וְאַתָּה בֵּית־לֶחֶם אֶפְרָתָה צָעִיר לִהְיוֹת בְּאַלְפֵי יְהוּדָה מִמְּךָ לִי יֵצֵא לִהְיוֹת מוֹשֵׁל בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל 5:1 וּמוֹצָאֹתָיו מִקֶּדֶם מִימֵי עוֹלָם׃
Mica. 5:1 “Now you, Beth-lehem, Ephrathah,
being little among the thousands of Judah,
one shall come out from you to be ruler in Israel for Me,
and his origins shall be from of old,
from days of antiquity.”
I have three brief remarks on this verse. First, the names Beth-lehem and Ephrathah seem to be allusions to David. David’s family was from Bethlehem and they were Ephrathites (see 1Sam. 17:12). Second, the word for thousands [of Judah] can also be interpreted to mean families or clans. Finally, the Talmudic idea that the Messiah was formed by God before the universe was created may come from this verse.
לָכֵן יִתְּנֵם עַד־עֵת יוֹלֵדָה יָלָדָה וְיֶתֶר אֶחָיו יְשׁוּבוּן עַל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל׃ 5:2
Mica. 5:2 Therefore He will give them up
until the time the bearer brings forth
and the remnant of his brethren
shall return together with the children of Israel.
The general presumption is that the pronoun them in the first English line refers to the children of Israel, who will be given up temporarily until the bearer (Zion) gives birth to the final Israel. It’s possible to my mind that this may be a partially erroneous interpretation of this verse. Because I wonder what the rest of the verse, the last two lines, means: How can the children of Israel return together with the children of Israel? Seems strange to me. So I ask, what else could the first part of the verse mean? Here’s my answer: I agree with the interpretation that the them refers to the children of Israel, but I suspect that the bearer in the second line, although feminine in gender, may refer to the Messiah who will bring forth the final Israel, and his brethren, the descendants of David, will return together with the other children of Israel. That makes some sense to me, although it’s not completely satisfactory.
וְעָמַד וְרָעָה בְּעֹז יְהוָה בִּגְאוֹן שֵׁם יְהוָה אֱלֹהָיו וְיָשָׁבוּ כִּי־עַתָּה יִגְדַּל עַד־אַפְסֵי־אָרֶץ׃ 5:3
Mica. 5:3 Then he shall take a stand and shall shepherd with the might of the Lord,
with the majesty of the name of the Lord, his God,
and they shall abide, for then he shall be great even to the ends of the earth.
וְהָיָה זֶה שָׁלוֹם אַשּׁוּר כִּי־יָבוֹא בְאַרְצֵנוּ וְכִי יִדְרֹךְ בְּאַרְמְנֹתֵינוּ וַהֲקֵמֹנוּ עָלָיו שִׁבְעָה רֹעִים וּשְׁמֹנָה 5:4 נְסִיכֵי אָדָם׃
Mica. 5:4 And this shall be the peace:
Assyria, if he were to come into our land,
and if he were to tread in our palaces,
then we shall raise up against him
seven shepherds and eight anointed ones of men.
The last two English lines are assumed to be a poetic description of a time when there will be no lack of leaders. The succession of numbers in such phrases is thought to be a method of describing an increasing greater number.
וְרָעוּ אֶת־אֶרֶץ אַשּׁוּר בַּחֶרֶב וְאֶת־אֶרֶץ נִמְרֹד בִּפְתָחֶיהָ וְהִצִּיל מֵאַשּׁוּר כִּי־יָבוֹא בְאַרְצֵנוּ וְכִי יִדְרֹךְ 5:5 בִּגְבוּלֵנוּ׃
Mica. 5:5 And they would shatter the land of Assyria with the sword
and the land of Nimrod at its entrance,
and he would be delivered from Assyria,
if he were to come into our land
or if he were to tread on our border.
וְהָיָה שְׁאֵרִית יַעֲקֹב בְּקֶרֶב עַמִּים רַבִּים כְּטַל מֵאֵת יְהוָה כִּרְבִיבִים עֲלֵי־עֵשֶׂב אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יְקַוֶּה לְאִישׁ 5:6 וְלֹא יְיַחֵל לִבְנֵי אָדָם׃
Mica. 5:6 And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples
as dew from the Lord, as heavy showers on grass,
that would not be anyone's expectation,
or a hope of the children of humankind.
I imagine the last two English lines convey the thought that this outcome will be a great surprise to many and a chagrin to everyone.
וְהָיָה שְׁאֵרִית יַעֲקֹב בַּגּוֹיִם בְּקֶרֶב עַמִּים רַבִּים כְּאַרְיֵה בְּבַהֲמוֹת יַעַר כִּכְפִיר בְּעֶדְרֵי־צֹאן אֲשֶׁר אִם 5:7 עָבַר וְרָמַס וְטָרַף וְאֵין מַצִּיל׃
Mica. 5:7 And the remnant of Jacob shall be throughout the nations
in the midst of many peoples as a lion among the beasts of the forest,
as a young lion among flocks of sheep,
that, if he passed through and trampled and tore to pieces,
then there would be no deliverer.
Micah’s message is strange at times, as in this verse. What could his meaning be here?
תָּרֹם יָדְךָ עַל־צָרֶיךָ וְכָל־אֹיְבֶיךָ יִכָּרֵתוּ׃ 5:8
Mica. 5:8 Your hand shall be raised against your adversaries
and all your enemies shall be cut down.
וְהָיָה בַיּוֹם־הַהוּא נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְהִכְרַתִּי סוּסֶיךָ מִקִּרְבֶּךָ וְהַאֲבַדְתִּי מַרְכְּבֹתֶיךָ׃ 5:9
Mica. 5:9 “And it shall be at that time,” declares the Lord,
“that I will cut off your horses from your midst
and destroy your chariots,
This verse and the remaining ones of this chapter seem to be prophesying what the Lord will do to purify Israel in the time of the Messiah. Strange that this will be necessary, if that’s what the verses mean.
וְהִכְרַתִּי עָרֵי אַרְצֶךָ וְהָרַסְתִּי כָּל־מִבְצָרֶיךָ׃ 5:10
Mica. 5:10 and cut off the cities of your land
and tear down all your strongholds.”
וְהִכְרַתִּי כְשָׁפִים מִיָּדֶךָ וּמְעוֹנְנִים לֹא יִהְיוּ־לָךְ׃ 5:11
Mica. 5:11 “And I will cut out sorcery from your hand,
and soothsayers shall not be yours.”
וְהִכְרַתִּי פְסִילֶיךָ וּמַצֵּבוֹתֶיךָ מִקִּרְבֶּךָ וְלֹא־תִשְׁתַּחֲוֶה עוֹד לְמַעֲשֵׂה יָדֶיךָ׃ 5:12
Mica. 5:12 “And I shall cut down your idols and your pillars from your midst,
and you shall not bow down any more to a work of your hands.”
וְנָתַשְׁתִּי אֲשֵׁירֶיךָ מִקִּרְבֶּךָ וְהִשְׁמַדְתִּי עָרֶיךָ׃ 5:13
Mica. 5:13 “And I will pull up your Asherim from your midst
and destroy your enemies.”
וְעָשִׂיתִי בְּאַף וּבְחֵמָה נָקָם אֶת־הַגּוֹיִם אֲשֶׁר לֹא שָׁמֵעוּ׃ 5:14
Mica. 5:14 “And I will deal the nations that had not listened
vengeance in ‘anger’ and in ‘rage.’”
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