Among the Minor Prophets, this superscription is closest in form to those for Hosea (
), Amos (
), and Zephaniah (
). Micah is a short form of the name Micaiah (1 Kings 22
), which means, “Who is like Yahweh?” Moresheth, a small town in southwest Judah (cf. 1.14
), probably Tell el‐Judeidah, 37 km (23 mi) southwest of Jerusalem. Which he saw, Judean prophecy often had a visionary quality (e.g., Isa 1.1; Ezek 1.1.; Am 1.1; Ob 1; Nah 1.1; Hab 1.1
). Jotham reigned from ca. 759 to 743 BCE; Ahaz from 743/735 to 727/715; Hezekiah from 727/715 to 698/687 (the data are inconsistent for the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah).
This collection of speeches begins with an indictment of Samaria, capital of the Northern Kingdom, and ends with an indictment
of Jerusalem, capital of the Southern Kingdom. This first major section of Micah is dominated by judgment speeches.
In grand style, the LORD descends from heaven to punish Samaria. This oracle is to be dated before 722 BCE, when Samaria fell to the Assyrians.
Cf. Isa 1.2; Hab 2.20; and 1 Kings 22.28b
Judg 5.4; Ps 68.8; 97.1–5; Isa 26.21
Jacob, poetic synonym for Israel; cf. Gen 32.28
. High place usually designates an open‐air shrine, but seems to refer here to the Solomonic Temple.
This destruction of images is consistent with Deuteronomic law (Deut 7.25; 12.3
). The phrase wages of a prostitute recalls the imagery of Hosea (Hos 2.2–13
Barefoot … naked, conventional mourning behavior (2 Sam 15.30; Ezek 24.17,23
), employed for effect by Micah's contemporary Isaiah (Isa 20.2
). Jackals and ostriches, associated with desolation because they frequented ruins and produced eerie howls or cries; see also Job 30.29; Isa 34.13
These towns in southwestern Judah lay along the path of the Assyrian king Sennacherib's campaign in 701 (2 Kings 18–19; Isa 36–37
), although the specific locations of several are unknown. There is a pun in virtually every verse of this section, lost
in translation. For the flavor in Hebrew, consider v. 12
: “the inhabitants of Bitterness wait … for something sweet.”
Gath, one of the five Philistine cities on the coast; 2 Sam 1.20b
Sennacherib's siege of Lachish, an important city 45 km (28 mi) southwest of Jerusalem, is depicted in Assyrian records.
Mareshah, later known as Marisa, is modern Tell Sandahanna, 5 km (3 mi) northeast of Lachish.
Make yourselves bald, an extreme form of mourning behavior (e.g., Isa 15.2; Jer 7.29; 16.6; Am 8.10
). Pampered children (better, “children of your delight”) is not pejorative. It depicts the grief of parents bereft of exiled children. The eagle, more exactly, the griffon‐vulture.
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