-7. The exordium, Micah 1:2, attaches itself directly through the exclamation: Hear ye peoples all,13 to the discourse of Micah’s namesake in the Book of Kings ( 1 Kings 22:28), with whom our author had the common fate of being compelled to encounter false prophets (compare Micah 2:11, with 1 Kings 22:23). In other respects also our Micah coincides frequently with the Book of Kings. Compare the allusion Micah 6:16 the phrase m Micah 4:4, with 1 Kings 5:5; 1 Kings 4:13-14, with 1 Kings 22:11; 1 Kings 22:24; the mode of writing אָבִֽי (instead of אָביא), Micah 1:15, with 1 Kings 21:29; so that even Hitzig cannot shut out the perception that the historical sources of that book must have lain before him to read. Whether the address עמים dedenotes merely the tribes of Israel, or all nations, is hard to decide. For the former view speaks not only the further tenor of the discourse, which is directed to Israel alone, but also the parallel Deuteronomy 32:8. For, towards the game snug of Moses, the subsequent sentences of this exordium point hack (as indeed that song sounds on through the whole course of prophecy); Attend, O land and its fulness. Cf. Jeremiah 22:29; Jeremiah 8:16. Micalt expressly addresses the land alone, and omits the addition commonly made to the other repetitions of this phrase, “and O ye heavens,” which would give to ארצ the signification “earth:” there is the same limitation to Israel as in ammim. The land is appealed to, as in the first of the passages cited from Jeremiah 14not, as in Isaiah 1:2, as witness of a judgment, or, as in Ps. I:4, a messenger; but Jeliovan’s complaints begun in the very address; give attention, and let the Lord Jehovah become a witness against you;בּ in a hostile sense, as 1 Samuel 12:5; Malachi 3:5; the lord, irotn his holy temple; whence all his holy and powerful announcement go forth over the land ( Amos 1:2). The temple is emphatically a temple of the holiness of Jehovah, because by the massacres and deeds of judgment which proceed from it does He show hims’df as the Holy One, ( Isaiah 5:16).

Micah 1:3-5. The Testimony itself. Jehovah will in person, and that soon (part. c. הִנֵּה), appear in a theophany ( Psalm 18:50) for judgment. for behold Jehovah conies forth out of His place. From the temple proceeds the discourse of God, his appearance from heaven, for there He has his habitation ( Psalm 2:4); and comes down and treads oa the heights of the earth, i.e., the mountains ( Micah 1:4), which are nearest to heaven, and the highest of which, Sinai, saw the first theophany of God concerning his people ( Deuteronomy 33:2; Habakkuk 3:3). The word בָּמְהֵָי, Isaiah, according to the constant reading of the Keri, regarded and pointed as plural of an obsolete form בֹּמֶת, while the Kcthib everywhere reads בָּמֹתֵי, or בָּמוֹתֵי, a double plural of בָּמָה (Gcs. § 87, 5, Rem. I).

Micah 1:4. And the mountains melt under him, and the valleys cleave asunder as the wax before the fire, as water poured down a descent. The description rests as in other places, on the analogy of a tempest, when the mountains are veiled in clouds, and the earth, dissolved into flowing mud, pours down so that deep gullies are torn through the plains ( Judges 5:5). Mountain and valley, height and depth are, furthermore, a more I comprehensive expression for the shaking of the whole land. The two comparisons, c, d, have the down rushing torrent of water for their object; the first is proper and one often employed ( Psalm 68:3), the second comes back to the reality; the כְּ is often (pleonastically) used in such comparisons also ( Isaiah 1:7; Isaiah 14:19). As salvation comes amid the peacefulness of surrounding nature ( Isaiah 11 :), so the judgment with prodigious disturbances of the natural course of things ( Matthew 24:7; Matthew 24:29); for it is the consequence of sin, which has broken up the harmony of the world.

Micah 1:5 connects this representation with its ground in the present state of things, For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. “בּ pretii, compare e.g., 1 Samuel 3:27, 30. “Hitzig. “House” Isaiah, as often, collective for “sons.” But the discourse does not pause with even this statement; it proceeds to a more exact indication in the decisive sentence5 b: Who is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? In Samaria sin has reached such a climax that it has become the substance of the popular life, and from the capital outward has poisoned and polluted all the land ( Hosea 6:10). And already from this point forward the light is thrown in a striking parallel on the sin and fate of Judah, to which principally he will later turn: and who are the heights of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? Jerusalem is a prominent city; the hills on which it lies should be sanctuaries of God ( Psalm 99:9), but as it now stands, the eternal heights have, through idolatry, become Bamoth ( Ezekiel 36:2) sensu odioso, i. e., hieh places for idols ( 1 Kings 15:14).

It is accordingly not doubtful on whom the judgment of God must take effect. First Samaria: Micah 1:6-7. Therefore will I make Samaria a heap in the field, plantations of vines:i. e., not merely lay it in ruins ( Hosea 12:12), but make it waste for so long a time that husbandmen shall devote the depopulated region to tillage, and convert the fertile territory ( Isaiah 28:1) into a vineyard; and pour down the stones of it into the valley, down from the hill on which it lay ( Amos 6:1) (Robinson, Bib. Res. in Pal., 3:138 ff, 1st ed.; cf. Joseph, Ant., 13:10, § 3), and lay bare its foundations, i.e., destroy it to the very ground (Fs137:7). “The whole mountain on which the ancient city lay is now cultivated to the summit, but in the middle of it, on the field, a heap of ruins is to be seen, and not far off lies a miserable village, Jabustiah." Quandt.

Micah 1:7. And all her carved images (פּסל, Exodus 34:1) shall be broken in pieces; and all her hires be burned with fire. Hires (of harlotry) are primarily the consecrated offerings lavished on the idol altars, by which the preparations for the service were maintained (Ros, Casp, Keil); for, since God is the rightful husband of Israel ( Hosea 2:18 ff.), idolatry is whoredom ( Hosea 9:1). But they are also all the possessions of the city, because she looks upon her riches not as the gift of God, but of the idols, her paramour ( Hosea 2:7; Hosea 2:15), (Hitzig). And all her idols will I make a desolation. For from the hire of a harlot has she gathered, and to the hire of a harlot shall they return: become a prey to other idolaters, who will devote these things again to their idols, שׁוּב, as in Genesis 3:19.

2. The lamentation, Micah 1:8-16. Already in Micah 1:8, the prophet turns and prepares the transition Micah 1:8-9, to the new discourse, which according to5 b is directed against Judah. For, that the complaint has reference specially to Judah appears from the connection and contents of what follows. It belongs to the theanthropic element in the nature of prophecy, that the prophets, on the one hand, standing above the people, utter with seeming mer-cilessness the decrees of God’s justice, while on the other, as members of the people, they enter sym-pathizingly into the deepest popular suffering. Therefore let me lament and wail, let me go stripped and naked.אילכה has the incorrect scriptio plena, like Psalm 19:14; Exodus 35:31; שֵׁילל, from the stem שׁלל, after the formation הֵירָר ( Isaiah 16:9), signifies robbed, spdiatus; the Masoretes have without reason substituted another form שֹׁלָל, after Job 12:17. Wherein the robbery consists is shown by the addition: naked, i. e. without the over garment ( 1 Samuel 19:24). The prophet’s complaint also is symbolical prophecy; when he represents his nakedness as robbery it becomes the emblem of the fate of his people (cf. Isaiah 20:3 ff.). I will make a complaint like the jackals, and a mourning like the ostriches. In Job 30:29, also these animals appear as types of the cries of pain.

Micah 1:9. For deadly are her wounds [lit., “the strokes” inflicted upon her]. The plural מַכּוֹת is construed with the fem. sing, of the predicate according to Ew317 a [Ges. § 147 b] There is implied in the subject the thought that the sad fate comes from God, is from above; in the pred, the common comparison of public calamities to diseases. ( Isaiah 1:5 ff.) The suffix to מכות takes the place of a genit. obj.; it refers to Samaria. The prophet mourns so bitterly over the afflictions appointed to Samaria, because they are deadly; and deadly for all Israel; for they come even to Judah; HE (Jehovah, cf. Job 3:20) reaches even to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem. Therefore are the wounds deadly, because they strike the heart of the land and the seat of the sanctuary; and yet according to Micah 1:5 b, it cannot be otherwise. The gate Isaiah, in eastern countries, the place of solemn assembly: hence Jerusalem is called the gate of God’s people, because there Israel held his solemn courts ( Isaiah 33:20). Notice the affecting increase of intensity in the discourse, which reaches its climax, in the last clause of verse ninth. With this the theme is given also of the new turn to the thought, and now begins,—

Micah 1:10, the proper lamentation itself. Following a view common in the O. T. ( Psalm 25:3; Lamentations 2:17), he thinks first of the malicious joy of their heathen neighbors. In Gath announce it not, the Philistine city on the northwest border of Judah. With this expression the prophet recalls an earlier occurrence, David’s lamentation over the death of Saul and Jonathan (2Sam. i20). The paronomasia which he finds in the words of the song—for גּת may be regarded, like לת, 1 Samuel 4:19, as an infinitive from נּגד—gives him occasion to repeat this figure to the end of the chapter, in ever new applications. (Compare the translation, where the paronomasia is indicated mostly alter the manner of Riickert).[FN15] The very next member shows another instance of this play on words. The present text seems indeed to be capable of meaning only: Weep not. But in the apparent inf. abs. בָּכוֹ, there lurks (as Reland, Pal. Illustr., 534flf, first perceived) a contraction בְעַכּוֹ: in Acco weep not. Acco is the later Ακη or ΙΙτολεμαΐς, a city of the Canaanites lying northward on the coast ( Judges 1:31). That such contraction in fact exists is proved by a comparison of the LXX: who, according to the common reading of the Vatican, translate οἱ Ἐνακειμ, with the statement in Euseb. (Onomast., ed. Larsow, p188), that in Micah, a city named Ἐνακείμ is mentioned. This can refer only to the passage before us, and the statement in Eusebius rests evidently on the LXX: But the word Ἐνακείμ which they offer is nothing. The Enakites, of whom alone they could be thinking, did not, according to Joshua 11:21, dwell so far up as Acco, and are besides always called Ἐνακίμ or υἱοὶ Ἐνάκ by the LXX: Hence the Alexandrian reading οἱ ἐν Αχείμ is evidently preferable. (Some MSS. and the Aldina read ἐν Βαχείμ, not understanding the contraction, and regarding the בְּ as belonging to the name). In Ἀχείμ, Ἀκείμ, then, we have the name of a city, especially if with Hitzig we assume that it was originally ἐν Ακει, and that the μ has been drawn back by mistake from the following μη.—For our explanation speaks first, the fact that thus the parallelism is completely established, and the grammatical impossibility of connecting an inf. abs. with אל instead of לא is avoided. And secondly, that the contraction is possible is proved by the analogous examples נִשׁקָה for נשׁקעה, Amos 8:8; בִּי for בָלָה ׃ בְּעִי for בּעלה, Joshua 19:3; Joshua 15:29, and the altogether analogous לָמוֹ, Psalm 28:8, for לְעַמּוֹ, the replacement of the sharpened syllable by the lengthening of the vowel being a familiar fact. Finally, that it was necessary, when a paronomasia obvious to the ear was aimed at, is obvious.

After the malignant triumph of their enemies, the prophet sees next the sorrow of his fellow-countrymen. A series of devastated places meets the eye of the seer, and their names become to him the texts of his lamentation and gloomy previsions. Whether the designation of the places is connected, as in Isaiah 10 :., with the route of the hostile army Isaiah, owing to their generally more or less questionable position, and to the absence of any such express intimation as we have in Isaiah, very doubtful. So much at least is clear, however, that the territory in which the places named are contained reaches but a little beyond Jerusalem on the east, while westwardly it stretches to the border of the Philistines at Gath; that, accordingly, just such cities are named as must naturally be most harmed by an army streaming over Judith upon Philistia. The preterites are prophetic.[FN16]For Bethleaphra, on account of the misfortune of the Benjamite city Ophra, ( Joshua 18:23), not far from Jerusalem, I scatter dust on myself [better, “roll myself in the dust”], in token of deep affliction; cf. Jeremiah 6:26, in accordance with which passage the useless correction of the margin is here made. Verba sentiendi are construed with בּ (Ew. § 217 f2 B.) [Ges. s. v. B5 c]; בּית is an addition to names of places which may also be omitted (cf. ver. below, and Ges, Thes., 193).

Micah 1:11. Set out on thy journey inhabitant of Shafir (pleasantness) in shameful nakedness. The dat. eth. לכם is in the plural because ישׁבת here, and in all the following verses is understood collectively; עבר stands here, as in Exodus 32:27, in antithesis to שׁוּב: depart, go away. Shaphir lay, according to the Onom., near Eleu-theropolis, and is perhaps identical with the Shamir, Joshua 15:48, which was on the southwest of the mountain of Judah, עריה בשׂת nakedness-shame = shameful nakedness, is a compound idea, like Psalm 45:5, humility-righteousness, and stands in ace. adv. (cf. Proverbs 31:9.

The meaning of what follows becomes plain when once we take מספּד as an ace. of direction, as it often stands with יצא ( Genesis 27:3; 1 Chronicles 5:18). Not the inhabitant of Zaanan (departure) shall go forth for mourning at Bethhaezel [Kleinert, Nimmhausen; Ges, Fixed hoise]. Zaanan is perhaps the Zenan mentioned in Joshua 15:37, in the western lowland, and Bethhaezel (cf. on Micah 1:10) the Azel named by Zech. ( Zechariah 14:5), which lay at the foot of Mount Olivet,and had gained, according to that passage, a mournful celebrity in the days of Uzziah, not long before Micah’s time, from the fact that the people took refuge there in a great earthquake. There seems to have been an annual mourning held at that place, as was usual in commemorating such national calamities ( Zechariah 12:11). This, according to our verse, can no more be the case with the cities of Judah, for which Zaanan, on account of the paronomasia, is made a representative, for Hebrews, who executes the judgment, as Micah 1:9, takes away from you his (Ezel’s) stations. It is carried away according to God’s appointment, by the enemies’ hand. Herein also lies a paronomasia, because אצל as well as לקת means: to take away. Hitzig translates: Zaanan goes not forth because the lamentation of the neighborhood takes away from you its standing-place. Umbreit: The grief of Bethhaezel turns away its places for you. Keil: The cry of Bethhaezel takes away from you the standing with it. [Maurer: "Planclus Bethaezel, i. e., quod oppressi ab hostibus tenentur Bethhaezelenses, id aufort vobis hospitium ejus, facit ut nullum ibi refugium haheatis."][FN17]

Micah 1:12. for—as leading sentence must be supplied all along, from Micah 1:8, “I cannot”—the inhabitant of Maroth [bitterness] writhes in pain because of the [lost] prosperity. Maroth, a village, as the mention of it in connection with Ezel shows, lying near Jerusalem; otherwise of no significance. לְ before the object of emotion (Ew217 d2 c). For, so the discourse turns, with a resumption of the main theme from Micah 1:9, to its last division, evil conies down from Jehovah unto the gate of Jerusalem.

In place of the sympathizing lamentation we have again, as at the beginning, the prophetic threat, first in the indirect, imperative form, so that actions are enjoined upon the object of the threatening, which must come as immediate effects of the threatened, judgment ( Isaiah 2:10); Micah 1:13. Harness the chariot to the courser,inhabitant of Laehish, to escape, namely, from the punishment. The play upon words here lies in the homophony of the roots רכשׁ and לכשׁ. Lachish, a fortified city, not far from Eleutheropolis, still remaining as a ruin under the name of um Lakis. The beginning of the sin was it for the daughter of Jerusalem, for the population of Jerusalem, that in thee were found the transgressions of Israel, i. e, the idolatry of the ten tribes, which had, accordingly, first found admission at Laehish, and from thence had inundated Judah ( Micah 6:16).

Micah 1:14. Therefore wilt thou give the release upon Moresheth Gath. Laehish is no longer addressed, as the connection shows, but Israel, which throughout, even in Micah 1:6, is the object; and לכן, Isaiah, as frequently, a free connective. At the marriages of princes a dowry was given, and this is expressed by נָהַן שִׁלּוּתִים ( 1 Kings 9:16); this Israel gives to the enemy in the form of Moresheth—although certainly not freely renounced. But there lies at the same time in the idea of שִׁלּוּתִים the side thought that one divorces himself from the abandoned property, Jeremiah 3:8 (Hitzig). Hence also the play on the words: the homophonous מֹארָשָׁה signifies the betrothed ( Deuteronomy 32:23). On Moresheth-Gath, i.e., Moresheth near Gath, the home of the prophet, which likewise lay in the southwest portion of Judah, cf. the Introd2. The houses of Achzib [deception] will become a deceitful brook to the king of Israel.אַכְזָבִים, are brooks which dry up in the summer, and deceive the thirsty wayfarer who knowing their site, goes in search of them ( Jeremiah 15:18; Job 6:15 ff.; Psalm 126:4). Like them will Achzib slip from the hands of the kings of Israel, i. e., those of Judah, for after the destruction of Samaria, the kingdom of the ten tribes has ceased. The city lay, like the others, in the lowland of Judaia ( Joshua 15:44); now the ruins Kussabeh.

Micah 1:15. I will moreover bring (אָבִי instead of אביא, as in 1 Kings 21:29,) the conqueror upon thee, inhabitant of Mareshah (conquered town). Maresha near Achzib ( Joshua 15:44) is the present Marasch (Tobler, Dritte Wanderung, p139, 142 f.); even to Adullam ( Joshua 12:15; Joshua 15:35) northward from Maresha, but not discovered as yet, shall the nobility ( Isaiah 5:13) of Israel come, namely, to hide themselves in the mountain caves there, in which David once sought refuge from Saul ( 1 Samuel 22:1).

The prophet has named twelve cities of Judah, six in the lamentation, and six in the threatening, and, still further intensifying his Lamentations, closes the whole, Micah 1:16, with an address to the mourning mother, Israel, who must see her children dragged away into exile ( Jeremiah 31:15; Isaiah 3:26). Make thee bald and shear thy head—in spite of the prohibition, Deuteronomy 14:1, this had remained a common sign of sorrowful lamentation for the dead ( Jeremiah 26:6; cf. Job 1:20; Isaiah 15:2)—for the sons of thy delight; enlarge thy baldness like the eagle (the giiffin vulture is meant, which is often met with in Egypt and Syria, and has the whole forepart of the head bare of feathers); for they are carried away from thee, led away captives.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

Very differently goes the course of the two sister kingdoms (cf. Ezek. Micah 23:.), and yet goes with both to the same destruction. The sacred heights, on which the Lord will set his foot when He comes down to his people, have become in Judah also heights of corruption. What has she now of advantage over her apostate sister, Samaria, whom yet the Lord had let go her own way (cf. Romans 3 :)? She has„indeed, much still; she has the-holy temple, the fountain of God’s holy ordinances, and with that the certainty that God cannot allow her to be utterly destroyed, although ho has overthrown Samaria to the very foundation. But through judgment must Judah pass like Samaria; the holy ordinances profit not the sinful generation to whom they have become a dead and despised possession (cf. 2 Maccabees 5:19 f.). Nay, such a possession insures to the people among whom it exists, a serious trial, for God’s holiness, proceeding from the “Temple of his i holiness,” is a beaming light which becomes a consuming fire when it finds no longer life but death I round about it ( Isaiah 10:17). All the names of auspicious presage become then omens of judgment. For, as sin is the distortion of that which should be between man and God, the judgment is the turning straight again of that which has been turned awry ( Psalm 18:27 b). Israel, the mother who parted from God ( Hosea 2:8), has neglected her children; therefore will she have no friends in these children, but in her widowhood be also childless. Where the churches become empty the church herself is to blame for it.

Hengstenberg: The discourse, beginning with the general judgment of the world, turns suddenly to the judgment upon Israel. This is to be explained only from the relation in which the two judgments stand to each other, they being in essence completely the same, and different only in space, time, and unessential circumstances; so that one can say, that in every partial judgment upon Israel there is the world-judgment. Here, as always in the threatenings of the prophets, we must take care that we do not, in a particular historical event, lose sight of the animating idea. Let this be rightly apprehended, and it will appear that a particular, historical occurrence may indeed be specially intended, but never can exhaust the prediction; that in this passage also we ought not, on account of the primary reference to the Chaldtean (?) catastrophe, at all to exclude that in which, before or afterward, the same law was realized.

Rieger: From the (threatening) nature of the time we may most easily perceive the purport and aim of such prophecies, namely, to rebuke the then prevailing sins, to announce the judgment of God on account of them, but ever also to bring forward the promises of Christ, and thus to call to repentance; most especially to support believers, that they may find effectual comfort in the general disorder, and abide in patient waiting for the kingdom of God and Christ. Nay, when many were first awakened from their sleep under the punishment of their sins, they would be turned by words of this kind to their covenant God, and not despair of his promise.

On the Fulfillment. Keil: Micah prophesies in this chapter, for the most part, not particular definite punishments, but the judgment in general, without precise indications as to its accomplishment, so that his prediction embraces all the judgments against Judah which took place from the Assyrian invasion on until the Roman catastrophe.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The judgment must begin at the house of God.

1. It must begin, for God, the injured One, is Judge of the, world; Micah 1:2-4.

2. It must begin at the house of God, i. e., at the congregation of his people. For-

(a) He has here his seat and place; yer2.

(b) Upon this his eye first falls when He comes to judge the whole earth; Micah 1:3.

(c) Here is the right knowledge of God, to have fallen away from which to idolatry is a peculiar guilt; Micah 1:5 b, 7.

3. In the congregation, moreover, it strikes all; Micah 1:8-16.

(a) Not the godless only but the pious also, who see it come and must share in the sorrow and lamentation; Micah 1:8-9.

(b) Not merely the capital, but all places are stations and signs of the judgment; Micah 1:10-15.

(c) Not merely the sin itself, but the generation that practice it must away to the place of punishment; Micah 1:16.

Micah 1:2. When Jehovah speaks, the whole land must tremble. Land and people belong together, and He smites both, the field for man’s sake ( Genesis 3:17). Hence the creation also siahs for the redemption which comes to it too with the glorious liberty of the sons of God ( Romans 8:19).

Micah 1:3. Jehovah is not a God afar off but always going forth out of his holy places to see and to judge what is on the earth.

Micah 1:4. His holy congregation lies so near his heart that for their sake he shakes the earth. Micah 1:5. Great cities, great sins ( Genesis 4:17; Isaiah 14:21).

Micah 1:6. When man builds without God, let it be ever so firmly fastened with stones to the strongest ground, the storm breaks from above, lays bare the foundation, and hurls the stones asunder. The best established church-system, when it becomes essentially sinful, Isaiah, in God’s hands, a spider’s web. The judgment deeds of God are declarative; while He lays bare the ground, He shows that it is sinful, and with that the annihilation is pronounced.

Micah 1:8. God’s spirit in the congregation itself sympathizes with, when it must punish, the congregation. His righteousness is a self-infliction upon his love.

Micah 1:13. God retains accurately in mind the individual responsibilities and the starting-points of sin. Popular sins proceed from certain places, from certain classes, out over the whole; the whole is judged, but the root is not forgotten.

Theophylact (on Micah 1:1) : The prophets spoke to hard and disobedient hearts; hence they said: The vision is divine, and from God is the Word; thatthe world might give heed to the Word, and not despise them. Matthew, however, spake to believing and obedient souls, and therefore placed nothing of this kind at the beginning. Or thus: The prophets saw in the spirit what they saw, since the Holy Spirit made the exhibition, and so they named it, a vision. But Matthew saw it not spiritually and in a representation, but had bodily intercourse with Him, heard Him by the senses, saw Him in the flesh; therefore he says not “vision,” but Book of the generation of Jesus Christ.

Osiander (on Micah 1:3) : At the present day it is not necessary in preaching to call persons and places by name, in which we must proceed very prudently, in order not to tear down more than we build up; and yet the preacher may use such freedom and plainness in indicating errors and vices that those who need improvement may feel themselves aimed at, and repent and be saved.

Hengstenberg (on Micah 1:11): The instances of play upon words are no mere empty sport. They have throughout a practical aim. The threatening is to be located by them. Whoever thought of one of the designated places, in him was the thought of the divine judgment quickened.

Ch. B. Michaelis (on Micah 1:12): From Jehovah, he adds to make it plain that the calamity came not by blind chance, but was brought about by the supreme control of God, the righteous Judge.

Starke: Micah 1:1. Teachers must have a regular call, partly because of the divine command ( Hebrews 5:4), partly for the sake of order ( 1 Corinthians 14:40). Preachers must not preach differently from God’s Word ( 1 Peter 4:11). Those who practice like sins may expect like punishments

Micah 1:2. The Lord be a witness in you; let the Lord bear witness in you. For he who takes to heart the word concerning the judgment is convinced of his sins thereby, and feels the wrath of God. Even yet also God always puts in the mouth of his servants what He has to speak to his people, especially when teachers and hearers heartily call upon Him for this.

Micah 1:3. So secure is the natural Prayer of Manasseh, that he perceives not God’s presence, nay even denies it, until He finally makes his presence known by notable punishments. God descends not actually, or as it regards his being, but He ceases to conceal himself, to be long-suffering, and begins to punish sin, to reveal and expose it. He assumes in effect another kind of presence.

Micah 1:5. God pours not out his anger upon innocent people. "Desine peccare et civitas non peribit" (Ambros.). Divine services set up without God’s word, although with good intention, are an abomination before God. And,

Micah 1:6, God’s judgments against the false systems of worship are terrible; for He is jealous of his own honor.

Micah 1:7. Idolaters have in general more of worldly goods than those who serve the true God.

Micah 1:10. It is often advisable to withhold our tears that the world may not rejoice over our misfortune. If one will weep he must do it before the outbreak of judgments, for when they are already here it is too late.

Micah 1:11. When God will punish a land for its sins He takes away their courage from the people.

Micah 1:12. That is the way of most men : that they mourn over the loss of their goods but not over their sins. On account of their bodily troubles, also, the righteous sometimes fall into great sorrow and fear.

Micah 1:13. Offenses given remain not unpunished.

Micah 1:14. Well may a stronghold proudly bear the name of deception, when it with its walls and good preparations causes the besiegers to be deceived in their hope. Princes should not trust in strong castles and towns, because they may be disappointed in them.

Micah 1:16. Those who give themselves up to luxury are at last given up to miserable slavery. When a man makes his children effeminate, he makes for himself grief and heart-pangs.

Pfaff: Micah 1:1. Think not, ye great sinners, that the word of the Lord which was formerly spoken concerning the Jews is of no concern to you, it is written for your punishment also.

Micah 1:2. When the Lord speaks we should listen, yea, and give good heed : with great reverence, with all humility, with fear and trembling, with most willing obedience.

Micah 1:8. God’s servants properly mourn over the wretched condition of their congregations. It would indeed be a poor promise of their doing anything to improve them if they did not pour out their tears before God, and if it did not touch their heart that the people are drawing near to their judgment.

Rieger: Even to the last (Micah lived still after the fall of Samaria), God shows that He has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but, before the outbreak of such judgments, seeks once more by his word to save what can be saved. But He teaches us also that we should not, from the riches of his word, the crowd of gifted servants of God, the earnestness with which they urge the word of the Lord, be drawn into security, nor suppose ourselves on these accounts far from the evil day; but if often in respect to these circumstances, we seem to see planting and cultivation, it is often also near to the hewing down.

Micah 1:2. What a case it is when the protection which they hitherto had enjoyed from the golden altar in the temple of God, is thus declared at an end! ( Revelation 9:13 ff.)

Micah 1:4. All should truly feel their inability to stand before God, and not only with their power, but also with heart and courage, be like melted wax.

Micah 1:7. How accurately God knows in what way a property has been gathered, and how He directs himself in punishment accordingly!

Micah 1:11. How far God lets himself down in his word, in that He connects what He has determined in his holy temple with the names which we have given of old to our towns, in order the better to impress it upon us!

Quandt: That God by his prophets causes this dark picture to be drawn for the people, is itself a fact which affords hope. For if He had had pleasure in the death of the wicked, He would, straightway, and without wasting many words, have let them go to destruction. If He still takes the trouble to threaten, this threatening can only be a sign of his enduring love. The Last Hay has many solemn types in the precursory days of the wrath of God; and the universal judgment at the last has many a preliminary token in the partial judgments that are taking place on particular peoples.

Micah 1:4. The mountains symbolize the high and mighty in the creation; their melting down, therefore, signifies the annihilation of earthly greatness. The valleys symbolize the masses of the nations; the rending of them, therefore, their crumbling and being turned into dust, like water, signifies the annihilation of the nations.

Micah 1:9. A preacher renders poor service to God and Prayer of Manasseh, when he remains silent about the plague which God threatens to sinners; but when he has plagues to announce, he should never do it with laughing mouth, nor even with indifferent manner, but, like Micah, with sorrow and with tears, as being also a child of the people, who suffers when all suffer. Our God will have even for his Job’s-posts messengers who are not only obedient but also full of sympathy.

[Dr. Pusey: Micah 1:3. Since the nature of God is goodness, it is proper and co-natural to Him to be propitious, have mercy and spare. In this way, the place of God is his mercy. When then He passeth from the sweetness of pity to the rigor of equity, and, on account of our sins, showeth Himself severe (which Isaiah, as it were, alien from Him), He goeth forth out of his place. Cited from Dion.

Micah 1:6. There is scarce a sadder natural sight than the fragments of human habitation, tokens of man’s labor, his luxury, amid the rich beauty of nature when man himself is gone. For they are tracks of sin and punishment, man’s rebellion and God’s judgment, man’s unworthiness of the good natural gifts of God.

Micah 1:7. All forsaking of God being spiritual fornication from Him who made his creatures for himself, the hires are all that man could gain by that desertion of his God, all employed in man’s intercourse with his idols, whether as bribing his idols to give him what are the gifts of God, or as himself bribed by them For there is no pure service, save that of the love of God. —Yet herein were the heathen more religious than the Christian worldling. The heathen did not offer an ignorant service to they knew not what. Our idolatry of mammon, as being less abstract, is more evident self worship, a more visible ignoring, and so a more open dethroning of God, a worship of a material prosperity, of which we seem ourselves to be the authors, and to which we habitually immolate the souls of men, so habitually that we have ceased to be conscious of it.

Micah 1:10. The blaspheming of the enemies of God is the sorest part of his chastisements,—it is hard to part with home, with country, to see all desolate, which one ever loved. But far, far above for temporal good, while living in bitterness, bittei desolate, which one ever loved. But far, far above all, is it, if, in the disgrace and desolation, God’s honor seems to be injured.

Micah 1:12. Strange contradiction! Yet a contradiction, which the whole unchristian world is continually enacting; nay, from which christians have often to be awakened, to look for good to themselves, nay, to pray for temporal good, while living in bitterness, bitter ways, displeasing to God. the words are calculated to be a religious proveb. “Living in sin,” as we say, dwelling in bitterness, she looked for good. Bitternesses! for it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the lord thy god, and that my fear is not in thee.

Micah 1:13. Beginning of sin to—what a world of evil lies in the three words!—TR,

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Micah 1:2.—Although Dr. Kleinert, in the confessedly difficult question, Who are comprehended within the scope of this address? leans to the opinion that עַמִּים means “peoples,” and not “tribes of Israel,” still he would have אֶרֶץ denote simply the “land” of Israel. We prefer the judgment of Maurer and others (falling in with the Eng. vers.) which regards the people of the “earth” as summoned to the great controversy. This leaves, indeed, some difficulty, if the next clause be understood to refer strictly to the sacred nation, but not serious. Nothing, however, but the apparent unanimity of commentators in such reference, would prevent the present writer from suggesting that the בִּ in- בָּכֶם should be regarded rather in its more usual signification, “in,” “among.” Then the conception would be that God makes this great display of judgment in the midst of the nations, at the central point, in Palestine. All would thus be preliminary to the announcement of its occasion and object, until the fifth verse, which points directly to Israel and Judah.—Tr.]

FN#2 - Micah 1:5.—“פֶּשַׁע et בָּמוֹה, meton, pro eorundem causa et auctore.” Maurer.—Tr.]

FN#3 - Micah 1:6.—וְשַׂמְתִּי. Dr. Pusey, speaking (p292) of the simplicity of Micah’s style, as exemplified in the frequent use of the conjunction and, in place of more explanatory conjunctions, says very truly what admits of wider application than lie gives it: “An English reader loses some of the force of this simplicity by the paraphrase, which, for the simple copula, substitutes the inference or contrast, therefore, then, but, notwithstanding, which lie in the subjects themselves The English reader might have been puzzled, at first sight, by the monotonous simplicity of the and, and, joining together the mention of events, which stand either as the contrast or the consequence of those which precede them. The English version accordingly has consulted for the reader or hearer, by drawing out for him the contrast or consequence which lay beneath the surface. But this gain of clearness involved giving up so far the majestic simplicity of the Prophet, who at times speaks of things as they lay in the Divine Mind, and as, one by one, they would be unfolded to Prayer of Manasseh, without explaining the relation in which they stood to one another.” It might well be added that it is often difficult to make this relation more plain than the prophet has expressed it, with full certainty of not having made it something different.—Tr.]

FN#4 - Micah 1:9.—Kleinert understands God to be the subject here (with Eng. Vers.), which is not unlike the prophet’s sudden changes of person, but the mase. form of the verb may possibly be accounted for by the general want of concord (sing. adj. for plur, and sing, verb for plural) in the preceding clauses, cf. Maur. and Hitz.—Tr.]

FN#5 - Micah 1:10.—Kleinert, in his version of Micah 1:10-15, has followed the plan of adding to the names of places mentioned, other names (real or imaginary), denoting more plainly the sense which he supposes the prophet to have attached to them in his play upon the words. A different etymology is thus assumed in several instances,for the geographical names, from that ascribed to them by the best authorities. Gath, e. g., which Gesen. derives from יָגַן and Fürst from גָּתַת. Kleinert treats here as if from נָּגַד Similarly with Zaanan, and Beth-ezel.—Tr.]

FN#6 - Micah 1:10.—Dr. Pusey (with Rosenm, Hieron, Eng. Vers.): “Weep not at all” (lit., weeping, weep not). Weeping is the stillest expression of grief. We speak of “weeping in silence.” Yet this also was too visible a token of grief Their weeping would be the joy and laughter of God:s enemies.” In a foot-note he severely, almost scornfully, rejects the interpretation of our author (and most modern commentators), and brings strong reasons in support of his censure. (Kleinert’s reasons may be seen in the Exeget. note.) He seems to me not to have allowed enough for the requirements of the parallelism in this connection, and to have maintained a sense of the clause which is strikingly incompatible with the conspicuous mourning of the next member.—Tr.]

FN#7 - Micah 1:11.—Locus vexatissimus! The exceeding conciseness of the expression renders it simply impossible, at this day, to say with full confidence whether c should be connected with the preceding, as the terminus ad quern, or with the following as its subject. Dr. Kleinert adopts the former view, and translates,—

The population of Zaanan (Auszug) will not go out

To the mourning to Bethhaezel (House of removal),

For he takes away from you his place.

He thus approximates to the view of the Eng. Vers. But Hitzig, Umbreit, and Keil, quoted in the Exeget. notes, all regard “the mourning,” etc, as the subject of the following verb. With this agree Maurer and Pusey :—

The mourning of Beth-ezel

Will take (or takes) from you its standing;

each with some varieties of interpretation. Translating as we have done, literally, the meaning is likely to be: “The distressed inhabitants of Zaanan cannot leave their walls, because the supposed neighboring town of Beth-ezel can give no standing in it, being to like affliction from besieging foes.” Zone gives a peculiar rendering; “(Yet) has not inhabitants of Zaanan gone forth, (and) the funeral procession of Beth Hazel (already) takes its station by you.”—Tr.

FN#8 - Micah 1:14.—שִׁלּוּחִים, lit. “dismissions,” and applicable to the act or form of giving up possession of anything Some prefer to take it here in the sense of “dowry” or “bridal presents,” with which the father sent his daughter away (released her to her husband) in marriage ( 1 Kings 9:16). The effect is the same.—Tr.]

FN#9 - Micah 1:14.—Kieinert, following, Hitzig, translates אַכְזָב, “deceitful brook,” relying apparently on Jeremiah 15:18; but there the addition of מַיִּם לאׄ נֶאְֶמָנוּ along warrants that metaphor in אַכְזָב.—Tr.]

FN#10 - Micah 1:15.—So First; Gesen: “hill city.”—Tr.]

FN#11 - Micah 1:15.—The choice which the English version gives between this and: “He will come to Adullam the glory of Israel,” still remains open, each rendering being supported by many high authorities.—Tr.]

FN#12 - “No two of the prophets authen ticate their prophecy in exactly the same way. They, one and all, have the same simple statement to make—that this which they say is from God and through them. A later hand, had it added the titles, would have formed all on the same model. The title was an essential part of the pophetic book, as indicating to the people afterwards, that it was not writtenafter the event. It was a witness, not to the prophet whose name it hears, but to God.” Pusey.—Tr.]

FN#13 - “כֻּלָּם, negligentius, pro כֻּלְּכֶם.” Maurer.—Tr.]

FN#14 - But in this passage the context plainly restricts the application of the term to the country of Isrsel. The phrase, “Hear, O Earth,” had become stereotyped as a solemn in vocation of the world itself to appear as a witness or a party in God’s contest withmankind. Vid. Textual and Gram. on this verse.—Tr].

FN#15 - Cowles on this passage, well says: “The remainting part of this chapter, is a graphic painting of the first results of the Assyrian invasion, as they were felt in one city after another along the line of his mareh. In most of the cases, the things said of each city are a play on the significant name of that city—a method of writing well adapted to impress the idea upon the memory. Sometimes there is merely a resemblance i sound between the prominent word spoken of a city and the name of that city. Both of these cases fall under that figure of speech, technically called a parononiasia. The latter form of it—resembiance in sounds—is of course untranslatable. The other form—a play upon the signifuance of the name of a city—is as if one should exclaim: what! is there quarrelling in Concord? war in Salem [Peace]; family fends in Philadelphia [Brotheriy Love; slavery in Freetown?”

Dr. Pusey (Intr. to Min. Proph., p293): “His description of the destruction of the ities or villages of Judah corresponds in vividness to Isaiah’s ideal march of Sennacherib. The flame of war spreads from place to place, but Micah relieves the sameness of the description of misery by every variety which language allows. He speaks of them in his own person, or to them; he describes the calamity in post in futrue, or by the use of imperative. The verbal allusions are crowed together in a way unexampled elsewhere. Moderns have spoken of them as not after their caste, or have apologized for them. The mighty prophet who wrought a repentance greater-than his great contemporary Isaiah, knew well what would impress the people to whom he spoke. The Hebrew names had definite meanings. We can well imagine how, as name after name passed from the prophet’s mouth, connected with some note of woe, all around awaited anxiously, to know upon what place the fire of the prophet’s word would next fall, and as at last it had fallen upon little and mighty round about Jerusalem, the names of the places would ring in teir ears as heralds of the coming woe; they would be like so many monuments, inscribed beforehand with the titles of departed greatness, reminding Jerusalem itself of its portion of the prophecy, that evil should come from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem,”—Tr.]

FN#16 - The abrupt change, indicative of intensity of excitemen, from the imperf. in Micah 1:8, to the pret. in Micah 1:9-12, and to the imperat. in11, 13, 16, is worthy of attention.—Tr.]

FN#17 - Cf. the Textual and Gram. note on this passage.—Tr.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Micah 1:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/micah-1.html. 1857-84.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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