Micah (prophet)

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Micah the Prophet
Micah prophet.jpg
Russian Orthodox icon of the Prophet Micah, 18th century (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia).
Prophet, Warner
BornMoresheth
Honored inJudaism, Islam, Christianity, (Armenian Apostolic Church, Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church)
FeastJuly 31
 
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Micah the Prophet
Micah prophet.jpg
Russian Orthodox icon of the Prophet Micah, 18th century (Iconostasis of Transfiguration Church, Kizhi Monastery, Karelia, Russia).
Prophet, Warner
BornMoresheth
Honored inJudaism, Islam, Christianity, (Armenian Apostolic Church, Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church)
FeastJuly 31

Micah, meaning "who is the LORD?",[1] was a prophet who prophesied from approximately 737–696 BC in Judah and is the author of the Book of Micah. He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea and is considered one of the twelve minor prophets of the Tanakh (Old Testament). Micah was from Moresheth-Gath, in southwest Judah. He prophesied during the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah. Micah’s messages were directed chiefly toward Jerusalem. He prophesied the future destruction of Jerusalem and Samaria, the destruction and then future restoration of the Judean state, and he rebuked the people of Judah for dishonesty and idolatry. His prophecy that the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem is recalled in the Book of Matthew.

Background[edit]

Micah was active in Judah from before the fall of Samaria in 722 BC and experienced the devastation brought by Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah in 701 BC. He prophesied from approximately 737–696 BC. Micah was from Moresheth, also called Moresheth-Gath, a small town in southwest Judah. Micah lived in a rural area, but often rebuked the corruption of city life in Israel and Judah.[1]

Micah prophesied during the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah. Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah from 742–735 BC. Jotham was succeeded by his son Ahaz, who reigned over Judah from 735–715 BC. Then Ahaz’s son Hezekiah ruled from 715–696 BC.[2] Micah was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea. Jeremiah, who prophesied about thirty years after Micah, recognized Micah as a prophet from Moresheth who prophesied during the reign of Hezekiah.[3]

Message[edit]

Micah's messages were directed mainly towards Jerusalem, and were a mixture of denunciations and prophecies. In his early prophecies, he predicted the destruction of both Samaria and Jerusalem for their respective sins. The people of Samaria were rebuked for worshipping idols which were bought with the income earned by prostitutes.[4] Micah was the first prophet to predict the downfall of Jerusalem. According to him, the city was doomed because its beautification was financed by dishonest business practices, which impoverished the city’s citizens.[5] He also called to account the prophets of his day, whom he accused of accepting money for their oracles.[6]

Micah also anticipated the destruction of the Judean state and promised its restoration more glorious than before.[7] He prophesied an era of universal peace over which the Governor will rule from Jerusalem.[8] Micah also declared that when the glory of Zion and Jacob is restored that the LORD will force the Gentiles to abandon idolatry.[9]

Micah also rebuked Israel because of dishonesty in the marketplace and corruption in government. He threatened them on behalf of God with destruction. He told them what the LORD requires of them:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Micah 6:8

Israel’s response to Micah’s charges and threats consisted of three parts: an admission of guilt,[10] a warning of adversaries that Israel will rely on the LORD for deliverance and forgiveness,[11] and a prayer for forgiveness and deliverance.[12]

Another prophecy given by Micah details the future destruction of Jerusalem and the plowing of Zion (a part of Jerusalem). This passage (Micah 3:11-12), is stated again in Jeremiah 26:18, Micah’s only prophecy repeated in the Old Testament. Since then Jerusalem has been destroyed three times, the first one being the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, about 150 years after Micah gave this prophecy.[13][14]

Elsewhere in the Bible[edit]

Micah is described and his prophecies fulfilled in several places in the Bible. In Micah 5:2, there is a prophecy that reveals that Bethlehem, a small village just south of Jerusalem, would be the birthplace of the Messiah.

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; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Micah 5:2

That prophecy eliminated all other cities and towns in the world as places in which the Messiah could be born. This passage and prophecy closely corresponds with Matthew 2:6, and the fulfillment of this prophecy in the birth of Jesus is further described in Matthew 2:1-6.

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Matthew 2:6

In Matthew 10:35-36, Jesus adapted Micah 7:6 to his own prophecy—

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.

[36] And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.

Matthew 10:35–36

Engraving of the Prophet Micah by Gustave Doré.
Micah exhorts the Israelites to repent

Micah was referring to the division in Judah and Samaria, the distrust that had arisen between all citizens, even within families.[14] Jesus was using the same words to describe something different. Jesus said that he did not come to bring peace, but to divide households. Men are commanded to love Jesus Christ more than their own family members, and Jesus indicated that this priority would lead to persecution from others and separation within families.[15]

In Micah 7:20, Micah reminded Judah of God’s covenant to be merciful to Jacob and show love to Abraham and his descendants. This is repeated in Luke 1:72-73 in the prophecy Zechariah at the circumcision and naming of John. This prophecy concerned the kingdom and salvation through the Messiah. It is a step in the fulfillment of the blessing of the descendants of Abraham.[15] When Micah restated this covenant promise, he was comforting Judah with the promise of God’s faithfulness and love.[16]

Liturgical commemoration[edit]

Micah is commemorated with the other minor prophets in the Calendar of Saints (Armenian Apostolic Church) on July 31. In the Eastern Orthodox Church he is commemorated twice in the year. The first feast day is January 5 (for those churches which follow the traditional Julian Calendar, January 5 currently falls on January 18 of the modern Gregorian Calendar). However, since January 5 is also the Eve of the Epiphany (holiday), his major celebration is on August 14 (the forefeast of the Dormition).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Powell, Mark Allan (2011). "Book of Micah". HarperCollins Bible Dictionary - Revised & Updated (HarperCollins). p. PT995. ISBN 0062078593. Retrieved 24 June 2013. 
  2. ^ "Micah, Book of", New Bible Dictionary, Second Edition, Tyndale Press, 1987 p. 772–773.
  3. ^ Jeremiah 26:18; Jeremiah 26. Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000. Page 589.
  4. ^ Micah 1:7; "Micah, Book of", The Illustrated Dictionary and Concordance of the Bible, The Jerusalem Publishing House, Ltd., 1986. p. 688–689.
  5. ^ Micah 2:1-2; "Micah, Book of", The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Volume 4. Bantan Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1992. p. 807–810
  6. ^ Micah 3:5-6; "Micah", New Bible Dictionary, Second Edition, Tyndale Press, 1987 p. 772.
  7. ^ Micah 5:6-8; Micah, a translation with notes from J. Sharpe. Micah (the prophet), ed. John Sharpe. 1876. Oxford University Press. pp 33–34
  8. ^ Micah 5:1-2; The History of the Hebrew Nation and its Literature with an appendix on the Hebrew chronology. Sharpe, Samuel. Harvard University Press, 1908. p. 27
  9. ^ Micah 5:10-15; "Micah, Book of", The Illustrated Dictionary and Concordance of the Bible, The Jerusalem Publishing House, Ltd., 1986. p. 688–689.
  10. ^ Micah 7:1-6; Micah: A Commentary. Mays, James Luther. Old Testament Library. Westminster John Knox Press, 1976. ISBN 978-0-664-20817-2. p. 131–133.
  11. ^ Micah 7:7-13; Micah, a translation with notes from J. Sharpe. Micah (the prophet), ed. John Sharpe. 1876. Oxford University Press.
  12. ^ Micah 7:14-20; "Micah, Book of", New Bible Dictionary, Second Edition, Tyndale Press, 1987 p. 772–773
  13. ^ The History of the Hebrew Nation and its Literature with an appendix on the Hebrew chronology. Sharpe, Samuel. Harvard University Press, 1908. p. 27
  14. ^ a b Micah: A Commentary. Mays, James Luther. Old Testament Library. Westminster John Knox Press, 1976. ISBN 978-0-664-20817-2. p. 131–133.
  15. ^ a b Matthew 10. Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000. Page 381.
  16. ^ Micah 7. The Holy Bible, containing the Old and New Testaments…with commentary and notes by Adam Clarke. Clarke, Adam. Columbia University, 1833. p. 347.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]