Book of Micah

Micheas

{my' - kuh}

General Information

Micah is the 6th of the 12 books of Minor Prophets in the Old Testament of the Bible. Composed of both dire warnings and encouraging promises, this small but important book records the prophet Micah's preaching in Judah in the late 8th century BC. Micah observed the Assyrians' conquest of northern Israel and predicted the destruction of Jerusalem as punishment for social injustice and corruption among the priests and political leadership. His call for justice is tempered by the promise of a messianic ruler from Bethlehem (5:2 - 6) whose reign shall see swords beaten into plowshares (4:3). Most scholars believe that chapters 4 - 7 were written after the time of Micah.

Text Font Face
.
Text Size
.
Background
Color
.
(for printing)
BELIEVE
Religious
Information
Source
web-site
BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects
E-mail

Book of Micah, Micheas

Brief Outline

  1. Desolation of Samaria and Jerusalem foretold (1:1-3:12)
  2. Eventual blessings for Zion (4:1-8)
  3. Invasions and deliverance by the Davidic ruler (4:9-5:15)
  4. Condemnation for sins (6:1-7:6)
  5. Eventual help from God (7:7-20)


Micah

Advanced Information

Micah, a shortened form of Micaiah, who is like Jehovah? (1.) A man of Mount Ephraim, whose history so far is introduced in Judg. 17, apparently for the purpose of leading to an account of the settlement of the tribe of Dan in Northern Palestine, and for the purpose also of illustrating the lawlessness of the times in which he lived (Judg. 18; 19:1-29; 21:25). (2.) The son of Merib-baal (Mephibosheth), 1 Chr. 8:34, 35. (3.) The first in rank of the priests of the family of Kohathites (1 Chr. 23:20). (4.) A descendant of Joel the Reubenite (1 Chr. 5:5). (5.) "The Morasthite," so called to distinguish him from Micaiah, the son of Imlah (1 Kings 22:8). He was a prophet of Judah, a contemporary of Isaiah (Micah 1:1), a native of Moresheth of Gath (1:14, 15). Very little is known of the circumstances of his life (comp. Jer. 26:18, 19).

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)


Book of Micah

Advanced Information

The Book of Micah is the sixth in order of the so-called minor prophets. The superscription to this book states that the prophet exercised his office in the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. If we reckon from the beginning of Jotham's reign to the end of Hezekiah's (B.C. 759-698), then he ministered for about fifty-nine years; but if we reckon from the death of Jotham to the accession of Hezekiah (B.C. 743-726), his ministry lasted only sixteen years. It has been noticed as remarkable that this book commences with the last words of another prophet, "Micaiah the son of Imlah" (1 Kings 22:28): "Hearken, O people, every one of you." The book consists of three sections, each commencing with a rebuke, "Hear ye," etc., and closing with a promise, (1) ch. 1; 2; (2) ch. 3-5, especially addressed to the princes and heads of the people; (3) ch. 6-7, in which Jehovah is represented as o the holding a controversy with his people: the whole concluding with a song of triumph at the great deliverance which the Lord will achieve for his people.

The closing verse is quoted in the song of Zacharias (Luke 1:72, 73). The prediction regarding the place "where Christ should be born," one of the most remarkable Messianic prophecies (Micah 5:2), is quoted in Matt. 2:6. There are the following references to this book in the New Testament:, 5:2, comp. Matt. 2:6; John 7:42. 7:6, comp. Matt. 10:21, 35, 36. 7:20, comp. Luke 1:72, 73.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)


Book of Micah

From: Home Bible Study Commentary by James M. Gray

The little known of Micah is briefly stated. Calling himself a Morasthite indicates Moresheth, or Mareshah, as his birthplace in southwestern Judah, near Gath. The time of his prophesying is shown in the same verse by the reference to the kings of Judah, as between 758 to 700 B. C. He seems to have been the writer of his own book, if we may judge from the personal allusions in chapter 3:1, 8, and to have died in peace, judging by Jeremiah 26:18, 19. He is frequently referred to as a prophet, and his utterances quoted, not only in the instances above given, but in Isaiah 2:2-4 and 41:15; Ezekiel 22: 27; Zephaniah 3:19; Matthew 2:5; and John 7:42. Jesus quotes him in Matthew 10:35, 36. For further references to his period, see our lessons on Isaiah.

A Description of Judgment

Chapters 1-3 contain a description of the approaching judgment on both kingdoms, Israel and Judah. How do verses 1 and 5 of chapter 1 indicate that both kingdoms are under consideration? Notice the order in which the three classes of hearers are addressed: (1) The people at large, chapter 1:2. (2) The princes, chapter 3. (3) The false prophets, 3:5. According to verse 11 what seems to have been the most crying sin of all? And yet notwithstanding their covetousness and greed, how did they show either gross hypocrisy or gross ignorance of God (same verse, last part)? It is at this point that the declaration of judgment is expressed, and in language which has been literally fulfilled, verse 12.

A Vision of Hope

Chapters 4 and 5 unfold the future and happier, because holier, experience of the nation. The first four verses of chapter 4 are quoted almost verbatim in Isaiah 2, unless we reverse the order and say that Micah quoted Isaiah. At what time are these better things to come to pass according to the beginning of this chapter? How are these things figuratively expressed in verse 1? It is not difficult to recognize in these figures of speech the exaltation of Jerusalem and Judah over all the nations in that day. But how does verse 2 show that the exaltation will not be exacting and tyrannous, but the opposite?

What language shows that the millennial age is referred to, and no period which has yet appeared in the history of the world? How do verses 3 and 4 strengthen this conviction? What expression in verse 7 almost directly states this to be the case? In Joel we saw that prior to Israel's deliverance, and, as incident thereto, the Gentile nations will be besieging Jerusalem and desirous of seizing her, and that Jehovah will interpose on her behalf. How do the closing verses of this chapter parallel that prophecy?

Addressing ourselves to chapter 5, we discover what is the common teaching of the prophets that these good times coming for Israel and Judah are connected with the Person and work of the Messiah. How is that led up to in verse 2? To be sure, these words are quoted in Matthew 2, to apply to the first coming of Christ, but that does not exclude His second coming. Moreover, all the succeeding verses in this chapter point to events which did not occur at His first coming, but will be found to be uniformly predicated of His second coming.

A Contrast Drawn

Chapters 6 and 7 present a "contrast between the reasonableness, purity and justice of the divine requirements, and the ingratitude, injustice and superstition of the people which caused their ruin." The closing chapter is peculiarly affecting, a kind of soliloquy of repentance on Israel's part. The better element among the people are confessing and lamenting their sinful condition in verses 1-6, but expressing confidence in God's returning favor (7, 8). Putting all together, there are few verses in the Bible more expressive of quiet hope and trust than these.

It is beautiful to see the spirit of confession and submission in verse 9, and the certainty of triumph over every foe, verse 10. Observe how Jehovah Himself speaks through the prophet in verses 11-13. (Revised Version). See the promise of interposition on Israel's behalf in that day, verse 15; and the confusion of the Gentile nations at their triumph, and their own discomfiture, 16, 17. Of course, the temporal blessings thus coming upon Israel are all predicated of their return to the Lord and His forgiveness of their sins (18, 19). Nevertheless these things will take place on the ground of the original promise to Abraham (20).

Questions 1. What can you say of the history of Micah? 2. Name the three great divisions of the book. 3. Analyze chapters 1-3. 4. With what future event is the deliverance of Israel always associated? 5. What makes the closing chapter particularly affecting?


Book of Micheas

Catholic Information

Micheas (Hebr. Mikhah; Jeremiah 26:18: Mikhayah keth.), the author of the book which holds the sixth place in the collection of the Twelve Minor Prophets, was born at Moresheth (Micah 1:1; Jeremiah 26:18), a locality not far from the town of Geth (Micah 1:14). Jerusalem was the scene of his ministry, and it occurred, as we learn from the title of his book, under the Kings Joathan (c. 740-735 B. C.), Achaz (735-727?), and Ezechias (727-698?). We do not, however, appear to possess any of his addresses prior to the reign of Ezechias. He was thus a contemporary of the Prophet Isaias. His book falls into three parts.

Part One (Chapters 1-3)

The first part consists of chapters 1-3. Micheas begins by announcing the impending destruction of Samaria as a punishment for its sins, and Jerusalem also is threatened. In chapter 2 the prophet develops his threats against the Kingdom of Juda and gives his reasons for them. In chapter 3 he utters his reproaches with greater distinctness against the chief culprits: the prophets, the priests, the princes, and the judges. Because of their transgressions, Sion shall be ploughed as a field, etc. (3, 12). This passage was quoted by the defenders of Jeremias against those who wished to punish with death the boldness with which the latter had announced God's chastisements: Micheas of Morashti was not punished with death, but, on the contrary, Ezechias and the people did penance and the Lord withdrew his threat against Jerusalem (Jeremiah 16:18 sq.). There is a general consensus of opinion to attribute to the Prophet Micheas the authorship of this part of the book; serious doubts have been expressed only concerning 2:11-12. Chapters 1-3 must have been composed shortly before the destruction of the Kingdom of Samaria by the Assyrians (722 B.C.).

Part Two (Chapters 4-5)

In the second part (4-5), we have a discourse announcing the future conversion of the nations to the Law of Yahweh and describing the Messianic peace, an era to be inaugurated by the triumph of Israel over all its enemies, symbolized by the Assyrians. In 5:1 sq. (Hebr., 2 sq.), the prophet introduces the Messianic king whose place of origin is to be Bethlehem-Ephrata; Yahweh will only give up his people "till the time wherein she that travaileth shall bring forth", an allusion to the well-known passage of Isaiah 7:14. Several recent critics have maintained that chapters 4-5, either wholly or in part, are of post-exilic origin. But their arguments, principally based on considerations inspired by certain theories on the history of the Messianic doctrine, are not convincing. Neither is it necessary to suppose that in 4:8, the comparison of the citadel of Sion with the "tower of the flock" alludes to the ruinous condition of Judea and Jerusalem at the time of the composition of the address; this comparison merely refers to the moral situation held towards the rest of the country by the capital, whence Yahweh is presumed to keep watch. The connexion of ideas, it is true, is interrupted in 4:10, and in 5:4-5 (Vulgate 5-6), both of which may be later additions. A characteristic trait of Micheas's style in chapter 1 is found in the puns on the names of localities, and it is noticeable that an entirely similar pun can be seen in 5:1 (Hebrews 4:14), particularly when the LXX version is taken into account. The reading supposed by the LXX suggests a very satisfactory interpretation of this difficult passage: "And now, surround thyself with a wall (gadher), Beth-Gader." The difference of tone and contents clearly show that 4-5 must have been composed in other circumstances than 1-3. They probably date from shortly after the fall of Samaria in 722 B. C. In 1-3 Micheas had expressed the fear that after the conquest of Samaria the Assyrian army would invade Judea; but ?Yahweh withdrew His threat (Jeremiah 16:19), and the enemy left Palestine without attacking Jerusalem. Chapters 4-5 have preserved us an echo of the joy caused in Jerusalem by the removal of the danger.

Part Three (Chapters 6-7)

Chapters 6-7 are cast in a dramatic shape. Yahweh interpellates the people and reproaches them with ingratitude (6:3-5). The people ask by what offerings they can expiate their sin (6:6-7). The prophet answers that Yahweh claims the observance of the moral law rather than sacrifices (6:8). But this law has been shamefully violated by the nation, which has thus brought on itself God's punishment (6:9 sqq.). The passage 7:2-13 could be transposed to follow 7:6; in this way the justification of the punishments assumes a connected form in 6:6 to 7:6 and 7:11-13. The rest of chapter 7 (7-11 + 14 sqq.) contains a prayer in which the fallen city expresses hope in a coming restoration and confidence in God. The opinions of critics are much divided on the composition of these chapters. Several consider them a mere collection of detached fragments of more or less recent origin; but the analysis just given shows that there is a satisfactory connexion between them. The chief reason why critics find it difficult to attribute to Micheas the authorship of chapters 6-7, or at least of a large portion, is because they identify the fallen city of 7:7 sqq., with Jerusalem. But the prophet never mentions Jerusalem, and there is no proof that Jerusalem is the city intended. On the contrary, certain traits are better explained on the supposition that the city in the prophet's mind is Samaria; see especially 6:16, and 7:14. According to this hypothesis, the prophet in 6-7:6 and 7:11-13, casts a retrospective look at the causes which brought about the fall of Samaria, and in 7:7-11 + 14 sqq., he expresses his desires for its return to the Lord's favour. As in the historical situation thus supposed there is nothing which does not exactly tally with the circumstances of Micheas's time, as there is no disagreement in ideas between Micheas 1 sqq., and 6-7 as on the contrary real affinities in style and vocabulary exist between Micheas 1 sqq., and 6-7, it seems unnecessary to deny to the Prophet Micheas the authorship of these two chapters.

Publication information Written by A. Van Hoonacker. Transcribed by Sean Hyland. Dedicated to Trish, my dear sister in Christ The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York


Micah the Prophet

Orthodox Information

Commemorated August 14

Prophet Micah, whose name means "who is like God?", was a Morasthite from the land of Judah. He prophesied more than 50 years in the days of Joatham, Ahaz, and Hezekias, Kings of Judah. These kings reigned in the eighth century before Christ. From this it is clear that this Micah is not the one who was the son of Iembla (or Imlah-III Kings 22:8), who censured Ahab and was murdered by Ahab's son Joram, as the Synaxaristes says; for this Joram reigned the ninth century before Christ. Yet Micah was still prophesying, as mentioned above, in the days of Hezekias, who was a contemporary of Hosea and Esaias, and of Hoshea, the last King of the ten tribes of Israel, when that kingdom was destroyed by Salmanasar (Shalmaneser), King of the Assyrians (IV Kings 17: 1 - 16; 18: 1). This Micah is sixth in rank among the minor Prophets. His book of prophecy is divided into seven chapters; he prophesied that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Michaias 5: 2). In the reign of St Theodosios the Great, the holy relics of the Prophets Micah and Abbacum were found through a divine revelation to Zebennus, Bishop of Eleutheropolis.

Dismissal Hymn (Second Tone)

As we celebrate the memory of Your Prophet Micah, O Lord, through him we beseech You to save our souls.

Kontakion (Fourth Tone)

You were enlightened with beams from the Holy Spirit, setting forth in prophecy the condescension of Christ God, O blessed Micah; and by His grace, we who revere you are saved from eternal death.


Book of Micah

Jewish Perspective Information

ARTICLE HEADINGS:

-Biblical Data:

-Critical View:

Contents and Unity.

Style.

-Biblical Data:

The sixth book in the collection known as "The Twelve Minor Prophets"; it is ascribed to Micah the Morasthite (see Micah No. 1). It consists of seven chapters, the contents of which are as follows: Ch. i.: The idolatry of Samaria and Jerusalem are denounced; the prophet laments their fall and exhorts, the people to mourning. Ch. ii.: Denunciation of oppression; prediction of the punishment of the people therefor; the restoration of Israel foretold. Ch. iii.: The prophet reproves first the princes for their cruelty, then the false prophets, who are the cause of all the evil. He again reproves the princes for their oppression, which, he says, will cause the ruin of Jerusalem. Ch. iv.: In poetical language the restoration of Jerusalem and of the glory of the house of the Lord and the victory of Israel over the other nations are foretold. Ch. v.: Prediction that a powerful king of Judah will vanquish the other nations, particularly Ashur, and will destroyidolatry. Ch. vi.: Israel is reproved for its sins, particularly its injustice; its punishment is prophesied. Ch. vii.: The lack of righteous men and the corruption of Israel are lamented; the prophet comforts Israel, promising that it will be restored to its land and will triumph over its enemies.

-Critical View:

With regard to the period of Micah's activity, it has been remarked under Micah (No. 1) that there is a difference between the superscription of the Book of Micah, where it is said that Micah began his prophetical career in the days of Jotham, and Jer. xxvi. 18, where his prophecies are confined to Hezekiah's reign. But a closer examination of the prophecies themselves may lead to the acceptance of a period between the two; for it is evident from Mic. i. 2 et seq. that Micah prophesied before the fall of Samaria, which, contrary to II Kings xviii. 10, took place under the reign of Ahaz, as may be inferred from a comparison between II Kings xviii. 13 and the cuneiform inscriptions (see Hezekiah, Critical View). Hence it may be concluded that Micah prophesied as early as the reign of Ahaz; but nothing in his prophecies shows that they were pronounced earlier than that period. It does not follow, however, that the above-cited passage of Jeremiah really conflicts with this view; for it may be that Hezekiah's reign is mentioned alone either because it was more important than that of his predecessors or because the redaction of Micah's prophecies possibly took place during the rule of that king.

As the opening words of the book, "Hear, all ye people!" are the same as those terminating the prophecy of Micaiah, the son of Imlah (I Kings xxii. 28), it may be that the latter was identified with Micah by the compiler of the Book of Kings, as he was later by pseudo-Epiphanius (see Micah No. 1). The termination of Micaiah's prophecy with the identical words of the beginning of the Book of Micah seems to indicate in the former an allusion to the latter (comp. end of II Chron. with beginning of Ezra). Hengstenberg ("Christologic des Alten Testaments," i. 475) and Keil ("Lehrbuch der Historisch-Kritischen Einleitung in die Schriften des Alten Testaments," §§ 92, 93), however, suppose that the words of Micaiah in I Kings (l.c.) were added later, in the eighth century B.C.

Contents and Unity.

With regard to the division of the contents modern critics do not agree. Some divide them into three parts, ch. i.-ii.; iii.-v.; vi-vii.; others, into two main divisions: prophetic-political, ch. i-v.; and reflective, ch. vi-vii. The question arises whether the whole of the book was written by Micah. It is generally accepted that the first three chapters, apart from ii. 12-13, belong to him. He begins with announcing the divine judgment upon Samaria and Judah (ch. i.), and then states the reason for that judgment (ii.-iii). The two verses ii. 12-13 are considered by Stade and Kuenen as of the exilic, and by Wellhausen as of the post-exilic, period; and Micah's authorship of them is denied by all the critics. Ch. iv.-v., which refer to the Messianic time, seem to have emanated from some other hand, for the following reasons: (1) the contrast of these chapters with iii. 12; (2) the nature of certain verses-for instance, "and thou shalt come to Babylon" (iv. 10)-shows clearly that they were not pronounced by Micah (comp. Hartmann, "Das Buch Micha Neu Uebersetzt und Erklärt," 1800); (3) the ideas set forth in certain passages (e.g., iv. 11-13, v. 9-13) were not current in the time of Micah. Ch. vi.-vii. 6 representing Yhwh's controversy with Israel, the denunciation of the corruption of the people, and the prophet's lament over the decay of the Israelites, might from their contents proceed from Micah; but vii. 7 and the following verses are considered by most of the critics as spurious, inasmuch as the fall of Jerusalem, which is foretold in the preceding chapter, is here stated as having already taken place (comp. Driver, "Introduction," pp. 310 et seq.).

Other theories concerning the composition of the book are advanced, among which that of Elhorst, in his "De Profetie van Micha" (1891), is the most peculiar. He thinks that, owing to a misunderstanding on the part of the transcriber, the arrangement of the chapters is a confused one, and that the true order should be: i.; ii. 1-5; iii. 1-5; ii. 6-11; iii. 6-11; ii. 12 et seq.; iii. 12; vi. 1-5; vii. 1-6; vi. 6-16; vii. 13, 7-12, 14-20; iv. 1-8; v. 1-7; iv. 9-14; v. 8-14. He admits, however, that iv. 9-14 and v. 8 are post-exilic. This arrangement is plausible to a certain extent, but the location of iii. 12 after ii. 13 and of vii. 13 before vii. 7 is impossible. Finally, it may be remarked that the words of iv. 1-3 are identical with those of Isa. ii. 2-4, and that most probably they were interpolated later by the transcriber.

Style.

Micah's language is classical. With regard to rhetorical peculiarity he stands between Hosea and Isaiah, but nearer to the latter than to the former; for although, like the former, he is sometimes abrupt, he is similar to the latter in the mingling of mildness and strength, of gentleness and elevation. Another point of similarity between Micah and Isaiah is the frequent use of paronomasia (comp. Mic. i. 10-15, ii. 4), with the difference that Isaiah's scope is greater than that of Micah, who in his prophecies lingers among the towns of the maritime plain, wherein was his birthplace. As to his message, Micah, like Isaiah, attacks the false prophets (ib. iii. 6-8; comp. Isa. xxix. 10 et seq.), but he goes even further than Isaiah in warning against the overvaluation of sacrifices (Mic. vi. 6-8; comp. Isa. i. 11 et seq.), and in showing that the family of David must lose the throne before the most perfect scion will be born (Mic. v. 1 et seq.; comp. Isa. xi. 1 et seq.).

Isidore Singer, M. Seligsohn

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

Bibliography:

Baudissin, Einleitung in die Bücher des Alten Testaments, 1901, sections 132 et seq.; Cornill, Einleitung, section 2, pp. 182 et seq.; Nowack, Erklärung des Zwölfprophetenbuches, in Handkommentar zum Alten Testament, 1897; G. A. Smith, The Twelve Minor Prophets, in The Expositor's Bible.S. M. Sel.


Micah

Jewish Perspective Information

ARTICLE HEADINGS:

-In Rabbinical Literature:

-Critical View:

1. Prophet; author of the sixth book in the collection known as "The Twelve Minor Prophets" (Mic. i. 1). The name of the prophet appears to be a shortened form of , "Micaiah" (= "Who is like Yhwh?"), and is so written in Jer. xxvi. 18 (comp. also Micah No. 2). The only data concerning Micah are those given in the superscription of the book bearing his name. He was a Morasthite; that is to say, a native of Moreshethgath (Mic. i. 14); and he prophesied in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah-a period covering at the most fifty-nine years (756-697 B.C.). In the above-cited passage of Jeremiah, however, only the reign of Hezekiah is given as the period of Micah's activity.

Pseudo-Epiphanius ("Opera," ii. 245) makes Micah an Ephraimite. Confounding him with Micaiah, son of Imlah (I Kings xxii. 8 et seq.), he states that Micah, for his inauspicious prophecy, was killed by order of Ahab through being thrown from a precipice, and was buried at Morathi (Maroth?; Mic. i. 12), near the cemetery of Enakim (Ένακεὶμ Septuagint rendering of ; ib. i. 10). According to "Gelilot Ereẓ Yisrael" (quoted in "Seder ha-Dorot," i. 118, Warsaw, 1889), Micah was buried in Chesil, a town in southern Judah (Josh. xv. 30).

2. Biblical Data: A resident of Mount Ephraim who, having stolen 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother, restored them to her on hearing her curses at the theft. The mother had dedicated the silver to Yhwh; and she accordingly gave 200 pieces to a founder, who made a molten image which was placed in Micah's house. Micah thus established a house of idols with an ephod and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons to be his priest (Judges xvii. 1-5). In the course of time a young Levite named Jonathan, son of Gershon, happened to come to the house, and he was appointed by Micah as his priest (ib. xvii. 7-13). The image, together with the priest, was captured by the Danites, who set it up at Dan, where it continued to be an object of worship as long as the Tabernacle was at Shiloh (ib. xviii.; See Jonathan No. 1). In Judges xvii. 1, 4, the name "Micah" appears in the form .S. M. Sel.

-In Rabbinical Literature:

Micah is identified by the Rabbis with Sheba, son of Bichri, and with Nebat, the father of Jeroboam (Sanh. 101b). His name, derived by them from is interpreted as meaning "the crushed one," an appellation due to a miracle which happened to him. According to a haggadah, the Israelites, when unable to complete the tale of bricks required from them by the Egyptians, were compelled to put their children in the brickwork in place of the bricks that were lacking. Moses withdrew one child (Micah), already crushed, and revived him; but, as God had foretold, he grew up to be an idolater (Tan., Yelammedenu, Ki Tissa; comp. Rashi to Sanh. l.c.).

The Rabbis all agree that Micah was among those who crossed the Red Sea with Moses; but they differ with regard to his idol. According to Sanh. 103b and Tan., Yelammedenu (l.c.), Micah had the idol with him; but according to Ex. R. (xli. 1) he took with him only the silver of which the idol was afterward made. A passage in Pesaḥim (117a) seems to support the latter opinion. There is also a tradition that it was Micah who made the golden calf in the wilderness, and in the following manner: Moses, in order to bring Joseph's coffin to the surface of the Nile, wrote on a splinter (= "Come up, ox"; Joseph being compared to an ox; see Deut. xxxiii. 17) and threw it into the water. Micah found the splinter, and, later, when Aaron cast the gold into the fire (Ex. xxxii. 24), threw the splinter after it. As a result a calf came out (Tan., Yelammedenu, l.c.; see also Jew. Encyc. iii. 509a, s.v. Calf, Golden). Micah, though an idolater, was praised for his hospitality to travelers. Gareb, where his idol was set up, was three miles distant from Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood; and the smoke of the two altars mingled on account of their proximity. The angels wished to throw down the idol; but God said to them, "Leave it alone; for Micah offers bread to travelers." Micah is even supposed to have a share in the future world (Sanh. 103b); it is for this reason that his name is twice written "Micaiah" (see Micah No. 2, Biblical Data), that is, with a part of the Tetragrammaton, like the names of the just (Num. R. x. 14).S. S. M. Sel.

-Critical View:

The narrative of Micah's idol, the historical basis of which is undoubted, was apparently written with the object of showing the origin of the temple of Dan (comp. I Kings xii. 29).At the same time it throws much light on the state of the Yhwh cult and of the Levites in the time of the Judges. The author expressly points out that Micah was a worshiper of Yhwh, for whose cult he had his private shrine with a regular priestly service. Although the laws of Yhwh forbade the erection of any shrine besides the one in the chosen place and the making of any image of Him (Ex. xx. 4 et passim; Deut. xii. 5 et seq.), Micah, evidently ignorant of the Law, not only set up engraved and molten images representing the divinity he worshiped, but added other idols, the teraphim for instance. The narrative further shows that the Levites, being deprived of a share in the land, had to wander from place to place, accepting the office of family priest in order to procure a livelihood.

The account itself presents many difficulties in regard to its construction. Besides several discrepancies, in the text there are absolute contradictions. Thus in Judges xvii. 7 the Levite is a young man who lived in the neighborhood of Micah, while in the following verse he is a wandering Levite. There is also a discrepancy between verses 19 and 27 of ch. xviii. and between verses 30 and 31 of the same chapter concerning the duration of the cult of the idol at Dan. According to Oort, Wellhausen, and Kuenen, the text has received many interpolations, with the object of throwing contempt upon the cult of Dan. On the other hand, Vatke ("Alttestamentliche Theologie," 1835, p. 268) and Berthau, followed by other critics, recognize two parallel narratives united by a redactor. While there is some disagreement as to the component parts of the two versions, Budde's division seems to be the most acceptable; he holds, namely, that the first narrative consists of Judges xvii. 1, 5, 8-11a, 12, beginning, 13; xviii. 1, part of 2, 3b, 4b-6, 8-10, part of 11, 12, part of 13, 14, 16, 18a, 19-29, 31; and that the intervening verses form the second narrative. Budde is of opinion that the first narrative belongs to E; but he does not find sufficient grounds for ascribing the second to J. Moore thinks that the first version belongs to J. In the second version (ib. xviii. 30) the cult at Dan is indicated as having lasted "till the day of the captivity of the land," which is supposed by Moore to refer to the deportation by Tiglath-pileser (734 B.C.).

Besides the above-mentioned discrepancies certain points remain unsettled by the critics. Ḳimḥi explains the discrepancy between verses 3 and 4 of Judges xvii. by suggesting that the 200 shekels were an additional artisan's fee, while the whole amount of the silver was used in the fabrication of the idol. Kuenen, however, thinks that the author intended to show that the mother broke her vow, and that Micah desired to throw contempt on the idol cult of Dan. Further, the critics do not explain precisely the name of Micah's residence, nor the phenomenon of a Levite descended from Judah. Wellhausen's opinion that the term means not a Levite, but one exercised in the cult of a divinity, is shown by the context to be an erroneous one. Halévy's theory is that the whole narrative belongs to one author, whose object was to show the origin of both temples, that of Beth-el and that of Dan, and who twice mentions Mount Ephraim, meaning thereby Beth-el (comp. Josh. xvi. 1). Thus Beth-el, having previously been the place of a private shrine which was subsequently transported to Dan, became, like Dan, the place of a public temple. The Judah from whom the Levite was descended (Judges xvii. 7) was not the patriarch, but the ancestor of a Levite family (comp. Neh. xii. 8; in Ezra ii. 40 may be an anagram of ). The residence of a Levite at Beth-lehem, which was not among the cities allotted to the Levites, shows that a temple of Yhwh with a Levitical service existed there (comp. Judges xix. 18). The author points out that the Levite was of the tribe of Levi, namely, a descendant of Moses, in whose name a suspended "nun" was interpolated by the Masorites out of respect for the lawgiver (see Jonathan No. 1). With regard to the apparent discrepancy between verses 30 and 31 of Judges xviii., the word in verse 30 was corrected to by Ḳimḥi, then by Hävernick, Hengstenberg, and Bleek, the passage thus reading "till the deportation of the Ark," referring to the capture of the Ark in the battle with the Philistines described in I Sam. iv. 4, 11. This renders possible a perfect agreement between the two verses.

Isidore Singer, M. Seligsohn, Solomon Schechter, Emil G. Hirsch Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.

Bibliography:

J. Halévy, in R. E. J. xxi. 207-217; Moore, Judges, pp. 366 et seq.; idem, Judges, notes to ch. xvii.-xviii., in Polychrome Bible, Eng. ed.S. M. Sel. 3. Son of Merib-baal (I Chron. viii. 34, 35; ix. 40, 41) or Mephibosheth (II Sam. ix. 12; A. V. "Micah"; R. V. "Mica"), and grandson of Jonathan. 4. Head of the Uzziel branch of the Kohathite Levites in the time of David (I Chron. xxiii. 20; xxiv. 24, 25). 5. A Reubenite; ancestor of the prince of that tribe, Beerah, whom Tiglath-pileser carried into captivity (ib. v. 5-6). 6. Contemporary of Josiah, and father of Abdon, one of Josiah's messengers to Huldah (II Chron. xxxiv. 20). In the parallel account of II Kings xxii. 12 he is called "Micaiah," and his son's name is given as "Achbor." 7. A Levite of the family of Asaph whose descendants lived in Jerusalem (I Chron. ix. 15; Neh. xi. 17, 22). 8. A Simeonite; father of Ozias, one of the rulers of Bethulia (Judith vi. 15).E. G. H. M. Sel.


The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

This page - - - - is at
This subject presentation was last updated on - -


Copyright Information

Send an e-mail question or comment to us: E-mail

The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet http://mb-soft.com/believe/indexaz.html