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Introduction to The Book of Micah
The Book of Micah (written between 733 and 700 BCE)
The eighth century produced four prophets, Amos and Hosea in Israel, and the First Isaiah and Micah in Judah. See the introductions in Amos, Hosea and Isaiah for more about the political situation to which these prophets spoke.
Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah were fully aware of the unwholesome conditions that prevailed and were certain that the Hebrew countries were doomed unless there was a rapid and radical change. Earthly power was in the hands of the Assyrians, but spiritual power, always superior, could be with the Hebrews if they would heed the word of the Lord and put themselves under His protection.
Regardless of how superb we acknowledge the messages of the prophets to be from a religious or literary standpoint, we do not get the full benefit of them unless we perceive these prophets as our teachers for today. Historically they belong to an age long past; metaphysically they represent different phases of the Spirit of truth indwelling, each having some word that is indispensable. On occasions we need to comprehend God as the principle underlying existence itself; then we listen to what Amos has to say. At other times we yearn for a deeper feeling of the compassion and never-ending love of our heaven- ly Father; then we listen to Hosea.
At the time the prophets began their work both Hebrew countries, Israel to the north and Judah to the south, were definitely “off the beam” in a spiritual sense. This period is similar to the state of mind into which we sometimes lapse where material interests gain precedence over spiritual ones. Such consciousness is always the forerunner of destructive outer conditions. Why not change it? The messages of the prophets tell us how. We can see ourselves in the people of their day and we want to guard against thinking and doing those very things that are bound to terminate in a loss of good. No matter how far we wander from a spiritual standard, the Bible assures us that there is always a way open to God. The prophets reveal milestones along that way.
A few years after Isaiah entered upon his prophetic mission, another prophet, whose name was Micah, appeared in Judah. Micah was a native of Maresheth-Gath, a rural town near the city of Gath. He also had high conceptions of the nature of God and of the obligation resting upon his people. Between Micah’s messages and those of Isaiah there is much similarity of thought and even of expression, showing that Micah was greatly influenced by Isaiah. But while Isaiah’s sphere of activity was in Jerusalem, where he was the adviser of kings, Micah was a peasant farmer and in close touch with the lower classes. Undoubtedly Micah played a large part in inspiring the masses to cooperate in the religious reforms of Hezekiah.
Micah added nothing essentially new to the prophetic utterances of Isaiah, yet he gave to humanity what is perhaps the most perfect definition of true religion: He [Jehovah] hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8). The very simplicity of the words confounds the worldly wise, but provides an adequate pattern for spiritual thought and conduct for those who in simple faith believe in and love their Father-God.
Introduction to Micah by Elizabeth Sand Turner, Let There Be Light pp.234-238.
Judgment Pronounced against Samaria
1 Yahweh’s* word that came to Micah of Morasheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
2 Hear, you peoples, all of you!
Listen, O earth, and all that is therein.
Let the Lord† Yahweh be witness against you,
the Lord from his holy temple.
3 For behold,‡ Yahweh comes out of his place,
and will come down and tread on the high places of the earth.
4 The mountains melt under him,
and the valleys split apart like wax before the fire,
like waters that are poured down a steep place.
5“All this is for the disobedience of Jacob,
and for the sins of the house of Israel.
What is the disobedience of Jacob?
Isn’t it Samaria?
And what are the high places of Judah?
Aren’t they Jerusalem?
6Therefore I will make Samaria like a rubble heap of the field,
like places for planting vineyards;
and I will pour down its stones into the valley,
and I will uncover its foundations.
7 All her idols will be beaten to pieces,
all her temple gifts will be burned with fire,
and I will destroy all her images;
for of the hire of a prostitute has she gathered them,
and to the hire of a prostitute shall they return.”
A Promise for the Remnant of Israel
8 For this I will lament and wail.
I will go stripped and naked.
I will howl like the jackals
and mourn like the ostriches.
9 For her wounds are incurable;
for it has come even to Judah.
It reaches to the gate of my people,
even to Jerusalem.
Don’t weep at all.
At Beth Ophrah§ I have rolled myself in the dust.
11 Pass on, inhabitant of Shaphir, in nakedness and shame.
The inhabitant of Zaanan won’t come out.
The wailing of Beth Ezel will take from you his protection.
12 For the inhabitant of Maroth waits anxiously for good,
because evil has come down from Yahweh to the gate of Jerusalem.
13 Harness the chariot to the swift steed, inhabitant of Lachish.
She was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion;
for the transgressions of Israel were found in you.
14 Therefore you will give a parting gift to Moresheth Gath.
The houses of Achzib will be a deceitful thing to the kings of Israel.
15 I will yet bring a conqueror to you, inhabitants of Mareshah.
The glory of Israel will come to Adullam.
and cut off your hair for the children of your delight.
Enlarge your baldness like the vulture,
for they have gone into captivity from you!
World English Bible Footnotes:
- * 1:1. “Yahweh” is God’s proper Name, sometimes rendered “LORD” (all caps) in other translations.
- † 1:2. The word translated “Lord” is “Adonai.”.
- ‡ 1:3. “Behold”, from “הִנֵּה”, means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at. It is often used as an interjection.
- § 1:10. Beth Ophrah means literally “House of Dust.”.
Social Evils Denounced
1 Woe to those who devise iniquity
and work evil on their beds!
When the morning is light, they practice it,
because it is in the power of their hand.
2 They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, then take them away.
They oppress a man and his house,
even a man and his heritage.
“Behold, I am planning against these people a disaster,
from which you will not remove your necks,
neither will you walk haughtily,
for it is an evil time.
4 In that day they will take up a parable against you,
and lament with a doleful lamentation, saying,
‘We are utterly ruined!
My people’s possession is divided up.
Indeed he takes it from me and assigns our fields to traitors!’ ”
5 Therefore you will have no one who divides the land by lot in Yahweh’s assembly.
6“Don’t prophesy!”—they prophesy—
“Don’t prophesy about these things.
Disgrace won’t overtake us.”
7 Shall it be said, O house of Jacob,
“Is Yahweh’s Spirit angry?
Are these his doings?
Don’t my words do good to him who walks blamelessly?”
8 But lately my people have risen up as an enemy.
You strip the robe and clothing from those who pass by without a care, returning from battle.
9 You drive the women of my people out from their pleasant houses;
from their young children you take away my blessing forever.
For this is not your resting place,
because of uncleanness that destroys,
even with a grievous destruction.
11 If a man walking in a spirit of falsehood lies, saying,
“I will prophesy to you of wine and of strong drink,”
he would be the prophet of this people.
A Promise for the Remnant of Israel
12 I will surely assemble all of you, Jacob.
I will surely gather the remnant of Israel.
I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah,
as a flock in the middle of their pasture.
They will swarm with people.
13 He who breaks open the way goes up before them.
They break through the gate, and go out.
Their king passes on before them,
with Yahweh at their head.
Wicked Rulers and Prophets
“Please listen, you heads of Jacob,
and rulers of the house of Israel:
Isn’t it for you to know justice?
and love the evil;
who tear off their skin,
and their flesh from off their bones;
3 who also eat the flesh of my people,
and peel their skin from off them,
and break their bones,
and chop them in pieces, as for the pot,
and as meat within the cauldron.
4 Then they will cry to Yahweh,
but he will not answer them.
Yes, he will hide his face from them at that time,
because they made their deeds evil.”
5 Yahweh says concerning the prophets who lead my people astray—for those who feed their teeth, they proclaim, “Peace!” and whoever doesn’t provide for their mouths, they prepare war against him:
6“Therefore night is over you, with no vision,
and it is dark to you, that you may not divine;
and the sun will go down on the prophets,
and the day will be black over them.
7 The seers shall be disappointed,
and the diviners confounded.
Yes, they shall all cover their lips,
for there is no answer from God.”*
8 But as for me, I am full of power by Yahweh’s Spirit,
and of judgment, and of might,
to declare to Jacob his disobedience,
and to Israel his sin.
9 Please listen to this, you heads of the house of Jacob,
and rulers of the house of Israel,
who abhor justice,
and pervert all equity,
10 who build up Zion with blood,
and Jerusalem with iniquity.
11 Her leaders judge for bribes,
and her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets of it tell fortunes for money;
yet they lean on Yahweh, and say,
“Isn’t Yahweh among us?
No disaster will come on us.”
12 Therefore Zion for your sake will be plowed like a field,
and Jerusalem will become heaps of rubble,
and the mountain of the temple like the high places of a forest.
World English Bible Footnotes:
- * 3:7. The Hebrew word rendered “God” is “אֱלֹהִ֑ים” (Elohim).
Peace and Security through Obedience
it will happen that the mountain of Yahweh’s temple will be established on the top of the mountains,
and it will be exalted above the hills;
and peoples will stream to it.
2 Many nations will go and say,
“Come! Let’s go up to the mountain of Yahweh,
and to the house of the God of Jacob;
and he will teach us of his ways,
and we will walk in his paths.”
For the law will go out of Zion,
and Yahweh’s word from Jerusalem;
3 and he will judge between many peoples,
and will decide concerning strong nations afar off.
They will beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
neither will they learn war any more.
4 But every man will sit under his vine and under his fig tree.
No one will make them afraid,
for the mouth of Yahweh of Armies has spoken. 5 Indeed all the nations may walk in the name of their gods,
but we will walk in the name of Yahweh our God forever and ever.
Restoration Promised after Exile
“I will assemble that which is lame,
and I will gather that which is driven away,
and that which I have afflicted;
7 and I will make that which was lame a remnant,
and that which was cast far off a strong nation:
and Yahweh will reign over them on Mount Zion from then on, even forever.”
8 You, tower of the flock, the hill of the daughter of Zion,
to you it will come.
Yes, the former dominion will come,
the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.
9 Now why do you cry out aloud?
Is there no king in you?
Has your counselor perished,
that pains have taken hold of you as of a woman in travail?
10 Be in pain, and labor to give birth, daughter of Zion,
like a woman in travail;
for now you will go out of the city,
and will dwell in the field,
and will come even to Babylon.
There you will be rescued.
There Yahweh will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.
11 Now many nations have assembled against you, that say,
“Let her be defiled,
and let our eye gloat over Zion.”
12 But they don’t know the thoughts of Yahweh,
neither do they understand his counsel;
for he has gathered them like the sheaves to the threshing floor.
13 Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion,
for I will make your horn iron,
and I will make your hoofs bronze.
You will beat in pieces many peoples.
I will devote their gain to Yahweh,
and their substance to the Lord of the whole earth.
Restoration Promised after Exile (continued)
1 Now you shall gather yourself in troops,
daughter of troops.
He has laid siege against us.
They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek.
The Ruler from Bethlehem
2 But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
being small among the clans of Judah,
out of you one will come out to me who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose goings out are from of old, from ancient times.
3 Therefore he will abandon them until the time that she who is in labor gives birth.
Then the rest of his brothers will return to the children of Israel.
4 He shall stand, and shall shepherd in the strength of Yahweh,
in the majesty of the name of Yahweh his God.
They will live, for then he will be great to the ends of the earth.
5 He will be our peace when Assyria invades our land
and when he marches through our fortresses,
then we will raise against him seven shepherds,
and eight leaders of men.
6 They will rule the land of Assyria with the sword,
and the land of Nimrod in its gates.
He will deliver us from the Assyrian,
when he invades our land,
and when he marches within our border.
The Future Role of the Remnant
7 The remnant of Jacob will be among many peoples
like dew from Yahweh,
like showers on the grass,
that don’t wait for man
nor wait for the sons of men.
8 The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations,
among many peoples,
like a lion among the animals of the forest,
like a young lion among the flocks of sheep;
who, if he goes through, treads down and tears in pieces,
and there is no one to deliver.
9 Let your hand be lifted up above your adversaries,
and let all of your enemies be cut off.
10“It will happen in that day”, says Yahweh,
“that I will cut off your horses from among you
and will destroy your chariots.
11 I will cut off the cities of your land
and will tear down all your strongholds.
12 I will destroy witchcraft from your hand.
You shall have no soothsayers.
13I will cut off your engraved images and your pillars from among you;
and you shall no more worship the work of your hands.
14 I will uproot your Asherah poles from among you;
and I will destroy your cities.
15I will execute vengeance in anger
and wrath on the nations that didn’t listen.”
Three Siblings that will Lead Us Out of the Wilderness
1 Listen now to what Yahweh says:
“Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
and let the hills hear what you have to say.
2 Hear, you mountains, Yahweh’s indictment,
and you enduring foundations of the earth;
for Yahweh has a case against his people,1
and he will contend with Israel.
3 My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you?
4 For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt,
and redeemed you out of the house of bondage.
I sent before you Moses,2 Aaron,3 and Miriam.4
5 My people, remember now what Balak king of Moab devised,
and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the righteous acts of Yahweh.”
- for Yahweh has a case against his people. Compared with past ages ours is enlightened, but compared with the understanding to be gained in future ages we see that the enlightenment of our time is limited.
- Moses. a brother of Aaron and Miriam, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness preparatory to their entrance into the Promised Land. Moses means drawing out, extracting, (from the water). The birth of Moses represents our development in consciousness of the law of our being, from the negative side. Water represents universal negation; but water also represents the great possibility. Out of seemingly negative conditions comes our new growth. When we are in what seems Egyptian darkness, and weak as water, we are ripe for the higher understanding. (MBD/Moses)
- Aaron. a brother of Moses and Miriam, Aaron represents the executive power of divine law. Aaron, the first high priest of Israel and the bearer of intellectual light to the Israelites, signifies the ruling power of the intellectual consciousness. (MBD/Aaron)
- Miriam. a sister of Moses and Aaron, Miriam accompanied them out of Egypt and on their journey through the wilderness toward the Promised Land. Metaphysically, Miram is the soul, or feminine side of the love quality that is active in humanity (Miriam was of the tribe of Levi—love) while we struggle to free ourself from the errors and selfishness of personality, that we may be fully released from all bondage to human limitations and enter wholly into the Promised Land of wholeness and Truth. At the Miriam stage of overcoming, the soul has not yet been delivered from all its bitter, rebellious, sense tendencies or desires, though it has been awakened to its higher possibilities. (MBD/Miriam)
What God Really Wants
6 How shall I come before Yahweh,
and bow myself before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams?
With tens of thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my disobedience?
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O man, what is good.1
What does Yahweh require of you,2 but to act justly,3
to love mercy,4 and to walk humbly with your God?5
- He has shown you, O man, what is good. if anyone comes to you in your center and says - "what do you people mean by the good?" I want you to trot over to your bookcase, get your Bible, turn to Micah and you tell that person the Lord hath shown thee, O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of me but to do justly and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with my God. This is a classic example of how utterly simple and pure truth thinking can be. Actually, one can say that most other O.T. Truth statements build upon this basic simple one. I often refer to this statement as a precious jewel of simple metaphysics. (Ed Rabel, Old Testament Lectures, Micah. p.274)
- What does Yahweh require of you? Under the old race dispensation, methods of reformation were based on fear: man was a sinner and must be scared into righteousness. This method has been superseded by the new method of reformation, which teaches and preaches the love of God and the necessity of understanding His law. Even in the present century we see an entire change of front on the part of revivalists: They used to preach fear of God and hell-fire as reformatory measures; now they preach the love of God and the beauty of holiness.
- to act justly. When judgment is divorced from love, and works from the head alone, there goes forth the human cry for justice. In his mere human judgment man is hard and heartless; he deals out punishment without consideration of motive or cause, and justice goes awry. When justice and love meet at the heart center, there are balance, poise, and righteousness. (RW/justice)
- to love mercy. Mercy is Christlike treatment toward the suffering. The important point in desiring to be merciful is righteous adjustment, as this results in true overcoming. (RW/mercy)
- to walk humbly with your God. To prove ourself Godlike or a child of the Highest, we must be just and kind toward our fellow men and ourself as "well, and humbly obedient to the Highest. This means that he must look to the higher wisdom for guidance at all times rather than lean on our own understanding.
The Importance of Honesty
9 Yahweh’s voice calls to the city—
and wisdom fears your name—
“Listen to the rod,
and he who appointed it.
10 Are there yet treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked,
and a short ephah* that is accursed?
11 Shall I tolerate dishonest scales,
and a bag of deceitful weights?1
12 Her rich men are full of violence,
her inhabitants speak lies,
and their tongue is deceitful in their speech.
13 Therefore I also have struck you with a grievous wound.2
I have made you desolate because of your sins.
14 You shall eat, but not be satisfied.
Your hunger will be within you.
You will store up, but not save,
and that which you save I will give up to the sword.
15 You will sow, but won’t reap.
You will tread the olives, but won’t anoint yourself with oil;
and crush grapes, but won’t drink the wine.
16 For the statutes of Omri are kept,
and all the works of Ahab’s house.
You walk in their counsels,3
that I may make you a ruin,
and your inhabitants a hissing.
You will bear the reproach of my people.”
- treasures of wickedness, dishonest scales and a bag of deceitful weights. These are tokens of injustice, unkindness, pride, and arrogance, none of which have any place or part in the Christ consciousness.
- Listen to the rod ... Therefore I also have struck you with a grievous wound. The rod is a symbol of the “stripes” that man brings upon himself when he knowingly or unknowingly goes counter to the divine law.
- You walk in their counsels. Today we look for the causes of oppression, covetousness, and dishonesty with the understanding that all causes arise in the mind. This forces us to search ourselves and cast evil thoughts out of our own minds. When we have done this we are ready to help others to make a like overcoming.
Fillmore Study Bible annotations by Rev. Mark Hicks.
World English Bible Footnotes:
- * 6:10. An ephah is a measure of volume (about 22 liters or about 2/3 of a bushel), and a short ephah is made smaller than a full ephah for the purpose of cheating customers.
The Total Corruption of the People
Indeed, I am like one who gathers the summer fruits, as gleanings of the vineyard.
There is no cluster of grapes to eat.
My soul desires to eat the early fig.
2 The godly man has perished out of the earth,
and there is no one upright among men.
They all lie in wait for blood;
every man hunts his brother with a net.
3 Their hands are on that which is evil to do it diligently.
The ruler and judge ask for a bribe.
The powerful man dictates the evil desire of his soul.
Thus they conspire together.
4 The best of them is like a brier.
The most upright is worse than a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen,
even your visitation, has come;
now is the time of their confusion.
Don’t put confidence in a friend.
With the woman lying in your embrace,
be careful of the words of your mouth!
6 For the son dishonors the father,
the daughter rises up against her mother,
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.
7 But as for me, I will look to Yahweh.
I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.
Penitence and Trust in God
8 Don’t rejoice against me, my enemy.
When I fall, I will arise.
When I sit in darkness, Yahweh will be a light to me.
9 I will bear the indignation of Yahweh,
because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my case and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light.
I will see his righteousness.
and shame will cover her who said to me,
“Where is Yahweh your God?”
My eyes will see her.
Now she will be trodden down like the mire of the streets.
In that day, he will extend your boundary.
A Prophecy of Restoration
12 In that day they will come to you from Assyria and the cities of Egypt,
and from Egypt even to the River,
and from sea to sea,
and mountain to mountain.
13 Yet the land will be desolate because of those who dwell therein,
for the fruit of their doings.
14 Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your heritage,
who dwell by themselves in a forest.
Let them feed in the middle of fertile pasture land,
in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
15“As in the days of your coming out of the land of Egypt,
I will show them marvelous things.”
16 The nations will see and be ashamed of all their might.
They will lay their hand on their mouth.
Their ears will be deaf.
17 They will lick the dust like a serpent.
Like crawling things of the earth, they will come trembling out of their dens.
They will come with fear to Yahweh our God,
and will be afraid because of you.
God’s Compassion and Steadfast Love
18 Who is a God like you, who pardons iniquity,
and passes over the disobedience of the remnant of his heritage?
He doesn’t retain his anger forever,
because he delights in loving kindness.
19 He will again have compassion on us.
He will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
20 You will give truth to Jacob,
and mercy to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
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