Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Micah 3:5 - 3:5

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Micah 3:5 - 3:5


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In the second strophe, Micah turns from the godless princes and judges to the prophets who lead the people astray, with whom he contrasts the true prophets and their ways. Mic 3:5. Thus saith Jehovah concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who bite with their teeth, and preach peace; and whoever should put nothing into their mouths, against him they sanctify war. Mic 3:6. Therefore night to you because of the visions, and darkness to you because of the soothsaying! and the sun will set over the prophets, and the day blacken itself over them. Mic 3:7. And the seers will be ashamed, and the soothsayers blush, and all cover their beard, because (there is) no answer of God. Mic 3:8. But I, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of Jehovah, and with judgment and strength, to show to Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.” As the first strophe attaches itself to Mic 2:1-2, so does the second to Mic 2:6 and Mic 2:11, carrying out still further what is there affirmed concerning the false prophets. Micah describes them as people who predict peace and prosperity for a morsel of bread, and thereby lead the people astray, setting before them prosperity and salvation, instead of preaching repentance to them, by charging them with their sins. Thus they became accomplices of the wicked rulers, with whom they are therefore classed in Mic 3:11, together with the wicked priests. הַמַּתְעִים, leading astray (cf. Isa 3:12; Isa 9:15) my people, namely, by failing to charge them with their sins, and preach repentance, as the true prophets do, and predicting prosperity for bread and payment. The words, “who bite with their teeth,” are to be connected closely with the next clause, “and they preach peace,” in the sense of “who preach peace if they can bite with their teeth,” i.e., if they receive something to bite (or eat). This explanation, which has already been expressed by the Chaldee, is necessarily required by the antithesis, “but whoever puts nothing into their mouth,” i.e., gives them nothing to eat, notwithstanding the fact that in other passages nâshakh only signifies to bite, in the sense of to wound, and is the word generally applied to the bite of a snake (Amo 5:19; Gen 49:17; Num 21:6, Num 21:8). If, however, we understand the biting with the teeth as a figurative representation of the words of the prophets who always preach prosperity, and of the injury they do to the real welfare of the people (Ros., Casp., and others), the obvious antithesis of the two double clauses of Mic 3:5 is totally destroyed. The harsh expression, to “bite with the teeth,” in the sense of “to eat,” is perfectly in harmony with the harsh words of Mic 3:2 and Mic 3:3. Qiddēsh milchâmâh, to sanctify war, i.e., to preach a holy war (cf. Joe 3:9), or, in reality, to proclaim the vengeance of God. For this shall night and darkness burst upon them. Night and darkness denote primarily the calamity which would come upon the false prophets (unto you) in connection with the judgment (Mic 2:4). The sun which sets to them is the sun of salvation or prosperity (Amo 8:9; Jer 15:9); and the day which becomes black over them is the day of judgment, which is darkness, and not light (Amo 5:18). This calamity is heightened by the fact that they will then stand ashamed, because their own former prophecies are thereby proved to be lies, and fresh, true prophecies fail them, because God gives no answer. “Convicted by the result, they are thus utterly put to shame, because God does not help them out of their trouble by any word of revelation” (Hitzig). Bōsh, to be ashamed, when connected with châphēr (cf. Jer 15:9; Psa 35:26., etc.), signifies to become pale with shame; châphēr, to blush, with min causae, to denote the thing of which a man is ashamed. Qōsemı̄m (diviners) alternates with chōzı̄m (seers), because these false prophets had no visions of God, but only divinations out of their own hearts. ‛Atâh sâphâm: to cover the beard, i.e., to cover the face up to the nose, is a sign of mourning (Lev 13:45), here of trouble and shame (cf. Eze 24:17), and is really equivalent to covering the head (Jer 14:4; Est 6:12). Ma‛ănēh, the construct state of the substantive, but in the sense of the participle; some codd. have indeed מַעֲנֶה. In Mic 3:8 Micah contrasts himself and his own doings with these false prophets, as being filled with power by the Spirit of Jehovah (i.e., through His assistance) and with judgment. Mishpât, governed by מָלֵא, is the divine justice which the prophet has to proclaim, and gebhūrâh strength, manliness, to hold up before the people their sins and the justice of God. In this divine strength he can and must declare their unrighteousness to all ranks of the people, and predict the punishment of God (Mic 3:9-12).