Who Was Micah?

Little is known about the personal life of the prophet Micah (Michah). He came from a town called Moreshet, and was therefore called Morashti. He lived during the reign of king Jotham of Judah, and succeeding kings, about 150 years before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian hosts. In this time, as often before him and after him, the people of both Judah and of the Northern Kingdom, had abandoned the ways of G‑d. Jerusalem and Samaria, the capitals of the two Jewish kingdoms, were centers of idol worship and bad living. The rich oppressed the poor, and the laws of the Torah were rejected.

Prophecies of Micah

Fearlessly, as the prophecy of G‑d rested on him, Micah came out to denounce the evils that had filled his beloved land. He warned that Samaria and Jerusalem would be destroyed. The prophecy about Samaria was fulfilled only a short time later, less than a quarter of a century; it was destroyed by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, in the year 3205 (after Creation). Jerusalem existed for another 133 years, and was destroyed in the year 3338.

Thus, like Isaiah, the great prophet who lived about the same time, Micah admonished his people to return to G‑d. He was especially bitter about the ruling classes, who used their positions of power to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor. Such were the prophet's words about them:

"Woe to them that devise wickedness, and resolve on evil, lying on their beds; by the first light of the morning they execute it, for it is in their power. They covet fields and take them by violence, and houses and take them away...Therefore, thus has said G‑d: 'Behold, I will devise against these families evil, from which you shall not remove your necks.'..."

Micah describes the sins of the people, and especially of their leaders and judges, "who make crooked all that is straight." He has harsh words for the judges that can be bribed and the priests that can be hired, saying to themselves, "Evil cannot befall us." If they continued in their evil way, the prophet warned, "Zion shall be ploughed up like a field, and Jerusalem shall become ruinous heaps, and the mount of the Beth-Hamikdosh forest-covered heights!"

Admonitions of Micah

The prophet enters into an argument with his people, in which he describes G‑d's great deeds for Israel, but Israel's neglect of Him. These are G‑d's words, coming through his lips:

"My people, what I have done unto thee? Testify against Me! Have I not brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery! And I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to lead you. Oh, My people, do but remember what Balak, the king of Moab, resolved, and what Balaam, the son of Beor, answered him, and what happened from Shittim unto Gilgal; in order that you may know the righteousness of G‑d!"

What does G‑d expect from Israel? G‑d's demands are clear and simple: "He has told thee, man, what is good, and what G‑d requires of thee: only to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy G‑d."

You can see the connection between this prophecy, which is the theme of the Haphtorah, and the Sidrahs Chukkath-Balak to which the Haphtorah is attached. Like Isaiah, Micah also proclaims Israel's final triumph among the nations of the world, when Messiah will come to deliver our people and rebuild the Beth-Hamikdosh. "Then shall every man sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with none to make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken. Though all the peoples walk each one in the name of his god, we shall walk in the name of G‑d, our G‑d, for ever and ever."