Book of Micah


Authorship, date, and background Micah, the author of this book, came from Moresheth, which was located some twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. His name means "who is like Yahweh?" Nothing is said about his ancestry. He prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (742 to 687 B.C.). His ministry began earlier than 722 B.C. since his prophecy included a statement about the destruction of Samaria, which had not yet occurred. During the reign of Hezekiah his ministry overlapped with that of the prophet Isaiah, who overshadowed him. Micah witnessed the fall of Samaria. But whether he lived to witness his own nation of Judah surrounded by Sennacherib is not known. In 701 B.C., when Jerusalem was threatened, a remarkable delivery was experienced by God's power as recorded in the books of Kings and Chronicles and in the prophecy of Isaiah

Micah prophesied during turbulent times. Samaria was wealthy and its mercantile class exploited the poor and lived in luxury themselves. Judah prospered as well, and sin abounded. When Hezekiah ascended to the throne of Judah, a revival took place. The king reversed the policy of appeasing Assyria, and heathen cult worship in the temple under Ahaz was abolished. Heathen altars, the asherim, and sacred pillars were demolished. All of this may have delayed the judgment of God against Judah as announced by Micah, but it did not cancel it out. The hearts of the people were corrupted, and genuine repentance and lasting reformation of life did not come.

Characteristics and content Micah announces that God is about to reduce Samaria to a heap of ruins for its transgressions and the failure of its people to repent. Its idols and images are to be destroyed by God and the nation sent off into captivity. He also pronounces divine judgment on Jerusalem, displaying his personal grief by removing his robe and walking barefoot.

The sins of Jerusalem are manifold. Widows are evicted from their homes; travelers are robbed. The rights of inheritance are disregarded. False prophets lead the people astray. Judges accept bribes and priests teach for money. At the same time Micah announces a return of a remnant from captivity in Babylon. Zion indeed will someday be restored. Micah foresees a ruler in the future whose birthplace will be Bethlehem, a prophecy which is to be spoken of in the New Testament and applied to Jesus the Messiah.

Micah lays down the dictum that God requires men "to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God" (6:8). But this they do not do and so judgment must come. He concludes his prophetic message by a gleam of hope: God will someday gather his people together in the land of promise from among all the nations of the world to which they have gone, and he will establish them securely in their own land. In his concluding prayer of praise, Micah proclaims, "Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity . . . . He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou has sworn unto our fathers from the days of old" (7:18 - 20).