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Bible Commentary

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Micah 5

Mic 5:1

MARSHAL YOUR TROOPS, O CITY OF TROOPS, FOR A SIEGE IS LAID AGAINST YOU: This verse is the last one in Mic 4 in the Hebrew Bible. It continues the theme of Zion's might.

Micah called the Israelites to prepare for war and reminded them that they had often engaged in war by referring to them as a "daughter of troops" -- an expression means that Jerusalem was a city marked by warfare. Jerusalem's rich had been at war with the poor (Mic 2:8; 3:23,9,10; 7:2-6), but now their external enemies would wage war against them. These enemies had laid siege against them (2Ki 24:10; 25:1,2; Jer 52:5; Eze 4:3,7; 5:2).

THEY WILL STRIKE ISRAEL'S RULER ON THE CHEEK WITH A ROD: The besieging power would even smite Israel's ruler on the cheek, a figure for humiliating him (cp 1Ki 22:24; Job 16:10; Lam 3:30). The ruler in the first instance could be King Zedekiah -- the last ruler of Judah, and smitten by the Babylonians. In the second instance, this could point forward to Christ (cp also Isa 50:6).

Mic 5:2

BUT YOU, BETHLEHEM EPHRATHAH, THOUGH YOU ARE SMALL AMONG THE CLANS OF JUDAH, OUT OF YOU WILL COME FOR ME ONE WHO WILL BE RULER OVER ISRAEL: In contrast to the humiliation of Israel's judge (king) Zedekiah, a greater ruler would emerge later in Israel's history. He would be Yahweh's representative (cp John 17:4; Heb 10:7) and would arise from the comparatively insignificant town of Bethlehem (House of Bread) Ephrathah (Fruitful). (The birth of Jesus in Bethlehem has already been intimated in Mic 4:7-10.)

EPHRATHAH: Ephrathah (or Ephrath) was an old name for the area later occupied by Bethlehem in Judah, in contrast to other Bethlehems in the Promised Land (cp Gen 35:16-19; 48:7; Josh 19:15; Rth 4:11). Bethlehem was, of course, the hometown of David (1Sa 16:1,18,19; 17:12), so the reference to it allows for the possibility of a familial connection with King David.

THE CLANS OF JUDAH: "The thousands of Judah" (AV). This is another word for families or clans. Several "thousands" then make a tribe: cp Num 1:16; 10:4; Josh 22:14,21.

WHOSE ORIGINS ARE FROM OLD, FROM ANCIENT TIMES: The NIV has "origins", and the KJV has "goings forth". Heb "mowtsaah" occurs only 3 times: it signifies family descent, or most literally a fountain or gate (Strong). This Heb word is derived from the more common "mowtsa", used 27 times, signifying literally a 'going out': it seems to have a variety of meanings, it is used with reference to the exodus from Egypt (Num 24:8; 33:2; Deu 8:14), words spoken from lips (Num 30:12; Deu 8:3; 23:23; Psa 89:34; Jer 17:16; Dan 9:25), a fountain or spring flowing out (Deu 8:15; 2Ki 2:21; Isa 41:18; 58:11), the sun rising or going forth (Psa 19:6; 75:6; Hos 6:3); an exit (Eze 42:11; 43:11; 44:5).

All of these ideas are suggestive: Jesus was the Word of God made flesh (Joh 1:14); he was the great light sent into the world (Joh 8:12); he was the Passover lamb to bring about the "exodus" from the Egypt of sin (Joh 1:29; etc). All this was decreed from the very beginning, even "from everlasting", and in a sense Jesus WAS these things from the beginning, although he had no personal existence until his conception in the womb of Mary, because God's word and promise was sure and certain.

But, most especially, the Hebrew for "origins" points to the paternal "fountain" of procreation: Jesus, a man born of a woman (Gal 4:4), was also the direct and immediate descendant of the Eternal Father. On his mother's side, he was but a man descended from many other men and women. But on his Father's side, he was one small step removed from the Creator of Heaven and Earth -- his paternal origin was "from of old, from days of eternity". His paternal lineage in that sense predated Adam, and all other created things. He was (approximately) the 42nd generation from Abraham, and (approximately) the 77th generation from Adam, BUT he was also the FIRST generation from Yahweh!

Is there a problem with saying Jesus was "from God" or "from heaven" or "from eternity", whilst still maintaining he was a mortal man whose individual existence began with his conception? Of course not. In the simplest terms, men may be said to be "from" their parents, without necessarily having any separate or personal existence at all the same times or places as their parents! Indeed, they cannot have so existed along with their parents. Both of Barbara's parents were born in Scotland and emigrated to Canada as small children; Barbara was born in Canada, and has never set foot in Scotland -- yet with all reasonableness she may be said to be "from Scotland".

Finally, there is a Biblical sense in which Levi may be said to have paid tithes even before he was born, being still "in the loins" of his father Abraham when Abraham did so (Heb 7:9,10). Likewise, Jesus may be said to have been "from everlasting".

FROM OF OLD, FROM ANCIENT TIMES: Elsewhere both phrases refer to the early periods in the history of the world or of the nation of Israel. For "miqqedem" (of old) see Neh 12:46; Psa 74:12; 77:11; Isa 45:21; 46:10. For "mime olam" (ancient times, or days of eternity) see Isa 63:9,11; Amos 9:11; Mic 7:14; Mal 3:4. In Neh 12:46 and Amos 9:11 the Davidic era is in view. This verse alludes to David, as the references to Bethlehem and to his ancient origins and activities indicate. The passage anticipates the second coming of the great king to usher in a new era of national glory for Israel. Other prophets are more direct and name this coming ideal ruler "David" (Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23,24; 37:24,25; Hos 3:5). Of course, this prophecy of "David's" second coming is actually fulfilled through his descendant, the Messiah, who will rule in the spirit and power of his famous ancestor and bring to realization the Davidic royal ideal in an even greater way than the historical David (see Isa 11:1,10; Jer 33:15).

The Virgin Birth in the OT: Psa 71:6; 89:26,27; 110:3, LXX; Gen 3:15; 49:1,25; Isa 7:14; 49:1; Jer 31:22; Mic 5:1,2; 2Sa 7:14.

Mic 5:3

THEREFORE ISRAEL WILL BE ABANDONED UNTIL THE TIME WHEN SHE WHO IS IN LABOR GIVES BIRTH: Yahweh would give the Israelites over to chastening until Israel had ended her painful period of suffering (like a woman in labor: Mic 4:9) and she had brought forth a child. In view of previous revelation about Israel's continuing discipline by God until her Redeemer appeared (Mic 4:10), this seems to be a reference to the second coming of Messiah, not His first coming.

AND THE REST OF HIS BROTHERS RETURNS TO JOIN THE ISRAELITES: Then the remainder of the Redeemer's brethren, the Jews, will experience a regathering (cp Mic 2:12; 4:6,7). They will return to the land and rejoin other Israelites.

Mic 5:4

HE WILL STAND AND SHEPHERD HIS FLOCK: KJV has "feed", but the Heb means "to act as a shepherd" -- to do everything expected of a shepherd: to guide, to watch, to preserve, to restore, to tend, as well as to feed (cp Mic 2:12; 7:14; Zec 10:3; and ct the failure of Israel's leaders in Mic 3:1-11). Christ's reign... is that of a shepherd-king. He has supremacy, but it is the superiority of a wise and tender shepherd over his needy and loving flock; he commands and receives obedience, but it is the willing obedience of the well-cared-for sheep, rendered joyfully to their beloved Shepherd, whose voice they know so well. He rules by the force of love and the energy of goodness.

His reign is practical in its character. It is said, 'He shall stand and feed.' The great Head of the ecclesia is actively engaged in providing for his people. He does not sit down upon the throne in empty state, or hold a scepter without wielding it in government. No. Instead, he stands and feeds us!

Mic 5:5

HE WILL BE THEIR PEACE: Hezekiah brought peace to Judah when the Assyrians swept through the land, because he instituted a religious revival and turned the people to Yahweh. Consequently the Assyrian army arrayed against Jerusalem was destroyed. Isaiah prophesied of the Assyrian invasion (Isa 8:7-9), and recounted the destruction of the Assyrian army (Isa 37:36).

THE ASSYRIAN... MARCHES THROUGH OUR FORTRESSES: A ref to Assyrian soldiers garrisoned in the Temple area: "Ahaz took some of the things from the temple of the LORD and from the royal palace and from the princes and presented them to the king of Assyria, but that did not help him" (2Ch 28:21). 2Ch 28:21. Lit, "divided up a portion of the temple" -- giving it to the Assyrian soldiers as a place to rest and reside. Cp 2Ki 16:18. (A similar policy was followed by the Assyrians with other vassal nations; cp also the Roman garrison next to the Temple in NT times). Cp idea, Isa 63:18; 64:11; Psa 74:3-8; 79:1; Isa 7:13; 11:9; 52:1; Mic 5:5.

SEVEN SHEPHERDS: Possibly the prophets Isaiah, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, and Habakkuk.

EVEN EIGHT LEADERS OF MEN: Adding Hezekiah the king (and also a "prophet") to the other seven.

Mic 5:6

THE LAND OF NIMROD: A synonym for Assyria (cp Gen 10:8,9; 1Ch 1:10),

Mic 5:7

THE REMNANT OF JACOB WILL BE AMONG THE NATIONS, IN THE MIDST OF MANY PEOPLES LIKE DEW FROM THE LORD: In that day the remnant of Jacob will live all over the world scattered among the other nations. "The remnant of Jacob" is one of Micah's favorite terms for the believing Jews living in the "last days" (cp Mic 2:12; 4:7; 5:8; 7:18), and here it refers to them after God judges the nations (vv 5,6). The presence of the Jews will be a divine gift to the other people of the world, as dew and rain are to the earth (cp Gen 12:3). God will have sent them among the nations as He sends the dew and rain.

Mic 5:8

THE REMNANT OF JACOB WILL BE AMONG THE NATIONS, IN THE MIDST OF MANY PEOPLES, LIKE A LION AMONG THE BEASTS OF THE FOREST, LIKE A YOUNG LION AMONG FLOCKS OF SHEEP, WHICH MAULS AND MANGLES AS IT GOES, AND NO ONE CAN RESCUE: The Israelites will be dominant and powerful over the other people of the world then but in an irresistible rather than a ferocious sense (v. 7; cp Deu 28:13). They will have the upper hand, and their enemies would not be able to rise up against them. What a change this will be compared to the downtrodden and abused condition that the Jews have known in earlier times!

Mic 5:10

Vv 10,11: In that future day, God will remove all the vain sources of security that had always tempted the Israelites represented by horses, chariots, cities, and fortifications (cp Deu 17:16).

Mic 5:12

WITCHCRAFT: Sorceries involved seeking information from supposed idolatrous and demonic sources (cp 2Ki 9:22; Isa 47:9,12; Nah 3:4).

YOU WILL NO LONGER CAST SPELLS: Fortune tellers cast spells by calling upon imagined demonic spirits to influence other people (cp Lev 19:26; Deu 18:10).

Mic 5:13

CARVED IMAGES: Pagan idols (cp Exo 20:4).

Mic 5:14

ASHERAH POLES: Sacred pillars (v 13) and Asherim were stone and wooden symbols of the male and female Canaanite deities (cp Deu 16:21-22; 1Ki 14:23; 2Ki 17:10; 18:4; 23:14). See Lesson, Asherah.

Mic 5:15

I WILL TAKE VENGEANCE IN ANGER AND WRATH UPON THE NATIONS THAT HAVE NOT OBEYED ME: Finally the LORD promised to angrily take vengeance on the nations that had not obeyed His will (cp Psa 2:9; Rev 12:5; 19:15). They are not responsible to keep the Mosaic Law, as Israel was, but they fail to acknowledge and worship Him as the only true God. "Vengeance" is a legal term for the action of a ruler against rebels who will not acknowledge his sovereignty.

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