Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Study of the Prophets #25: Micah (Cont.)
This week we begin at Chapter 6: 1-8
“Arise and contend before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice!”’ Listen you mountains, to the grievance of HaShem, and you bedrock, the foundations of the earth! For HaShem has a grieveance with His people, and He will contend with Israel:
My people, what [wrong] did I do to you and how did I tire you? Testify against Me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage; and I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam before you. My people, hear now, what Balak, king of Moab, schemed, and what Balaam son of Beor answered him, [and all the events] from Shittim to Gilgal-in order to recognize the righteous acts of HaShem. [You ask,] With what shall I approach HaShem, humble myself before G-d on high? Shall I approach Him with burnt-offerings, or with calves in their first year? Will HaShem be appeased by thousands of rams or with tens of thousands of streams of oil? Shall I give over my firstborn [to atone for] my transgression, or the fruit of my belly [for] the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good! What does HaShem require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your G-d?
HaShem begins by challenging His people to defend their ingratitude. Micah now calls to the mountains and hills on G-d’s behalf and instructs them to listen to a suit between G-d and Israel. He calls their attention to the kindness and benevolence that G-d has shown His people throughout history and to their ungrateful response. Unfortunately, this sounds very familiar in the context of our society. Yet, few make the connection between G-d’s people then, and those who call themselves G-d’s people now. Micah then admonishes Israel for not following the ways of the Torah as mandated by G-d and was accepted as the marriage contract on Sinai when the commands (marriage contract) was given. Those who are unfamiliar with the process of the Jewish wedding will be hard pressed to understand the depth of what is going on between G-d and Israel during this time.
G-d tells the people through Micah to go out unto the hills and mountains and plead their case before them, for the mountains and hills have heard all that G-d has spoken. They were to raise their voices loudly and publicize the sins of the nation in such a way that even the inanimate mountains and hills would hear what was being said (Abarbanel; Metzudos). Using another analogy with the mountains and hills, Malbim maintained that the mountains represented the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and the hills represented the Matriarchs: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah (Rashi). Mahari Kara suggested that the mountains represented the nations of the world and the hills are their officers. They should take to heart G-d’s warning to Israel and change their behavior accordingly. The call to obedience is no less important today; if we expect to be able to partake in the covenants of Israel. This can only be done through repentance, obedience, and a love of YHVH/Yahshua and His Torah. The foundations of the earth and bedrock may refer to the ideal spiritual Israel that G-d is admonishing the people to be the example to the world as people who recognize the One True G-d of Israel, that is the purpose of all people. Because G-d chose Israel for this task, they are considered the foundation of the earth/ bedrock just as G-d’s Torah is the blueprint for the humans’ life on earth.
G-d then challenges His nation to describe what wrong He had done, recalling to them the immense kindnesses He had done for them, including bringing them out of Egypt and redeeming them from the house of bondage, sending Moses, Aaron, and Miriam before them. This statement should cause us to reflect also; He brought us out of Egypt (sinful life) and redeemed us from bondage through Yahshua’s sacrifice so that we are no longer under the imputed death indictment that we inherited from Adam. All men now have the same chance to repent and accept Yahshua as Messiah; become reconciled to G-d through Him, and begin their walk in His Torah. From another angle, G-d redeemed us from slavery that is the destination of the descendants of Ham (Genesis 10:6). This implies slaves to Hasatan/sin, and ultimately spiritual death. Then G-d asks the people “Which of My commandments do you find wearisome?” (Rashi; Radak). Stated another way, “If I have wronged you (Radak), or wearied you (Metzudos), then testify against Me!”
The Rabbis note that G-d did not command Israel to bring offerings from the wild beasts of the field but only from the domestic animals that were easily accessible, such as cattle, sheep. And goats. He did not wish to weary His nation with His service. Indeed, Rambam writes that the intent of all of G-d’s commands is to facilitate the service of G-d and [make the Torah a light yoke to bear as it states in the Torah] (my notes) as Yahshua states Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV): “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” The term heavy-laden means to be loaded up like a pack animal, or in a figurative sense, to be overburdened with worry. Once again, we can see the consistency between Yahshua’s teaching and words, and those of G-d in Old Testament. Of course; Yahshua is G-d. Why would we expect them to conflict with each other as Christianity teaches?
Moses, Aaron, and Miriam are named for the following reasons:
Moses taught the nation G-d’s laws
Aaron atoned for their sins
Miriam instructed the women
G-d sent them with tidings of redemption while the people were yet in bondage to ease their minds and give them hope (Radak).
Next, Micah now recalls the lovingkindess (chesed) G-d bestowed upon His nation when [Balak] and Balaam had attempted to destroy them (Ibn Ezra). Recall that Balak solicited Balaam to curse Israel in hopes of destroying her. (Num. 22-24). However, Balaam was directed by G-d not to curse Israel (22:12) and not to curse Israel (Rashi). Therefore, replied to Balak “How can I curse[if] G-d has not cursed” (23:8). Furthermore, Balaam also informed Balak that G-d did not feel any anger against Israel and he is therefore unable to invoke G-d’s anger against them, “How can I bring anger [if] HaShem is not angry,” for G-d was not angry at Israel during the entire time that Balaam was seeking to curse Israel (Rashi).
Encouraged by Balaam, the daughters of Moab lured the Israelites into immorality and idolatry at Shittim (Num. 25). Although the entire nation should have been destroyed, Pinchas atoned for the people by killing the Moabite woman and the Israeli man with a spear. Still, G-d killed 24,000 with a plague that stopped when Pinchas intervened and killed the couple for their blatant idolatrous act against G-d and His commands. Despite having sinned at Shittim, G-d in His great mercy did not withhold His help from them and miraculously brought them through the Jordan River to Gilgal and conquered the land of Canaan for them. (Rashi). It appears that Gilgal later became a place of disgraceful idol worship (Hosea 4:15; 9:15 and Amos 4:4). Micah, then, is rebuking the nation “Although your history has been a continuous defection from G-d, from Shittim long ago to Gilgal where you now sin,” G-d’s patience and lovingkindness toward you have no end (R’ M. Hirsch). The Israelites have no room to accuse G-d of any wrongs against them with all of the examples of his consistent unmerited kindness towards them even though they continued to rebel against His commandments.
The tone for verses 6-7 is one of a pagan mindset among G-d’s chosen people. It is an outlook toward religion that believes that one can appease G-d with offerings and please Him by sacrificing dear ones. G-d does not need man’s generosity nor does He want mans’ twisted concept of self-sacrifice. G-d wants man’s obedience out of an awesome fear and love with a desire to please Him as a child seeks to please his/her parents.
In verse 8 G-d answers their question; the same answer that is applicable today as G-d never changes. G-d informed the nation long ago through the prophet Samuel that He has no desire for insincere offerings but only that the people do what is good and just (1 Samuel 15:22). To do justice includes all of the commandments that govern man’s conduct with his fellow man; financial laws and laws of immorality. To love kindness are acts of benevolence and kindness. One should always try to be more kind to others. Furthermore, it is not enough to do acts of kindness because it is a mitzvah; one should learn to do acts of kindness out of a love to please others and G-d. Finally, walking humbly with G-d is to fear G-d in a discreet manner, fulfilling the commands with humility, in an unassuming manner, privately when possible, and without publicity or an agenda to aggrandize oneself. Similarly, when we repent, we may address HaShem privately. We need not announce our sins to the world or go through an intermediary such as a specific saint for specific prayers or confess our lives before a priest as do those in Catholicism.
Since Micah had instructed the nation to do justice, he now rebukes them for their lack of justice and for using false weights and measures (deceitfulness) (Ibn Ezra)
Verse 9-16: “ The voice of HaShem calls out to [the people of the] city;
The prophets of G-d call out to the people of Jerusalem to repent. Others suggest the city referred to is Samaria. It matters not as the concept of calling the people to repentance in the same.
the [man of] wisdom recognizes Your Name:
It is only the man with wisdom who reacts positively to the words of the prophet and sees G-d’s Name in his heart. It is the Ruach who calls people out and it is up to the individual to respond. Perhaps the fact that not all are called and few are chosen reflects G-d’s omniscience; knowing who will respond and who will not.
Listen [O Israel] to the rod [of punishment] and to the One Who has ordained it!
Perceive Who has decreed these punishments. Has He not the ability to implement His decree? (Radak; Rashi).
Are there still stores of wickedness in the house of the wicked one, or a lean measure that angers [G-d]?
After all the rebukes by the prophets, can there still be stolen treasures in the houses of the wicked? (Radak).
Can I be judged righteous with scales of wickedness, or with a pouch of deceitful weights?
Each person should have asked himself this question (Radak). Abarbanel suggests that Micah is speaking about himself. “Even if I, a prophet of G-d, would not merit in judgment had I sinned with false measures,” for that sin destroys any moral perfection that one may have achieved. This is consistent with the idea that we can fall from our position of grace with G-d (1 Cor. 10:12; 2 Pet. 3:17). Possessing different-size weights is prohibited by Torah Law (Deut. 25:13). When purchasing goods he uses the large weight but when offering goods for sale he uses the smaller weight (Radak).
For its rich men are full of thievery, and its inhabitants speak falsehood; their tongue is guile in their mouth.
The wealthy who live in Jerusalem or Samaria have homes filled with stolen goods, and her poorer inhabitants speak falsehood (Radak). Their simple talk is replete with blatant lies and their intelligent conversations are deceitful; the lies are cunningly subtle (Malbim).
I have hurt you, as well, by smiting you, bringing desolation for your sins.
Micah addresses the wealthy men of the previous verse; “Just as you have hurt the poor and defenseless with your guile, so have I smitten you with severe blows, measure for measure (Ibn Ezra; Radak).
You will eat but not be satisfied, and you will stoop over because of [sickness in] your innards;
Your food will be cursed, not satisfying you (Radak). It will make you sick to the point of having to walk stooped over (Rashi).
you will conceive but you will not deliver, and those you do deliver I will give to the sword.
Your wide will conceive but the fetus will not be born at term for it will die in its mother’s womb. Those who will be born will bring no happiness for they will be killed by the enemy (Ibn Ezra; Radak).
You will sow, but not reap; you will trample olives, but not smear oil; [trample] wine-grapes, but not drink wine.
Not only will your bodies be cursed, but your produce will be cursed; the enemy will harvest the fields for themselves, and the wine will be taken by the nations. All of these things were to come to fruition as a result of the people not following the commands of G-d just as He had carefully enumerated in previous scripture (Lev. 26:3; Deut. 28: John 13:17).
The decrees of Omri and all the deeds of the house of Ahab are preserved, and you follow their counsels, so that I will give you over to [be an] astonishment, and its inhabitants [to be a cause for] whistling; and you will bear [the punishment of] the shame of My people.”
I know that you will not listen to Me because all of the decrees of Omri and Ahab are being observed by you and your children (Rashi). Even with all the evil I bring upon you, you continue to keep the decrees of Omri instead of My decrees (Radak). The decrees of Omri and all the deeds of the house of Ahab are references to the golden calves and the worship of Baal. Omri was the sixth monarch of the Northern Kingdom and reigned for 12 years. Scripture describes him as “more wicked than all those who precede him (1 Kings 16:25). He went in the entire path of Jeroboam son of Nebat and in his sin [the golden calves-Radak]. Ahab, Omri’s son, succeeded him to the throne and reigned for 22 years. He also did what was evil in the eyes of HaShem, more than all who preceded him. The least of his evils was following the sins of Jeroboam… and he went and worshipped the Baa… and he erected an altar for the Baal… and Ahab made an Asherah-tree, and Ahab did more to anger HaShem, G-d of Israel, than all the kings of Israel who had preceded him (1 Kings 16:30-33). Everyone will be astonished at the extent of the destruction that will befall Jerusalem and its inhabitants. The nations will whistle as people do when they see a horrible sight (Metzudos). Because the people transgress the commandment of possessing false weights and measures, you will be a disgrace in the eyes of the nations (Rashi). “My nation” is referring to the poor and oppressed of the nation (Radak); or to those who worship HaShem (Ibn Ezra); or to the Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom-the kingdom of Judah will be exiled as were the Ten Tribes, for they followed in their ways (Abarbanel; Metzudos).
Next week we will conclude our study of Micah with Chapter 7.