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Micah, Part 5 - Christogenea Internet Radio 03-21-2014
In the first three chapters of Micah, we saw the prophet pronounce the judgments of God upon Israel, and also upon Judah, for the many transgressions they committed against both Him and their kinsmen. For those transgressions they would lose all of which they had, because they dealt deceitfully with their God and their nation. From Micah 1:6 and 9: “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. 9 For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.” The Assyrians did take away all of Israel and all of the fenced cities and towns of Judah, but they were stopped at the gate of Jerusalem. While Micah also prophesied later, at the end of his third chapter, that “Jerusalem shall become heaps,” that judgment was reserved for execution until the time of the later Chaldaean invasion.
The names of the towns of Judah which Micah prophesied against also told a story in their meanings, from which we can gather deeper insight. For instance, the beginning of sin for Israel was their belief that they were invincible because their God was with them, an idea encapsulated in Micah's utterance concerning Lachish and which is also stated explicitly at Micah 3:11 where it says of the false prophets that “yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.”. The children of Israel cannot sin and feel that they can prevail simply because their God is with them, but this was the attitude which Micah ascribes to them. It must also be observed, that that those who understood and were sorrowful over Israel's sin had hoped for good, but Israel was only worthy of Yahweh's judgment, an idea which we see encapsulated in Micah's utterance concerning Maroth.
In the fourth and fifth chapters of Micah, we saw what would become of Israel “in the last days”, in those days which followed her impending captivity at the hand of the Assyrians. Micah chapter 4 expresses these things, and ends with the words “Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion”. Then Micah chapter 5 expresses these same things in a different manner, and ends with the words “so will I destroy thy cities [meaning the cities of Israel]. And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the heathen”. These prophecies have other prophetic parallels in Ezekiel, Isaiah, Obadiah and elsewhere, but especially in the Revelation.
While ancient Israel thought that because they were the people of Yahweh that they were invincible and therefore would not be punished for their sin, we read in the Revelation where it describes the whore that has attached gerself to the beast, “How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (Revelation 18:7). So we see once again a people which does not believe that the judgment of God would come upon them, yet it certainly shall come upon them.
Like Micah 4:12, and also like Obadiah 17, the Revelation tells us that the children of God would indeed be the instruments of God's wrath, where it says in that same place “Come out of her, my people” and “Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double” (Revelation 18:4,6). Ostensibly, where the Word of Yahweh says “arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion” and “so will I destroy thy cities”, speaking to those same people, it is those of the children of Israel who shall separate themselves from the world after the fall of Babylon the Great who are the instruments used by God to destroy that same world! Christians are told to come out from the society, and not to love the world, because true Christians shall one day judge the world. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:2, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? ” Indeed they shall, and there shall not be much left of it after they do. For this should the House of Israel be preparing themselves spiritually, yet we must await the announcement, that “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” Observing the cities of Israel today, they are indeed the habitation of devils and of every foul spirit and unclean and hateful bird, and therefore they need to be destroyed as God has promised. The children of Israel who do love their God should once again be sitting in sorrow, but not hoping for good: instead they should be anticipating the impending judgment of Yahweh.
From Isaiah chapter 41: “14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. 16 Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the LORD, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel.”
The destruction of the cities of Israel presaged in Micah chapter 5 is the execution of the Law of Yahweh against idolatry. For Moses had written in Deuteronomy chapter 13: “12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, 13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; 14 Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; 15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. 16 And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be a heap for ever; it shall not be built again.”
Micah 6:1 Hear ye now what the LORD saith; Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice. 2 Hear ye, O mountains, the LORD'S controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth: for the LORD hath a controversy with his people, and he will plead with Israel.
This controversy and this pleading represents the reason why Israel is being punished, and the things which Israel is to consider in the days of their captivity, which has already been decreed with a decree that cannot be reversed. That captivity would be for a very long time, as certain prophecies indicate in Leviticus and in Daniel. From Leviticus chapter 26, among the curses of disobedience: “24 Then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins. 25 And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant: and when ye are gathered together within your cities, I will send the pestilence among you; and ye shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. 26 And when I have broken the staff of your bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight: and ye shall eat, and not be satisfied. 27 And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; 28 Then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins.” Since in Micah chapter 5, in verses 2 and 3, Yahweh promised that He would give up the children of Israel until the coming of the Messiah, then Yahweh's pleading with Israel could not begin until after Israel accepted the Gospel of Christ.
In Ezekiel chapter 20 we see a message from Yahweh God unto the “elders of Israel”, and we see an appeal very much like the appeal which God makes to Israel as it is recorded here in Micah chapter 6. Here it is cited in part: “33 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: 34 And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. 36 Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. 37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: 38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”
We see here that Yahweh promises in Ezekiel that “I will rule over you”, and in the Revelation in chapter 19, at the prophesied Second Advent of the Messiah we see that it described that He has “on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” There should be no doubt, that the plan of God is to ultimately rule over His own people in the flesh, as Yahshua Christ. The entire punishment of the children of Israel is ultimately because they rejected God as their King from the beginning. Including the Kingdom period after David and Solomon, after over 3,000 years of earthly tyrants and despots they should be happy to have God as their King once again.
3 O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me. 4 For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
The concise nature of the writing of the prophet insists that those of the children of Israel who hear him consider what is being said and recall for themselves all of the wonderful things which Yahweh had done for the children of Israel in effecting their deliverance from the slavery of Egypt. Yahweh did nothing but good things for Israel, and yet Israel has forsaken Him to pursue the worldly ways of God's enemies.
5 O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.
In Numbers chapters 22 through 24 we have a record of the consultation of Balak with the prophet Balaam of Pethor, a prophet of Aram-Naharaim, which was apparently the Hebrew term for at least part of Mesopotamia, meaning “Aram of the rivers”, and therefore Balaam was evidently a Syrian. Balaam was hired by Balak to curse the children of Israel as they were invading Palestine, and every time he attempted to curse them, by the will of Yahweh he could only bless them instead.
However it is evident that the Book of Numbers by itself, as it survived to us, does not have everything which Balaam answered of Balak, since it can be discerned from the words of Christ in the Revelation, and from the epistles of Peter and Jude, that there must have been more to the story. The apostle Peter likened certain “cursed children … having eyes full of adultery” to the “way of Balaam”. Jude reckoned the “error of Balaam” with the “way of Cain”. Christ in Revelation chapter 2 informs us that Balaam had “taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” These things are not related in the account as it now exists in Numbers, but after Balaam and Balak part ways at the end of Numbers chapter 24 we read in the opening verse of chapter 25 that “Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.” The denominational sects foolishly claim that this is a reference to idolatry alone, but it does not say that they committed fornication with the gods of Moab, it rather says that they committed fornication with the daughters of Moab! This is a reference to race-mixing, and Baal-worship was a fertility cult in which sexual intercourse was a ritual.
From what we have in Numbers, however, it is learned that no matter how the other nations wished to curse Israel, that Yahweh would ensure that Israel was blessed instead. Yet once Israel was tempted to mingle with those other nations, the wrath of God would come upon them. Paul of Tarsus also recognized this, and warned the Corinthians not to “commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand” (1 Corinthians 10:8). The story of Phinehas in Numbers chapter 25 ensures the certainty of the interpretation, where he was rewarded for running through with a spear a chief man of the tribe of Simeon who had brought a “Midianitish woman” into his tent in the sight of all Israel. With the same spear he ran through the man and the woman. Apparently he did so as the two were joined together in fornication.
6 Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
The sacrifice of one's firstborn was element of the Old Testament, to dedicate one's firstborn to God (Numbers 3:12), it was an element of paganism where the firstborn was literally sacrificed on an altar at various times and for various reasons, and the practice is also a type for the Messiah.
In Matthew 12:7 Christ is recorded as quoting the text of Hosea 6:6 where He states “But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless.” The religious system of sacrifices as well as the legal system of Levites and judges were being corrupted and used for oppression rather than for justice.
From Hosea 6: “4 O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. 5 Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. 6 For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. 7 But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.”
9 The LORD'S voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.
As we have just seen in Ezekiel 20:37, Yahweh said to Israel in their captivity that “I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant”. Further, from Amos 3: “2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. 3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” The entire history of the people of Israel has but one lesson: to bring them back into obedience unto their God. The words of the prophet in this chapter are turning back to the immediate troubles which Israel is about to face as punishment for their sins. However these are also a type for the “last days”, having a two-fold fulfillment.
10 Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable? 11 Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights? 12 For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. 13 Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins.
Among the sins of Israel recounted by Amos was their “making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit” (Amos 8:5). Earlier in Micah, in chapters 2 and 3, certain men of Israel are chastised for coveting and taking the fields and the houses of the poor, thereby eating “the flesh of my people”, and even going so far as to dispossess women and children from their homes (Micah 2:2, 9; 3:2-3). In Amos chapter 2 we read that “ 6 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes”. The oppression of their own poor tribesmen by the wealthy is one of the chief transgressions of ancient Israel. In Revelation chapter 18, speaking of Mystery Babylon and Israel in captivity in the “last days”, we see that it is the merchants of the earth who are characterized as lamenting over its fall, where it says “11 And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more... 19 And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.” Then it says “20 Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.” In Hosea chapter 2, speaking of these same sins of Israel, we see that by seeking these riches in international trade, the same riches described in Revelation 18, the nation was described as being in harlotry or whoredom: “5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers [meaning the other nations and their gods], that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.”
14 Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword. 15 Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.
Prosperity and satisfaction in the works of men's hands is a blessing from God. When Israel is disobedient, those things are withdrawn from men. From Haggai chapter 1: “6 Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” Today we labor for salaries, and then price inflation and continual tax increases prevent us from saving anything.
In the curses of disobedience listed in Deuteronomy chapter 28 it warns: “38 Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it. 39 Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. 40 Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit. 41 Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity.” Even more harrowing, and even more descriptive of this very day today, it says in that same chapter that “32 Thy sons and thy daughters shall be given unto another people [race-mixing, like sodomy, is therefore a result of disobedience to God], and thine eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there shall be no might in thine hand [we will not be able to stop it].”
16 For the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the works of the house of Ahab, and ye walk in their counsels; that I should make thee a desolation, and the inhabitants thereof an hissing: therefore ye shall bear the reproach of my people.
From 1 Kings chapter 16 it is evident why Omri and his son Ahab were so odious to God: “23 In the thirty and first year of Asa king of Judah began Omri to reign over Israel, twelve years: six years reigned he in Tirzah. 24 And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria. 25 But Omri wrought evil in the eyes of the LORD, and did worse than all that were before him. 26 For he walked in all the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin, to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger with their vanities. 27 Now the rest of the acts of Omri which he did, and his might that he shewed, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel? 28 So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria: and Ahab his son reigned in his stead. 29 And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. 30 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. 31 And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. 32 And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33 And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” The personality of Omri and the impact he had on the character of the nation of Israel cannot be discounted or diminished, for well over a hundred years after his death the Assyrians referred to Israel as the Bit Khumri, or the House of Omri, a name they took with them into captivity whereby they were called Kimmerians by the Greeks.
One pressing question which may be raised and addressed here, because we hear it quite often, is this: Was Jezebel a Canaanite? While many whom we have heard on this issue like to believe that she was, this is what Christ says about her in Revelation chapter 2, in the message to the assembly at Thyatira: “20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.”
So it is evident that Jezebel had room to repent, evidently still has room to repent, and therefore it is also evident that she was probably not a Canaanite by blood. However on the other hand, it may be argued that the words of the Revelation use her name only as a type, an allegory, and that perhaps she was a Canaanite. Since we may never know the truth of the matter, the possibility cannot be completely discounted. Her father, Ethbaal, was a pagan priest who usurped the throne of Tyre. There were many pagan priests in Israel since the time when the religion of the golden calf was resurrected by Jeroboam I, who instituted a new pagan priesthood and made paganism the new State religion, for which we should see 1 Kings chapter 12: “26 And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: 27 If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. 28 Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.29 And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. 31 And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. 32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. 33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.”
The first king of the Northern tribes instituted paganism as the religion of State in Israel, and none of his successors ever repented and reverted to Yahweh their God. We see in 2 Chronicles chapter 11 “14 For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest's office unto the LORD: 15 And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made.” These pagan idols of ancient Israel were not destroyed until the days of Josiah, king of Judah, as the act is recorded in 2 Kings chapter 23. By that time the pagan tribes of Israel, along with much of Judah, had long been taken away by the Assyrians. Therefore it is certainly a possibility that Ethbaal the father of Jezebel was an Israelite, and not a Canaanite, although he was indeed a pagan priest. But the matter cannot be determined with absolute certainty.
Ahab had two sons by Jezebel, Ahaziah and Joram, who each became king of Israel after his death. Ahaziah reigned but two years, and Joram twelve. Ahab also had a daughter who was married to Jehoram king of Judah. This daughter, the notorious Athaliah, was not necessarily a daughter of Jezebel but was even more likely from another of his wives, for Ahab had seventy sons from many different wives, and ostensibly he also had many daughters.
Ethbaal was called Ithobalus by the historian Flavius Josephus, where he is mentioned in his writing Against Apion, here from Book 1 “116 And now I shall add Menander the Ephesian, as an additional witness. This Menander wrote the Acts that were done both by the Greeks and Barbarians, under everyone of the Tyrian kings, and had taken much pains to learn their history out of their own records. 117 Now, when he was writing about those kings that had reigned at Tyre, he came to Hirom, and says thus:-- 'Upon the death of Abibalus, his son Hirom took the kingdom; he lived fifty-three years, and reigned thirty-four. 118 He raised a bank on that called the Broad Place, and dedicated that golden pillar which is in Jupiter's [the Greek is Zeus'] temple; he also went and cut down timber from the mountain called Libanus, and got timber of cedar for the roofs of the temples. He also pulled down the old temples, and built new ones: besides this, he consecrated the temples of Hercules and of Astarte. 119 He first built Hercules' temple, in the month of Peritios, and that of Astarte when he made his expedition against the Tityans, who would not pay him their tribute; and when he had subdued them to himself, he returned home. 120 Under this king there was a younger son of Abdemon, who mastered the problems which Solomon king of Jerusalem, had recommended to be solved.' 121 Now the time from this king to the building of Carthage, is thus calculated:-- 'Upon the death of Hirom, Baleazarus his son took the kingdom; he lived forty-three years, and reigned seven years: 122 after him succeeded his son Abdastartus; he lived twenty-nine years, and reigned nine years. Now four sons of his nurse plotted against him and slew him, the oldest of whom reigned twelve years: after them came Astartus, the son of Deleastartus; he lived fifty-four years, and reigned twelve years: 123 after him came his brother Aserymus; he lived fifty-four years, and reigned nine years: he was slain by his brother Pheles, who took the kingdom, and reigned but eight months, though he lived fifty years: he was slain by Ithobalus, the priest of Astarte, who reigned thirty-two years, and lived sixty-eight years: 124 he was succeeded by his son Badezorus, who lived forty-five years, and reigned six years; 125 he was succeeded by Matgenus his son: he lived thirty-two years, and reigned nine years; Pygmalion succeeded him: he lived fifty-six years, and reigned forty-seven years. Now, in the seventh year of his reign, his sister fled away from him, and built the city of Carthage in Libya.' [Pygmalion was mythologized by the Greeks, especially by Ovid, and his sister Dido was made famous by Virgil in his Aeneid. Pygmalion is also mentioned on an inscription found in Sardinia in the late 18th century, which is believed to date from the 9th century BC. It describes a battle between the Tyrians and Sardinians over Tarshish, where the Sardinians were driven out. It can be established that the word which gives us Sardinia comes from Hebrew words Saar and Dan, and means remnant of Dan. See Strong's #'s 7604-7606.] 126 So the whole time from the reign of Hirom, till the building of Carthage, amounts to the sum of one hundred fifty-five years and eight months. Since then the temple was built at Jerusalem in the twelfth year of the reign of Hirom, there was from the building of the temple, until the building of Carthage, one hundred forty-three years and eight months. 127 Therefore, what occasion is there for alleging any more testimonies out of the Phoenician histories [on the behalf of our nation], since what I have said is so thoroughly confirmed already? and to be sure our ancestors came into this country long before the building of the temple; for it was not till we had gotten possession of the whole land by war that we built our temple. And this is the point that I have clearly proven out of our sacred writings in my Antiquities.” This passage was quoted at length in order to demonstrate not only the origins of Ethbaal, the father of Jezebel, but also that Josephus had available to him the chronicles of ancient Tyre which were translated into Greek by Menander of Ephesus, and a great wealth of knowledge of Tyrian history which is lost to us today. However his Against Apion where it discusses Tyre in other places will also assist us in our interpretation of parts of Micah chapter 7.
Micah chapter 7 is a lamentation of the state of Israel in the days of the prophet. It is every bit as relevant in the “last days” of which Micah had been prophesying earlier, because history does indeed repeat itself. History repeats itself, because the children of Israel have not learned from its lessons..
Micah 7:1 Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit. 2 The good man is perished out of the earth: and there is none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.
The seeking of wealth in merchandise and trade for which Israel was explicitly chastised in the prophecies of Amos, Hosea and Micah, leads to competition amongst brethren and to that individualism which is the inevitable result of such commercialism, or as it is often called today, capitalism. Here in Micah 7:2 the result is expressed succinctly, where men come to care only for their own gain even at the expense of their kin. Such individualism and capitalism are also responsible for the litigious society which we now witness.
3 That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up. 4 The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.
We must bear in mind that all of these things which are written represent the public pronouncements of the prophet to the people. Here Israel is being warned once again that judgment for the sins which are described is inevitable and impending. The Septuagint version of Micah 7:1-4 is more evidently agreeable to the interpretation provided here: “1 Alas for me! for I am become as one gathering straw in harvest, and as one gathering grape-gleanings in the vintage, when there is no cluster for me to eat the first-ripe fruit: alas my soul! 2 For the godly is perished from the earth; and there is none among men that orders his way aright: they all quarrel even to blood: they grievously afflict every one his neighbour: 3 they prepare their hands for mischief, the prince asks a reward, and the judge speaks flattering words; it is the desire of their soul: 4 therefore I will take away their goods as a devouring moth, and as one who acts by a rigid rule in a day of visitation. Woe, woe, thy times of vengeance are come; now shall be their lamentations.”
5 Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.
In the economic, political and social climate of the nation, a man cannot even trust his own wife. The Septuagint says “Trust not in friends, and confide not in guides: beware of thy wife, so as not to commit anything to her.” With the prevalence of divorce in society today, both men and women often have these same sentiments now.
6 For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house.
Christ made a very similar statement in relation to the spread of the Gospel. In apostasy, the children of Israel are naturally divided between those who love God, and those who love the world. Now we see nearly every modern and marginally Christian family divided over the pressing social, political and economic issues of the day. Only a near-absolute apostasy from the Word of God can divide families in such a manner, where they all act against the interests of their own brethren, and so many overtly act on behalf of the interests of the enemies of God.
7 Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. 8 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.
Only Yahweh our God can save us in such a world of evil. Christians are promised a greater hope in Christ, without which they have no hope at all since a house divided against itself cannot stand.
9 I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.
These things are true on levels both personal and national. The judgment of the nation is a direct result of their disobedience to God, and even the Assyrian deportations of Judah and Israel were presaged in the curses of disobedience listed in Deuteronomy chapter 28: “63 And it shall come to pass, that as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought; and ye shall be plucked from off the land whither thou goest to possess it. 64 And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone.” When we search the historic and archaeological records for the so-called “lost” tribes, we must therefore look for pagans, and not for so-called “Jews”.
10 Then she that is mine enemy shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where is the LORD thy God? mine eyes shall behold her: now shall she be trodden down as the mire of the streets.
From 2 Peter chapter 3: “1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.... 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”
11 In the day that thy walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree be far removed.
The interpretation in the Septuagint seems to better fit the context of the chapter: “It is the day of making of brick; that day shall be thine utter destruction, and that day shall utterly abolish thine ordinances.” The ordinances referred to are apparently the wicked statutes of Omri mentioned at the very end of Micah chapter 6, where the Hebrew word is essentially the same (Strong #'s 2706, 2708).
12 In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.
The Assyrian, the rod of Yahweh's anger, as we see in the parallel prophecy of Isaiah chapter 10, will come to Israel “from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.”
The Septuagint version of this verse is quite different: “And thy cities shall be leveled, and parted among the Assyrians; and thy strong cities shall be parted from Tyre to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.” This verse in the Dead Sea Scrolls is too fragmented to accurately determine the actual text.
There is a similar situation in Amos 3:11, where the context is identical, speaking of the impending punishment of Israel, and the King James Version based on the Masoretic Text reads: “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled.” But the Septuagint version of the same passage is “Therefore thus saith the Lord God; O Tyre, thy land shall be made desolate round about thee; and he shall bring down thy strength out of thee, and thy countries shall be spoiled.” Micah and Amos were contemporary prophets bearing very similar messages, and we discussed these passages at great length in Part 7 of our 10-part Amos commentary presented here in early 2013, but we shall discuss them here also.
Presenting this verse of Amos, among other things we said that the Septuagint translators, who sometimes confused Canaanites for Phoenicians as they translated the Hebrew word in that manner on occasion, would certainly not consider Canaanites to be a part of Israel if ancient Tyre were a Canaanite city. Those translators had nothing to lose nor to gain by claiming Tyre as an Israelite city if it were truly a Canaanite city. No certain motive could be ascertained if they were trying to pervert the truth in these instances. However the much later Masoretic Text editors, who lived long after the time of Christ, would have everything to gain in maintaining the false identity of those who claim to be Judaeans - but are not, if they could obscure history by disconnecting the relationship between the children of Israel and their former great city of Tyre, from which so many European colonies were launched in ancient times. In fact, in ancient Greek myth Tyre was said to be the birthplace of Europa, the mythical figure for whom the continent is named, and something which is certainly not a coincidence.
Here we will abbreviate the evidence we offered in that same presentation of Amos, from Josephus' Against Apion, Book 1, where it is evident that he reckoned ancient Tyre to be a city of Israel. In that book Josephus took it for granted that the ancient Tyrians were Israelites, and neither did he have anything to gain by such a reckoning. Only note that in this passage, Josephus uses the term Judaeans (which was originally mistranslated as Jews by Whiston) to describe both ancient and contemporary (to him) Judahites and Israelites, and therefore for Josephus it seems to be a religious designation as much as a tribal one:
“161 But now it is proper to satisfy the inquiry of those who disbelieve the records of barbarians, and think none but Greeks to be worthy of credit, and to produce many of these very Greeks, who were acquainted with our nation, and to set before them such as upon occasion have made mention of us in their own writings. 162 Pythagoras [A famous and early Greek Philosopher who is esteemed to have lived from about 570 to 495 BC], therefore, of Samos lived in very ancient times, and was esteemed a person superior to all philosophers, in wisdom and piety toward God. Now it is plain that he did not only know our doctrines, but was in very great measure a follower and admirer of them. 163 There is not, indeed, extant, any writing that is owned for his; but many there are who have written his history, of whom Hermippus is the most celebrated, who was a person very inquisitive in all sorts of history. 164 Now this Hermippus, in his first book concerning Pythagoras, speaks thus: 'That Pythagoras, upon the death of one of his associates, whose name was Calliphon, a Crotoniate by birth, affirmed that this man's soul conversed with him both night and day, and enjoined him not to pass over a place where an ass had fallen down; as also not to drink of such waters as caused thirst again; and to abstain from all sorts of reproaches.' 165 After which he adds thus: 'This he did and said in imitation of the doctrines of the Judaeans and Thracians, which he transferred into his own philosophy.' For it is very truly affirmed of this Pythagoras, that he took a great many of the laws of the Judaeans into his own philosophy. [Not only Pythagoras, but later philosophers such as Plato, received many of their ideas from the Hebrew Scriptures.] 166 Nor was our nation unknown of old to several of the Greek cities, and, indeed, was thought worthy of imitation by some of them. 167 This is declared by Theophrastus, in his writings concerning laws; for he says that 'the laws of the Tyrians forbid men to swear foreign oaths.' Among which he enumerates some others, and particularly that called Corban : which oath can only be found among the Judaeans, and declares what a man may call 'A thing devoted to God.' 168 Nor, indeed, was Herodotus, of Halicarnassus, unacquainted with our nation, but mentions it after a way of his own, when he says this, in the second book concerning the Colchians. 169 His words are these: – 'The only people who were circumcised in their privy members originally, were the Colchians, the Egyptians, and the Ethiopians; but the Phoenicians and those Syrians that are in Palestine, confess that they learned it from the Egyptians; 170 and for those Syrians who live about the rivers Thermodon and Parthenius, and their neighbours the Macrones, they say they have lately learned it from the Colchians; for these are the only people that are circumcised among mankind, and appear to have done the very same thing with the Egyptians; but as for the Egyptians and Ethiopians themselves, I am not able to say which of them received it from the other.' 171 This, therefore, is what Herodotus says, that 'the Syrians that are in Palestine are circumcised.' But there are no inhabitants of Palestine that are circumcised excepting the Judaeans; and, therefore, it must be his knowledge of them that enabled him to speak so much concerning them.”
Here it is absolutely manifest that Josephus imagined Theophrastus to be referring to Israelites where he quoted him as saying that “the laws of the Tyrians forbid men to swear foreign oaths” and where he also discussed his description of the oath called Corban among the Tyrians. Josephus also clearly imagined Herodotus to be referring to Israelites where he described Herodotus' attestation that the Phoenicians and Syrians in Palestine were circumcised. While in Josephus' time, the people who bore these names were of other tribes, in the time of the ancient Greeks the Israelites were predominant in Tyre and in Syria, and Herodotus referred to Israelites as the “Syrians of Palestine” in several other places in his histories. Tyre was a city of ancient Israel, and the Septuagint versions of Micah 7:12 and Amos 3:11 are wholly acceptable with this understanding.
Understanding this is important, that ancient Tyre was an Israelite city, and that it was also the center of international trade in ancient Israel. This is fully elucidated in the lamentations over Tyre and the king of Tyre which are uttered by the prophet Ezekiel (chapters 27 and 28). Would the prophet of God lament the Canaanites? Certainly not! Tyre was a city of the children of Israel, and it serves as a type for the “mystery Babylon” of the last days, which also represents the system of international trade. “And thy cities shall be leveled, and parted among the Assyrians; and thy strong cities shall be parted from Tyre to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.”
13 Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings. 14 Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
The meaning of being fed with a rod is a reference to chastisement. From the 89th Psalm: “30 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; 31 If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; 32 Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. 33 Nevertheless my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.”
15 According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things. 16 The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might: they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf. 17 They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth: they shall be afraid of the LORD our God, and shall fear because of thee.
Until the return of the Christ, the children of Israel remain in the Assyrian captivity, and await redemption from bondage once again, “according to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt”. From Jeremiah chapter 16: “14 Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that it shall no more be said, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 15 But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. 16 Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD, and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. 17 For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.” As Israel was taken out of Egypt, we await Israel's deliverance from “the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them”, and we should expect it to be just as marvelous. The nations which shall “lick the dust like a serpent” are all of Israel's enemies, those nations gathered against Israel which are mentioned in the “last days” prophecy of Micah 4:11.
18 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. 19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. 20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.
The hope of the children of Israel is manifest exclusively in Yahshua Christ. From Luke chapter 1, as Zacharias the father of John the Baptist had announced: “68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.”
The promises of God “sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” shall not fail. As Peter says in 1 Peter chapter 2, which is evidently a quote of Isaiah 28:16: “6 … Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.”