The Book of Micah with Brit-Am/Hebrew Awareness Commentary
Micah is one of the Twelve Minor Prophets of the Hebrew Bible. He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea. The name "Micah" is considered a shortened form of "Micayahu" i.e. "Mi-ca-Yahu," meaning "Who is Like Unto God?"
Micah was from Moresheth, also called Moresheth-Gath, in southwest Judah.
Micah prophesied during the reigns of the Kings of Judah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
At that time there reigned in the north, in the realm of Israel of the Ten Tribes, Pekah, and Hosea in whose time tall the Ten Tribes were taken into Exile.
Micah prophesied concerning both Samaria i.e. the Ten Tribes in the north, and Jerusalem meaning Judah.
The time of the fall of Samaria, the last bastion on the Ten Tribes, is conventually given as ca. 722 BCE. Later there was an invasion of Judah by Sennacherib in ca. 701 BCE. Many from Judah were also taken into Exile and apparently also attached themselves to the Ten Tribes in their places of Exile. Sennacherib records having taken more than 200,000 into Exile. Incidentally this is referred to in the Midrash but only hinted at Scripture itself! If the prism of Sennacherib recording this exile had not been found the Midrash account would have been dismissed as fiction. Nevertheless Midrashic accounts sometimes may be fictional and come only to serve a pedagogical purpose. The Sages themselves admit this.
The Prism of Sennacherib
On Sennacherib's prism, he says this of Hezekiah: "As for the king of Judah, Hezekiah, who had not submitted to my authority, I besieged and captured forty-six of his fortified cities, along with many smaller towns, taken in battle with my battering rams. ... I took as plunder 200,150 people, both small and great, male and female, along with a great number of animals including horses, mules, donkeys, camels, oxen, and sheep. As for Hezekiah, I shut him up like a caged bird in his royal city of Jerusalem. I then constructed a series of fortresses around him, and I did not allow anyone to come out of the city gates. His towns which I captured I gave to the kings of Ashod, Ekron, and Gaza."
Micah (ESV) 1:
1 The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
# Micah prophesied during the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah. Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah from 742 to 735 BC. Jotham was succeeded by his son Ahaz, who reigned over Judah from 735 to 715 BC. Ahaz's son Hezekiah ruled from 715 to 696 BC. #
Samaria represents both a province and a city. The city of Samaria served as the capital of the Ten Tribes. The term "Samaria" is used in Scripture to represent all of the Ten Tribes just as Jerusalem stands for all of Judah.
2 Hear, you peoples, all of you;
pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it,
and let the LORD God be a witness against you,
the LORD from His Holy Temple.
Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki ,1040 - 1105) says that Micah is here addressing the Israelite Tribes. Each one of the Tribes, he says, was a "people" in its own right! The Radak (Rabbi David Kimchi, 1160-1235) agrees with this. They both says that "His Holy Temple" here means from Heaven.
3 For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.
4 And the mountains will melt under him,
and the valleys will split open,
like wax before the fire,
like waters poured down a steep place.
This could refer to future tectonic upheaval, natural calamities, and the like. Radak says it is a parable.
Nevertheless, Immanuel Velikovsky, associated the Fall of Samaria with a period of Cosmic Upheaval:
The Assyrian Conquest by Immanuel Velikvosky
The End of Samaria
The reign of Sargon II (-723 to -702), the conqueror of Samaria and the Israelite tribes, fell in the midst of a period of great natural upheavals. These upheavals, which marked the century between -776 and -687, I showed in Worlds in Collision, part II ("Mars" ) to have been caused by perturbations in the celestial sphere, a battleground dominated in the sight of man on Earth by the planet Mars. The Earth was endangered at nearly regular intervals during this century by
repeated near-approaches of this planet. Pestilence also broke out in many places and references in the cuneiform literature ascribe the cause of it to Nergal (Mars); earthquakes, overflooding, changes of climate, attested by Klimasturz and the abandonment of lake-dwellings in Central Europe, did not spare a single land. Calendars were repeatedly thrown out of order and refounded, and the reader will find abundant material in the second part of Worlds in Collision and in Earth in Upheaval, where no human testimony, but only the testimony of nature, was
presented; and my material could be multiplied by any dedicated researcher. these changes moved entire nations to migrations in the hope that beyond the horizon fertile lands, not damaged by unchained forces of nature, awaited the conquerors.
The dates given above are the conventional ones. In reality the real chronology may be different. Even if this is the case the coevality of the Exile of the Ten Tribes with natural calmities should still be a valid point.
5 All this is for the transgression of Jacob
and for the sins of the House of Israel.
What is the transgression of Jacob?
Is it not Samaria?
And what is the high place[s] of Judah?
Is it not Jerusalem?
Samaria in Hebrew is "Shomron." The form "Samaria" is similar to the name applied to it by the Phoenciains and later by the Greeks. They too may have used this term for themsleves.
The Hebrew-language Commentary "Daat Mikra" (Moshe Ziedel) points out that here "Jacob" is identified with Samaria and "House of Israel" with Judah. This is found elsewhere in Micah 1:14. This is worth keeping in mind. It means that the terms "Israel" and "House of Israel" do not always refer to the Ten Tribes, and that the appellation "Jacob" may mean them.
The Malbim (Meir Leibush ben Yehiel Michel Wisser, 1809-1879) says:
# Jacob, Israel, I have already clarified (Isaiah 60:9) that the name Israel connotes honor and glory as opposed to Jacob . When the Ten Tribes are being addressed on their own, or to Judah on its own, and both names are used "Jacob" will refer to the mass of people whereas "Israel" means the leaders. When Judah and the Ten Tribes are spoken of then Judah will be called "Israel" due to its importance compared to the rest of the Tribes. #
The explanation of the Malbim to our minds on this point is a bit diffuclt to accept.
For a different opinion and a discussion of this matter see:
House of Israel. Terminology. When did this term apply ONLY to the Ten Tribes and When Not?
Abarbanel (Isaac ben Judah Abarbanel, 1437-1508) has a different approach that is more convincing and would seem more consistent with the text.
# Jacob is a general name for all 12 Tribes,
"for the sins of the House of Israel" refers in particular to the Kingdom of Israel of which Samaria was the center. It was also the source of idolatry.
"What is the transgression of Jacob? Is it not Samaria?" Samaria was the cause of transgression for the rest of the Kingdom of Israel . It was also also what brought Judah to sin int he same way since the Kingss of Judah copied those of Israel.
It therefore says, "the transgression of Jacob" encompassing both Israel and Judah.
[Similarly Jerusalem was the instigator for building High Places throughout Judah].
# Samaria was the initiator of idolatry throughout all Jacob. Samaria was therefore the first to be punished... The King of Assyria was to come to destroy and ruin its walls and houses in such a way that they could not be rebuilt nor re-settled. #
Abarbanel explains that even after all the Israelites inhabitants of the city of Samaria were exiled that was the case. New non-Israelite settlers were brought in from other places and placed in the cities of Samaria round about but not in Samaria itself which was all in ruins. These new settlers became known as the "Samaritans" after the region (as distinct from the city) of Samaria they settled in.
Micah continues to describe the capture and destruction of settlements in southern Judah. The exile of more than 200,000 from Judah by Assyria as boasted about by Sennacherib has been recorded on a prism as quoted iabove.
6 Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country,
a place for planting vineyards,
and I will pour down her stones into the valley
and uncover her foundations.
a heap in the open country. In Hebrew "be-sadeh" literally "in the field."
Rabbi Moshe David Valley says this means it will become like a field that can be sewn with seed and grow again.
a place for planting vineyards. Rabbi Moshe David Valley says this hints at the future re-building of Samaria (the Ten Tribes) as a new structure that will last forever.
7 All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces,
all her wages shall be burned with fire,
and all her idols I will lay waste,
for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them,
and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return.
Prostitute. In Hebrew "Zona." This word can also mean "sin" in general. In fact it could be the Hebrew word that gave rise to the English word "sin." It should be remembered that the Northern peoples at some stage lost the use of the sound (letter) "z." All words that they had previoulsy pronounced with a "z" were replaced with an "s" sound. That is why the name "Sabalingoi" that Ptolemy applies to a people in Jutland and Northern Friesland (whence they moved to the Netherlands) is so certainly the equivalent of "Zebulon-Goi" i.e. People of Zebulon.
Daat Mikra says that "zona" in this case refers to dishonesty whereas Abarbanel opines that it applies to idolatry.
The Malbim also says that the offence spoken of is idolatry. He quotes Hosea ch. 2 where the people of Samaria attributed their prosperity to their heathen practices.
Hosea (ESV) 2:
5 For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, 'I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.'
Nevertheless, in the Bible "zona" is often applied to sexual transgression such as adultery. In fact that would seem to be its primary meaning (Leviticus 21: 7, 14, Deuteronomy 23:19, and in nearly all the other 30 plus places the word is used). Even when the word is applied to idolatry (as in Hosea 2) it is only only as a simile borrowed from sexual offence.
Micah now lists settlements in southern Judah that the Assyrians were about to conquer and to exile their inhabitants. These Exiles from Judah were destined to join the Ten Tribes in their places of Exile and to share their fate. Even though the Ten Tribes of Samaria had already been exiled it is indicated that at least some of the places mentioned had previously attempted to break away from the suzerainty of Jerusalem and attach themselves to Samaria. By leaving Jerusalem and having previously thought to join Samaria their offence could be likened to a woman who deserts her husband for another man.
It is estimated that Sennacherib came against Judah in about 701 BCE though it may have been earlier. The last of the Northern Israelites had been exiled after the destruction of Samaria in ca. 720 BCE.
For a description of the Stages of Exile see The Exiles. Historical Outline of the Exiles of Israel and Judah.
8 For this I will lament and wail;
I will go stripped and naked;
I will make lamentation like the jackals,
and mourning like the ostriches.
9 For her wound is incurable,
and it has come to Judah;
it has reached to the gate of my people,
10 Tell it not in Gath;
weep not at all;
roll yourselves in the dust.
11 Pass on your way,
inhabitants of Shaphir,
in nakedness and shame;
the inhabitants of Zaanan
do not come out;
the lamentation of Beth-ezel
shall take away from you its standing place.
12 For the inhabitants of Maroth
wait anxiously for good,
because disaster has come down from the LORD
to the gate of Jerusalem.
13 Harness the steeds to the chariots,
inhabitants of Lachish;
it was the beginning of sin
to the daughter of Zion,
for in you were found
the transgressions of Israel.
The Malbim associates harnessing the steeds to the chariots to sun-woship. This used both actual chariots and models of them. This type of idolatry had been found in both the Ten Tribes of Israel and in Judah.
A similar type of cultic practice was later to be maintained in Bronze-Age Scandinavia.
Trundholm sun chariot
The Trundholm sun chariot (Danish: Solvognen), is a Nordic Bronze Age artifact discovered in Denmark. It is a representation of the sun chariot, a bronze statue of a horse and a large bronze disk, which are placed on a device with spoked wheels.
14 Therefore you shall give parting gifts
the houses of Achzib shall be a deceitful thing
to the kings of Israel.
In Hebrew the name "Achzib" connotes "disappoint, be deceitful," it is therefore a play on words.
Rabbi Menachem Zeav Stern ("Torah shel Baal Peh") understands the Talmud (Sanhedrin 102;a) as saying that the settlement of Achzib had previously shifted its allegiance away from the Kings of Judah and given it to the Rulers of Israel.
They had been deceitful so they in turn would be delivered into the hands of deceitful cruel Gentiles. Their fate would betray them.
Rabbi Valley indicates that the fate of Jerusalem and of the Kings of Israel affect one another. When Judah suffers the spiritual level of the Ten Tribes is also affected and the Forces of Impurity take over.
Descendants of the Ten Tribes should realize that the welfare of Judah is to their advantage. The more religious the Jews are the better for everyone.
15 I will again bring a conqueror to you,
inhabitants of Mareshah;
the glory of Israel
shall come to Adullam.
16 Make yourselves bald and cut off your hair,
for the children of your delight;
make yourselves as bald as the eagle,
for they shall go from you into exile.
These prophecies concern a portion of Judah that was exiled by the Assyrians and joined the Ten Tribes. Among the Ten Tribes there are therefore descendants of Judah.
A bald-headed eagle represents the USA.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a bird of prey found in North America. A sea eagle, it has two known subspecies and forms a species pair with the white-tailed eagle . Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting.
Bald eagles are not actually bald; the name derives from an older meaning of the word, "white headed". The adult is mainly brown with a white head and tail.
Continued at Michah ch. 2.