Reading: Micah 1:8-16; 2 Kings 8:17-37
In verse 10-16 Micah speaks about the country of Judah. ‘It has come to Judah’, he said in verse 9. It has come to the gate of my people – to Jerusalem. From Samaria, the focus now shifts to Jerusalem. The people must know that the fate of Samaria is not something that remains distant. Because they participate in the sins of Samaria, the people of Judah will also be confronted with it. In the verses 10-12, Micah first speaks about the northern part of the southern kingdom (Judah), all the way to Jerusalem. That was probably the way the enemy came, through the northern part to Jerusalem.
But the southern part, the part where Micah himself lived and prophesied, should not think that they would escape. It will come to them as well. In verse 13-15 Micah is prophesying to his own town and the surrounding area.
‘Tell it not in Gath, weep not at all’, we read in verse 10. These words refer to the song of David, the lament, which he made to mourn the death of Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1:20. There David did not want the people of Gath and the Philistines to rejoice because of the death of Saul and Jonathan. Therefore it should be kept quiet. These words of David had become a standing expression in Israel, in times of mourning and adversity: don’t shout about your adversity, or else your enemies may rejoice about it.
In the verses 10-12 Micah mentions a number of towns probably north of Jerusalem. These towns are not known and we can’t identify them. That is not important either. What Micah is doing here, is using the names of a number of towns, for a wordplay.
- Beth Aphrah means house of dust. Micah uses this name to tell the inhabitants to roll in the dust, a sign of humiliating defeat.
- Shaphir speaks about ‘beauty’. Something like ‘Fair-city’ or ‘Beauty-town’. But the inhabitants will go in shame, robbed of their beautiful clothes, naked.
- Zaanan means ‘to go out’, as in going out for battle, proud and bold. But the inhabitants will not go out. They have lost their courage. Beth Ezel mourns. Beth Ezel means ‘house of the root’. But Beth Ezel will have no root. Its place to stand is taken away from you.
- Maroth means bitterness. The inhabitants of Maroth pined for good, but it is only bitterness that they receive. Disaster came down from the LORD to the gate of Jerusalem. Having conquered all those towns, the Assyrians have now come to the gate of Jerusalem.
- Then Lachish is mentioned. One of the fortified cities in Judah. One of the strongholds. Apparently, the king of Assyria first proceeded to Lachish when he invaded Judah before he went back to Jerusalem to besiege it. And when he was in Lachish, Hezekiah sent a delegation to him to negotiate a peace treaty. He sent him lots of gold and silver and asked for forgiveness for his resistance and rebellion. Hezekiah had put his trust in Egypt, as we read in 2 Kings 18:24. Egypt was defeated by the Assyrian king. Lachish was the city of horses and chariots. Apparently, there was a large part of the army of Judah. Lachish, meaning something like ‘horses’, is called here by Micah to put their horses before their chariots and prepare for battle. Lachish is then mentioned as the city which brought the idolatry and disobedience of the people of Israel and Samaria to Judah. From there it spread over Judah.
- Give presents to Moresheth Gath, means, giving parting gifts. The word for presents can also be used for ‘dowry’: when you give your daughter away in marriage, you give a dowry. This means here that Judah will have to give away, or let go off Moresheth-Gath. Moresheth sounds much like a word that either means ‘possession’ or ‘betrothed’.
- Achzib means lie or deception. The houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel. They may have trusted on the people of Achzib, but that is in vain.
- Then verse 15 in our translation speaks about bringing an heir to the inhabitants of Mareshah. A better translation for the word for ‘heir’ is ‘conqueror’. Someone who will take over something, who will dispossess another from a property. There will also be a conqueror for Mareshah: they shall not escape.
- The glory of Israel shall come to Adullam. Adullam is where David fled to when he escaped from King Saul, and there he remained in exile. So also the glory of Israel, the leaders of Israel, shall flee, or shall be exiled.
The prophet is describing here how God’s punishment is coming over Judah. It is approaching Jerusalem, the centre of Judah, the heart of the nation. Micah knows that it is all because of the sin of the people, and it is deserved, but still, it is heart-rending, and he is in distress about it. In verse 8 he speaks about his own mourning, and in verse 16 he tells God’s people to mourn, because of what will happen to them, and their precious children, all because of their sin. And if it is not in the first place because of their sin that they would mourn and repent, let it then be because of the punishment. Of what is happening to them.
They should remember the glory time under David. But now it is all coming to nothing, while God is able to give them back their glory as they had under KingDavid. But they don’t want to return to God and don’t want to trust in God.
We know from 2 Kings 18, that king Hezekiah did return to God and God did set Jerusalem free and broke the siege of Sennacherib in a miraculous way. The punishment by God did work out a repentance at king Hezekiah. Hezekiah initially put his trust in Egypt and others, in his resistance against the king of Assyria. But one after the other was taken away from him. God used the king of Assyria to defeat them all. God was using the king of Assyria to bring Hezekiah and with him Jerusalem in a position that there was no help to be found anywhere on earth. All the gods of the heathen people had been defeated by Sennacherib, as he said in his boast to the inhabitants of Jerusalem in 2 Kings 18.
But then, when the king told Hezekiah that he would do the same to Yahweh, the God of Israel, as he did to the other gods, then Hezekiah did flee to God and sought his refuge there. When hard pressed, he then confessed his faith in God, confessing, that all those other gods which were defeated by the Assyrians were no gods and that there is no god like God. He sought help in the name of the LORD and the LORD did help and set Jerusalem free.
Key Text: 2 Kings 18: 35: ‘Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’
Meditation: In Psalm 18:29 we read: ‘For by You I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall.’ For God nothing is impossible. Do we still trust in God, knowing that we are more than conquerors (Romans 8:37)?