6.29 Micah -- The Sins of Samaria and Jerusalem
A startling note right at the outset: the prophet addressed not just the Jews, but all the earth:
Hear, you peoples, all of you,
listen, earth and all who live in it,
that the Sovereign Lord may bear witness against you,
the Lord from his holy temple (Mic 1:2).
The Lord particularly comes to judge “the high places of the earth” (Mic 1:3). Literally, this refers to pagan shrines (the idols of Mic 1:7; Mic 5:13-14); more broadly, it may suggest the lofty pride that the Lord says He will bring low (see a longer but similar passage in Isa 2:11-18). He pronounced judgment on both Israel and Judah:
Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble,
a place for planting vineyards.
I will pour her stones into the valley
and lay bare her foundations (Mic 1:6).
As for Judah, judgment will reach to the gates of Jerusalem (Mic 1:9, Mic 1:12). And even the destruction of the Temple was foreseen, more than a century before it took place:
Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets (Mic 3:12).
Besides idolatry, Micah also denounced the covetous rich (Mic 2:2), smug false prophets (Mic 2:6, Mic 2:11; Mic 3:5-7), unjust leaders (Mic 3:1-3; Mic 7:3), and dishonest merchants (Mic 6:10-12). Greed permeated Jerusalem:
Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money (Mic 3:11).
The judgment is unavoidable, even as Israel’s “wound is incurable” (Mic 1:9); it is a disaster, planned by the Lord, from which the people cannot save themselves (Mic 2:3). Micah perhaps reinforced this sense of inevitability through his series of puns (Mic 1:10-15): each city received a punishment that either fulfilled or directly contradicted its name. Like Isaiah, Micah stated that exile was coming (Mic 1:16, Mic 4:10).