Micah's Message

During the reign of King Jotham, another great prophet chastised the people of Judea for their sins and predicted the fall of Samaria and Jerusalem. He was Micah from the town of Moresheth.

Micah spoke for the oppressed and the poor. He denounced the usury and degeneracy of the rich and ruling classes. These are the prophet's words:

"Woe to them that devise wickedness, and resolve on evil lying upon 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. Thus they defraud the man and his house, the person and his property. Therefore, thus has said the L-rd: 'Behold, I will devise against these families evil, from which you shall not remove your necks; nor shall you go haughtily; for it is an evil time!'"

The prophet bitterly decried the corruption of the leaders and judges. Said he: "Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the House of Jacob, and princes of the House of Israel, who abhor justice and make crooked all that is straight; who built up Zion with blood-guilt, and Jerusalem with wrong. Her leaders judge for bribe, and her priests teach for hire, and her prophets divine for money. And yet they will lean upon G‑d and say: 'Is not the L-rd among us? Evil cannot befall us.' Therefore, for your sake shall Zion be ploughed up like a field, and Jerusalem shall become ruinous heaps, and the mount of the Temple —forest-covered heights."

The prophet entered into an argument with his people, in which he describes G‑d's great deeds on behalf of Israel, and their neglect of Him:

"Hear ye now what the L-rd saith: 'Arise, contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice! Hear, O ye mountains, the L-rd's controversy, and ye, enduring rocks, the foundations of the earth: For the L-rd has a controversy with his people, and with Israel will He plead. 'My people, what have I done unto thee? And wherein have I wearied thee? Testify against Me! Have I not brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavedom! 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!'"

The prophet now answers for the people, who, impressed by the merciful acts of G‑d, turn to the prophet with the questions: "Wherewith shall I come before the L-rd, bow myself before the high G‑d? Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the L-rd be pleased with thousands of rams, with myriads of streams of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?"

But the prophet tells them G‑d's demands are quite simple:

"He has told thee, man, what is good and what the L-rd requires of thee. Only to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy G‑d!"

Like Isaiah, Micah proclaims the doom of Jerusalem, but he similarly foresees Israel's ultimate triumph among the nations of the world, when their swords should be converted into ploughshares and peace should reign in the world. "Then shall every man sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with none to make them afraid; for the mouth of the L-rd of Hosts has spoken. Though all the people walk each one in the name of his god, we shall walk in the name of G‑d, our L-rd, for ever and ever."