BOOK ENDS. Seraphim, April 2009.
JB MICAH Chapter 1
1:1 The word of Yahweh that was addressed to Micah of Moresheth in the time of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. His visions of Samaria and Jerusalem.
- ISRAEL ON TRIAL
THREAT AND CONDEMNATION
The judgement of Samaria[*a]
1:2 Listen, you peoples, all of you. Attend, earth, and everything in it. Yahweh is going to give evidence against you, the Lord, as he sets out from his sacred palace.
1:3 For look, Yahweh sets out from his holy place, he comes down, he treads the heights of earth.
1:4 The mountains melt as he goes, the valleys are torn apart, like wax before the fire, like water poured out on a steep place.
1:5 All this is because of the crime of Jacob, the sin of the House of Israel. What is the crime of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the sin of the House of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem?
1:6 I mean to make Samaria a ruin in the open country, a place where vines will be planted.
I will set her stones rolling into the valley, I will lay her foundations bare.
1:7 All her images are going to be shattered, all her earnings consumed by fire, all her idols broken in pieces, for they have been collected with prostitutes’ earnings and prostitutes’ earnings they will be again.
Lament for the lowland Cities[*b]
1:8 This why is why I am going to mourn and lament, go barefoot and naked, howl like the jackals, wail like the ostriches.
1:9 For there is no healing for the blow Yahweh strikes; it reaches into Judah, it knocks at the very door of my people, reaches even into Jerusalem.
1:10 Do not announce it in Gath,[*c] in… shed no tears. In Beth-leaphrah roll in the dust.
1:11 Sound the horn, you who live in Shaphir. She has not left her city, she who lives in Zaanan. Beth-ezel is torn from its foundations, from its strong supports.
1:12 What hope has she of happiness, she who lives in Maroth? For doom has come down from Yahweh to the very gate of Jerusalem.
1:13 Harness the horse to the chariot, you who live in Lachish. (This was the beginning of sin for the daughter of Zion, for Israel’s crimes were to be found in you.)
1:14 So you must provide a dowry for Moresheth-gath. Beth-achzib will prove a snare for the kings of Israel.
1:15 The plunderer will come to you again, you who live in Mareshah . . . to Adullam will go the glory of Israel.
1:16 Off with your hair, shave your head, for the sons that were your joy. Make yourselves bald like the vulture, for they have gone from you into exile.
JB MICAH Chapter 2
Against the tyranny of the rich
2:1 Woe to those who plot evil, who lie in bed planning mischief! No sooner is it dawn than they do it – their hands have the strength for it.
2:2 Seizing the fields that they covet, they take over houses as well, owner and house they confiscate together, taking both man and inheritance.
2:3 So Yahweh says this: Now it is I who plot such mischief against this breed as your necks will not escape; nor will you be able to walk proudly, so evil will the time be.
2:4 On that day they will make a satire on you, sing a dirge and say, ‘We are stripped of everything; my people’s portion is measured out and shared, no one will give it back to them, our fields are awarded to our despoiler’.
2:5 Therefore you will have no one to measure out a share in the community of Yahweh.
The prophet of misfortune
2:6 ‘Do not rave,’ they rave ‘do not rave like this. No shame is going to overtake us.
2:7 Can the House of Jacob be accursed? Has Yahweh lost patience? Is that his way of going to work? Surely his words are words of kindness for his people Israel?’
2:8 It is you who play the enemy to my people. From the innocent man you snatch his cloak on the man who thinks himself safe you inflict the damage of war.
2:9 The women of my people you drive out from the homes they loved; their children you rob for ever of the honour I gave them,
2:10 ‘Get up! Be off! There is no resting here.’ For a worthless thing, you exact an extortionate pledge.
2:11 Were there a man of inspiration who would invent this lie, ‘I prophesy you wine and strong drink’, he would be the prophet for a people like this.
Promises of restoration
2:12 Yes, I am going to gather all Jacob together, I will gather the remnant of Israel, bring them together like sheep in the fold; like a flock in its pasture they will fear no man.
2:13 He who walks at their head will lead the way in front of them; he will walk at their head, they will pass through the gate and go out by it; their king will go on in front of them, Yahweh at their head.
JB MICAH Chapter 3
Against the rulers who oppress the people
3:1 Then I said: Listen now, you princes of the House of Jacob, rulers of the House of Israel. Are you not the ones who should know what is right,
3:2 you, enemies of good and friends of evil?
3:3 When they have devoured the flesh of my people and torn off their skin and crushed their bones; when they have shredded them like flesh in a pot and like meat in a cauldron,
3:4 then they will cry out to Yahweh. But he will not answer them. He will hide his face at that time because of all the crimes they have committed.
Against venal prophets
3:5 Yahweh says this against the prophets who lead my people astray: So long as they have something to eat they cry ‘Peace’. But on anyone who puts nothing into their mouths they declare war.
3:6 And so the night will come to you: an end of vision; darkness for you: an end of divination. The sun will set for the prophets, the day will go black for them.
3:7 Then the seers will be covered with shame, the diviners with confusion; they will all cover their lips, because no answer comes from God.
3:8 Not so with me, I am full of strength (of the breath of Yahweh), of justice and courage to declare Jacob’s crime to his face and Israel’s to his.
To the guilty ones: prophecy of the ruin of Zion
3:9 Now listen to this, you princes of the House of Jacob, rulers of the House of Israel, you who loathe justice and pervert all that is right,
3:10 you who build Zion with blood, Jerusalem with crime.
3:11 Her princes pronounce their verdict for bribes, her priests take a fee for their rulings, her prophets make divinations for money. And yet they rely on Yahweh. They say, ‘Is not Yahweh in our midst? No evil is going to overtake us.’
3:12 Because of this, since the fault is yours, Zion will become ploughland, Jerusalem a heap of rubble, and the mountain of the Temple a wooded height.
JB MICAH Chapter 4
- PROMISES TO ZION
The future reign of Yahweh in Zion[*a]
4:1 The mountain of the Temple of Yahweh will be put on top of the mountains and be lifted higher than the hills. The peoples will stream to it,
4:2 nations without number will come to it; and they will say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the Temple of the God of Jacob so that he may teach us his ways and we may walk in his paths; since from Zion the Law will go out, and the oracle of Yahweh from Jerusalem.’
4:3 He will wield authority over many peoples and arbitrate for mighty nations; they will hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles. Nation will not lift sword against nation, there will be no more training for war.
4:4 Each man will sit under his vine and his fig tree, with no one to trouble him. The mouth of Yahweh Sabaoth has spoken it.
4:5 For all the peoples go forward, each in the name of its god; but we, we go forward in the name of Yahweh, our God, for ever and evermore.
The gathering of the scattered flock in Zion
4:6 That day – it is Yahweh who speaks – I will finally gather in the lame, and bring together those that have been led astray and those that have suffered at my hand.
4:7 Out of the lame I will make a remnant, and out of the weary a mighty nation. Then will Yahweh reign over them on the mountain of Zion from now and for ever.
4:8 And you, Tower of the Flock, Ophel of the daughter of Zion,[*b] to you shall be given back your former sovereignty, and royal power over the House of Israel.
The siege, exile, and liberation of Zion
4:9 Why are you crying aloud? Is there no king within you? Are your counsellors lost that pains should grip you like a woman in labour?
4:10 Writhe, cry out, daughter of Zion, like a woman in labour, for now you have to leave the city and live in the open country. To Babylon you must go and there you will be rescued; there Yahweh will ransom you out of the power of your enemies.
The pagans crushed on the threshing-floor in Zion
4:11 Now many nations are mustered against you. ‘Let her be desecrated,’ they say ‘let our eyes feast on the ruins of Zion.’
4:12 But they do not know Yahweh’s thoughts, they have failed to understand his purpose, he has collected them like sheaves on the threshing floor.
4:13 Up, daughter of Zion, and thresh; for I will give you horns of iron, hoofs of bronze, for you to trample down many peoples. You will dedicate their plunder to Yahweh, their treasures to the Lord of the whole earth.
The distress and glory of the Davidic dynasty
4:14 Now look to your fortifications, Fortress. They have laid siege against us; with a rod they strike on the cheek the judge of Israel.
JB MICAH Chapter 5
5:1 But you, (Bethlehem) Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, out of you will be born for me the one who is to rule over Israel; his origin goes back to the distant past, to the days of old.
5:2 Yahweh is therefore going to abandon them till the time when she who is to give birth[*a] gives birth. Then the remnant of his brothers will come back to the sons of Israel.
5:3 He will stand and feed his flock with the power of Yahweh, with the majesty of the name of his God. They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land.
5:4a He himself will be peace.
5:5b He will deliver us from Assyria should it invade our country, should it set foot inside our frontiers.
The confidence of the people of Judah
5:4b As for Assyria, should it invade our country, should it set foot on our soil, we will raise seven shepherds against it, eight leaders of men;
5:5a they will shepherd Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod with the sword blade.
The future role of the remnant among the nations
5:6 Then among the many peoples, the remnant of Jacob will be like a dew from Yahweh, like raindrops on the grass, putting no hope in men, expecting nothing from mankind.
5:7 Then among the many peoples, the remnant of Jacob will be like a lion among beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep trampling as he goes, mangling his prey which no one takes from him.
Yahweh will withdraw the temptation to rely on men
5:8 Let your hand be raised against your foes and all your enemies shall be cut off.
5:9 This is how it will be, that day – it is Yahweh who speaks – I will tear away your horses from you, and destroy your chariots;
5:10 tear the towns of your country from you, bring down all your strongholds;
5:11 tear the charms from your hands, and you will have no more soothsayers;
5:12a tear from you your images and your pillars;
5:13 tear from you your sacred poles, and demolish your idols;
5:12b and no longer will you bow down before the work of your hands.
5:14 I will take revenge in anger and fury on the nations that would not obey.
JB MICAH Chapter 6
III. ISRAEL ON TRIAL
DENUNCIATION AND THREAT
Yahweh puts his people on trial
6:1 Now listen to what Yahweh is saying: Stand up and let the case begin in the hearing of the mountains and let the hills hear what you say.
6:2 Listen, you mountains, to Yahweh’s accusation, give ear, you foundations of the earth, for Yahweh is accusing his people, pleading against Israel:
6:3 My people, what have I done to you, how have I been a burden to you? Answer me.
6:4 I brought you out of the land of Egypt, I rescued you from the house of slavery; I sent Moses to lead you, with Aaron and Miriam.
6:5 My people, remember: what did Balak plot, that king of Moab? What did Balaam answer, that son of Beor? …………………………………………………………….. from Shittim to Gilgal, for you to know the rightness of the ways of Yahweh.
6:6 – ‘With what gift shall I come into Yahweh’s presence and bow down before God on high? Shall I come with holocausts, with calves one year old?
6:7 Will he be pleased with rams by the thousand, with libations of oil in torrents? Must I give my first-born for what I have done wrong, the fruit of my body for my own sin?’
6:8 – What is good has been explained to you, man; this is what Yahweh asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.
Against tricksters in the city
6:9 The voice of Yahweh. He is calling to the city: Listen, tribe, and assembly of the city
6:12 whose rich men are crammed with violence, whose citizens are liars.
6:10 Must I put up with fraudulent measure, or that abomination the short-weight bushel?
6:11 Must I hold the man honest who measures with false scales and a bag of faked weights?
6:13 I have therefore begun to strike you down, to bring you to ruin for your sins.
6:15 You will sow but never reap, press the olive but never rub yourself with oil, press the grape but never drink wine from it;
6:14 you will eat but never be satisfied, store away but never preserve – and what is preserved I shall give to the sword.
The example of Samaria
6:16 You keep the laws of Omri and follow all the practices of the House of Ahab;[*a] you are guided by their standards, and they force me to make a terrible example of you, and to turn your inhabitants into a laughing-stock, to suffer the scorn of the peoples.
JB MICAH Chapter 7
7:1 I am in trouble! I have become like a harvester in summer time, like a gleaner at the vintage: not a single cluster to eat, not one of the early figs I so long for.
7:2 The devout have vanished from the land: there is not one honest man left. All are lurking for blood, every man hunting down his brother.
7:3 Their hands are skilled in evil: the official demands…, the judge gives judgement for a bribe, the man in power pronounces as he pleases.
7:5 Put no trust in a neighbour, have no confidence in a friend; to the woman who shares your bed do not open your mouth.
7:6 For son insults father, daughter defies mother, daughter-in-law defies mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are those of his own household.
7:4 … among them, the best is like a briar, the most honest a hedge of thorn. Today will come their ordeal from the North, now is the time for their confusion.
7:7 For my part, I look to Yahweh, my hope is in the God who will save me; my God will hear me.[*a]
- HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Zion insulted by her enemy
7:8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy: though I have fallen, I shall rise; though I live in darkness, Yahweh is my light.
7:9 I must suffer the anger of Yahweh, for I have sinned against him, until he takes up my cause and rights my wrongs; he will bring me out into the light and I shall rejoice to see the rightness of his ways.
7:10 When my enemy sees it, she will be covered with shame, she who said to me, ‘Where is Yahweh your God?’ My eyes will gloat over her; she will be trampled underfoot like mud in the streets.
An oracle of restoration
7:11 The day is coming for rebuilding your walls. Your frontiers will be extended that day,
7:12 men will come to you that day from Assyria as far as to Egypt, from Tyre as far as to the river, from sea to sea, from mountain to mountain.
7:13 The earth will become a desert by reason of its inhabitants, in return for what they have done.
A prayer for the confusion of the pagans
7:14 With shepherd’s crook lead your people to pasture, the flock that is your heritage, living confined in a forest with meadow land all around. Let them pasture in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old.
7:15 As in the days when you came out of Egypt grant us to see wonders.
7:16 The pagans, seeing it, will be confounded for all their power; they will lay their hands to their mouths, their ears will be deafened by it.
7:17 They will lick the dust like serpents, like things that crawl on the earth. They will come trembling from their lairs, in terror and fear before you.
A plea for God’s forgiveness
7:18 What god can compare with you: taking fault away, pardoning crime, not cherishing anger for ever but delighting in showing mercy?
7:19 Once more have pity on us, tread down our faults, to the bottom of the sea throw all our sins.
7:20 Grant Jacob your faithfulness, and Abraham your mercy, as you swore to our fathers from the days of long ago.
END OF JB MICAH [7 Chapters].