A. Read 1:2. After I remind you about different notions of the names of God and we discuss an odd feature of the Hebrew here, I’ll ask: Why do you think Micah uses this odd combination of God’s Names of Hashem/Elohim?
1:2 Listen, all you peoples, hearken, earth and its fullness, that the Master, the LORD , be witness against you forever, the Master from His holy temple.
B. Read 2:1. What’s the meaning of this verse?
2:1 Woe, who plot crime and work evil on their couches. In the morn they do it, for they have the power.
C. Read 2:9. Think of the various ways commentators have read and given meaning to the evil in this verse?
2:9 My people’s wives you drive out from their luxurious homes. From their infants you take away My glory for all times.
D. Read 2:10-13. Commentators have read these verses several ways. Where do you come down? What comes to your mind when you read of a “breaking forth?”
2:10 Rise up and go, for this is not a resting place. Because she has defiled herself, dire destruction shall descend. 11 Were a man to go after wind and cheating lies, “ I would preach to you for wine and for strong drink.” He would be this people’s preacher. 12 I will surely assemble Jacob, all of you. I will surely gather Israel’s remnant. I will make him like sheep in the pen, like a flock within the fold. They shall bustle with people. 13 He who makes the breach shall go up before them, they shall break out and pass through the gate and go out there. And their king shall pass through before them, the LORD at their head.
E. Read 3:1-3. These verses are Micah’s indictments of the leadership. What do they mean, and how might they be relevant today?
3:1 And I said: Listen, pray, chieftains of Jacob and captains of the house of Israel. Is it not yours to know what is right? 2 Haters of good and lovers of evil, who flay their skin from them and their flesh from their bones. 3 Who devour My people’s flesh and strip their skin from them and crack open their bones. And they cut it like flesh in the pot and like meat in the cauldron.
F. Read 3:5-6, 11. Micah here condemns the false or misleading prophets. What do you make of the words, “chew with their teeth and declare peace?” What do you make of the words, “Behold Hashem is in our midst; no evil can befall us.”
3:5 Thus said the LORD concerning the prophets who lead My people astray; who bite with their teeth and proclaim peace, and as to him who gives nothing for their mouths, they declare war against him. 6 Therefore shall it be night for your vision and darkness for you for divining, and the sun shall set on the prophets, and the day turn to gloom upon them.
3:11 Her chieftains judge with bribes, and her priests instruct for payment, and her prophets divine for silver and on the LORD they lean, saying, “Is not the LORD in our midst? No harm will come upon us.”
G. Chapter 4 is one of the great pieces of sacred text. It offers a prophetic vision of a time, the Messianic Era, of re-building of the Temple and Jerusalem, and even more.
All peoples will come to Mount Moriah, as the religious metropolis of the world, esteemed and respected by all nations. Radak.
There, God will teach all of His ways that they walk in His paths. 4:2. God will settle disputes among the nations and will clarify the law.
Read 4:3-7. This is an exquisite statement that is very famous and prized and is indeed a sort of climax for the book. What’s your fundamental take on its meaning?
4:3 And He shall judge among many peoples and be arbiter to vast nations from far away. And they shall grind their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not raise sword against nation, nor shall they learn war anymore. 4 And they shall dwell each man beneath his vine and beneath his fig tree, with none to make him tremble, for the mouth of the LORD of Armies has spoken. 5 For all the peoples shall walk each in the name of his god. But we shall walk in the name of the LORD our God forevermore. 6 On that day, said the LORD : I will gather the lame one, and the outcast I will take in and to whom I did harm. 7 And I will make the lame one a remnant and the failing one a vast nation, and the LORD shall reign over them on Mount Zion, from hence and forever.
Specifically, in 4:5, what does it mean to “walk in the way of God?
Note the similarities between 4:1-5 and Isaiah 2:2-4. Scholars and commentators discuss how this came to be and its significance, though it’s not an issue for us in our study today.)
H. Chapter 5 is a very important account of the Messiah and the messianic era to come, with a focus on the role of the Messiah in bringing the people back from exile, especially in re-establishing the remnant.
We’ll forego a further look at these verses now, but it makes for a fascinating read, particularly with regard to the Divine promise to end all the idolatrous practices that led to the people’s waywardness and exile.
I. Chapter 6 begins with the feel of a trial in which God presses the case against the people. Micah asks what should be brought on their behalf, how to appease God, perhaps with sacrifices.
But then, the prophet recalls that, no, what God asked of the people was rather to do justly, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.
6:8 It was told to you, man, what is good and what the LORD demands of you - only doing justice and loving kindness and walking humbly with your God.
What does this mean? What’s its significance? To do justly? To love kindness? To walk humbly with God?
“This is the greatest saying of the Old Testament.” (G.A. Smith 1899, 2:425)
J. Read 7:1-7. Describe the state of the people at the end of the book, which presumably sets the stage in the near term for punishment and exile.
7:1 Alas for me, as I have become like the leavings of summer fruit, like the last gleanings of the vintage—there is no cluster for eating, no ripe figs that my palate has longed for. 2 The faithful has vanished from the land, and the upright among men is gone. They all lie in wait to shed blood, each man hunts his brother with a net. 3 For evil their hands are skilled. The noble and the judge ask payment. The great one speaks the disaster he wants, and they pervert it for him. 4 Their good is like a thornbush, no straighter than a hedge. The day those who look for You, of Your reckoning, has come. Now shall their confounding take place. 5 Do not trust in a friend, nor place confidence in a leader. From her who lies in your lap guard your lips. 6 For the son reviles the father, the daughter rises against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies are the people of his household. 7 But I look for You, I await the God of my rescue May the LORD hear me.
YET Micah comes back to the idea that “though I fall, I will rise,” “though I sit in darkness, God is a light to me.” 7:8. As Radak teaches, we have faith that God will take us out of the darkness and into the light. The enemy should not rejoice. Radak. The redemption will start slowly and bit by bit increase as light slowly increases from dawn until sunrise. Pnei Moshe.
K. Read 7:18-20. The book closes much as does Deuteronomy where Moses admonished the people but concluded with words of a comforting nature. These final verses make the point. Explain.
7:18 Who is a God like You dismissing crime and forgiving trespass for the remnant of His estate? He does not cling forever to His wrath, for He desires kindness. 19 Again He shall have mercy on us. he shall cleanse our crimes. And You shall fling into the depths of the sea all our offenses. 20 Grant truth to Jacob, kindness to Abraham, as You swore to our fathers in ancient days.
III. Conclusion – what are our main takeaways from this remarkable book of the Bible?