Micah 1 - Outline of Micah (Book Notes menu page)
1. The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite
in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah,
which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
...Micah the Morasthite...-
Micah's name means "Who is like the LORD?" This question is asked in the last chapter (Mic 7:18), and can be regarded as the theme of this book.
     The name 'Micah,' and its many variations, were very common in OT times. For example 'Michael' {Who is like God?} is the name of an archangel, and also of King David's first wife. One other prophet shares a similar name: Micaiah the son of Imlah, who ministered during the reigns of king Ahab of Israel and king Jehoshaphat of Judah (1Kin 22:8). However, the ministry of the Micah, who wrote this book, spanned the reigns of the three named kings of Judah, which places him about 200 years later. Micah began to minister as the ministry of Amos came to an end. Micah was contemporaneous with the prophets Isaiah and Hosea.
     The term 'Morasthite' indicates that he came from the village of Moresheth-Gath, which was located about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem.
The word of the LORD... concerning Samaria and Jerusalem...-
The message which Micah received from the LORD, was directed to the capital cities of the northern kingdom of Israel, and the southern kingdom of Judah. Like Amos, Isaiah and Hosea, Micah warned both kingdoms of impending judgment for their sins. The book of Micah can be thought of as the book of Isaiah in miniature, because they voice the same themes concerning Israel's imminent judgment and future restoration through the Messiah's rejection, sufferings, glorification and reign.
     A little more than halfway through Micah's ministry, the prophesied judgment fell upon the northern kingdom, in the form of the Assyrian captivity. The Assyrians came, literally, to the gates of Jerusalem, during the reign of King Hezekiah. But the LORD was merciful and turned the invaders back. About a hundred years later, unrepentant Judah and Jerusalem would be taken captive to Babylon.
2 Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is:
and let the Lord GOD be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.
3 For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place,
and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.
4 And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft,
as wax before the fire, [and] as the waters [that are] poured down a steep place.
Hear, all ye people; hearken O earth...
Micah's message is not limited to the Jewish nation. The whole world is admonished to pay attention (v.2). The judgment, of Israel and Judah, demonstrates that God must judge the sin of all nations (Isa 10:12; Jer 25:29; 1Pet 4:17,18).
...let the Lord GOD be witness against you... from his holy temple...
The LORD's true Temple is in heaven. Though the earthly temple would be (and now, has been) destroyed due to the sin of His people, the LORD still reigns from heaven.
     Through His dealings with Israel, the LORD is 'bearing witness' or 'presenting evidence' that He must exercise judgment upon the whole world.
For, behold {ie., take notice} the LORD... will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth...
This was only partially, and figuratively fulfilled when the LORD sent the Assyrian and Babylonian armies to judge His people. It will be literally fulfilled when the LORD Himself fights for His people in the Day of the LORD (Zech 14:1-3-f).
     Then, He will trample 'the high places of the earth.' In OT times, 'the high places' were centers of idolatrous worship, often set on the tops of hills. But this expression, and also the word 'mountains,' can refer to the seats of government: the places of political and military power. As the warning was sent initially to Samaria and Jerusalem, so, the capitals of every nation ought to take heed.
...the mountains shall be molten... as wax before the fire...-
The LORD's power is irresistable. He controls the elements of nature, including earthquake, wind and fire. No human power will be able to stand before Him. (Amos 9:5,6)
5 For the transgression of Jacob [is] all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel.
What [is] the transgression of Jacob? [is it] not Samaria?
and what [are] the high places of Judah? [are they] not Jerusalem?
6 Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, [and] as plantings of a vineyard:
and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof.
7 And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces,
and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire,
and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate:
for she gathered [it] of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.
All of Israel, all twelve tribes which descended from Jacob, are worthy of judgment...
...for their idolatry...-
  • Samaria (the capital of the northern kingdom), where king Ahab and Jezebel built a temple to Baal.
  • Jerusalem (the capital of the southern kingdom), where the Temple to the LORD was being desecrated by the idolatrous worship in 'the high places' which surrounded the city.
Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field...
The city was destroyed by the Assyrians in 726 BC. The destruction described here was literally fulfilled. The evidence is available today. The city is reduced to a great mound. Portions of it have been planted with orchards and vineyards. The building blocks and pillars, of once grand structures, lay, where the conquerors rolled them, in the valley floor around the base of the mound. In places, archaeologists have uncovered the foundations of the city, including Ahab's palace, and other buildings.
...all the graven images... all the hires shall be burned... gathered... return...
The worship of the false gods involved gross immorality, including temple prostitution. The word 'hires' refers to the price to hire a prostitute, and also to the things purchased with that money. As prophesied, the invaders destroyed the idols but looted the gold and silver vessels. Hundreds of years after the Assyrian destruction, Herod the Great rebuilt the city, including a great temple in which the immoral worship was reinstituted. Thus, the 'hires' of prostitution returned to the site, for a time. Today, the city and its temples are in ruins.
8. Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked:
I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.
9 For her wound [is] incurable; for it is come unto Judah;
he is come unto the gate of my people, [even] to Jerusalem.
Micah laments for the destruction of his people.
The tearing of one's outer garments was a sign of mourning. The entire removal of one's outer garments would indicate even greater intensity of his mourning. He emits the awful sounds of those who have suffered inconsolable loss.
...for her wound is incurable... - cf. Jer 30:12-15
The nation was like a soldier wounded in battle, who has lost so much blood that he is beyond any possibility of recovery. They were beyond the point of no return. They had refused God's warnings for so long, that they had become hardened and could not repent. Their judgment was unavoidable.
...it is come to Judah... even to Jerusalem...
The sin, for which Samaria and the northern kingdom would be destroyed, had also infected Jerusalem. Soon a similar fate would overtake the southern kingdom.
     This would be vividly demonstrated by the movement of the Assyrian army, which after capturing Samaria (726 BC), would return to threaten Jerusalem (721 BC). Their progress enroute to Jerusalem is traced in the next several verses. (In a similar passage, Isaiah also traced the enemy's progress, but with reference to other towns in the path of the invading army. Isa 10:28-32)
10 Declare ye [it] not at Gath, weep ye not at all:
in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust.
11 Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked:
the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth
in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing.
12 For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good:
but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.
13 O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast:
she [is] the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion:
for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee.
14 Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moreshethgath:
the houses of Achzib [shall be] a lie to the kings of Israel.
15 Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah:
he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel.
Micah makes his narrative even more vivid by using verbs, which sound similar to the town names, and/or which play on the meanings of those names. The locations of some of the named places are not known, today.
  • Declare {HB=nagad} it not at Gath {'winepress'} -
    Gath was one of the chief cities of the Philistines (1Sam 5:8). The progress of the Assyrian army is seen as approaching from the north, along the coastal highway, through Phoenicia, before turning inland toward the Jewish nation. Gath, well to the south of this route, was probably the Philistine capital city, at this time.
         There is a play on words, in that the word for 'to declare' can also mean 'to flow, to issue forth.' Though Israel is under intense pressure from the approaching Assyrians, they are advised not to let their distress 'leak out' at the 'winepress' {Gath}, lest their old enemies, the Philistines take advantage of the situation.
  • weep {HB=bakah} ye not at all... [The Hebrew sounds like: 'Bak-ow 'al tib-ku.'] -
    The LXX renders this line as: 'Weep not at Acco.' [Suggesting a rhyme between 'Bak-ow' and 'Acco']. Acco was in the Phoenician coastal plain. Judah was advised to avoid letting another old enemy know that they were weeping with fear.
  • in the house of Aphrah {'dust'} roll thyself in the dust {HB=aphar} -
    In yet another Philistine city, Bethle-Aphrah, Judah can no longer contain their grief and displays it, not merely by casting dust upon the head (a sign of mourning), but by rolling in it. (This site is not known.)
  • pass ye away thou inhabitant of Saphir {'beautiful'}, having thy shame naked.-
    'Inhabitant' is feminine. The sense is that the girls of 'Beautiful Town' will be carried away in shameful nakedness. (This town was in Judah. But the site is not known, today.)
  • the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth {HB=yatsa} -
    The town name, and the verb for 'come out' are related to the same Hebrew root word. Zaanan was about 5 miles west of the Sea of Galilee. Because of the Assyrian army, the people could not leave their town. The residents of 'Come Out Town' did not come out.
  • in the mourning of Bethezel, he shall receive of you his standing.-
    Beth-ezel means 'House of Firmness.' But, wailing for their weakness, this town's ability to stand was snatched away by the intimidating enemy. This town was in Judah, about 27 miles south southwest of Jerusalem.
  • the inhabitant of Maroth {'bitterness'} waited carefully {ie., anxiously} for good...-
    This village, in the western region of Judah (exact location unknown today), was anxiously hoping for good news, that the Assyrians had been turned back by their own nation's army. But instead, the word they received was...
  • ...evil {ie., calamity} came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.-
    The Assyrians were assembled before Jerusalem. When this occurred during the reign of Hezekiah, the situation looked very grim, until the LORD delivered the city miraculously (as recorded in 2Kin 18-19; 2Chr 32; Isa 36-37).
  • O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast...-
    Lachish was a walled city, about 30 miles southwest of Jerusalem. Its name means 'invincible.' It was known for its horses and many stables. The prophet advises them to use their horses and chariots, not in battle, but to flee from the enemy. It was during the Assyrian siege of Lachish, that Sennacherib king of Assyria sent messengers to king Hezekiah to demand the surrender of Jerusalem (Isa 36:1,2). Lachish was on the boundary with the region of the Philistines. Apparently, this city was among the first in Judah, to be corrupted by idolatrous worship. The sin which had caused the fall of the northern kingdom, took root and spread, from here, to infect even 'the daughter of Zion (Jerusalem).'
  • Therefore shalt thou give presents {HB=shilluach, parting gifts} to Moresheth-gath -
    This was Micah's hometown. The name means 'possession of Gath.' It was located about 5 miles north of Lachish, and 5 miles east of Gath (a chief city of the Philistines). The sense is that Judah would be dispossessed of its cities, and forced to make payments to the enemy who parted them from their possessions.
  • the houses of Achzib shall be a lie {HB='ak-zab} to the kings of Israel...-
    'Achzib' means 'deceit.' This small village, about 3 miles east of Moresheth-gath, would be under such pressure from the Assyrians, that they would send disinformation to Jerusalem concerning the state of the siege of Lachish.
Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel.
In the depths of this crushing calamity, the LORD offers a glimmer of hope. He will send an heir (ie., the one to whom the possessions belong). He will come to those who are presently 'dispossessed' (Moresheth-gath) and cause them to have 'dominion.' ('Moresheth' and 'Mareshah' sound similar, but the meaning of 'Mareshah' [related to the Hebrew word "mar'ashah," meaning 'dominion, chief place'] conveys a very different picture.)
     Adullam was about 3 miles east of Achzib, and 6 miles east of Moresheth-gath. 'Adullam' means 'refuge' (or, 'justice of the people'). 'The Glory of Israel' is a Person ('He,' ie., the LORD in the Person of His Messiah). When He comes, He will be a refuge for His oppressed people. He will execute justice in their behalf.
     But this hope is for a future day. For the present, Israel's wound was incurable. So, the message returns again to their despair under judgment...
16 Make thee bald, and poll {shear, shave} thee for thy delicate children;
enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.
Baldness, like the tearing of garments (v.8) and rolling in dust (v.10) was another sign of intense sorrow (eg., Jer 16:6; Eze 27:31).
The cause for this mourning was the loss of Israel's children, into captivity.

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