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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Micah Chapter 5

Micah 5:1

mic 5:1

(Heb. Bib. 4:14). "Now wilt thou gather in troops, thou daughter of troops; they lay siege against us; with the staff they smite the judge of Israel upon the cheek." With ‛attâh (now) the prophet's address turns once more to the object introduced with ‛attâh in Mic 4:9. For we may see clearly enough from the omission of the cop. Vav, which could not be left out if it were intended to link on Mic 5:1 to Mic 4:11-13, that this ‛attâh points back to Mic 4:9, and is not attached to the ve‛attâh in Mic 4:11, for the purpose of introducing a fresh occurrence to follow the event mentioned in Mic 4:11-13. "The prophecy in Mic 4:11-13 explains the ground of that in Mic 4:9, Mic 4:10, and the one in Mic 5:1 sounds like a conclusion drawn from this explanation. The explanation in Mic 4:11-13 is enclosed on both sides by that which it explains. By returning in Mic 5:1 to the thoughts expressed in Mic 4:9, the prophet rounds off the strophe in 4:9-5:1" (Caspari). The words are addressed to the daughter Zion, who alone is addressed with every ‛attâh, and generally throughout the entire section. Bath-gegūd, daughter of the troop, might mean: thou nation accustomed or trained to form troops, thou warlike Zion. But this does not apply to what follows, in which a siege alone is mentioned. This turn is given to the expression, rather "for the purpose of suggesting the thought of a crowd of people pressing anxiously together, as distinguished from gedūd, an invading troop." The verb hithgōdēd does not mean here to scratch one's self or make incisions (Deu 14:1, etc.), but, as in Jer 5:7, to press or crowd together; and the thought is this: Now crowd together with fear in a troop, for he (sc., the enemy) sets, or prepares, a siege against us. In עלינוּ the prophet includes himself in the nation as being a member of it. He finds himself in spirit along with the people besieged Zion. The siege leads to conquest; for it is only in consequence of this that the judge of Israel can be smitten with the rod upon the cheek, i.e., be shamefully ill treated (compare Kg1 22:24; Psa 3:8; Job 16:10). The judge of Israel, whether the king or the Israelitish judges comprehended in one, cannot be thought of as outside the city at the time when the city is besieged. Of all the different effects of the siege of the city the prophet singles out only this one, viz., the ill-treatment of the judge, because "nothing shows more clearly how much misery and shame Israel will have to endure for its present sins" (Caspari). "The judge of Israel" is the person holding the highest office in Israel. This might be the king, as in Amo 2:3 (cf. Sa1 8:5-6, Sa1 8:20), since the Israelitish king was the supreme judge in Israel, or the true possessor of the judicial authority and dignity. But the expression is hardly to be restricted to the king, still less is it meant in distinction from the king, as pointing back to the time when Israel had no king, and was only governed by judges; but the judge stands for the king here, on the one hand with reference to the threat in Mic 3:1, Mic 3:9, Mic 3:11, where the heads and princes of Israel are described as unjust and ungodly judges, and on the other hand as an antithesis to mōshēl in Mic 5:2. As the Messiah is not called king there, but mōshēl, ruler, as the possessor of supreme authority; so here the possessor of judicial authority is called shōphēt, to indicate the reproach which would fall upon the king and the leaders of the nation on account of their unrighteousness. The threat in this verse does not refer, however, to the Roman invasion. Such an idea can only be connected with the assumption already refuted, that Mic 4:11-13 point to the times of the Maccabees, and no valid argument can be adduced to support it. In the verse before us the prophet reverts to the oppression predicted in Mic 4:9 and Mic 4:10, so that the remarks already made in Mic 4:10 apply to the fulfilment of what is predicted here. The principal fulfilment occurred in the Chaldaean period; but the fulfilment was repeated in every succeeding siege of Jerusalem until the destruction of the city by the Romans. For, according to Mic 5:3, Israel will be given up to the power of the empire of the world until the coming of the Messiah; that is to say, not merely till His birth or public appearance, but till the nation shall accept the Messiah, who has appeared as its own Redeemer.

Micah 5:2

mic 5:2

The previous announcement of the glory to which Zion is eventually to attain, is now completed by the announcement of the birth of the great Ruler, who through His government will lead Israel to this, the goal of its divine calling. Mic 5:2. "And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, too small to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee will He come forth to me who will be Ruler over Israel; and His goings forth are from the olden time, from the days of eternity." The ואתּה, with which this new section of the proclamation of salvation opens, corresponds to the ואתּה in Mic 4:8. Its former government is to return to Zion (Mic 4:8), and out of little Bethlehem is the possessor of this government to proceed, viz., the Ruler of Israel, who has sprung from eternity. This thought is so attached to Mic 5:1, that the divine exaltation of the future Ruler of Israel is contrasted with the deepest degradation of the judge. The names Bethlehem Ephratah ('Ephrâth and 'Ephrâthâh, i.e., the fertile ones, or the fruit-fields, being the earlier name; by the side of which Bēth-lechem, bread-house, had arisen even in the patriarchal times: see Gen 35:19; Gen 48:7; Rut 4:11) are connected together to give greater solemnity to the address, and not to distinguish the Judaean Bethlehem from the one in Zebulun (Jos 19:15), since the following words, "among the thousands of Judah," provide sufficiently for this. In the little town the inhabitants are addressed; and this explains the masculines אתּה, צעיר, and ממּך, as the prophet had them in his mind when describing the smallness of the little town, which is called κώμη in Joh 7:42. צעיר להיות, literally "small with regard to the being among the 'ălâphı̄m of Judah," i.e., too small to have a place among them. Instead of the more exact מהיות, להיות is probably chosen, simply because of the following להיות.

(Note: The omission of the article before צעיר, and the use of להיות instead of מהיות, do not warrant the alteration in the text which Hitzig proposes, viz., to strike out להיות as erroneous, and to separate the ה from אפרתה and connect it with צעיר = אפרת הצּעיר; for the assertion that צעיר, if used in apposition, must have the article, is just as unfounded as the still further remark, that "to say that Bethlehem was too small to be among the 'ălaphı̄m of Judah is incorrect and at variance with Sa1 20:6, Sa1 20:29," since these passages by no means prove that Bethlehem formed an 'eleph by itself.)

'Alâphı̄m, thousands - an epithet used as early as Num 1:16; Num 10:4, to denote the families, mishpâchōth, i.e., larger sections into which the twelve tribes of Israel were divided (see the comm. on Num 1:16 and Exo 18:25) - does not stand for sârē 'ălâphı̄m, the princes of the families; since the thought is simply this, that Bethlehem is too small for its population to form an independent 'eleph. We must not infer from this, however, that it had not a thousand inhabitants, as Caspari does; since the families were called 'ălâphı̄m, not because the number of individuals in them numbered a thousand, but because the number of their families or heads of families was generally somewhere about a thousand (see my biblische Archologie, 140). Notwithstanding this smallness, the Ruler over Israel is to come forth out of Bethlehem. יצא מן does not denote descent here, as in Gen 17:6 for example, so that Bethlehem would be regarded as the father of the Messiah, as Hofmann supposes, but is to be explained in accordance with Jer 30:21, "A Ruler will go forth out of the midst of it" (cf. Zac 10:4); and the thought is simply this, "Out of the population of the little Bethlehem there will proceed and arise." לי (to me) refers to Jehovah, in whose name the prophet speaks, and expresses the thought that this coming forth is subservient to the plan of the Lord, or connected with the promotion of His kingdom, just as in the words of God to Samuel in Sa1 16:1, "I have provided me a King among his sons," to which Micah most probably alluded for the purpose of showing the typical relation of David to the Messiah. להיות מושׁל is really the subject to יצא, the infinitive להיות being used as a relative clause, like לכסּות in Hos 2:11, in the sense of "who is destined to be ruler." But instead of simply saying יצא מושׁל ישׂראל, Micah gives the sentence the turn he does, for the purpose of bringing sharply out the contrast between the natural smallness of Bethlehem and the exalted dignity to which it would rise, through the fact that the Messiah would issue from it. בּישׂראל, not in, but over Israel, according to the general meaning of משׁל ב. The article is omitted before mōshēl, because the only thing of primary importance was to give prominence to the idea of ruling; and the more precise definition follows immediately afterwards in וּמוצאתיו וגו. The meaning of this clause of the verse depends upon our obtaining a correct view not only of מוצאות, but also of the references to time which follow. מוצאה, the fem. of מוצא, may denote the place, the time, the mode, or the act of going out. The last meaning, which Hengstenberg disputes, is placed beyond all doubt by Hos 6:3; Kg1 10:28; Eze 12:4, and Sa2 3:25. The first of these senses, in which מוצא occurs most frequently, and in which even the form מוצאות is used in the keri in Kg2 10:27, which is the only other passage in which this form occurs, does not suit the predicate מימי עולם here, since the days of eternity cannot be called places of departure; nor is it required by the correlate ממּך, i.e., out of Bethlehem, because the idea which predominates in Bethlehem is that of the population, and not that of the town or locality; and in general, the antithesis between hemistich a and b does not lie in the idea of place, but in the insignificance of Bethlehem as a place of exit for Him whose beginnings are in the days of eternity. We take מוצאות in the sense of goings forth, exits, as the meaning "times of going forth" cannot be supported by a single passage. Both קדם and ימי עולם are used to denote hoary antiquity; for example in Mic 7:14 and Mic 7:20, where it is used of the patriarchal age. Even the two together are so used in Isa 51:9, where they are combined for the sake of emphasis. But both words are also used in Pro 8:22 and Pro 8:23 to denote the eternity preceding the creation of the world, because man, who lives in time, and is bound to time in his mode of thought, can only picture eternity to himself as time without end. Which of these two senses is the one predominating here, depends upon the precise meaning to be given to the whole verse.

It is now generally admitted that the Ruler proceeding from Bethlehem is the Messiah, since the idea that the words refer to Zerubbabel, which was cherished by certain Jews, according to the assertion of Chrysostom, Theodoret, and others, is too arbitrary to have met with any acceptance. Coming forth out of Bethlehem involves the idea of descent. Consequently we must not restrict מוצאתיו (His goings forth) to the appearance of the predicted future Ruler in the olden time, or to the revelations of the Messiah as the Angel of Jehovah even in the patriarchal age, but must so interpret it that it at least affirms His origin as well. Now the origin of the Angel of the Lord, who is equal to God, was not in the olden time in which He first of all appeared to the patriarchs, but before the creation of the world - in eternity. Consequently we must not restrict מקּדם מימי עולם (from of old, from the days of eternity) to the olden time, or exclude the idea of eternity in the stricter sense. Nevertheless Micah does not announce here the eternal proceeding of the Son from the Father, or of the Logos from God, the generatio filii aeterna, as the earlier orthodox commentators supposed. This is precluded by the plural מוצאתיו, which cannot be taken either as the plur. majestatis, or as denoting the abstract, or as an indefinite expression, but points to a repeated going out, and forces us to the assumption that the words affirm both the origin of the Messiah before all worlds and His appearances in the olden time, and do not merely express the thought, that "from an inconceivably remote and lengthened period the Ruler has gone forth, and has been engaged in coming, who will eventually issue from Bethlehem" (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ii. 1, p. 9).

(Note: We must reject in the most unqualified manner the attempts that have been made by the Rabbins in a polemical interest, and by rationalistic commentators from a dread of miracles, to deprive the words of their deeper meaning, so as to avoid admitting that we have any supernatural prediction here, whether by paraphrasing "His goings forth" into "the going forth of His name" (we have this even in the Chaldee), or the eternal origin into an eternal predestination (Calv.), or by understanding the going forth out of Bethlehem as referring to His springing out of the family of David, which belonged to Bethlehem (Kimchi, Abarb., and all the later Rabbins and more modern Rationalists). According to this view, the olden time and the days of eternity would stand for the primeval family; and even if such a quid pro quo were generally admissible, the words would contain a very unmeaning thought, since David's family was not older than any of the other families of Israel and Judah, whose origin also dated as far back as the patriarchal times, since the whole nation was descended from the twelve sons of Jacob, and thought them from Abraham. (See the more elaborate refutation of these views in Hengstenberg's Christology, i. p. 486ff. translation, and Caspari's Micha, p. 216ff.))

The announcement of the origin of this Ruler as being before all worlds unquestionably presupposes His divine nature; but this thought was not strange to the prophetic mind in Micah's time, but is expressed without ambiguity by Isaiah, when he gives the Messiah the name of "the Mighty God" (Isa 9:5; see Delitzsch's comm. in loc.). We must not seek, however, in this affirmation of the divine nature of the Messiah for the full knowledge of the Deity, as first revealed in the New Testament by the fact of the incarnation of God in Christ, and developed, for example, in the prologue to the Gospel of John. Nor can we refer the "goings forth" to the eternal proceeding of the Logos from God, as showing the inward relation of the Trinity within itself, because this word corresponds to the יצא of the first hemistich. As this expresses primarily and directly nothing more than His issuing from Bethlehem, and leaves His descent indefinite, מוצאתיו can only affirm the going forth from God at the creation of the world, and in the revelations of the olden and primeval times.

The future Ruler of Israel, whose goings forth reach back into eternity, is to spring from the insignificant Bethlehem, like His ancestor, king David. The descent of David from Bethlehem forms the substratum not only for the prophetic announcement of the fact that the Messiah would come forth out of this small town, but also for the divine appointment that Christ was born in Bethlehem, the city of David. He was thereby to be made known to the people from His very birth as the great promised descendant of David, who would take possession of the throne of His father David for ever. As the coming forth from Bethlehem implies birth in Bethlehem, so do we see from Mat 2:5-6, and Joh 7:42, that the old Jewish synagogue unanimously regarded this passage as containing a prophecy of the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem. The correctness of this view is also confirmed by the account in Mat 2:1-11; for Matthew simply relates the arrival of the Magi from the East to worship the new-born King in accordance with the whole arrangement of his Gospel, because he saw in this even a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecies.

(Note: In the quotation of this verse in Mat 2:6, the substance is given freely from memory: Καὶ σὺ Βεθλεέμ, γῆ Ἰούδα, οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη εἶ ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν Ἰούδα· ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ ἐξελεύσεται ἡγούμενος, ὅστις ποιμανεῖ τὸν λαόν μου, τὸν Ἰσραήλ The deviations from the original text may be accounted for from the endeavour to give the sense clearly, and bring out into more distinct prominence the allusion in the words to David. The γῆ Ἰούδα, in the place of the Ephrata of the original, has sprung from Sa1 17:12, where Bethlehem is distinguished from the town of the same name in Zebulun in the account of the anointing of David as king, as it frequently is in the Old Testament, by the addition of the word Judah; and γῆ Ἰούδα, "land of Judah," is attached loosely in apposition to the name Bethlehem, in the place of the more precise definition, "in the land of Judah." The alteration of the expression, "too small to be among the thousands of Judah," into οὐδαμῶς ἐλαχίστη, κ.τ.λ., does not constitute a discrepancy, but simply alters the thought with an allusion to the glorification which Bethlehem would receive through the fact of the Messiah's springing from it. "Micah, looking at its outward condition, calls it little; but Matthew, looking at the nativity of Christ, by which this town had been most wondrously honoured and rendered illustrious, calls it very little indeed" (C. B. Mich.). The interpretation of באלפי (among the thousands) by ἐν τοῖς ἡγεμόσιν (among the princes) was very naturally suggested by the personification of Bethlehem, and still more by the thought of the ἡγούμενος about to follow; and it does not alter the idea, since the families ('ălâphı̄m) had their heads, who represented and led them. The last clause, ὅστις ποιμανεῖ, κ.τ.λ., is simply a paraphrase of בּישׂראל, probably taken from v. 3, and resting upon Sa2 5:2, and pointing to the typical relation existing between the David born in Bethlehem and the second David, viz., the Messiah. The second hemistich of the verse is omitted, because it appeared superfluous so far as the immediate object of the quotation was concerned.)

Micah 5:3

mic 5:3

"Therefore will He give them up until the time when a travailing woman hath brought forth, and the remnant of His brethren will return, together with the sons of Israel. Mic 5:4. And He will stand and feed in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah His God, and they will dwell, for now will He be great to the ends of the earth." "Therefore" (lâkhēn): i.e., "because the great divine Ruler of Israel, from whom alone its redemption can proceed, will spring from the little Bethlehem, and therefore from the degraded family of David" (Caspari). This is the correct explanation; for the reason why Israel is to be given up to the power of the nations of the world, and not to be rescued earlier, does not lie in the appearance of the Messiah as such, but in His springing from little Bethlehem. The birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem, and not in Jerusalem the city of David, presupposes that the family of David, out of which it is to spring, will have lost the throne, and have fallen into poverty. This could only arise from the giving up of Israel into the power of its enemies. Micah had already stated clearly enough in what precedes, that this fate would fall upon the nation and the royal house of David, on account of its apostasy from the Lord; so that he could overlook this here, and give prominence to the other side alone, namely to the fact that, according to the counsel of God, the future Deliverer and Ruler of Israel would also resemble His royal ancestor David in the fact that He was not to spring from Zion the royal city built on high, but from the insignificant country town of Bethlehem, and that for this very reason Israel was to remain so long under the power of the nations of the world. The suffix attached to יתּנם points to ישׂראל in Mic 5:1; and נתן is applied, as in Kg1 14:16, to the surrender of Israel into the power of its enemies as a punishment for its sins. This surrender is not the last of many oppressions, which are to take place in the period before the birth of the Messiah (the Roman oppression), but a calamity lasting from the present time, or the coming of the judgment threatened in ch. 3, until the time of the Messiah's coming; and יתּנם points back not merely to Mic 5:1, but also to Mic 4:9-10. The travailing woman (yōlēdâh) is not the community of Israel (Theodoret, Calvin, Vitringa, and others), but the mother of the Messiah (Cyril, and most of the Christian expositors, including even Ewald and Hitzig). The supposition that the congregation is personified here, is precluded not only by the fact that in the very same sentence the sons of Israel are spoken of in the plural, but still more by the circumstance that in that case the bringing forth would be only a figurative representation of the joy following the pain, in which the obvious allusion in the words to the Messiah, which is required by the context, and especially by the suffix to אחיו, which refers to the Messiah, and presupposes that His birth is referred to in יולדה ילדה, would entirely fall away. But Micah had all the more ground for speaking of this, inasmuch as Isaiah had already predicted the birth of the Messiah (Isa 7:14). יולדה has no article, and the travailing woman is thereby left indefinite, because the thought, "till He is born," or "till a mother shall bring Him forth," upon which alone the whole turns, did not require any more precise definition.

In the second clause of the verse there commences the description of the blessing, which the birth of the Messiah will bring to Israel. The first blessing will be the return of those that remain of Israel to the Lord their God. אחיו, the brethren of the Ruler born at Bethlehem, are the Judaeans as the members of the Messiah's own tribe; just as, in Sa2 19:13, David calls the Judaeans his brethren, his flesh and bone, in contrast with the rest of the Israelites. יתר אחיו, the remnant of his brethren, are those who are rescued from the judgment that has fallen upon Judah; yether, as in Zep 2:9 and Zac 14:2, denoting the remnant, in distinction from those who have perished (= שׁארית, Mic 2:12; Mic 4:7, etc.). ישׁוּבוּן, to return, not from exile to Canaan, but to Jehovah, i.e., to be concerted. על־בּגי ישׂ, not "to the sons of Israel;" for although שׁוּב, construed with על, is met with in the sense of outward return (e.g., Pro 26:11) as well as in that of spiritual return to the Lord (Ch2 30:9), the former explanation would not give any suitable meaning here, not only because "the sons of Israel," as distinguished from the brethren of the Messiah, could not possibly denote the true members of the nation of God, but also because the thought that the Judaeans are to return, or be converted, to the Israelites of the ten tribes, is altogether unheard of, and quite at variance with the idea which runs through all the prophetic Scriptures of the Old Testament, - namely, that after the division of the kingdom, Judah formed the kernel of the covenant nation, with which the rebellious Israelites were to be united once more. על signifies here together with, at the same time as (Hofmann, Caspari), as in Jer 3:18 with the verb ילכוּ, and in Exo 35:22 with בּוא; and "the sons of Israel" are the Israelites of the ten tribes, and, in this connection, those that are left of the ten tribes. There is no ground for the objection offered by Hengstenberg to this explanation, namely, that "it is absurd that the ten tribes should appear to be the principal persons redeemed;" for this is not implied in the words. The meaning "together with," for על, is not derived from the primary meaning, thereupon, in addition to, insuper, as Ewald supposes (217, i), nor from the idea of accompanying, as Ges. and Dietrich maintain. The persons introduced with על are never the principal objects, as the two passages quoted sufficiently prove. The women in Exo 35:22 (על הנּשׁים) are not the principal persons, taking precedence of the men; nor is the house of Israel placed above the house of Judah in Jer 3:18. The use of על in the sense of together with has been developed rather from the idea of protecting, shielding, as in Gen 32:12, slaying the mothers upon, i.e., together with, the children, the mothers being thought of as screening the children, as Hos 10:14 and other passages clearly show. Consequently the person screening the other is the principal person, and not the one covered or screened. And so here, the brethren of the Messiah, like the sons of Judah in Jer 3:18, which passages is generally so like the one before us that it might be regarded as an exposition of it, are those who first receive the blessing coming from the Messiah; and the sons of Israel are associated with them as those to whom this blessing only comes in fellowship with them. In Mic 5:3 there follows what the Messiah will do for Israel when it has returned to God. He will feed it (עמר simply belongs to the pictorial description, as in Isa 61:5) in the strength of Jehovah. The feeding, as a frequent figure for governing, reminds of David, whom the Lord had called from the flock to be the shepherd of His people (Sa2 5:2). This is done in the strength of Jehovah, with which He is invested, to defend His flock against wolves and robbers (see Joh 10:11-12).

(Note: The word "feed" expresses what Christ is towards His people, the flock committed to His care. He does not rule over the church like a formidable tyrant, who oppresses his people by fear; but He is a shepherd, and leads His sheep with all the gentleness to be desired. And inasmuch as we are surrounded on all sides by enemies, the prophet adds, "He will feed in the strength," etc.; i.e., as much power as there is in God, so much protection will there be in Christ, whenever it shall be necessary to defend the church, and guard it against its foes (Calvin).)

This strength is not merely the divine authority with which earthly rulers are usually endowed (Sa1 2:10), but גּאון, i.e., the exaltation or majesty of the name of Jehovah, the majesty in which Jehovah manifests His deity on earth. The Messiah is El gibbōr (the Mighty God, Isa 9:5), and equipped with the spirit of might (rūăch gebhūrâh, Isa 11:2). "Of His God;" for Jehovah is the God of this Shepherd or Ruler, i.e., He manifests Himself as God to Him more than to any other; so that the majesty of Jehovah is revealed in what He does. In consequence of this feeding, they (the sons of Israel) sit (yâshâbhū), without being disturbed (cf. Mic 4:4; Lev 26:5-6; Sa2 7:10), i.e., will live in perfect undisturbed peace under His pastoral care. For He (the Messiah) will now (עתּה, now, referring to the time when He feeds Israel, in contrast with the former oppression) be great (auctoritate et potentia valebit: Maurer) to the ends of the earth, i.e., His authority will extend over the whole earth. Compare the expression in Luk 1:32, οὗτος ἔσται μέγας, which has sprung from the passage before us, and the parallel in Mal 1:14.

Micah 5:5

mic 5:5

Under His rule Israel will attain to perfect peace. Mic 5:5. "And He will be peace. When Asshur shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces, we set up against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men. Mic 5:6. And they feed the land of Asshur with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in his gates; and He rescues from Asshur when he comes into our land and enters into our border." זה (this man), viz., He who feeds His people in the majesty of God, will be peace, i.e., not merely pacis auctor, but He who carries peace within Himself, and gives it to His people. Compare Eph 2:14, "He is our peace," which points back to this passage. In this relation the Messiah is called the Prince of peace in Isa 9:5, as securing peace for Israel in a higher and more perfect sense than Solomon. But in what manner? This is explained more fully in what follows: viz., (1) by defending Israel against the attacks of the imperial power (Isa 9:5, Isa 9:6); (2) by exalting it into a power able to overcome the nations (Isa 9:7-9); and (3) by exterminating all the materials of war, and everything of an idolatrous nature, and so preventing the possibility of war (Isa 9:10-15). Asshur is a type of the nations of the world by which the people of the Lord are attacked, because in the time of the prophet this power was the imperial power by which Israel was endangered. Against this enemy Israel will set up seven, yea eight princes, who, under the chief command of the Messiah, i.e., as His subordinates, will drive it back, and press victoriously into its land. (On the combination of the numbers seven and eight, see the discussions at Amo 1:3.) Seven is mentioned as the number of the works proceeding from God, so that seven shepherds, i.e., princes, would be quite sufficient; and this number is surpassed by the eight, to express the thought that there might be even more than were required. נסיכי אדם, not anointed of men, but installed and invested, from nâsakh, to pour out, to form, to appoint; hence Jos 13:21, vassals, here the under-shepherds appointed by the Messiah as the upper-shepherd. The meaning "anointed," which is derived from sūkh, neither suits Jos 13:21 nor Pro 8:23 (see Delitzsch on Psa 2:6). On the figurative expression "feed with the sword," for rule, see Psa 2:9 and Rev 2:27; רעוּ from רעה, not from רעע. The land of Asshur is called the land of Nimrod, after the founder of the first empire (Gen 10:9.), to indicate the character of the imperial power with its hostility to the kingdom of God. בּפתחיה, in his gates, i.e., cities and fortresses; gates for cities, as in Isa 3:26; Isa 13:2, etc.: not at his gates = on his borders, where the Assyrians stream together for defence (Hitzig, Caspari, etc.). The borders of a land are never called gates; nor could a land be devastated or governed from the border, to say nothing of the fact that ב[תחיה corresponds to "in thy palaces" in Mic 5:4, and leads to the thought that Asshur is to be fully repaid for what it has done to the kingdom of God. The thought is rounded off with והצּיל מאשּׁוּר וגו, and so He saves from Asshur, etc., not merely by the fact that Asshur is driven back to his own border, and watched there, but by the fact that he is fed in his own territory with the sword. This victorious conflict with the imperial power must not be restricted to the spiritual victory of the kingdom of God over the kingdoms of the world, as Hengstenberg supposes, appealing to Mic 5:10., according to which the Lord will make His people outwardly defenceless before it becomes fully victorious in Christ (Hengstenberg). For the extermination of the instruments of war announced in Mic 5:10 refers not to the period of the exaltation of the people of God into the world-conquering power, but to the time of consummation, when the hostile powers shall be overcome. Before the people of God reach this goal, they have not only to carry on spiritual conflicts, but to fight for existence and recognition even with the force of arms. The prediction of this conflict and victory is not at variance with the announcement in Mic 4:2-3, that in the Messianic times all nations will go on pilgrimage to Zion, and seek for adoption into the kingdom of God. Both of these will proceed side by side. Many nations, i.e., great crowds out of all nations, will seek the Lord and His gospel, and enter into His kingdom; but a great multitude out of all nations will also persist in their enmity to the Lord and His kingdom and people, and summon all their power to attack and crush it. The more the gospel spreads among the nations, the more will the enmity of unbelief and ungodliness grow, and a conflict be kindled, which will increase till the Lord shall come to the last judgment, and scatter all His foes.

Micah 5:7

mic 5:7

But the Messiah will prove Himself to be peace to His people, not only by the fact that He protects and saves it from the attacks of the imperial power represented by Asshur, but also by the fact that He endows His rescuing people with the power to overcome their enemies, both spiritually and bodily also. Mic 5:7. "And the remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many nations like dew from Jehovah, like drops of rain upon grass, which tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for children of men. Mic 5:8. And the remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many nations, like the lion among the beasts of the forest, like the young lion among the flocks of sheep; which, when it goes through, treads down, and tears in pieces, without deliverer. Mic 5:9. High be thy hand above thine oppressors, and may all thine enemies be rooted out." Two things are predicted here. In the first place (Mic 5:7), Israel will come upon many nations, like a refreshing dew from Jehovah, which falls plentifully in drops upon the grass, and will produce and promote new and vigorous life among them. Dew is here, as indeed everywhere else, a figurative expression for refreshing, stimulating, enlivening (cf. Psa 110:3; Psa 133:3, and Psa 72:6; Hos 14:6; Deu 33:2). The spiritual dew, which Jacob will bring to the nations, comes from Jehovah, and falls in rich abundance without the cooperation of men. Without the spiritual dew from above, the nations are grass (cf. Isa 40:6-8). אשׁר before לא יקוּה does not refer to עשׂב, but to the principal idea of the preceding clause, viz., to טל, to which the explanatory כּרביבים וגו is subordinate. As the falling of the dew in rain-drops upon the grass does not depend upon the waiting of men, but proceeds from Jehovah; so will the spiritual blessing, which will flow over from Israel upon the nations, not depend upon the waiting of the nations, but will flow to them against and beyond their expectation. This does not deny the fact that the heathen wait for the salvation of Jehovah, but simply expresses the thought that the blessings will not be measured by their expectation. Secondly (Mic 5:8, Mic 5:9), the rescued Israel will prove itself a terrible power among the nations, and one to which they will be obliged to succumb. No proof is needed that Mic 5:8, Mic 5:9 do not state in what way Israel will refresh the heathen, as Hitzig supposes. The refreshing dew and the rending lion cannot possibly be synonymous figures. The similarity of the introduction to Mic 5:7 and Mic 5:8 points of itself to something new. To the nations Christ is set for the rising and falling of many (compare Luk 2:34; Rom 9:33, with Isa 8:14 and Isa 28:16). The people of God shows itself like a lion, trampling and rending the sheep among the nations of the world which oppose its beneficent work. And over these may it triumph. This wish (târōm is optative) closes the promise of the attitude which Israel will assume among the nations of the world. For târōm yâd (high be the hand), compare Isa 26:11. High is the hand which accomplishes mighty deeds, which smites and destroys the foe.

Micah 5:10

mic 5:10

But if Israel conquer the nations in such a way as this, then will Jehovah fulfil the peace of His people by the destruction of all the instruments of war, and the extermination of everything of an idolatrous nature, as well as by the judgment of wrath upon all resisting nations. Mic 5:10. "And it comes to pass in that day, is the saying of Jehovah, that I will destroy thy horses out of the midst of thee, and annihilate thy chariots. Mic 5:11. And I shall destroy the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy fortresses. Mic 5:12. And I shall destroy the witchcrafts out of thy hand; and cloud-interpreters shall not be left to thee. Mic 5:13. And I shall destroy thy graven images and thy statutes out of the midst of thee; and thou wilt no more worship the work of thy hands. Mic 5:14. And I shall root out thine idol-groves out of the midst of thee, and destroy thy cities. Mic 5:15. And I shall execute vengeance in wrath and fury upon the nations which have not heard." These verses do not explain Mic 5:8, or state how the extermination of the enemy is to take place, or how Israel is made into a lion destroying the nations that are hostile to it, namely, by the fact that the Lord eradicates from its heart all confidence in horses, chariots, and fortifications, in witchcraft and idolatry (Caspari). This assumption is at variance with the words themselves, and with the strophic arrangement of the chapter. There is nothing about trust in horses, etc., but simply about the extermination of the horses, and everything else in which the idolatrous nation had sought its strength. Moreover, the expression והיה ביּום ההוּא, when compared with והיה in Mic 5:4 and Mic 5:6, shows at once that these verses are intended to depict the last and greatest effect produced by the coming of the Prince of peace in Israel, and overthrows Hengstenberg's assumption, that the prophet here foretels the destructive work of the Lord in Israel, which will precede the destruction of the enemy predicted in Mic 5:10. In that case בּיּום ההוּא would mean "before that day," a meaning which it can never have. The prophet passes rather from the attitude of Israel among the nations, to the description of the internal perfection of the kingdom of God, which does indeed stand in a reciprocal relation to the former and proceed simultaneously with it, but which will not be completed till after the victorious suppression of the foe. Only when the people of God shall have gained the supremacy over all their enemies, will the time have arrived for all the instruments of war to be destroyed. When the world shall be overcome, then will all war cease. The ancient Israel did indeed put its trust in war-horses, and war-chariots, and fortifications (cf. Isa 2:7); but the Messianic Israel, or the true people of the Lord, will only put its trust in such things so far as it is not yet pervaded by the power of the peace brought by the Messiah. And the more it appropriates the spiritual power of the Prince of peace, the more will the trust in horses and chariots disappear; so that they will be destroyed, because all war comes to an end (compare Isa 9:4-6). And the extermination of everything of an idolatrous nature will go hand in hand with this. Two kinds are mentioned in Mic 5:12 and Mic 5:13, viz., witchcraft and the worship of idols of their own making. As objects of witchcraft there are mentioned keshâphı̄m, lit., witchcrafts of different kinds, but the expression מיּדך limits them to such as are performed with the hand, and me‛ōnenı̄m (= ‛ōnenı̄m in Isa 2:6), lit., cloud-interpreters, or cloud, i.e., storm makers, from ‛ânan, a kind of witchcraft which cannot be more precisely defined (see Delitzsch on Isaiah, l.c.). Of the objects of the idolatrous worship there are mentioned (after Lev 26:1) pesı̄lı̄m, idols made of wood or metal; and מצּבות, stone-images, or stones dedicated to idols (see at Kg1 14:23). For Mic 5:12, compare Isa 2:8.

Micah 5:14

mic 5:14

Mic 5:14 sums up the objects enumerated in Mic 5:10-13, which are to be exterminated, for the purpose of rounding off the description; the only objects of idolatrous worship mentioned being the 'ăshērim, and the only materials of war, the cities as means of defence. אשׁירים, written with scriptio plena, as in Deu 7:5 and Kg2 17:16, lit., stems of trees or posts standing upright or set up as idols, which were dedicated to the Canaanitish goddess of nature (see at Exo 34:13). ערים, cities with walls, gates, and bolts. These two rather subordinate objects are mentioned instar omnium, to express the entire abolition of war and idolatry. We must not infer from this, however, that the nation of God will still have images made by human hands and worship them, during the stage of its development described in Mic 5:10-14; but must distinguish between the thought and its formal dress. The gross heathen idolatry, to which Israel was addicted under the Old Testament, is a figure denoting that more refined idolatry which will exist even in the church of Christ so long as sin and unbelief endure. The extermination of every kind of heathen idolatry is simply the Old Testament expression for the purification of the church of the Lord from everything of an idolatrous and ungodly nature. To this there is appended in Mic 5:15 a promise that the Lord will take vengeance, and wrath, and fury upon the nations which have not heard or have not observed the words and acts of the Lord, i.e., have not yielded themselves up to conversion. In other words, He will exterminate every ungodly power by a fierce judgment, so that nothing will ever be able to disturb the peace of His people and kingdom again.

Next: Micah Chapter 6