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Micah 5


  Prophecies of Israel's Glorious Future and the Restoration of the Davidic Kingdom   The Distress and Glory of the Davidic Dynasty
  (4:1-5:15)   (4:1-5:3)
The Coming Messiah 5:1 God Promises a Ruler from Bethlehem  
5:2 5:2-5a 5:2-5a  
5:3-5a     The Future Conqueror of Assyria
Judgment on Israel's Enemies   Deliverance and Punishment  
5:5b-6 5:5b-6 5:5b-6 The Future Role of the Remnant
5:7-9 5:7-9 5:7-9 5:7
      Yahweh Will Destroy All Temptations
5:10-15 5:10-15 5:10-15  

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the four translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.



A. Micah contains much prophetic material. See Introduction III. Genre D.


B. Some translations take 5:1 (i.e., 4:14 in Hebrew text) with chapter 4 (cf. TEV). If so then it relates to 4:9-10, where Jerusalem is attacked and exiled.

However, other translations take it with 5:1-5a (NASB, NJB, NIV), which would form a contrast between Jerusalem and a faithless king and evil leaders versus Bethlehem with a great coming king and godly leader.


C. This chapter is very specific about the birthplace of the Messiah. Micah wrote in the eighth century b.c. and precisely predicted the village of Jesus' birth. Some will deny the date of Micah, but if you do not accept the 750's then Micah was translated into Greek (i.e., the Septuagint in 250-150 b.c.). This is still well over a hundred years before His birth.

The predictive element unique to the Bible shows:

1. the inspiration of the Bible

2. the sovereignty of YHWH over history

3. the reality of the Messiahship of Jesus


D. This chapter also predicts the pre-existence (v. 2, lines 4,5) of the Messiah as well as the type of reign He will employ (vv. 4-5, line 1). This is shockingly specific prophecy. What a wonderful and accurate Bible we have been given by God.



 1"Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops;
 They have laid siege against us;
 With a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek.
 2But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
  Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
 From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
 His goings forth are from long ago,
 From the days of eternity."
  3Therefore He will give them up until the time
 When she who is in labor has borne a child.
 Then the remainder of His brethren
 Will return to the sons of Israel.
 4And He will arise and shepherd His flock
 In the strength of the Lord,
 In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.
 And they will remain,
 Because at that time He will be great
 To the ends of the earth.
 5And this One will be our peace.


NASB"Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops"
NKJV"now gather yourself in troops, O daughter of troops"
NRSV"now you are walled around with a wall"
TEV"People of Jerusalem, gather your forces"
NJB"now look to your fortifications, fortress" (4:14)

This verse is 4:14 in the Hebrew text. There are several translation options:

1. The NASB, NKJV, and TEV follow the MT (BDB 151 I, cf. Jer. 5:7; and translate the VERB the same way).

2. The Septuagint has "now you are walled about with a wall" (i.e., siege, cf. NRSV, REB). It changes the Hebrew VERB "gather" (BDB 151, KB 177, Hithpoel IMPERFECT) to a similar Hebrew word meaning "to build a wall" (BDB 154, i.e., strengthen against a siege, cf. Ezek. 13:5, NJB).

3. Another possible translation is "you are slashing yourself, daughter of slashes" (BDB 151, but it would require a revocalization, cf. JPSOA, Moffatt translation, NET). This last possibility could be accurate because of the connection between "slashing oneself" and

a. idolatry (cf. Lev. 19:28; 21:5; Deut. 14:1; I Kgs. 18:28; Jer. 47:5; Hosea 7:14) or

b. grief (cf. Deut. 14:1; Jer. 16:6; 41:5; 47:5; 48:37)

Verse 1 describes the situation as it was (Jerusalem about to be sieged), where vv. 2-5 describe the situation that will be in the end time (Jerusalem home of the great King). This same temporal transition can be seen in vv. 5-9 in contrast with vv. 10-14.

Chapter 4, vv. 9-13, deals with Jerusalem. It is possible that 5:1 (MT 4:14) is one paragraph relating to a besieged capital (Jerusalem).

If 5:1 goes with 5:2-5a, then there is a contrast between weak, helpless Jerusalem and God's new leader from Bethlehem (David's hometown). The Judean monarchy is hopelessly lost in sin and faithlessness (except for a few godly kings, e.g., Hezekiah, Josiah). God will raise up another faithful king of David's line, who will fully follow YHWH (cf. Gen. 49:9-10; II Sam. 7)!

▣ "They have laid siege against us" The VERB (BDB 962, KB 1321) is a Qal PERFECT. Remember the time setting is not in the VERB, but in the context. This obviously refers to a siege, but which one? There are several theories.

1. The historical setting may be Sennacherib's invasion of Judah and his unsuccessful siege of Jerusalem in 701 b.c. ( cf. II Kgs. 19:35-36).

2. Nebechadnezzar II also invaded and besieged Jerusalem in 586 b.c. (cf. II Kgs. 24-25).

3. Many scholars believe this may also reflect the future invasion of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple by Titus in a.d. 70 (cf. Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21)

Number 1 fits the author's time best, while #3 fits the Messiah's time best.

▣ "With a rod" The term "rod" (BDB 986) meant a stripped tree branch (shorter than a staff) used as a means of discipline

1. for children, Prov. 10:13; 13:24; 22:8,15; 23:13,14; 26:3; 29:15

2. for God's judgment on the nations, Ps. 2:9 (cf. 110:5-6); Isa. 9:4; Rev. 2:27; 19:15

3. for judgment on His own people, Isa. 10:5,24; 14:29

Assyria was called the "rod of God's anger" in Isa. 10:5,24. However, God will also strike Assyria because of her sins (cf. Isa. 30:31). "Rod" is a Hebrew idiom for a king ruling (BDB 986, cf. 7:14; Rev. 2:27; 12:5; 19:15).

▣ "they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek" The judge is a title for the King of Israel. To smite one on the cheek was a sign of great insult (cf. I Kgs. 22:24; Job 16:10; Lam. 3:30; Acts 23:2), which shows Assyria's contempt and Israel's weakness. What YHWH had done to His covenant people's enemies (cf. Ps. 3:7), He now allows to happen to them!

Rotherham's Emphasized Bible asserts that this judge is the Messiah (p. 887).

5:2-5a This whole paragraph marks a radical transition from God's judgment (siege, exile) on Jerusalem and Judah to God's marvelous restoration (cf. 4:6-8,12-13). This vacillation is common in prophetic literature and perhaps is (1) the work of later editors or (2) the mind set (antithetical parallelism) of the Hebrew prophets.

5:2 "Bethlehem Ephrathah" Ephrathah (i.e., a clan of the tribe of Judah, cf I Sam. 17:12; Ruth 1:2; 4:11; note I Chr. 2:19,24,50) is added because there was another "house of bread" (Beth-lehem) in the northern tribal allocation of Zebulun (cf. Josh. 19:15). Bethlehem was known as Ephrath (cf. Gen. 38:19; 48:7). It was a very small village, only noted because it was the birthplace of King David (cf. I Sam. 16:1, and thereby, a way to refer to a future Davidic Messianic King, cf. II Sam. 7; Ps. 89). This verse is quoted in Matt. 2:6 and alluded to in Luke 2:4 and John 7:42.

"little" This term (BDB 859 I ) is often used in a pejorative sense of least.

1. clans, I Sam. 9:21

2. tribes, Ps. 68:27

3. horns, Dan. 8:9

4. towns, Micah 5:2

(list from NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 830)


▣ "clans" The term "clans" is the Hebrew term "thousands" (BDB 48 II). The Hebrew term for thousand, eleph, can be used as:

1. a family or clan unit, Num. 10:4; Josh. 22:14; Jdgs. 6:15; I Sam. 10:19; 23:23; Micah 5:2; Zech. 9:7

2. a military unit, Exod. 18:21,25; Deut. 1:15

3. a literal thousand, Gen. 20:16; Exod. 32:28

4. a symbol, Gen. 24:60; Exod. 20:6 (Deut. 7:9); 34:7; Jer. 32:18 

Bethlehem was so small that she is not even mentioned in Joshua 15 as supplying troops for the Judean army, or in Nehemiah as supplying workers for rebuilding Jerusalem's walls.

▣ "of Judah" Because of Moses' prediction about the descendants of Jacob's son, Judah (BDB 397) in Gen. 49:8-12, esp. v. 10, it became the accepted prophecy that the Messiah would be of Judah's line, family of Jesse (cf. II Sam. 7).

"for Me" This phrase is emphasized in the MT. The Messiah comes at YHWH's bidding. He is YHWH's full and perfect, human, righteous leader, One who accurately and completely reflects the God of Israel. The students of the OT (the rabbis) were not expecting an incarnation (i.e., God becoming a man), but an empowerment (i.e., like the Judges). God Himself was the true king (cf. I Sam. 8:7).

NASB"His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity"
NKJV"Whose goings forth have been from of old,
From everlasting"
NRSV"Whose origin is from of old,
From ancient days"
TEV"Whose family line goes back to ancient time"
NJB"Whose origins go back to the distant past,
To the days of old"

These two lines are parallel. The VERB, going forth (BDB 422, KB 425, Qal IMPERATIVE) is a very common VERB. It was used in Micah eight times (e.g., [1] of the Lord coming in 1:3; [2] of God's law going forth in 4:2; and [3] of repentant Israel being restored in 7:9 [a new exodus, 7:15]). It can refer to the Messiah's origin (NRSV, NJB) or actions (cf. vv. 4 and 5a).

These two lines could refer to (1) the pre-existence of the Messiah (cf. Prov. 8:22-31; John 1:1,14-15; 8:56-59; 16:28; 17:5; I Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6-7; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; 10:5-8) or (2) a way of referring to famous descendants of the past (i.e., Abraham, Noah, or more probably, David). This whole verse alludes to a Davidic king, of David's line, from David's hometown. David was viewed as the ideal king.

The term "eternity" (BDB 761) is 'olam. See Special Topic: Forever ('Olam) at Hosea 2:19.

The NIDOTTE, vol. 3, p. 347, which discusses 'olam, makes this comment,

"While it is tempting to see here a reference to the eternal preexistence of the Messiah, no such an idea is found in biblical or postbiblical Jewish literature before the ‘Similitudes of Enoch' (first century b.c. - first century a.d.; see I Enoch 48:2-6."

I think, although there are hints in the OT of an incarnation, the Jewish leaders of Jesus' day were surprised at His claims of equality with God (e.g., Mark 2:5-7; John 1:1-14; 8:58 and Paul, II Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15; Phil. 2:6; Titus 2:13). A partial list of OT texts that have been used to assert the full deity of Jesus follows:

1. Ps. 2:7, quoted in Heb. 1:5 (see esp. 1:2-3)

2. Ps. 45:6-7 quoted in Heb. 1:8-9

3. Ps. 110:1 quoted in Heb. 1:13

4. Isa. 9:6; Jer. 23:5-6; Micah 5:2 alluded to in Luke 1:32

5. Dan. 7:13 quoted in Matt. 26:64; Mark14:62

6. Zech. 13:7 quoted in Matt. 26:31; Mark 14:27

7. Mal. 3:1 quoted in Mark 1:1-3; Luke 2:26-27



5:3 "He will give them up until the time" In context the PRONOUN can refer to (1) YHWH or (2) His Messiah. It think it refers to YHWH in v. 3, line 1, but to the Messiah in v. 3, line 3 and is purposeful ambiguity!

The VERB (BDB 678, KB 733, Qal IMPERFECT) is another very common VERB, which can mean "give," "put," or "set." Here it connotes "deliver up," usually in a judgment context (cf. Num. 21:3; Jdgs. 20:13; I Sam. 11:12; II Sam. 14:7; 20:21; I Kgs. 14:16; Hosea 11:8).

"she who is in labor has borne a child" There are several possible biblical antecedents:

1. It goes back to YHWH's first promise of redemption by a male deliverer through a woman in Gen. 3:15.

2. It relates to Micah's contemporary, Isaiah, who several years earlier mentioned a special birth (cf. Isa. 7:14; 9:6; 11:1-16).

3. It goes back to 4:9-10, which uses the same metaphor for Jerusalem.

4. It relates to the Messianic community (i.e., the faithful remnant), as in Revelation 12, bringing forth the Messiah.

The whole point of v. 3 is that God has allowed a limited judgment to overwhelm His faithless covenant people in order to gloriously restore them!

"Then the remainder of His brethren

 Will return to the sons of Israel" This may refer to one or two groups: (1) "the remnant" and (2) "the sons of Israel" (cf. Isa. 10:20-27). Historically this would refer to the Jews taken into exile reuniting with those Jews who remained in the Promised Land, but eschatologically it refers to "all Israel" (cf. Rom. 9-11, esp. 9:6). The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 428, says it refers to "brothers" of the coming ruler (cf. v. 2). As always, poetic prophecy is brief, ambiguous, and difficult to interpret. It is almost impossible to interpret without (1) a specific historical setting; (2) a literary context; and (3) OT or NT parallel passages.

See D. Brent Sandy, Plowshares and Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Biblical Prophecy and Apocalyptic (this has been a very helpful book for me in interpreting prophecy).

▣ "return" There is a play on the word shub (BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal IMPERFECT), which denotes

1. a literal physical returning (from exile)

2. a spiritual repentance (from idolatry and rebellion)

This alludes to 2:12-13 and 4:6-8.

5:4 This is a description of the characteristics of the Messianic reign (cf. Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-5,6-9,11-16):

1. He will stand (i.e., endure or remain, e.g., Ps. 102:26; 111:3,10; 112:3,9; Eccl. 1:4; Isa. 14:26; 66:22; Hag. 2:5)

2. He will shepherd His people (David was a shepherd, YHWH is described by him in these terms in Ps. 23)

3. He will come in the strength of the Lord

4. He will come in the majesty of the name of the Lord, his God

5. He will be great

6. He will reign to the ends of the earth (BDB 75 e.g., Ps. 2:8; 22:27-28; 59:13; 72:8)

7. In v. 5, line 1 (which should go with v. 4) He will reign in peace (cf. v. 4, line 4)

Notice how 5:4 describes the same time period as 4:1-4.

5:5a "And this One will be our peace" Peace is the Hebrew word shalom (BDB 1022). It speaks of wholeness. The Jews use it for a greeting and a farewell. Its eschatological use here is possibly a contrast to the contemporary false prophets' message of peace (cf. 3:5 and 5:5, line 2, v. 6).

This verse is speaking of a ruler who will bring peace (cf. v. 4) and will himself be called peace (cf. Isa. 9:6; Eph. 2:14.

 5bWhen the Assyrian invades our land,
 When he tramples on our citadels,
 Then we will raise against him
 Seven shepherds and eight leaders of men.
 6And they will shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword,
 The land of Nimrod at its entrances;
 And He will deliver us from the Assyrian
 When he attacks our land
 And when he tramples our territory.
 7Then the remnant of Jacob
 Will be among many peoples
 Like dew from the Lord,
 Like showers on vegetation
 Which do not wait for man
 Or delay for the sons of men.
 8And the remnant of Jacob
 Will be among the nations,
 Among many peoples
 Like a lion among the beasts of the forest,
 Like a young lion among flocks of sheep,
 Which, if he passes through,
 Tramples down and tears,
 And there is none to rescue.
 9Your hand will be lifted up against your adversaries,
 And all your enemies will be cut off.

5:5 line 2-v. 9 Assyria was God's chosen instrument to punish Israel (cf. Isa. 10:5). God's covenant people had gone so far into Ba'al worship they did not know YHWH (cf. Hosea 11:1-4). God breaks His covenant so He can reestablish it! Assyria is a limited judgment (cf. v. 3).

The time frame for this paragraph is uncertain. Assyria may be a way of referring to all godly anti-YHWH nations (cf. Zech. 10:10-11), which would be similar to the name Babylon (used in the book of Revelation).

5:5 "Then we will raise against him

 Seven shepherds and eight leaders of men" Number sequences are common in Ugaritic and OT literature (e.g., Prov. 6:16; 30:15,18,21,29; Amos 1:3,6,9,11,13; 2:1,4,6, and another example is in Ecclesiasticus 11:25). The emphasis is on the adequate number of godly leaders to accomplish YHWH's will who will be available in that day. Assyria will be judged by YHWH in the end (cf. Isa. 10:24-27).

There is the question of why does the text have "we will raise" (BDB 877, KB 1086, Hiphil PERFECT). Does this imply that scattered Israel will be the source of God's deliverance or is it a way of referring to God's actions (cf.v. 3 line 1) or His Messiah (cf. v. 3 line 3; vv. 4-5 line 1)? This same tension is seen when comparing, "we will raise," v. 5 line 4 and "they will shepherd," v. 6 line 1 vs. "he will deliver" (BDB 664, KB 717, Hiphil PERFECT). v. 6 line 3.

The ambiguity of this text and the lack of any historical basis for Jewish soldiers conquering Assyria cause many (and rightly so) to

1. make Assyria stand for any world power who is against God's people

2. the conqueror is not "they" but "he" (the ideal ruler of vv. 2-5a) will subdue all end-time opposition (similar to Ps. 2 or Ezek. 38-39 or Dan. 11:36-45).


5:6 "Nimrod" This name (BDB 650) relates to the founding of Babel (i.e., Babylon) and Nineveh (i.e., Assyria in Gen. 10:8-12). Nimrod is called a mighty hunter who established the first kingdom of Mesopotamia ("the land between the Rivers," i.e., the Tigris and Euphrates). Therefore, these two terms, Assyria and Nimrod, are (1) simply synonyms or (2) it refers to neo-Babylon under Nebopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar.

"He will deliver us from the Assyrian when he attacks our land" This is not what happened in history! Therefore, is this

1. a future reference to Cyrus (i.e., 539 b.c. Babylon falls, cf. Isa. 44-45)

2. a reference to the eschatological future (i.e., Messianic period)

3. a reference to the message of the contemporary false prophets (more probable)


5:7-9 Quite often in Micah (and other prophets) there has been the promise that God would bring His remnant (see Special Topic at 2:12) back to Jerusalem. See also Special Topic: OT Predictions of the Future vs. NT Predictions of the Future at 4:7. However, in this context, God will scatter the remnant of faithful believers throughout the earth that they might be a blessing (i.e., "dew from the Lord"), v. 7, and a champion for justice and godliness, v. 8. If this is accurate then YHWH is using the exiles to scatter His people (i.e., the purpose of Genesis, "be fruitful and multiply," which fallen mankind refused, cf. Gen. 10-11). His scattered people are His witnesses to all the nations, which fulfills Gen. 12:2-3; 22:18; 26:4; Acts 3:25; Gal. 3:8!

However, I must admit that it is possible to see both phrases (i.e., vv. 7-8) relating to judgment (cf. v. 9; II Sam. 17:12). There is much discussion as to whom this verse refers. Some see it as scattered Israel, some see it as the end-time people of God (cf. Romans 9-11; 2:28-29; Galatians 3).

It is just possible that this entire context (i.e., 5b-9) reflects the false hopes and predictions of the false prophets (cf. 3:5). Micah is characterized by radical switching from judgment to redemption. If so, then 5:1-5a is the true prophet's prediction, while 5:5b-9 relates to false hope of the false prophets!


5:7 "dew" "Dew" in the OT has several meanings:

1. God's blessing, Gen. 27:28; Num. 11:9; Deut. 33:13,28; Prov. 19:12; Hosea 14:5; Zech. 8:12

2. lack of it was a divine curse, II Sam. 1:21; I Kgs. 17:1; Hag. 1:10

3. it evaporated quickly in the sunlight, so it was a metaphor for transient things, Exod. 16:13-14; Isa. 18:4; Hosea 6:4; 13:3 (similar to mist, vapor, smoke) 

4. a metaphor for life or youth, Isa. 26:19

5. a metaphor of pervasiveness, II Sam. 17:12

(see Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, pp. 206-207)

NASB"wait for"
NRSV"depend upon"
NJB"depend on"

This VERB (BDB 875 I, KB 1082, Piel IMPERFECT) in the Piel form has three basic meanings:

1. look eagerly for, Job 3:9; 6:19; Isa. 5:2,4,7; 59:9,11; Jer. 8:15; 13:16; 14:19,22; Hosea 12:6

2. lie in wait for, Ps. 56:6; 119:95

3. wait (linger) for, Micah 5:7

Humans wait patiently for moisture because they can do nothing to provide it. It must come "from the Lord."

NKJV, NRSV"wait for"

This VERB (BDB 403, KB 407, Piel IMPERFECT) in Piel form has two meanings:

1. wait for, Micah 5:7

2. hope for, Micah 7:7

Humans know that there is that part of life (i.e., spiritual vitality) which they cannot produce, manufacture, or implement themselves!

▣ It is obvious that vv. 7 and 8 are parallel in structure. The interpretive issue is, are they parallel in emphasis? Verse 7 seems to be a positive emphasis, but v. 8 seems negative (cf. v. 9).

They may be another example of antithetical parallelism (e.g., Prov. 19:12 uses both "lion" and "dew"). Dispersed Israel will be both a blessing and a curse. God will bring truth to the nations through them, but also judgment. Light brings responsibility (cf. Luke 12:48).

"lion" Lion is a common metaphor for strength and power in the ancient Near East. See Special Topic: Lions in the OT at Hosea 5:14.

"there is none to rescue" This is an idiom of divine power (cf. Deut. 32:39; Job 10:7; Ps. 50:22; Hosea 5:14 and related phrases in Job 9:12; 23:13; and Isa. 42:44).

5:9 This strophe in verses 7-9 is so ambiguous that several theories have been put forth by translators and commentators. Verse 9 may be a clear summary of verses 7-8, addressed directly to the conquering eschatological remnant.

 The term "cut off" (BDB 503, KB 500, Niphal IMPERFECT, possibly in JUSSIVE sense) seems to foreshadow vv. 10,11,12,13, which is an obvious judgment context related to Canaanite society which trusted in

1. its military

2. its fortifications

3. its religious practices and idols

This false hope and false worship affected many nations in and around Canaan (cf. Gen. 15:16), including Israel and Judah.

 10"And it will be in that day," declares the Lord,
 "That I will cut off your horses from among you
 And destroy your chariots.
 11I will also cut off the cities of your land
 And tear down all your fortifications.
 12I will cut off sorceries from your hand,
 And you will have fortunetellers no more.
 13I will cut off your carved images
 And your sacred pillars from among you,
 So that you will no longer bow down
 To the work of your hands.
 14I will root out your Asherim from among you
 And destroy your cities.
 15And I will execute vengeance in anger and wrath
 On the nations which have not obeyed"

5:10-15 God's people were trusting not in God, but (1) in their military might, v. 10; (2) in their fortifications, v. 11; (3) their sorceries, v. 12; and (4) their idolatry, vv. 13-14 (e.g., Isa. 2:8). YHWH must stop this by asserting His power and will. This repeated use of "I" reminds me of Ezek. 36:22-38 (description of the New Covenant).

5:10 "in that day" This is a reference to God's judgment day (cf. 4:1, 6).

NASB, NKJV"cut off"
TEV"take away"
NJB"tear.. .tear away"

The VERB (BDB 503, KB 500, Hiphil PERFECT) in the Hiphil form is a common metaphor ("cut off") for a complete destruction and removal (e.g., vv. 9,10,11,12,13; Isa. 9:14; 10:7; 14:22; Amos 1:5,8; 2:3; Zech. 9:10).

▣ "your horses" God's people (i.e., kings), against the direct commands from God (cf. Deut. 17:16), went to Egypt to multiply their military power (i.e., chariots). This need not be literal, but stands for military power in every age!

"chariots" Chariots were the ultimate weapon of that day. They seem to have been introduced into this area (originally from Hyksos in Egypt) by the Phoenicians or Philistines who plated them with iron and made them the most formidable weapon available.

5:11 "And tear down all your fortifications" We know from Assyrian documents that in 701 b.c. Sennacherib captured forty six walled cities of Judah (cf. v. 14b).

5:12 "sorceries. . .fortune tellers" Verses 12-14 refer to the activity of sorcerers (BDB 506, attempting to know and control the future) among the people of God. They are condemned in Lev. 19:26 and Deut. 18:9-22. Many were brought into Israel by Jezebel (cf. II Kgs. 9:22).

5:13 "carved images. . .sacred pillars. . .the work of your hands" These refer to various idols which the people of God were worshiping (cf. Gen. 28:18,22; Deut. 16:22).


NKJV"wooden images"
NRSV, NJB"sacred poles"
TEV"the images of the goddess Asherah"

This refers to some type of wooden pole (BDB 81, i.e., carved stake or live tree representing the tree of life) positioned next to the uplifted rock on Ba'al platforms (i.e., heights). It represented the female fertility god of Canaan (e.g., Deut. 7:5; 12:3; 16:21; Jdgs. 3:7; 6:25,26; I Kgs. 14:23; II Kgs. 18:4; II Chr. 31:1), while the sacred pillars of v. 13 refer to the male fertility god (i.e., Ba'al). These foreign fertility gods and goddesses were introduced from Phoenicia (Jezebel) and were very popular among the people of God (cf I Kgs. 18-19).

TEV, NJB"your cities"
NRSV"your towns"

Some scholars speculate that since "cities" were referred to earlier (i.e., v. 11, BDB 746) that the same root here should be paralleled to "Asherim" of v. 14 line 1. To do so they have speculated a Ugaritic root or possibly an Arabic root (cf. REB, "blood-spattered altars"). The Jewish Study Bible's footnote and the NET Bible suggest an emendation which yields "idols."

5:15 "I will execute vengeance in anger and wrath" The terms (plus PREPOSITION "in") "anger" (BDB 60 I) and "wrath" (BDB 404) are hendiays which intensify the meaning (i.e., in great wrath).

Another option is to see v. 15 as a separate thought. YHWH will purify and restore His covenant exiled people, but for those of the nations that do not respond (cf. v. 7) He will destroy all idolaters.

▣ "On the nations which have not obeyed" The VERB (BDB 1033, KB 1570,Qal PERFECT) means to hear so as to obey. See note at 4:1. The same term, but in an IMPERATIVE form, is repeated in 6:1.

The nations who heard of YHWH from the scattered, exiled covenant people must respond to the truth they have heard (cf. v. 7).

This seems to be completely out of context with the previous passage, however, it does emphasize the truth that God does not play favorites with nations, even Israel and Judah. He is God of all the earth, but only the covenant people had His true word through His true prophets.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why is it so important that Micah, who lived 750 years before the birth of Jesus, was able to pinpoint the exact location of His birth?

2. Why are vv. 7-9 so unusual in the context of 8th century prophets?

3. How is our country so like Israel in connection with vv. 10-14?

4. How do you explain the similarity of Isaiah 2:6-8 with Micah 5:10-14?