Study of the Prophets #23: Micah (Cont.)
This week we continue with Chapter 4 verse 9: “Now why do you seek foreign alliances? Is there not a king in your midst? Has your counselor become lost, that pains have gripped you like a woman in childbirth?”
Micah is reprimanding the people for making alliances and seeking assistance for foreign kings of Assyria and Egypt (Rashi). He also warns them not to enter into enter into any relationships with the Chaldeans or worship their deities (Mahari Kara). There is no need to seek alliances with other kings because G-d is the King (Metzudos). The people shudder and tremble at the knowledge of the heathen nations that are ready to attack them. This analogy describes the tremendous fear similar to that of a woman who is at the brink of birthing a child (Malbim).
Verse 10-13 “ be in pain and groan like a woman in childbirth, O daughter of Zion; for now you will leave the city and dwell in the field; you will come to Babylonia and there you will be rescued; there HaShem will redeem you from the palms of your enemies. And now, many nations have assembled against you; they say, ‘Let her be proclaimed guilty, and let our eyes behold Zion!’ But they do not know the thoughts of HaShem and do not understand His counsel- for he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor. Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion! For I will make your horn [like] iron and I will make your hooves [like] copper, and you will grind many peoples. I will consecrate unto HaShem all their ill-gotten riches, and their wealth unto the L-rd of the entire land.”
Expounding on the idea of a woman in labor, because the people had placed their trust in foreign kings and pagan deities, they would indeed groan and suffer, because these gods and monarchs would be of no assistance (Radak; Metzudos).The people were about to be routed out of the city and from all the cities in the Land of Israel. The people would be gathered as captives in the fields and taken into exile (Malbim). Nevertheless, G-d indicates His presence will be there with them in their exile by use of the phrase “dwell in the field” that usually indicates peace and comfort. R. Zachai therefore interprets this as meaning G-d’s Divine Presence (Shekinah) would accompany them into exile. This makes perfect sense considering G-d’s promises to His people, recalling that those taken to Babylon were those who did not consider themselves protected and righteous simply because they lived near the Temple. Although the righteous would be exiled, G-d would deliver them. Only those who had been exiled to Babylonia returned to Israel during the days of king Cyrus. Those who became inhabitants of the fields were killed by the Chaldeans. The many nations that will assemble against Israel are Gog and Magog (Rev. 20:7) and a multitude of nations assembled with them; many of whom negotiated the future peace treaty with Israel that will only last 3 ½ years. Malbim sees this passage spanning from the time of Cyrus to the End of Days. The many nations are those who oppressed the Israelites through the ages; Greece, Rome, etc., until Gog and Magog.
destroyed as she was before (Rashi; Metzudos). They gaze at her jubilantly and gloat over her degradation, because this is what they ultimately wanted (Rashi).
The nations think that they are assembled to wage a campaign against Jerusalem but have no idea that G-d is bringing them together to be trampled (Radak).Similar to the way sheaves are brought to the threshing floor, G-d will gather them in the Valley of Jehoshaphat and around Jerusalem to be beaten and threshed like sheaves (Rashi; Radak). Since the nations were compared to sheaves of grain that were about to be threshed, Israel is now compared to the ox that will do the threshing. Although Israel’s strength will be sapped during the exile, Micah assures the people that G-d will give them the necessary strength to defeat those making war against them. He will make the horns of the nation strong as iron to gore its enemies (Metzudos) and its hooves like copper to thresh and trample its oppressors (Metzudos). All the ill-gotten riches the nations obtained from the people of Israel will be returned as if consecrated to G-d since Israel is holy to HaShem (Jeremiah 2:3)
Verse 14: Now, muster yourself, O daughter of the armed band! He has laid siege against us; with a stick they strike on the cheek the judges of Israel.”
Micah now returns back to the present from the previous prophecy of the future and describes events that include the near future. Israel will not be successful in her campaign at this time, for her sins have increased. Therefore, muster yourself, O Chaldeans (Rashi) or Assyrians (Mahari Kara) and send your troops, for you will be successful (Rashi). Because Israel had struck its prophets and judges on the cheek and was guilty of disgracing and humiliating them, it will not succeed in its battles against its enemies (Rashi). Another explanation applicable to the Messianic times is that the nations will be punished for disgracing and humiliating Israel’s judges throughout the exile (Metzudos). The exile can be applied to the Babylonian exile and the continuing exile of G-d’s people throughout the world that will not end until Messiah Yahshua returns.
Chapter 5:1; “Bethlehem- Ephratah- you are too small to be among the thousands of Judah, but from you someone will emerge for me to be a ruler over Israel: and his origins will be from early times, from days of old.”
This verse is packed with hints about Messiah Yahshua. It is fascinating to see how this sentence is written; much as a coded message; not unusual for scripture, but nevertheless interesting. Note how Bethlehem is described as insignificant; too small to be among the thousands of Judah; yet Beth lechem by definition means the “House of Bread” that can be expanded to the house of the Bread of Life where Yahshua was born (Matt. 2;1); Yahshua himself! “Someone will emerge for me to be a ruler over Israel…” Indeed, Yahshua emerged from the line of David (Rev. 22:16) to not only to one day rule over Israel (all true believers Israel) but to take her as His bride (Rev. 21:9; 22:17). Yahshua certainly has His origins in the days of old (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-5).
Verse 2: Therefore, He will deliver them (give them up) [to their enemies] until the time that a woman in childbirth gives birth; then the rest of his brothers will return with the Children of Israel.”
Here again, we must explore this verse from a Messianic Jewish perspective, for it is the only way to fully comprehend the prophetic meaning. Because the Orthodox Jewish rabbis and sages do not consider Yahshua the Messiah and do not read the B’rit Chadashah, they miss the fullness of much of scripture. Micah had previously (4:9-10) foretold that G-d will deliver the inhabitants of Zion into the hands of their enemies. Like a woman who is about to give birth, the people will be in pain, will tremble, and groan until the time for redemption arrives (Rashi). Yahshua foretold the same prophecy He (as YHVH) gave to Micah (Matt. 24:8). We may also refer back to Ezekiel 37 to see how Ephraim Israel and Judah Israel will be reunited into one stick in G-d’s hand never to be separated again. Another application related to the phrase “until the time that a woman in childbirth gives birth…”may be referring to Mary when she gave birth to Yahshua. Redemption could not be possible without His birth, death, and resurrection. Later the Great Commission would be given to the disciples to search out the lost sheep of Israel to proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven as being near, avoiding the Goyim (nations) first (Matt. 10:5). Later they were sent to take the Word of the L-rd to the Gentiles (Matt. 28:19) that would necessarily bring the Jews to jealousy; all part of G-d’s plan of redemption.
Verse 3: “he will stand up and lead with the strength of HaShem, with the majesty of the Name of HaShem his G-d. They will settle [in peace], for at that time he will be great to the ends of the earth, and this will [assure] peace.”
Again we see the references to the Messianic King, Yahshua. Once the wicked are destroyed, the name of Messiah will be exalted and publicized, for His fame will spread over the entire face of the earth (Radak). Metzudos, remember that he was an Orthodox Jew, posits that it is the Name of G-d that will be esteemed and publicized over the entire earth. Perhaps of course, he was unaware that Yahshua is G-d, so in that he is correct! Unlike other times when victories only brought temporary peace, Yahshua’s reign, the nations will be ruled with a hand of iron (Rev. 12:5;the nations will accept His laws and His dominion and will no longer wage war.
Verse 4 (cont.)-5 “…If Assyria will come into our land, and if he will tread upon our palaces, we will set up seven shepherds or eight officers against him, and they will pound the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod at its gateways; and he will rescue from Assyria when they enter our land and when they tread onto our borders.”
There shall be no fear of the Assyrians attacking Israel in the future. Micah’s prophecy indicates there will be more than a sufficient number of troops to take care of any aggressive force. But who are the seven shepherds and eight officers? Radak writes that they are officers of the Messianic king (we know as Yahshua) who will assist Him in leading Israel. The numbers may not be exact numbers as in Ecclesiastes (11:2) but may refer to an abundance of people to fight if necessary. Shepherds and officers describe those in charge of flocks or troops. From an Orthodox perspective, the sages identify seven shepherds and eight officers as the following:
Shepherds: David in the center, Adam, Seth, and Methuselah on his right; Abraham, Jacob, and Moshe on his left. The eight officers are: Jesse, Saul, Samuel, Amos, Zephaniah, Hezekiah, Elijah, and “the Messiah.” (Succah 52b). However, these individuals are not identified in the Torah and there are no credible sources to confirm these individuals or the reason why they were chosen by the sages. From the Messianic perspective, this designation with the Messiah as one of the officers is an impossible option. Yahshua is G-d and is the Messiah who is at the throne and in command; a Commander in Chief to be sure. I wanted to include this information to illustrate some of the differences between Orthodox Jewish thought and interpretation of Torah versus the Messianic perspective. The Orthodox scholars and rabbis often take their information from the Talmud, the Oral Torah, and other extra-biblical books. As Messianic Jews, we should build our knowledge using G-d’s Torah first and foremost, with use of extra-biblical books as peripheral information that may add insight into G-d’s Torah where scripture may not be clear in the literal sense. The shepherds and/or officers will pound Assyria with the sword and the land of Nimrod-Babylonia will be broken within the gateways of her cities before she has a chance to flee. Alternatively, the inhabitants of the land of Nimrod will be killed by the sword.
Next week we will continue with Chapter 5:6.
Rabbi Tamah Davis