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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Micah 5

 

 

Verses 1-15

THE MESSIAH AND THE MESSIANIC ERA, 1-15 (in Hebrew, Micah 4:14-5:14).

In Micah 5:1, the prophet returns once more (Micah 4:9; Micah 4:11) to the condition now present or imminent; but immediately he rises from the troublesome present to the glorious future (Micah 4:10; Micah 4:13), which he describes in Micah 5:2 ff., with a fullness and grandeur not seen anywhere else in the book. The historical background is probably the same as that presupposed in Micah 4:11-13, the invasion of Sennacherib. If so, chapter 5 presents the outlook of Micah at the time in which Isaiah uttered the remarkable Messianic prediction in Isaiah 11:1 ff.

The Hebrew of Micah 5:1 contains two plays upon words: the first between “gather in troops” and “daughter of troops,” the second between “judge” and “rod.”

Gather thyself in troops, O daughter of troops — A very peculiar expression, which has been variously interpreted. If the text is correct, which is not beyond doubt, the following seems to be the most satisfactory interpretation: Jerusalem is called “daughter of troops” because wherever the prophet looks he sees people with anxious faces crowding together in terror. The troops of warriors who were accustomed to boast in their strength have turned into troops of cowards. These cowards he exhorts ironically to keep on crowding together (Jeremiah 5:7), and well they may, for the enemy has encircled the city; escape is impossible, they must prepare for the worst.

They shall smite — If this is the proper translation the verse implies that the enemies’ efforts will be crowned with success. Then the oracle cannot be assigned to the same period as Micah 4:11-13. But the tense should probably be understood as a frequentative imperfect (G.-K., 107e or g), and should be translated “they smite” or, even better, “they have smitten,” again and again, and they are doing it now by laying siege to the holy city.

Smite… with a rod upon the cheek — Smiting upon the cheek is a gross insult, and the expression may be used — so here — in the general sense “to insult” (Job 16:10; 1 Kings 22:24). The complaint of the prophet is that the enemies have been and still are insulting the representative of Jehovah ruling in Jerusalem.

Judge — Equivalent to king (see Amos 2:3); “judge” is used here because of the similarity in sound of the original with the word translated “rod.” “Judge of Israel” is equivalent to “king of Judah.” 5b may contain a direct reference to the insults heaped upon Hezekiah by the representatives of Sennacherib (Isaiah 36:37; compare Isaiah 10:7 ff.). The distress and suffering of the present are indeed great, but they will not continue forever; before the city can be taken deliverance will come.


Verses 2-4

The Messiah’s birth and reign, 2-4.

Closely connected with the deliverance will be the appearance of the Messianic king, though it is not stated or implied that he will accomplish it. Chapter 4 contains four separate Messianic sections, but in Micah 5:2, the prophet introduces for the first time the person of the Messianic king; and he does so in the form of an apostrophe to Beth-lehem. The new king is to be of the dynasty of David and is to be born in the ancient home of David. With this promise should be compared Micah 4:7, where Jehovah announces that he himself will rule over the restored remnant; but in spite of this essential difference there is a connection between the promise in Micah 5:2 ff., and that of Micah 4:6-8. In Micah 4:8, it is promised that the dominion shall return to Zion; Micah 5:2, introduces the person who is to rule in Zion as Jehovah’s representative.

Beth-lehem Ephratah — The second more accurately with R.V., “Ephrathah”; LXX. reads, “And thou, Beth-lehem, house of Ephrathah,” which is thought by some to be an erroneous combination of two originally distinct readings, the one “And thou, Bethlehem,” the other “And thou, Beth-Ephrathah,” and the same combination is thought to be reflected in the Hebrew phrase. Of the two names only one is thought to be original, but there is a difference of opinion as to which one; some thinking that it is “Beth-lehem,” more that it is “Beth-Ephrathah.” The other is thought to be an explanatory gloss, which at first was put in the margin, but in time was accidentally transferred into the text. Those who consider “Beth-Ephrathah” original think that “Beth-lehem” was added to explain the less common name; those who make “Beth-lehem” the original think that “Beth-Ephrathah” was added to distinguish this Beth-lehem from a city in the territory of Zebulun bearing the same name (Joshua 19:15). If the two words represent an erroneous combination of two originally distinct names, one of these explanations may be correct; but what is there to prove that such a combination exists? Beth-lehem is the well-known home of David, about five miles south of Jerusalem (1 Samuel 20:6).

The other word, “Ephrathah,” and its derivatives occur several times in the Old Testament in connection with Beth-lehem; but in the great majority of the cases Beth-lehem and Ephrathah are not, as is frequently assumed, synonymous; for the latter denotes the district in which the former is located (1 Samuel 17:12; Ruth 1:2; Ruth 4:11; 1 Chronicles 2:50, etc.); only rarely do the two appear to be identical (Genesis 35:16; Genesis 35:19). But if Ephrathah is the name of the district in which Beth-lehem is located, the combination found in the Hebrew text becomes perfectly natural — Beth-lehem which is situated in the district of Ephrathah. Why the name of the district is added it may be impossible to determine; it may have been to distinguish this Beth-lehem from the one in Zebulun, or, as has been suggested, “to give greater solemnity to the address,” or for purely rhythmical reasons. Whatever the reason, it certainly seems unnecessary to consider either name a later addition.

Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah — R.V., “which art little to be among.… “ The difference in translation does not affect the sense. The thought is not “which art too small,” for that would require a different construction in Hebrew; besides, Bethlehem was one “among the thousands” of Judah, though it was small and insignificant when compared with some other towns. “Thousands” is equivalent to “family” (Judges 6:15) in the broader, technical sense of “clan.” Though Beth-lehem was an unimportant place among the clans of Judah, out of it is to come one who is destined to be a ruler in Israel.

Unto me — In accord with my will, for the purpose of carrying it to completion.

Whose goings forth have been [“are”] from of old, from everlasting — R.V. margin, “from ancient days.” The last word does not mean eternity in the now commonly received sense of that word (see on Joel 3:20). In Isaiah 63:9, the identical expression, translated “days of old,” refers to the early history of Israel (compare Micah 7:20); in Micah 7:14, and Amos 9:11, to the time of David. Hence it is precarious to interpret this passage as teaching the premundane existence of the Messiah. It is much more likely that the prophet is thinking here of the descent of the Messianic king from the dynasty of David, and that the words refer to David’s day. Some think that the expression would not be used of a period less than three centuries in the past; hence they understand it of the patriarchal period, meaning that the pedigree of the Messianic king may be traced back to patriarchal times, even to Abraham. If Amos 9:11, comes from Amos (see pp. 215ff.) the difficulty which is responsible for the last-mentioned view vanishes, for Amos is even earlier than Micah (compare also Micah 7:14). No difficulty is felt by those who assign the passage to the postexilic period, for by that time the interval elapsed had become sufficiently long to warrant the use of the term in referring to the time of David. All the interpretations mentioned thus far assume that “goings forth” is equivalent to “origin,” and that the prophet is thinking of the genealogy of the promised king.

There are those, however, who hold that “goings forth” does not mean “origin,” that the prophet is not thinking of the genealogy of the king, but that he has in mind the numerous manifestations of Jehovah in the nation’s past history. If so, none of the above interpretations can be correct. These interpreters take as their starting point Isaiah 63:9. Jehovah had, in the very beginning, selected Israel for a sublime work. But all the prophets bewail Israel’s stubbornness, and they represent Jehovah as interfering, again and again, either in his own person, or in the person of the “angel of Jehovah,” or in some other manner, in order to prepare the nation for its lofty mission. Of such “goings forth” the prophets knew; therefore, these interpreters reason, is quite probable that Micah intended to identify the appearance of the Messianic king with the “goings forth” of Jehovah in the past. “From time inconceivable,” says Hoffmann, “the ruler who will finally proceed from Beth-lehem has been going forth and coming; for, since it is he to whom tends the history of mankind, of Israel, of the Davidic house, all advances in the same (that is, all significant epochs in this history) are beginnings of his coming, are goings forth of the second son of Jesse.”

With a New Testament writer such an identification would be quite natural, not so with an eighth century prophet. On the whole, the view that sees here a reference to the Davidic descent of the Messianic king is most satisfactory.

The natural continuation of Micah 5:2 is Micah 5:4, where the activity of the Messianic king is described. Between the two verses stands one that seeks to explain the connection between the present calamity and the future exaltation. There may not be conclusive evidence for denying the verse to Micah, but there can be no doubt that it is out of place where it now stands, and it certainly has some marks of a later date. It should be removed from its present position for the following reasons: (1) Micah 5:4 is the continuation of Micah 5:2; (2) the subject of “he will give up” (Micah 5:3) must be Jehovah, but in Micah 5:2 Jehovah speaks of himself in the first person, and in Micah 5:4 the third person refers to the Messianic king; (3) Micah 5:3, is dependent on Micah 4:10, but the author of Micah 5:3, misunderstood Micah 4:10, by taking it too literally; (4) the reference to the “return,” no matter how interpreted, is strange in this connection.

Therefore — Because such great and blessed events are coming, the surrender of Israel to affliction can only be temporary.

Until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth — That event will mark the end of the distress. Undoubtedly a reference to Micah 4:9-10, where the distress of Jerusalem is likened to the anguish of a woman in travail. But Micah 4:10, contains no thought of Zion herself bringing forth a child, or being in the anguish of childbirth; that is a thought added by the author of this passage. Zion will bring forth; the child, the author says, is to be identified with the “ruler” of Micah 5:2. There is no warrant for identifying “she which travaileth” with Mary, the mother of Jesus, as if this were a direct prediction of the birth of Jesus. It is not impossible that the author was acquainted with Isaiah 7:14.

The birth of the child will mark, on the one hand, the end of pain and distress; on the other, the dawn of peace and prosperity.

Then — When the ruler is born.

Shall return — This might mean that they shall return from exile, or that they shall return to Jehovah in obedience and love (compare Isaiah 10:20-21). The latter must be meant if Micah 5:3 is in its original place, for the context knows nothing of an exile, but the language is in favor of the other interpretation (see below for a third meaning).

Remnant [“residue”] of his brethren — Those in Zion who escape judgment. Since the ruler of Zion is the offspring of Zion, its inhabitants (see on Hosea 2:2) are his brothers.

Unto the children of Israel — If this is the right translation neither of the above interpretations of “shall return” can be correct; instead, 3b must be understood as promising a reunion of north and south (see on Hosea 1:11; compare Isaiah 11:13). R.V. margin suggests a different translation (compare Jeremiah 3:18) — “with the children of Israel”; that is, the residue of Judah and the children of Israel shall return together, either in a spiritual sense or from the exile. Either translation gives good sense.

Micah 5:4 describes the activity of the new ruler, who is represented, in accord with a common Semitic custom, as a shepherd shepherding his flock.

Stand — Like a shepherd in the midst of his flock (Isaiah 61:5).

Feed — Not only provide nourishment, but in general “give a shepherd’s care.”

In the strength of Jehovah — He will be endowed with strength from Jehovah, that he may defend his sheep against wolves and robbers (John 10:11-12).

In the majesty of the name of Jehovah — The name of Jehovah is Jehovah in manifestation (see on Micah 4:5; Amos 2:7; compare A.B. Davidson, The Theology of the Old Testament, pp. 36ff.). The majesty of the name of Jehovah is the majesty or splendor in which Jehovah manifests himself upon earth. The same splendor will show itself in the activity of the divinely appointed ruler.

Under this shepherd’s care the people will live in peace and felicity.

They — The subjects.

Shall abide — Equivalent to shall abide in peace and safety; no one can harm them (compare Hosea 2:18; Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 11:6-9).

Now — Refers not to the time of speaking, but to the time when the shepherd will exercise his shepherding care.

Shall he be great unto the ends of the earth — This may mean that his power and authority will extend over the whole earth, but in view of Micah 5:5, which implies that some nations will rise up against his kingdom, it is better to understand it as meaning that his reputation will spread far and wide, so that other nations will hesitate to attack his people. If they should dare to do it he can easily overthrow them before they can do any harm.

The first sentence of Micah 5:5 is a part of this section.

And this man shall be the peace — The promised ruler will be peace personified; from him it will spread over the whole promised land, and ultimately the whole world will be benefited by it (Ephesians 2:14). The expression “comprehends in one pregnant and blissful word what the Messiah’s coming signifies for his people and the world generally.” There may be an allusion to “Prince of peace” (Isaiah 9:6), a part of a prophecy delivered in connection with the Syro-Ephraimitish crisis in 735-734.


Verse 5-6

Supremacy over Assyria, Micah 5:5-6.

Ultimately war shall be no more (Micah 4:3), but hostility on the part of the foreign nations will not cease immediately upon the appearance of the Messianic king. However, when a hostile demonstration is made, the people need not be afraid, for there will be a superabundance of leaders to ward off serious trouble.

Assyrian — A defeat of Assyria is promised in Micah 4:12-13, but it will not result in the destruction of the world power, which in time will renew its efforts to subdue the people of God. The outcome will be the same.

Into (or, against) our land — Does not imply necessarily a crossing of the borders, simply an expedition for the purpose of invasion.

Tread in our palaces — This does presuppose “domination over the holy land.” It seems strange, however, that in one and the same breath the prophet should promise peace and safety for the flock (4, 5a) and, on the other hand, a victory of the Assyrians that will result in the occupancy of the palaces in the land of Israel. No wonder many commentators regard these verses not a part of the original, but an “afterthought,” The difficulty vanishes if we follow LXX. and read “borders,” which presupposes a Hebrew word very similar to the one translated “palaces.” Then the whole sentence will read, “when he marches on our borders” (compare last sentence of Micah 5:6), and, like the preceding, it refers to an attempted invasion. The attempt will fail, because the enemy will be met by brave heroes, who will drive him back.

Shepherds,… principal men — The last literally, princes among men. These will be the leaders of the forces of the Messianic king. Their relation to the chief shepherd (Micah 5:4) is not indicated; undoubtedly they are to be considered his subordinates (compare Isaiah 32:1).

Seven… eight — A specimen of ascending enumeration (see on Amos 1:3). “Seven” signifies a perfect number, “eight” is added to indicate that there will be even more than enough leaders.

Under these leaders the enemy will be driven quickly from the borders, but they will not be satisfied to remain on the defensive; they will assume the offensive and invade the land of the enemy, Assyria.

Waste — Literally, feed off. It will be left completely bare.

Land of Nimrod — Though primarily a designation of the land of Babylonia (Genesis 10:10), it may be applied to Assyria, for “out of that land he (Nimrod) went forth into Assyria” (Genesis 10:11). Here may be the additional thought that the shepherds will penetrate Assyria even to the far distant Babylonia. Cheyne thinks that there is a “special significance in the phrase, for a Hebrew could hardly help connecting Nimrod with maradh, ‘to rebel.’”

In the entrances thereof — Literally, in the gates thereof (compare Nahum 3:13). The parallelism requires an expression similar to “with the sword.” Vulgate reads “with his lances”; A.V. margin, “with her own naked swords”; but in this rendering it is difficult to determine the antecedent of “her,” and it is exceedingly doubtful that the Hebrew warrants the translation “naked swords.” A very slight change would give “with drawn swords” (compare Psalms 55:21, where the same word is used). For the latter part of Micah 5:6 see on Micah 5:5.


Verses 7-9

The restored nation’s attitude toward other peoples, 7-9.

Micah 5:7-9 give another glimpse of the future. The prophet pictures two phases of the remnant’s relation to others nations. To some it will dispense blessings and power, to others terror and destruction. The nations that are sensitive and submit to the moral and religious influences going forth from the remnant, will be refreshed and blessed; those who oppose the benign influences will be trodden down and torn (compare Isaiah 8:14; Luke 2:34).

7, 8. The remnant of Jacob — See on Micah 5:3.

Dew… showers — The tertium comparationis is not “the mysterious origin of the dew and rain,” or “the countless number of the dewdrops,” but the refreshing and vitalizing power. “Israel will come upon many nations like a refreshing dew from Jehovah, which falls plentifully in drops upon the grass, and will produce and promote new and vigorous life among them” (compare Micah 4:1-3).

Tarrieth not… nor waiteth — The falling of the rain and dew is neither helped nor hindered by man, for the processes of nature go on while man slumbers; in the same way the vitalizing influences will proceed from the remnant no matter what the attitude of anyone. But this does not mean that the attitude of those involved has nothing to do with the participation or nonparticipation in these blessings. The destiny and mission of Israel cannot be affected by the hostility or friendship of the nations in whose midst it labors, but the destiny of these nations will be determined thereby. The friendly will be refreshed, but, Micah 5:8 continues, the hostile will be devoured by the remnant, as beasts of the forest or sheep are devoured by a ferocious lion. None can deliver [“there is none to deliver”] — Nothing or no one can resist successfully the power of the remnant.

In Micah 5:9 the prophet addresses a word of encouragement or blessing to the remnant marching forth to subdue its enemies. If this is the meaning of the verse, R.V. is to be preferred: “Let thine hand be lifted up above thine adversaries, and let all thine enemies be cut off.” An even better rendering would be, “May… be lifted up, may… be cut off,” that is, May you be completely successful in the task appointed to you by Jehovah. “May thy hand be lifted up above” is equivalent to “mayest thou triumph over.” Others interpret Micah 5:9 as expressing the conviction of the prophet that the victory promised will surely be won. Then A.V. is to be preferred, “Thine hand shall indeed be lifted up.”


Verse 10-11

Jehovah’s achievements on behalf of the redeemed remnant, Micah 5:10-15.

10, 11. The passing away of human defenses. From the relation of the remnant to the nations without the prophet turns to the perfecting of the kingdom of God within.

In that day — The day of triumph pictured in Micah 5:8-9. The wonderful experiences of the people will convince them that Jehovah is their real helper, not the chariots and horses in which they were putting their trust in Micah’s day (compare Isaiah 2:7; Isaiah 30:16; Isaiah 31:1); hence they will turn to him in confidence and faith. As a result all human defenses may be destroyed (compare Hosea 8:14; Isaiah 9:4 ff; Isaiah 11:1 ff.; Ezekiel 38:11). Should any foreign nations dare to rise against the people of Jehovah, he himself will smite them.


Verse 12

12. Witchcrafts and soothsayers will be removed.

Witchcrafts — That witchcrafts were practiced in Judah in Micah’s age is stated also by Isaiah (Isaiah 2:6; Isaiah 8:19), but what was their precise nature cannot be determined, though necromancy seems to have played an important part (Isaiah 8:19). Some think that the expression “out of thine hand” limits the prophet’s implied condemnation to such “arts” as were performed with the hand. However, this is doubtful, since “out of thine hand” is equivalent to “from you” (compare Micah 2:1, “in the power of their hand,” equivalent to “in their power”; compare also Isaiah 1:12). The term used here is a general term denoting black arts and practices of every sort.

Soothsayers — This also is a general term, denoting the persons who practice the “witchcrafts” mentioned in 12a. The Hebrew word seems to be a derivative from a noun meaning “cloud”; hence it may denote primarily persons who professed to read a hidden meaning in the movements of the clouds.


Verse 13-14

13, 14. Idolatry also will come to an end. Of objects connected with the idolatrous cult three are mentioned: graven images, pillars, and the Asherim.

Graven images — Images made of stone (Micah 1:7) or wood (Deuteronomy 7:5); sometimes the term appears to refer to images of the deity in general (Isaiah 42:8). The attitude of the Old Testament toward these images is one of intense hostility (Hosea 8:5-6; Hosea 10:5; Deuteronomy 7:5, etc.).

Standing images — Better, R.V., “pillars”; Hebrews massebhah. The word is used almost exclusively of a “pillar” connected with the religious cult. It denotes the upright stone or pillar which seems to have been a regular accompaniment of Hebrew sanctuaries during the pre-exilic period. Its origin must probably be sought in an earlier stage of Semitic religion, when sacred stones were objects of worship, because it was thought that the deity inhabited the stones or was in some way attached to them. A crude, material symbolism of this sort would inevitably retard the progress toward the highest spiritual conception of the nature of Jehovah; hence the Book of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:3; Deuteronomy 16:22) condemns these pillars mercilessly. The eighth century prophets were not quite so severe; in fact, Isaiah (Isaiah 19:19) seems to regard the pillar a legitimate element in Jehovah worship.

Groves — Better, R.V., “Asherim.” As the “pillar” points back to primitive stone worship, so the “Asherim” appear to be a relic of primitive tree worship. The Asherah (singular) was a representation of the sacred tree where a living tree was not available; the use of the plural implies the existence of whole groves of such sacred trees or of artificial poles. “From a survey of all the passages in which the word is used it appears that the Asherah was a post or a pole, planted in the ground, like an English Maypole, beside an altar,… and venerated as a sacred symbol” (Driver). Remnants of ancient tree worship are still seen in Palestine (compare Curtiss, Primitive Semitic Religions Today, pp. 90ff.). The Old Testament attitude toward the Asherim is one of hostility; there is no passage corresponding to Isaiah 19:19.

So will I destroy thy cities — A similar threat is made in Micah 5:11, where it is quite natural; not so here. Some suggest that the word should be rendered “adversaries” (margin, R.V. “enemies”), giving to it a meaning which it has in Aramaic, or to change one letter, which would give the corresponding Hebrew word. If this is done, the expression would pave the way for Micah 5:15. But one would expect rather another reference to idolatry; for this reason many change the word so as to read “thy idols” (compare 2 Chronicles 24:18, “the Asherim and the idols”).


Verse 15

15. The prophecy closes with a threat of vengeance.

Vengeance — The references to the divine vengeance must be understood like those to the divine jealousy (see on Joel 2:18). The resentment of Jehovah is aroused by the hostile attitude of the nations toward the “remnant” so dear to him. The greater the hostility, the intenser the resentment; the limit of his patience has now been reached, and he will blot out the enemies of his people forever.

Such as they have not heard — The blow will be more terrible than anything they have ever experienced or heard. R.V. follows more closely the original in 15b and translates “the nations which hearkened not,” that is, the nations which did not respond to the beneficent influence of the remnant (Micah 5:8).

Chapter 5 does not reveal the same abrupt transitions that are seen in chapter 4. A break seems to occur between Micah 5:9 and Micah 5:10, and yet Micah 5:10-15 are in a real sense a continuation of the description of the Messianic age; there certainly is nothing in them to militate seriously against the authorship of Micah. Hence, in discussing the fulfillment of the prophecy, the entire chapter may be considered as one piece, setting forth the birth and reign of the ideal king and the conditions resulting from his reign both within and without the nation. So far as the predictions concerning the conditions are concerned, the statements made in connection with Micah 4:1-5 (pp. 398ff.), may be repeated. They have not yet been fulfilled; literally they will probably never be fulfilled; in essence and spirit they will be fulfilled when the entire human race has had an opportunity to decide for or against Jesus the Messiah.

A few words need to be said, however, concerning the fulfillment of the more personal predictions, those pointing to the advent, place of birth, and reign of the Messianic king. That these predictions received their ultimate and highest fulfillment in Jesus is believed by all Christians. But this still leaves open the question whether the prophet, when uttering these words, actually had in mind the person, birth, and work of Jesus. The answer to this question must be determined by a careful interpretation of the utterances in the light of their contexts. If we take into consideration the statements concerning some of the things to be accomplished subsequent to the coming of the ideal ruler, it will be seen how difficult it is to maintain that the primary reference is to Jesus. Micah 5:5-6, for example, make it clear that Micah expected the king to arise before the downfall of the Assyrian world power, and that one of the great achievements of his reign would be the deliverance from this long-time enemy. Micah was firmly convinced, as a result of his intimate communion and fellowship with Jehovah, that a deliverer, who would establish the kingdom of God upon earth, would come, and, like other prophets, he expected him to come from the dynasty of David; but his thoughts as to when he would come, who he would be, where he would be born, how he would work out his great purpose, were influenced by the course of events in his own day. All prophecy, Messianic prophecy included, was intended to have a profound significance for the prophets’ contemporaries, and it is a convincing evidence of their close walk with God, or, in other words, of prophetic inspiration, that in the midst of darkness and apparent hopelessness these ancient saints should give utterance to such sublime expressions of faith. Micah may not have foreseen the Incarnation, but he did foresee the establishment of the kingdom of God upon earth; he may not have known the time when the salvation of the Lord would appear, but he knew that it would appear. Now Assyria might seem invincible, nevertheless Assyria must fall and Zion must triumph. Assyria did fall, but Zion did not triumph immediately; Chaldea took the place of the former, and oppression and distress continued. Many lost hope, but the prophets of God, in sublime faith, rose above the despair of the present and continued to revel in the glories of the future. Descendants of David sat upon the throne, some noble and true; around some of these centered anew the hopes of the prophets, but not one met the expectations of the men of God until Jesus, the Christ, fulfilled them in a manner more sublime and spiritual than even the greatest of the prophets had hoped for. Thus, while primarily the prophecy in Micah 5:2 ff., does not refer to Jesus the Messiah, it does refer to a Messiah, and in the history of the past nineteen centuries Christians find complete justification for their belief that this and similar predictions found their fulfillment in the coming and work of Jesus the Christ.

The direct mention of Beth-lehem as the birthplace of the ideal ruler in no way affects this interpretation. The prophets expected the Messianic king to spring from the dynasty of David, and, in addition to this, they were convinced that in influence and power he would be a second David. For this reason Isaiah says “of the stock of Jesse” rather than “of the stock of David,” and for the same reason Micah names as his birthplace Beth-lehem, the native town of David, rather than Jerusalem, where the successors of David were born. Such a promise would awaken memories of David, and would be suggestive of the character and splendor of his reign. A prediction similar in character is that in Isaiah 9:1 ff, which promises special blessings to the territory north of the Plain of Esdraelon, because these districts had suffered most severely in the prophet’s day, a prediction which received a new significance when Jesus proclaimed his gospel first in Galilee (Matthew 4:13 ff.).

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Micah 5:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/micah-5.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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