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A Study of The Minor Prophets: Micah 3 and 4

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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.
Chapter 3

     Micah is speaking in first person: “wa·’o·mar” (I said) hear now “rase” (heads / chiefs) of “ya·‘a·qob”, “u·qe·si·ne” (commanders / rulers) of the house of “yis·ra·’el”, not for you to know “ham·mis·pat” (justice).
     Micah used both names for the progenitor of the nation. It could be this is to indicate the physical descendants as well as the religious ones.

2 and 3
     “so·ne·’e” ('who' hates) good, and “we·’o·ha·be” (loves) evil - “go·ze·le” (who tear away) “'o w ram” (skin / hide) from my people, and the meat from their bones.
     The image is horrific as it equates the rulers from verse one to those that clean and dress an animal for leather and meat.

A break for cannibalism:
     To start with, while there is No Direct Prohibition against the eating of human flesh, however, you can rule people out as a source of food, at least for observant Jews, in that humans do not “divide the hoof” nor do they “chew the cud”, see Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 (which also does not mention any other primates). Therefore: while not listed as unclean for food, the fact that you'd have to touch the dead human body to eat it, you'd be unclean according to Numbers 31 : 19 and elsewhere. This could also be the case where those who spelled out the Law on paper thought their great grandchildren would be smart enough to realize that it was just something you shouldn't do.
     Perhaps now we should mention that both Leviticus 26 : 29 and Deuteronomy 28 : 53 - 57 prophecy what came true when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem, as seen in Lamentations 2 and 4. So it is obvious that it was only through a curse that they would be reduced to eating their own.
     Should we point out that the doctrine of transubstantiation which turns the Lord's Supper into the physical body and blood of the Lord (which HE would have been partaking in at the time as well, 'self cannibalism' if you will) and what that means to the Mosaic Law, rendering you ritually unclean per Numbers 19 : 11 (and following) “He that touches the dead body of any man shall be unclean,” which would mean that Christ is commanding you to break that section of the Law, which means that you would break the entire law. No, we'll skip that one for now.
End break

     Then “yiz·‘a·qu” (call out (effectively: cry for help)) to YHWH, but He will not hear them, “we·yas·ter pa naw” (hide His face) from them, because “he re 'u” (evil) “ma·‘al·le·hem” (practices / deeds).

Verse 5 The translations have some interesting differences between them.
It is worth it to compare a couple, say the NIV:
This is what the Lord says:
     “As for the prophets
         who lead my people astray,
     they proclaim ‘peace’
         if they have something to eat,
     but prepare to wage war against anyone
         who refuses to feed them.

Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people err,
   that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace;
   and he that putteth not into their mouths,
   they even prepare war against him.

The Good News even changes the order: 5 My people are deceived by prophets who promise peace to those who pay them, but threaten war for those who don't. To these prophets the Lord says, 6 “Prophets, your day is almost over; the sun is going down on you. Because you mislead my people, you will have no more prophetic visions, and you will not be able to predict anything.”

The Geneva Bible, 1599 edition:
   Thus saith the Lord concerning the prophets that make my people err,
      that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace;
      and he that putteth not into their mouths,
      they even prepare war against him.

Let's look at the Hebrew:
     Thus says YHWH, “'al” (over / against) the “han·ne·bi·’im” (prophets) “ham·mat·‘im” (deceive / lead astray / cause to wander (the term implies an intentional act)) “'ammi” (My people).....
     (This is a direct reference to 'false prophets', but then it goes on, and gets weird.)
     .... “han·no·se·kim” (they bite) “be·sin·ne hem” (with their teeth), “we·qa·re·’u” (proclaim ('state with emphasis')) “sa·lo·wm” (peace), “wa·’a·ser” (which / who / because) “lo” (not / no / nothing) yit ten (given / gave) “'al” (over / against) “pi hem” (mouth) “we·qid·de·su” (consecrate / sanctify) “‘a·law” (over / against (same root as earlier)) “mil·ha·mah” (battle / war).
     This is another direct condemnation of 'false prophets'. But in this case it is not only those who intentionally misrepresent the Word of God to the people, but those who take hostile action against God.

6 and 7 discussed
     Once again a Minor Prophet predicts the coming period of silence: “me·ha·zo·wn” (no vision) and “me·ha·zo·wn” (no divination). And a darkness: “lay lah” (night), “we·ha·se·kah” (darkness), “u ba ha” (go down) “shemesh” (the sun).
     The “chozeh” (seers) shall be “bo su” (ashamed / disconcerted), and “haq·qo·se·mim” (the diviners) 'shall cover their lips', for no “maaneh” (answer / response) from “'Elohim”.

8 and 9
     Truly, I “maleti” (full / filled) “koah” (strength / power) “ruah” Spirit) YHWH....
     The prophet lists his qualifications for the job, and who he is speaking for.
     .... 'now hear this' those who abhor justice and pervert “yashar” (straight / right)

     who build “si yo·wn” (Zion) “be·da·mim” ('spilled' blood) and “wirusalim” (Jerusalem) with “be·‘aw·lah” (injustice / unrighteousness)

     The list of charges ranges far and wide, including the statement:
     ... they say 'isn't YHWH among us, no harm can come upon us'.

     paraphrase: 'that's what they think'.

     This verse mentions a mountain and a temple... remember that.

Chapter 4
1 - 2

     The promise is epic in scope. Covering both the Word of God going out from the Temple and All Peoples coming to it. In terms of a Messianic Prophecy, this is one of the more poetic ones.

     the 'he' here is open to interpretation, it refers to one of the players in verse 1, however, in a Christian perspective, it could well refer to the Word of YHWH, in the person of Christ.
     See Isaiah 2, and Joel 3.

     paraphrase: 'they'll sit in the shade and not worry because' YHWH of the hosts has spoken it.

     “ki” (for) “kal” (all) “ha·‘am·mim” (people) “ye·le·ku” ('do' walk) “'is” (people) “be sem” ('in the' name) “’e·lo·haw” (his own god), “wa·’a·nah·nu” ('but' we) “ne lek” ('will' walk) in the name of YHWH “elohim nu” (our God) “le·‘o·w·lam” ('long into the future') “wa 'ed” (in perpetuity).

     In that day, says YHWH, “’o·se·pah” (I will receive / assemble) “has·so·le·‘ah” (the lame (literally: 'those that limp'), “we·han·nid·da·hah” (and the banished) “’a·qab·be·sah” (I will gather) “wa·’a·ser” (those who) “ha·re·‘o ti” (afflicted / broken)

     (this verse is about those in verse 6)
     The lame- “lis·’e·rit” ('make a' remnant), and the outcast “le go w” (a nation) “'a sum” (mighty), so will reign YWHW over them in Mount Zion.
     We see reference to Mount Zion being the seat of God's throne in places like Isaiah 24 : 33, and the end of Joel 3.

     And you “mig dal” (tower) of the “eder” (flock) .... The translations are good.
     It is interesting when you see that the word “bat / bath” (daughter) is used for those that, in the future, will see the promise of the return of the kingdom: the 'daughters' of Zion and Jerusalem.

     Why do you “tar ri 'i” “re·a'” (roaring (meaning: loudly)? Is there no king? Has your counselor perished....
     The questions do not apply to the Messianic prophecy, but are rhetorical in Micah's age.

     The image of pregnancy continues, and the prophecy is that she will give birth in Babylon.

     Paraphrase: the nations are watching 'the daughter' to be “chaneph” (corrupted / polluted) as a symbol of Zion.
     This is possibly a reference to the Israelites in Babylon turning to idolatry, and 'the nations' are watching to see if it happens.

     But 'the nations' do not know “mah·se·bo·wt” (purposes / plans) of YHWH, nor do they “he bi nu” (discern / comprehend / understand) his “‘a·sa·tow” (counsel), for He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor.
     The reference to the sheaves is when the good grain is separated from the stalks and chaff, which is then burned.

     The first phrase is an imperative, but then the end of the verse is oddly worded and can be misunderstood.
     ... for I will make “qar·nek” (horn) “bar zel” (iron), “u·par·so·ta·yik” (your hooves) “ne·hu·sah” (bronze), “wa·ha·diq·qo·wt” (you shall break / crush) many peoples....
     “we·ha·ha·ram·ti” (the root of this word 'charam' means 'to exterminate' and also 'accursed', NOT 'consecrate' which is 'to set apart for sacred purpose')
     “we·ha·ha·ram·ti” (destroy) to YHWH, and “bis 'am” (cut / break off (violently)) “we·he·lam” ('their' wealth) to the Lord of all the Earth.
     Paraphrase of the second clause: the nations that Israel crushes will see their wealth taken by force, and then used for God's purposes.

End 4

Selected Sources for this book:


“the Unclean Dead”

Geneva Bible (1560/1599)

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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