5 All this is because of Jacob’s[a] rebellion and[b] the sins of the nation[c] of Israel. And just what is Jacob’s rebellion? Isn’t it Samaria’s doings?[d] And what is Judah’s sin?[e] Isn’t it Jerusalem’s doings?[f]
Micah 1:5tnHeb “Is it not Samaria?” The capital city, Samaria, represents the policies of the government and trend-setting behaviors of her people. The rhetorical question expects a positive answer, “Yes, it is.”
Micah 1:5tc The MT reads, “What are Judah’s high places?” while the LXX, Syriac, and Targum read, “What is Judah’s sin?” Whether or not the original text was “sin,” the passage certainly alludes to Judah’s sin as a complement to Samaria’s. “High places” are where people worshiped idols; they could, by metonymy, represent pagan worship. Smith notes, however, that, “Jerusalem was not known for its high places,” and so follows the LXX as representing the original text (R. Smith, Micah [WBC], 16). Given the warning in v. 3 that the Lord will march on the land’s high places (“mountain tops,” based on the same word but a different plural form), this may be a way of referring to that threat while evoking the notion of idolatry.
Micah 1:5tn Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, represents the nation’s behavior. The rhetorical question expects an affirmative answer.sn In vv. 2-5 Micah narrows the scope of God’s judgment from the nations (vv. 2-4) to his covenant people (v. 5). Universal judgment is coming, but ironically Israel is the focal point of God’s anger. In v. 5c the prophet includes Judah within the scope of divine judgment, for Judah has followed in the pagan steps of the northern kingdom. He accomplishes this with rhetorical skill. In v. 5b he develops the first assertion of v. 5a (“All of this is because of Jacob’s rebellion”). One expects in v. 5c an elaboration of the second assertion in v. 5a (“and the sins of the nation of Israel”), which one assumes, in light of v. 5b, pertains to the northern kingdom. But the prophet makes it clear that “the nation of Israel” includes Judah. Verses 6-7 further develop v. 5b (judgment on the northern kingdom), while vv. 8-16 expand on v. 5c (judgment on Judah).
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