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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading
Today, we start a new minor prophet - Micah. Micah was contemporary with Isaiah and Hosea. Jeremiah quotes from him. For an example, compare Micah 3:12 and Jeremiah 26:18.
In Micah 1:1-4 the prophet summons the nations to behold the just punishment which Yahweh would mete out to His faithless people.
Micah 1:5-6 portray the desolation of Samaria. Destruction would settle on the homes and fields of men, and the prospect of this so affected the prophet that he removed his outer garment and sandals, so that his disheveled condition might more closely portray the destruction that he foretold.
Micah 1:10-16 states that Judah also would suffer similar chastisements. Aphrah and Shaphir would be hurried into captivity. So universal would be the calamity that Zaanan would not come to bewail with the neighboring city of Bethezel.
The prophets loved Israel and they believed that all faithful Torah worshipers should lament with them, Micah 1:16, in the hope of averting impending judgments. Are we "sighing" and "crying" for the sins of our time, as Yahshua mourned those of Jerusalem, when He wept over the city?
The following is a brief overview of the cities mentioned in Micah 1:
a. Tell it not in Gath: The city of Gath belonged to the Philistines, and it hurts Micah to think that the Philistines will rejoice at the pain of God's people.
b. In Beth Aphrah roll yourself in the dust: Following to the end of the chapter, Micah uses puns and plays on words to talk about the judgment coming upon the cities of Judah. These towns are clustered in the Shephelah - the lowlands between the coastal region and the mountains of Judah.
i. Though Micah uses puns, this isn't about clever word games - it goes back to the ancient idea that a name isn't just your "handle" but describes - sometimes prophetically - your character and your destiny. In showing how the name of these cities is in some way a prophecy of their destiny, Micah shows how our character becomes our future.
c. Beth Aphrah: To Micah, Aphrah sounds like the Hebrew word for dust, so he told the citizens of Beth Aphrah to roll in the dust in anticipation of coming judgment.
d. Shaphir: The name of this town sounds like the word for beautiful. It won't be beautiful for long, and Micah warns the citizens of Shaphir to prepare for judgment.
e. Zaanan: The name of this town sounds like the Hebrew word for exit or go out. When the siege armies come, they won't exit at all - they will be shut up in the city until it falls.
f. Beth Ezel: The name of this town means the nearby city. When the army of judgment comes, it won't be near and helpful to any other city.
g. Maroth: The name of this town means bitterness, and when the army of judgment comes the citizens of Maroth will know plenty of bitterness.
h. Lachish: The name of this town sounds like the Hebrew word for to the horses. Lachish was an important fortress city, and they should go to the horses to fight, but ironically they will go to the horses to flee the army of judgment.
i. Moresheth: The name of this - Micah's hometown - sounds like the Hebrew word for betrothed. Here he speaks of giving the city wedding gifts as she passes from the rule of one "husband" (Judah) to another (the invading army).
j. Aczib: The name of this town sounds like the Hebrew word for deceitful or disappointing. This city will fall so quickly it will be a deception and a disappointment for Israel.
k. Mareshah: The name of this town is related to the Hebrew word for possessor or heir. The invading army will soon possess this city.
l. Adullam: The was the place of refuge for David when he fled from King Saul. It will again be a place of refuge for the high and mighty among Israel, when they are forced to hide out in Adullam.