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The Prophecy of Micah - Christogenea Internet Radio 02-12-2014
The prophecy of Micah parallels those of Isaiah, Hosea, and Amos, who were all prophets of the 8th century BC. The ministries of all four of these prophets were focused on forecasting God's impending judgment of the ancient northern Kingdom of Israel, although they all also prophesied of other things, such as the sin and impending judgment of Judah and Jerusalem, of Christ, and of Israel's eventual restoration. The prophet Jonah is earlier than any of these, but he was not concerned with the destruction of Israel. Rather, Jonah sought the preservation of Israel, imagining that Yahweh would destroy the encroaching Assyrians instead. It was demonstrated in our presentation of Amos that Assyria and Israel had been struggling back-and-forth for over a hundred years before the final destruction of Samaria. For instance, we had demonstrated from correlating the Bible with certain ancient Assyrian inscriptions that the restoration to Israel of Hamath, Damascus and the northern plain by Jeroboam II which is mentioned in 2 Kings chapter 14 was in response to earlier Assyrian subjugation of that area. Even earlier than that, we saw in Assyrian inscriptions that the Israelite king Ahab had sent a force of 10,000 foot-soldiers to join a mostly Syrian coalition army against Assyrian expansion into the Levant, something which is not mentioned in the Bible. Ahab was over a hundred years before Jotham, the king of Judah when Micah began his ministry. The lesson of the gourd in Jonah is that Yahweh was indeed going to use Assyria's expanding empire to preserve Israel by taking Israel into captivity. Jonah recorded the lesson of the gourd, but he evidently did not understand it.
The next prophet after Micah is Nahum, a prophet of the 7th century who was indeed focused on Yahweh's revenge against the Assyrians, something which Isaiah also prophesied about at length. The prophet Joel, usually and incorrectly dated to an earlier period, was also a prophet of the 7th century BC, as the third chapter of his book demonstrates. Obadiah is also usually dated to have been written at an early time, but his prophecy could not have been written until after the fall of Jerusalem (verses 10-14). Scholars who dispute the prophecies concerning Edom do not understand who Edom is in the world today, and therefore they cannot understand Obadiah. Aside from these and a few other less significant questions, the King James translators were fair in estimating the proper order of the minor prophets.
The prophecy of Micah has three basic messages: the sin, punishment, and restoration of Israel, which are repeated in different ways. An abuse of Micah feeds Judeo-Zionist interpretations concerning Palestine today, and they with their sick fantasies concerning the enemies of Christ actually deny Micah's true message. Micah's writing is most notable for it's Messianic prophecy found in chapter 5, and its prophecy of the gathering of Israel found in chapter 4.
As the name Michael means “Who is like God?”, the name Micah means “Who is like Yahweh?” There were other men with this name, and also another prophet with this name, who lived at least a hundred years sooner, and that is “Micaiah the son of Imlah” mentioned in 1 Kings chapter 22. This Micah's ministry is attested by the prophet Jeremiah, who quoted Micah 3:12 where at Jeremiah 26:18 he had written that “Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.”
Jeremiah goes on to describe the sentiments of the people of Jerusalem towards Micah for this prophecy, where he further states “ 19 Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he [meaning Hezekiah] not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD, and the LORD repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls.” Jeremiah said these things, because the people of Jerusalem wanted to kill him for his own prophesying, and Jeremiah is telling them that they should repent instead. Comparing this testimony of Jeremiah with the records of Hezekiah's interaction with the prophet Isaiah in 2 Kings chapters 18 through 20, we see that Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah, and that both men were in Jerusalem prophesying during Hezekiah's reign. Isaiah began his ministry earlier than Micah. Hosea and Amos were also contemporaries, however their ministries were primarily conducted in Israel, and not in Judah.
Micah 1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Judah who reigned during the last days of the Northern kingdom, in the period leading up to when Samaria was finally destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 or 721 BC. Micah's prophetic ministry may therefore have begun as many as thirty years before Samaria was destroyed, which is approximately when Jotham began his rule over Judah. Hezekiah's rule over Judah began about 7 years before the destruction of Samaria, and therefore Micah prophesied for at least 20 years, since the rule of Ahaz alone lasted 16 years, and from the testimony of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 28:18-19 which we have already cited, probably beyond that. Micah, prophesying against both Samaria and Jerusalem, certainly may have seen the destruction of Samaria which he forewarned.
Micah calls himself “Micah the Morasthite” in the opening verse of his prophecy. In verse 14 of this chapter he prophesies concerning Moreshethgath. The name Moreshethgath can be interpreted to mean possession of Gath, and some commentators debate whether a place called Moresheth actually existed, or if the word should instead be translated as inheritance or possession of Gath. However Strong derives the word Moresheth from a Hebrew word which means to expel, and more fully, to occupy a place by driving out the previous inhabitants. So it seems that there was indeed a district called Moreshethgath, where the Israelites had driven out the Philistines of Gath and dwelt in their place. That does not mean, however, that Israel drove the Philistines out of Gath entirely. Indeed, Micah mentions Gath by itself in verse 10 of this first chapter of his prophecy. Micah, calling himself “the Morasthite”, was probably from the very Moreshethgath which he prophesies in regards to later in this first chapter.
It may occur to some that Morasthite is very close to the word Mareshah, a place mentioned in verse 15 of this chapter. However in the Hebrew spelling and meaning of the two words there are differences which seem to preclude any possible connection. Mareshah is worthy of further description when we arrive at where it is mentioned, but it should not be connected to the terms Morasthite or Moreshethgath.
2 Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord [adon] GOD [Yahweh] be witness against you, the Lord [adon] from his holy temple.
Here “all ye people” can only refer to all Israel, since his message only concerns that “which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem” and therefore the word erets (776) can only refer to the land, and not the earth as if it referred to the entire planet. There are many such examples in Scripture that show that these words are most often used in a local context, and not in a global one.
3 For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth. 4 And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.
Here Micah uses poetic language and a word-picture description of God's presence as a means of connecting His judgment to the wrath which is about to come upon the people of the land in the form of the Assyrian invasions. The coming destruction is described in poetic language much like Jeremiah borrowed poetic language from Genesis chapter 1 in his prophecy of the destruction of Judah in Jeremiah chapter 4: “ 23 I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. 24 I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. 25 I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. 26 I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the LORD, and by his fierce anger. 27 For thus hath the LORD said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.”. That word translated as land in Jeremiah 4:27 is the same word translated as earth here in this passage from Micah in verses 2 and 3. That passage from Jeremiah only has to do with Yahweh's judgment of Judah at the hand of the Babylonian invasions. Likewise, this passage of Micah relates to the judgment of Yahweh against Israel at the hand of the Assyrians.
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 Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?
Even though it was the will of God to divide the kingdom after the death of Solomon, Samaria by its very existence has become a sin to Israel, and Jerusalem has become a place of idolatry. In the opening chapters of his prophecy, which gives an oracle against Judah and Jerusalem, the prophet Isaiah had said that “Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands, that which their own fingers have made” (Isaiah 2:8). Isaiah began his ministry at least a few years before Micah, but most of their ministries overlapped. This is early in Micah's ministry, in the days of Jotham, and Jerusalem would later have a religious revival later under Hezekiah, as Israel along with much of Judah was being carried away captive.
Not much is said in scripture of the reign of Jotham, but he was portrayed as a righteous king in spite of the fact that he did not take down the centers of idolatry in Judah. Here in part, from 2 Kings chapter 15: “32 In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign. 33 Five and twenty years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok. 34 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. 35 Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the LORD. 36 Now the rest of the acts of Jotham, and all that he did, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” 2 Chronicles chapter 26 contains a similar but slightly more detailed account.
The king of Judah in between Jotham and Hezekiah was Ahaz, who “...did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel. 4 And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.” (2 Kings 16:2-4)
Like Jotham, Hezekiah was also described as a righteous king, however he did better by removing the centers of pagan idolatry. From 2 Kings chapter 18: “1 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 2 Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. 3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. 4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan ('a thing of brass'). 5 He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.”
With this it is also evident that the children of Israel had for a long time idolized a historical relic, Moses' serpent of brass, and that even good symbols can become idols. The serpent of brass was only an ensign, and when it was made it represented the healing power of God, but the serpent of brass had no power within itself. This is a trap which our people have always fallen into: to venerate the form of a thing, and not the substance which that form represents. The symbol is nothing. What it is that the symbol stands for when it is created or designated is what truly matters. Today the children of Israel do not literally burn incense to objects (unless they are Roman Catholics) however they do the equivalent by making pilgrimages and venerating certain historical sites or objects, while having abandoned the ideals which those objects once represented.
6 Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof.
Rather than heap, the Septuagint has an obscure Greek word here which Brenton interpreted as a storehouse of the fruits, but which Liddell & Scott interpret as describing the hut of a garden-watcher. The same word appears at Isaiah 1:8, where he utters a very similar prophecy against Jerusalem.
Where Micah said in verse 3 “behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth”, here he describes Yahweh as saying “ I will make Samaria as an heap of the field”. Many people dispute the Scriptures because they expect a literal fulfillment of its prophecies. It is Jewish subterfuge and the typical Jewish mockery of God which leads people to anticipate literal fulfillments of these events. God is mocked again and Christian faith is disputed when those literal fulfillments are made to look impossible. The only literal fulfillments we should expect from Scripture are from those things which are explicitly literal promises. We must be able to fairly differentiate between the literal statements of Scripture, and the poetic descriptions in its prophecy.
Perhaps a couple of dozen years after Micah had written these words, the Assyrians invaded and destroyed Samaria, taking over 27,000 hostages back to Assyria. If Yahweh used the Assyrians to fulfill His Word where He said “I will make Samaria as an heap of the field”, then we should not expect a literal fulfillment where Micah wrote “behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth”.
7 And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.
Yahweh would “discover the foundations” of Samaria, and these are the idols which were gathered “of the hire of a harlot”. This is a reference to an intercourse in trade and an unlawful communion, sexual and otherwise, with the non-Israel nations.
We have noticed that there were four prophets who described Israel's sin and forewarned of Israel's imminent destruction on account of that sin. These are Isaiah, Hosea, Amos and Micah. All of these men were contemporaries, having ministries which in some degree overlapped those of the others. While all of these men chastised Israel for their sins, not all of them described those sins in the same exact manner as the others. Some of them focused on different aspects of Israel's sin at different times. So in order to fully understand any of them, all of them must be studied. It would also be meet to study the pertinent sections of the books of Kings and Chronicles, since those books also quantify much of the sin of Israel and Judah in this same period.
Hosea explains in depth exactly what is meant by the saying “the hire of a harlot” when it is used against the nation. Here, from Hosea chapter 2, Yahweh said through the prophet: “2 Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; 3 Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. 4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. 5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. 6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. 7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. 8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.”
Hosea 2:5 therefore defines Israel's whoredom, where it says “For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.” From this we see that Israel, chasing after the trade in merchandise with other nations, thereby made herself a whore. It is not a coincidence that the Mystery Babylon of the Revelation is described as a place of international trade. Hosea discusses this same sin of Israel again in the 12th chapter of his prophecy: “1 Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.... 7 He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress. 8 And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin.”
In chapter 5 of his prophecy, Hosea tells us that one result of this intercourse which Israel sought with the other nations was race-mixing, where he says “They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions” (Hosea 5:7). Ezekiel later expounds on the same idea: “Thou hast built thy high place at every head of the way, and hast made thy beauty to be abhorred, and hast opened thy feet [an archaic way of saying “spread thy legs”] to every one that passed by, and multiplied thy whoredoms” (Ezekiel 16:25).
Politicians in America are about to begin the debate over ratification of the so-called “Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement”. However this is only the most recent of a series of such evil agreements the nation has entered into over the past 50 or so years. These treaties are evil because they make Christian Israel the economic bed-partners of non-White so-called nations. They make Christian Israel into the same kind of whore that ancient Israel had become for the very same reasons. The inevitable results are the multiculturalism, diversity, and mixed-race unions which we see in abundance today. All of these things are promoted by the international merchants, among whom the Edomite Jews are predominant.
8 Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.
The Septuagint has the second person here, rather than the first, which makes a lot more sense, and Brenton's edition has: “Therefore shall she lament and wail, she shall go barefooted, and being naked she shall make lamentation as that of serpents, and mourning as of the daughters of sirens.”
Israel sought after profit in the trade with other nations, yet the result of that venture is that Israel is to be left stripped bare and naked. This is the same punishment which Yahweh declared for the same reason in Hosea chapter 2 where it says “...let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness...”
A proper and unbiased historical study of all of our so-called “free trade” ventures throughout history would reveal that the Jewish internationalist merchants are behind them all, and only they truly profit from such ventures. They then use these profits to gain political, economic, and even social control over the nations that subscribe to this system, and then they bleed those nations of all their resources for the sake of their own profit. Looking at America today, this is clearly evident.
9 For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.
“Her wound is incurable”, the use of the second person pronoun here, as a reference to the nation, seems to indicate that the Septuagint reading of verse 8 is the more accurate one.
Both the New American Standard version and the Septuagint have “it has come unto the gate”, meaning that the same wound has come to Judah. By this we see that the sins for which Israel is condemned are also being practiced in Judah.
10 Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust.
The phrase “Declare ye it not at Gath” may have been something of a proverb. In 1 Samuel 1:20, at the death of Saul and Jonathan, we see the exclamation “20 Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.” Control over the cities of the Philistines had alternated between the Philistines and Israel. In 1 Samuel 7:14 we read, in part: “14 And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines.” Goliath, the giant, was himself from Gath, as attested in 1 Samuel chapter 17. Later, as it is described in 1 Samuel chapter 21, David fleeing from Saul sought refuge with Achish the king of Gath, where the city is once again in Philistine hands. Yet it did not remain with them, as we read in 1 Chronicles 18:1 that “Now after this it came to pass, that David smote the Philistines, and subdued them, and took Gath and her towns out of the hand of the Philistines.” Again, in the genealogies of the children of Benjamin, it is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 8 that: “13 Beriah also, and Shema, who were heads of the fathers of the inhabitants of Aijalon, who drove away the inhabitants of Gath...”
Describing the period immediately after the division of Israel and Judah we read this of Rehoboam king of Judah, from 2 Chronicles chapter 11: “5 And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah. 6 He built even Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa, 7 And Bethzur, and Shoco, and Adullam, 8 And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph, 9 And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah, 10 And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities. 11 And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine.” Several of these cities are mentioned again later in this chapter of Micah. So we see that Micah is prophesying not only of the destruction of Samaria, but also against much of the land of Judah.
It seems that although Israel had indeed occupied Gath, later on the Philistines regained control of the city at some point. In 2 Kings chapter 12, in the 9th century BC, Hazael the king of Syria is said to have fought against and taken Gath, and the act was portrayed as a judgment by Yahweh against Judah in the days of Jehoash, king of Judah. Hazael was then bribed by Jehoash, so that he would not lay siege to Jerusalem. Not long before the time of Micah, in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, the king before Jotham, it is said that Uzziah “went forth and warred against the Philistines, and brake down the wall of Gath” (2 Chronicles 26:6). In Amos 6:2 the prophet describes Gath as it still belonged to the Philistines: “Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?” Amos was a contemporary of Micah. It may be conjectured, that the Syrians lost or turned over control of Gath to the Philistines. Even later, in the Annals of Sargon, after the destruction of Samaria by the Assyrian armies under his command Gath was one of those cities subjected to the Assyrians, but not destroyed (Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton University Press, 1969 J. Pritchard, editor, p. 286).
The reference to the “house of Aphrah” is sometimes interpreted as a place, transliterated “beth-le-aphrah”, and neither Aphrah or Beth-le-Aphrah are mentioned elsewhere. But as the Septuagint translators had done, it is sometimes interpreted as an epithet, meaning “house of dust” or “house of derision”.
The Septuagint version of Micah 1:10 reads thus: “Ye that are in Geth, exalt not yourselves, and ye Enakim, do not rebuild from the ruins of the house in derision: sprinkle dust in the place of your laughter.”
If we are to accept this reading, and it is every bit as credible as the Masoretic Text, it becomes evident that there may have remained even to this time a remnant of the Anakim, the “children of Anak” who was one of the giants. In the books of Joshua and Judges, it is said that the sons of Anak were expelled from Hebron by Caleb, but it does not say that they were exterminated. One reason not to accept this reading, however, is that the fragments of Micah found among the Dead Sea Scrolls support the reading of the Masoretic Text. Yet often it is apparent that these variant readings of Scripture were not necessarily contrived. Rather, there seem to have been differing redactions from some original, somewhat longer texts. This is one sound reason why we need to study all available ancient witnesses to Scripture, and not disregard any of them.
11 Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Bethezel; he shall receive of you his standing.
Saphir as a place is unknown. The Septuagint has sennaan here in Greek letters, for which Brenton writes as Sennaar, but it is obviously the same place as Zaanan. The verse is fragmented and the word cannot be read in the Dead Sea Scrolls. The word Saphir in the Hebrew manuscripts is interpreted as fair or beauty, and as it appears there it is said to be a noun which appears without gender or number, and without a definite article. This same grammatical form was used of place names throughout the book of Joshua, where the towns of each tribe are listed. The phrase “having thy shame naked”, which is perhaps a play on the words of Genesis 2:25, seems to infer that the children of Israel are sinning shamelessly and out in the open, much like they often do today.
Zaanan seems to be a variation of the spelling of Zenan, mentioned in Joshua 15:37, which was a town of Judah. Both forms of the word seem to mean pointed. Bethezel means house of narrowing, and the place is otherwise unknown. It may be that Micah, being a native of this area which he prophesies against, demonstrates an intimate knowledge of its smallest towns and villages. It may also be that he is not referencing places here at all, but rather his words are to be interpreted literally. This would explain the Septuagint reading of Micah 1:11 which has “The inhabitant of Sennaar, fairly inhabiting her cities, came not forth to mourn for the house next to her: she shall receive of you the stroke of grief.” The careful observer of the differences in these two versions may discover that in the King James Version, Saphir is a place, while in the Septuagint it is an adverb, “fairly”. It is apparent that both observations of Micah's intent are true, that certain and even obscure places are being singled out by the prophet because of the meanings of their names, thereby each of those names are being used as double entendres. Micah prophecies against all of these places, yet the meanings of the names that he uses are also pertinent to his intended message.
12 For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.
Again, Maroth is not known from anywhere else in the Bible. Once again, the lexicon states that Maroth is a noun without gender or number, and there is no definite article. The Septuagint version reads “Who has begun to act for good to her that dwells in sorrow? for calamities have come down from the Lord upon the gates of Jerusalem.” The Septuagint rendered as “dwells in sorrow” the words translated “inhabitant of Maroth” as they appear in the King James Version, taking a literal meaning of the noun rather than interpreting it as a place name.
13 O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee.
The meaning of the word Lachish could not be identified by Strong, but newer lexicons say that it means impregnable or invincible. Here in Micah it is interpreted to refer to the city of southern Judah in both the King James Version and the Septuagint. The Septuagint rendering of the verse has in part, “she is the leader of sin”. According to Joshua chapter 10, the Amorites who dwelt in Lachish before the Israelite conquest of Palestine were so completely exterminated that Lachish was later held up as an example for the extermination of the Canaanites in other cities. 2 Kings chapter 18 indicates that the Assyrians besieged and took Lachish without destroying it, and then Sennacherib used the city as a headquarters for the conquest of Judah. Jeremiah later describes Lachish as one of the cities of Judah that remained when the Babylonians later fought against and took captive the remnant of Judah (Jeremiah 34:7).
14 Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moreshethgath: the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel.
The word for presents has been interpreted as parting gifts, however the word may simply and more literally mean a sending away. The word Achzib means deceit, however it was the name of a town of Judah, mentioned at Joshua 15:44 and 19:29. The word rendered lie in this passage is a closely related form of the same word which gives us the name Achzib, and thus Micah is making a play on words related to the meaning of the name. The Septuagint reads “Therefore shall he [referring to the inhabitant of Lachish, a general term for any Israelite dwelling there] cause men to be sent forth as far as the inheritance of Geth, even vain houses; they are become vanity to the kings of Israel” The “inheritance of Gath” seems to refer to some area of Gath maintained by Israelites, of which Micah was a native, and therefore he is called “the Morasthite”, after Moreshethgath, which is the Hebrew form of the phrase, which may be rendered possession of Gath. The Septuagint took the name of Achzib and interpreted it literally, lies and deceit being considered vanity. Again, the word appears in the Hebrew text as a noun without gender or number, and without a definite article. It appeared in Joshua in this same manner, as the name of a town.
Here, more than anywhere else in these passages of Micah, it seems that certain towns of Judah were singled out because of the names which they bore. Because nearly every Hebrew name was also a common word with a common meaning, the names of these towns seem to have contributed a much deeper meaning to this account of the judgment against Israel being related by Micah. The interpretation in the King James Version usually settled on the place names, but the Septuagint translators more often rendered the literal meanings of the words.
Those dwelling in sorrows (Maroth, verse 12), referring perhaps to the repentant in Israel, wanted good but only judgment came from Yahweh. How could Lachish be the beginning of sin to Israel? Lachish meant invincible. As the proverb tells us, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). Hosea 5:5, referring to the same apostasy described here by Micah: “And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.” Men would be sent to the “inheritance of Gath”, and that is reminiscent of Isaiah's oracle that the children of Israel would “fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines toward the west” (Isaiah 11:14). The houses of Achzib, or deceit, would be a lie to the kings of Israel, meaning that the people by no means imagined their judgment.
15 Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel.
Mareshah is ancient Marissa, a place often mentioned by Flavius Josephus. It was once a city of Judah, mentioned at Joshua 15:44 along with Achzib. It was the place where Asa had defeated the Ethiopians (2 Chronicles chapter 14), and the home of the prophet Eliezer, “the son of Dodavah of Mareshah”, who prophesied against Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:37). The name Mareshah basically means summit, as the peak of a hill or mountain.
Later on, however, Marissa was one of the many cities of Judah and Israel which were taken over by the Edomites after the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations of Israel. That this is so is clear not only by observing the inhabitants of many of the former cities of Judah and Israel in the later accounts of Josephus, but also in Ezekiel chapter 34, where the prophet recorded the words of Yahweh: “2 Son of man, set thy face against mount Seir, and prophesy against it, 3 And say unto it, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O mount Seir, I am against thee, and I will stretch out mine hand against thee, and I will make thee most desolate.... 10 Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the LORD was there”.
Josephus records battles by the early Hasamoneans, Judas Maccabee and his brothers, against the Edomites of Hebron, Marissa, and other towns, in which Marissa was burnt. However a couple of generations later, Hyrcanus chose to convert the Edomites rather than destroy them. Josephus records in Antiquities book 13 that “257 Hyrcanus took also Dora and Marissa, cities of Idumea, and subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would submit to circumcision, and make use of the laws of the Judaeans; 258 and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the right of circumcision, and of the rest of the Judaean ways of living; at which time, therefore, this befell them, that they were hereafter considered to be Judaeans.” Of course, from this point these Edomites eventually came to dominate all of Jerusalem and Judaea, including the Temple, which they had full control of by the time of Christ.
Adullam is a town of Judah, known from both Joshua 15:35 and the accounts where David found refuge in a certain cave there (1 Samuel 22:1, 2 Samuel 23:13), However in keeping with our observations of this prophecy of Micah, the name also has a meaning, and Adullam means justice of the people. The Septuagint translators understood it to refer to the name of the town here.
The word translated as heir in both the King James Version and in Brenton's Septuagint version of this verse is from that same Hebrew word from which the lexicons derive Moresheth in the name Moreshethgath, which is yaresh (Strong's # 3423), and it is defined by Strong primarily as to occupy a place by driving out the previous inhabitants, or to expel or take possession. Because of this meaning, to take possession, it was variously translated as to seize, rob or even to inherit in various contexts. The New American Standard version interpreted it as referring to one who “takes possession” here in Micah, and that is how we would prefer to interpret it here.
The repetition of these forms of this word moresheth indicates that Micah was using a play on words, and idiomatic meanings and double entendres were conveyed that are now lost in the translations.
Perhaps Micah verse 15 should be interpreted to say “Yet will I bring one who takes possession unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam [or the justice of the people] the glory of Israel.” The Israelites were indeed expelled, and Mareshah, the summit, was taken possession of by their enemies, the Edomites. Perhaps we could take this a step further, seeing that both Jerusalem and the claims to the inheritance of Israel were eventually infiltrated and taken over through Marissa, and this seems to be what the name Mareshah, or summit, forebodes here. Yet the justice of the true people of Israel was found in their punishment and in the judgment of God, as it was those same Edomites who crucified the Christ.
16 Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.
Shaving of the head was a sign of disgrace and grief. The Septuagint has this verse “Shave thine hair, and make thyself bald for thy delicate children; increase thy widowhood as an eagle; for thy people are gone into captivity from thee.”
The prophet speaks of something which is imminent, which is the captivity being forewarned by Yahweh God, as if it had already happened. In that same spirit, Paul says of the promise of Abraham that Yahweh “calls things not existing as existing”, in Romans 4:17, which is the purpose of prophecy.