Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Micah 1:13 - 1:13

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Micah 1:13 - 1:13

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And the judgment will not even stop at Jerusalem, but will spread still further over the land. This spreading is depicted in Mic 1:13-15 in the same manner as before. Mic 1:13. “Harness the horse to the chariot, O inhabitress of Lachish! It was the beginning of sin to the daughter Zion, that the iniquities of Israel were found in her. Mic 1:14. Therefore wilt thou give dismissal-presents to Moresheth-gath (i.e., the betrothed of Gath); the houses of Achzib (lying fountain) become a lying brook for Israel's kings. Mic 1:15. I will still bring thee the heir, O inhabitress of Mareshah (hereditary city); the nobility of Israel will come to Adullam. Mic 1:16. Make thyself bald, and shave thyself upon the sons of thy delights: spread out thy baldness like the eagle; for they have wandered away from thee.” The inhabitants of Lachish, a fortified city in the Shephelah, to the west of Eleutheropolis, preserved in the ruins of Um Lakis (see at Jos 10:3), are to harness the horses to the chariot (rekhesh, a runner; see at 1Ki 5:8 : the word is used as ringing with lâkhı̄sh), namely, to flee as rapidly as possible before the advancing foe. רָתַם, ἁπ. λεγ. “to bind ... the horse to the chariot,” answering to the Latin currum jungere equis. Upon this city will the judgment fall with especial severity, because it has grievously sinned. It was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion, i.e., to the population of Jerusalem; it was the first to grant admission to the iniquities of Israel, i.e., to the idolatry of the image-worship of the ten tribes (for פִּשְׁעֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, see Mic 1:5 and Amo 3:14), which penetrated even to the capital. Nothing more is known of this, as the historical books contain no account of it. For this reason, namely, because the sin of Israel found admission into Jerusalem, she (the daughter Zion) will be obliged to renounce Moresheth-gath. This is the thought of Mic 1:14, the drapery of which rests upon the resemblance in sound between Moresheth and me'orâsâh, the betrothed (Deu 22:23). Shillūchı̄m, dismissal, denotes anything belonging to a man, which he dismisses or gives up for a time, or for ever. It is applied in Exo 18:2 to the sending away of wife and children to the father-in-law for a time; and in 1Ki 9:16 to a dowry, or the present which a father gives to his daughter when she is married and leaves his house. The meaning “divorce,” i.e., sēpher kerı̄thuth (Deu 24:1, Deu 24:3), has been arbitrarily forced upon the word. The meaning is not to be determined from shillēăch in Jer 3:8, as Hitzig supposes, but from 1Ki 9:16, where the same expression occurs, except that it is construed with ל, which makes no material difference. For נָתַן אַל signifies to give to a person, either to lay upon him or to hand to him; נָתַן לְ, to give to him. The object given by Zion to Moresheth as a parting present is not mentioned, but it is really the city itself; for the meaning is simply this: Zion will be obliged to relinquish all further claim to Moresheth, to give it up to the enemy. Mōresheth is not an appellative, as the old translators suppose, but the proper name of Micah's home; and Gath is a more precise definition of its situation - “by Gath,” viz., the well-known Philistian capital, analogous to Bethlehem-Judah in Jdg 17:7-9; Jdg 19:1, or Abel-maim (Abel by the water) in 2Ch 16:4. According to Jerome (comm. in Mich. Prol.), Morasthi, qui usque hodie juxta Eleutheropolin, urbem Palaestinae, haud grandis est viculus (cf. Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 423). The context does not admit of our taking the word in an appellative sense, “possession of Gath,” since the prophet does not mean to say that Judah will have to give up to the enemy a place belonging to Gath, but rather that it will have to give up the cities of its own possession. For, as Maurer correctly observes, “when the enemy is at the gate, men think of defending the kingdom, not of enlarging it.” But if the addition of the term Gath is not merely intended to define the situation of Moresheth with greater minuteness, or to distinguish it from other places of the same name, and if the play upon words in Moresheth was intended to point to a closer relation to Gath, the thought expressed could only be, that the place situated in the neighbourhood of Gath had frequently been taken by the Philistines, or claimed as their property, and not that they were in actual possession of Gath at this time.

The play upon words in the second clause of the verse also points to the loss of places in Judaea: “the houses of Achzib will become Achzab to the kings of Israel.” אַכְזָב, a lie, for נַחַל אַכְזָב, is a stream which dries up in the hot season, and deceives the expectation of the traveller that he shall find water (Jer 15:18; cf. Job 6:15.). Achzib, a city in the plain of Judah, whose name has been preserved in the ruins of Kussabeh, to the south-west of Beit-Jibrin (see at Jos 15:44). The houses of Achzib are mentioned, because they are, properly speaking, to be compared to the contents of the river's bed, whereas the ground on which they stood, with the wall that surrounded them, answered to the river's bed itself (Hitzig), so that the words do not denote the loss or destruction of the houses so much as the loss of the city itself. The “kings of Israel” are not the kings of Samaria and Judah, for Achzib belonged to the kingdom of Judah alone, but the kings of Judah who followed one another (cf. Jer 19:13); so that the plural is to be understood as relating to the monarchy of Israel (Judah). Mareshah will also pass into other hands. This is affirmed in the words, “I will bring the heir to thee again” (אָבִי for אָבִיא, as in 1Ki 21:29). The first heir of Mareshah was the Israelites, who received the city, which had been previously occupied by the Canaanites, for their possession on the conquest of the land. The second heir will be the enemy, into whose possession the land is now to pass. Mareshah, also in the lowland of Judah, has been preserved, so far as the name is concerned, in the ruins of Marash (see at Jos 15:44, and Tobler, Dritte Wanderung, pp. 129, 142-3). To the north of this was Adullam (see at Jos 12:15), which has not yet been discovered, but which Tobler (p. 151) erroneously seeks for in Bêt Dûla. Micah mentions it simply on account of the cave there (1Sa 22:1), as a place of refuge, to which the great and glorious of Israel would flee (“the glory of Israel,” as in Isa 5:13). The description is rounded off in Mic 1:16, by returning to the thought that Zion would mourn deeply over the carrying away of the people, with which it had first set out in Mic 1:8. In קָרְחִי וָגֹזִּי Zion is addressed as the mother of the people. קָרַח, to shave smooth, and גָּזַז, to cut off the hair, are synonyms, which are here combined to strengthen the meaning. The children of thy delights, in whom thou hast thy pleasure, are the members of the nation. Shaving the head bald, or shaving a bald place, was a sing of mourning, which had been handed down as a traditional custom in Israel, in spite of the prohibition in Deu 14:1 (see at Lev 19:28). The bald place is to be made to spread out like that of a nesher, i.e., not the true eagle, but the vulture, which was also commonly classed in the eagle family, - either the bearded vulture, vultur barbatus (see Oedmann, Verm. Samml. i. p. 54ff.), or more probably the carrion vulture, vultur percnopterus L., common in Egypt, and also in Palestine, which has the front part of the head completely bald, and only a few hairs at the back of the head, so that a bald place may very well be attributed to it (see Hasselquist, Reise, p. 286ff.). The words cannot possibly be understood as referring to the yearly moulting of the eagle itself.

If we inquire still further as to the fulfilment of the prophecy concerning Judah (Mic 1:8-16), it cannot be referred, or speaking more correctly, it must not be restricted, to the Assyrian invasion, as Theod., Cyril, Marck, and others suppose. For the carrying away of Judah, which is hinted at in Mic 1:11, and clearly expressed in Mic 1:16, was not effected by the Assyrians, but by the Chaldeans; and that Micah himself did not expect this judgment from the Assyrians, but from Babel, is perfectly obvious from Mic 4:10, where he mentions Babel as the place to which Judah was to be carried into exile. At the same time, we must not exclude the Assyrian oppression altogether; for Sennacherib had not only already conquered the greater part of Judah, and penetrated to the very gates of Jerusalem (2Ki 18:13-14, 2Ki 18:19; Isaiah 36:1-38:22), but would have destroyed the kingdom of Judah, as his predecessor Shalmaneser had destroyed the kingdom of Israel, if the Lord had not heard the prayer of His servant Hezekiah, and miraculously destroyed Sennacherib's army before the walls of Jerusalem. Micah prophesies throughout this chapter, not of certain distinct judgment, but of judgment in general, without any special allusions to the way in which it would be realized; so that the proclamation embraces all the judgments that have fallen upon Judah from the Assyrian invasion down to the Roman catastrophe.