Destruction in Israel and Judah
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 [through divine revelation] concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
Hear, O peoples, all of you;
Listen closely, O earth and all that is in it,
And let the Lord God be witness [giving a testimony of the judgment] against you,
The Lord from His holy temple [in the heavens].(A)
For behold, the Lord is coming down from His place
He shall come down and tread [in judgment] on the high places of the earth.(B)
The mountains shall melt under Him
And the valleys shall be split
Like wax before the fire,
Like waters poured down a steep place.
All this is because of the rebellion and apostasy of [a]Jacob
And for the sins of the house of Israel (the Northern Kingdom).
What is the rebellion and apostasy of Jacob?
Is it not [the abandonment of God in order to worship the idols of] Samaria?
What are the high places [of idolatry] in Judah (the Southern Kingdom)?
Are they not Jerusalem [the capital and center of corruption]?
Therefore I [the Lord] shall make Samaria a [b]heap of ruins [and of stones and arable land] in the open country,
A place for planting vineyards;
And I will pour her stones down into the ravine
And lay bare her foundations.(C)
All her idols shall be broken in pieces,
All her earnings [from her idolatry] shall be burned with fire,
And all her images I shall make desolate;
For from the earnings of a prostitute she collected them,
And to the earnings of a prostitute they shall return.
Because of this I [Micah] must lament (mourn over with expressions of grief) and wail,
I must go barefoot and naked [without outer garments as if robbed];
I must wail like the jackals
And lament [with a loud, mournful cry] like the ostriches.
For Samaria’s wound is incurable,
For it has come to Judah;
The enemy has reached the gate of my people,
Even to Jerusalem.
[c]Announce it not in Gath [in Philistia],
Weep not at all [and in this way betray your grief to Gentiles];
In Beth-le-aphrah (House of Dust) roll in the dust [among your own people].
Go on your way [into exile—stripped of beauty, disarmed], inhabitants of Shaphir (Beautiful), in shameful nakedness.
The inhabitant of Zaanan (Go Out) does not go out [of the house];
The wailing of Beth-ezel (House of Removal) will take away from you its support.
For the inhabitant of Maroth (Bitterness)
Writhes in pain [at its losses] and waits anxiously for good,
Because a catastrophe has come down from the Lord
To the gate of Jerusalem.
Harness the chariot to the team of horses [to escape the invasion],
O inhabitant of Lachish—
She was the beginning of sin
To the Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem)—
Because in you were found
The rebellious acts of Israel.
Therefore you will give parting gifts
On behalf of Moresheth-gath (Micah’s home);
The houses of Achzib (Place of Deceit) will become a deception
To the kings of Israel.
Moreover, I will bring on you
The one who takes possession,
O inhabitant of Mareshah (Prominent Place).
The glory (nobility) of Israel will enter Adullam [seeking refuge].(D)
Make yourself bald [in mourning]—shave off your hair
For the children of your delight;
Remain as bald as the eagle,
For your children will be taken from you into exile.
Woe to Oppressors
2 Woe (judgment is coming) to those who devise wickedness
And plot evil on their beds!
When morning comes, they practice evil
Because it is in the power of their hands.
They covet fields and seize them,
And houses, and take them away.
They oppress and rob a man and his house,
A man and his inheritance.(E)
3 Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“Behold, I am planning against this family a disaster (exile)
[Like a noose] from which you cannot remove your necks;
Nor will you be able to walk haughtily and erect,
For it will be an evil time [of subjugation to the invaders].
“On that day they shall take up a [taunting, deriding] parable against you
And wail with a doleful and bitter song of mourning and say,
‘We are completely destroyed!
God exchanges the inheritance of my people;
How He removes it from me!
He divides our fields to the rebellious [our captors].’
“Therefore, you will have no one stretching a measuring line [dividing the common land]
For you by lot in the assembly of the Lord.(F)
‘Do not speak out,’ so they speak out.
But if they do not speak out concerning these things,
Reproaches will not be turned back.
“Is it being said, O house of Jacob:
‘Is the Spirit of the Lord impatient?
Or are these [prophesied judgments] His doings?’
Do not My words do good
To the one walking uprightly?
“But lately My people have stood up as an enemy [and have made Me their antagonist].
You strip the ornaments off the garment
Of those unsuspecting passers-by,
Like those returned from war.
“You evict the women (widows) of My people,
Each one from her pleasant house;
From her [young, fatherless] children you take away My splendor and blessing forever [by putting them among the pagans, away from Me].
“Arise and depart [because the captivity is inevitable],
For this [land] is not the place of rest
Because of the defilement that brings destruction,
A painful and terrible destruction.
“If a man walking in a false spirit [spouting deception]
Should lie and say,
‘I will prophesy to you [O Israel] of wine and liquor (greed, sensual pleasure),’
He would be the acceptable spokesman of this people.(G)
“I shall most certainly assemble all of you, O Jacob;
I shall surely gather the remnant of Israel.
I shall bring them together like sheep in the fold [multiplying the nation];
Like a flock in the midst of its pasture.
The place will swarm with many people and hum loudly with noise.
“The [d]breaker [the Messiah, who opens the way] shall go up before them [liberating them].
They will break out, pass through the gate and go out;
So their King goes on before them,
The Lord at their head.”(H)
3 And I said,
“Hear now, heads of Jacob
And rulers of the house of Israel.
Is it not for you to know and administer justice?
“You who hate good and love evil,
Who tear the skin off my people
And their flesh from their bones;
You who eat the flesh of my people,
Strip off their skin from them,
Break their bones
And chop them in pieces as for the pot,
Like meat in a kettle.”
Then they will cry to the Lord,
But He will not answer them;
Instead, He will even hide His face from them at that time [withholding His mercy]
Because they have practiced and tolerated and ignored evil acts.(I)
5 Thus says the Lord concerning the [false] prophets who lead my people astray;
When they have something good to bite with their teeth,
They call out, “Peace,”
But against the one who gives them nothing to eat,
They declare a holy war.
Therefore it will be night (tragedy) for you—without vision,
And darkness (cataclysm) for you—without foresight.
The sun shall go down on the [false] prophets,
And the day shall become dark and black over them.
The seers shall be ashamed
And the diviners discredited and embarrassed;
Indeed, they shall all cover their mouths [in shame]
Because there is no answer from God.
But in fact, I am filled with power,
With the Spirit of the Lord,
And with justice and might,
To declare to Jacob his transgression
And to Israel his sin.
Now hear this, you heads of the house of Jacob
And rulers of the house of Israel,
Who hate and reject justice
And twist everything that is straight,
Who build Zion with blood [and extortion and murder]
And Jerusalem with violent injustice.
Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe,
Her priests teach for a fee,
And her prophets foretell for money;
Yet they lean on the Lord, saying,
“Is not the Lord among us?
No tragedy or distress will come on us.”(J)
Therefore, on account of you
[e]Zion shall be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem shall become [f]a heap of ruins,
And the mountain of the house [of the Lord] shall become like a densely wooded hill.(K)
Peaceful Latter Days
4 But it shall come about in the last days
That the mountain of the house of the Lord
Shall be established as the highest and chief of the mountains;
It shall be above the hills,
And peoples shall flow [like a river] to it.
And many nations shall come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob,
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law shall go forward from Zion,
And the word of the Lord [the revelation about Him and His truth] from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for strong and distant nations.
Then they shall hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks [so that the implements of war may become the tools of agriculture];
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Nor shall they ever again train for war.(L)
Each of them shall sit [in security and peace] under his vine
And under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid,
For the mouth of the [omnipotent] Lord of hosts has spoken it.(M)
For all the peoples [now] walk
Each in the name of his god [in a transient relationship],
As for us, we shall walk [securely]
In the name of the Lord our [true] God forever and ever.
“In that day,” says the Lord,
“I shall assemble the lame,
And gather the outcasts [from foreign captivity],
Even those whom I have caused pain.
“I shall make the lame a [godly] remnant
And the outcasts a strong nation;
And the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion
From this time on and forever.
“As for you [Jerusalem], tower of the flock [of Israel],
Hill and stronghold of the Daughter of Zion (Jerusalem’s inhabitants),
To you the former dominion shall come,
The kingdom of the Daughter of Jerusalem [when the Messiah reigns in Jerusalem, and the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled].(N)
“Now, why do you cry out loudly?
Is there no king among you?
Has your counselor perished?
For agony has gripped you like a woman in childbirth.
“Writhe in pain and labor to give birth,
O Daughter of Zion,
Like a woman in childbirth;
For now you shall go out of the city,
Live in the field,
And go to Babylon.
There you will be rescued;
There the Lord shall redeem you
From the hand of your enemies.
“Now many [conquering] nations are assembled against you,
Who say, ‘Let her be profaned [through Gentile presence and the temple’s destruction],
And let our eyes gaze on and gloat over Zion.’
“But they (Gentile nations) do not know the thoughts of the Lord,
Nor do they understand His purpose and plan;
For He has gathered them (Gentiles) like sheaves to the threshing floor [for destruction].
“Arise and thresh, O Daughter of Zion!
For I will make your horn iron
And I will make your hoofs bronze;
That you may beat many peoples in pieces [trampling down your enemies],
That you may devote to the Lord their unjust gain (pagan possessions)
And their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.(O)
Birth of the King in Bethlehem
5 “Now gather yourself in troops, O daughter of troops;
A state of siege has been placed against us.
They shall strike the ruler of Israel on the cheek with a rod (scepter).
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah;
From you One shall come forth for Me [who is] to be Ruler in Israel,
His goings forth (appearances) are from long ago,
From [g]ancient days.”(P)
Therefore, He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has given birth to a child.
Then what is left of His kinsmen
Shall return to the children of Israel.
And He shall stand and shepherd and guide His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall dwell [secure in undisturbed peace],
Because at that time He shall be great [extending His authority]
[Even] to the ends of the earth.(Q)
This One [the Messiah] shall be our peace.
When the Assyrian invades our land
And tramples on our citadels and in our palaces,
Then shall we raise against him
Seven shepherds and eight princes [an overpowering force] among men.(R)
They shall devastate the land of Assyria with the sword and
The land of Nimrod within her [own] gates.
And He (the Messiah) shall rescue us from the Assyrian (all enemy nations)
When he attacks our land
And when he tramples our territory.
Then the remnant of Jacob
Shall be among many peoples
Like dew from the Lord,
Like showers on the grass [a source of blessing]
Which [come suddenly and] do not wait for man
Nor delay for the sons of men.(S)
The remnant of Jacob
Shall be among the nations,
In the midst of many peoples
Like a lion among the beasts of the forest,
Like a young lion [suddenly appearing] among the flocks of sheep
Which, if he passes through,
Tramples down and tears into pieces [the nations in judgment],
And there is no one to rescue.
Your hand will be lifted up against your adversaries,
And all your enemies shall be cut off and destroyed.
“And in that day,” says the Lord,
“I will cut off your horses from among you
And destroy your chariots [on which you depend].(T)
“I will cut off the cities of your land
And tear down all your fortifications.
“I will cut off witchcrafts and sorceries from your hand,
And you shall have no more fortune-tellers.
“I will also cut off your carved images
And your sacred pillars from among you,
So that you will no longer worship and bow down
To the work of your hands.
“I will root out your Asherim (symbols of the goddess Asherah) from among you
And destroy your cities [which are the centers of pagan worship].(U)
“And in anger and wrath I shall execute vengeance
On the nations which have not obeyed [such vengeance as they have not known before].”
God’s Indictment of His People
6 Hear now what the Lord is saying,
“Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
And let the hills [as witnesses] hear your voice.
“Hear, O mountains, the indictment of the Lord,
And you enduring foundations of the earth,
For the Lord has a case (a legal complaint) against His people,
And He will dispute (challenge) Israel.
“O My people, what have I done to you [since you have turned away from Me]?
And how have I wearied you? Answer Me.
“For I brought you up from the land of Egypt
And ransomed you from the house of slavery,
And I sent before you Moses [to lead you], Aaron [the high priest], and Miriam [the prophetess].
“My people, remember now
What Balak king of Moab devised [with his evil plan against Israel]
And what Balaam the son of Beor answered him [turning the curse into blessing for Israel],
[Remember what the Lord did for you] from [h]Shittim to Gilgal,
So that you may know the righteous and saving acts [displaying the power] of the Lord.”(V)
What God Requires of Man
With what shall I come before the Lord [to honor Him]
And bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With yearling calves?
Will the Lord be delighted with thousands of rams,
Or with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I present my firstborn for my acts of rebellion,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion),
And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?(W)
The voice of the Lord shall call to the city [of Jerusalem]—
And it is sound wisdom to heed [solemnly] and fear Your name [with awe-filled reverence];
“Hear, O tribe [the rod of punishment]. Who has appointed its time?
“Are there not still treasures gained by wickedness
In the house of the wicked,
And a short (inaccurate) measure [for grain] that is cursed?(X)
“Can I [be guiltless and] justify deceptive scales
And a bag of dishonest weights?(Y)
“For the rich men of the city are full of violence [of every kind];
Her inhabitants speak lies
And their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
“So also I will make you sick, striking you down,
Desolating and devastating you, because of your sins.
“You shall eat, but you will not be satisfied,
And your [i]emptiness shall be among you;
You will [try to] remove [your goods and those you love] for safekeeping
But you will fail to save anything,
And what you do save I shall give to the sword.
“You shall sow but you shall not reap;
You shall tread olives, but shall not anoint yourself with oil,
And [you will extract juice from] the grapes, but you shall not drink the wine.
“For [you have kept] the statutes of Omri [the idolatrous king],
And all the works of the [wicked] house (dynasty) of Ahab;
And you walk in their counsels and policies.
Therefore, I shall hand you over for destruction and horror
And your [city’s] inhabitants for ridicule,
And you shall bear the rebuke and scorn of My people.”
The Prophet Acknowledges Injustice
7 Woe is me (judgment is coming)! For I am
Like one who gathers the summer fruits, like one who gleans the vintage grapes.
There is not a cluster of grapes to eat,
No first-ripe fig which my appetite craves.
The godly person [who is faithful and loyal to God] has perished from the earth,
And there is no upright person [one with good character and moral integrity] among men.
They all lie in wait to shed blood;
Each hunts the other with a net.
Concerning evil, both of their hands pursue it and do it diligently and thoroughly;
The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe,
And a great man speaks the [evil] desire of his soul.
So they twist the course of justice between them.
The best of them is [injurious] like a briar;
The most upright is [prickly] like a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen [that is, the time predicted by the prophets]
And your punishment comes;
Now shall be their confusion.
Do not trust in a neighbor [because of the moral corruption in the land];
Do not have confidence in a friend.
Guard the doors of your mouth
From her who lies in your bosom.(Z)
For the son dishonors the father and treats him contemptuously,
The daughter rises up [in hostility] against her mother,
The daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
A man’s enemies are the men (members) of his own household.(AA)
God Is the Source of Salvation and Light
But as for me, I will look expectantly for the Lord and with confidence in Him I will keep watch;
I will wait [with confident expectation] for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.
Do not rejoice over me [amid my tragedies], O my enemy!
Though I fall, I will rise;
Though I sit in the darkness [of distress], the Lord is a light for me.
I will bear the indignation and wrath of the Lord
Because I have sinned against Him,
Until He pleads my case and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out to the light,
And I will behold His [amazing] righteousness and His remarkable deliverance.(AB)
Then my enemy [all the pagan nations] shall see it,
And shame [for despising the Lord] will cover her who said to me,
“Where is the Lord your God?”
My eyes will look on her [with satisfaction at her judgment];
Now she (unbelievers) will be trampled down
Like mud of the streets.
It shall be a day for building your walls,
On that day the boundary [of Israel] shall be [greatly] extended.(AC)
It shall be a day when [j]the Gentiles will come to you
From Assyria and from the cities of Egypt,
And from Egypt even to the river Euphrates,
From sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.
Yet the earth [beyond the land of Israel] shall become desolate because of those who dwell in it,
Because of the fruit of their deeds.
Shepherd and rule Your people with Your scepter [of blessing],
The flock of Your inheritance and Your possession
Which dwells alone [separate and secure from attack] in the forest,
In the midst of a garden land.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead
As in the days of old [the days of Moses and Elijah].
“As in the days when you came out from the land of Egypt,
I shall show you marvelous and miraculous things.”
The [pagan] nations shall see [God’s omnipotence in delivering Israel] and be ashamed
Of all their might [which cannot be compared to His].
They shall put their hand on their mouth [in silent astonishment];
Their ears shall be deaf.
They shall lick the dust like a serpent;
Like crawling things of the earth
They shall come trembling out of their fortresses and hiding places.
They shall turn and come with fear and dread to the Lord our God
And they shall be afraid and stand in awe before You [O Lord].(AD)
Who is a God like You, who forgives wickedness
And passes over the rebellious acts of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He [constantly] delights in mercy and lovingkindness.
He shall again have compassion on us;
He will subdue and tread underfoot our wickedness [destroying sin’s power].
Yes, You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.(AE)
You shall give truth to Jacob
And lovingkindness and mercy to Abraham,
As You have sworn to our forefathers
From the days of old.(AF)
- Micah 1:5 I.e. an alternate name for Israel. The capital city was Samaria.
- Micah 1:6 Omri king of Israel (the Northern Kingdom—the ten tribes) purchased the hill on which he built Samaria, his capital city, for two talents of silver. It served both as a center for the worship of idols and as the capital of Israel until it was captured by Sargon king of Assyria in 721 b.c. This victory marked the end of the kingdom of the ten tribes.
- Micah 1:10 Micah uses a play on words as he denounces the cities in vv 10-15.
- Micah 2:13 The prophets repeatedly revealed the full extent of God’s coming judgment and salvation. God would punish His rebellious people but would afterward redeem them. Israel would be sent into exile, but a remnant of the people would return. The Messiah, the One who breaks open the way, shall lead them back and shall restore the kingdom of David.
- Micah 3:12 Zion (City of David) was the elevated area between the Tyropoeon and Kidron valleys (southeastern area of Jerusalem during the time of Jesus). The city was the capital of Israel (the united kingdom) during the reigns of David and Solomon, and the site of Solomon’s temple.
- Micah 3:12 In 586 b.c. Jerusalem (including Solomon’s temple) was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar ruler of Babylon (Chaldean Dynasty).
- Micah 5:2 Lit the days of eternity.
- Micah 6:5 God reminds His people of His gracious acts in their behalf—how Balak tried to oppose Israel through pagan rites, sending for Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites; how God saved Israel by causing Balaam to bless instead of curse them; and how God later led them across the Jordan River into the promised land, from Shittim (Josh 3:1) to Gilgal (Josh 4:19).
- Micah 6:14 Or possibly garbage or vileness.
- Micah 7:12 Lit he.