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Old Testament | Micah | Summary

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Summary

  • Micah criticizes the wealthy who oppress others (2:1–2).
  • The corruption of the "heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel" is described in extreme terms: they flay the skin off of Yahweh's people and consume their flesh (3:1–3).
  • Chapters 4–5 contain oracles of hope: Yahweh will arbitrate justice for all, and wars between nations will cease.
  • Micah describes an ideal future Davidic king who will be from Bethlehem (5:2).
  • Yahweh does not want offerings, but only desires people "to do justice," "to love kindness," and "to walk humbly" with their God (6:8).
  • The nations will see the error of their ways and fear Yahweh, who will pardon the remnant of his people (7:16–20).

Analysis

Micah's oracles address themes common to most of the prophets: Israel and Judah will fall to their enemies as punishment for their sins. Micah's perspective as an apparent rural outsider who critiques the urban elites of Samaria and Jerusalem with equal ferocity is distinct. Micah does cite idolatry and improper worship in both Samaria and Jerusalem as a cause for judgment (1:5), but his consistent critique is of systemic economic injustice and corruption among the leaders of Israel and Judah.

Micah's outsider perspective can arguably even be seen in the way he describes a future Davidic king (5:2). While other prophets emphasize royal language and trappings, or the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple, Micah focuses on the humble origins of David as paradigmatic. From Bethlehem, out of "one of the little clans of Judah," will come the one to rule, and "he shall be the one of peace" (5:2, 5). In the Christian New Testament, these statements are interpreted as messianic prophecies referring to Christ (Matthew 2:6), although the full passage in Micah presupposes a time when Assyria is still a threat (5:6).

Several pithy statements encapsulate Micah's message. Toward the end of the book he expresses the essence of his devotion, "But as for me, I will look to Yahweh " (7:7). Micah's most celebrated statement is perhaps the single best concise articulation of the core message of the early prophets: "He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (6:8). Micah's message was a challenge to all people in Israel and Judah to recover this essence of their faith.

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