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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Micah 6

 

 

Verses 1-8

Micah 6:1-8. Popular v. Prophetic Religion.—The classical summary of prophetic religion in Micah 6:8 is introduced by the figure frequently employed (Hosea 4:1; Hosea 12:2, Isaiah 3:13, Isaiah 43:26, Jeremiah 25:31) of a legal controversy between Yahweh and His people. Possibly this figure did not originally precede Micah 6:6-8, as the terms of the address" O man! are broader than we should expect if Israel had been addressed. The period of Manasseh's reign, i.e. the seventh century, is usually felt to be the most suitable for this passage; that Micah wrote it, however, seems, on the whole, improbable (see Introduction). Yahweh bids the prophet represent Him before the mountains, which are personified as the witnesses of Israel's redemptive history, and as the present court of appeal (Micah 6:1). The prophet accordingly addresses them, and will argue (rather than "plead") Yahweh's cause (cf. Isaiah 1:2, Deuteronomy 32:1). Yahweh asks (through His prophet) on what grounds His people have deserted Him, who has not wearied them (e.g. with the demands of a costly ritual; cf. Jeremiah 7:22 ff., Isaiah 43:23). On the contrary, He has ever deserved their gratitude, as by the deliverance from "Egypt, the gift of leaders (Psalms 77:20, Exodus 15:20; cf. Numbers 12:1 ff.), the prevention of Balaam's curse (Numbers 22:1 ff., its objective power, if uttered, being here admitted, cf Genesis 9:25*), the crossing of the Jordan ("from Shittim unto Gilgal", Joshua 3:1 to Joshua 4:20), all of them examples of His interventions ("righteous acts"; cf. Psalms 103:6, 1 Samuel 12:7) on behalf of Israel, which ought to be remembered (Deuteronomy 8:2). The (individualised) people ask how by their worship they may win the favour (cf. 1 Samuel 10:3, Exodus 23:15) of the God of the height (of heaven, Jeremiah 25:30), whether by sacrifices wholly burnt for Him (Leviticus 1:9), by well-grown calves (Leviticus 9:3), by vast numbers of rams (Genesis 22:13; (cf. 1 Kings 8:63), or quantities of oil (Genesis 28:18, Leviticus 2:1 ff.), or, as a supreme and outstanding act of devotion, the sacrifice of a man's own child to atone for his sin? To this inquiry, the prophet answers that Yahweh's will is known, and within man's power to perform (Deuteronomy 30:11-14); it is for man to practise justice (Amos 5:24), kindness (Hosea 6:6) and humility (Isaiah 6:5; cf. Isaiah 57:15; "the primary religious virtue in the OT" (Cheyne). This closing verse may be taken as the best epitome of the religious morality and the moral religion of the OT for a fuller statement of the meaning of justice and kindness in the social relationships of the Hebrews, see the not less noble apologia in Job 31. The present passage also illustrates the characteristic attitude of the pre-exilic prophets towards sacrificial offerings; these are not so much condemned as subordinated to the moral and spiritual condition of the offerer.

Micah 6:2. the foundations of the earth are here the mountains themselves, or their bases, set in the midst of the world-sea; for the Heb. ideas on this subject, see article "Cosmogony" in HDB, and cf. Psalms 18:7, Deuteronomy 32:22.

Micah 6:4. the house of bondage is Egypt (Jeremiah 34:13); for the constant appeal to the initial act of redemption, the deliverance from Egypt, which is the historic basis of OT religion, cf. Amos 2:10, Isaiah 63:11, Jeremiah 2:6, Hosea 11:1; Hosea 13:4.

Micah 6:7. On child-sacrifice Jeremiah 7:31*; it is said to have been offered by Manasseh himself (cf. 2 Kings 21:6).


Verses 9-16

Micah 6:9-16. Commercial Dishonesty and its Punishment.—This rather corrupt passage is quite distinct from Micah 6:1-8. It may have been written by Micah, and forms a parallel to his denunciation of agrarian dishonesty in Micah 2:1 ff. But it might equally well belong, e.g. to the time of Malachi 3:5 (c. 450) in respect of the sins which are denounced and the threat of their punishment. Let Jerusalem listen to Yahweh, who asks concerning the wealth of the wicked, and the dishonest means by which it has been acquired (Deuteronomy 25:14, Proverbs 20:10, Amos 8:5). He will punish these sins by the sufferings of famine (Leviticus 26:26, Deuteronomy 28:38 ff.), and by plunder and slaughter at the hands of an enemy. The foe shall intervene between the sowing and the harvest, between the pressing out of the oil from the olives (Thomson, op. cit., p. 207) and its personal use (Ruth 3:3), between the treading of the grapes (Isaiah 16:10; Isaiah 63:2) and the joy of drinking the wine. These are the consequences of such unjust conduct as that of Ahab towards Naboth; the result is the desolation of the city and the scorn of the peoples (LXX for "my people").

Micah 6:9. hear ye the rod yields no good sense; read with Wellhausen and others, after LXX and Targum, "Hear, O tribe, and the assembly of the city."—wisdom will see thy name also yields no sense, and is probably a gloss; the LXX suggests that its original was "Wisdom is it to fear thy name."

Micah 6:10. abominable means "accursed" (cf. Deuteronomy 25:16). Omit "yet", as a corrupt fragment of the emended clause in Micah 6:9, and read "Can I forget" for "Are there". The ephah was a dry measure of about a bushel.

Micah 6:11. VSS read "Shall he (i.e. anyone) be pure".

Micah 6:13. The perfects are prophetic; read, perhaps, "I will begin to smite", with LXX.

Micah 6:14. humiliation and the mg. are guesses for the unknown Hebrew word, which LXX renders "it will be dark."

Micah 6:16. statutes means "customs" (cf. Jeremiah 10:3, mg.); the historical reference is apparently to 1 Kings 21, as typical of the Omri dynasty, rather than to the offences against Yahwistic religion condemned in 1 Kings 16:25; 1 Kings 16:30 f.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Micah 6:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/micah-6.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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