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A Study of The Minor Prophets: Micah 1 and 2

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

This is a long term, in depth, wide focus study of the Minor Prophets, drawing as much from the history of their times as possible, as well as looking at the original language of the prophet.

Listen to the Lord's case against Israel.
      Arise, O Lord, and present your case; let the mountains and the hills hear what you say.
      You mountains, you everlasting foundations of the earth, listen to the Lord's case! The Lord has a case against his people. He is going to bring an accusation against Israel.
Micah 6 : 1 and 2 (GNT - see link below)

      Micah (Mikah / Mikayahu) means “who is like YHWH”. And while there are several Micah's in the OT, only one of them is a Minor Prophet. So we'll skip the bad one in Judges 17 and 18, and at least one in 1 Chronicles that probably isn't the prophet, and focus on the one Jeremiah mentions that is the one in the Book of the Twelve.
      Jeremiah spends some time telling us about Micah, even naming his hometown, and giving us part of his message, see 26 : 16 and following. So we know a couple of things about this Minor Prophet....
            ... his home town and part of his message, and who the king at the time was.
      And that's about it.
      Micah's own book gives us just a splash more, stating that he lived from the time of king Jotham through Hezekiah, give or take 750 to 700 BC. Micah also tells us about the end of the Northern Kingdom when Assyria had had enough of them in chapter one of his book.
      Micah also takes a run at the title of “Prophet of Social Justice” held by Amos, but he comes in a distant second to his predecessor.

      The book is interesting in that while it, like the other Minor Prophets, was found in the caves with the Dead Sea Scrolls, Micah has been found in a couple of different caves, and, apparently, with his chapters somewhat out of order.
      This simply adds to the claim that the book is an amalgam of works from different periods, some of which may or may not have anything to do with Jeremiah's Micah and his message. While that discussion is interesting, and echoes some of the transcription of Jonah from oral 'morality play' story to written book, it has little other bearing on its being included in the Hebrew Book Of The Twelve and then walked into the Old Testament of our Bible as is.
      In any case, Matthew 2 quotes from Micah 5, and we'll see that when we get to it. So whatever else Micah has going for him, he has that, and that's good enough for now.

Chapter 1

      “de bar” (the word) of YHWH came to Mikah “ham·mowrasti” (of Moresheth) “bime” (in the time of) “yowtam , 'ahaz , y?·hiz·qiyah” (see next paragraph) “malke ye·hudah” (kings of Judah) which he “ha·zah” (saw) “'al” (concerning) “some·ro·wn” (Samaria) and Jerusalem.
      The three kings names are Jotham (the LORD is perfect), Ahaz (he has grasped), and Hezakiah (Yah has strengthened).
      Micah's hometown is sometimes listed as Moresheth-Gath, Which was somewhere southwest of Jerusalem, but its exact location is unknown.

      “sim 'u” (Listen!) 'everybody, everywhere', let the “’a·do·nay YHWH” (Lord GOD) against you “le 'ed” (testify 'as a witness') the Lord from “me·he·kal” (palace / temple) “qa·de·sow” (holy / set apart (sacred)).

      “ki- hin·neh” (for behold) YHWH is coming “mim·me·qo·mow” (from his place). “we ya rad” (descend / come down), “we da rak” (tread / walk) on the “ba·mo·te” (high places) of the earth.

      The translations are good on the landscaping and erosion.
      The implications here are that in the presence of GOD ALMIGHTY the physical world simply vanishes. You see similar imagery in Revelation 16 : 20 and chapter 20 : 11.

      We're going to take this one in steps. It begins with saying that this is for the “transgressions of all of Jacob”. As we know, this is the patriarch's original name. Later he became Israel, the father of the twelve tribes. And the “house of Israel” is so named in the verse as part of a question:
      'Who is the transgression....' And then it answers it: 'is it not Samaria?' As we've seen before, the entire Northern Kingdom was overrun with idolatry and the abuse of power. But then comes a curve ball:
      “umi” (who is) “ba·mo·wt” (high places) of Judah? Are they not Jerusalem?
      Remember, Jerusalem is built in and around several hills.

6 and 7
      'Samaria becomes a heap of rubble' to plant a vineyard in... etc

      The bit about the penalty for harlotry (idolatry) is a fair description of what happened to the old neighborhood up north when it was sacked and burnt during the second Assyrian campaign.

      NOTE: the speaker has changed.
      “'al- zot” (on account of this) “’es·pedah we’eli·lah ” ('i will' lament 'and' wail (theatrical mourning)), I will go “so·w·lal” (barefoot) and “‘a·rom” (naked), I will wail like “tannin” (jackal (various definitions including: sea monster)) and a mourning like “yaanah” (ostrich)
      See Job 12 : 17 and following for the nudity.
      Ostriches, like other birds, will pull out their own feathers in times of distress. Is Micah advocating some sort of self-flagellation in mourning? There are those that did it, and still today there are those that still do in grief and as penance. See link below for both that and something related to the birds.

      “’a·nu·sah” (incurable (implies chronic weakness)) “mak·ko·w·?e·ha” (her wounds) ....
      Micah doesn't say here what the wounds of Judah are, but in previous verses, in the words of God, we get the idea.

      Tell it not in Gath....
      During the period of the Minor Prophets, Gath was a Philistine city, or perhaps a less concentrated settlement area with a palace area as mentioned in 2 Chronicles 26:6 , as with Micah's hometime, the exact location isn't confirmed.
      ... weep not at “le·‘ap·rah” (house to dust) ...
      Beth Le Aphrah This is the only mention of this town in the OT. It appears to have been in the border area with Judah. The name of the village is probably telling.
      .... 'roll yourself in the dust' (as a sign of mourning).

      Pass by people of “shaphir” (beautiful 'and' good)....
      Shaphir is an agricultural region in the general vicinity of the other places mentioned.
      .... the 'naked shame' is good .... “sa·’a·nan” (come out) 'not come out' (play on the name of the village)
      Zaanan / Zenan another village in this region.
      “ha·’e·sel” (Beth-ezel) another unknown town in Judah, mourns, and its place is taken away.

      Paraphrase: The people of “ma·ro·wt” (Maroth) waited so long for good that they ended up sick from it. But instead a disaster from God came to the gates of Jerusalem.
      Maroth is another settlement in the Philistine area on the border of Judah whose exact location is unknown.

      The translations are good on the horses....
      “lakis” (Lachish / Tel Lachish) is a known archaeological site in the eastern area of the coastal lowlands. It is mentioned several times in Joshua, see chapter 10 and 15. By some accounts this city was the second most important settlement in Judah during this period. Which was then put under siege by the Assyrian forces of Sennacherib, then sacked and burnt. The relief carvings in the palace in Nineveh carry a fairly complete account of the battle from the side of the victors.
      ... “resit” (beginning) “hattat” (sin) to the daughter of Zion...
      Again, Micah does not define these 'transgressions' here, although there is no question as to what it was.

      Some of the translations get “sil·lu·him” right as a (parting gift) from (or 'to') Micah's hometown right. Both 'on behalf of' and 'to' are in the Hebrew, so it could be a 'gift exchange'.
      “'ak zab” (deceptive) Akzib / Achziv is the name of two different settlements, one of which is on the coast, the other is uncertain.
      .... “'akzab” “le·’a?·zab” is a play on the name of the town 'deception' to the kings of Israel.

      Messianic prophecy? Yes.
      To “‘a·dul·lam” ... “Adullam” another town mentioned in Joshua 12, 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, and so on.
      .... shall come the glory of Israel.

      Shave your head because of “bene” (children) “ta·‘a·nu·ga·yi” (delicate / delight), enlarge your baldness like a “” (this word indicates a vulture, probably a griffon vulture (whose head does appear to be bald), not a raptor / bird of prey, like an eagle) for they (the children) shall go into captivity from you.

Chapter 2

      Woe “ho·se·be” (those that devise (invent) / scheme) “'awen” (iniquity / wickedness) and “u po·‘a·le” (do / work) “mis·ke·bo·w·tam” (in their beds) “!”(!) In the morning light they “ya·‘a·su·ha” (do it) because of “le '1l” (power) “yadam” (hand)

      The first part of this verse is a direct reference to the Naboth episode in 1 Kings 21
      The second part is a discussion of the Social Justice aspect discussed in chapter 1 and in Amos. See the roots of the idea in Leviticus 25.

      Paraphrase: Therefore, says YHWH, I am planning a disaster for the family from which you cannot “ta·mi·su” (remove) from “saw·we·ro·te·kem” (your necks), nor shall you walk “ro·w·mah” (haughtily / proudly) for a disagreeably long time.

4 and 5
      The translations are good on the heritage....
      ... He has removed it from me to a “le·so·w·beb” (traitor) our fields are divided.
      And the lots that won't be cast for the boundaries.

      Let's look at this one, then try to sort it out.
      Not “tat·ti·pu” (speak), “yat·ti·pun” ('you say to those that speak out'), not “yat·ti·pu” (speak out) “la·’el·leh” (to these), not “yis·sag” (they shall take) “ke·lim·mo·wt” (disgrace, dishonor, humiliation, insult).
      Paraphrase: 'stop talking' you say to those that speak the truth, so they won't tell you anything you don't want to hear.

7 - 9
      Paraphrase continues: You who claim to be 'the house of Jacob', is the Spirit of YHWH restricted? Is this His idea? Aren't my words good for those that walk in the Right?
      My People have risen up as my enemy....
      and now some 'social justice'
      .... you steal from those that trust you, such as war veterans, you cast women out of their homes and children...
      “tiq·hu” (you have taken) “ha da·ri” (My majesty / splendor (includes diginity)) “le·‘o·lam” ('forever' / perpetual)

      Summary of 9: You act like that, you're a disgrace.

Remember in the introduction to The Book of the Twelve we talked about 'apocalyptic poetry'? Well, here's a good example:
      'get up and go',
      this is not your rest,
      because “ta·me·’ah” (unclean / defiled), “te·hab·bel” (that brings destruction)
      “chabal” (bindings) of “nim ras” (sickness)

      If a man walk in a “ru ah” (spirit) “wa·se·qer” (falsehood / deception) “kazab” (liar / lying), “'a tip” (I speak (implies prophecy)) of wine and drink, he would be the spokesman for these people.

      Paraphrase: The remnant of Israel will be gathered like sheep, and there will be a lot of them.

      the PROMISE is epic:

      They'll break the gate and escape to where YHWH will be their king.

Selected Sources for this book:

From the Background section:
Micah 6 in the Good News Translation


The Dead Sea Scrolls

Just an odd note about ostrich feathers and funerals


Lakhish, Israel

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

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