Micah 6

 

שִׁמְעוּ־נָא אֵת אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָה אֹמֵר קוּם רִיב אֶת־הֶהָרִים וְתִשְׁמַעְנָה הַגְּבָעוֹת קוֹלֶךָ׃   6:1

Mica. 6:1   Now hear what the Lord is saying!

                             Arise, contend with the mountains,

                    and let the hills hear Your voice.

שִׁמְעוּ הָרִים אֶת־רִיב יְהוָה וְהָאֵתָנִים מֹסְדֵי אָרֶץ כִּי רִיב לַיהוָה עִם־עַמּוֹ וְעִם־יִשְׂרָאֵל יִתְוַכָּח׃   6:2

Mica. 6:2   Hear, mountains, the controversy of the Lord,

                             and enduring foundations of the earth,

                    as the Lord's controversy is with His people,

                             and against Israel He will argue.

עַמִּי מֶה־עָשִׂיתִי לְךָ וּמָה הֶלְאֵתִיךָ עֲנֵה בִי׃   6:3

Mica. 6:3   “My people! What have I done to you?

                             And how have I wearied you?

                    Testify to Me!”

Here Micah depicts another poignant plea by the Lord to His people to connect with Him.  These words seem to convey puzzlement, frustration, desperation, and innocence.  I don’t believe any of these emotions are attributes of the Lord of Creation.  So I imagine these are Micah’s own thoughts that he is putting into the “mouth” of God.

כִּי הֶעֱלִתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם וּמִבֵּית עֲבָדִים פְּדִיתִיךָ וָאֶשְׁלַח לְפָנֶיךָ אֶת־מֹשֶׁה אַהֲרֹן וּמִרְיָם׃   6:4

Mica. 6:4   “For I brought you up from the land of Egypt

                              and I redeemed you from the house of slavery,

                    and I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam before you.”

עַמִּי זְכָר־נָא מַה־יָּעַץ בָּלָק מֶלֶךְ מוֹאָב וּמֶה־עָנָה אֹתוֹ בִּלְעָם בֶּן־בְּעוֹר מִן־הַשִּׁטִּים עַד־הַגִּלְגָּל   6:5              לְמַעַן דַּעַת צִדְקוֹת יְהוָה׃

Mica. 6:5   “My people, remember now

                             what Balak, king of Moab, had devised

                    and how Balaam, the son of Beor, answered him,

                              from Shittim to Gilgal,

                     in order to acknowledge the righteousness of the Lord.”

בַּמָּה אֲקַדֵּם יְהוָה אִכַּף לֵאלֹהֵי מָרוֹם הַאֲקַדְּמֶנּוּ בְעוֹלוֹת בַּעֲגָלִים בְּנֵי שָׁנָה׃   6:6

Mica. 6:6   In what way shall I come before the Lord,

                              bow down to the God on high?

                   Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,

                              with calves one year of age?

הֲיִרְצֶה יְהוָה בְּאַלְפֵי אֵילִים בְּרִבְבוֹת נַחֲלֵי־שָׁמֶן הַאֶתֵּן בְּכוֹרִי פִּשְׁעִי פְּרִי בִטְנִי חַטַּאת נַפְשִׁי׃   6:7

Mica. 6:7   Would the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,

                               with ten of thousands of rivers of oil?

                    Must I assign my first born my transgression,

                                the fruit of my body the sin of my soul?

Either I don’t understand what Micah is trying to say here, or he is misinterpreting the reason for a commandment.  Why does Micah ascribe the assignment of the first born to one’s transgression? The fourth English line sounds to me as if he may be thinking of the sacrifice of children as a sin offering  But I see the two last lines as referring to the redemption of the first born.  And as I understand the redemption of the first born, it is to remind us of the slaying of the first born of Egypt, the tenth plague that finally convinced Pharoah to let us leave.  That’s what Moses tells us in Exod. 13:15.  Why does Micah call this “the sin of our soul?”  If he’s getting at something, I’m not aware of what it is.  Some commentators try to link this verse with Manassah’s sacrifice of his first born (see 2Kin. 21:6), but I don’t buy it.  Although Micah could possibly have been very, very old in the time of Manassah, I can’t imagine his (or someone else’s) coming back to this chapter and adding to or inserting this verse.  In any case, the Hebrew does not support the reading that I “give my first born [for] my transgression,” which is the accepted translation of the Hebrew that produces the third line in my translation.  The word for “for” is not there.  A “for” is also added to the last line to make that phrase come out the way the scholars think it should read.  It is my suspicion that Micah had little if any knowledge of the commandments or the book of Exodus.  That’s the only way I can explain the complete absence of  a reference to any violation of commandments in his entire book.  Yet he is familiar with the story of Balak and Balaam found in Numbers, Chapters 22 to 24 (as in v. 6:5 above).                    [Return to Mica. 7:20]

הִגִּיד לְךָ אָדָם מַה־טּוֹב וּמָה־יְהוָה דּוֹרֵשׁ מִמְּךָ כִּי אִם־עֲשׂוֹת מִשְׁפָּט וְאַהֲבַת חֶסֶד וְהַצְנֵעַ לֶכֶת   6:8        עִם־אֱלֹהֶיךָ׃

Mica. 6:8   A man has made known to you what is good

                             and what the Lord is requiring from you:

                    That is only bringing about justice

                             and loving mercy

                     and modestly walking with your God.

קוֹל יְהוָה לָעִיר יִקְרָא וְתוּשִׁיָּה יִרְאֶה שְׁמֶךָ שִׁמְעוּ מַטֶּה וּמִי יְעָדָהּ׃   6:9

Mica. 6:9   The voice of the Lord shall call out to the city

                              that it is wisdom to regard your reputation

                     -- obey the staff and whom He appointed.

עוֹד הַאִשׁ בֵּית רָשָׁע אֹצְרוֹת רֶשַׁע וְאֵיפַת רָזוֹן זְעוּמָה׃   6:10

Mica. 6:10   Is yet the fire of the wicked house,

                               and the abhorrent,

                      the treasures of wickedness of scanty measure?

הַאֶזְכֶּה בְּמֹאזְנֵי רֶשַׁע וּבְכִיס אַבְנֵי מִרְמָה׃   6:11

Mica. 6:11   Can I be pure with balances of wickedness

                                or with a bag of weights of deceit,

אֲשֶׁר עֲשִׁירֶיהָ מָלְאוּ חָמָס וְיֹשְׁבֶיהָ דִּבְּרוּ־שָׁקֶר וּלְשׁוֹנָם רְמִיָּה בְּפִיהֶם׃   6:12

Mica. 6:12   when her rich are full of cruelty,

                                 and her inhabitants speak a lie,

                       that their tongue is deceitful in their mouth?

וְגַם־אֲנִי הֶחֱלֵיתִי הַכּוֹתֶךָ הַשְׁמֵם עַל־חַטֹּאתֶךָ׃   6:13

Mica. 6:13   “So I indeed make you weak,

                                 smiting you appallingly because of your sins.”

אַתָּה תֹאכַל וְלֹא תִשְׂבָּע וְיֶשְׁחֲךָ בְּקִרְבֶּךָ וְתַסֵּג וְלֹא תַפְלִיט וַאֲשֶׁר תְּפַלֵּט לַחֶרֶב אֶתֵּן׃   6:14

Mica. 6:14   “You shall eat and not be satisfied,

                                 and your emptiness shall be in your innermost place.

                      And you may withdraw but you will not be delivered,

                                 that whoever may be delivered,

                       I will give up to the sword.”

Other translators have twisted the meaning of, or imagined what the prophet might have meant by, some words in this verse to arrive at a different interpretation, with which (of course) I don’t agree.  The word I translate as may withdraw, they translate as something like shall conceive.  Admittedly, the word in question, the seventh in the Hebrew, gSet;w>, appears nowhere else in the bible, and is strange in this context.  I imagine scholars, seeing the word I translate as be delivered (appearing twice in the verse), assumed that the word in question might mean to conceive.  The problem with this is that the Hebrew word I translate as be delivered doesn’t mean to deliver a child.  It means to escape.

אַתָּה תִזְרַע וְלֹא תִקְצוֹר אַתָּה תִדְרֹךְ־זַיִת וְלֹא־תָסוּךְ שֶׁמֶן וְתִירוֹשׁ וְלֹא תִשְׁתֶּה־יָּיִן׃   6:15

Mica. 6:15   “You shall sow,

                               but you shall not reap;

                      you shall tread olives,

                               but shall not pour oil in anointing,

                      and the vintage,

                               but you shall not drink the wine.”

וְיִשְׁתַּמֵּר חֻקּוֹת עָמְרִי וְכֹל מַעֲשֵׂה בֵית־אַחְאָב וַתֵּלְכוּ בְּמֹעֲצוֹתָם לְמַעַן תִּתִּי אֹתְךָ לְשַׁמָּה וְיֹשְׁבֶיהָ   6:16  לִשְׁרֵקָה וְחֶרְפַּת עַמִּי תִּשָּׂאוּ׃

Mica. 6:16   “Though he kept himself from the statutes of Omri

                               and every deed of the house of Ahab,

                      yet you went with their counsels,

                               to the end that I am making you for a waste

                      and her inhabitants for a hissing,

                               and you shall bear the reproach of My people.”

Who can say what message this verse is supposed to convey?  Various interpretations have been advanced.  For example, Omri, the father of Ahab, is said to have established the strongest dynasty in the northern kingdom, so is thought to be representative of the oppression and injustice of Israel.  But I don’t understand how, if he (Israel?) kept from Omri’s statutes and Ahab’s deeds, they could go with their counsels.  The Hebrew makes little sense, but I’m going to just let it go.  I don’t know what else to do with it.  Other translators have mangled the Hebrew of the first word, changing it to suit their ideas.  Most of them make the first line come out something like “For the statues of Omri were kept, ....”  No way!  Not if you are true to the Hebrew.  For one thing, the word for statutes is plural but the word for were kept is singular, meaning it should be translated as is kept.  So what would the phrase mean if they were to translate it more correctly as “For the statutes of Omri is kept, ...?”  Little doubt that Micah is at least as confusing as any of the other prophets (with the possible exception of Ezekiel).

 

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