Micah Laments Judah’s Sin
1 I am depressed!tn Heb “woe to me!” In light of the image that follows, perhaps one could translate, “I am disappointed.”
Indeed,tn Or “for.” it is as if the summer fruit has been gathered,
and the grapes have been harvested.tn Heb “I am like the gathering of the summer fruit, like the gleanings of the harvest.” Micah is not comparing himself to the harvested fruit. There is an ellipsis here, as the second half of the verse makes clear. The idea is, “I am like [one at the time] the summer fruit is gathered and the grapes are harvested.”
There is no grape cluster to eat,
no fresh figs that I crave so much.tn Heb “my appetite craves.”
2 Faithful men have disappearedtn Or “have perished”; “have been destroyed.” from the land;
there are no godly men left.tn Heb “and an upright one among men there is not.”
They all wait in ambush so they can shed blood;tn Heb “for bloodshed” (so NASB); TEV “for a chance to commit murder.”
they hunt their own brother with a net.sn Micah compares these ungodly people to hunters trying to capture their prey with a net.
3 They are determined to be experts at doing evil;tn Heb “upon evil [are their] hands to do [it] well.”
government officials and judges take bribes,tn Heb “the official asks – and the judge – for a bribe.”
prominent men make demands,
and they all do what is necessary to satisfy them.tn More literally, “the great one announces what his appetite desires and they weave it together.” Apparently this means that subordinates plot and maneuver to make sure the prominent man’s desires materialize.
4 The best of them is like a thorn;
the most godly among them are more dangerous than a row of thorn bushes.tn Heb “[the] godly from a row of thorn bushes.” The preposition מִן (min) is comparative and the comparative element (perhaps “sharper” is the idea) is omitted. See BDB 582 s.v. 6 and GKC 431 §133.e.
The day you try to avoid by posting watchmen –
your appointed time of punishment – is on the way,tn Heb “the day of your watchmen, your appointed [time], is coming.” The present translation takes “watchmen” to refer to actual sentries. However, the “watchmen” could refer figuratively to the prophets who had warned Judah of approaching judgment. In this case one could translate, “The day your prophets warned about – your appointed time of punishment – is on the way.”
and then you will experience confusion.tn Heb “and now will be their confusion.”
5 Do not rely on a friend;
do not trust a companion!
Don’t even share secrets with the one who lies in your arms!tn Heb “from the one who lies in your arms, guard the doors of your mouth.”
6 For a son thinks his father is a fool,
a daughter challengestn Heb “rises up against.” her mother,
and a daughter-in-law her mother-in-law;
a man’s enemies are his own servants.tn Heb “the enemies of a man are the men of his house.”
7 But I will keep watching for the Lord;
I will wait for the God who delivers me.
My God will hear my lament.tn Heb “me.” In the interest of clarity the nature of the prophet’s cry has been specified as “my lament” in the translation.
Jerusalem Will Be Vindicated
8 My enemies,tn The singular form is understood as collective. do not gloattn Or “rejoice” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NRSV); NCV “don’t laugh at me.” over me!
Though I have fallen, I will get up.
Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.sn Darkness represents judgment; light (also in v. 9) symbolizes deliverance. The Lord is the source of the latter.
9 I must enduretn Heb “lift, bear.” the Lord’s anger,
for I have sinned against him.
But thentn Heb “until.” he will defend my cause,tn Or “plead my case” (NASB and NIV both similar); NRSV “until he takes my side.”
and accomplish justice on my behalf.
He will lead me out into the light;
I will experience firsthandtn Heb “see.” his deliverance.tn Or “justice, vindication.”
10 When my enemies see this, they will be covered with shame.
They saytn Heb “who say.” A new sentence was begun here in the translation for stylistic reasons. to me, “Where is the Lord your God?”
I will gloat over them.tn Heb “My eyes will look on them.”
Then they will be trampled downtn Heb “a trampled-down place.”
like mud in the streets.
11 It will be a day for rebuilding your walls;
in that day your boundary will be extended.sn Personified Jerusalem declares her confidence in vv. 8-10; in this verse she is assured that she will indeed be vindicated.
A Closing Prayer
12 In that day peopletn Heb “they.” The referent has been specified as “people,” referring either to the nations (coming to God with their tribute) or to the exiles of Israel (returning to the Lord). will come to youtn The masculine pronominal suffix suggests the Lord is addressed. Some emend to a feminine form and take Jerusalem as the addressee.
from Assyria as far astc The MT reads וְעָרֵי (vÿ’arey, “and the cities [of Egypt]”), but the parallel line indicates this is a corruption of וְעַד (vÿ’ad, “even to”). Egypt,
from Egypt as far as the Euphrates River,tn Heb “the River,” referring to the Euphrates River. This has been specified in the translation for clarity (so also NASB, NIV).
from the seacoaststn Heb “and sea from sea.” Many prefer to emend this to מִיָּם עַד יָם (miyyam ’ad yam, “from sea to sea”). and the mountains.tn Heb “and mountain of the mountain.” Many prefer to emend this to וּמֵהַר עַד הַר (umehar ’ad har, “and mountain to mountain”).
13 The earth will become desolatetn Or “will be ruined.”
because of what its inhabitants have done.tn Heb “on account of its inhabitants, because of the fruit of their deeds.”
14 Shepherd your people with your shepherd’s rod,tn Or “with your scepter” (the Hebrew term can mean either “rod” or “scepter”).
the flock that belongs to you,tn Heb “the flock of your inheritance.”
the one that lives alone in a thicket,
in the midst of a pastureland.tn Or “in the midst of Carmel.” The Hebrew term translated “pastureland” may be a place name.sn The point seems to be that Israel is in a vulnerable position, like sheep in a thicket populated by predators, while rich pastureland (their homeland and God’s blessings) is in view.
Allow them to graze in Bashan and Gilead,sn The regions of Bashan and Gilead, located in Transjordan, were noted for their rich grazing lands.
as they did in the old days.tn Heb “as in the days of antiquity.”
15 “As in the days when you departed from the land of Egypt,
I will show youtn Heb “him.” This probably refers to Israel in a collective sense. Because the switch from direct address to the third person is awkward, some prefer to emend the suffix to a second person form. In any case, it is necessary to employ a second person pronoun in the translation to maintain the connection for the English reader. miraculous deeds.”sn I will show you miraculous deeds. In this verse the Lord responds to the petition of v. 14 with a brief promise of deliverance.
16 Nations will see this and be disappointed bytn Or “be ashamed of.” all their strength,
they will put their hands over their mouths,
and act as if they were deaf.tn Heb “and their ears will be deaf.” Apparently this means the opposing nations will be left dumbfounded by the Lord’s power. Their inability to respond will make them appear to be deaf mutes.
17 They will lick the dust like a snake,
like serpents crawling on the ground.tn Heb “like crawling things on the ground.” The parallelism suggests snakes are in view.
They will come trembling from their strongholds
to the Lord our God;tn The translation assumes that the phrase אֶל־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ (’el-yÿhvah ’elohenu, “to the Lord our God”) goes with what precedes. Another option is to take the phrase with the following verb, in which case one could translate, “to the Lord our God they will turn in dread.”
they will be terrifiedtn Heb “they will be in dread and afraid.” of you.tn The Lord is addressed directly using the second person.
18 There is no other God like you!tn Heb “Who is a God like you?” The rhetorical question expects the answer, “No one!”
Youtn Heb “one who.” The prayer moves from direct address (second person) in v. 18a to a descriptive (third person) style in vv. 18b-19a and then back to direct address (second person) in vv. 19b-20. Due to considerations of English style and the unfamiliarity of the modern reader with alternation of persons in Hebrew poetry, the entire section has been rendered as direct address (second person) in the translation. forgive sin
and pardontn Heb “pass over.” the rebellion
of those who remain among your people.tn Heb “of the remnant of his inheritance.”
You do not remain angry forever,tn Heb “he does not keep hold of his anger forever.”
but delight in showing loyal love.
19 You will once againtn The verb יָשׁוּב (yashuv, “he will return”) is here used adverbially in relation to the following verb, indicating that the Lord will again show mercy. have mercy on us;
you will conquertn Some prefer to read יִכְבֹּס (yikhbos, “he will cleanse”; see HALOT 459 s.v. כבס pi). If the MT is taken as it stands, sin is personified as an enemy that the Lord subdues. our evil deeds;
you will hurl ourtn Heb “their sins,” but the final mem (ם) may be enclitic rather than a pronominal suffix. In this case the suffix from the preceding line (“our”) may be understood as doing double duty. sins into the depths of the sea.sn In this metaphor the Lord disposes of Israel’s sins by throwing them into the waters of the sea (here symbolic of chaos).
20 You will be loyal to Jacob
and extend your loyal love to Abraham,tn More literally, “You will extend loyalty to Jacob, and loyal love to Abraham.
which you promised on oath to our ancestorstn Heb “our fathers.” The Hebrew term refers here to more distant ancestors, not immediate parents.
in ancient times.tn Heb “which you swore [or, “pledged”] to our fathers from days of old.”