Micah was a prophet during the events of 2 Kings 16 and 17, when the Assyrians had helped the king of Judah fend off the kings of Israel and Syria, at great cost to themselves. Ahaz, the king of Judah at the time, never appears to consult God and then does things to appease Assyria that will cost them the support of God.
Israel and Judah are given feminine pronouns in this first prophecy, as they most often are. The main point is that Judah, like Israel, has allowed itself to be tainted by another nation and they have turned their backs on God. Specifically, they did not seek Him for help in the battle like they did before and those they did pursue for help were their new oppressors, it seems. That appears to be what verse 7 is all about:
7All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces,
all her wages shall be burned with fire,
and all her idols I will lay waste,
for from the fee of a prostitute she gathered them,
and to the fee of a prostitute they shall return.
They had paid off Assyria rather than just ask God for guidance and help and now they will be punished by God on top of the consequences from Assyria they were already experiencing.
This chapter opens with yet another example showing that God would not super appreciate the things that the US has done nor used His name to justify:
1Woe to those who devise wickedness
and work evil on their beds!
When the morning dawns, they perform it,
because it is in the power of their hand.
2They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them away;
they oppress a man and his house,
a man and his inheritance.
Over and over again in the Old Testament there are examples of God being displeased with people not treating each other right.
Later, there is a reference to the way the unacceptable way that women and children are treated.
9The women of my people you drive out
from their delightful houses;
from their young children you take away
my splendor forever.
The whole chapter is titled Woe to the Oppressors and it looks a little God may have a problem with gentrification.
Again in here there are verses that are disconcerting for the plight of our Western world and capitalist ideals. I’m not one to denounce capitalism generally, nor do I hate my country, but it’s hard to look at some of this and then see the news and then think that God is on our side. Reading the Old Testament really makes me feel like God is with the social justice warriors that get so trolled on the internet.
There are hundreds of laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy but they all boiled down to treating each other better than we do.
Israel and Judah are again referred to with feminine pronouns and it also references some of the more violent things that happen to women. Both harvest and rape are used as metaphors for war. The pain they will receive during this war is also given the metaphor of a women in labor yet again. It’s clear that this was considered the worst kind of pain imaginable to liken it to combat and this wouldn’t be the only culture to consider these comparable. Still, when the metaphor turns to the harvest at the end is when Israel stands the chance to become strong and overcome. It’s disappointing that even here there were no good ways to reference the strength of a woman in overcoming trial after using women’s pain for how bad it’s going to get.
The first verse uses the term “daughter of troops”. From the study section, it seems that it was meant to denote someone who can’t actually defend themselves. Thinking about it in just the terms of the feminine does make it seem messed up, but at the same time, I can’t think of many active duty people who would take orders from the children of their leaders, regardless of the child’s gender. Using the feminine along with what the second verse says, this could just be that the town of Bethlehem itself was the “daughter” of Judah and therefore the troops from Bethlehem would be subordinate to those of Jerusalem. Bethlehem is even called “too little to be among the clans of Judah”. Since feminine pronouns are used to describe most communities, I think it’s equally likely that “daughter of troops” is akin to the slight offering one town would have for defense in comparison to the whole nation, or even just the capital.
Next it talks about the people staying this way until “the time when she who is in labor has given birth”. Overall, this prophecy is about a new king coming from Bethlehem to reunite the Jews. Today, Christians see this as a prophecy for Jesus coming but it reads like that woman is pregnant right then. Well, until it gets rather violent at the end.
This chapter reminded me again of how God is like a parent. I feel like that should make Him really relatable. The first five verses are God asking what more He could have done for them. In it, there is a mention of having brought forth Moses, Aaron, AND Miriam. I feel like she had a bigger impact than we can glean given her mention with them her. She was mentioned as a prophetess, a leader of the women, and the one who made sure Moses knew his roots.
Then there are these verses explaining just what God is asking of us. It’s not like He expects everyone to perfect follow all the rules, but be good to each other. Why is that so hard to get?
6“With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7Will the LORD be pleased witha thousands of rams,
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?”
8He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,b
and to walk humbly with your God?
Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with God.
This chapter focuses first on how bad everything is and how terrible everyone is. It goes through several relationships for both men and women that have gone generally bad and then redirects to what his plans are for this time. When Micah appears to be talking about himself, there is this curious verse:
0Then my enemy will see,
and shame will cover her who said to me,
“Where is the LORD your God?”
My eyes will look upon her;
now she will be trampled down
like the mire of the streets.
I find it interesting that the feminine pronoun is used here. It’s the first time I can think of where a feminine pronoun is used to talk about an enemy that is not directly called another city. While it can be gleaned that he is talking about an enemy nation, the rest of passage is so much more personal. At no point in the chapter is there a mention that he is speaking for Israel or Judah and therefore talking about an enemy of the state. “her” could simply be a woman who mocked his faith.
I know, the study section says it’s an enemy state, but it’s just not obvious here to me. Especially with the use of “me” instead of “you”. As a prophet, he’s already faithful to God, as the preceding verses mention. God had turned his back on the nation, which has never been referred to as “me” by a prophet before that I can think of.
The book ends on a high note where Micah reminds everyone of how much God is willing to forgive them and love them as He had promised Jacob and Abraham.