Micah was raised up to support Isaiah, and to confirm his predictions, while he invited to repentance, both by threatened judgments and promised mercies. A very remarkable passage, Mic 5 contains a summary of prophecies concerning the Messiah.
The wrath of God against Israel. (1-7) Also against Jerusalem and other cities, Their precautions vain. (8-16)
Verses 1-7 The earth is called upon, with all that are therein, to hear the prophet. God's holy temple will not protect false professors. Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, can secure themselves or the land from the judgments of God. If sin be found in God's people he will not spare them; and their sins are most provoking to him, for they are most reproaching. When we feel the smart of sin, it behoves us to seek what is the sin we smart for. Persons and places most exalted, are most exposed to spiritual diseases. The vices of leaders and rulers shall be surely and sorely punished. The punishment answers the sin. What they gave to idols, never shall prosper, nor do them any good. What is got by one lust, is wasted on another.
Verses 8-16 The prophet laments that Israel's case is desperate; but declare it not in Gath. Gratify not those that make merry with the sins or with the sorrows of God's Israel. Roll thyself in the dust, as mourners used to do; let every house in Jerusalem become a house of Aphrah, "a house of dust." When God makes the house dust it becomes us to humble ourselves to the dust under his mighty hand. Many places should share this mourning. The names have meanings which pointed out the miseries coming upon them; thereby to awaken the people to a holy fear of Divine wrath. All refuges but Christ, must be refuges of lies to those who trust in them; other heirs will succeed to every inheritance but that of heaven; and all glory will be turned into shame, except that honour which cometh from God only. Sinners may now disregard their neighbours' sufferings, yet their turn to be punished will some come.
Micah 1:1-16 . GOD'S WRATH AGAINST SAMARIA AND JUDAH; THE FORMER IS TO BE OVERTHROWN; SUCH JUDGMENTS IN PROSPECT CALL FOR MOURNING.
2. all that therein is--Hebrew, "whatever fills it." Micaiah, son of Imlah, begins his prophecy similarly, "Hearken, O people, every one of you." Micah designedly uses the same preface, implying that his ministrations are a continuation of his predecessor's of the same name. Both probably had before their mind Moses' similar attestation of heaven and earth in a like case ( Deuteronomy 31:28 , 32:1 ; compare Isaiah 1:2 ).
God be witness against you--namely, that none of you can say, when the time of your punishment shall come, that you were not forewarned. The punishment denounced is stated in Micah 1:3 , &c.
from his holy temple--that is, heaven ( 1 Kings 8:30 , Psalms 11:4 , Jonah 2:7 ; compare Romans 1:18 ).
3. tread upon the high places of the earth--He shall destroy the fortified heights (compare Deuteronomy 32:13 , 33:29 ) [GROTIUS].
4. Imagery from earthquakes and volcanic agency, to describe the terrors which attend Jehovah's coming in judgment (compare Judges 5:5 ). Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, can secure themselves or their land from the judgments of God.
as wax--( Psalms 97:5 ; compare Isaiah 64:1-3 ). The third clause, "as wax," &c.; answers to the first in the parallelism, "the mountains shall be molten"; the fourth, "as the waters," &c.; to the second, "the valleys shall be cleft." As wax melts by fire, so the mountains before God, at His approach; and as waters poured down a steep cannot stand but are diffused abroad, so the valleys shall be cleft before Jehovah.
5. For the transgression of Jacob is all this--All these terrors attending Jehovah's coming are caused by the sins of Jacob or Israel, that is, the whole people.
What is the transgression of Jacob?--Taking up the question often in the mouths of the people when reproved, "What is our transgression?" (compare Malachi 1:6 Malachi 1:7 ), He answers, Is it not Samaria? Is not that city (the seat of the calf-worship) the cause of Jacob's apostasy ( 1 Kings 14:16 , 1 Kings 15:26 1 Kings 15:34 , 1 Kings 16:13 1 Kings 16:19 1 Kings 16:25 1 Kings 16:30 )?
and what are the high places of Judah?--What city is the cause of the idolatries on the high places of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem (compare 2 Kings 18:4 )?
6. Samaria's punishment is mentioned first, as it was to fall before Jerusalem.
as an heap of the field--( Micah 3:12 ). Such a heap of stones and rubbish as is gathered out of fields, to clear them ( Hosea 12:11 ). Palestine is of a soil abounding in stones, which are gathered out before the vines are planted ( Isaiah 5:2 ).
as plantings of a vineyard--as a place where vines are planted. Vineyards were cultivated on the sides of hills exposed to the sun. The hill on which Samaria was built by Omri, had been, doubtless, planted with vines originally; now it is to be reduced again to its original state ( 1 Kings 16:24 ).
pour down--dash down the stones of the city into the valley beneath. A graphic picture of the present appearance of the ruins, which is as though "the buildings of the ancient city had been thrown down from the brow of the hill" [Scottish Mission of Inquiry, pp. 293,294].
discover the foundations--destroy it so utterly as to lay bare its foundations ( Ezekiel 13:14 ). Samaria was destroyed by Shalmaneser.
7. all the hires--the wealth which Israel boasted of receiving from her idols as the "rewards" or "hire" for worshipping them ( Hosea 2:5 Hosea 2:12 ).
idols . . . will I . . . desolate--that is, give them up to the foe to strip off the silver and gold with which they are overlaid.
she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot--Israel gathered (made for herself) her idols from the gold and silver received from false gods, as she thought, the "hire" of her worshipping them; and they shall again become what they had been before, the hire of spiritual harlotry, that is, the prosperity of the foe, who also being worshippers of idols will ascribe the acquisition to their idols [MAURER]. GROTIUS explains it, The offerings sent to Israel's temple by the Assyrians, whose idolatry Israel adopted, shall go back to the Assyrians, her teachers in idolatry, as the hire or fee for having taught it. The image of a harlot's hire for the supposed temporal reward of spiritual fornication, is more common in Scripture ( Hosea 9:1 ).
8. Therefore I will wail--The prophet first shows how the coming judgment affects himself, in order that he might affect the minds of his countrymen similarly.
stripped--that is, of shoes, or sandals, as the Septuagint translates. Otherwise "naked" would be a tautology.
naked--"Naked" means divested of the upper garment ( Isaiah 20:2 ). "Naked and barefoot," the sign of mourning ( 2 Samuel 15:30 ). The prophet's upper garment was usually rough and coarse-haired ( 2 Kings 1:8 , Zechariah 13:4 ).
like the dragons--so JEROME. Rather, "the wild dogs," jackals or wolves, which wail like an infant when in distress or alone [MAURER].
owls--rather, "ostriches," which give a shrill and long-drawn, sigh-like cry, especially at night.
9. wound . . . incurable--Her case, politically and morally, is desperate ( Jeremiah 8:22 ).
it is come--the wound, or impending calamity (compare Isaiah 10:28 ).
he is come . . . even to Jerusalem--The evil is no longer limited to Israel. The prophet foresees Sennacherib coming even "to the gate" of the principal city. The use of "it" and "he" is appropriately distinct. "It," the calamity, "came unto" Judah, many of the inhabitants of which suffered, but did not reach the citizens of Jerusalem, "the gate" of which the foe ("he") "came unto," but did not enter ( Isaiah 36:1;37:33-37' Isaiah 37:33-37 ).
10. Declare ye it not at Gath--on the borders of Judea, one of the five cities of the Philistines, who would exult at the calamity of the Hebrews ( 2 Samuel 1:20 ). Gratify not those who exult over the falls of the Israel of God.
weep ye not at all--Do not betray your inward sorrow by outward weeping, within the cognizance of the enemy, lest they should exult at it. RELAND translates, "Weep not in Acco," that is, Ptolemais, now St. Jean d'Acre, near the foot of Mount Carmel; allotted to Asher, but never occupied by that tribe ( Judges 1:31 ); Acco's inhabitants would, therefore, like Gath's, rejoice at Israel's disaster. Thus the parallelism is best carried out in all the three clauses of the verse, and there is a similar play on sounds in each, in the Hebrew Gath, resembling in sound the Hebrew for "declare"; Acco, resembling the Hebrew for "weep"; and Aphrah, meaning "dust." While the Hebrews were not to expose their misery to foreigners, they ought to bewail it in their own cities, for example, Aphrah or Ophrah ( Joshua 18:23 , 1 Samuel 13:17 ), in the tribe of Benjamin. To "roll in the dust" marked deep sorrow ( Jeremiah 6:26 , Ezekiel 27:30 ).
11. Pass ye away--that is, Thou shall go into captivity.
inhabitant of Saphir--a village amidst the hills of Judah, between Eleutheropolis and Ascalon, called so, from the Hebrew word for "beauty." Though thy name be "beauty," which heretofore was thy characteristic, thou shalt have thy "shame" made "naked." This city shall be dismantled of its walls, which are the garments, as it were, of cities; its citizens also shall be hurried into captivity, with persons exposed ( Isaiah 47:3 , Ezekiel 16:37 , Hosea 2:10 ).
the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth--Its inhabitants did not come forth to console the people of Beth-ezel in their mourning, because the calamity was universal; none was exempt from it (compare Jeremiah 6:25 ). "Zaanan" is the same as Zenan, in Judah ( Joshua 15:37 ), meaning the "place of flocks." The form of the name used is made like the Hebrew for "came forth." Though in name seeming to imply that thou dost come forth, thou "camest not forth."
Beth-ezel--perhaps Azal ( Zechariah 14:5 ), near Jerusalem. It means a "house on the side," or "near." Though so near, as its name implies, to Zaanan, Beth-ezel received no succor or sympathy from Zaanan.
he shall receive of you his standing--"he," that is, the foe; "his standing," that is, his sustenance [PISCATOR]. Or, "he shall be caused a delay by you, Zaanan." He shall be brought to a stand for a time in besieging you; hence it is said just before, "Zaanan came not forth," that is, shut herself up within her walls to withstand a siege. But it was only for a time. She, too, fell like Beth-ezel before her [VATABLUS]. MAURER construes thus: "The inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth; the mourning of Beth-ezel takes away from you her shelter." Though Beth-ezel be at your side (that is, near), according to her name, yet as she also mourns under the oppression of the foe, she cannot give you shelter, or be at your side as a helper (as her name might lead you to expect), if you come forth and be intercepted by him from returning to Zaanan.
12. Maroth--possibly the same as Maarath ( Joshua 15:59 ). Perhaps a different town, lying between the previously mentioned towns and the capital, and one of those plundered by Rab-shakeh on his way to it.
waited carefully for good--that is, for better fortune, but in vain [CALVIN]. GESENIUS translates, "is grieved for her goods," "taken away" from her. This accords with the meaning of Maroth, "bitterness," to which allusion is made in "is grieved." But the antithesis favors English Version, "waited carefully (that is, anxiously) for good, but evil came down."
from the Lord--not from chance.
unto the gate of Jerusalem--after the other cities of Judah have been taken.
13. "Bind the chariot to the swift steed," in order by a hasty headquarters ( 2 Kings 18:14 2 Kings 18:17 , Jeremiah 34:7 ).
she is the beginning of the sin to . . . Zion--Lachish was the first of the cities of Judah, according to this passage, to introduce the worship of false gods, imitating what Jeroboam had introduced in Israel. As lying near the border of the north kingdom, Lachish was first to be infected by its idolatry, which thence spread to Jerusalem.
14. shalt thou give presents to Moresheth-gath--that its inhabitants may send thee help. MAURER explains it, "thou shalt give a writing of renunciation to Moresheth-gath," that is, thou shalt renounce all claim to it, being compelled to yield it up to the foe. "Thou," that is, Judah. "Israel" in this verse is used for the kingdom of Judah, which was the chief representative of the whole nation of Israel. Moresheth-gath is so called because it had fallen for a time under the power of the neighboring Philistines of Gath. It was the native town of Micah ( Micah 1:1 ).
Achzib--meaning "lying." Achzib, as its name implies, shall prove a "lie to . . . Israel," that is, shall disappoint Israel's hopes of succor from her (compare Job 6:15-20 , Jeremiah 15:18 ). Achzib was in Judah between Keilah and Mareshah ( Joshua 15:44 ). Perhaps the same as Chezib ( Genesis 38:5 ).
15. Yet will I bring an heir unto thee--rather, "the heir." As thou art now occupied by possessors who expelled the former inhabitants, so will I bring "yet" again the new possessor, namely, the Assyrian foe. Other heirs will supplant us in every inheritance but that of heaven. There is a play upon the meaning of Mareshah, "an inheritance": there shall come the new heir of the inheritance.
Adullam the glory of Israel--so called as being superior in situation; when it and the neighboring cities fell, Israel's glory was gone. MAURER, as the Margin, translates, "the glory of Israel" (her chief citizens: answering to "thy delicate children," Micah 1: Micah 1:16 ) "shall come in flight to Adullam." English Version better preserves the parallelism, "the heir" in the first clause answering to "he" in the second.
16. Make thee bald, &c.--a token of deep mourning ( Ezra 9:3 , Job 1:20 ). Mourn, O land, for thy darling children.
poll--shave off thy hair.
enlarge thy baldness--Mourn grievously. The land is compared to a mother weeping for her children.
as the eagle--the bald eagle, or the dark-winged vulture. In the moulting season all eagles are comparatively bald (compare Psalms 103:5 ).