Bible Commentaries
Micah 5

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

2. The might of Zion 4:9-5:1

One of the events that would occur before the realization of these great promises of blessing was Israel’s exile, but the burden of this pericope is also future restoration.

Verse 1

This verse is the last one in chapter 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." This expression means that Jerusalem was a city marked by warfare. Jerusalem’s rich had been at war with the poor (Micah 2:8; Micah 3:2-3; Micah 3:9-10; Micah 7:2-6), but now their external enemies would wage war against them. These enemies had laid siege against them (2 Kings 24:10; 2 Kings 25:1-2; Jeremiah 52:5; Ezekiel 4:3; Ezekiel 4:7; Ezekiel 5:2) and would even smite Israel’s judge on the cheek (Micah 4:2-3), a figure for humiliating him (cf. 1 Kings 22:24; Job 16:10; Lamentations 3:30).

The judge in view appears to be King Zedekiah for the following reasons (cf. 2 Kings 25:1-7). First, according to this verse the time of this smiting is when Israel was under siege. Second, Micah 5:2-6 jump to a time in the distant future whereas Micah 5:1 describes a time in the near future (cf. "But," Micah 5:2). Third, "judge" (Heb. shopet) is different from "ruler" (Heb. moshel) in Micah 5:2 and probably describes a different individual. Micah may have chosen shopet because of its similarity to shebet, "rod." As noted earlier, Micah is famous for his wordplays. Waltke, however, believed the judge to be Messiah. [Note: Ibid., p. 181.]

Verse 2

In contrast to the humiliation of Israel’s judge (king) Zedekiah, a greater ruler would emerge later in Israel’s history (cf. Micah 4:7). He would be Yahweh’s representative (cf. John 17:4; Hebrews 10:7) and would arise from the comparatively insignificant town of Bethlehem (House of Bread) Ephrathah (Fruitful). Ephrathah (Ephrath) was an old name for the district in which Bethlehem of Judah lay, in contrast to other Bethlehems in the Promised Land (cf. Genesis 35:16-19; Genesis 48:7; Joshua 19:15; Ruth 4:11). Bethlehem was, of course, the hometown of David (1 Samuel 16:1; 1 Samuel 16:18-19; 1 Samuel 17:12), so the reference to it allows for the possibility of a familial connection with King David. As David had been the least notable of his brothers, so Bethlehem was the least honorable among the towns in Judah. The most insignificant place would bring forth the most significant person. This ruler must be divine since He had been conducting activities on Yahweh’s behalf from long ago, even eternity past (lit. days of immeasurable time; cf. Isaiah 9:6; John 1:1; Philippians 2:6; Colossians 1:17; Revelation 1:8). The New Testament identifies this Ruler as the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Matthew 2:1; Matthew 2:3-6), though some of the Jews in Jesus’ day did not know that Bethlehem was His birthplace (John 7:42).

This messianic prophecy not only gives the birthplace of Messiah, and thus assures His humanity, but it also asserts His deity. No mere human could be said to have been carrying out the will of Yahweh eternally.

Verses 2-5

3. The King of Zion 5:2-5a

"In chapter 5 the prophet repeated and expanded the major themes of Micah 4:6-10, only in reverse order. This creates a chiastic structure for the central portion of the speech, which can be outlined as follows:

A The Lord strengthens a remnant (Micah 4:6-7 a)

B Dominion restored (Micah 4:7-8)

C Zion and her king are humiliated (Micah 4:9-10)

D Zion saved from the present crisis (Micah 4:11-13)

C’ Zion and her king are humiliated (Micah 5:1)

B’ Dominion restored (Micah 5:2-6)

A’ The Lord strengthens a remnant (Micah 5:7-9)" [Note: Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Handbook on the Prophets, p. 422.]

This section introduces another ruler of Israel who, in contrast to Zedekiah, his foil, would effectively lead God’s people.

"This royal oracle is obviously intended to be the central peak of the range of oracles in chs. 4 and 5. It presents a longer hope section than any other unit, and points to the fulfilment of royal promise as the key to the greatness of Jerusalem and Israel heralded in the surrounding pieces." [Note: Allen, pp. 340-41.]

Verse 3

Yahweh would give the Israelites over to chastening until Israel had ended her painful period of suffering (like a woman in labor, Micah 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 (Micah 4:10), this seems to be a reference to the second coming of Messiah, not His first coming. This interpretation gains support from the promise in the last half of this verse. Then the remainder of the Redeemer’s brethren, the Jews, will experience a regathering (cf. Micah 2:12; Micah 4:6-7). They will return to the land and rejoin other Israelites.

Verse 4

This Redeemer will arise and shepherd Yahweh’s flock (Israel) in Yahweh’s strength and majesty in harmony with His character (cf. Micah 2:12; Micah 7:14; Zechariah 10:3). Contrast the failure of Israel’s leaders in Micah’s day (Micah 3:1-11). The Redeemer will worship Yahweh as His God, another indication of His humanity. In the ancient Near East, kings frequently referred to themselves as the shepherds of their people. [Note: The New Bible Dictionary, 1962 ed., s.v. "Shepherd," by R. A. Stewart.] It is the pastoral role of Israel’s messianic King, leading and caring for His people, that is in view here. The Israelites will remain in their secure and glorious position because He will be so great; His greatness will guarantee His people’s security (cf. Zechariah 14:11). People throughout the world will acknowledge His greatness (cf. Malachi 1:11).

Verse 5

Assyria was the main threat to the Israelites in Micah’s day, but this prophecy predicts Israel’s victory over the Assyrians. This did not happen in the history of Israel; Assyria defeated the Northern Kingdom and most of the Southern Kingdom. Thus this prophecy must continue the vision of the distant future that God gave Micah (Micah 4:1 to Micah 5:5 a). When future Assyrians, representative of Israel’s enemies (cf. Micah 7:12; Isaiah 11:11; Zechariah 10:10), again invade the Promised Land and break down its mansions (cf. Zechariah 12:9; Zechariah 14:2-3), the Israelites will rise up against them. The expression "seven . . . and eight" means the same as "three . . . and four," a phrase that occurs often in Amos (cf. Amos 1:3; et al.). It implies completeness and then some. The Israelites will have more than enough leaders to defeat their enemy then.

Verses 5-6

4. The peace of Zion 5:5b-6

This pericope continues the emphasis on future peace.

Verse 6

Israel’s leaders will then lead and care for the land of Assyria with the sword; they will bring it under Israelite control. The "land of Nimrod" is a synonym for Assyria (cf. Genesis 10:8-9; 1 Chronicles 1:10), and its entrances imply the strategic areas of its territory. The Redeemer, and Yahweh behind Him, would deliver the Israelites from the Assyrian-like enemy that they would face in that day (cf. Zechariah 14:3).

"Only the most hyperliteral interpreter would suggest that a revived Assyrian Empire will reappear during the messianic era. Assyria is an archetype here. In terms that would have been very inspiring and meaningful to an eighth-century B.C. Israelite audience, Micah assured God’s people that a time was coming, unlike their own day, when they would no longer be threatened by powerful, hostile nations. In other words, Micah’s vision of Israel’s future is contextualized so that his contemporaries might fully appreciate it. The essential point is that the new era will be one of peace and security for God’s people where God’s ideal king prevents the lionlike ’Assyrians’ of the world from terrorizing helpless sheep." [Note: Chisholm, Handbook on . . ., p. 424.]

Verse 7

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" (cf. Micah 2:12; Micah 4:7; Micah 5:8; Micah 7:18), and here it refers to them after God judges the nations (Micah 5:5-6). 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 (cf. Genesis 12:3). God will have sent them among the nations as He sends the dew and rain; their presence there will be due to His working, not the result of human choices or national policies ultimately.

Verses 7-9

5. The vindication of Zion 5:7-9

Verses 8-9

The Israelites will be dominant and powerful over the other people of the world then but in an irresistible rather than a ferocious sense (Micah 5:7; cf. Deuteronomy 28:13). They will have the upper hand, and their enemies will 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 since Nebuchadnezzar!

Verses 10-11

In that future eschatological day the Lord also promised to remove the vain sources of security that had always tempted the Israelites, represented by horses, chariots, cities, and fortifications (cf. Deuteronomy 17:16).

Verses 10-15

6. The purification of Zion 5:10-15

Verses 12-14

He would also remove the accouterments of pagan worship that had plagued His people. Sorceries involved seeking information from demonic sources (cf. 2 Kings 9:22; Isaiah 47:9; Isaiah 47:12; Nahum 3:4). Fortunetellers cast spells by calling demonic spirits to influence other people (cf. Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10). Carved images were pagan idols (cf. Exodus 20:4). Sacred pillars and Asherim were stone and wooden symbols of the male and female Canaanite deities (cf. Deuteronomy 16:21-22; 1 Kings 14:23; 2 Kings 17:10; 2 Kings 18:4; 2 Kings 23:14). Yahweh would free His people from these human inventions that had always oppressed them. Cities were infamous as places where spiritual impurity flourished (cf. Micah 1:5), and God would destroy them too. These were Israel’s internal enemies whereas other nations were her external enemies.

"Secular man more effectively manipulates life by his use of science than his ancestors did by magic, but no more than they can he secure eternal life for himself. By continuing to substitute the creation for the Creator, he individually deprives himself of eternal life and collectively hastens his eternal death." [Note: Waltke, in Obadiah, . . ., p. 190.]

Occultism will continue into the Tribulation (Revelation 9:21), but the Lord will finally root it out in the Millennium.

Verse 15

Finally the Lord promised to take vengeance angrily on the nations that had not obeyed His will (cf. Psalms 2:9; Revelation 12:5; Revelation 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 royal suzerain against rebels who will not acknowledge his sovereignty." [Note: Allen, p. 360.]

"God is not a machine but a person, and some things need to be said and done with passion." [Note: Waltke, in The Minor . . ., p. 723.]


The writer recorded a third round of messages that first announce judgment on the Israelites for their sins (ch. 6) and then promise future restoration (ch. 7).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Micah 5". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.