Study of the Prophets #19: Micah (Cont.)
This week we begin with Chapter 2 verse 1-2: “Woe to those who devise iniquity and plan evil upon their beds; at the morning’s light they carry it out, for there is power in their hand. They covet fields and they rob [them], [they covet] houses and they take [them]; they oppress a man and his household, a person and his heritage.”
Micah now speaks of the depths to which the nation has fallen. The people rob and steal both during the day and even at night, when this is usually a time for reflection (Psalms 4:5). During the night they scheme and plan the next evil course of action (Radak). Although the evil actions were only in the planning stages, in the eyes of G-d, He knew they were going to carry them out. The Orthodox interpretation maintains that “G-d does not usually punish a Jew for merely thinking of committing a sin” but that He knew they were going to carry out their plans. For Messianic believers, we know that YHVH/Yahshua hold us responsible for our thoughts as well as our deeds as He teaches in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapter 5); making this passage consistent with the B’rit Chadashah teachings as well as those of the Tanakh. The plans are carried out as there is no one to stop them. They have “power in their hand.”
Much like our government today, if one desired a particular field or house, they would offer to buy it. But if the owner refused, it would be taken by force. We are not to covet anything belonging to our neighbors; one of the basic commands of G-d (Ex. 20:17).
“They oppress a man and his household.” If the landowner refused to relinquish his property, he would be severely beaten and held captive, hurting him physically and economically (Radak).
Verse 3-4: “Therefore, thus said Hashem:
Behold, I am devising evil against this family, from which you will not extricate your necks; you will not walk erect, for it will be a bad time.” On that day, he will recite a parable about you; he will lament, ‘A lament has come to be!’ He will say, ‘We have been utterly plundered! [G-d] is exchanging the portion of my people! How could He return what was mine when our field is apportioned to the enemy?’
Micah is foretelling that the nation will receive a severe punishment for its crimes. G-d repays His creation measure for measure. Against this family, means against the Jews during this time, as well as for those who sin against Him in the future; Jew OR Gentile. In Jer. 10:25; Amos 3:1; Zechariah 14:18 refers to nations as families. Another interpretation renders this to mean this generation, for G-d was planning evil against the entire generation.
You will not extricate your necks: The Torah is portraying the people’s suffering and punishment as a crushing yoke upon their necks that the people will not be able to remove. The people will not be able to save themselves from the severe punishment of G-d (Radak; Metzudos).
For it will be a bad time: Malbim interprets this as meaning if times are peaceful and calamity strikes a particular area, one may still hope that he will be spared. But “it will be a bad time” implies that the entire world will be engulfed in a catastrophic upheaval; much as it was when the Flood occurred and as it will be in the future during the last 3 ½ years of the Tribulation. There will be no hope for any area.
On that day he will recite a parable about you: On the day that G-d exacts punishment. The one who laments over you will recite a dirge about you (Metzudos). This is referring to a false prophet whose advice and predictions have not materialized and he therefore recites a dirge and laments. It is called a parable because he expresses his lamentations in parables (Radak). Throughout the days of the monarchy there were false prophets who contested the words of the true prophets. While the prophets of G-d had been demanding (note demanding and not requesting )self-examination and warning of imminent destruction, the false prophets were reinforcing the wishes and hopes of the people, persuading them that just as previous dangers had passed, so too would the present ones (Kings CH. 22; Jeremiah 28; 29:8-9, 21-23, 30-32). This in happening in our time with the proliferation of secular humanistic teachings in our schools and society in general. Man is seen as supreme because secular humanists do not believe in a Divine Creator who is in charge of the Universe He created. Man is left to his own, to control his destiny and his world. I invite you to research secular humanism; political candidates who call themselves “progressives” and become aware of what this means for your children, grandchildren, and society in general. See how the religion of secular humanism fits in with the future One World Order prophecies by G-d’s true prophets and by Yahshua Himself!
“He will lament, ‘A lament has come to be!’”: This means to mourn a bitter lament, or to moan as one does when ill (Radak; Ibn Ezra).
“We have been utterly plundered! … AS he laments, he expresses his despair. The enemy has plundered our land and oppressed us… The land that had been apportioned to our nation has now been given to the enemy. How will he come back to me… to return to me the fields… that have been divided by the enemy? (Rashi).The false prophet declares that he thought G-d would return the fields plundered by the enemy. But he saw that he was mistaken. The enemy has strengthened his hold on the fields and has divided them among his own nation (Radak; Ibn Ezra).
Verse 5: “Therefore, there shall not be for you.” Micah is addressing these subjects of verse 2. Since they robbed the people of their fields and homes, as punishment they will have no descendants alive to receive a portion of the land when G-d will eventually bring the nation back to the Land of Israel (Ibn Ezra). Radak identifies the lamenters as false prophets and explains that Micah is addressing these false prophets. Since it in only due to their false prophecies of hope and comfort that the enemy was sent to seize the land, no descendant of theirs will remain to inherit the land (Radak). We may compare Micah’s prophecy to that of Jeremiah (29:30-32) regarding one of the false prophets who reassures the people falsely; as punishment he would have no descendants who would see the goodness of the future redemption.
“… one who casts [the surveyors] line for the lot in the congregation of Hashem.”
When one wished to divide or apportion his property, he measured its boundaries with a cord [Bava Basra, Chap. 7, and Mishnah 2]. Although the Ten Tribes had sinned grievously, they did not lose their unique stats of being the nation of Hashem.
Verse 6: “Do not preach!” they preach. “They shall not preach to these [people], [so that] shame shall not overtake them.”
Micah is instructing his fellow prophets to refrain from reprimanding the nation lest the prophets become the objects of mockery. Ezra and Radak explain that these words are being spoken by the people. They are instructing the prophets to stop preaching, for they have no interest in what G-d has to say. Abarbanel explains that the poor and oppressed, whose cause the prophets champion, are advising the prophets to refrain from speaking the word of G-d, for the nation will show no embarrassment or shame at the prophetic rebuke. Indeed, the prophets will not continue to preach and admonish the nation as they previously had, for now they would only be objects of derision and shame (Radak). So that shame shall not overtake them: The meaning is this; do not rebuke them to identify the embarrassing actions of the people, for they will not repent and their evil actions will never be withdrawn (Malbim).
Verse 7: “Should this be said by the House of Jacob?” When the people hear the foreboding prophetic words predicting the pending punishments to be administered because of their evil actions, they point an accusing finger at G-d and reply “Has Hashem become short spirited? – has G-d lost His patience? Or maybe, He has lost the ability to bestow goodness and can now only inflict punishment?” Micah is amazed at these comments and retorts, “How can the House of Jacob truly utter these words?” (Rashi).
“Behold, My was are benevolent with the one who walks with uprightness.” According to Rashi, we should understand from this verse that it seems that these people do not understand that G-d only punishes the wicked; those who fall from His grace out of disobedience. G-d bestows goodness upon the righteous.
Verse 8 “Yesterday My people arose as an enemy [to its fellows]; for the sake of a garment, a mantle, you would strip them, [making] innocent passersby fugitives of war.”
Ibn Ezra and Radak translates Yesterday to mean that the foreign attack against them “today” is a measure for having risen up against their weak and defenseless brothers yesterday [ just a short time ago], too recently for them to be able to deny their guilt. “My people” is a term usually used in the context of G-d’s affection for the Israelite nation. Perhaps this term is used here to emphasize a contrast between how far the nation had fallen to what they should have been. “Making innocent passersby fugitives of war.” Instead of passing by confidently, they are let without food and clothing as a people vanquished in battle who return home after having lost everything to the enemy (Rashi). The literal translation is in front or opposite. Before stealing the garment, the thief stands in front of it or opposite. Then, he removes it from his victim (Metzudos). The mantle garment is stripped, leaving only the shirt. This may have mort at a deeper level. The thief steals the mantle (covering) and the victim is left only with the shirt; he has lost his covering due to his sin and evil deeds.
Verse 9: “You evict [each of] the women of My people form the home of her delight; from her young children you remove My glory forever.”
Scripture continues to list the sins of the nation for which G-d has refrained from bestowing His goodness. The wicked drive the women from their beloved homes by murdering their husbands. Another opinion by Rashi is that since the men have been robbed of their possessions, their lives are now desolate and they can no longer make their wives happy. Although the Scripture mentions the women, the verse is metaphorically refereeing to the general unhappiness of the entire nation (Targum Yonasan). “From her young children you remove My glory forever.” According to Radak, a conjugal relationship that results in the fulfillment of G-d’s command to be fruitful and bear children glorifies G-d’s Name. By causing the wives to be driven away from their homes, they have hindered His glory and honor from being praised.
Next week we will continue with Chapter 2, verse 10.
Rabbi Tamah Davis