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Nguyen 1 Paul M.

Nguyen Intro to Sacred Scripture, Grover April 4, 2012 A Summary Exposition of the Prophet Micah1 The book of the prophet Micah is placed in sixth place among the prophets. 2 Analyzing the placement of the book of Micah, Sweeney demonstrates the difference in color from the Masoretic text (placed sixth, following Obadaiah [judgment] and Jonah [mercy]) to the Septuagint (placed third, following Hosea and Amos, which focus on the punishment of Israel). In both cases, Micah demonstrates for Judah how the lack of adherence to God's law and covenant will play out, given the example of the northern kingdom prior to his prophetic career. 3 We endeavor to explore first Micah and his circumstances and then his message. The book records the prophetic career of Micah of Moresheth in the days of Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah (Mic 1:1). This almost standard format for introducing a legitimate prophet is also found in the introductions to Hosea, Joel, and Zephaniah. 4 The temporal affiliation with these kings places Micah at the time of Isaiah, who also preached in the South.5 Consistent with other prophets taking on the mind, or emotions of God for the people to see (e.g. Hosea experienced the infidelity of his own prostitute of a spouse in uniting himself to God's reaction to the infidelity of His chosen people to His covenant), Micah's very name means Who is like Yahweh?6 Sweeney points out that Wolff7 infersfrom Micah's usage of my people, from the manner in which he presents his concerns for social justice, and from his

1 Except where noted, passages quoted or referenced herein refer to the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). 2 Marvin A. Sweeney, Micah, The Twelve Prophets, vol. 2 (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2000), p. 339; and Louise Pettibone Smith, Book of Micah, Interpretation 6, no. 2: 210227, p. 210. 3 Sweeney, Micah, The Twelve Prophets, p. 339. 4 Peter Philip Jenson, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah (New York: T & T Clark, 2008), pp. 102103. 5 Ibid., p. 340. 6 James Luther Mays, Micah (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 1. 7 Hans Walter Wolff, Micah 69; idem, Micah the Prophet, trans. R. D. Gehrke (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981) 17 25.

Nguyen 2 presence at the festival of Sukkoth in Jerusalemthat he was an elder of the village [of Moresheth].8 The book of Micah, following his prophetic tagline, contains two broad divisions: two pairs of oracles of judgment and prophecies of salvation (1:22:13 and 3:15:15), and 6:17:20, containing an oracle of judgment (6:116), followed by lament (7:17), and a message of hope and confidence (7:820).9 The first oracle of judgment presents Samaria (the northern kingdom, Israel) as the transgressor and an example of Judah's imminent fate: [Samaria's] wound is incurable. It has come to Judah; to Jerusalem (1:9). The first oracle of judgment also presents a second transgression, namely the social evils of injustice in dealing with property and hypocritical preaching (2:111). But Micah follows this judgment with an assurance that God will surely gather all of you, O Jacob, the survivors of Israel like sheep in a fold (2:12), showing that all was not lost by the transgressions identified, and that there remained yet a chance for repentance. The second oracle of judgment pertains to leaders: you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel (3:1). Micah criticizes their lack of a proper human justice, providing a very graphic image of abusing the people (referring to tearing flesh, a literal application of the figure of speech we now know as sarcasm). He particularly calls out the rulers, priests, [and] prophets who claim to be safe in the LORD, but who in fact have committed such injustices as to render themselves blameworthy. Micah proposes as a plan of reform that a reign of peace will be characterized by the implements of war being converted to tools for the agricultural trade (cf. 4:3), and by the peace and security of adherence to the law of the LORD. Micah then speaks in terms of the rebuilding of God's people, not without pain and trial, and shows the antithesis of
8 Sweeney, Micah, The Twelve Prophets, p. 340. 9 Philip J. King, Micah, rev. Carol J. Dempsey, The HarperCollins Study Bible (NRSV) (New York: HarperCollins, 2006).

Nguyen 3 neighboring peoples' priorities and criticism that may very well come to pass, should Judah adhere to this program of reform (cf. 4:95:1). In the remaining verses of chapter 5, Micah prophesies that one whose origin is from of old, from ancient days will be the one to rule in Israel and will come forth from Bethlehem of Ephrathah, one of the little clans of Judah (5:2). He goes on to say that this ancient one will be a source of reunion and a provider and protector, ushering in a reign of peace once more, to the ends of the earth (cf. 5:35a). Micah further declares that Judah will be a nation free of other human and earthly dependencies, including reliance on neighbors and obsessions with war, and purified from within by the power of the LORD their God (cf. 5:715). Chapter 6 begins what many scholars identify as a liturgical manifestation which closes the book of Micah in its present form, and debate that it was added later with this specific intention in mind.10 According to Mays, the text indicates a dialogue recognizable in the types of pronouns as well as the person and number of the verbs present in each successive block. 11 The closing declaration of God's compassionate mercy and salvation is a song rich with imagery demonstrating the extent of God's attention and faithfulness in that he does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency (cf. 7:1420). Aside from the swords-to-plowshares passage, Micah's prophesy of the savior coming from Bethlehem seems most striking, and a textual detail from the preceding verses helps complete the picture. As Jerusalem (daughter Zion) [writhes] and [groans] like a woman in labor, (4:10) seeking that authentic repentance and the favor of the LORD, then from humble origins shall come forth this one from of old at the time when she who is in labor has brought forth (5:3). And from this time there will proceed the reign of peace and security. Micah's usage

10 James Limburg, Interpretation: HoseaMicah (Atlanta: John Knox, 1988), p. 162. 11 Mays, Micah, p. 9.

Nguyen 4 of the graphically familiar circumstance of a woman's childbearingwhich was unsettling at best, and the risk of the mother dying in the process was very presentshows the risk at which the Lord will still endeavor to save His people. As ancient philosophers also postulated, just punishment and proportional suffering that work to better a man are worth the pain they bring upon him, because justice is done and he may reform his ways. This marvelous convergence of rational conclusions and the data of revelation by the prophets of old bears witness to the deep truth of our faith and its applicability within our very real human lives let him who has ears hear it!

Nguyen 5 Bibliography Duggan, Michael W. The Consuming Fire. Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2010. Jenson, Philip Peter. Obadiah, Jonah, Micah: A Theological Commentary. New York: T & T Clark, 2008. King, Philip J. Micah. rev. Carol J. Dempsey. The HarperCollins Study Bible (NRSV). New York: HarperCollins, 2006. Limburg, James. Interpretation: HoseaMicah. Atlanta: John Knox, 1988. Mays, James Luther. Micah: A Commentary. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976. Smith, Louise Pettibone. 1952. "Book of Micah." Interpretation 6, no. 2: 210227. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed March 23, 2012). Sweeney, Marvin A. Micah. The Twelve Prophets, vol. 2. Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2000. Wolff, Hans Walter. Micah the Prophet, trans. R. D. Gehrke. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981.