The book of Micah (who is like) was written by the Prophet Micah and was a native of Moresheth, near Gath in northern Philistia, about twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem. He may have been a farmer by occupation. His ministry covers the reigns of three kings from approximately 738 to 698 BC, His father’s name is not mentioned so scholars believe his family was insignificant and of humble status. His message favored the oppressed people of the land against the arrogant rich, as were other prophets like Amos, Isaiah, and Hosea his contemporaries.
The first three chapters bring forth the judgments of Yehovah against Israel and Judah and their impending doom. The next two chapters offer comfort and hope in view of the days to come when the Temple will be established upon the holy mountain, and a remnant will return from captivity in Babylon. The Messiah will come from Bethlehem and will cause the righteous remnant to be a blessing, and the land will be purged of its idolatry and oppression. The last two chapters tell us about the way to salvation by discussing a lawsuit the Lord brings upon Israel. He reminds them of how they were delivered from Egypt and what true worship in the Torah really is. He is against their wickedness and how they oppress the people. Israel confesses their guilt and there is a prayer to Yehovah that he will return and shepherd his flock like in the days of old. There is a Hebrew word play on his name in Micah 7.18 where it says, “Who is like thee” because only he can pardon and show compassion to the people of his covenant. For such a small book, you will be amazed at the eschatological information contained in these chapters.
v 1…The word of the Lord (Yehovah) which came to Micah of Moresheth (in the Shephelah Valley in the territory of Judah) in the days of Yotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah kings of Judah (these kings are a picture of the first three years of the birth-pains), which he saw concerning samaria (the ten tribes in the north) and Judah (two tribes in the south.
v 2…Hear (and obey), O peoples (tribes), all of you; listen (pay attention), O earth (land) and all it contains (its fullness), and let the Lord (Adonai) Yehovah be a witness (this is Yom Ha Din terms, or “day of judgment” so this is a court scene where Yehovah is giving credible evidence) against you (Israel and Judah who have despised the Torah), the Lord (Yehovah) from his holy (has a kedusha) Temple (“Hebrew “heichal” in heaven).
v 3…For behold (take note and see), the Lord (Yehovah) is coming forth from his place (in heaven; a change in his usual methods). He will come down and tread on the high places (the bamot for idols, fortresses) of the earth (the land, as the unmatched ruler of the world and universe).
v 4…The mountains (where the bamot and fortresses were located) will melt under him (figuratively-Zech 14.12; 2 Pet 3.10-12), and the valleys will be split (a complete dissolution) like wax before the fire like water poured down a steep place (streams of water, the valleys split with deep channels cut out by the water; this description reveals the destructive power upon nature by great national judgments).
v 5…All of this for the rebellion of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel (north). what is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria (“Shomron”)? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem (these became the centers of idolatry; Samaria was built by Omri in the seventh year of his reign; it was bought from Shemar so he named it after him; it also means “water mountain.” The Assyrians called it “Brit Omri” or house of Omri; Tiglat-pilaser III called it “Samarin.” It was the site of the capital of the northern kings for 200 years. It was captured by Sargon in 727 BC but besieged by his predecessor Shalamanser V for three years. Two years later they rebel and Sargon deported the people. It was a pagan city and full of idolatry and Baal worship by all the northern kings. We know much more about Jerusalem and their idolatry).
v 6…For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country (as a plowed field in heaps of stones gathered), planting places for a vineyard. I will pour her stones down into the valley (Samaria was on a hill) and will lay bare her foundations (complete destruction, very similar to the words of Yeshua about the Temple buildings in Matt 24.2).
v 7…All her idols will be smashed (stone idols), all her earnings (temple gifts in honor of her gods) will be burned with fire, and all her images I will make desolate, for she collected them from a harlot’s earnings (gifts presented by idolaters), and to the earnings of a harlot they will return (going to Assyria for the worship of their own idols).
Micah 1.8-16 describes the fear and terror of the people as Assyria comes through the Shephelah Valley
v 8…Because of this I must lament and wail, I must go barefoot and naked, I must make a lament liken the jackals (they cry loud when in pain) and a mourning like the ostriches (judgment was not going to stop in Samaria but spread into Judah and he knew it).
v 9…For her wound is incurable (Samaria and the ten tribes), for it (the calamity) has come to Judah (by the Assyrian army); it has reached the gate of my people (Jerusalem the capital), even to Jerusalem (the goal of the Assyrians).
Micah 1.10-16 will contain what is called “Midrashic Name Derivations” or MNDs in Hebrew poetry, which are puns and word plays, with messages, woven into a chiastic structure; that means verse 13 is the center point of the structure).
v 10…Tell it not (“tagidu”) in Gath, weep not at all (“tivku”-don’t cry so the Philistines don’t rejoice over the trouble in Judah). At Beth-le-aphrah (house of dust), roll yourself in the dust (this deals with Sargon II invading, but it also deals with Sennacherib coming up the Shephelah Valley).
v 11…Go on your way, inhabitant of Shaphar (beautiful city) in shameful nakedness. The inhabitants of Zaanan (departure) has not departed. The lamentation of Beth-ezel (house that is near) takes from you the standing near it.
v 12…For the inhabitant of Maroth (bitterness) writhes for good (tov) because a calamity (“ra” or evil) has come down from the Lord to the gate of Jerusalem.
In our chiastic structure of ABCDCBA (v 10-16), v 13 is “D” and the focal point, which deals with the city of Lachish. It was so important to capture and a key fort, Sennacherib the king of Babylon went there personally to oversee its capture. He sent subordinates to Jerusalem.
v 13…Harness the chariot to the horses, O inhabitant of Lachish! She was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion because in you were found the rebellious acts of Israel (Joshua was told to destroy it because it was the center of the defenses in the Shephelah Valley, but it never happened, and the idolatry of the Canaanites was not wiped out and it spread to the rest of Israel. Two miles from Lachish an inscription was found talking about Yehovah and his Asherah, alluding to the possibility that the Abomination of Desolation will have a statue of “Mary” standing with it. This idolatry would come in and the people wouldn’t know it. All of this has eschatological implications, so we are going to spend some time on this part of the verse.
Canaanite worship centered on agricultural fertility, and this led to power, which increased human fertility. Yehovah instructed Joshua to wipe out the Canaanites, if not, they would destroy Israel. He never did totally. Nobody wants or likes to see an amputation, but sometimes it is necessary to save a life. What happened at Lachish and the idol worship of the Asherah spread and Yehovah eventually had to judge the people. But it not only spread in Isra1el, but it went all over the world such as Phoenicia, Malta, Sicily, Cypress, Corinth, Greece, Rome, Europe, and the USA.
What we have just seen leaves no doubt that this was paganism, but it changed. They mixed it in with the true worship of God. Bull or calve worship was very popular in Egypt, but Israel copied it coming out of Egypt at the Golden Calf incident and mixed it in with the worship of Yehovah in Exo 32.5, not Baal. Jeroboam I built a worship center at Dan and Bethel involving calves, and he changed the festivals and said they were worshiping Yehovah in 1 Kings 12.25-33. No matter what form you find the Asherah it relates to fertility, potency, eroticism, and life after death.
In Rev 17.3 we have “Babylon, the mother of harlots.” The historian Herodotus says one time in the life of a Babylonian woman she would offer herself to the “Asherah” in a sexual fashion to male priests, or shave her head. In some places one time a year on a certain day. In Byblos (Tunisia) her worship was included as a prominent feature in the “weeping for Tammuz” practices and women shaved their hair or gave up their chastity.
2 Kings 11.14 says that Athaliah cried “treason” as they killed the priests of Baal and Asherah, and as she was taken out of the Temple and killed. People today react the same way if you don’t celebrate Christmas, Valentines’ Day, or Easter. In many ways, Christianity has mixed paganism with the worship of God. What is more Christian than Christmas? It has its own “Christmas spirit.” Valentines Day and Easter also come from pagan roots. Why are churches full on Sunday, but on the Sabbath day they are not? What are they learning? Proverbs gives us the contrast between the virtuous woman and the harlot. We live with the harlot all around us. Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding come into play because the harlot has presented herself as the virtuous woman. It’s a seduction and we must be able to discern what is of the harlot (false doctrine), and what is of the virtuous woman (the truth). Discernment is not being able to tell the difference between right and wrong, it is being able to tell the difference between right and what is almost right).
v 14…Therefore you will give parting gifts (Zion will have to relinquish all further claims) on behalf of Moresheth-gath (it’s given to the enemy), the houses of Achzib (deceit) becomes a deception (“achzab” in Hebrew) to the kings of Israel (the monarchy and heirs of Judah because Achzib was in Judah).
v 15…Moreover, I will bring on you the one who takes possession (another heir, Israel being the first one to inherit it, and now the enemy will possess it as the second heir), O inhabitant of Mareshah (to possess). The glory of Israel (the great people) will enter Adullam (a cave for refuge).
v 16…Make yourself bald (forbidden by the Torah-Deut 14.1 and a pagan tradition of mourning handed down) and cut off your hair (meaning “go into idolatry and paganism; you want it, you got it), because of the children (the nation) of your delight (pleasure), extend your baldness like the eagle (“nesher” or carrion vulture which has the front part of the head bald with only a few hairs at the back of the head), for they will go from you to exile (this was not done by the Assyrians, but will be done later by the Babylonians, as Micah prophesies in Mic 4.10.