Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Micah 6:3 - 6:3

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Micah 6:3 - 6:3


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Mic 6:3-5 open the suit. Mic 6:3. “My people! what have I done unto thee, and with what have I wearied thee? Answer me. Mic 6:4. Yea, I have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, redeemed thee out of the slave-house, and sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Mic 6:5. My people! remember now what Balak the king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim to Gilga; that thou mayest discern the righteous acts of Jehovah.” The Lord opens the contest with the question, what He has done to the nation, that it has become tired of Him. The question is founded upon the fact that Israel has fallen away from its God, or broken the covenant. This is not distinctly stated, indeed; but it is clearly implied in the expression הֶלְאֵתִיךָ, What have I done, that thou hast become weary of me? לָאָה, in the hiphil, to make a person weary, more particularly to weary the patience of a person, either by demands of too great severity (Isa 43:23), or by failing to perform one's promises (Jer 2:31). עֲנֵה בִי, answer against me, i.e., accuse me. God has done His people no harm, but has only conferred benefits upon them. Of these He mentions in Mic 6:4 the bringing up out of Egypt and the guidance through the Arabian desert, as being the greatest manifestations of divine grace, to which Israel owes its exaltation into a free and independent nation (cf. Amo 2:10 and Jer 2:6). The kı̄ (for) may be explained from the unexpressed answer to the questions in Mic 6:3 : “Nothing that could cause dissatisfaction with me;” for I have done nothing but confer benefits upon thee. To set forth the leading up out of Egypt as such a benefit, it is described as redemption out of the house of bondage, after Exo 20:2. Moreover, the Lord had given His people prophets, men entrusted with His counsels and enlightened by His Spirit, as leaders into the promised land: viz., Moses, with whom He talked mouth to mouth, as a friend to his friend (Num 12:8); and Aaron, who was not only able as high priest to ascertain the counsel and will of the Lord for the sake of the congregation, by means of the “light and right,” but who also, along with Moses, represented the nation before God (Num 12:6; Num 14:5, Num 14:26; Num 16:20; Num 20:7 ff., and 29). Miriam, the sister of the two, is also mentioned along with them, inasmuch as she too was a prophetess (Exo 15:20). In Mic 6:5 God also reminds them of the other great display of grace, viz., the frustration of the plan formed by the Moabitish king Balak to destroy Israel by means of the curses of Balaam (Numbers 22-24). יָעַץ refers to the plan which Balak concocted with the elders of Midian (Num 22:3 ff.); and עָנָה, Balaam's answering, to the sayings which this soothsayer was compelled by divine constraint to utter against his will, whereby, as Moses says in Deu 23:5-6, the Lord turned the intended curse into a blessing. The words “from Shittim (Israel's last place of encampment beyond Jordan, in the steppes of Moab; see at Num 22:1 and Num 25:1) to Gilgal” (the first place of encampment in the land of Canaan; see at Jos 4:19-20, and Jos 5:9) do not depend upon זְכָר־נָא, adding a new feature to what has been mentioned already, in the sense of “think of all that took place from Shittim to Gilgal,” in which case זְכָר־נָא would have to be repeated in thought; but they are really attached to the clause וּמֶה עָבָה וגו, and indicate the result, or the confirmation of Balaam's answer. The period of Israel's journeying from Shittim to Gilgal embraces not only Balak's advice and Balaam's answer, by which the plan invented for the destruction of Israel was frustrated, but also the defeat of the Midianites, who attempted to destroy Israel by seducing it to idolatry, the miraculous crossing of the Jordan, the entrance into the promised land, and the circumcision at Gilgal, by which the generation that had grown up in the desert was received into the covenant with Jehovah, and the whole nation reinstated in its normal relation to its God. Through these acts the Lord had actually put to shame the counsel of Balak, and confirmed the fact that Balaam's answer was inspired by God.

(Note: With this view, which has already been suggested by Hengstenberg, the objections offered by Ewald, Hitzig, and others, to the genuineness of the words “from Shittim to Gilgal,” the worthlessness of which has been demonstrated by Caspari, fall to the ground.)

By these divine acts Israel was to discern the tsidqōth Yehōvâh; i.e., not the mercies of Jehovah, for tsedâqâh does not mean mercy, but “the righteous acts of Jehovah,” as in Jdg 5:11 and 1Sa 12:7. This term is applied to those miraculous displays of divine omnipotence in and upon Israel, for the fulfilment of His counsel of salvation, which, as being emanations of the divine covenant faithfulness, attested the righteousness of Jehovah.