1 I am Micah from Moresheth.[a] And this is the message about Samaria and Jerusalem[b] that the Lord gave to me when Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah[c] were the kings of Judah.
Judgment on Samaria
2 Listen, all of you! Earth and everything on it, pay close attention. The Lord God accuses you from his holy temple.[d] 3 And he will come down to crush underfoot every pagan altar. 4 Mountains will melt beneath his feet like wax beside a fire. Valleys will vanish like water rushing down a ravine. 5 This will happen because of the terrible sins of Israel, the descendants of Jacob. Samaria has led Israel to sin, and pagan altars at Jerusalem have made Judah sin.
6 So the Lord will leave Samaria in ruins— merely an empty field where vineyards are planted. He will scatter its stones and destroy its foundations. 7 Samaria’s idols will be smashed, and the wages of temple prostitutes[e] will be destroyed by fire. Silver and gold from those idols will then be used by foreigners as payment for prostitutes.
Judah Is Doomed
8 Because of this tragedy,[f] I go barefoot and naked. My crying and weeping sound like howling wolves or ostriches. 9 The nation is fatally wounded. Judah is doomed. Jerusalem will fall.
10 Don’t tell it in Gath! Don’t even cry. Instead, roll in the dust at Beth-Leaphrah.[g] 11 Depart naked and ashamed, you people of Shaphir.[h] The town of Bethezel[i] mourns because no one from Zaanan[j] went out to help.[k] 12 Everyone in Maroth[l] hoped for the best, but the Lord sent disaster down on Jerusalem.
13 Get the war chariots ready, you people of Lachish.[m] You led Jerusalem into sin, just as Israel did.[n] 14 Now you will have to give a going-away gift[o] to Moresheth.[p] Israel’s kings will discover that they cannot trust the town of Achzib.[q]
15 People of Mareshah,[r] the Lord will send someone to capture your town. Then Israel’s glorious king will be forced to hide in Adullam Cave.[s] 16 Judah, shave your head as bald as a buzzard and start mourning. Your precious children[t] will be dragged off to a foreign country.
Punishment for Those Who Abuse Their Power
2 Doomed! You’re doomed!
At night you lie in bed, making evil plans. And when morning comes, you do what you’ve planned because you have the power. 2 You grab any field or house that you want; you cheat families out of homes and land.
3 But here is what the Lord says: “I am planning trouble for you. Your necks will be caught in a noose, and you will be disgraced in this time of disaster.”
4 When that happens, this sorrowful song will be sung about you: “Ruined! Completely ruined! The Lord has taken our land and given it to traitors.”[u] 5 And so you will never again own property among the Lord’s people.
6 “Enough of your preaching!” That’s what you tell me. “We won’t be disgraced, so stop preaching!”
7 Descendants of Jacob, is it right for you to claim that the Lord did what he did because he was angry? Doesn’t he always bless those who do right? 8 My people, you have even stolen clothes right off the backs of your unsuspecting soldiers returning home from battle. 9 You take over lovely homes that belong to the women of my nation. Then you cheat their children out of the inheritance that comes from the Lord.[v]
10 Get out of here, you crooks! You’ll find no rest here. You’re not fit to belong to the Lord’s people, and you will be destroyed.[w] 11 The only prophet you want is a liar who will say, “Drink and get drunk!”
A Promise of Hope
12 I, the Lord, promise to bring together the people of Israel who have survived. I will gather them, just as a shepherd brings sheep together, and there will be many. 13 I will break down the gate and lead them out— then I will be their king.
Evil Rulers and Lying Prophets
3 Listen to me, you rulers of Israel! You know right from wrong, 2 but you prefer to do evil instead of what is right. You skin my people alive. You strip off their flesh, 3 break their bones, cook it all in a pot, and gulp it down.
4 Someday you will beg the Lord to help you, but he will turn away because of your sins.
5 You lying prophets promise security for anyone who gives you food, but disaster for anyone who refuses to feed you. Here is what the Lord says to you prophets: 6 “You will live in the dark, far from the sight of the sun, with no message from me. 7 You prophets and fortunetellers will all be disgraced, with no message from me.”
8 But the Lord has filled me with power and his Spirit. I have been given the courage to speak about justice and to tell you people of Israel that you have sinned. 9 So listen to my message, you rulers of Israel! You hate justice and twist the truth. 10 You make cruelty and murder a way of life in Jerusalem. 11 You leaders accept bribes for dishonest decisions. You priests and prophets teach and preach, but only for money.
Then you say, “The Lord is on our side. No harm will come to us.” 12 And so, because of you, Jerusalem will be plowed under and left in ruins. Thorns will cover the mountain where the temple now stands.
Peace and Prosperity
4 In the future, the mountain with the Lord’s temple will be the highest of all. It will reach above the hills, and every nation will rush to it. 2 People of many nations will come and say, “Let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord God of Jacob and worship in his temple.”
The Lord will teach us his Law from Jerusalem, and we will obey him. 3 He will settle arguments between distant and powerful nations. They will pound their swords and their spears into rakes and shovels; they will never again make war or attack one another. 4 Everyone will find rest beneath their own fig trees or grape vines, and they will live in peace. This is a solemn promise of the Lord All-Powerful.
5 Others may follow their gods, but we will always follow the Lord our God.
The Lord Will Lead His People Home
6 The Lord said: At that time I will gather my people— the lame and the outcasts, and all into whose lives I have brought sorrow. 7 Then the lame and the outcasts will belong to my people and become a strong nation. I, the Lord, will rule them from Mount Zion forever. 8 Mount Zion in Jerusalem, guardian of my people, you will rule again.
9 Jerusalem, why are you crying? Don’t you have a king? Have your advisors gone? Are you suffering like a woman in childbirth? 10 Keep on groaning with pain, you people of Jerusalem! If you escape from your city to the countryside, you will still be taken as prisoners to Babylonia. But later I will rescue you from your enemies.
11 Zion, because of your sins you are surrounded by many nations who say, “We can hardly wait to see you disgraced.”[x] 12 But they don’t know that I, the Lord, have gathered them here to grind them like grain. 13 Smash them to pieces, Zion! I’ll let you be like a bull with iron horns and bronze hoofs. Crush those nations and bring their wealth to me, the Lord of the earth.
A Promised Ruler
5 Jerusalem, enemy troops have surrounded you;[y] they have struck Israel’s ruler in the face with a stick.
2 Bethlehem Ephrath, you are one of the smallest towns in the nation of Judah. But the Lord will choose one of your people to rule the nation— someone whose family goes back to ancient times.[z] 3 The Lord will abandon Israel only until this ruler is born, and the rest of his family returns to Israel. 4 Like a shepherd taking care of his sheep, this ruler will lead and care for his people by the power and glorious name of the Lord his God. His people will live securely, and the whole earth will know his true greatness, 5 because he will bring peace.
Assyria Will Be Defeated
Let Assyria attack our country and our palaces. We will counterattack, led by a number of rulers 6 whose strong army will defeat the nation of Assyria.[aa] Yes, our leaders will rescue us, if those Assyrians dare to invade our land.
The Survivors Will Be Safe
7 A few of Jacob’s descendants survived and are scattered among the nations. But the Lord will let them cover the earth like dew and rain that refreshes the soil. 8 At present they are scattered, but later they will attack, as though they were fierce lions pouncing on sheep. Their enemies will be torn to shreds, with no one to save them; 9 they will be helpless, completely destroyed.
Idols Will Be Destroyed in Israel
10 The Lord said: At that time I will wipe out your cavalry and chariots, 11 as well as your cities and your fortresses. 12 I will stop you from telling fortunes and practicing witchcraft. 13 You will no longer worship the idols or stone images you have made— I will destroy them, 14 together with the sacred poles[ab] and even your towns. 15 I will become furious and take revenge on the nations that refuse to obey me.
The Lord’s Challenge to His People
6 The Lord said to his people:
Come and present your case to the hills and mountains. 2 Israel, I am bringing charges against you— I call upon the mountains and the earth’s firm foundation to be my witnesses.
3 My people, have I wronged you in any way at all? Please tell me. 4 I rescued you from Egypt, where you were slaves. I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to be your leaders. 5 Don’t forget the evil plans of King Balak of Moab or what Balaam son of Beor[ac] said to him. Remember how I, the Lord, saved you many times on your way from Acacia to Gilgal.[ad]
6 What offering should I bring when I bow down to worship the Lord God Most High? Should I try to please him[ae] by sacrificing calves a year old? 7 Will thousands of sheep or rivers of olive oil make God satisfied with me? Should I sacrifice to the Lord my first-born child as payment for my terrible sins? 8 The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.”
Cheating and Violence
9 I am the Lord, and it makes sense to respect my power to punish. So listen to my message for the city of Jerusalem:[af] 10 You store up stolen treasures and use dishonest scales.[ag] 11 But I, the Lord, will punish you for cheating with weights and with measures. 12 You rich people are violent, and everyone tells lies.
13 Because of your sins, I will wound you and leave you ruined and defenseless. 14 You will eat, but still be hungry; you will store up goods, but lose everything— I, the Lord, will let it all be captured in war. 15 You won’t harvest what you plant or use the oil from your olive trees or drink the wine from grapes you grow.
16 Jerusalem, this will happen because you followed the sinful example of kings Omri and Ahab.[ah] Now I will destroy you and your property. Then the people of every nation will make fun and insult you.
Israel Is Corrupt
7 I feel so empty inside— like someone starving for grapes or figs, after the vines and trees have all been picked clean. 2 No one is loyal to God; no one does right. Everyone is brutal and eager to deceive everyone else. 3 People cooperate to commit crime. Judges and leaders demand bribes, and rulers cheat in court.[ai] 4 The most honest of them is worse than a thorn patch.
Your doom has come! Lookouts sound the warning, and everyone panics. 5 Don’t trust anyone, not even your best friend, and be careful what you say to the one you love.
6 Sons refuse to respect their own fathers, daughters rebel against their own mothers, and daughters-in-law despise their mothers-in-law. Your family is now your enemy. 7 But I trust the Lord God to save me, and I will wait for him to answer my prayer.
The Nation Turns to God
8 My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I may have fallen, but I will get up; I may be sitting in the dark, but the Lord is my light. 9 I have sinned against the Lord. And so I must endure his anger, until he comes to my defense. But I know that I will see him making things right for me and leading me to the light.
10 You, my enemies, said, “The Lord God is helpless.” Now each of you will be disgraced and put to shame. I will see you trampled like mud in the street.
A Bright Future
11 Towns of Judah, the day is coming when your walls will be rebuilt, and your boundaries enlarged. 12 People will flock to you from Assyria and Egypt, from Babylonia[aj] and everywhere else. 13 Those nations will suffer disaster because of what they did.
Micah’s Prayer and the Lord’s Answer
14 Lead your people, Lord! Come and be our shepherd. Grasslands surround us, but we live in a forest. So lead us to Bashan and Gilead,[ak] and let us find pasture as we did long ago.
15 I, the Lord, will work miracles just as I did when I led you out of Egypt. 16 Nations will see this and be ashamed because of their helpless armies. They will be in shock, unable to speak or hear, 17 because of their fear of me, your Lord and God. Then they will come trembling, crawling out of their fortresses like insects or snakes, lapping up the dust.
No One Is Like God
The people said:
18 Our God, no one is like you. We are all that is left of your chosen people, and you freely forgive our sin and guilt. You don’t stay angry forever; you’re glad to have pity 19 and pleased to be merciful. You will trample on our sins and throw them in the sea. 20 You will keep your word and be faithful to Jacob and to Abraham, as you promised our ancestors many years ago.
1.1Moresheth: A town in southern Judah not far from Gath. In verse 14 it is called Moresheth-Gath.
1.1Samaria and Jerusalem: Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom (Israel), and Jerusalem was the capital of the southern kingdom (Judah).
1.1Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah: Jotham, the son of Uzziah, ruled Judah 740-736 B.C.; Ahaz, the son of Jotham, ruled 736-716 B.C.; Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, ruled 716-687 B.C.
1.2holy temple: Possibly the one in heaven, though it may be the Jerusalem temple.
1.7wages of temple prostitutes: At pagan temples, people had sex with prostitutes as a way of worshiping the idols, and the money earned in this way was used to support the pagan religion.
1.8this tragedy: Either the destruction of Samaria (verses 6,7) or the coming destruction of Judah and Jerusalem.
1.10Gath. . . Beth-Leaphrah: Gath was a Philistine city; Beth-Leaphrah is unknown, but in Hebrew it sounds like “House of Dust.”
1.11Shaphir: Mentioned only here in the Old Testament; in Hebrew “Shaphir” means “beautiful.”
1.11Bethezel: Mentioned only here in the Old Testament; in Hebrew “Bethezel” means “house next door.”
1.11Zaanan: Mentioned only here in the Old Testament; in Hebrew “Zaanan” means “one who goes out.”
1.11The town. . . help: Or “No one from Zaanan refused to desert their town, and Bethezel mourns because it is left undefended.”
1.12Maroth: Mentioned only here in the Old Testament; in Hebrew “Maroth” means “bitter.”
1.13Lachish: The chief city of southwest Judah, about thirty miles from Jerusalem.
1.13led. . . sin. . . did: Or “You led Jerusalem and Israel into sin.” In Hebrew “Lachish” sounds like “a team of horses (that pulls a war chariot).” And the sin may be that Lachish led the nation to trust the power of war chariots instead of the Lord. But the sin could be idolatry or some false teachings that were brought in from Egypt by way of Lachish.
1.14going-away gift: The gift (dowry) that a bride’s father gave her when she left the home of her parents to live with the family of her husband. In Hebrew the word for “bride” or “fiancee” sounds like “Moresheth.”
1.14Moresheth: Hebrew “Moresheth-Gath”; the home of Micah (see verse 1).
1.14Achzib: Meaning “lie” or “deception” was near Adullam Cave (verse 15), where David hid from King Saul (see 1 Samuel 22.1,2). Micah probably means that the people of Israel (including their king) will have to run for their lives, but will find that all hope for escape is merely a “lie” (see verse 15).
1.15Mareshah: Sounds something like the Hebrew word for “conqueror” and was only a few miles northeast of Lachish.
6.5Acacia to Gilgal: Acacia was where the Israelites camped after the experience with Balaam (see Numbers 25.1; Joshua 2.1; 3.1); Gilgal was where they camped while waiting to attack Jericho (see Joshua 4.19—5.12).
6.6try to please him: This refers to what are traditionally called “burnt sacrifices,” which were offered as a way of pleasing the Lord.
6.9Jerusalem: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 9.
6.10scales: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
6.16Omri and Ahab: King Ahab was the son of Omri and the husband of the evil Jezebel. Almost two centuries before Micah, the prophet Elijah had spoken against the idolatry and the other sinful practices that Ahab had encouraged in Israel (see 1 Kings 16.21-34; 18.1-18; 21.1-26).
7.3court: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 3.
7.12Babylonia: The Hebrew text has “the river,” meaning the Euphrates River, which stood for Babylonia.
7.14Bashan and Gilead: Two regions east of the Jordan River, known for their fertile pasturelands.
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