1 These are the words of the Eternal One and the visions about the two capital cities of Israel and Judah, Samaria and Jerusalem, that were given to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah over Judah.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel, sometimes called Samaria after its capital city, was conquered by the Assyrian Empire in 722 b.c. The Southern Kingdom of Judah, where Micah lives and speaks, has been spared that fate, but at a high price: the people have lost the power to govern themselves, pay huge tributes to the Assyrians, and allow the corruption of their religious practices because of the Assyrians’ influence. All Israelites suffer under these conditions, but Micah’s attention is drawn especially to the poor and dispossessed; somehow, as often happens in wartime, rich people manage to get richer while the poor are exploited, and Micah is outraged at the way the rulers of Judah have taken advantage of those who had little—and now have less.
2 Listen, all of you people![a]
Pay attention, earth and all upon it!
The Eternal Lord gives evidence against you;
the Lord speaks from His holy temple.
3 Look at this: the Eternal is leaving His home in heaven,
and He is coming down to walk[b] over the high places of the earth.
4 The mountains will melt beneath His feet;
the valleys will burst open,
Like wax next to a raging fire,
as water pours from the heights.
5 Eternal One: All of this is happening because of the crimes of Jacob,
the wrongdoings of the people of Israel.
And what is the crime of Jacob? Isn’t it Samaria?
And what is the high place of Judah? Isn’t it Jerusalem?
6 And so I will turn Samaria into a pile of ruins in an open field.
To make her properly into a place to plant a vineyard,
I will roll her stones into the valley
and bare her foundations for all to see.
7 I will shatter her images and burn her immoral riches with fire,
and all her idols I will break down.
They came from the earning of prostitutes, servants of other gods,
and they will be used again to pay the wages of another prostitute.
8 Because of this, I will howl and wail;
this is why I will go barefoot and naked,
Why I will scream like the jackals
and screech like the ostriches as if in mourning.
9 Eternal One: For her wounds cannot be cured because Samaria’s transgression has reached Judah.
It now has reached the gate of My people, even in Jerusalem.
This listing of 11 conquered Israelite cities begins with David’s quote about Gath when he was lamenting the deaths of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 1:20).
10 Do not tell this in Gath. Do not weep even a little.[c]
In Beth-le-aphrah, wallow in the dust as you mourn.
11 Travel on, you who live in Shaphir, no longer beautiful but naked and ashamed.
You who live in Zaanan, do not come out when the enemy approaches.
Beth-ezel is weeping, “He is tearing you away from His foundations,”
and she won’t be there to support her neighbors.
12 Those who live in Maroth wait anxiously for good news;
the Eternal sends disaster down to the gates of Jerusalem.
13 Harness your horses to the chariots, you who live in the stronghold called Lachish;
in you are the seeds of the sin of My daughter Zion;
in you are the crimes of Israel.
14 That is why you will pay a dowry to Moresheth-gath
when Israel departs for exile.
The houses of Achzib will deceive and disappoint the kings of Israel.
15 I will send a conqueror again to all of you living in Mareshah,
and the glory of Israel, her treasures and leaders, will come to Adullam for refuge as David once did.
The list of cities given here matches the path Sennacherib took when he marched against Jerusalem in 701 b.c.
16 Cut off your hair and shave your heads. Prepare yourselves for slavery
on account of the children whom you pampered and privileged.
Make yourself as bald as an eagle,
for they have been removed from you into exile.