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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

Listen, all of you!
Earth and everything on it,
    pay close attention.
The Lord God accuses you
    from his holy temple.[d]
And he will come down
to crush underfoot
    every pagan altar.
Mountains will melt
beneath his feet
    like wax beside a fire.
Valleys will vanish like water
    rushing down a ravine.
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.

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.
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

Because of this tragedy,[f]
    I go barefoot and naked.
My crying and weeping
sound like howling wolves
    or ostriches.
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

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.
You grab any field or house
    that you want;
you cheat families
    out of homes and land.

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.”

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]
And so you will never again
own property
    among the Lord’s people.

“Enough of your preaching!”
    That’s what you tell me.
“We won’t be disgraced,
    so stop preaching!”

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?
My people, you have even stolen
    clothes right off the backs
of your unsuspecting soldiers
    returning home from battle.
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

Listen to me,
    you rulers of Israel!
You know right from wrong,
but you prefer to do evil
    instead of what is right.
You skin my people alive.
You strip off their flesh,
    break their bones,
    cook it all in a pot,
    and gulp it down.

Someday you will beg the Lord
    to help you,
but he will turn away
    because of your sins.

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:
“You will live in the dark,
far from the sight of the sun,
    with no message from me.
You prophets and fortunetellers
will all be disgraced,
    with no message from me.”

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.
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

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.
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.
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.
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.

Others may follow their gods,
but we will always follow
    the Lord our God.

The Lord Will Lead His People Home

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.
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.
Mount Zion in Jerusalem,
guardian of my people,
    you will rule again.

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

Jerusalem, enemy troops
    have surrounded you;[y]
they have struck Israel’s ruler
    in the face with a stick.

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]
The Lord will abandon Israel
    only until this ruler is born,
and the rest of his family
    returns to Israel.
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,
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
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

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.
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;
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

The Lord said to his people:

Come and present your case
    to the hills and mountains.
Israel, I am bringing charges
    against you—
I call upon the mountains
and the earth’s firm foundation
    to be my witnesses.

My people, have I wronged you
in any way at all?
    Please tell me.
I rescued you from Egypt,
    where you were slaves.
I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam
    to be your leaders.
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]

True Obedience

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?
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?
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

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

I feel so empty inside—
like someone starving
    for grapes or figs,
after the vines and trees
    have all been picked clean.
No one is loyal to God;
    no one does right.
Everyone is brutal
and eager to deceive
    everyone else.
People cooperate to commit crime.
Judges and leaders demand bribes,
    and rulers cheat in court.[ai]
The most honest of them
    is worse than a thorn patch.

Your doom has come!
Lookouts sound the warning,
    and everyone panics.
Don’t trust anyone,
    not even your best friend,
and be careful what you say
    to the one you love.

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.
But I trust the Lord God
    to save me,
and I will wait for him
    to answer my prayer.

The Nation Turns to God

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.
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
    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. 1.1 Moresheth: A town in southern Judah not far from Gath. In verse 14 it is called Moresheth-Gath.
  2. 1.1 Samaria and Jerusalem: Samaria was the capital of the northern kingdom (Israel), and Jerusalem was the capital of the southern kingdom (Judah).
  3. 1.1 Jotham, 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.
  4. 1.2 holy temple: Possibly the one in heaven, though it may be the Jerusalem temple.
  5. 1.7 wages 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.
  6. 1.8 this tragedy: Either the destruction of Samaria (verses 6,7) or the coming destruction of Judah and Jerusalem.
  7. 1.10 Gath. . . Beth-Leaphrah: Gath was a Philistine city; Beth-Leaphrah is unknown, but in Hebrew it sounds like “House of Dust.”
  8. 1.11 Shaphir: Mentioned only here in the Old Testament; in Hebrew “Shaphir” means “beautiful.”
  9. 1.11 Bethezel: Mentioned only here in the Old Testament; in Hebrew “Bethezel” means “house next door.”
  10. 1.11 Zaanan: Mentioned only here in the Old Testament; in Hebrew “Zaanan” means “one who goes out.”
  11. 1.11 The town. . . help: Or “No one from Zaanan refused to desert their town, and Bethezel mourns because it is left undefended.”
  12. 1.12 Maroth: Mentioned only here in the Old Testament; in Hebrew “Maroth” means “bitter.”
  13. 1.13 Lachish: The chief city of southwest Judah, about thirty miles from Jerusalem.
  14. 1.13 led. . . 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.
  15. 1.14 going-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.”
  16. 1.14 Moresheth: Hebrew “Moresheth-Gath”; the home of Micah (see verse 1).
  17. 1.14 Achzib: 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).
  18. 1.15 Mareshah: Sounds something like the Hebrew word for “conqueror” and was only a few miles northeast of Lachish.
  19. 1.15 Adullam Cave: See the note at 1.14.
  20. 1.16 precious children: The towns mentioned in verses 10-15.
  21. 2.4 The Lord. . . traitors: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  22. 2.9 inheritance. . . Lord: The Hebrew text has “my glory,” which refers to the inheritance of land that the Lord had promised his people.
  23. 2.10 destroyed: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  24. 4.11 We. . . disgraced: Or “We’ll pull up your skirt and expose your nakedness!”
  25. 5.1 Jerusalem. . . you: Or “Jerusalem, you are slashing yourself in sorrow, because of the enemy troops.”
  26. 5.2 family. . . times: Or “kingdom is eternal.”
  27. 5.6 the nation of Assyria: The Hebrew text uses both “land of Assyria” and “land of Nimrod,” which was a poetic name for Assyria.
  28. 5.14 sacred poles: Used in the worship of Asherah, the fertility goddess.
  29. 6.5 Balak. . . Beor: See Numbers 22-24.
  30. 6.5 Acacia 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).
  31. 6.6 try to please him: This refers to what are traditionally called “burnt sacrifices,” which were offered as a way of pleasing the Lord.
  32. 6.9 Jerusalem: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 9.
  33. 6.10 scales: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 10.
  34. 6.16 Omri 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).
  35. 7.3 court: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verse 3.
  36. 7.12 Babylonia: The Hebrew text has “the river,” meaning the Euphrates River, which stood for Babylonia.
  37. 7.14 Bashan and Gilead: Two regions east of the Jordan River, known for their fertile pasturelands.

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