Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The prophet begins with calling the attention of all people to the awful descent of Jehovah, coming to execute his judgments against the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, Mic 1:1-5; first against Samaria, whose fate the prophet laments on the dress of mourners, and with the doleful cries of the fox or ostrich, Mic 1:6-8; and then against Jerusalem, which is threatened with the invasion of Sennacherib. Other cities of Judah are likewise threatened; and their danger represented to be so great as to oblige them to have recourse for protection even to their enemies the Philistines, from whom they desired at first to conceal their situation. But all resources are declared to be vain; Israel and Judah must go into captivity, Mic 1:9-16.
The word of the Lord that came to Micah the Morasthite - For all authentic particulars relative to this prophet, see the introduction.
In the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah - These three kings reigned about threescore years; and Micah is supposed to have prophesied about forty or fifty years; but no more of his prophecies have reached posterity than what are contained in this book, nor is there any evidence that any more was written. His time appears to have been spent chiefly in preaching and exhorting; and he was directed to write those parts only that were calculated to profit succeeding generations.
Hear, all ye people - The very commencement of this prophecy supposes preceding exhortations and predictions.
Hearken, O earth - ארץ arets, here, should be translated land, the country of the Hebrews being only intended.
And let the Lord God be Witness - Let him who has sent me with this message be witness that I have delivered it faithfully; and be a witness against you, if you take not the warning.
The Lord from his holy temple - The place where he still remains as your King, and your Judge; and where you profess to pay your devotions. The temple was yet standing, for Jerusalem was not taken for many years after this; and these prophecies were delivered before the captivity of the ten tribes, as Micah appears to have been sent both to Israel and to Judah. See Mic 1:5-9, Mic 1:12, Mic 1:13.
For, behold, the Lord cometh forth - See this clause, Amo 4:13 (note). He represents Jehovah as a mighty conqueror, issuing from his pavilion, stepping from mountain to mountain, which rush down and fill the valleys before him; a consuming fire accompanying him, that melts and confounds every hill and dale, and blends all in universal confusion. God is here represented as doing that himself which other conquerors do by the multitude of their hosts; levelling the mountains, filling some of the valleys, and digging for waters in others, and pouring them from hills and dales for the use of the conquering armies, by pipes and aqueducts.
And why is all this mighty movement? Mic 1:5. "For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel."
What is the transgression of Jacob? - Is it not something extremely grievous? Is it not that of Samaria? Samaria and Jerusalem, the chief cities, are infected with idolatry. Each has its high places, and its idol worship, in opposition to the worship of the true God. That there was idolatry practiced by the elders of Israel, even in the temple of Jehovah, see Eze 8:1, etc. As the royal cities in both kingdoms gave the example of gross idolatry, no wonder that it spread through the whole land, both of Israel and Judah.
I will make Samaria - I will bring it to desolation: and, instead of being a royal city, it shall be a place for vineyards. Newcome observes, that Samaria was situated on a hill, the right soil for a vineyard.
I will discover the foundations thereof - I will cause its walls and fortifications to be razed to the ground.
All the hires thereof shall be burned - Multitudes of women gave the money they gained by their public prostitution at the temples for the support of the priesthood, the ornamenting of the walls, altars, and images. So that these things, and perhaps several of the images themselves, were literally the hire of the harlots: and God threatens here to deliver all into the hands of enemies who should seize on this wealth, and literally spend it in the same way in which it was acquired; so that "to the hire of a harlot these things should return."
I will make a wailing like the dragons - Newcome translates: -
I will make a wailing like the foxes, (or jackals),
And mourning like the daughters of the ostrich.
This beast, the jackal or shiagal, we have often met with in the prophets. Travellers inform us that its howlings by night are most lamentable; and as to the ostrich, it is remarkable for its fearful shrieking and agonizing groanings after night. Dr. Shaw says he has often heard them groan as if they were in the greatest agonies.
Her wound is incurable - Nothing shall prevent their utter ruin, for they have filled up the measure of their iniquity.
He is come - even to Jerusalem - The desolation and captivity of Israel shall first take place; that of Judah shall come after.
Declare ye it not at Gath - Do not let this prediction be known among the Philistines, else they will glory over you.
House of Aphrah - Or, Beth-aphrah. This place is mentioned Jos 18:23, as in the tribe of Benjamin. There is a paronomasia, or play on words, here: בבית לעפרה עפר bebeith leaphrah aphar, "Roll thyself in the dust in the house of dust."
Inhabitant of Saphir - Sapher, Sepphoris, or Sephora, was the strongest place in Galilee. - Calmet. It was a city in the tribe of Judah, between Eleutheropolis and Ascalon. - Houbigant.
Zaanan - Another city in the tribe of Judah, Jos 15:13.
Beth-ezel - A place near Jerusalem, Zac 14:5. Some think that Jerusalem itself is intended by this word.
The inhabitant of Maroth - There was a city of a similar name in the tribe of Judah, Jos 15:59.
Inhabitant of Lachish - This city was in the tribe of Judah, Jos 15:39, and was taken by Sennacherib when he was coming against Jerusalem, Kg2 18:13, etc., and it is supposed that he wished to reduce this city first, that, possessing it, he might prevent Hezekiah's receiving any help from Egypt.
She is the beginning of the sin - This seems to intimate that Lachish was the first city in Judah which received the idolatrous worship of Israel.
Give presents to Moresheth-gath - Calmet says that Moresa or Morashti, and Achzib, were cities not far from Gath. It is possible that when Ahaz found himself pressed by Pekah, king of Israel, he might have sent to these places for succor, that by their assistance he might frustrate the hopes of the king of Israel; and this may be the meaning of "The houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel." In these verses there are several instances of the paronomasia. See Mic 1:10, עפר aphar, dust, and עפרה aphrah, the name of the city. Mic 1:11. צאנן tsaanan, the city, and יצאה yatsah, to go out. Mic 1:13, לכיש lachish, the city, and רכש rechesh, the swift beast. Mic 1:14, אכזיב achzib, the city, and אכזב achzab, a lie. Such paronomasias were reputed ornaments by the prophets. They occur in Isaiah with great effect. See Isa 5:7.
Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O - Mareshah - Here is another instance, הירש haigeresh, to bring an heir, and מרשה mareshah, the city, the name of which signifies heirship. And so of the above proper names.
Adullam the glory of Israel - This was a fenced city in the south of Judah (see Ch2 11:7) towards the Dead Sea.
There is much obscurity in the concluding verses of this chapter. They undoubtedly refer to the captivity of Israel, and to circumstances of distress, etc., which are not mentioned in any of the historical books, and therefore their reference and meaning can only be conjectured.
Make thee bald - Cutting off the hair was a sign of great distress, and was practised on the death of near relatives; see Amo 8:10.
The desolation should be so great that Israel should feel it to her utmost extent; and the mourning should be like that of a mother for the death of her most delicate children.
Enlarge thy baldness as the eagle - Referring to the mounting of this bird, when in casting its feathers and breeding new ones, it is very sickly, and its strength wholly exhausted.
They are gone into captivity - This is a prediction of the captivity by Shalmaneser. Samaria, the chief city, is called on to deplore it, as then fast approaching.