Bible Commentaries
Micah 5

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Micah 5:1 . Oh daughter of troops. Of thieves, that is, the Chaldeans, who having robbed all the nations of Asia, came to Jerusalem, and robbed the whole land, smote Zedekiah with the severe rod of correction, and put out his eyes. The hope of the church then lay in the healer, as in the next verse. Under these, the severest strokes of trouble, the prophet drives the flock into the fold of Christ.

They shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek. Hoshea, on the taking of Samaria, was probably insulted somewhat as Zedekiah was on the taking of Jerusalem. 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 25:7. Julius Cæsar used to say to his soldiers, “aim at their faces, lads.” Such are the horrors of war.

Micah 5:2 . Thou Bethlehem Ephratah, the old name of that city. Out of thee shall come forth to me him that shall be Ruler in Israel. Born indeed of Mary in Bethlehem, but in divine geniture, his goings forth were of old from everlasting. The Hebrew word עולם ôllam, is the same here as in the ninetieth Psalm: from everlasting to everlasting thou art God. The Father “possessed him in his bosom before his works of old.” Proverbs 8:22. And in Psalms 110:0. the Chaldaic paraphrase calls Christ the Eternal Word, as in John 1:1; and adds, “from the womb of the morning, thou hast the dew of thy youth,” which is the idiom of the Hebrews to designate eternity.

I have now before me the version of archbishop Newcome, 4to. 1788, and 8vo. 1809. He reads, “Art thou too little among the leaders of Judah? Out of thee shall come forth unto me one who is to be a ruler in Israel. And his goings forth have been from of old, from the days of hidden ages.”

What is the primate’s note? “His goings forth, his appearance, his displays of power: יצא yatza, used for a people coming originally from such a place, Deuteronomy 2:23; for a person’s setting out from such a place to found an empire. Genesis 10:11. May it not then signify the person’s original descent from Bethlehem, being ancient; that is, from David’s time?” What a turn and what a question!

The exceptions we take to this reading, and to the note, are many.

1. “A ruler.” This reading approximates to the unitarian version of the new testament, where the phrase, a god, is of frequent occurrence. His Grace here is cautious enough to avoid asserting that Christ did not exist before his birth in Bethlehem. Samuel Clarke escaped, and saved himself from the loss of his rectory of St. James’s, London, when before the convocation, by the assertion, that he had nowhere called Christ a creature! How those hypocrites will get off when before the great white throne, is a subject of future enquiry. If sincere in their socinian dogmas, why not be sincere, like Mr. Lindsey, in renouncing their splendid preferments?

2. The comparison between the going forth of the Son of God, to that of the going forth of Assur to build Nineveh, Genesis 10:11, is equally derogatory of his glory. The enquirer after truth will find himself in the safest hands by a collation of one text with many others, where the word occurs. Yatza is used by Moses, in Deuteronomy 8:3. By every word that proceedeth [goeth forth] out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. “Wisdom shall praise herself I came out of the mouth of the Most High.” Sir 24:1-4 . It occurs likewise in Hosea 6:3; a passage which the holy fathers and doctors with one consent apply to Christ. “His going forth is prepared as the morning, and he shall come to us as the rain.” That morning designates his eternity, or preëxistence, declared by his going forth in the creation, as stated in Psalms 110:3. Proverbs 8:22; Proverbs 8:30.

3. Exception is taken to the reading, ”hidden ages,” as vague, obscure, and irrelevant; and it is more obscure by being mixed up in the notes with the word קדם kedem, formerly, anciently, everlasting, which indeed, like ôllam, when applied to God, denotes eternity of existence. Thus in Habakkuk 1:12, “Art thou not ( mi-kedem) from everlasting, oh Lord my God, my Holy One?” Ollam also, whenever applied to the Deity, or his perfections, unequivocally expresses an existence uncreated, and ever- subsisting. Ex. “From everlasting to everlasting thou art God.” Psalms 90:2. In forty other places the same word is repeated: “for his mercy endureth for ever his truth endureth for ever.”

4. The primate’s version and notes are so cold and philosophical, that they bring no more joy to the suffering church when Samaria was burned, than that of the birth of any other son of obscure and “hidden” origin. The promise of this Son to fallen Adam, was life from the dead; to Abraham, it was the hope of his pilgrimage; to king Ahaz, the promise of the virgin’s Son was a pledge of salvation; to Zerubbabel, the Desire of all nations was a double promise, of long life to finish his work, and that his rising temple should eclipse the glory of Solomon’s. But here, alas, while we are struggling against the blasphemy of atheism, unitarianism has no consolation for us but the darkness of “hidden ages.” Nay, worse and worse, a student can scarcely buy a book of science, or travel; or a Calmet, to understand the scriptures, but all is belarded with sweet suet, that unsuspecting youths may have their minds empoisoned, as the vermin that eat the bane. Why did the Newcomes, the Blaneys, the Heys, the M ts, and a hundred more, subscribe to the thirty nine articles? Dean Kippling honestly tells us, that “he and others, for peace sake, have subscribed to the articles in their newly-acquired sense!! ” See his Essay, the church of England not Calvinistic.

Micah 5:5 . And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrians shall come. Why do the enemies of Christ raise difficulties here, because the word man is not in the text? The emphatic pronouns, this, iste, zeh, have the same force. They have no other antecedent but the Ruler, or the Shepherd of Israel, who feeds his flock in the strength of Jehovah, in the magnitude, or δοξη , the glory of the name of the Lord.

Micah 5:6 . They shall waste the land of Assyria, by the fall of Babylon, and the conquest of their empire.

Micah 5:7 . The remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord. Rain designates knowledge and grace. “My speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. Deuteronomy 32:2. Psalms 72:6. The jews, after the captivity, disseminated the knowledge and worship of the true God among the nations where they travelled. And as they now wander on the face of the whole earth, and speak all languages, perhaps the providence of God reserves them in his treasuries as a world of missionaries, when their conversion shall be as life from the dead.

Micah 5:8 . The remnant of Jacob shall be as a lion. When the wicked Haman sought to slay all the jews, they fought for their lives, and slew Haman on the gallows, and his ten sons, and seventy five thousand of the men who sought their lives. Esther 9:0.

Micah 5:12 . I will cut off witchcrafts out of thy hand. Idols and witches are scarcely named after the jews returned from Babylon. Yet witchcraft existed in St. Paul’s time among the gentiles. Galatians 5:20. See on Exodus 22:18.


Let Samaria perish, let her venal judges be smitten with a rod, let the fire of her altars be extinguished, let her Zamzummim and all her false prophets be clothed with shame. Let Jerusalem, that took no warning by her fall, drink of the same cup. All the longsuffering and benignity of heaven have failed. All the paternal strokes of drought, of locust, of pestilence, and fire from heaven, have never produced more than a transient devotion, which like the morning cloud deceives the husbandman of rain. They have killed the prophets. Let the rod, the last resource, strike the judge on the cheek-bone.

When the Lord pulls down, he also builds up. The Messiah shall stand with his crosier, and feed his flock like a shepherd; yea, as the good shepherd, the owner of the sheep. Isaiah 40:11. Ezekiel 34:23-24. His pastures are wide as the world, and his flocks spread to the ends of the earth. They shall feed in safety, and repose in green pastures; for the wolf shall lie down with the lamb.

Yea, “the earth shall help the woman.” Revelation 12:16. I will raise up Cyrus. “He is my shepherd.” Isaiah 44:28. He shall let the captives go, he shall rebuild the waste places, and heal the wounds of Zion. My cares, my first cares shall be over my church and people through all succeeding ages. After Cyrus, seven Persian shepherds shall rise, as kings of Syria, who shall solicit the aid and goodwill of my people. And if they in anywise afflict them, they shall be as lions for self-defence.

But how shall we cease to speak of the hidden treasures of righteousness. Those blessings shall be mere showers, in comparison of what I will do for my people in the latter day. I will cut off the horses and the chariots of war. I will silence the oracles and the sorceries, and destroy the idols of the gentiles, and eradicate all their groves. The people from the ends of the earth shall look to me, in all the grandeur of my kingdom, for salvation and strength. The Gog and Magog, the infidel and rebellious gentiles of every land, who despise my longsuffering, shall perish under the storms of my anger, and the fury of my high displeasure. Rejoice, rejoice greatly, oh Zion; thy King rides on prosperously, from conquering to conquer.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Micah 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.