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Micah, Book of

Mi´cah, one of the twelve Minor Prophets, who, according to the inscription of the book, prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (B.C. 759-699), and was consequently contemporary with Isaiah. It is, however, doubtful whether any accurate separation of the particular prophecies of Micah can be ascertained. He was a native of Moresheth of Gath (), so called to distinguish it from another town of the same name, in the tribe of Judah (; ). Micah is to be distinguished from a former prophet of the same name, called also Micaiah, mentioned in (B.C. 897).

The contents of Micah's prophecy may be briefly summed up. It consists of two parts, the first of which terminates with Micah 5 commences with a majestic exordium (), in which is introduced a sublime theophany, the Lord descending from His dwelling-place to judge the nations of the earth, who are approaching to receive judgment. There is then a sudden transition to the judgment of Israel, whose captivity is predicted (Micah 1-2). That of Judah follows, when the complete destruction of Jerusalem is foretold, with the expatriation of the Jews to Babylon, their future return, the glories of Sion, and the celebrity of its temple (;; ), with the chastisement prepared for the oppressors of the Jews (). After this, glorious wars are seen in perspective, attended with great slaughter (Micah 5); after many calamities a ruler is seen to arise from Bethlehem. An invasion of the Assyrians is predicted, to oppose which there will be no want of able leaders (). A new monarchy is beheld, attended with wars and destruction.

The second part, from this to the end, consists of an elegant dialogue or contestation between the Lord and his people, in which the corruption of their morals is reproved, and their chastisement threatened; but they are consoled by the promise of a return from their captivity.

Jahn (Introd.) points out the following predictions as contained in the prophet Micah.

 The destruction of the kingdom of Israel, which was impending when the prophecy was delivered, and which was fulfilled in the taking of Samaria by Shalmaneser, in the sixth year of Hezekiah (2 Kings 17), and then that of the kingdom of Judah, with the destruction of Jerusalem (;; ).

 The Babylonian captivity (;; ). These predictions were delivered 150 years before the event, when the Chaldeans, by whom they were accomplished, were scarcely known as a people.

 The return from the exile, with its happy effects, and the tranquility enjoyed by the Jews under the Persian and Grecian monarchies, which referred to events from 200 to 500 years distant (; ).

The heroic deeds of the Maccabees, and their victories over the Syrians or Syro-Macedonians, called Assyrians in Micah 5, as well as ().

 The establishment of the royal residence in Zion ().

 The birth and reign of the Messiah (). The three last prophecies, observes this learned writer, are more obscure than the others, by reason of the remote distance, in point of time, of their accomplishment, from the period of their being delivered.

There is no prophecy in Micah so interesting to the Christian as that in which the native place of the Messiah is announced. 'But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah [though] thou be little among the thousands of Judah, [yet] out of thee shall he come forth unto me, [that is] to be ruler in Israel' (Eng. Authorized Version). The citation of this passage by the Evangelist differs both from the Hebrew and the Septuagint:—'And thou, Bethlehem, [in] the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Judah: for out of thee shall come a governor, that shall rule [Gr. feed] my people Israel' (). The difference, however, is but verbal.

Of more importance is the application of the prophecy. It is evident that the Jews in the time of Jesus interpreted this passage of the birth-place of the Messiah (; ). But some of the later Rabbinical writers have maintained that it had only an indirect reference to the birth place of the Messiah, who was to be a descendant of David, a Bethlehemite, but not of necessity Himself born in Bethlehem. Others, however, expressly mention Bethlehem as the birth-place of the Messiah. Jahn observes that it is evident that the Jews in the time of Christ expected the Messiah's birth to take place at Bethlehem; and he contends that it is not possible to apply the prophecy fully and literally to any but Him who was not only of the house and lineage of David, but was actually born at Bethlehem, according to the direct testimony of both St. Matthew's and St. Luke's Gospels.

The style of Micah is sublime and vehement, in which respects he exceeds Amos and Hosea. De Wette observes that he has more roundness, fullness, and clearness in his style and rhythm than the latter prophet. He abounds in rapid transitions and elegant tropes, and piquant plays upon words. He is successful in the use of the dialogue, and his prophecies are penetrated by the purest spirit of morality and piety (see especially; and ). Micah is the third of the Minor Prophets according to the arrangement of the Septuagint, the sixth according to the Hebrew, and the fifth according to the date of his prophecies.

Micah, person

An Ephraimite, apparently contemporary with the elders who outlived Joshua. He secretly appropriated 1100 shekels of silver which his mother had saved; but being alarmed at her imprecations on the author of her loss, he confessed the matter to her, and restored the money. She then forgave him, and returned him the silver, to be applied to the use for which it had been accumulated. Two hundred shekels of the amount were given to the founder, as the cost or material of two teraphim, the one molten and the other graven; and the rest of the money served to cover the other expenses of the semi-idolatrous establishment which was formed in the house of Micah, of which a wandering Levite became the priest, at a yearly stipend; till the Danite army, on their journey to settle northward in Laish, took away both the establishment and the priest, which they afterwards maintained in their new settlement (Judges 17; Judges 18) [DAN; JONATHAN, 2]. The establishments of this kind, of which there are other instances—as that of Gideon at Ophrah—were, although most mistakenly, formed in honor of Jehovah, whom they thus sought to serve by means of a local worship, in imitation of that at Shiloh. This was in direct contravention of the law, which allowed but one place of sacrifice and ceremonial service; and was something of the same kind, although different in extent and degree, as the service of the golden calves, which Jeroboam set up, and his successors maintained, in Dan and Bethel. The previous existence of Micah's establishment in the former city no doubt pointed it out to Jeroboam as a suitable place for one of his golden calves.





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Bibliography Information
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Micah'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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