Book of Micah
Micah or The Book of Micah is a well known prophetic text belonging to the Minor Prophets section of the Jewish Tanakh. It is also included in the Minor Prophets section of the Old Testament. The book of Micah records the teachings of Micah or Mikayahu, a prophet from the Judean village of Moresheth who lived around 8th century BC. The literal meaning of the name Micah or Mikayahu is “Who is like Yahweh?”. Micah was a contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah. In the book of Micah, he criticizes unjust leaders, preaches social justice and hopes for a better world under the rulership of a Davidic King. He also predicted the fall of the Israeli capital Samaria and the ultimate desolation of Judah.
The book of Micah starts by mentioning the prophet by name and the time of his activity. It also proclaims that the message that he is about to convey are the words of Yahweh the Lord, and as such carries the stamp of prophetic authority and legitimacy. The locations of Jerusalem and Samaria are mentioned as the prime subject of the prophet’s concern. The prophet then depicts a theophany describing the arrival of Yahweh to condemn the citizens of the city of Samaria for their grave sins which include idolatry and mistreatment of the poor. Micah states that Judah is next in line after Samaria to be punished by God. The Book of Micah then goes on to describe the fall of Judah’s lesser towns, such as Beth-le-aphrah.
Later in the Book of Micah, he denounces those who have power but misuse it to perform acts of cruelty, such as claiming other people’s property such as houses and land as one’s own. The context discussed here might simply point to people’s tendency to amass wealth just for the heck of becoming rich, or it might be associated with the militarization of the area for an expected attack by the Assyrians. When Micah is threatened not to preach his prophecies, he retorts by saying that the people in charge are harming God’s good people. They are only open to listen to people who preach the qualities of living an affluent life. The verses 2:12 and 2:13 lead readers to assume that the divine judgment has already taken place and that Israel is already ransacked.
The citizens of Jerusalem have become corrupt; they now focus on amassing more wealth by exploiting the poor, and even they city’s prophets have become dishonest, seeking only personal gain. Although Zion’s people believe that Yahweh will always be by their side, in truth they will be deserted and destroyed by God.
Micah expresses hope for Zion’s future, prophesying the construction of a new Temple based on God’s peaceful laws. On that golden day, Zion will again be restored to her earlier glory and independence. God will also stand by His people during the distressful days of Babylon.
Lastly in the Book of Micah a Messiah is predicted to emerge from the city of Bethlehem who will eventually restore Israel. On that day, all unruly people including those of Assyria, Israel and the rest of the nations will be punished. Yahweh accuses people of Judah for breaking the rules of the covenant with their injustice and dishonesty, much like the citizens of the Northern Kingdom. Micah then goes on to say that in order to be favored by God, the people are not required to perform sacrifices. This is followed by a lamentation on the pathetic state of affairs in the city. However, in the midst of all this, there is still hope for Zion to have a better future. In the final lines, the mood shifts from a plea for power to a grateful astonishment in response to Yahweh’s mercy.