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JOURNAL FOR THE STUDY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

SUPPLEMENT SERIES

145

Editors
David J.A. Clines
Philip R. Davies

Editorial Board
Richard J. Coggins, Alan Cooper, Tamara C. Eskenazi,
J. Cheryl Exum, Robert P. Gordon, Norman K. Gottwald,
Andrew D.H. Mayes, Carol Meyers, Patrick D. Miller

JSOT Press
Sheffield

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The Speeches of Micah


A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Charles S. Shaw

Journal for th Study of th Old Testament


Supplment Sries 145

Copyright 1993 Sheffield Academic Press


Published by JSOT Press
JSOT Press is an imprint of
Sheffield Academic Press Ltd
343 Fulwood Road
Sheffield S10 3BP
England

Typeset by Sheffield Academic Press


and
Printed on acid-free paper in Great Britain
by Biddies Ltd
Guildford

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data


Shaw, Charles S.
Speeches of Micah: Rhetorical-Historical
Analysis.(JSOT Supplement Series, ISSN
0309-0787; No. 145)
I. Title II. Series
221.7
ISBN 1-85075-362-8

CONTENTS

Abbreviations

INTRODUCTION
Approaches to the Book of Micah
Purposes and Assumptions of the Present Study
Method
History and Chronology

11
11
19
22
28

Chapter 1

'SURELY HER ILLNESSES ARE INCURABLE': MICAH 1.2-16


Text and Translation
Unity and Date
The Rhetorical Situation
Goals and Strategy
Historical Possibilities

32
32
36
39
51
56

Chapter 2

'MY PEOPLE HAVE BECOME AN ENEMY' : MICAH 2.1-13


Text and Translation
Unity and Date
The Rhetorical Situation
Goals and Strategy
Historical Possibilities

68
68
71
78
87
91

Chapter 3

'Is IT NOT FOR You TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE DECISION?':


MICAH 3.1-4.8
Text and Translation
Unity and Date
The Rhetorical Situation
Goals and Strategy
Historical Possibilities

97
97
100
109
117
123

The Speeches of Micah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Chapter 4

'THERE WILL You BE DELIVERED?': MICAH 4.9-5.14


Text and Translation
Unity and Date
The Rhetorical Situation
Goals and Strategy
Historical Possibilities

128
128
131
139
149
156

Chapter 5

'A RODAND WHO HAS APPOINTED IT AGAIN?' :


MICAH 6.1-7.7
Text and Translation
Unity and Date
The Rhetorical Situation
Goals and Strategy
Historical Possibilities

161
161
165
172
181
188

Chapter 6

'THAT DAY THE DECREE WILL BE RESCINDED!': MICAH 7.8-20

193

Text and Translation


Unity and Date
The Rhetorical Situation
Goals and Strategy
Historical Possibilities

193
196
200
209
215

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS

221

Bibliography
Index of Biblical References
Index of Authors

226
238
243

ABBREVIATIONS

AASOR
AB
ABC
A JSL
AnBib
ANET
ARAB
AID
ATR
AUSS
BA
BASOR
BDB
BHS
Bib
BJPES
BJRL
BK
BKAT
BO
BTB
BZ
BZAW
CBQ
EBib
EncJud
ExpTim
FRLANT
FThL
FzB
HAR
HAT
HKAT
HS
HSM

Annual of the American Schools of Oriental Research


Anchor Bible
A.K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles
American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures
Analecta biblica
J.B. Pritchard (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts
D.D. Luckenbill, Ancient Records of Assyria and Babylonia
Das Alte Testament Deutsch
Anglican Theological Review
Andrews University Seminary Studies
Biblical Archaeologist
Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research
F. Brown, S.R. Driver, and C.A. Briggs, A Hebrew and
English Lexicon of the Old Testament
Biblia hebraica stuttgartensia
Biblica
Bulletin of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society
Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester
Bibel und Kirche
Biblischer Kommentar: Altes Testament
Bibliotheca orientalis
Biblical Theology Bulletin
Biblische Zeitschrift
Beihefte zur ZAW
Catholic Biblical Quarterly
Etudes bibliques
Encyclopaedia Judaica
Expository Times
Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen
Testaments
Forum Theologicae Linguisticae
Forschung zur Bibel
Hebrew Annual Review
Handbuch zum Alten Testament
Handkommentar zum Alten Testament
Hebrew Studies
Harvard Semitic Monographs

The Speeches of Micah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

HSS
HTR
HUCA
IB
ICC
IDB
IDBSup
IEJ
Int
JAOS
JBL
JCS
JNES
JPOS
JQR
JSOT
JSOTSup
JTS
KAI
KAT
KD
KHC
NEB
NICOT
NorTT
OLZ
OTL
OTS
OTWSA
PEFQS
PEQ
PJ
RB
ResQ
RHR
SBLDS
SBLSP
SBT
SEA
SH
SJT
ST

Harvard Semitic Series


Harvard Theological Review
Hebrew Union College Annual
Interpreter's Bible
International Critical Commentary
G.A. Buttrick (ed.), Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible
IDB, Supplementary Volume
Israel Exploration Journal
Interpretation
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Journal of Biblical Literature
Journal of Cuneiform Studies
Journal of Near Eastern Studies
Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society
Jewish Quarterly Review
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Supplement Scries
Journal of Theological Studies
H. Conner and W. Rollig, Kanaanaische und aramaische
Inschriften
Kommentar zum Alten Testament
Kerygma und Dogma
Kurzer Handkommentar zum Alten Testament
New English Bible
New International Commentary on the Old Testament
Norsk Teologisk Tidsskrift
Orientalistische Literaturzeitung
Old Testament Library
Oudtestamentische Studien
Die Ou Testamentiese Werkgemeenskap in Suid-Afrika
Palestine Exploration Fund, Quarterly Statement
Palestine Exploration Quarterly
Palastina-Jahrbuch
Revue biblique
Restoration Quarterly
Revue de I'histoire des religions
SBL Dissertation Series
SBL Seminar Papers
Studies in Biblical Theology
Svensk exegetisk arsbok
Scripta Hierosilymitana
Scottish Journal of Theology
Studia theologica

Abbreviations
TDNT
TDOT
TSBA
TTZ
VT
VTSup
WBC
ZAW
ZDMG
ZDPV
ZS
ZTK

G. Kittel and G. Friedrich (eds.), Theological Dictionary of


the New Testament
G.J. Botterweck and H. Ringgren (eds.), Theological
Dictionary of the Old Testament
Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology
Trierer theologische Zeitschrift
Vetus Testamentum
Vetus Testamentum, Supplements
Word Bible Commentary
Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
Zeitschrift der deutschen morganlandischen Gesellschaft
Zeitschrift des deutschen Palastina- Vereins
Zeitschrift fur Semitistik
Zeitschrift fur Theologie und Kirche

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INTRODUCTION
Approaches to the Book of Micah
The history of the interpretation of the book of Micah has been
reviewed by various scholars and need not be repeated in detail here.1
To a large extent, the interpretation of the material in this prophetic
book has focused on attempts to find suitable historical settings against
which the material can be interpreted. At the risk of oversimplification it can be said that since the time of Bernhard Stade's first article
on the book of Micah (1881) there have been two basic approaches to
understanding the historical background of the book and thus to interpreting its content.
One approach was set forth by Stade himself who, building upon the
work of Ewald and Wellhausen, argued that only material in Micah 13 could be from the eighth-century prophet.2 Following Ewald's lead,
Stade suggested that Mic. 6.1-7.6 reflects the time of Manasseh rather

1. One of the best surveys is that of K. Jeppesen, 'How the Book of Micah
Lost its Integrity', 5733 (1979), pp. 101-31. An even more comprehensive survey
is given by K.H. Cuffey, The Coherence of the Book of Micah: A Review of the
Proposals and a New Interpretation (dissertation, Drew University, 1979). A briefer
but important review is presented by L.M. Luker, Doom and Hope in Micah: The
Redaction of the Oracles Attributed to an Eighth-century Prophet (dissertation,
Vanderbilt University, 1985). Also see B.S. Childs, Introduction to the Old
Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), pp. 429-36. More
recent scholarship is surveyed in J.T. Willis, 'Fundamental Issues in Contemporary
Micah Studies', ResQ 13 (1970, pp. 77-90; and K. Jeppesen, 'New Aspects of
Micah Research', JSOTZ (1978), pp. 3-32.
2. Stade's initial investigation was 'Bemerkungen tiber das Buch Micha', ZAW
1 (1881), pp. 161-72. He defended and refined his proposals in subsequent articles
including 'Weitere Bemerkungen zu Micha 4.5', ZAW 3 (1883), pp. 1-16;
'Bemerkungen zu vorstehendem Aufsatze', ZAW 4 (1884), pp. 291-97; 'Micha ii,
4', ZAW 6 (1886), pp. 122-23.

12

The Speeches of Micah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

than the time of Micah.1 This date is suggested by the dismal situation
presupposed by the material and by the reference to child sacrifice.
Further, Stade agreed with Wellhausen that 7.7-20 presupposes the
historical circumstances of the exilic period and contains themes and
theological interests similar to those of Deutero-Isaiah.2
Stade focused his own analysis on Micah 4-5 which, he argued, for
a number of reasons could not be from the same prophet responsible
for the material in Micah 1-3. First, the message of Micah 4-5 is
hopeful in nature and thus seems to contradict the message of the
preceding chapters. Indeed, the opening words concerning the ideal
Jerusalem in chapter 4 are nothing less than a total contradiction
(reinen Gegentheil) of the judgment of destruction announced on
Jerusalem in Mic. 3.12. Stade argued that it was unlikely that the same
prophet would have proclaimed both doom and hope. Further, the
information in Jer. 26.18 shows the nature of Micah's message. The
fact that he was remembered as a prophet of doom suggests that he
would not have weakened the impact of his proclamation of judgment
by proclaiming a hopeful message such as is found in Mic. 4.1-5.14.3
The reference in Jeremiah also conforms to the message of Micah 1-3
(minus 2.12-13), which Stade believed to be a unity: chapter 1
announced judgment and Micah 2 and 3 gave the reasons for that
judgment.4
Stade undergirded his argument that Micah 4-5 could not be from
the eighth century by arguing that the style and theological interests of
these chapters are similar to those of Joel, Zechariah 12-14 and
Ezekiel. Moreover, the chapters presuppose a historical setting in the
exile (4.6-8, 9-10) and assume an understanding of the Messiah and a
concept of idolatry which Stade believed were later religious developments. Thus Stade concluded that only Micah 1-3 could be from
Micah and that the book assumed its present form only after the exile.
In his 1881 article and in the course of subsequent work Stade suggested a process by which the book assumed its final form. Mic. 1.51. H. Ewald, Die Propheten des Alten Bundes, I (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, 2nd edn, 1867), pp. 501-27.
2. J. Wellhausen, in F. Bleek, Einleitung in das Alte Testament (ed. J. Bleek
and A. Kamphausen; 4th edn, ed. J. Wellhausen; Berlin: G. Reimer, 1878),
p. 425.
3. Stade, 'Bemerkungen iiber das Buch Micha', pp. 163-66.
4. Stade, 'Bemerkungen iiber das Buch Micha', pp. 163, 166-68, 168-70.

Introduction

13

3.12 (minus 2.12-13) contains the prophet's original message. To this


core of authentic material an editor added 6.1-7.6 during the time of
Manasseh. In post-exilic times a 'first Epigone' sought to soften the
impact of Micah's message of doom by adding 2.12-13; 4.1-4, 11-14;
5.1-3, 6-14. A 'second Epigone' added 4.5-10 and 5.4-5 to promote
the view that Israel's enemies would be defeated and to bring the work
into line with the course of historical events. Finally, 1.2-4 and 7.7-20
were added to round off the book.
It would be fair to say that for one group of scholars much of the
research on Micah has been a process of refining, revising and modifying the theories of Stade.1 Like Stade, those in this group conclude
that changes in style and tone within the book of Micah are a
reflection of changes in historical circumstances after the time of
Micah. Later dates for the material in Micah 4-7 are suggested by the
possibility that the historical settings presupposed by this material
cannot be found in the eighth century and also by possible similarities
of interest and viewpoints with later works.
The two criteria of historical setting and similarity of language are
stated explicitly by Wolff in his suggestion that Mic. 4.9-5.1 dates to
587:
What at first suggests that time around 587 is that the portrayals of the
troubled situation fit no other phase in Judah's history so well...
Moreover, the language employed in the saying is strongly reminiscent of
Jeremiah... 2
1. Among others, those who follow Stade's basic approach include K. Marti,
Das Dodekapropheten (KHAT 13: Tubingen: Mohr, 1904); P. Haupt, 'Critical Note
on Micah', AJSL 26 (1910), pp. 201-52, and The Book of Micah', AJSL 27
(1911), pp. 1-63; T.H.Robinson, Die Zwolf kleinen Propheten (HAT 14;
Tubingen: Mohr, 1938); J.L. Mays, Micah (OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, Press
1976); B. Renaud, La Formation de Livre de Michee: Tradition et actualisation
(EBib; Paris: Gabalda, 1977), I. Willi-Plein, Vorformen der Schriftezegese
innerhalb des Alten Testament (BZAW 123; New York: de Gruyter, 1971);
H.W. Wolff, Micah: A Commentary (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1990), originally
published as Micha (BK 14; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1980).
2. Wolff, Micah, p. 20. The methods employed by Mays (Micah) and Renaud
(Formation) also focus on both the historical setting as well as similarity of theme
and vocabulary with later works. Haupt focuses less on matters of vocabulary and
theme, but seeks an appropriate historical setting for Micah 4-7 in the Maccabcan
period ('Critical Notes', pp. 201-52). Similarly, Marti explains differences in style

14

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Thus the differences of style and message found within the book of
Micah are to be accounted for by the possibility that much of the
material comes from a number of historical settings later than the
time of Micah.
A number of redactional schemes have been proposed to explain
how such a variety of material from various times has been united and
joined to Micah's original prophecies. The proposals vary widely in
details and conclusions. In general, however, the various redactional
histories which have been proposed posit the existence of different
schools or circles of prophetic disciples with clearly defined political
or theological interests which preserved and edited the words of
Micah. These groups also collected, arranged, composed and added
later prophetic oracles to the message of Micah either to make the
material applicable to later situations and/or to give the material a
liturgical function.1
An apparent reason that this group of scholars concluded that
changes of style and message reflect historical settings after the time
of Micah is the belief that the prophet of Micah's message was characterized by and restricted to the proclamation of judgment. In particular, it is pointed out that in the time of Jeremiah the eighth-century
prophet was remembered as a prophet of doom. The observations of
Mays is representative:
This remarkable instance of the quotation of a prophet's words in an ad
hoc situation a century after they had been spoken shows what an
impression Micah's oracle had made on some men in his time and
identified the distinctive message for which he was remembered.2

Mays concludes that the elders knew of no traditions in which Micah


and content by finding various settings from the late exilic period to the second
century BCE (Das Dodekapropheten, pp. 258-64).
1. See Wolff, Micah, pp. 17-27; Mays, Micah, pp. 21-33; Renaud,
Formation, pp. 383-421. T. Lescow emphasized both liturgical needs and political
factors in shaping the book ('Redaktionsgeschichtliche Analyse von Micha 1-5',
ZAW 84 (1972), pp. 46-85; 'Redaktionsgeschichtliche Analyse von Micha 6-7),
ZAW 84 (1972), pp. 181-212. Willi-Plein saw the redaction history as one of
reinterpretation and extension of the prophet's words (Vorformen, pp. 60-109).
Jorg Jeremias focused on the idea of Nachinterprelation and attempted to isolate a
theological updating of the words of Micah during the early exilic period ('Die
Deutung der Gerichtsworte Michas in der Exilzeit', ZAW 83 (1971), pp. 330-54).
2. Mays, Micah, p. 13.

Introduction

15

had was a prophet of hope. The quotation in Jer. 26.18 is thus to be


understood as representative of the entire message of Micah.1 If a
unified message is assumed, then it follows that any deviations from a
proclamation of judgment cannot be from Micah.
If only Micah 1-3 are authentic it also follows that such a small
amount of material must derive from a short span of time. Wolff
states this conclusion concisely: 'Given the small number of texts that
have come down to us, it [Micah's activity] was more likely a limited
period of time'.2 Wolff is led to the conclusion that Micah carried out
his prophetic mission for only a few months or years between 733 and
722.3 Some have allowed for more time, suggesting a span no greater
than the period of 725-711,4 while others have limited all of Micah's
ministry to 701.5
Standing in contrast to the approach of Stade is another group of
scholars who tend to view most of the material in the book of Micah
as the authentic sayings of the eighth-century prophet.6 This group

1. In a comment similar to the one of Mays, G. Fohrer notes, 'Later Micah was
known only for his threat' (Introduction to the Old Testament [Nashville: Abingdon
Press, 1968], p. 445). Although Wolff does not state the matter as concisely as
Mays, he does draw a number of conclusions from the reference in Jeremiah. In
particular he infers that Micah was an 'elder' of the land whose message in Micah 13 embodied themes, motifs and ideas one might expect from a person in such a
position (Micah, pp. 1-9). Marti also cites the passage in support of his
interpretation of Micah (Das Dodekapropheten, pp. 258-64).
2. Wolff, Micah, p. 8. A strikingly similar statement is made by Mays, Micah,
p. 15.
3. Wolff, Micah, p. 8.
4. Fohrer, Introduction, p. 444; Robinson (Kleinen Propheten) suggests the
time between 724 and 711 or 701.
5. Mays (Micah, p. 16) concludes, Thus the probable period for Micah's
activity was 701 and the months immediately before Sennacherib's invasion'. Haupt
also limits Micah's activity to 701 ('Critical Notes', p. 201), but Marti places the
time between 705-701 (Das Dodekapropheten, p. 260).
6. Those who can be placed in this group include E.B. Pusey, The Minor
Prophets with Commentary II (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1895);
R.F. Horton, The Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah
(Century Bible; Edinburgh; T.C. and E.G. Jack, 1904); M. Margolis, The Holy
Scriptures with Commentary: Micah (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of
America, 1908); A. van Hoonacker, Les douze petits prophetes (Paris: Gabalda,
1908); E. Sellin, Das Zwolfprophetenbuch (KAT 12; Leipzig: Deichertsche, 2nd
edn, 1929); A. Weiser, Das Buch der zwolf Kleinen Propheten (ATD 24; Gottingen:

16

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

recognizes that within the book of Micah there are some dramatic differences in styles and themes. These differences, however, are not to
be explained as an indication of a later time or the work of a distinct
school. Rather, differences in theme and style are thought to reflect
changes in historical circumstances which occurred during the ministry of Micah. For example, Albin van Hoonacker suggests that
Micah 1-3 contain warnings to Judah delivered by Micah at the time
of the Assyrian siege of Samaria (725-22 BCE) while Micah 4-5
reflect the rejoicing in Judah after the Assyrian withdrawal in 722 as
well as the optimism instilled by Hezekiah's reforms.1 Micah 6-7 also
reflect the time after 722, but the message in these chapters is
addressed not to Jerusalem, but to Samaria. Thus, for van Hoonacker
and others, changes in circumstances and audience during the time of
Micah adequately account for the differences encountered in the book
of Micah.2
In general, scholars who attribute most of the material in the book
to Micah have drawn a limited number of conclusions from the reference to Mic. 3.12 in Jer. 26.18. First it is argued that the quotation

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2nd edn, 1956); W. Rudolph, MichaNahum


HabakukZephania (KAT 13; Gutersloh: Gerd Mohn, 1975); L.A. Allen, The
Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
1976); D.Hillers, Micah (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1984).
Another scholar whose method is similar to those in this group is
A.S. van der Woude (Micah [Nijkerk: Callenbach, 1976]). Van der Woude sees
two explanations for the variety of styles in the book of Micah: (1) Much of Micah 25 is a debate between Micah and the 'pseudo-prophets' ('Micah in Dispute with the
Pseudo-prophets', VT 19 (1969), pp. 244-60); (2) Micah 6-7 is derived from a
northern prophet of the eighth century ('Deutero-Micha: ein Prophet aus NordIsrael?', NorTT 25 (1971), pp. 365-78).
1. Van Hoonacker, Le douze petits prophetes, pp. 339-53.
2. Also noteworthy is the similar comment by Allen regarding the change
between Mic. 4.10 and 4.11: 'Obviously a change in the circumstances or the attitude
of the prophet's hearers lies like a chasm between the end of v. 10 and the beginning
of v. 11' (Micah, p. 248). Sellin also argued that to resort to dating a section to a
later time was often a facile solution and that the change in tone in chapters 6.1-7.7,
while undeniable, is not to be attributed to a later prophet: 'Der Ton, die Stimmung,
die ganze Anklage is hier offenbar eine etwas endere als in c. 2 und 3, aber gewiss ist
deswegen nicht gleich an einen anderen Verg. zu denken, die Annahme einer anderen
Entstehungsperiode im Leben des Micha wiirder sicher zur Erklarung auch
ausreichen' (Das Zwolfprophetenbuch, p. 308; cf. viii).

Introduction

17

from Mic. 3.12 is not to be taken as representative of the prophet's


entire message.1 In other words, because this one quotation is one of
judgment, it does not follow that every utterance of Micah was a
proclamation of doom. Second it is maintained that the information in
Jer. 26.18 does not allow one to draw conclusions about the chronological scope of Micah's ministry. 2 The most that can be inferred
from Jer. 26.18 is that some of the prophet's ministry took place
during the reign of Hezekiah. The report in Jeremiah does not rule
out the possibility that the prophet may have proclaimed the destruction of Jerusalem during the reigns of the preceding kings.3
Finally, Millers points out that the words of Micah in Jer. 26.18 are
part of a prophetic narrative and are not really a direct quotation of
Mic. 3.12: 'Thus, though often described as a direct quotation of
Micah, Jeremiah 26 offers us something different, namely evidence
for the persistence of prophetic legend concerning Micah, about a
century after his time'.4 It cannot be known, therefore, how accurate
the details of this prophetic legend are. In any case, no scholar among
this second group sees the information in Jer. 26.18 as limiting Micah
to one message and/or to one particular historical setting.
Although this group of scholars is aware of the arguments for a late
date for material based on similarities of theme and vocabulary with
later works, they generally find these arguments to be unconvincing.
Two comments from Leslie Allen are representative of this second
group's response to the question of the date of material in Micah.
'Certainly to conclude that vocabulary typical of later times does not
have its roots in an earlier period is unwarranted if on other grounds
this passage can be credited with an earlier date'.5 The 'other grounds'
to which Allen refers usually include the historical circumstances of
Micah's time and an understanding of the development of Israelite
religion different from that of Stade and his followers.
Secondly, Allen admits that his 'guiding principle' has been articulated by E. Hammershaimb, who argued that one should 'accept the
tradition for those parts of the book where no compelling reasons can

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Allen, Micah, p. 251; Hillers, Micah, p. 9.


Hillers, Micah, p. 9.
Pusey, The Minor Prophets, p. 9.
Hillers, Micah, p. 9.
Allen, Micah, p. 247.

18

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

be urged against their authenticity'.1 These 'compelling reasons' usually involve historical considerations: if the historical setting presupposed by a particular section is clearly different from the time of
Micah then that section cannot be from the eighth-century prophet.
It should be noted that various members of this second group of
scholars do find conclusive evidence for a later dating for a limited
amount of material in Micah. Most often Mic. 2.12-13, 4.10 and 7.820 are thought to presuppose a historical setting other than the eighth
century.2 Few scholars find no material in the book of Micah from a
time later than the eighth century BCE.3
In general, those in this second group of exegetes believe that the
material in Micah, though mostly authentic, has been arranged and
redacted by editors after the time of Micah. Some conclude that the
material has been arranged intentionally according to a particular
pattern 4 while others doubt that any one scheme guided the later
arrangement and editing of the material.5

1. Allen, Micah, p. 251. The quote is from E. Hammershaimb, 'Some Leading


Ideas in the Book of Micah', in Some Aspects of Old Testament Prophecy from
Isaiah to Malachi (Teologiske Skriften 4; Copenhagen: Rosenkelde og Baggen,
1966), p. 29. This sentiment was earlier expressed by Horton: 'We shall do well to
assume that these very diverse utterances were delivered by Micah the
Morashite... except where clauses or passages are conclusively shown to come from
a later date or another hand' (The Minor Prophets, p. 219). A similar statement is
made by Margolis, Micah, p. 8.
2. Weiser identifies as later additions 2.12-13; 4.1-8; 5.6-8; and 7.8-20 (Das
Buch der zwolf kleinen Propheten I, pp. 230-31). Rudolph denies to Mic. 4.1-4;
5.6-8; and 7.8-20 (Micha, pp. 24-5) and Allen sees 4.1-4, 6-8; and 7.8-20 as nonMican (Micah, p. 251). Sellin sees 4.10 as a gloss and 7.8-20 as a post-exilic
addition (Das Zwolfprophetenbuch, pp. 306-8, 332-33). Van Hoonacker identifies
only minor glosses including 4.10 (Le douze petits prophetes, pp. 385-86) and
Horton is convinced that only 4.10 is a later gloss (The Minor Prophets, p. 222).
3. A notable exception is Margolis, Micah, pp. 8-14.
4. Allen finds a concentric structure with an alternation of passages of doom and
hope, Micah, pp. 257-60). Rudolph concludes the material is arranged in three
sections each of which moves from doom to hope (Micha, pp. 23-24).
Van Hoonacker believes the material has been arranged chronologically (Le douze
petits prophetes, pp. 339-53). Detailed summaries of proposed redactional patterns
can be found in Cuffey, The Coherence of the Book ofMicah and Luker, Doom and
Hope. A summary is also included in J.T. Willis, 'The Structure of the Book of
Micah', SEA 34 (1969), pp. 5-42.
5. Sellin apparently believes that later editors have arranged the material, but he

Introduction

19

Purposes and Assumptions of the Present Study


This survey of the approaches to the book of Micah makes it clear that
a major factor in interpreting the material and, more specifically, in
judging its authenticity is the historical setting presupposed by each
unit. Unfortunately, on the question of the possible historical background for the contents of the book of Micah there is wide disagreement not only between the two approaches, but among scholars within
each group. The purposes of the present study are to determine the
literary units in the book, to analyze these in terms of rhetoricalcritical considerations, and to an attempt to discover the possible historical setting presupposed by each unit. Thus, the following investigation will focus on two, interdependent goals. On the one hand, the
material in the book of Micah will be submitted to a rhetorical investigation to determine its purpose and general background. On the
other hand, the results of the rhetorical investigation will be applied in
an attempt to find the historical setting presupposed by the material.
One's interpretation of prophetic literature is, of course, dependent
upon one's assumptions and conclusions about the role of the prophets
and the nature of prophetic speech.1 The present study is rooted in
two basic assumptions. First, it is assumed that the prophets did not
speak in short, self-contained sayings, but delivered discourses which
attempted to persuade the hearers of a particular conviction or to take
a specific course of action. This understanding of prophetic speech
stands in obvious contrast to that of most commentators who assume
that the prophets spoke in short sayings which were only secondarily
connected.2
is generally uninterested in their goals and method (Das Zwolfprophetenbuch,
pp. 307-8). Hillers insists that no plan or structure for the book can be found
(Micah, pp. 3-4).
1. E.L. Greenstein (Theory and Argument in Biblical Criticism', HAR 10
[1986], pp. 77-93) points out that the presuppositions and theory one uses to interpret the material will inevitably determine one's conclusions: 'Our very observations,
and not only our interpretations, are necessarily shaped by whatever presuppositions
hypothesis, and bodies of knowledge we possess. Our theories guide our selection
of evidence, and even our construction of evidence' (p. 78).
2. This approach is perhaps best illustrated by Mays, who finds 29 originally
independent sayings or units in the book of Micah (Micah, pp. 23-33). These
originally independent units are defined by changes in genre, style, person, meter, or

20

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

In contrast, the present study assumes that those units which most
scholars identify as independent sayings are the building blocks which
the speaker has used in constructing his discourse. As Gitay observes
'.. .these assumed independent units may be explained from the standpoint of speech analysis and reader-response criticism as intentional
components of a larger whole'.1 The 'larger whole' is a persuasive
discourse which utilizes various components, styles and forms in
order to be effective. In this sense prophetic speech conforms to the
observations of classical rhetoric which recognized that a persuasive
speech consists of several distinct parts with varying functions, and
employs various types of proofs (pathos, logos, ethos), styles (e.g.
metaphor, hyperbole, figures, questions) and topics (common,
material, strategical).2
A second assumption guiding the present investigation is that the

theme. Wolff thinks in terms of larger 'sketches' composed of a number of sayings


which in some cases may have been delivered on the same occasion (Micah, pp. 1213). Nevertheless, using the same criteria employed by Mays he is able to discern
within the sketches the shorter, independent sayings.
Such an approach to prophetic speech is undoubtedly based on GunkePs
belief that the prophets spoke in short, enigmatic sayings. A summary of Gunkel's
understanding of prophetic speech is given by W.E. March, 'Prophecy', in
J.H. Hayes (ed.), Old Testament Form Criticism (San Antonio, TX: Trinity
University Press, 1977), p. 144; and J.H. Hayes The History of the Form Critical
Study of Prophecy', SBLSP (1973), pp. 60-99, esp. pp. 60-70. Also, consult
G.M. Tucker, Form Criticism of the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,
1971), pp. 55-57. Gunkel's understanding of prophetic speech is presented in his
Die Propheten (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1917) and 'The Israelite
Prophecy from the Time of Amos', in J. Pelikan (ed.), Twentieth Century Theology
in the Making (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), pp. 48-75.
1. Y. Gitay, 'Reflections on the Study of Prophetic Discourse: The Question of
Isaiah I 2-20', VT 33 (1983), p. 212. A helpful discussion of the units of prophetic
speech is given by M. Buss, The Prophetic Word of Hose a (BZAW 111; Berlin:
Topelmann, 1969), pp. 28-37. In particular, Buss finds that larger units may be
composed of smaller 'sense units', and points out the problems associated with using
such criteria as catchwords, repetition and changes of grammatical forms to
determine the limitation of original units.
2. A description of the system of classical rhetoric is given by G.A. Kennedy,
New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism (Chapel Hill: University
of North Carolina Press, 1984), pp. 12-30; Y. Gitay, Prophecy and Persuasion: A
Study of Isaiah 40-48 (FThL 14; Bonn: Linguistica Biblica, 1981), pp. 34-49.

Introduction

21

prophets of Israel played a role similar to that of the political orator


of ancient Greece. In particular, Demosthenes' description of the role
of the political orator appears to be applicable to Israel's prophets in
general and to Micah in particular:
But for what is he [the orator] responsible? To discern events in their
beginnings, to foresee what is coming, and to forewarn others. These
things I have done. Again it is his duty to reduce to the smallest possible
compass, wherever he finds them, the slowness, the hesitation, the ignorance, the contentiousness, which are the errors inseparably connected
with the constitution of all city-states; while on the other hand, he must
stimulate men to unity, friendship, and eagerness to perform their duty.1
Similarly, prophetic discourse can be understood as based on an
analysis of the contemporary situation in order to determine the
consequences of the present course of action. The prophetic discourse
then sought to warn others of those consequences.2
As an expression of the attempt to discern the trend of events, the
prophetic discourse is firmly rooted in historical circumstances and
events. The discourses of the prophets arose as a response to a matrix
of events, persons, traditions and institutions. This set of circumstances which calls forth discourse has been designated the 'rhetorical
situation'. Bitzer has offered the following definition of a rhetorical
situation:
... a complex of persons, events, objects and relations presenting an
actual or potential exigency which can be completely or partially removed

1. De Corona, para. 246. It should be noted here that others have compared the
prophetic role to that of the political orators of ancient Greece. Especially noteworthy
is Edward Strachey (Jewish History and Politics (London: W. Isbister, 1874),
pp. 3-4) who utilized this same quote from Demosthenes to describe the work of
Isaiah. Strachey's understanding of the prophets as political orators was accepted by
Bernhard Duhm (at least in principle): 'Mir scheint, dass die beste Parallele Strachey
durch ein einfaches Citat aus dem Demosthenes gezogen hat. Es bedarf keines
ausdriicklichen Hinweises aus den Unterschied zwischen den hebraischen und
griechischen Volksrednern, dass erste mehr die Religion, letztere mehr die Nation im
Auge haben... (Die Theologie der Propheten (Bonn: Verlag von Adolph Marcus,
1875), p. 23).
2. The prophetic role of determining the trend or consequences of events is also
emphasized by Buss: 'At any rate, it is the prophet's pre-eminent task to see ahead so
that a catastrophe can be avoided and good fortune maximized' (The Prophetic Word,
p. 116). Buss also notes the observations of Demosthenes and Strachey (p. 125).

22

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


if discourse, introduced into the situation can so constrain human decision
or action as to bring about the significant modification of the exigence.1

Bitzer further notes that the rhetorical situation invites and controls
the discourse in much the way that a question invites and controls an
answer. Thus every discourse comes into being as a response to a
specific situation.
Prophetic discourse responds to the situation by showing the consequences of the present course of action. Quite possibly, prophetic
discourse was meant to remove or alter the 'actual or potential
exigency' by persuading others to modify circumstances and thus
avert or minimize the catastrophic consequences foreseen as a result
of the trend of events.2 In any case, what is important for the present
study is the recognition that prophetic discourse arose primarily as a
response to events, persons and objects firmly rooted in history. Each
prophetic discourse thus presupposes a complex matrix of factors to
which it is responding and which must, to some extent, be reflected in
the discourse itself.
Method
Through the use of rhetorical criticism the present study will attempt
to gain insight into the historical setting presupposed by each discourse in the book of Micah. The understanding of rhetorical criticism to be employed has been defined succinctly by Michael V. Fox:
Rhetoric is persuasive discourse (persuasive in intent if not in accomplishment). Rhetorical criticism may be defined first of all as the examination and evaluation of such discourse for the nature and quality of its
persuasive force.3

This understanding of rhetorical criticism stands in contrast to that set

1. L. Bitzer, The Rhetorical Situation', in W.R. Fisher (ed.), Rhetoric: A


Tradition in Transition (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1974), p. 251.
2. It is a matter of some debate whether the prophets understood the judgment
they proclaimed to be irreversible. If, however, prophetic speech seeks to discern the
trend of events, Buss is probably correct in suggesting that the judgment (or
consequences) resulting from present events is not unavoidable since adjustments
could be made to prevent disaster from coming (The Prophetic Word, p. 116).
3. M.V. Fox, The Rhetoric of Ezekiel's Vision of the Valley of the Bones',
HUCA 51 (1980), p. 1.

Introduction

23

forth by James Muilenburg whose 'rhetorical criticism' attempts to


understand the composition of larger units by identifying the various
devices used in them.1 Rhetorical criticism as defined by Muilenburg
does not focus on the question of whether or how the discourse is
persuasive. The present investigation, however, will focus on what the
author intends to convey and how he achieves his goal: 'The ultimate
goal of rhetorical analysis, briefly put, is the discovery of the author's
intent and of how that is transmitted through a text to an audience'.2
George Kennedy has defined three distinct steps in a rhetorical
analysis.3 First, there must be a preliminary determination of the unit.
Second, the rhetorical situation should be investigated in some detail.
Finally, the arrangement of the material is to be explored to determine 'what subdivisions it falls into, what the persuasive effect of the
parts seems to be, and how they work togetheror fail to do soto
some unified purpose in meeting the rhetorical situation'.4 The present
investigation of the historical background of the discourses of Micah
will follow these three steps in an attempt to understand the matrix of
events to which each discourse responds.
A preliminary, but important, step will be to offer a translation of
the unit under consideration. As far as is possible, the Masoretic Text
of BHS will be followed. At many points, however, the text of Micah
is extremely difficult or corrupt and emendation is unavoidable. Such
emendations are either noted or discussed more fully in the analysis of

1. J. Muilenburg, 'Form Criticism and Beyond', JBL (1969), pp. 1-18. A


recent review of the various applications of the term 'rhetorical criticism' in biblical
studies is given by C.C. Black, 'Keeping Up with Recent Studies XVI. Rhetorical
Criticism and Biblical Interpretation', ExpTim 100 (1988-89), pp. 252-58. Black's
contrast between the approach of Muilenburg and that of Kennedy is helpful: 'For
Muilenburg "rhetoric" is virtually synonymous with "literary analysis"; for Kennedy,
the term refers to the disciplined art of persuasion, as conceptualized and practised by
Greeks and Romans of the classical and Hellenistic periods' (p. 254).
2. Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation, p. 12. It should be noted that a
study of the means of persuasion employed in Micah has been offered by
R.L. Lewis, The Persuasive Style of the Minor Prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah
(dissertation; University of Michigan, 1959). Lewis, however, does not make a
serious attempt to discern the limits of the discourses, and, on the whole, does not
take into account the questions raised by critical biblical scholarship.
3. Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation, pp. 33-38.
4. Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation, p. 37.

24

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

the rhetorical situation. Once a translation has been established it will


be possible to proceed with the three-part analysis proposed by
Kennedy.
First, it is necessary to make a preliminary determination of the
limits of the discourse. This task attempts to define which material
belongs together and how the various parts form a unity. To make
such a determination the criteria suggested by Gitay will be employed.
'The prophetic address must be defined on the basis of its rhetorical
situation and its global theme'.1 Thus thematic unity and a common
rhetorical situation are the elements which unify material into a selfcontained discourse.
In his study of the coherence of the book of Micah K.H. Cuffey
paid special attention to the nature of thematic unity which he considered to be the most important aspect of coherence.2 He observed that
thematic unity is indicated by such factors as the presence of a dominant motif throughout the work, the continuous or recurrent presence
of an item, or the progression or development of thought. The theme
or thought must, of course, be a significant one rather than a minor
one. Cuffey further notes that thematic unity can be loose if the work
deals with similar themes which are not developed and related to one
another in a clearly defined, systematic order. On the other hand,
thematic unity 'may also be expressed tightly, when the work develops
and defines the theme in a clear way through structure or plot as one
progresses through the whole'.3 Thus, a common theme reflected in
each section of a work unites the sections into a whole, even though
the unity created by the theme may be either clearly obvious or more
difficult to discern.
Cuffey's observations regarding thematic unity are helpful in two
ways. First, the fact that thematic unity can be either weak or strong is
a reminder that there are degrees of unity. Some works or discourses
simply display a clearer unity than others and, in some cases, unity
may be difficult to detect. Determining the unity of a work or a unit is
thus by the nature of the task a subjective undertaking. Determining
thematic unity involves judgments regarding which themes are
significant and how well the theme is expressed, developed, modified
or even present in each section of the work.
1.
2.
3.

Gitay, The Study of Prophetic Discourse', p. 220.


Cuffey, The Coherence of the Book ofMicah, pp. 144-47.
Cuffey, The Coherence of the Book ofMicah, p. 145.

Introduction

25

Second, Cuffey's observations regarding the development of a


theme throughout the structure of a work is a reminder that while the
organization of a work is not unimportant, structure alone does not
create the unity of a discourse although it may enhance the unity. The
structure or arrangement shows how the various parts relate to one
another and how the speaker's thoughts develop and progress, but
more important indicators of unity are the global theme and a
common rhetorical situation.
As noted above the rhetorical situation is that set of circumstances
which has invited the discourse and which may be modified through
discourse. Unfortunately, in the book of Micah we have no account of
the situation which has given rise to each discourse. We are not told
when the words were spoken, to whom they were spoken, or why the
prophet speaks. Nevertheless, the close connection between the rhetorical situation and the discourse makes it inevitable that the major
elements of the rhetorical situation are reflected in the discourse itself.
It is therefore possible to reconstruct from the discourse those factors
to which the speaker is responding and addressing. In the preliminary
determination of the unit a general description of the rhetorical
situation will be given.
Like the global theme, the rhetorical situation helps to determine
the limits of a discourse. Each part of the discourse must in some way
reflect one or more of the major aspects of the circumstances which
have prompted the prophet to speak. When there is a dramatic change
in the circumstances presupposed by the material, it is a fairly certain
indication that a new unit has begun.
As part of the consideration of the unity of the discourse it will be
necessary to consider questions regarding the date of the material. As
noted above, a number of scholars have concluded that most of the
material in the book of Micah reflects a time later than the eighth
century. Obviously if it can be demonstrated with reasonable certainty
that material within a proposed unit is derived from a time later than
the eighth century or from a number of different periods, the unity of
a section must be redactional rather than original.
At this point it must be admitted that the matter of dating the
material is related to a host of assumptions about a number of factors
including the nature of prophetic speech, the existence of prophetic
'schools', the development of Israelite religion, and the possibility that

26

The Speeches of Micah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

the same prophet could proclaim doom and hope.1


Unfortunately, these assumptions have often prevented a consideration of all possible historical settings for the material in Micah. Those
who follow Stade's approach have given little serious consideration to
arguments for dating the material to the time of Micah. On the other
hand, those following the general approach of van Hoonacker have
often failed to explore in detail those arguments for a later date.
Therefore, the present investigation, while admittedly seeking appropriate settings in the time of Micah, will explore all possible historical
settings for the material under consideration. In particular, arguments
for a later dating of the material in the book of Micah will be investigated to determine if they are convincing or if other equally plausible
explanations can account for elements which supposedly reflect a time
later than Micah's.2
Based on theme, rhetorical situation and consideration of arguments
for a setting later than the time of Micah, conclusions regarding the
limits of the rhetorical unit can be set forth. Once the unit has been
determined it is possible to investigate the rhetorical situation in
greater detail. The purpose of this detailed analysis of the rhetorical
situation will be not only to underscore the preliminary observations
about the unity of the discourse, but also to show in some detail the
1. Since assumptions and hypothesis are essential in any interpretation of
prophetic works, Hillers probably overstates the case when he concludes '...it
would seem that redaction-criticism is hypothetical at too many points to be
interesting' (Micah, p. 3). While one should probably substitute the word
'assumption' for 'prejudice', M. Greenberg gives a rather accurate description of
some of the many assumptions of Stade and those who utilize his approach: 'A
universal prejudice of modern biblical criticism is the assumption of original
simplicity. A passage of complex structure, or one containing repetition, or skewing
a previously used figure is, on these grounds, suspect of being inauthentic. Another
widespread prejudice equates authenticity with topical or thematic uniformity. A
temporal vista that progresses from present, to penultimate, to ultimate time is
considered an artificial result of successive additions to a single-time oracle. Doom
oracles that end with a glimpse of a better future are declared composites on the
ground of psychological improbability' (Ezekiel 1-20 [AB 22; New York:
Doubleday, 1983], p. 20).
2. At times special attention will be given to the work of Renaud (Formation)
since this work is undoubtedly the most comprehensive and in many ways
representative of the redactional histories proposed for the book of Micah. Renaud
also takes into account other proposals and offers evaluations of them.

Introduction

27

matrix of circumstances that prompted and is addressed by the speech.


The general outline of the rhetorical situation will ultimately be
helpful in evaluating possible historical backgrounds of the discourse.
A reconstruction of the rhetorical situation involves a close and
careful reading of the text with particular attention to clues about the
identity of those addressed, the attitude of the audience and speaker,
and references to events, traditions and circumstances. Again it must
be emphasized that a reconstruction of the rhetorical situation is, to a
certain extent, a subjective undertaking. One must attempt to judge
when the speaker is setting forth the facts of the case and when
exaggerating and using hyperbole. Possible deliberate distortions of
the deeds or views of one's opponents must also be taken into consideration. When such factors are weighed carefully, however, it is
reasonable to assume that a fairly accurate reconstruction of the
rhetorical situation can emerge.
For the sake of convenience, the investigation of the rhetorical
situation will be divided into a consideration of objective and subjective factors.1 Objective factors include those events, conditions and
attitudes to which the discourse responds and is addressed. On the
other hand, subjective factors focus on the speakers' views of the
situation and their understanding and assessment of the consequences
of the present course of events as these are reflected in each unit.
Obviously, these two sets of factors are not mutually exclusive and
there is a constant interaction between them. In addition, the prophet's
own understanding of events influences how he presents them in his
discourse. It is therefore not possible to speak of purely objective
factors as if these were 'facts' divorced from all interpretation.
Nevertheless, for the purpose of analysis, it is helpful to organize the
elements of the rhetorical situation into the two interdependent categories of objective and subjective factors.
The final step of a rhetorical analysis is an investigation of the
arrangement and structure of the discourse. In the present investigation, this analysis will be subsumed under the heading 'Goals and
Strategy'. This section will examine how the discourse is structured
and how each part functions to set out the unit's arguments and to persuade in light of the speaker's goal. Special attention will be given to
the kinds of proofs that are utilized and the style that the prophet
employs in order to be persuasive.
1.

This approach is followed by Fox, 'Ezekiel's Vision', pp. 1-15.

28

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

It should be noted that the investigation of the strategy used in each


discourse is not intended to be exhaustive. Every stylistic device,
argument and proof found in a discourse cannot be explored in depth.
Therefore, the investigation will be limited to those persuasive strategies which are judged to be the more important with special attention
given to progression of thought and the manner in which the various
sections form a united, persuasive discourse.
In studying the goals and strategy of each discourse this investigation will to a limited extent utilize the system and terminology
employed in classical rhetoric. The validity of applying the observations of classical rhetoric to biblical material has been defended by
Kennedy:
Though rhetoric is colored by the traditions and conventions of the society
in which it is applied, it is also a universal phenomenon which is conditioned by basic workings of the human mind and by the nature of all
human society. Aristotle's objective in writing his Rhetoric was not to
describe Greek rhetoric, but to describe the universal facet of human
communication.1

Since the Greeks systematized and defined the rhetorical techniques


they observed and since these have a universal general applicability,
any investigation of a persuasive discourse may utilize the system and
terms of classical rhetoric while recognizing their limitations.2
History and Chronology
If the rhetorical situation has been accurately reconstructed from the
discourse, the factors reflected in that situation may be helpful in
evaluating proposed historical backgrounds. The failure of a proposed
1. Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation, p. 10.
2. While the system of classical rhetoric can be legitimately used to analyze
prophetic literature, a caution is sounded by Black: 'Accordingly, we should beware
of rhetorical analyses that mask characteristics of Jewish or Christian discourse
peculiar to their distinctive cultures' ('Rhetorical Criticism and Biblical
Interpretation', p. 257). There is a need to determine not just how prophetic
discourse conforms to the observations of classical rhetoric, but also to describe how
prophetic discourse differs (perhaps in significant ways). Such a study would need
to develop and classify in appropriate terminology the unique persuasive devices and
strategies found in prophetic discourses. Unfortunately, the present study does not
analyze enough material to allow the beginning of such a systematic description of
Hebrew persuasive rhetoric.

Introduction

29

historical setting to account for all elements in the rhetorical situation


means that such a proposed historical setting is not likely and makes it
necessary to seek another, more suitable setting. Similarly, if the
factors reflected in the rhetorical situation contradict what can be
known about a proposed historical setting, that setting must be
rejected. The investigation of the possible historical background of the
prophetic units in Micah will thus begin with a review of the various
settings proposed for all or part of each discourse and will offer an
evaluation of those proposals in light of the factors reflected in the
rhetorical situation.
The second part of the investigation of the historical background
will propose a historical setting which conforms to the observations
about the rhetorical situation. Each proposal must be viewed as tentative since the discourses in the book of Micah generally lack absolutely clear references to events which can be correlated to known
historical events and often employ metaphorical imagery.
Nevertheless, since the rhetorical situation reflects historical circumstances, some attempt, however tentative, can be made to place the
discourse in an appropriate historical setting.
In the course of the historical investigation it will at times be necessary to explore the evidence for a proposed historical setting. In a
similar manner, when a new historical background is proposed for a
discourse, the evidence for the new setting will be presented and
explored. Throughout this process it must be remembered that a
historical setting is not simply a sequence of indisputable facts and
events which can be objectively verified. Rather, a historical setting is
reconstructed from the historian's interpretation of various pieces of
evidence. The interpretation of evidence, and reconstruction, depend
upon numerous factors including the nature and limitation of available
sources as well as the limitations, experiences and assumptions of the
historian. 1 It must be admitted in advance, therefore, that evidence is
always open to more than one interpretation.
A particularly complex problem facing the historian is that of the
chronology of the latter half of the eighth century BCE. In this study
the chronological framework proposed by John H. Hayes and Paul

1. See J.M. Miller, The Old Testament and the Historian (Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1976), pp. 11-19.

30

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

K. Hooker will be followed.1 This chronology relies heavily upon the


figures in the MT. It is further assumed that a king's reign was calculated from his enthronement at the new year festival (in the month of
Tishri for Judah and Marheshvan for Israel). Consequently, a king
who died before he could be enthroned at this festival was never
assigned a year's rule.
For the latter half of the eighth century the following conclusions
and assumptions regarding chronology are significant.
1.

2.

3.

4.
5.

There was no co-regency of Azariah and Jotham. Rather,


because of leprosy, Azariah abdicated in favor of Jotham
who then assumed full responsibility as king. The enigmatic
reference in 2 Kgs 15.1 that Azariah's reign began in the
twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam II may have originally
referred to the date when Azariah was forced to abdicate.
The 52 years assigned to Azariah include the years from his
coronation until his death. For contractual and legal purposes
the years from the accession of Azariah continued to be
counted after his abdication. A similar situation is encountered for Hoshea whose nine-year reign includes the years
after his arrest when he no longer acted as king of Samaria.
The year 747-46 was not assigned to any king in the northern kingdom since civil war prevented a king from ascending
the throne at the new year festival.
The 20 years assigned to Pekah include a 16-year reign as a
rival king (possibly over Gilead) to the king of Samaria.
The report in 2 Kgs 18.13 and Isa. 36.1 that Sennacherib laid
siege to Jerusalem in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah is
incorrect. The event originally referred to in the fourteenth
year of Hezekiah was Hezekiah's illness which in popular
tradition came to be associated with Sennarcherib's attack and
the deliverance of the Judean king. Consequently, the
promise that Hezekiah would receive 15 more years of life
led to the erroneous conclusion that the fourteenth year of
Hezekiah was the year of Sennacherib's invasion.

1. J.H. Hayes and P.K. Hooker, A New Chronology for the Kings of Israel
and Judah (Atlanta: John Knox, 1988).

Introduction

31

In light of the preceding assumptions and conclusions, the following


chronology will be followed in the present study.
Israel

Judah

Jeroboam II (788/87-768/47)

Azariah (785/84-760/59)
Jotham (759/58-744/43)

Zechariah (747)
Shallum (747)
Menahem (746/45-737/36)
Ahaz (743/42-728/27)
Pekahiah (736/35-735/34)
Pekah (Gilead (750-735/34)
(Samaria 734-731/30)
Hoshea (730/29-722/21)
Hezekiah (727/26-699/98)

Chapter 1
'SURELY HER ILLNESSES ARE INCURABLE'

MlCAHl.2-16

Text and Translation


(2) Hear, O peoples, all of you1
listen, O earth, and all who fill it;
and Yahweh the Lord2 will be a witness against you,
the Lord from his holy temple.
(3) For behold, Yahweh is going forth from his place,
and he will come down and tread upon3
the heights of the earth.
(4) The mountains will melt beneath him,
and the valleys split open like wax before fire,
like water flowing down the slope.
(5) All of this is on account of
the rebellion of Jacob
and because of the sin of the house of Israel.4
1. Literally, 'all of them'. The third-person plural following the vocative is
apparently not ungrammatical however (cf. 1 Kgs 22.28), as is noted by Killers,
Micah, p. 16; Rudolph, Micha, p. 32; G. Stansell, Micah and Isaiah: A Form and
Tradition Historical Comparison (SBLDS 85; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988), p. 10.
2. The unusual occurrence, 'adonay YHWH makes the MT the more difficult text
which should therefore be retained. Allen also notes that the repetitious nature of the
double 'Lord, Yahweh' is 'a feature of Micah's poetry' (Micah, p. 264, n.b.).
3. Some scholars have deleted either darak or yarad based on IQpMic or the
LXX. As Hillers notes, however, there is 'no compelling ground for omitting either'
(Micah, p. 17). A similar conclusion is reached by Rudolph, Micha, p. 32; Stansell,
Isaiah and Micah, p. 10; and Renaud, Formation, p. 12. Indeed, the similarity of
the two words suggests one may have dropped out in some manuscripts due to
haplography. For the phrase see J.L. Crenshaw, 'Wedorek 'al-bamote 'ares', CBQ
34 (1970), pp. 39-53.
4. Some have proposed emending to 'house of Judah' based on parallelism with
the following verse (e.g. G. Fohrer, 'Micha 1', in F. Maas [ed.], Das Feme und

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

33

Who is responsible for1 the transgression of Jacob?


Is it not Samaria?
And who is responsible for the death2 of Judah?
Is it not Jerusalem?
(6) So I will make Samaria as a ruin in the field,3
as a planting place for a vineyard.
And I will pour into the valley her stones,
and her foundations I will expose.
(7) And all her hewn stones will be cut off,
and all her riches4 will be burned with fire,
and all her carvings I will make into a ruin.
Surely from a whore's wages she has gathered them,5
and to a whore's wages they will return.
(8) Over this I will wail and howl;6
I will walk about barefoot and naked;
I will make lament like the jackals
and moum like the ostriches.7
(9) Surely her illnesses8 are incurable;

nahe Wort [BZAW 105; Berlin: Topelmann, 1967], p. 70). Such an emendation is
based on a too strict parallelism and obscures the rhetorical function of these verses.
See the further discussion below under 'Goals and Strategy'.
1. Literally, 'Who is the sin of Jacob?' In this personification, the prophet is
evidently seeking to establish the fact that as the capitals of the kingdom, Jerusalem
and Samaria, are to be held responsible for the condition of the whole nation.
2. The MT 'high places' is enigmatic and the LXX ('sins') can be explained as a
simplification. Rudolph has proposed repointing the Hebrew to bemot with the initial
beth being understood as a beth essentiae (Micha, p. 33). It is possible that later
scribes understood the consonantal text as 'high places' since the word occurs earlier
(v. 3).
3. This unusual expression in the MT does not need to be emended.
4. The word has been taken to refer to images bought or made from the payment
to a prostitute. See especially, G.E. Watson, 'Allusion, Irony and Wordplay in
Micah 1, 7', Bib 65 (1984), pp. 103-5. It is questionable that the word has this
meaning when used alone. See also the discussion under The Rhetorical Situation',
below.
5. Some prefer emending the verb to the passive plural. Since the meaning is
clear, the MT may be retained as the more difficult reading.
6. The LXX reads third feminine singular verbs throughout vv. 8-9, but Mur 88
supports the MT.
7. Literally, 'daughter of greed', probably a reference to the ostrich. See Luker,
Doom and Hope, pp. 108-9.
8. The noun is plural in the MT.

34

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


surely it1 has come to Judah;
it has reached to the gate of my people, up to Jerusalem.2
(10) Tell it not in Gath3 weep there not at all.4
on account of Beth-leaphrah I roll in the dust.5

1. The antecedent is probably 'wounds' although the verb is the masculine


singular.
2. There are numerous textual difficulties in vv. 8-16 leading many scholars to
emend the text liberally and, at times, unnecessarily. The most influential treatment of
the text of Mic. 1.8-16 was that by K. Elliger ('Die Heimet des Propheten Micha',
ZDPV 57 [1934], pp. 81-152). In his work Elliger sets forth four criteria for the
reconstruction of the Hebrew text. First, it must be assumed that the right hand of the
manuscript has been damaged, making it necessary to restore the beginning of each
line. Second, the text has the 3 + 2 meter of a lament. Third, each sentence contains
only one place name which serves as the basis for a word play. Finally, there are
always two verses to a strophe (pp. 81-3).
Elliger then used these criteria to offer a reconstruction of the text of Mic.
1.10-16. His criteria have also been adopted completely or in part by a number of
scholars. Nevertheless, most emendations based on Elliger's assumptions are simply
speculation and not text criticism per se. In fact, the first two criteria employed by
Elliger have been seriously challenged by A.S. van der Woude ('Micah 1.10-16',
in Hommages a Andre Dupont-Sommer [Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1971],
pp. 348-50). In particular it is noted that only a few problems are encountered at the
beginning of the lines. Moreover, it is doubtful that the text was written with each
line beginning at the right-hand margin. Finally, even if each line did begin on the
right-hand side, how does one explain apparent textual difficulties within the line? It
is also doubtful that meter is a guide for textual reconstruction.
This textual study thus does not follow Elliger's criteria, but seeks to
establish a text based as much as possible upon accepted principles of textual
criticism. For thorough discussions of the textual problems of this section, see
R.C. Lux, An Exegetical Study ofMicah 1.8-16 (Dissertation, University of Notre
Dame, 1976), pp. 44-68. Also, see S.J. Schwantes, 'Critical Notes on Micah 1.1016', VT 14 (1964), pp. 454-61.
3. The LXX presupposes tagJlu ('boast'), a reading accepted by Wolff (Micah,
p. 13), Hillers (Micah, p. 25), and Fohrer ('Micha 1', p. 76). While a clear
decision is difficult, the MT presents no problems and can be retained.
4. The MT bako 'al-tibku is generally emended to yield a command to weep. So
Wolff, Micah, p. 43; Hillers, Micah, p. 25; Fohrer, 'Micha 1', p. 76; Mays,
Micah, p. 56; Schwantes, 'Critical Notes', p. 455. The negative imperative may be
explained as an indication that rites of mourning are not to take place in Gath. See
Allen, Micah, p. 276; Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 89.
5. This translation retains the kerib and understands the initial beth to be a
causal.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

35

(11) A Hebrew to you is the population of Shaphir.1


From her city2
the inhabitants of Zaanan did not come forth.
A lament for Beth-haezel!3
He will withdraw his support4 from you.
(12) Surely the inhabitants of Maroth
waited anxiously for good;
surely evil has come down from Yahweh
to the gate of Jerusalem.
(13) Harness the horses to the chariot,
inhabitant of Lachish!
She was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion,
surely in you were found all the rebellions of Israel.
(14) Therefore you shall restore a dowry
unto Moresheth-Gath.
The houses of Achzib are a deception
to the kings of Israel.
1. This reading understands 'ibri to be a noun rather than the masculine,
singular, imperative. To take the word as an imperative creates a rather inexplicable
disagreement between the form of the verb and the masculine plural pronoun which
follows. For the meaning, see 'The Rhetorical Situation', below.
2. The MT 'eryah-boset does not yield an intelligible meaning. The LXX
apparently read 'areyah 'her cities she did not go forth'. It is possible that the MT is a
misreading which resulted in the addition of the word boset as a gloss. Assuming the
loss of an initial m and from the evidence of the LXX it is possible to read me 'iyrah
'from her city, she did not come forth'. So Elliger, 'Die Heimat', pp. 90-1 and
Schwantes, 'Critical Notes', p. 456.
3. The MT literally reads, 'mourning (mispad) of Beth-haezel'. The proposed
interpretation understands the phrase to be a call for a lamentation for Beth-haezel.
While a lamed may have dropped out of the text before the name of the town, the
preposition may have been understood. Although the LXX connects this phrase to the
preceding verse, it understands Beth-haezel to be the object of mourning rather than
the subject. In any case, adding a lamed before Beth-haezel or assuming that one is
understood is preferable to assuming that the first half of the line is missing (Elliger,
'Die Heimat', p. 91) or that an entire word has dropped out of the text (Schwantes,
'Critical Notes', p. 457) or the emendation proposed by van Hoonacker who
suggested that the original reading was the verb masar, but a confusion of the letter r
with d led to a 'correction' of the text by the insertion of the p.
4. The noun is a hapax legomenon which appears to mean 'standing place'
(A.S. Carrier, 'The hapax legomena of the Minor Prophets', Hebraica 5 [1888-89],
pp. 209-14). If the word is being used figuratively it probably means 'support'. So
Allen (Micah, p. 276), van Hoonacker (Le douze petits prophetes, p. 362), and
Luker (Doom and Hope, p. 116 n. 20).

36

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


(15) Again I will bring a conqueror to you,
inhabitant of Mareshah;
unto Adullam shall the glory of Israel come.
(16) Make yourself bald, and cut off your hair
for the sake of the children of your delight;
make yourself as bald as the vulture,
for they have gone away from you.1

Unity and Date


Although Mic. 1.2-16 has been divided into as many as five separate
units, most modern scholars find only two units within this material:
vv. 2-7 (or 2-8) and vv. 8-16 (or 10-16).2 The first unit can be
classified as an oracle of judgment (Gerichtswort) introduced by a
theophany description3 and the second unit is most often described as a
lament or dirge.4 While these divisions and classifications are valid, a
number of factors suggest that Mic. 1.2-16 can be understood as a
unified discourse.
First, Mic. 1.5 indicates that Yahweh is going forth in judgment for
the offences of both Samaria and Jerusalem. Yet, vv. 6-7 describe
only the judgment upon Samaria. The fact that nothing further is said
concerning Jerusalem and Judah suggests that Mic. 1.2-7 is dependent
on the following lament (8-16) which demonstrates the nature of
1. The verb is in the perfect. For the translation, see below under 'The
Rhetorical Situation'.
2. Excellent surveys of various proposed divisions can be found in the
following: Lux, Exegetical Study, pp. 38-41; Stansell, Micah and Isaiah, pp. 1314; and D. Schibler, Le Prophete Michee et le regne d'Ezechias de Juda (une etude
historico-litteraire) (dissertation, Ecole Practique, Paris, 1980), pp. 6-18.
3. This classification is the conclusion of Stansell after a thorough and
convincing examination of these verses (Micah and Isaiah, pp. 15-18). A good
survey of other suggested classifications is given by Willi-Plein, Vorformen, p. 55.
4. Those who classify vv. 8-16 (or 10-16) as either a dirge or a lament include
J.M.P. Smith et al., Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Obadiah, and Joel
(ICC; Edinburgh; T. & T. Clark, 1911), p. 41; B. Duhm, 'Anmerkungen zu den
Zwolfpropheten', ZAW 31 (1911), p. 85; Crenshaw, 'Wedorek 'al-bamote 'ares\
p. 44; Jeremias, 'Die Deutung', p. 337; Rudolph, Micha, p. 38; Mays, Micah,
p. 51; Renaud, Formation, p. 38. Stansell's observation should be noted: 'The
more appropriate term here is dirge as the form elements., .and vocabulary
suggest... words which belong to the mourning rites for the dead' (Micah and
Isaiah, p. 43).

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

37

judgment on Judah and Jerusalem thus fulfilling the expectation


created in v. 5.
A number of commentators have suggested that all or part of Mic.
5b is an addition by an editor seeking to apply the oracle of judgment
to Jerusalem and to bind together the two parts of Mic. 1.2-16.1 Luker
has noted, however, that the double question introduced by mi 'is used
in the context of theophanic language in Exod. 15.11 and 2 Samuel 22
= Psalm 18, v. 33, as well as in Ps. 60.11 and 94.16, both laments'.2
It is thus likely that the second question of v. 5b is a typical feature of
the genre rather than a redactional addition. While the reference to
Jerusalem and the break in parallelism in v. 5 are unexpected, these
characteristics may be understood as rhetorical devices meant to
engage the audience (see below).
A second indication that Mic. 1.2-16 is to be understood as a unity
is the structure of this material. As noted above, vv. 2-16 is best
understood as the description of a theophany followed by a lament.
Luker notes a number of instances in which a lament or a recollection
of distress is followed by a theophany or a recollection or anticipation
of a theophany in which Yahweh fights on behalf of his people.3
Notable examples include Psalms 18; 77; 74; 89; and 83. In Mic. 1.216 one finds an artistic transformation of this pattern: now the
theophany signals Yahweh's approach to fight against his own people,
followed by a lament because God 'arrives to judge, condemn, and
destroy'.4 There is thus a unity in Mic. 1.2-16 based on the connection
between lament and theophany, even though the typical pattern is
transformed in these verses by the creativity of the prophet.
A third indication of unity is indicated by the function of vv. 8-9.
As noted above, there is disagreement concerning whether these
verses belong with the preceding or following material. In particular,
it is not certain if the opening phrase of v. 8 ('over this') refers to the
announcement of judgment on Samaria or the following description
associated with Judah and Jerusalem. Renaud has undertaken an
exhaustive study of the occurrences of the phrase 'over this' ('al-z'ot)
1. Jeremias, 'Die Deutung', pp. 333-35; Renaud, Formation, p. 74; Mays,
Micah, p. 45; Lescow, 'Redaktionsgeschichtliche Analyse von Micha 1-5', p. 51.
2. Luker, Doom and Hope, pp. 151-52.
3. Luker, Doom and Hope, pp. 140-47.
4. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 148.

38

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

in the Old Testament and has concluded that the phrase is never used
at the beginning of a new unit; rather it refers back to preceding
material and introduces statements which draw out the consequences
of the preceding description.1 In Mic. 1.8 the phrase thus points back
to what has been described (the sin of Samaria and its judgment) and
connects this with what follows (the impact on Jerusalem). Verses 8
and 9 also introduce the theme of lamentation and thus serve as a
transition to the lament of Mic. 1.10-16. While one cannot rule out the
possibility that these verses were added by a redactor, it is certain that
they function to unite Mic. 1.2-16 into one discourse.2
Finally, a number of factors make the material in Mic. 1.2-16
distinct from the following material. First, the focus of Mic. 1.2-16 is
Jerusalem and Samaria. As we shall see, even the lament of 10-16 is
concerned with both Samaria and Jerusalem. In contrast, the discourse
that begins in Mic. 2.1 mentions neither capital by name. Secondly,
Mic. 1.2-16 concerns the loss of the cities of the Shephelah and the
expected destruction of Samaria while Mic. 2.Iff focuses on a
powerful group in Israel which is to be punished by losing its land.
Finally, the reason for judgment differs in the two chapters. In Mic.
1.2-16 the only sin that can be identified is Samaria's gathering of
goods like a prostitute (vv. 6-7), but in Mic. 2.Iff the sin relates to
the taking of land by powerful oppressors. The situation presupposed
in Mic. 1.2-16 thus unites that material and at the same time separates
it as a distinct unit from what follows.
While various historical backgrounds have been proposed for the
material in Mic. 1.2-16, it is sufficient to note here that almost all
scholars assign the bulk of this chapter to the prophet Micah and the
eighth century BCE. Two notable exceptions must be mentioned,
however. On the one hand, Alfred Jepsen assigns vv. 6-7 to the
prophet Hosea rather than Micah.3 Jepsen's conclusion is based on the
similarity of the theme of these verses to themes in Hosea and the
1. Renaud, Formation, pp. 38-41. See also the comments of Hillers (Micah,
p. 23): 'Moreover, "over this" typically refers back, not forward; note Jer. 31.26;
Ps. 32.6; Isa. 57.6; 64.11 (EV 12); Jer. 5.9, 29; 9.8; and Amos 8.8...' Similar
observations are made by Wolff (Micah, p. 48).
2. It should be noted that Renaud sees the unity of the chapter as redactional
(Formation, pp. 38-41) as does Wolff (Micah, p. 59).
3. A. Jepsen, 'Kleine Beitriige zum Zwolfprophetenbuch', ZAW 56 (1938),
pp. 96-99.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

39

belief that Mic. 1.6-7 constitutes the only references to idolatry in the
parts of the book believed to be authentic. Again, however, most
scholars have been unwilling to deny the possibility that these verses
come from Micah himself. At the very least, it is impossible to prove
that these verses are a fragment of an oracle from Hosea: 'Comment
distinguer sur las base d'un ou deux versets le language de deux
prophetes d'un meme epoqueT1
On the other hand, Volkmar Fritz has suggested that Mic. 1.2-7
was added by an anti-Samaritan redactor of the fourth century BCE.2
Such a theory is based largely on the belief that Micah prophesied
only against Jerusalem at a point late in Hezekiah's reign. Any reference to Samaria must thus find its date in a time of later conflict
between Jerusalem and Samaria. However, more scholars are
unwilling a priori to deny the possibility that Micah prophesied before
the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians in 722 BCE. An attempt to discern
the exact nature of the historical background presupposed by these
verses must be determined by a careful analysis of the rhetorical
situation reflected in Mic. 1.2-16.
The Rhetorical Situation
Objective Factors
The major objective factor which has shaped the discourse in Mic.
1.2-16 is summarized in v. 9: 'Her illnesses are incurable; surely it
has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, up to
Jerusalem'. Two important pieces of information are revealed by this
verse. First, Samaria has been overtaken by some sort of disaster
which the prophet calls 'her illnesses'. From vv. 6-7 it is clear that
the prophet believes that this disaster will eventually culminate in the
destruction of Samaria. Second, this disaster has spread to Judah and
has come up to Jerusalem itself. Although the nature of the illnesses is
not immediately revealed, it is safe to conclude that the disaster which
initially threatened Samaria now infects Judah and threatens
Jerusalem.
1. Renaud, Formation, p. 42.
2. V. Fritz, 'Das Wort gegen Samaria: Mi 1, 2-7', ZAW 86 (1974), pp. 31631. A similar conclusion was reached by Lescow, 'Micha 1-5', pp. 82-83.

40

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

It is possible that vv. 10-16 reveal the nature of the illness which
has spread to Judah and threatens Jerusalem. In fact, the adversity
which damages Judah and Jerusalem is summarized in v. 16b: 'For
they [the cities] have gone away from you [Jerusalem]'. It is generally
believed that this verse describes the exile of the cities mentioned in
Mic. 1.10-16 since the verb which is used often carries the meaning
'to go into exile'. This conclusion, however, is far from certain.
D.E. Gowan has shown that the verb glh became a technical term for
exile only in the exilic period.1 Before 586 BCE the verb could simply
mean 'remove' or even 'leave'. Moreover, when the verb is used in
the restricted, technical meaning 'go/take into exile' the hiphil and
hophal stems are normally used. The qal form in Mic. 1.16 could thus
mean nothing more than 'they have left you'. In any case, it is not
necessary to interpret the term in Mic. 1.16 in light of its later
development.
A careful reading of vv. 10-15 suggests that the disaster which has
spread to Judah and Jerusalem is not the loss of some cities to an
enemy; rather these cities on their own have undertaken a course of
action which is harmful and disloyal to Jerusalem. The opening verse
of the lament with its reference to Gath probably echoes the lament of
David on the occasion of Saul's death (2 Sam. 1.19-27). In Mic. 1.10
the saying 'is used proverbially: let not the enemy hear of our
defeat'.2 The following line poses grammatical difficulties, but probably continues the thought of the first line: 'Weep [there] not at all'.
The idea seems to be that acts of mourning should not be displayed in
the presence of the proverbial enemy of Israel. From the address in
v. 10 it cannot be determined for certain whether Gath is considered
a city of Judah, but it does not seem likely.
The prophet explains in lOb that his act of mourning (rolling in
dust) is due to Beth-leaphrah, although he does not give details of that
town's actions. Verse 11 is an enigmatic address which apparently
characterizes the population of Shaphir as being like a 'Hebrew'.
Whatever the exact significance of the term, its etymology indicates
that 'Hebrew' was a term applied to one who had crossed a boundary

1. D.E. Gowan, 'The Beginning of Exile-Theology and the Root glh', ZAW 87
(1975), pp. 204-207.
2. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 158.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

41

whether that boundary was geographical, cultic, or otherwise.1 The


thought of v. 11 is apparently that the population of Shaphir is like
one who has 'crossed over'.
While it is not possible to know the exact meaning of the masculine
plural pronoun (laketri), it is reasonable to assume that the antecedent
is Samaria and Jerusalem who have been personified in v. 5 and who
was linked together in v. 9. Verse 11 can thus be seen as an accusation
that Shaphir is regarded by Jerusalem and Samaria as one who has
crossed over; that is, the town has withdrawn from the political arena
of the capitals.
The addresses to Zaanan, Beth-haezel and Maroth are also to be
understood as accusations. The description of Zaanan probably means
that she did not come out to render military assistance in a time of
trouble.2 The textually difficult address to Beth-haezel may accuse the
town of defection. The prophet's audience is apparently called to
lament over Beth-haezel because that town has withdrawn its support
from them. Once again, the masculine pronoun (from you) may be
taken as a reference to the cities of Samaria and Jerusalem which the
prophet had personified in v. 5b. The description of Maroth indicates
that the inhabitants of that city hoped for good or political tranquility
because evil had come down to the gates of Jerusalem.
Lachish is singled out for a harsh condemnation by the prophet. The
accusation against the town that she is the 'beginning of sin to the
daughter of Zion' may be interpreted in several ways. Some have suggested that the sin of Lachish is that of reliance on horses and chariots.3 Indeed, trust in military might, especially horses and chariots, is
prohibited by Deut. 17.6, and is condemned by other prophets (Hos.
10.13; 14.3; Isa. 2.7; 30.16; 31.1).
A second interpretation suggests that the sin of Lachish is cultic in
nature. Excavations at Lachish in 1966 and 1968 uncovered a ninthcentury BCE Israelite sanctuary along with a raised platform which
some have interpreted to be a 'high place' with a massebah (pillar) and
1. The exact significance and origin of the word is, of course, the subject of
much debate. It is sufficient to note that the root of the word appears to mean 'cross
over' (BDB, pp. 716-20). Also, see the observation of B.C. Bissel ('The Use of
'br and Its Compounds in the Hexateuch', Hebraica 1 [1883-84], pp. 9-12) that the
term basically means 'what is beyond, the other side of something' (p. 9).
2. Mays, Micah, p. 57.
3. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 110; Wolff, Micah, p. 62.

42

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

asherah. Thus, Boyd has concluded: 'Perhaps it was this bamah which
occasioned Micah's bitter indictment of Lachish...M
A third interpretation is more political in nature. B.Z. Luria has
argued that 2 Kgs 14.17-22 suggests that Amaziah ruled the cities of
the Shephelah for 15 years from Lachish as a rival king to Azariah.2
Luria's interpretation, however, cannot be accepted since the biblical
text only indicates that Amaziah was assassinated in Lachish after
fleeing from Jerusalem and never mentions any political rule in
Lachish. Nevertheless, Luria's hypothesis does underscore the fact that
Lachish was a large and important city capable of rivaling Jerusalem
in influence and political power.
From the limited information in Mic. 1.13, it is impossible to say
with certainty whether the sin of Lachish was military, cultic, or
political. In the context of addresses to cities which have been disloyal
to Jerusalem, it would appear that the accusation is primarily political
in nature: 'she was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion'. In
any case, the command to 'harness the horses to the chariot' appears to
be a sarcastic command for the city to prepare either for battle or for
flight.
The connection between vv. 13 and 14 is uncertain. Although one
would expect to find an announcement of judgment upon Lachish after
the accusations against that city, v. 14 appears to concern the departure of Moresheth-Gath. The second, feminine singular verb is usually
taken as a reference to 'Israel' or the 'daughter of Zion' (v. 13) and it
is suggested that Jerusalem is to give a dowry to Moresheth-Gath as a
'parting gift' since she is going into exile.3
It more likely that the verb 'you will give' takes Lachish as its
subject since the initial word of v. 14 ('therefore') indicates a connection between the 'rebellions' of Lachish and the fate of MoreshethGath. Rather than marriage imagery, the prophet may have had in
mind the divorce practices, reflected in Deut. 24.1-4, which required
that the dowry be returned when the husband divorced the wife with1. B. Boyd, 'Lachish', IDBSup, p. 526. See also Y. Aharoni, 'Trial
Excavation in the "Solar Shrine" of Lachish', IEJ 18 (1968), pp. 157-69.
2. B.Z. Luria, The Political Background for Micha: Ch. 1', Beth Mikra 71,4
(1977), pp. 403-12 (Hebrew); English summary, p. 532.
3. Hillers suggests that the second, feminine singular is likely addressed to
Jerusalem (Micah, p. 27, n. m.).

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

43

out grounds. 1 This implies that Lachish and Moresheth-Gath are


parting ways. Since Lachish apparently has defected (v. 13),
Moresheth-Gath must be remaining loyal to Jerusalem. This situation
reflects the 'divorce' of the two cities.
The accusation against Achzib in Mic. 1.14b presents two difficulties in interpretation. First, it is unclear why the plural 'kings'
occurs in this verse. Two interpretations are possible. The plural may
refer to either the Judean monarchy in general or to the king of Judah
and the king of Israel. Since the prophet is concerned with both
Samaria and Jerusalem (v. 5; vv. 8-9) the latter interpretation seems
more probable. In this case 'Israel' would refer to the combined states
of north and south (see below).
A second problem is determining why the prophet refers to the
'houses' of Achzib. A. Demsky has proposed, on the basis of 1 Chron.
4.21, that 'houses' refers to royal factories which produced 'either the
pottery needed for the royal retinue or the special royal standardized
pottery that would later be stamped with the Imlk seals'.2 Thus, the
verse is thought to mean that the royal factories were a loss to the
kings of Israel. On the other hand, Hillers has noted that the word
'akzab concerns not just a loss 'but something which deceives and
disappoints, which does not fit well with "factories"'.3 A more
probable interpretation is that 'houses' refers not to buildings but to
the leading clans and families of the city.4 Thus, the ruling families of
the town of Achzib have in some way failed or disappointed the royal
leadership of Jerusalem and Samaria.
Verse 15 announces a time when Mareshah and Adullam will be
restored. The city of Mareshah will be conquered again or repossessed, presumably by Jerusalem, and the 'glory of Israel' shall return
to Adullam. It is probable that here the 'glory' refers to the military
might, prestige and power of the nation.5 It is also probable that the
1. See R. Westbrook, The Prohibition on Restoration of Marriage in Deut.
24.1-4', in S. Japhet (ed.), Studies in Bible 1986 (SH 31; Jerusalem: Magnes,
1986), pp. 387-405.
2. A. Demsky, 'The Houses of Achzib: A Critical Note on Micah 1.14b', IE]
16 (1966), pp. 211-15. Demsky's proposal is accepted by Aharoni, 'Trial
Excavations', p. 169.
3. Hillers, Micah, p. 105.
4. For examples of this meaning of 'house', see BOB, pp. 109-10.
5. See Mays, Micah, p. 59.

44

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

term 'Israel' refers to the people of Yahweh in general rather than


just to the northern kingdom. The clear implication of v. 15 is that
both of these towns are lost to Jerusalem and must be retaken.
Mic. 1.10-16 thus presupposes a situation in which Jerusalem has
suffered the loss of support from a number of towns. Although these
verses are cast in the form of a lament or a dirge, they function to
make accusations against these towns. It is unlikely that these cities
were chosen at random by the prophet. While it is true that the towns
are close to Micah's home town of Moresheth-Gath, this fact alone
does not explain why Micah addresses them. On the other hand, it is
unlikely that the prophet included these towns in his lament solely
because their names could yield good word plays1 since word plays
could be derived from any number of sites in Judah and Israel. It is
more logical to conclude that these particular towns are addressed
because they were ones that had defected from Jerusalem.
It is generally agreed that the towns addressed in the lament of Mic.
1.10-16 are all located in a limited geographical area in the
Shephelah.2 The location of a number of the cities is fairly certain. In
particular, Lachish is identified with Tell ed-Duweir with a high
degree of certainty.3 Even a recent attempt by G.W. Ahlstrb'm4 to
cast doubt on the identification of Lachish with Tell ed-Duweir has
received no support and has been effectively refuted.5
The locations of Mareshah and Adullam are also fairly certain and
proposed identifications of these sites are accepted by all scholars.
Name retention, biblical and extra-biblical evidence, and archaeological excavations suggest that Tell Sandahannah, one mile southeast of
Beit Jibrin and immediately east of Kirbet Mer'ash, is the site of

1. In contrast to Fohrer ('Micha 1', p. 79) and Allen (Micah, p. 278) who
suggest the names were more or less picked at random for the purpose of wordplay.
2. For a thorough investigation of the location of the cities, see Lux, Exegetical
Study, pp. 119-210.
3. See R.W. Hamilton, 'Lachish', IDE, III, pp. 53-54. Also, the similarity of
the Lachish Relief to the town is noted by D. Ussishkin, The "Lachish Relief and
the Siege of Lachish', IEJ 30 (1980), pp. 174-95.
4. G.W. Ahlstrom, 'Is Tell ed-Duweir Ancient Lachish?' PEQ 112 (1980),
pp. 7-9.
5. G.I. Davies, 'Tell ed-Duweir = Ancient Lachish: A Response to
G.W. Ahlstrom', PEQ 114 (1982), pp. 25-28.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

45

Mareshah.1 The site of ancient Adullam is generally thought to be Tell


Sheikh Madkhur about nine and a half miles east of Beit Jibrin.2 This
site corresponds to rather precise information from Eusebius and
Jerome3 and is in the general location suggested by biblical texts such
as Josh. 15.35 and 2 Chron. 11.7.
The site of Moresheth-Gath can also be identified with a fair degree
of confidence. Aside from Mic. 1.14 Moresheth is mentioned only in
Mic. 1.1 and Jer. 26.18, both of which identify the place as the home
of Micah. The designation 'Moresheth-Gath' in Mic. 1.14 suggests that
the site must have been in the vicinity of Gath (Tell es-Safi or 'Araq
el-Menshiyeh). Moresheth-Gath is probably to be identified with Tell
ej-Judeideh about two miles north of Beit Jibrin. 4 This location corresponds to the information given by Jerome as well as the information
from the Madeba map which locates the town just northeast of
Eluetheropolis.5 From the excavations of Tell ej-Judeideh by Bliss and
Macalister it is clear that the site was occupied in the eighth century.6
The identification of Moresheth-Gath as Tell ej-Judeideh should
probably be accepted.
While the location of Lachish, Adullam, Mareshah and MoreshethGath can be made with a high degree of confidence, only a probable
identification can be suggested for other cities in Mic. 1.10-16.
Particularly problematic is the question of the location of Gath. Extrabiblical evidence is not especially helpful and the interpretation of

1. P.M. Abel, Geographic de la Palestine II (Paris: Gabalda, 1938), pp. 37879. J. Simons, The Geographical and Topographical Texts of the Old Testament
(Leiden: Brill, 1959), p. 473.
2. V.R. Gold, 'Adullam', IDE, I, p. 51; Lux, Exegetical Study, p. 198;
Simons, Geographical and Topographical Texts, p. 146.
3. E.R. Conder, 'TheOnomasticon', PEFQS 28 (1896), p. 229; Lux, Exegetical
Study, p. 193. Also, see Simons, Geographical and Topographical Texts, p. 146.
4. V.R. Gold, 'Moresheth-Gath', IDE, III, p. 438. This identification was
first proposed by J. Jeremias ('Moreshet-Gath, die Heimat des Propheten Micah',
PJ 29 [1933], pp. 42-53) and has been accepted by Elliger ('Die Heimat', p. 121),
Mays (Micah, p. 59), Fohrer ('Micha 1', p. 77), Lux (Exegetical Study, p. 122),
and Abel (Geographic II, p. 392).
5. See Abel, Geographic II, p. 392; Lux, Exegetical Study, p. 169.
6. F.J. Bliss and R.A.S. Macalister, Excavations in Palestine During the Years
1898-1900 (London: Harrison and Son, 1902), p. 106.

46

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

biblical references is debated.1 Nevertheless, 1 Chron. 11.8 appears to


locate the city in the area of Mareshah, Adullam and Soco, and
Eusebius also locates Gath in this same area.2 Bliss and Macalister
suggested that Tell es-Safis, which revealed four levels of occupation,
including one from the iron age ('Israelite'), should be identified with
ancient Gath.3 On the other hand, Welten has argued that the site of
Gath is 'Araq el-Menshiyeh, some 10 miles west of Tell ej-Judeideh.4
Unfortunately, neither site has produced evidence which allows a
conclusive identification with Gath. While it is likely that one of the
sites is the ancient Philistine town, one cannot make a certain
identification.
There is sufficient biblical and extra-biblical information on Achzib
to suggest it is to be located in the vicinity of Mareshah and Abdullam.
Josh. 15.44 lists Achzib immediately after Mareshah. It is also possible
that the Cozeba of 1 Chron. 4.21-22, mentioned with Mareshah,5 is
identical to Achzib, although this is not certain. In addition, it is
generally believed that the Chezib of Gen. 38.5 near Adullam is the
same as Achzib.6
In his excavations at Lachish, Aharoni discovered a partially legible
ostracon which apparently lists individuals who are to receive some
commodity.7 The last line of the list reads 'the house of Achzi[b]'. The
ostracon may thus suggest that a place or a clan named Achzib was in
1. Gath is mentioned along with Jerusalem and Gaza in the Amarna letters
(ANET, p. 489). Josh. 13.3; 11.21; 2 Chron. 26.6 mentions Gath with Ashdod.
Gath is mentioned with Ekron in 1 Sam. 17.52 and 1 Sam. 7.14. The literatur
the subject of the location of Gath includes: B. Mazar, 'Gath and Gittaim', IEJ 4
(1954), pp. 227-35; G.E. Wright, 'Fresh Evidence for the Philistine Story', BA 29
(1966), pp. 70-86; W.F.Albright, The Sites of Ekron', Gath, and Libnah',
AASOR II-III (1923), pp. 7-12.
2. Bliss and Macalister, Excavations, p. 66.
3. Bliss and Macalister, Excavations, pp. 62-66. Anson Rainey also argues for
this identification of ancient Gath ('Gath of the Philistines', Christian News from
Israeli*, 4 [1966], pp. 25-30).
4. P. Welten, Die Konigs-Stempel. Ein Beitrag zur Militarpolitlk Judas unter
Hiskia und Josia (Abhandlungen des Deutschen Palastinvereins 1; Weisbaden:
Otto Harrassowitz, 1969), pp. 68-81. See also Wolff, Micah, pp. 59-60.
5. Demsky, The Houses of Achzib', p. 214.
6. Abel, Geographic II, p. 237; Lux, Exegetical Study, p. 81; Simons,
Geographical and Topographical Texts, p. 211.
7. Aharoni, Trial Excavation', pp. 168-69.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

47

the vicinity of Lachish. Unfortunately, even with the biblical and


extra-biblical information it is difficult to find a definite site for
Achzib. Tell el-Beida, three miles southwest of Adullam, was proposed by Elliger1 and has been accepted by the majority of scholars.
Simons, however, confesses that the location is unknown and can only
be very tentatively identified with Tell el-Beida.2
Finally, the exact location of a number of cities listed in Mic. 1.1016 is unknown. Mic. 1.10 contains the only reference to Beth-leaphrah
and proposed sites for this town remain highly speculative.3 Similarly,
locations for Shaphir, referred to only in Mic. 1.10, are based only on
possible name retention.4 Thus, the identification of Shaphir cannot be
made with any degree of certainty. The location of Zaanan is also
unknown. Even the probable equation of Zaanan with the Zenan of
Josh. 15.37 which is proposed by some scholars provides little help in
locating the site other than placing it in the general vicinity of
Lachish. 5 The exact location, however, still remains unknown. A
majority of scholars have concluded that Beth-haezel and Maroth
cannot be identified. Indeed, the fact that there are no other references
to these sites in biblical or non-biblical texts makes any proposed
identifications uncertain.6
From the proposed identifications of the cities mentioned in Mic.
1.10-16 it is clear that they lie within a limited geographical area in
the Shephelah. This area stretches from Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir)
northward to Gath and reaches eastward as far as Adullam. While the
exact location of four towns cannot be known, it is reasonable to
conclude that they are found in this same area. Thus all the cities are
to be located in the Shephelah of Judah.
1. Elliger, 'Die Heimat', pp. 121-22.
2. Simons, Geographical and Topographical Texts, p. 221.
3. See Lux, Exegetical Study, p. 139. Simons locates no less than five possible
sites for this city (Geographical and Topographical Texts, p. 472).
4. A possible identification is with one of the villages named es-Suwafir near
Askalon (Conder, The Onomasticon', p. 243). However, identification is based
solely on possible name retention, and is questionable since it apparently lay in
Philistine rather than Judean territory (see Lux, Exegetical Study, pp. 141-42).
5. Elliger, 'Die Heimat', p. 127. See especially the comments by
D. Kellermann, 'Uberlieferungsprobleme Alttestamentlicher Ortsnamen', VT 28
(1978), pp. 423-32.
6. See the discussion in Lux, Exegetical Study, pp. 127-47.

48

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Mic. 1.10-16 presents us with a description of cities in a limited


area of the Shephelah which, perhaps led by Lachish, have demonstrated disloyalty toward Samaria and Jerusalem. If this defection is
the illness which has come down to Jerusalem, it is reasonable to
conclude that Samaria must be facing the same sort of defections since
it is her illness which has spread to Jerusalem (v. 9). Although the
prophet apparently accuses the towns of disloyalty to both capitals, his
focus on Jerusalem in vv. 9, 14 and 16 suggests that his audience and
his sympathies were with Jerusalem.
It may be that these rebellions against the capitals are the 'sins
[rebellions] of the house of Israel' and the 'transgressions of the house
of Jacob' (v. 5). If this interpretation of v. 5 is correct, the capitals
are considered to be responsible for both the 'death' of Judah and the
'rebellions' of Israel (v. 5b). Yet Samaria must ultimately be held
responsible, for it is her wound that threatens her destruction and has
now spread to Judah.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to discern what Samaria has done to
make her responsible for the threat of destruction that she has brought
upon herself. Most commentators have concluded that the sin of
Samaria is related to cultic offences, especially idolatry. A careful
reading of vv. 6-7 casts doubt on this interpretation, however. First,
it is not clear that the objects mentioned in v. 7 have provoked the
anger of Yahweh. In v. 6 the stones and foundations of Samaria are
the objects of Yahweh's wrath, but one would hardly conclude that
they have provoked that wrath. Similarly, while in v. 7 the pesilim
and 'asabim are the objects of Yahweh's judgment, it does not necessarily follow that they are the sole cause of judgment; rather, their
destruction is an inevitable part of the destruction of the city of
Samaria itself.
Secondly, since Mic. 1.6 is clearly associated with the buildings of
Samaria, the pesilim and asabim may refer not to 'idols' or cultic
paraphernalia, but to carvings and hewn stones which decorate buildings in the city. It may be of significance that Amos alludes to the
elaborate buildings and ivory carvings of Samaria (Amos 4.11; 6.4). *
1. It should be noted that Wolff recognizes that the focus of these verses is the
magnificent buildings of Samaria (see below), but his interpretation of v. 7a as a
reference to cultic objects forces him to classify v. 7a as a later addition (Micah,
p. 42).

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

49

In addition, later Aramaic documents use the term psl to refer to


hewn stones of a temple, but these appear to be merely parts of the
temple construction rather than cultic objects.1 It is thus possible that
v. 7a, like v. 6, is concerned with the buildings of Samaria. While
v. 6 focuses on the stones and foundations of the buildings, v. 7a
perhaps focuses on the hewn stones and bas reliefs that adorn those
buildings.
Finally, the noun 'etnan which occurs three times in v. 7 does not
necessarily refer to cultic offences. Medieval commentators understood the term to signify either gifts of money to the temple or the
wealth of the nation.2 Indeed, Mays correctly points out that other
than a reference in Hosea (which may be open to more than one interpretation) the term 'hire' ('etnan) 'is applied to political (Ezek.
16.3Iff) and economic relations (Isa. 23.17rf) as a characterization of
gifts or profits'.3 It is also significant that the term zanah (7b) in some
cases refers to commercial and political involvement with foreign
nations (Isa. 23.17; 2 Kgs 9.22; Nahum 3-4; Ezek. 16.13).4 The
essence of Samaria's sin may thus have to do with foreign political and
economic alliances and associations which have allowed her to acquire
the wealth represented by her magnificent buildings. Although he
takes v. 7a to be a later addition, the same conclusion is reached by
H.W. Wolff:
Micah probably had in mind that Samaria gave commercial goods and
tribute to the great power Assyria, and therefore 'gathered' 'whore's
wages', which made possible the splendid buildings for the royal
residence.5

It would thus appear that Micah is more concerned about Samaria's


political and economic entanglements than idolatry per se. It may thus
be that the deeds of Samaria which are responsible for her judgment
1. What may be significant is that the word is used to describe the features of the
Temple at Yeb. In particular, the gates of stone are described as 'built with hewn
blocks of stone': bnyn psylh zy bn (Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century BC [ed.
A. Cowley; Osnabriick: Otto Zeller, 1967] no. 3, p. 113).
2. Noted by B. Halper, The Root TNN', AJSL 24 (1907-1908), p. 366.
3. Mays, Micah, p. 48.
4. S. Erlandsson, 'zanah\ TDOT, IV, pp. 99-104.
5. Wolff, Micah, p. 58. It is more likely, however, that Samaria profited from
her submission and support of Assyria. See the discussion above.

50

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

as well as the 'rebellions' of Israel are the economic and political


policies which the capital has pursued. In some way these policies have
created a sickness of rebellion which has spread into Judah and to the
very gates of Jerusalem.
Subjective Factors
The above consideration of the objective factors of the rhetorical situation has already touched indirectly on a number of more subjective
factors. In particular, the subjective factors of the rhetorical situation
consist of the assessment of events in the material.
First, the prophet believes that the capital cities Jerusalem and
Samaria bear responsibility for the difficulties that now plague the
nation. Verse 5 makes it clear that Micah considers Samaria and
Jerusalem to be responsible for the sins of Israel and the 'death' of
Judah and must thus bear the brunt of judgment. The prophet implies,
however, that the greater responsibility lies with Samaria since he
laments that it is her 'illnesses' which have spread to Jerusalem. It is
not surprising therefore that the punishment envisioned for Samaria is
worse than that envisioned for Jerusalem. While Jerusalem has lost
her 'children', Samaria will be completely destroyed.
The differences in the judgment announced upon the two cities may
betray a sympathetic attitude toward Jerusalem. Certainly, the personification of Jerusalem as a mother grieving for her lost children
evokes a measure of sympathy for the Judean capital. Moreover, the
prophet portrays Jerusalem as a victim both of Samaria's illness and
of the sins of Lachish. Micah also foresees for Jerusalem a restoration
beyond judgment. As we shall see, this unwavering belief in a renewal
after disaster becomes increasingly important in the prophet's thought
in subsequent discourses. Nevertheless, belief in restoration is already
present in the lament of Mic. 1.10-16. If the above interpretation of
Mic. 1.15 is correct, the prophet has confidence that a new
'conqueror' will retake Mareshah and the 'glory of Israel' will return
to Adullam. Micah is thus able to lament Jerusalem's loss while simultaneously announcing a time when these losses will be reversed.
Unlike the judgment on Samaria, the prophet suggests that beyond
Jerusalem's misfortune lies restoration and renewal.
A second assessment of the situation is the prophet's assertion that
the defection of the cities of the Shephelah is a manifestation of
Yahweh's judgment. Micah envisions Yahweh coming forth to judge

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

51

his people and in particular to judge Samaria and Jerusalem. The evil
which has come to the very gate of Jerusalem is described as having
come 'from Yahweh' (v. 12).The evil is apparently the loss of the
cities of the Shephelah since the cities addressed in Mic. 1.10-15 move
ever closer to Jerusalem. Finally, it is Yahweh himself who is
portrayed as announcing and carrying out the destruction of Samaria
(vv. 6-7).
It should be noted that Micah sees judgment as underway, but not
yet completed. It is clear that a number of cities of the Shephelah are
already lost to Jerusalem. On the other hand, Samaria's judgment lies
at an unspecified time in the future. The prophet thus understands the
present catastrophe which confronts the capitals as but a prelude to the
disaster which will come to Samaria. This understanding is made clea
both by the reference to Samaria's sickness as 'terminal' and by the
direct announcement of judgment in vv. 6-7.
Goals and Strategy
What is the goal of a speech such as Mic. 1.2-16? On the one hand, it
is clear that the prophet does not explicitly attempt to persuade his
audience to take a certain course of action. Other than calling his
audience to mourn, Micah does not prescribe what his hearers should
do in the present situation. On the other hand, the prophet does present his audience with a particular view of the current situation. He
invites them to see a connection between sin and judgment and paints
for them a picture of the present catastrophe as the work of Yahweh
himself. In addition, Micah offers a picture of Samaria and Jerusalem
not as the glory of the nation, but as responsible for the sin currently
troubling the people. The audience is allowed to imagine Samaria as a
prostitute and Jerusalem as a mother mourning for her children. In
short, Micah presents the audience with his view of the contemporary
situation. His goal is to present that view in such a way that his audience is persuaded that his understanding and assessment are correct.
It can be assumed that if the audience accepts the prophet's view of
matters, appropriate actions might follow. However, in Mic. 1.2-16
Micah concentrates on the prior and more fundamental task of convincing his hearers of his assessment of the situation. The discourse
which the prophet produces can be outlined as follows:

52
I.

II.

III.

IV.

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


Introduction
A. Summons to hear addressed to the nations and the earth
(v. 2a)
B. Reason for summons: Yahweh will be a witness against
you (2b)
Description of Theophany
A. The coming forth of Yahweh (3)
B. Effects of Yahweh's approach upon nature (4)
C. Reason for Yahweh's approach (5)
1. Sin of Jacob, transgression of Israel (5a)
2. Responsibility for sin (5b)
a. Samaria: the sin of Jacob
b. Jerusalem ('death' of Judah)
D. Future result of Yahweh's appearance (6-7)
1. Destruction of Samaria (6-7a)
2. Reason: her goods are gathered from a prostitute's
hire (7b)
Reaction of Prophet: Lamentation (8-9)
A. Description of prophet's mourning (8)
B. Reasons for mourning (9)
1. Samaria's wickedness is incurable (9a)
2. The sickness has spread to Judah and to Jerusalem (9b)
Prophet's description of sickness which has come to the gate
of Jerusalem (10-15)
A. Indication of disaster: Address to Gath (v. lOa)
B. Prophet's mourning for Beth-leaphra (lOb)
C. Shaphir is like a Hebrew to Samaria and Jerusalem (1 la)
D. Zaanan does not come forth (lib)
E. Beth-haezel will withdraw support (lie) from 'you'
(Samaria and Jerusalem)
F. Maroth hopes for good because of Jerusalem's
misfortune (12)
G. Lachish: Leader of sin for daughter of Zion (13)
H. Moresheth-Gath must be given a dowry (14a)
I. Houses of Achzib are a disappointment to kings
(of Jerusalem and Samaria) (14b)
J. Mareshah will be reconquered (15a)
K. To Adullam the glory shall return (15b)

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16


V.

53

Conclusion: Summons to Jerusalem to mourn (16)


A. Specific acts of mourning prescribed (16a, ba)
B. Reason for mourning: they have gone away from you
(16bp)

An introduction functions to catch the attention of the audience and to


make them willing to hear the speaker.1 Mic. 1.2 effectively achieves
these goals. The summons to hear attracts the attention of the audience. In addition, the announcement that Yahweh is to 'witness'
against the peoples would lead an Israelite or Jerusalemite audience
possibly to expect oracles against other nations or a description of a
theophany in which Yahweh fights against the enemies of Israel.2 Mic.
1.2 is thus crucial in engaging the attention of the audience and
making them receptive to the message which follows.
The following passage (vv. 2-4) is a description of a theophany
composed of traditional elements with which the audience was probably familiar.3 The reality of Yahweh's approach is conveyed by a
vivid description of nature's reaction. The description of the destructive effects of Yahweh's approach is heightened by the use of similes.
Only after Micah has involved the audience and rendered them
willing to hear his message does he reveal the reason for Yahweh's
approach. Yahweh does not come forth because of the sins of foreign
nations; rather, the descent of Yahweh and the accompanying destruction is caused by 'the transgression of Jacob' and the 'sins of the house
of Israel'. While the announcement may have surprised an audience in
Jerusalem, the reference to Jacob and Israel is ambiguous enough to
allow his audience to assume the northern kingdom is meant. In fact,
the prophet's immediate reference to Samaria reinforces his audience's assumption.4
It is only with the concluding question of v. 5 that Micah makes it
1. E.P.J. Corbett, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student (New York:
Oxford University Press, 2nd edn, 1971), pp. 303-19. In particular, Corbett notes
the introduction should 'render the audience attentive, benevolent, and docile'
(p. 314).
2. J. Willis, 'Some Suggestions on the Interpretation of Micah I, 2', VT 18
(1968), pp. 378-79.
3. These elements are noted in the outline: (a) the description of Yahweh's
approach; (b) the effects upon nature. See Mays, Micah, p. 42.
4. Such is the insightful observation of Allen, Micah, p. 272.

54

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

clear that Judah and Jerusalem are also responsible for the angry
approach of Yahweh. Obviously, the prophet is utilizing what can be
described as the 'rhetoric of entrapment'. 1 The judgment is first
announced in such a way that the audience can agree to the justice of
that judgment. The speaker then turns the hearer's agreement on them
as he announces that the judgment is against them.
Verse 5 uses several rhetorical devices to focus the audience's
attention and to heighten the emotional impact of the announcement of
sin. First, these verses are cast in the form of questions which function
in much the same way as so-called rhetorical questions.2 The audience
is thus not allowed to be disinterested, detached listeners; rather they
are forced to participate in the persuasive process since each hearer
must formulate an answer to the questions.
In addition to focusing the audience's attention, the questions create
a strong emotional impact by means of personification. The questions
seek to establish who is responsible for the 'sins' of Jacob and the
'death' of Judah. The prophet accomplishes this with the technique of
personification which may strike the modern audience as strange.
Each question begins with the interrogative 'who' (mf) and thus
personifies the cities of Samaria and Jerusalem. Corbett notes that such
personification creates an emotional response in the audience: "This is
one figure of speech that should be reserved for passages designed to
stir emotions'.3 The object personified is no longer impersonal and
unfeeling; now the cities are living beings with all the emotions and
abilities of mortals. In particular, they are able to sin and to be punished, to be sick and to mourn. The emotional impact of personification thus helps to convey to the audience the prophet's view of reality.
Finally, the unexpected break in parallelism in v. 5b underscores
the message of the verse. The unbalanced lines focus on the phrase
'death of Judah', indicating that this is the real concern of the prophet
and the actual subject of his discourse.
1. On the rhetoric of entrapment as a tool employed by various prophets see
R. Alter, The Art of Biblical Poetry (New York: Basic Books, 1985), pp. 142-46.
2. Lewis notes that there are 23 leading questions in Micah: These interrogations arouse interest, sustain attention, enhance listening ease, create beauty, and help
to keep the book in focus' (The Persuasive Style of the Minor Prophets, p. 88. See
also Gitay, Prophecy and Persuasion, p. 88; and C.H. Holman, A Handbook to
Literature [New York: Odyssey, 3rd edn, 1972], p. 452).
3. Corbett, Classical Rhetoric, p. 486.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

55

Having identified the focus of sin as Samaria and Jerusalem, the


prophet announces judgment on Samaria (vv. 6-7). The shift to firstperson speech in these verses is not uncommon in prophetic address.1
More importantly, the first-person speech of Yahweh invests the
announcement of judgment with the highest possible authority: it is
not the prophet who declares judgment; it is Yahweh himself.2
Moreover, Yahweh is the one who will execute the judgment by
destroying Samaria along with her riches and buildings.
In vv. 8-9 the prophet himself laments in response to the sin and
judgment of Samaria and Jerusalem. The description of the speaker's
lament in these verses functions as an ethical appeal:3 The prophet
shows himself as one who is moved to lamentation by the very
message he must convey.
The lament which follows (vv. 10-16) paints a vivid, emotional
picture of the loss of cities in the Shephelah. The dirge actually functions not only to describe the actions of the cities, but also to accuse
the cities of disloyalty. A number of rhetorical devices are utilized to
maximize the emotional impact and effect of these accusations. First,
throughout this section, the prophet makes extensive use of
personification. The population of the town is personified by the feminine term yosebet.4 As noted above, such personification is usually
reserved for emotional speeches.
Secondly, throughout the passage there is a 'profusion of different
1. So Willis, 'Micah I, 2', p. 373.
2. On the appeal to divine authority Gitay observes that 'the prophet speaks with
the authority of God Himself. In modern times a sense of authority may be
considered a subjective matter, but in ancient times, authorityespecially that of
Godwas accepted as fact' (Prophecy and Persuasion, p. 65). Lewis also
recognizes that the prophet's speaking in the name of Yahweh is an effective appeal
to authority (The Persuasive Style of the Minor Prophets, p. 185).
3. 'The ethical appeal is exerted, according to Aristotle, when the speech itself
impresses the audience that the speaker is a man of sound sense...high moral
character... and benevolence...' (Corbett, Classical Rhetoric, p. 93). Similarly,
Lewis notes that the components of the ethical appeal are character, intelligence, and
goodwill (The Persuasive Style of the Minor Prophets, p. 186).
4. It seems more reasonable to conclude that the feminine participle refers to the
population of the town than to assume that it refers to a local goddess associated with
the town as is suggested by W.C. Graham ('Some Suggestions toward the
Interpretation of Micah 1.10-16', AJSL 47 [1931], pp. 237-58). On this feminine
personification of the towns see Luker, Doom and Hope, pp. 109-14.

56

The Speeches of Micah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

pronominal elements, creating both intensification and confusion, if


not incoherence'.1 This mixture of singular and plural, masculine and
feminine, as well as the change from second- to third-person verbs
may well be explained as the prophet's attempt to personify the population of a city while simultaneously addressing the male (fighting)
population of the town.2 In any case, these grammatical inconsistencies
create a certain amount of chaos which heightens the impact of the
lament by expressing the confusion and chaos which are overtaking
the city of Jerusalem.
Finally, the emotional impact of the dirge is heightened by the
pervasive use of puns. Throughout this section, the names of the towns
are understood to be omens which correspond to their actions or their
present situation.3 The prophet plays on either the concept suggested
by the town's name or the sound of the name of the town.4 The
wordplays focus attention simultaneously on the city and the accusation against it. The description of each city through the wordplay
maximizes the effect and was probably intended to make a lasting
impression on the audience.
The lament closes with a summons to Jerusalem to join in acts of
mourning. The summons again provides emotional impact through the
personification of both Jerusalem and the cities of the Shephelah which
have left her.
Historical Possibilities

The factors of the rhetorical situation allow us to make some judgments


concerning the historical backgrounds proposed for the material in
Mic. 1.2-16. The Assyrian invasion of 701 BCE is often proposed as

1. D.N. Freedman, 'Discourse on Prophetic Discourse' in H.B. Huffmon et


al. (eds.), The Quest For the Kingdom of God: Studies in Honor of George
F. Mendenhall (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenhrauns, 1983), p. 149.
2. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 110.
3. Allen, Micah, p. 278.
4. Lux, Exegetical Study, p. 85. Cuffey may be correct in discerning a chiastic
arrangement based on the types of puns in vv. 10-15, although it is questionable that
the audience would have perceived such a subtle and extended pattern (The
Coherence of Micah, p. 291, n. 12). On the use of wordplays, see J.M. Sasson,
'Wordplay in the Old Testament', IDBSup, pp. 968-70.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

57

the background for at least vv. 8-16' if not for the whole of chapter
I. 2 Those who advocate this date as the setting for the latter half of the
chapter see in these verses a description of those cities which were
threatened or destroyed by Sennacherib's invading armies. Support
for this interpretation appears to come from Sennacherib himself who
boasts of conquering 46 of Hezekiah's cities and counting as booty
some 200,150 people.3 In addition, the conquest of Lachish is depicted
in an inscription from Sennacherib's palace.4
The objective factors in the rhetorical situation, however, rule out
701 BCE as the background presupposed by Mic. 1.8-16. First, the
accusations and statements concerning the towns of the Shephelah
reveal that they have not been destroyed; rather, they have shown
themselves to be disloyal to Jerusalem and Samaria. Nothing in the
sequence of events surrounding the Assyrian invasion of 701 BCE suggests that the Shephelah wavered in its loyalty to Jerusalem. As the
Lachish relief clearly demonstrates, Lachish was destroyed defending
against the Assyrian invasion. Yet nowhere does Mic. 1.10-15 indicate
that these towns are facing any specific military threat, nor have they
been destroyed.
This same obstacle prevents dating the discourse to Sargon's
Philistia campaign of 712 BCE.5 No military threat is directed at the
cities of the Shephelah. Moreover, Gath, which would have been most
threatened by the Philistia campaign, is expected to find the present
situation to be good news (v. 10). The simple fact that the cities
appear to have 'left' Jerusalem (v. 16) rules out not only 701 BCE but
also 712 BCE.
A second obstacle to the theory that Mic. 1.8-16 presupposes the
1. See Elliger, 'Die Heimat', p. 147; Smith, Micah, p. 39; Mays, Micah,
p. 50; O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (trans. P.R. Ackroyd,
New York: Harper & Row, 1965), pp. 552-53; Lux, Exegetical Study, p. 115.
2. Especially noteworthy is Marti, Das Dodekapropheten, pp. 265-72. Also see
Jepsen, 'Zwolfprophetenbuch', p. 98.
3. ANET, pp. 287-88.
4. Ussishkin,'The "Lachish Relief", pp. 174-95.
5. This date is considered likely for the latter half of Micah 1 by J. Lindblom,
Micha Literarisch untersucht (Act Academiae Aboensis; Humaniora 6.2; Helsinfoss:
Abo Akademi, 1929), p. 56. Allen (Micah, p. 241) suggests either 712 or 722. Lux
(Exegetical Study, p. 115) and Eissfeldt (Introduction, p. 552) suggest either 712
or 701 BCE as a possible date.

58

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Assyrian campaign of 701 BCE is the fact that these verses do not
assume any direct, immediate threat against Jerusalem. In his description of the 701 campaign Sennacherib claims that he trapped Hezekiah
in Jerusalem 'like a bird in a cage'.1 Moreover, the same Assyrian
inscription reports that Jerusalem was surrounded with 'earthwork in
order to molest those who were leaving his city gate'. This same state
of siege preparation is reflected in 2 Kgs 18.13 which depicts the
Assyrian ruler demanding the surrender of Jerusalem. Indeed, the
destruction of Jerusalem seemed so certain, that the deliverance of the
city was taken as nothing less than a miracle.2
In contrast, Mic. 1.8-16 gives no indication that Jerusalem is in
danger of siege, nor is there any indication of an expected military
attack. No fate other than the loss of her cities is envisioned for
Jerusalem. This lack of any suggestion of a serious military threat
against Jerusalem raises doubts about dating the latter half of Micah 1
to the time when an Assyrian invasion was in progress or anticipated.
Finally, throughout the chapter, there is no indication that Samaria
has been destroyed. The explicit references to Samaria in vv. 5-7
assume that the city is still the capital of Israel. Indeed, the destruction
of the town lies in the future (vv. 6-7). Thus, those who date this
section to 701 BCE or 712 BCE are forced to the unlikely conclusion
that these verses are a vaticanum ex eventum. More importantly, the
plural pronouns of v. 11 and the 'kings' of Israel in v. 14 appear to
be references to both Jerusalem and Samaria. Any date before 722
BCE would be inappropriate for the latter half of Micah 1 as well as
the first half of the chapter.
It is not surprising therefore that some have dated all or part of
Mic. 1.2-16 to the time around 722 BCE.3 The addresses to the cities
of the Shephelah, however, are not easily explained by the Assyrian
siege of Samaria. Georg Fohrer has suggested that these verses are
actually a warning to the cities near Micah's home issued in light of
1. ANET, pp. 287-88.
2. 2 Kgs 19.32-37.
3. Those who date all of Micah 1 to 725-22 BCE include van Hoonacker, Le
douze petits prophetes, p. 340; Karl Budde, 'Die Ratsel von Micha 1', ZAW 37
(1917-18), p. 106; Rudolph, Micha, p. 39; and van der Woude, Micha, p. 31,
41. Those who date only Micah 1.2-7 to 722 BCE include Renaud, Formation,
p. 48; Lindblom, Micha Literarisch untersucht, p. 31; Willis, 'Some Suggestions',
p. 374.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

59

the fall of Samaria.1 Yet it is not clear why these cities should have
been threatened by the Assyrian conquest of Samaria. Geographically
there are many towns that would have been in far greater danger
from the Assyrian campaign against Samaria. Van Hoonacker's suggestion that the cities were the allies of Samaria does not take into
account the geographical setting of the towns nor the fact that far
more important Israelite cities nearer Samaria would more likely have
been addressed.2
More importantly, the announcement of judgment on Samaria in
vv. 2-7 does not provide strong evidence for assuming a setting near
the time of the actual fall of that city. It is noteworthy that the judgment on Samaria is stated in rather indefinite terms. No human enemy
is named or alluded to and the destruction lies at an unspecified time
in the future. The indefinite language of vv. 2-7 thus tends to suggest
that the threat to Samaria is neither imminent nor is it certain what
human enemy will carry out the city's destruction. In contrast, by 722
BCE the threat to Samaria was immediate and concrete and the enemy
no longer uncertain or indefinable. It is thus doubtful that vv. 2-7
reflect the Assyrian siege of Samaria.
Finally, some have suggested that all or part of Micah 1 reflects the
time of the Syro-Ephraimite war in 734-732 BCE. 3 Again, some
arguments can be made for such a date. First, 2 Chron. 28.5-15
recounts how Syria and Israel waged war on Judah and captured and
attempted to take into exile a large number of captives (the number of
200,000 is given in v. 8). This set of historical events is thus thought
by some to be presupposed by the addresses to the cities in Mic. 1.1016.
In addition, the Syro-Ephraimite war might explain the address to
Gath. 2 Chron. 28.18 describes the expansion of Philistine territory
into the Shephelah in conjunction with the events of the Syrian and
Israelite attack on Jerusalem. John Bright is probably correct in his
suggestion that this Philistine expansion was part of a concerted action
1. Fohrer, 'Micha 1', pp. 79-80.
2. Van Hoonacker, Le douze petits prophetes, p. 340.
3. The events of the Syro-Ephraimite crisis are seen as the background for the
entire chapter by H. Donner, Israel unter den Volkern (VTSup, 11; Leiden: Brill,
1964), p. 102. Allen suggests that 1.2-9 can be dated to this time (Micah, p. 24)
and Freedman suggests that vv. 10-16 could reflect this period ('Discourse on
Prophetic Discourse', p. 155).

60

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

against Judah by an anti-Assyrian coalition headed by Rezin of


Damascus. 1 The assumption that Gath would profit by the disaster
which has come upon Jerusalem (v. 10) thus appears to correspond
nicely to the events of 734-32 BCE.
Other elements in Mic. 1.10-16 could be a reflection of events surrounding the Syro-Ephraimite war. As noted above Mic. 1.10-16
appears to reflect a situation in which a number of towns have shown
themselves to be disloyal. The biblical record offers some evidence
that in this conflict many in Judah sided with Pekah and Rezin against
Ahaz. Isa. 8.6 reports that 'this people have refused the waters of
Shiloah that flow gently, and rejoices in Rezin the son of Remaliah...'
The logical conclusion to be drawn from this verse is that some in
Judah welcomed the attempts by Rezin and Pekah to remove Ahaz
from the throne.2 In other words, a division existed between Judah
(this people) and Ahaz.
On the other hand, it must be noted that the cities taken from Judah
by the Philistines lie outside the area indicated in Mic. 1.10-16.
2 Chron. 28.18 reports that Philistia took 'Beth-shemesh, Aijalon,
Gederoth, Soco with its villages, Timnah with its villages and Gimzo
with its villages; and they settled there'. All of these cities, however,
lie just north of the cities addressed in Mic. 1.10-16, but none of them
is actually addressed in these verses by Micah. A connection between 2
Chron. 28.18 and Mic. 1.10-16 may be possible, but not certain.
In addition, other elements in the rhetorical situation do not correspond well to the events of 734-32 BCE. First, the focus of the events
of 734 BCE was the city Jerusalem: 'Then Rezin king of Syria and
Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up to wage war on
Jerusalem...' (2 Kgs 16.5). That Jerusalem was the target is also
confirmed by Isa. 7.1, where it is reported that Rezin and Pekah 'came
up to Jerusalem'. That no reference is made to Samaria's attack on
Jerusalem or Israel's alliance with Rezin casts strong doubts on any
attempt to date the material in Mic. 1.2-16 to 734 BCE.
If none of these proposed settings (701, 711-12, 722, 734-32)
seems to fit the rhetorical situation reflected in Mic. 1.2-16, then what
1. J. Bright, A History of Israel (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 2nd edn,
1976), p. 272.
2. On the interpretation of this verse see S.A. Irvine, Isaiah, Ahaz, and the
Syro-Ephraimitic Crisis (Dissertation, Emory University, 1989), pp. 322-33.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

61

possible historical circumstances lie behind Micah's address? First, the


objective factors indicate that the fates of Samaria and Jerusalem
appear to be intertwined. The defection of the cities affects both capitals, and the policies of Samaria affect all of Israel as well as
Jerusalem. Such a relationship between Samaria and Jerusalem indicates a time before Ahaz's refusal to join Israel in an alliance with
Syria.
Throughout much of her history Jerusalem appears to have been a
subservient partner to Samaria. The deuteronomistic historian records
remembrances of two different military campaigns in which Judah
assisted Israel (1 Kgs 22; 2 Kgs 3). Although both accounts are set in
the time of the Omride dynasty, there is strong evidence that suggests
that these events actually took place during the Jehu dynasty.1 At the
very least, Amaziah's challenge to Jehoash represents a bid for Judean
independence from Samaria (2 Kgs 14). Amaziah's defeat and the
taking of hostages to Samaria no doubt assured that the following
king, Uzziah, would remain co-operative with Samaria. There is no
reason to doubt that Judah's willingness to submit to Samaria's contro
continued through the reign of Jeroboam II. Indeed, 1 Chron. 5.17-22
may suggest that Jeroboam and Jotham co-operated in the rule of parts
of the Transjordan.
Unfortunately the close connection between Samaria and Jerusalem
was not limited to the reign of Jeroboam and, indeed, could reflect
almost any time before Ahaz's break with Samaria. Is it possible to
narrow the time presupposed by the rhetorical situation of Mic. 1.216? As indicated by the objective factors, Mic. 1.2-16 presupposes a
time when towns in the Shephelah had withdrawn their support from
Jerusalem. In addition, I have suggested above that since this is a
'sickness' which has come from Samaria, one may infer that the
northern capital, like Jerusalem, has also experienced the loss of
support from cities. A number of pieces of evidence would seem to
indicate that a loss of territory and a splintering of both Israel and
Judah into warring factions began before the death of Jeroboam II in
747 BCE.
First, evidence exists which may be interpreted as the loss of terri1. See J.M. Miller, 'The Rest of the Acts of Jehoahaz', ZAW 80 (1968),
pp. 337-42; The Elisha Cycle and the Accounts of the Omride Wars', JBL 85
(1966), pp. 441-54.

62

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

tory during the time of Jeroboam II. Amos 1.6 accuses Damascus of
'threshing Gilead with threshing sledges of iron'. This accusation suggests that by the time of Amos' prophecy, Syria had waged war to
regain control of Gilead. Accusations against Philistia indicate at least
harassment of Israel if not the taking of territory. It is this encroachment on Israelite territory to which Isaiah refers in Isa. 9.12: 'The
Syrians from the East and the Philistines from the West devour Israel
with an open mouth'.1
It is also possible that at some point in Jotham's reign, the
Ammonites asserted their independence from Israel or Judah. 2
Chron. 27.5 describes Jotham's domination of Ammon and the tribute
he received from that Transjordanian country. Although the notice in
2 Chron. 27.5 is meant to show the power of Jotham's rule, it also
makes clear that tribute from Ammon was received for only three
years. It is possible to infer from the text that Jotham was unable to
continue his domination of the Ammonites. It is also significant that
Amos accuses the Ammonites of atrocities in Gilead 'that they might
enlarge their border' (Amos 1.13-15). This accusation may reflect not
only Israel's loss of control of Ammon, but also the encroachment of
Ammonites on traditionally Israelite territory.
Secondly, evidence also suggests that at a time near the end of the
reign of Jeroboam II, Israel itself split into rival factions. Following
the death of Jeroboam a series of assassinations plunged the country
into chaos. Jeroboam's successor was assassinated by Shallum, who in
turn was defeated by Menahem. It is reported that Menahem committed atrocities against a part of the kingdom which 'did not open to
him' (2 Kgs 15.16). Since Menahem seized the throne less than two
years after the death of Jeroboam II, it is likely that the divisions
reflected in Shallum's assassination and Menahem's rise to power
existed already in the time of Jeroboam.
According to 2 Kgs 15.16, Menahem terrorized 'Tiphsah and all who
were in its territory from Tirzah on'. This enigmatic text deserves
some detailed consideration. First, it should be noted that there is
virtual unanimous agreement that 'Tiphsah' should be emended to
read with the Lucianic Tappuah'.2 The location of Tiphsah on the
1. Irvine, Isaiah, Ahaz, pp. 417-18.
2. Bright, History, p. 269 n. 3; H.B. McClean, 'Menahem', IDE, III, p. 347;
W.L. Reed, Tappuah', IDB, IV, p. 517.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

63

Euphrates makes it likely that this emendation is correct. The site


usually proposed for Tappuah based on biblical references and possible
name retention is Tephon (Sheikh Abu-Zarad), some six miles
southwest of Shechem.1
The meaning of the verse is still not certain, however. The
awkward syntax may be interpreted as follows: 'Then Menahem,
starting out from Tirzah, destroyed Tappuah and everything in it and
ravaged its territory'.2 Such an interpretation accords well with 2 Kgs
15.14, which suggests that Menahem's power base was in Tirzah.
Nevertheless, the barbaric acts of Menahem against Tappuah are still a
source of puzzlement: why would Menahem carry out such atrocities
against a city so close to his own power base?3 In answer, some have
suggested that Shallum's home was not Jabesh, but Yasib, a town in
the vicinity of Tappuah.4 Thus Tappuah would have thrown its
support to Shallum, the leader from its own area.
Unfortunately, such an emendation to Jabesh has no textual support.
Other reasons for the atrocities against Tappuah must be sought.
Perhaps the real problem is the assumption that the Tappuah intended
in 2 Kgs 15.16 is the modern Tephon. In fact, another Tappuah is
known from biblical texts. Josh. 15.34 includes a Tappuah as a city in
the Shephelah of Judah. Although the exact location of this Tappuah is
not known,5 it is clearly included among the cities in the northern part
of the Shephelah. It could thus be hypothesized that some portion of
the Shephelah which refused to support Menahem's bid for the throne
of Samaria was atrociously attacked by him.
Additional evidence for the splintering of the kingdom may be
found in 2 Kgs 15.37 where it is reported that already in Jotham's
1. Reed, 'Tappuah', p. 517.
2. Translation of the New English Bible.
3. J.A.Montgomery pondered this very question: '...there remains the
problem of such a barbarous raid carried out between two such closely neighboring
cities', A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Kings (ICC; ed.
H.G. Gehman; New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1951), p. 450. Montgomery
ventures no answer to his question, however.
4. J. Gray, / and II Kings (OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1963),
p. 562. The assumption is that a metathesis has occurred resulting in yabes rather
than yaseb.
5. Beit Nettif, some 12 miles west of Bethlehem has been suggested, but the
exact location is not known (Reed, Tappuah', p. 517).

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

reign (i.e. before 744-3 BCE) Rezin and Pekah were harassing Judah.
The importance of this notice lies in the fact that Jotham's reign ended
some 10 years before Pekah seized the throne in Samaria. Pekah ben
Remaliah is assigned a 20-year reign in 2 Kgs 14.27 and his predecessor, Pekahaiah, is credited with a two-year reign in 2 Kgs 15.23.
Unfortunately, the 22 years assigned to the reigns of Pekah and
Pekahaiah do not correspond to information from Assyrian sources
which indicate that Menahem's reign ended no earlier than 738 BCE
and Hoshea overthrew Pekah around 732 BCE.1 Thus there is no more
than a six-year period of time in which Pekahiah and Pekah could
have ruled Samaria.
A possible solution to this chronological difficulty is the proposal
that for most of his 20-year reign Pekah ruled as a rival monarch
over a portion of Israel, perhaps an area including part of Gilead.
Indeed, his alliance with Syria which had regained control of Gilead
and the fact that 50 men of Gilead assisted Pekah in his rise to power
suggest that Pekah may have ruled as a rival king to Menahem and
even Jeroboam long before coming to the throne of Samaria.2 The
report that, during the reign of Jotham, Pekah and Rezin were harassing Israel may thus be interpreted as an indication of the splintering of
Israel into rival factions.
Finally, evidence for the splintering may be found in 2 Chron. 27.4,
where it is reported that Jotham 'built cities in the hill country of
Judah, and forts and towers on the wooded heights'. The area fortified
by Jotham was not the Shephelah bordering Philistia, but the interior
of Judah. If the Chronicler's report is historically accurate, it could be
interpreted as an indication of reduced Judean territory. The
Chronicler's description of Uzziah's earlier reign presents a Judah in
full control of the Shephelah (2 Chron. 26.6-8). In addition, the location of the forts within the hill country of Judah may indicate a need
to strengthen Jerusalem's control over Judah itself. In either case, the
loss of political and military control of some territory may be
inferred.
There are therefore numerous pieces of evidence that appear to
suggest that before the end of Jotham's reign, and perhaps before the
1. ANET, pp. 283-84; 282.
2. Bright, History, p. 271, n. 8; H.J. Cook, 'Pekah', VT 14 (1964)
pp. 121-35.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

65

end of the rule of Jeroboam II, Israel was losing territory and splintering into various factions competing with the capitals of the nation.
Of special interest for Mic. 1.2-16 is the possible indication that
Menahem encountered such a faction in the Shephelah only shortly
after the death of Jeroboam II.
All of these conflicts within Israel and between Israel and her
neighbors are probably to be related to Israel's policy toward Assyria.
Later incidents would demonstrate that Rezin of Damascus along with
Pekah worked to forge an anti-Assyrian coalition. Eventually they
would be joined by a number of nations including the Philistines
(2 Chron. 28.17) and the Edomites, who with Rezin's support
regained control of the seaport of Elath (2 Kgs 16.6). Assyrian
records from the campaigns of 73432 BCE indicate that anti-Assyrian
activities had been pursued by Syria, Israel (led by Pekah), Phoenicia,
Philistia, and probably the Meunites, south of Judah.1 It is quite possible that the earlier encroachment on Israel's territory as well as the
rival faction led by Pekah were attempts to force Israel and Judah into
this anti-Assyrian alliance. Later events would demonstrate that the
formation of an anti-Assyrian coalition was the goal of Rezin and
Pekah. Such an alliance of the states of Syro-Palestine had worked
well in the days of the Omride dynasty when Shalmaneser III was
repelled by a coalition which included Israel.2
In contrast, the Jehu dynasty had found that it was to Israel's advantage to pursue friendly relations with Assyria (including the payment
of tribute). Near the beginning of his reign Jehu himself had paid
tribute to Assyria when Shalmaneser III invaded the area and may
himself have been encouraged by the Assyrians in seizing the throne.3
Together Israel and Assyria had a common enemy in Syria. Syrian
aggression against Israel was checked when Adad-Nirari III led a
series of campaigns into Syria-Palestine. Again, king Joash, of the
house of Jehu, is recorded as paying tribute to the king of Assyria.4 It
1. ANET, pp. 282, 284.
2. ANET, pp. 278-79.
3. The payment of tribute by Jehu is described on the Black Obelisk. The text is
found in ANET, pp. 280-81.
4. The Rima Stela of Adad-nirari III reports that tribute was received from
'Joash of Samaria'. See A.R. Millard and H. Tadmor, 'Adad-Nirari III in Syria:
Another Stela Fragment and the dates of His Campaigns', Iraq 35 (1973), pp. 5764.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

may be that the 'savior of Israel' alluded to in 2 Kgs 13.4-5 was


actually the Assyrian king Adad-Nirari III.1 History had clearly
shown that Syrian aggression against Israel could be reduced to
Israel's advantage by Assyria. It was thus likely that throughout the
Jehu dynasty, friendly relations existed between Israel and Assyria and
tribute was paid. There is no statement in Assyrian texts that would
indicate anything other than co-operation between Assyria and Israel
throughout the rule of the house of Jehu. Indeed, even when Assyrian
power and influence weakened in the last years of the first half of the
eighth century, continued co-operation with Assyria was a logical
course of action for Israelite monarchs since Assyria had proved to be
the one power able to hold Syrian expansion in check. As we shall see
in the next chapter the later series of assassinations and Menahem's
struggle to gain control of Samaria can also best be understood in
light of a struggle concerning policy toward Assyria.
In any case, conflict over policy toward Assyria and the continued
payment of tribute probably emerged as early as the later years of
Jeroboam's rule. Discontent within Israel itself also created a climate
conducive for the emergence of factions challenging control from
Samaria. The book of Amos indicates that while Jeroboam's policies
might have been good for Samaria and the upper class they imposed a
hardship upon most of the people of Israel and Judah, and aroused
opposition from neighboring states. Amos 3.15 and 4.1 suggest that
the wealth attained by Jeroboam's policies was at the very least not
evenly distributed among Israelite society. Resentment toward
Jeroboam II and his policies probably played an important role in the
development of factions within Israel. At least, unpopular economic
policies would make the general populace more willing to follow
those who were condoning a change in foreign military and economic
policy.
It is thus reasonable to conclude that the foreign and economic
policies of Jeroboam II led to discontent within Israel and were a
factor in the emergence of factions such as the one led by Pekah with
the backing of Rezin of Damascus. Such a background may well be
presupposed by Micah. Not only does the discourse assume a close
relationship between Samaria and Jerusalem, but also it presupposes
the existence of a faction disloyal to both capitals and both kings. In
1.

Miller, 'The Acts of Jehoahaz', pp. 337-42.

1. 'Surely Her Illnesses Are Incurable': Micah 1.2-16

67

addition, v. 5 may refer to other rebellions for which Samaria and


Jerusalem are responsible. Finally, the reference to Samaria's 'harlot's
wages' in Mic. 1.7, with its allusion to Samaria's status as a 'harlot'
which may indicate that Samaria's foreign and economic policies are
to bring her destruction, corresponds well to a time when there was
deep discontent over the policies of Jeroboam II and a policy of submission ('prostitution') to Assyria.
It must be conceded that this reconstruction is far from certain and
only plausibility can be affirmed. While evidence for the splintering
of Israel into factions can be found, some of it is circumstantial and
open to other interpretations. Nevertheless, the advantage of this proposed background for Mic. 1.2-16 is its ability to account for the full
range of evidence from both biblical and extra-biblical sources. None
of the other proposed historical contexts for this text can meet these
restrictions.

Chapter 2

'MY PEOPLE HAVE BECOME AN ENEMY'


MICAH2.1-13
Text and Translation
(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

Woe to those who plan iniquity


and deeds of evil1 upon their beds.
With the light of morning they carry it out;
because it lies in the power of their hand.
And they covet fields and seize them
and houses and take them.
They oppress an owner and his house
and a man and his inheritance.
Therefore, thus says Yahweh:
'Behold, I am planning evil against this family
from which you will not be able
to remove your neck;
nor will you walk upright,
for it will be an evil time.
On that day a taunt song will be lifted concerning you,
and a lament will be sung,2 saying:3
We are despoiled;
he changes the portion of my people;

1. This translation understands po'ale as a plural construct and second object of


the verb hosebe. See Hillers, Micah, p. 31, n. b; Allen, Micah, p. 284, n. 1. For
the pointing, see Rudolph, Micha, p. 51.
2. Deleting niheydh as dittography with Hillers, Micah, p. 32; Wellhausen,
Kleinen Propheten, p. 138; Mays, Micah, p. 60; Renaud, Formation, p. 68;
J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 54.
3. Reading le'mor for 'amar. See Wellhausen, Kleinen Propheten, p. 138;
J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 54.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

(5)
(6)

(7)

69

Alas! He takes it from me.'


Our fields are portioned out by a rebel.2
Therefore, you3 will have no one to cast the cord
by lot in the assembly of Yahweh.
'Do not preach!' they preach.
'They should not preach of these things.4
Such reproaches will not overtake us.'5
'Is the house of Jacob accursed?6
Is Yahweh impatient? Are these his deeds?
Do not my deeds do good
to the one who walks upright?'7

1. The LXX ('is measured with a rod') is probably a simplification of the MT


(Renaud, Formation, p. 68; Hillers, Micah, p. 31; Rudolph, Micha, p. 52). The
MT should be retained.
2. This translation understands the / to be the lamed of agent. See
R.J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax: An Outline (Toronto: University of Toronto Press,
2nd edn, 1976), p. 50, para. 280.
3. Reading lacem for leka. The final m was probably lost by haplography with
the initial m of the following word. Hillers, Micah, p. 32; Mays, Micah, p. 61,
n. g.; Allen, Micah, p. 285.
4. The various readings in the versions are easily explained as interpretive
attempts to attain meaning from the Hebrew. Such is the correct conclusion of
J.T. Willis, 'Micah 2.6-8 and the "People of God" in Micah', BZ N.F. 14 (1970),
pp. 73-74; and Hillers, Micah, p. 34.
5. The MT, 'Reproaches shall not withdraw from us', is problematic in the
context. Assuming a confusion of sibilants emend yissag to yassig (Mays, Micah,
p. 66). Similar proposals are set forth by Hillers, Micah, p. 34; Willis, 'Micah 2.68', pp. 74-75; J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 55; W. Nowack, Die Kleinen Propheten
(HK 3.4; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 3rd edn, 1922), p. 198; Marti, Das
Dodekapropheten, p. 275.
6. This is the only occurrence of the Qal passive participle of 'amar in the Old
Testament and has thus been the subject of much speculation concerning its
interpretation or emendation. For a survey of proposed emendations see Willis,
'Micah 2.6-8', pp. 78-79; Renaud, Formation, pp. 91-92; and E.A. Neiderhiser,
'Micah 2.6-11: Considerations on the Nature of the Discourse', BTB 11 (1981),
p. 105. The above translation follows the suggestion of A. Ehrman ('A Note on
Micah II, 7', VT 20 [1970], pp. 86-87) who points out that in certain cases 'amar
apparently means 'to curse' (e.g. Job 3.3). Such a meaning is supported by the
context of Mic. 2.6.
7. It is perhaps necessary to transpose the last two words of the line. Mays,
Micah, p. 66, n. e.

70

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


(8)

(9)

(10)

But recently1 my people2 have become an enemy.3


From the peaceful you strip off the cloak;4
from those who pass by securely,
averse to war.5
You drive the women of my people
from her pleasant house.6
From her children
You take away my honor forever.
Arise and go for this is no place to occupy;
because of your uncleanness,
you will be destroyed7

1. Neiderhiser has pointed out that 'etmul can mean 'formerly' or 'recently' as
in 2 Sam. 15.20 and Isa. 30.33 ('Micah 2.6-11', p. 106. A similar observation is
made by Margolis (Micah, p. 31). Although the MT is somewhat awkward, it yields
good sense and does not need to be emended.
2. Many have proposed rather extensive emendations of the MT of this line on
the assumption that the present text is the result of a rather complicated process of
corruption (for example, J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 55; Allen, Micah, p. 292; Mays,
Micah, p. 67, nn. f, g; Renaud, Formation, p. 94; Hillers, Micah, p. 35, n. j).
Most of the proposed emendations appear to be based on the assumption that 'My
people' could not be the subject of this verse. Nevertheless, all the versions read 'my
people' not as the object, but as the subject of v. 8 (Willis, 'Micah 2.6-8', p. 87).
3. Luker notes that although qum is in the uncommon form of the polel in this
verse, the verb in both the qal and hiphil means 'to become/constitute' (see BDB pp.
878-79). This is apparently the meaning intended here. The less common form may
have been chosen for assonance... and alliteration' (Doom and Hope, p. 12, n. 13).
4. The MT literally reads, 'From in front of the cloak glory you strip'. The text
is obviously corrupt and emendation is unavoidable. The most likely solution is to
assume that mimmul arose through dittography: the scribe copied the final three
letters of 'etmul in the preceding line. In addition, the word salmah should be
emended to solainim. This latter emendation produces good parallelism with the
following line, and is supported in part by the LXX which read some form of salom
in this verse. These emendations (or a variation of them) are accepted by Wellhausen,
Kleinen Propheten, p. 138; Marti, Das Dodekapropheten, p. 275; J.M.P. Smith,
Micah, p. 56; Allen, Micah, p. 293; Mays, Micah, p. 67.
5. The MT is retained and the verb su.be is taken in the sense of 'turning away
from' or 'averse to' (Willis, 'Micah 2.6-8', pp. 82-83 and Allen, Micah, p. 293).
6. Most commentators emend the possessive suffixes to agree with the plural
antecedent, but the MT is retained here. For an assessment of the LXX of this verse,
see Hillers, Micah, p. 35; Renaud, Formation, p. 96.
7. Redividing the MT to read with the LXX: tehubbelu hebel. So Allen, Micah,
p. 293; Mays, Micah, p. 67, n. m; Renaud, Formation, p. 97; J.M.P. Smith,
Micah, p. 56.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13


(11)

(12)

(13)

71

by an agonizing destruction.1
If a man came in the spirit2
and deceived with lies (saying),
'I will preach to you about wine and strong drink.'
He would be the one prophesying to this people.
I will surely gather Jacob, all of you.
I will indeed assemble the remnant of Israel.
Together I will assemble them
like sheep in distress;3
like a flock in the midst of its pasture.
And they shall be in commotion for fear of man.4
The one who breaks out has gone up before them.
They have broken through
and passed through the gate;
they have gone forth through it
Their king has passed over before them,
and Yahweh at their head.5

Unity and Date

Almost all scholars divide chapter 2 into three distinct units:


(1) vv. 1-5 constitute a woe oracle; (2) vv. 6-11 are classified as a
disputation; and (3) vv. 12-13 have been categorized as either an
announcement of salvation or an announcement of judgment.6
Nevertheless, it is likely that Mic. 2.1-11 is an original speech.
1. Neiderhiser points out that the basic meaning of nimras is 'to be sick'. He
further notes that the term is used in 1 QH from Qumran (The Hodayoth) where it
means 'birth pains' (Neiderhiser, 'Micah 2.6-11', p. 106).
2. This translation reflects that of Mays who understands the phrase as a
description of 'ecstatic spirit possession' (Micah, p. 73). For other suggestions see
Renaud, Formation, p. 101; and Hillers, Micah, p. 36.
3. MT reads bosrah (Bozrah), but the LXX assumes besarah ('in distress').
Although certainty is not possible, parallelism seems to justify the reading of the LXX
which is adopted here.
4. This translation understands the min as causal. See Allen, Micah, p. 300,
n. 84.
5. The repetitious nature of v. 13 as well as changes in tense and number have
led some scholars to make minor emendations. Nevertheless the MT gives good
meaning and the evidence of the versions does not conclusively require emendations.
6. Only minor points of difference exist with regard to the division of this
chapter. See the discussion and references by Schibler, Le Prophete Michel, p. 21
n. 1.

72

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Moreover, I suggest that Mic. 2.12-13, when interpreted in terms of


his goals and strategy, can be understood as a part of the prophet's
speech.
Setting aside for the moment vv. 12 and 13, it is clear that Mic.
2.1-11 should be taken as a unity. The opening woe oracle specifies
the events and characteristics that have evoked the cry of mourning.1
Micah describes the behavior of those who plot and execute acts of
evil. Following these descriptions, the prophet announces judgment on
the guilty. Further announcements of judgment follow in vv. 4 and 5.
The objections that begin in v. 6 are best understood as a response
to the preceding announcements of judgment. Although Mays suggests
that this saying begins in medias res,2 it is difficult to imagine that an
independent unit would begin by quoting the objections of the
prophet's opponents without indicating what has provoked this objection: 'The provocation of this would be expected to precede the
response itself'.3 Mic. 2.6-11 is thus a logical continuation of vv. 1-5
in which Micah anticipates the objections his message will encounter
(vv. 6-7), and offers a rebuttal to their objections. Verse 10 once
again underscores the announcement of judgment made in vv. 4-5. In
the previous verses Micah has announced judgment; in v. 10 he commands the accused to leave the land which they have defiled by their
actions.
It is generally agreed that the majority of the material in Mic. 2.111 is from the eighth-century BCE prophet. There are, however, a
number of elements that some commentators have taken to be later
additions. First, many have suggested that there are redactional elements in vv. 3 and 4. In particular a number of scholars believe that
the temporal phrases ('on that day' and 'it will be an evil time') reflect
a rereading of the text during the time of the exile.4 In fact it is
impossible to isolate a temporal expansion in these verses. Scholars
have long noted how closely the judgment of Mic. 2.3-5 corresponds
1. E. Gerstenberger, 'The Woe Oracle of the Prophets', JBL 81 (1962),
p. 251.
2. Mays, Micah, p. 69.
3. Willis, 'Micah 2.6-8', p. 85.
4. Jeremias, 'Deutung', pp. 333-35; Mays, Micah, p. 62; Renaud, Formation,
p. 74; Lescow, 'Micah 1-5', p. 51; R. Vuilleumier and C.A.Keller, Michel,
Nahoum, Habacuc, Sophonie (Commentaire de 1'Ancien Testament lib; Neuchatel:
Delachaux et Niestle, 1971), p. 579.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

73

to the crimes described in 2.1-2.1 The crimes in vv. 1-2 take place at
two distinct points in time. First, there is the time of plotting evil and
coveting land. Then there is the time when that which has been
planned is executed. The judgment of vv. 3-5 takes place at two distinct times. First comes Yahweh's planning evil against the oppressors
(v. 3a, b). Next there is the execution of that evil at a separate time,
'on that day' (vv. 3c, 4). To suggest that the temporal references in
these verses are redactional expansions is to miss the artistry with
which the material describes a judgment appropriate to the crime.
Mays and Renaud also follow Jeremias in finding an expansion in
the middle strophes of v. 4: 'He changes the portion of my people.
Alas! he takes it from me'.2 The change in number and meter from
the first and last strophe seems to identify these middle strophes as
redactional. Caution must be exercised, however, since there are frequent shifts in number in this chapter. Moreover, as we shall see, the
shift to third person may be intentional and a reference to a particular
individual. Finally, rather than see the 2 + 2 meter of the middle
strophes as signs of redaction, it is possible to take all four strophes
together so that the meter is the qinah (3 + 2) followed by a 2 + 3
meter which some take to be a 'legitimate variation' of the qinah.3
There is also disagreement on the question of whether v. 5 is a later
addition. Both Renaud and Lescow argue that the vocabulary and
prosaic style of v. 5 indicate that the text is non-Mican.4 On the other
hand, Mays admits that while the verse may have been reworked, the
'basic idea expressed in the line is more consonant with Micah's
expectation than with the situation of the redactor'.5 It should also be
noted that the change to prose in v. 5 may be a stylistic device which
functions to emphasize the announcement made in v. 5.6
1. See, for example, the comments of Luker, Doom and Hope, pp. 166-67;
Mays, Micah, pp. 64-65; and Allen, Doom and Hope, pp. 286-87.
2. Mays, Micah, p. 62; Renaud, Formation, pp. 75-76; Jeremias, 'Deutung',
pp. 333-34; Vuilleumier, Michee, pp. 579-80.
3. Allen, Micah, p. 285, n. 6. It is doubtful that texts can be 'restored' or
secondary elements isolated solely on the basis of meter. Especially problematic is
the emphasis on accents for a determination of the meter. See Buss, The Prophetic
Word, pp. 45-46.
4. Renaud, Formation, pp. 78-79; Lescow, 'Micha 1-5', p. 50.
5. Mays, Micah, p. 66; also Jeremias, 'Deutung', p. 333.
6. See Y. Gitay, 'A Study of Amos' Art of Speech: A Rhetorical Analysis

74

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

It is also important to understand that v. 5 is actually the logical


conclusion of the judgment announced in v. 3. The evil announced by
Yahweh in v. 3 is to be permanent: 'You shall not be able to remove
your neck'. Without v. 5, however, the permanent nature of the
judgment is lacking: 'You will have no one to cast the cord by lot in
the assembly of Yahweh'. Not only will property be taken (v. 4) but
also all hope of regaining it is lost (v. 5). The fact that the verse
fulfills an expectation created by an earlier part of the oracle makes it
probable that the text is authentic.
The question of the original shape of v. 10 is also a source of
debate among scholars. Mays and Renaud have followed Jeremias in
arguing that v. 10 has been reworked in an attempt to apply Micah's
prophecy to the beginning of the exilic period.1 The occurrence of the
noun tdme'ah provides the main support for such a reworking of
v. 10. Renaud offers a study of the occurrences of the word and concludes that tame'ah is used most often in exilic and post-exilic texts to
refer to impurity resulting from idol worship.2 It is thus suggested
that Mic. 2.10 originally read me'umah ('trifle'), but was intentionally
changed to tdme'ah to allow Micah's accusations to encompass the sin
of idolatry which in Jeremiah and Ezekiel is signified by the word
tdme'ah.
A number of factors weigh against such a rereading of v. 10. First,
the unique meaning of tdme'ah in the context of v. 10 suggests that it
should not be understood as redactional. Within the context of vv. 611 the word suggests not the consequences of the sin of idolatry
condemned by later prophets, but the consequences of moral offences
associated with seizing land and dispossessing people.3 Why would a
redactor introduce the word into a context that would give the word a
sense other than that intended? In short, the use of tdme'ah to refer to
moral offenses contrasts with later prophetic uses of the term to refer
to idolatry. It is thus unlikely that the word was introduced by an
exilic redactor who wanted to include the sin of idolatry in Micah's
condemnation.
of Amos 3.1-15', CBQ 42 (1980), p. 305.
1. Jeremias, 'Deutung', pp. 339-40; Mays, Micah, pp. 71-72; Renaud,
Formation, pp. 98-100.
2. Renaud, Formation, pp. 98-100.
3. That moral offenses could render tame\ see Deut. 24.1-4 and Westbrook,
'Marriage in Deut. 24.1-4', pp. 387-405.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

75

A second problem with the proposed redactional scheme is that the


supposed original me'umah 'by itself does not mean a trifle... J l The
redactional process would thus have to be somewhat more complex
than simply changing one word. It seems preferable to conclude that
the verse has not been reworked by later editors.
In summary, it is doubtful that there are any significant later additions in Mic. 2.1-11. Certainly, later additions are possible, but the
evidence remains quite weak and other, more likely explanations can
account for what appears to be redactional activity in these verses.
While a convincing case can be made for the unity and authenticity
of Mic. 2.1-11, serious objections have been raised to including Mic.
2.12-13 as a part of the preceding material. A majority of scholars
understand these verses as an announcement of salvation to be
attributed to an exilic or post-exilic prophet or redactor.2 This interpretation rests on three considerations. First, the motif of Yahweh as a
shepherd leading his sheep is often found in exilic and post-exilic texts
such as Deutero-Isaiah. Second, some of the vocabulary of Mic. 1.13
apparently parallels that of later prophets. In particular, Renaud notes
that the words 'go up' and 'go out' are found in Jer. 50.8 and Isa.
52.12.3 Finally, the text is thought to presuppose an exilic situation:
Israel must be gathered and led back home.4
As impressive as the arguments for an exilic or post-exilic dating of
Mic. 2.12-13 appear, a number of objections can be raised to this
conclusion. Although vv. 12 and 13 share motifs used by later
prophets, Allen points out that such motifs were not newly created in
the exile, 'and their application to the Exile does not preclude their
applicability to another period if the circumstances were equally
fitting'.5 Killers concurs that these motifs are not exclusively exilic
concepts and concludes that 'there is nothing decisive against thinking

1. Hillers, Micah, p. 73, n. r.


2. See, for example, J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 67; Mays, Micah, p. 74;
Rudolph, Micha, pp. 63-64; Renaud, Formation, pp. 111-14; Stade, 'Das Buch
Micha', p. 162; Wellhausen, Kleinen Propheten, p. 139; Willis, The Structure of
the Book of Micah', p. 26.
3. Renaud, Formation, pp. 112-14.
4. Wellhausen, Kleinen Propheten, p. 139; J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 67.
5. Allen, Micah, p. 301, n. 90.

76

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

it early or even by Micah, if we allow for positive, visionary elements


in his thought...' 1
Even more significant is the observation of Schibler that the
supposed exilic parallels to Mic. 2.12-13 are not really parallels.2
Other than the fact that Isa. 52.12 includes the words 'go up' and Jer.
50.8 includes the words 'go out', these verses have nothing in common
with Mic. 2.13. Schibler also notes that the only text besides Mic. 2.13
that contains both verbs is 1 Kgs 10.29, which is not thought to be an
exilic addition.
Finally, it is not certain that vv. 12 and 13 presuppose an exile. The
occurrence of the word 'remnant' only suggests a diminished state of
Israel, not that Israel is scattered abroad.3 Moreover, it is not clear
where the gathering of Israel occurs, nor is it clear where Israel is
being led at the end of v. 13. Indeed, these verses have been understood as a description of a gathering to exile and destruction.4 Others
have suggested that the verses refer to refugees gathering in Jerusalem
or to the reunification of Israel.5 In any case, there is nothing in
vv. 12 and 13 that demands an exilic situation.
If there is no conclusive evidence to date Mic. 2.12-13 to a time
later than the eighth century BCE, one must still decide how the verses
are to be interpreted. Whether they attribute the saying to false
prophets,6 or a later editor,7 or to Micah himself8 a majority of scholars have understood the verses as an announcement of salvation. On
1. Hillers, Micah, pp. 39-40.
2. Schibler, Le Prophete Michee, p. 145, n. 51.
3. See R. de Vaux, 'Le "Reste d'Israel" d'apres les prophetes', RB 42 (1933),
p. 530.
4. Van Hoonacker, Les douze petit prophetes, pp. 374-76.
5. Allen, Micah, p. 302; H. Schmidt, Micha (SAT, Abteilung 2, Band 2, Die
Grossen Propheten; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1923); Sellin, Das
Zwolfprophetenbuch; see the references in Hillers, Micah, p. 39 and J.M.P. Smith,
Micah, p. 66.
6. For example, Ewald, Die Propheten des Alien Bundes, I, p. 512;
Van der Woude, 'Micah in Dispute with the Pseudo-prophets', pp. 244-60.
7. Stade, 'Das Buch Micah', p. 162; Renaud, Formation, pp. 111-14;
Rudolph, Micha, pp. 63-64; J.M.P. Smith, Micah, pp. 66-67; Mays, Micah,
pp. 75-76; Lescow, 'Micha 1-5', p. 81; N. Mendecki, 'Die Sammlung und der
Neue Exodus in Micha 2.12-13', Kairos 23 (1981), pp. 96-99.
8. Hillers, Micah, p. 40; Allen, Micah, p. 301. See also Sellin, Das
Zwolfprophetenbuch, pp. 275-76.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

77

the other hand, the verse has been interpreted as an announcement of


judgment. 1 Both interpretations understand v. 13 as the chronological
and logical continuation of v. 12. In other words, v. 12 contains the
basic announcement from Yahweh that Israel is to be gathered, and
v. 13 describes what will happen to Israel after Yahweh has gathered
her.
The assumption that v. 13 is the chronological and logical continuation of the description in v. 12 is open to question, however. In the
first place, the speaker in v. 12 is Yahweh, while the speaker in v. 13
is the prophet. Moreover, in contrast to the imperfect verbs of v. 12,
all the verbs in v. 13 are in the perfect tense. Thus, while v. 12 is
clearly future-oriented, v. 13 appears to be a description of present
or past events. It is therefore likely that these verses should be understood as an announcement of salvation in which v. 12 contains the
announcement and v. 13 describes events in the present situation
which would lead one to believe the announcement of salvation.
It would be erroneous to conclude that because these verses
proclaim salvation they are a later addition to the original speech. In
fact, vv. 12-13 echo important themes already sounded in vv. 1-11.
As we shall see, vv. 1-11 assume that Israel is divided and, in the
view of the prophet, involved in self-destruction. Verse 12 also presupposes a situation in which Israel is so divided that the 'remnant' or
survivors need to be regathered. In addition, both vv. 4-5 and v. 12
are based on the idea of a reversal of fate. The former verses describe
how those who have taken land will be dispossessed, and the latter
verse describes how those who are scattered and in distress will be
gathered. Finally, in both v. 4 and v. 13, the reversal of fate is
accomplished by military action. Mic. 2.4 probably refers to a military defeat of the oppressors at the hands of an individual called 'a
rebel' while v. 13 makes reference to a military victory led by one
described as 'the one who breaks out'.2
There are enough connections of themes, images and ideas to justify
considering vv. 12 and 13 as part of the rhetorical unit. In addition,
these themes and the presupposition of the same situation indicate that
Mic. 2.1-13 forms a unit distinct from the following material. While
Mic. 2.1-13 expects a military defeat of the oppressors and the
1.
2.

See p. 76 n. 4, above.
See below, 'The Rhetorical Situation'.

78

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

reapportionment of land, Mic. 3.Iff announces the destruction of


Jerusalem and the judgment of particular leaders of Israel. In addition, the focus of Mic. 3.Iff is Jerusalem and the national leaders,
while Mic. 2.1-13 focuses on a powerful group within the nation.
Finally, the summons to hear in Mic. 3.1 serves as a good beginning
to a new discourse. Both the structure and the situation presupposed
indicate that Mic. 2.1-13 may be understood as a unified discourse
which is distinct from the following material.
The Rhetorical Situation
Objective Factors
The major objective factor of the rhetorical situation can be stated
concisely: some within Israel are involved in acts of oppression
against others. As simple as this statement may seem, it raises three
important questions that require further investigation. First, what is
the identity of those committing acts of oppression? Second, what is
the nature of their deeds? Third, who are the oppressed?
A number of observations can be made in answer to the first question. First, the oppressors are clearly a part of Israelite society. Their
identity is reflected in their objections which Micah anticipates in
vv. 6-7. These objections rest on the confessional motif that Yahweh
is 'slow to anger' (cf. Exod. 34.6; Num. 14.8). As Rudolph states the
matter: 'Sie wehren sich (7) soausagen mit der Bibel in her Hand'.1
Their objections are also based on the belief that they are righteous
and that the deeds of Yahweh 'do good' to those who are righteous.
Since the oppressors claim Israel's unique relationship with Yahweh as
their own, there is little doubt that they are part of Israelite society.
In addition, the oppressors appear to be a rather clearly defined
group within Israel. Verse 3 refers to them as 'this family'. It is not
necessary to conclude that 'this family' refers to all Judah or Israel2
since the word has a variety of meanings in the Old Testament. In
addition to referring to the nation, it can also mean a clan, tribe or
guild.3 Mispahah can thus apparently refer to any identifiable group
1. Rudolph, Micha, p. 60.
2. This is the conclusion of Mays, Micah, pp. 64-65; Jeremias, 'Deutung',
p. 333; Renaud, Formation, pp. 73-74; Lescow, 'Micha 1-5', p. 31.
3. See BDB, pp. 1046-47.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

79

or sub-division of such a group. In the context of v. 3, the phrase


'this family' suggests not all Israel, but an identifiable group within
the nation.
Finally, it is clear that this group of oppressors is powerful. They
are able to carry out their plots 'because it lies in the power of their
hand' (v. 2). Furthermore, they are capable of seizing land by various
means (vv. 3, 8, 9).
Some have sought to clarify further the identity of the group that
speaks in vv. 6-7. Donat and van der Woude believe that the objections are raised by the so-called false prophets.1 Support for this view
comes from the occurrence of the verb 'preach' in vv. 6 and 11.
Nevertheless, it is more probable that the objection to Micah's
message would be raised by those condemned in vv. 1-5. Micah's
concluding remark aimed at 'this people' also suggests a group larger
than false prophets opposed to Micah. Thus, most commentators
conclude that the words of vv. 6-7 reflect the objection of those who
found Micah's message to be offensive.2
Other scholars have argued that those whom Micah condemns are
the powerful rich nobles of Jerusalem who use 'official force' to their
advantage.3 Still others have suggested that the oppressors are the rich
throughout Judah who oppress the poor.4 It should be noted, however,
that there is no explicit indication that the oppressors are either
Jerusalem officials or wealthy land barons. One can only conclude that
those whom Micah condemns are a powerful, clearly defined group
within Israelite society.
The identity of the oppressors can be clarified further only as the
second and third questions of the objective factor are explored. What
are the deeds of the oppressors? The deeds condemned by Micah are
seizing land and driving away the inhabitants. Verse 2 accuses the
1. H. Donat, 'Micha 2.6-9', BZ 9 (1911), pp. 350-66; Van der Woude,
'Micah in Dispute', p. 249; J. de Waard, 'Vers une Identification des Participants
dans Livre de MicheV, Revue d'Historie et de Philosophic Religieuses 59 (1979),
p. 510.
2. Renaud, Formation, p. 88; Willis, 'Micah 2.6-8', pp. 75-81.
3. See especially A. Alt, 'Micha 2.1-5 Ges anadasmos in Juda', NTorT 56
(1955), pp. 13-23; Mays, Micah, p. 62; H.W. Wolff, 'Micah the Moreshitethe
Prophet and his Background', in J.G. Gammie et al. (eds.), Israelite Wisdom
(Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1978), p. 80.
4. For example, Killers, Micah, p. 33.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

oppressors of 'seizing fields'. In addition, they are guilty of oppressing 'an owner and his house'. According to Raymond Westbrook the
verb used here ('asaq) essentially means to deny people that which is
rightfully theirs. According to him, in Mic. 2.2 'the reference is to
denial of inheritance-rights that are due to a nuclear family (byt 'by.1
Yet, there remains the question of method: how are the oppressors
able to take land? Most answer by suggesting that the oppressors seize
land through the imposition of debt servitude and usury.2 In particular, v. 8 is cited as an indication of such economic oppression. Willis
expresses the majority opinion when he says, 'The offence condemned
here is that of seizing a poor man's garment in pledge and failing to
return it before sundown (cf. Exod. 22.26-27)'.3
A number of factors raise doubts about such an interpretation of
Mic. 2.8. First, it must be noted that in Exod. 22.26-27 and Deut.
24.12-13 the offense condemned is not the taking of a garment, but
the failure to return the garment before night. In Micah, however, the
offense is the act of taking rather than failing to return the garment. It
is also significant that the word 'pledge' is not used in vv. 8-9 or in
the rest of Micah 2. This lack of reference to 'pledge' and the emphasis on the act of taking the garment makes it doubtful that Micah is
referring to the laws of Exodus and Deuteronomy.
Secondly, the verb 'strip' is somewhat more forceful than the act of
receiving a garment for a pledge. Elsewhere the verb is used of
stripping the dead after a battle (1 Sam. 31) and the plundering of a
conquered people (Ezek. 23.26). The force of the word is also
reflected in the fact that the same word is used with the meaning 'to
flay'. To 'strip the garment' thus suggests an act more violent than
simply taking a pledge.
In addition, in Exod. 22.26-27 and Deut. 24.12-13 the offense is
prohibited because it is directed against the poor. In contrast, Micah
makes it clear that the victims in 2.8 are simply the peaceful who turn
away from war. The emphasis on 'peace' and 'averse to war' suggests
that 'stripping the cloak' refers not to taking something in pledge but
1. R. Westbrook, Studies in Biblical and Cuneiform Law (Cahiers de la Revue
Biblique 26; Paris: Gabalda, 1988), pp. 36-37.
2. Mays, Micah, p. 64; Hillers, Micah, p. 33; Allen, Micah, p. 298;
J.M.P. Smith, Micah, pp. 56-57.
3. Willis, 'Micah 2.6-8', p. 82.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

81

to acts of violence against the peaceful.


Finally, if the proposed reading of the text is correct, the noun
'eder may not even be a reference to garments. While 'eder can mean
garment, more often the noun and the related verb and adjective mean
'glory' or 'majesty'.1 The exact meaning in v. 8 is not clear, but the
occurrence of the less common word for 'garment' may suggest that
the prophet has something in mind other than the taking of a piece of
clothing for a pledge.
The analogy between the accusation in Mic. 2.8 and the prohibitions
of Deuteronomy and Exodus is thus too weak to conclude that Micah
is condemning the offense of not returning garments taken in pledge.
Micah's accusations point not to the foreclosure of mortgages and debt
servitude, but to harassment and acts of violence by those in positions
of power. Indeed, v. 8a accuses the oppressors of 'becoming an
enemy'.
Verse 9 continues to elaborate on the charges against the oppressors. Here the accusation is that of driving women and children off the
land. In light of the war imagery in v. 8 the verb 'drive' is significant
since it often indicates the driving out of an enemy by means of a
military campaign (see Exod. 23.28, 31; 34.11; Josh. 24.21; 2 Chron.
20.11). Micah's accusation is thus that the powerful are violently
dispossessing women and children, driving them off the land which
rightfully is their inheritance.
Even in v. 2, the taking of land may have been achieved through
the use of military force rather than economic exploitation. While the
verb gdzal (v. 2a) obviously refers to some sort of expropriation,
other occurrences of the verb connote the use of physical violence.
Indeed, in Judg. 9.55 and Judg. 21.23 the verb clearly indicates the
use of military means to achieve a particular goal.2 In fact in the
former case the reference is to the ambushing of travelers, while the
latter case refers to raids carried out to capture brides. It is clear in
Mic. 2.2 that land is being taken, but the occurrence of gdzal may
1. BOB, p. 12. Unfortunately, the only other occurrence of the form found in
Mic. 2.8 is in Zech. 11.13 where it appears to have a quite different meaning.
G.W. Ahlstrom suggests that the noun means 'buckle' in Mic. 2.8 ("eder\ VT 17
[1967], pp. 1-7). It is not possible to accept this conclusion, however, since the
evidence is practically non-existent. A better solution may be to accept the common
meaning of the word.
2. Westbrook, Biblical and Cuneiform Law, pp. 16-17.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

indicate that land is seized through military might rather than abuse of
the debt laws of the country.
Finally, against whom are these deeds directed? Just as a majority of
scholars have identified the oppressors as the rich, so have the
oppressed been identified as the poor.1 An observation of H.W. Wolff
calls this interpretation into question, however:
It is striking that Micah never once calls his tormented compatriots poor
(|V2K), helpless C?n), or oppressed ('3JO, as is quite often done by
Amos... and not infrequently by Isaiah... Obviously... Micah visualizes
in them more the free men (Mic. 2.2)...2

Indeed, there is nothing in the text that would prohibit seeing the
oppressed as holding even significant amounts of land; the objects of
the oppressors' attack are 'fields' and 'an owner and his house'. While
commentators have understood 'house' in 2a as a reference to a physical structure, the word can be used to designate 'arable land' in some
situations. 3 Parallelism with 'fields' in the first half of v. 2 strongly
suggests that in this case 'house' means land rather than an edifice.
Moreover, the verbs used in v. 2 suggest the use of force.
One could argue that the imagery of war throughout vv. 8-9 should
be understood metaphorically. Although such an understanding is not
impossible, it is significant that there is no unambiguous reference to
economic exploitation through foreclosures and usury. The taking of
land which Micah condemns appears to be achieved mostly through
acts of violence and harassment.
It is true that the oppressors also attack the 'women of my people'
and 'her children'. Yet even here one need not conclude that the
victims are widows and orphans. A literal reading of v. 9 suggests
another interpretation. The MT contains a disagreement between the
possessive pronoun and the antecedent: 'You drive the women of my
people from her fair house'. Moreover, this apparent disagreement is
continued into the next line: 'From her children...' The fact that the
singular possessive suffix occurs twice suggests that it is more than a
textual error that needs to be emended. Hillers suggests that in v. 9
1. For example, J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 56; Mays, Micah, pp.64, 71;
Allen, Micah, p. 298.
2. Wolff, 'Micah the Moreshite', p. 81.
3. H.W. Wolff, Hose a (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974),
p. 137.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

83

'her' refers either to the nation or to 'Mother Zion'.1 Thus the dispossessing of women and children is interpreted as a crime against the
nation and Jerusalem.
Luker has taken up Millers' suggestion and developed it further:
In the midst of the audience sits Lady Jerusalem herself (v. 9); they are
not driven from 'their houses', but out of 'her beloved house'; nor is the
divine glory removed from 'their' children, but from 'hers'.2

The interpretation proposed by Millers and Luker opens the possibility


that 'women' and 'children' should be understood metaphorically in
v. 9. When Micah addressed the cities of the Shephelah in 1.10-15 his
'feminine personification of the villages and their inhabitants is clear
and striking...'3 This consistent and intense feminine personification
of villages and populations raises the possibility that 'the women of
my people' in v. 9 is a reference to the towns or inhabitants of Israel.
In addition, in Mic. 1.16 the towns are called Jerusalem's 'children'
(bene). The reference to 'her children* ('olaleyha) in 2.9 could be a
similar reference to the towns and villages of Judah. If so, in 2.9 'her
children' is parallel in meaning to 'women' much as we find in Mic.
1.10-16.
It is thus possible that v. 9 means: 'The populations of my people
you drive away from Jerusalem's fair house; from her towns you take
away my glory forever'. If this interpretation is correct, one may
conclude that the oppressed include not only individual landowners
but also entire towns and their populations which are in some way
'driven away' from Jerusalem.
One final observation can be made concerning the identity of the
victims in chapter 2. The dividing line between the oppressor and the
oppressed seems to be found in v. 8c. Those who are attacked are
'averse to war'. This phrase suggests not simply a group of peaceloving people, but a group that has 'turned away' from war; that is,
they have rejected war. This description of the victims may indicate
that they have chosen to surrender their property rather than fight.
Thus, their attitude towards militarism and policies that lead to warfare rather than their social class or economic standing is the characteristic of the oppressed that separates them from the oppressors.
1. Killers, Micah, p. 35.
2. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 170.
3. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 110, n. 12.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

While some exact details remain uncertain, it is now possible to


state with more precision the objective factors indicated in the
rhetorical situation. First, those upon whom Micah proclaims judgment form a powerful, clearly defined group. These oppressors are
Israelites and claim the protection of Yahweh. There is little in these
verses to indicate that this group is comprised of land barons or
wealthy officials. Second, there is little evidence that the deeds of the
oppressors are related to exploiting debt laws and foreclosing on
loans. Rather, their deeds seem to be the violent dispossessing and
harassment of people. Finally, the oppressed appear to be landowners
as well as entire populations and villages. The victims are not
described as being poor or powerless; rather they are characterized as
being 'averse to war'.
Subjective Factors
A number of subjective factors have shaped the speech in Mic. 2.1-13.
As one would expect, a major factor is the prophet's own evaluation
of the situation and its consequences. The prophet holds the strong
belief that the conduct of the oppressors will bring forth severe and
certain punishment from Yahweh himself. In the prophet's view the
coming judgment will take the form of a military defeat of the
oppressors. Verse 4 is probably to be understood either as a lament
which the punished will sing or a lament to be sung on behalf of the
punished by professional mourners. The contents of this brief lament
indicate several aspects of the prophet's understanding of the
approaching day of judgment. First, it will be a time of military
defeat. The term 'ruined' (sador) often refers to the devastation
wrought by military action.1 In particular, one should note Jer. 9.1719 where the word is used in a lament describing the aftermath of an
invasion.
Second, unless one emends the text, v. 4 suggests that Micah
believes an individual will be responsible for taking the land from the
oppressors: 'He changes the portion of my people. Alas! he removes it
from me. Our fields are portioned out by a rebel!' Although Luker
has suggested that the third-person singular verbs should be understood as impersonal,2 is likely that they refer to an individual. Indeed,
1.
2.

See the references in BOB, p. 994.


Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 91.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

85

the last line of v. 4 probably means that the holdings of the oppressors are to be divided by an individual who, in the eyes of the oppressors, is a 'rebel' (sobeb).1 The prophet apparently is referring to an
expected leader of a victorious army who will divide the spoils after
his conquest of the oppressors. The day of the defeat of the oppressors
will thus bring a reversal of fate: those who have taken land through
violence will be dispossessed violently and their property will be
divided as spoils of war.
As noted above, it may be precisely at this point that there is a connection with vv. 12-13. Like v. 4, v. 13 apparently refers to a military action led by a specific individual. A careful reading suggests that
v. 13 is the announcement of a successful military campaign: an individual ('the one who breaks out') has 'gone up' before them (his
army?) and they have broken through, reached 'the gate' and have
gone out through it. The verb 'go up' ('alah) is often used to describe
an army going into battle.2 While the exact meaning of 'the one who
breaks out' is not known, this word also has military connotations.
Often it is used to refer to breaching the walls of a city.3 On the other
hand, it may have the more general meaning of 'the one who breaks
away' or 'who rebels against'.4
It is possible that the references to 'crossing to the gate' and 'going
out by it' refer to the troops leaving a city to go into battle. The text
may actually refer to ritual preparation for battle. Such a ritual
preparation for war is described in Hittite texts as a means by which
the deity was pacified and the army was purified after a defeat:
It was the only occasion at which human sacrifice was still practiced; the
army had to march through a 'gate' erected from sticks of wood and
between the two halves of a sacrificed prisoner. One believed that the
contamination which had made the army unfit to conquer the enemy could
not pass such an obstacle and thus was left behind.5

1. Hillers suggests that the term refers to groups considered to be religiously


inferior (Micah, p. 32, n. p). The text under consideration, however, contains
nothing that points to a purely or even primarily religious dimension to the conflict.
2. See BDB, p. 748.
3. See Ps. 80.12; 89.40; Isa. 5.5; 2 Kgs 13.14. Other references are given in
BDB, p. 829.
4. Especially in the hithpael. See BDB, p. 829.
5. A. Goetze, 'Warfare in Asia Minor', Iraq, 25-26 (1963-64), p. 129.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Although one need not conclude that Mic. 2.13 presupposes human
sacrifice, it is possible that a ritual of passing through a 'gate' before
battle lies behind this verse. In any case, the verse presents a picture
of an army following 'their king' into battle.
Finally, the image of the deity going before the king and his army
suggests a military campaign. Parallelism leads most scholars to conclude that 'their king' in v. 13c is to be identified as Yahweh. While
this conclusion is possible, it is not the only interpretation of the
verse. Schibler has suggested that the parallelism of v. 13 expresses a
royal ideology: Yahweh and the king are one.1 At the very least the
king stood in a special relationship with Yahweh.2 It is thus possible
that 13c expresses the prophet's view that 'their king' is acting on
behalf of Yahweh. On the other hand, in the ancient Near East, it was
commonly believed that the deity preceded the king and army into
battle.3 Thus, rather than merely expressing a royal ideology, Mic.
2.13 presents a picture of Yahweh leading both king and army into
battle.
If v. 13 is a description of recent or presently occurring events,
then v. 13 provides the objective facts upon which Micah bases his
conclusion that the land of the oppressors will be violently taken by an
individual leader or king and divided as the spoils of war.
A second major subjective factor is the prophet's perception that
there is strong resistance to his message. The objections raised in
vv. 6-7 suggest that Micah was addressing an audience which was not
receptive to his message, or at least an audience which had heard
objections to his message. In any case, the prophet's perception of his
audience would clearly be a force that would shape his speech.
A third subjective factor is the prophet's belief that by their actions,
the oppressors lose any claim to Yahweh's special protection. This
1. Schibler, Le Prophete Michee, p. 151.
2. See the discussion by R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, I (New York: McGrawHill, 1965), pp. 101-5, 111.
3. A visible presence of Yahweh was the ark which accompanied the troops into
battle (2 Sam. 11.11). Assyrian texts may reflect the idea that Ashur preceded the
troops into battle. For example, The terror-inspiring glamor of Ashur, my lord,
overwhelmed him...' (ANET, p. 281) or a similar phrase is a typical feature of
numerous Assyrian inscriptions. Perhaps the closest parallels are to be found in
Hittite texts which, according to Goetze, indicate that the gods 'marched in front of
the king and his army' ('Warfare in Asia Minor', p. 129).

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

87

belief is seen most directly in the prophet's use of the term 'my
people' in vv. 8 and 9. H.W. Wolff has argued that in Micah 1-3 'my
people' always refers to the rural landowners whom Micah represents
in his capacity as an elder of the land.1 Mic. 2.8, however, is the
prophet's refutation of the opponents' objections that as God's people
(the house of Jacob) no evil can overtake them. In response, the
prophet, speaking for Yahweh, declares that 'my people have become
an enemy'; that is, those who claim to be Yahweh's people have been
transformed into Yahweh's enemy. As Willis notes, the use of 'my
people' in v. 8 is 'derived from the claims made by Micah's opponents, and therefore is ironical...' 2 In addition, it is possible that in
the following verse (v. 9) 'my people' refers to 'God's people' since
the prophet speaks as a representative of Yahweh. Indeed, it is probably not necessary to make a sharp distinction between the words of the
prophet and the words of Yahweh throughout this chapter.
Goals and Strategy
In light of the rhetorical situation it is clear that Micah must create a
discourse to meet two goals. First, he must communicate and persuade
his audience of his evaluation of the situation and its consequences.
Second, he must refute the arguments of those opposed to him. Since
Micah apparently anticipates the objections of his opponents within the
speech (vv. 6-7), it is reasonable to conclude that the entire discourse
was conceived as a response to the arguments set forth by his
opponents.
In order to achieve these goals Micah creates a discourse which is
similar to what classical rhetoric classifies as a deliberative speech;
that is, it seeks to persuade its hearers to take certain actions or attitudes in the future.3 The organization of the arguments can be outlined as follows:

1.
2.
3.

Wolff, 'Micah the Moreshite', pp. 77-84.


Willis, 'Micah 2.6-8', p. 86.
See Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation, pp. 19-20.

88

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


I.

II.

III.

IV.
V.

Thesis (vv. 1-5) The guilty will be punished


A. Description of unacceptable behavior (1-2)
B. Announcement of judgment (v. 3)
C. Nature of judgment
i. dispossessed and humiliated (v. 4)
ii. permanent (v. 5)
Objections of opponents (vv. 6-7)
A. Jacob is not cursed
B. Yahweh is patient
C. His deeds are good to those who are upright
Refutation (vv. 8-10)
A. 'my people' have become an enemy
B. Description of acts of those who claim to
be 'my people'
C. Result of actions: loss of Yahweh's favor
i. arise and go
ii. reasons ('because of uncleanness')
Ridicule of those who refuse to hear (v. 11)
Coda: Positive side of judgment
A. Yahweh will regather the oppressed (v. 12)
B. Proof: military victory already
accomplished by Yahweh (v. 13)

The woe oracle that opens the speech functions to command the attention of the audience. In addition, the woe oracle has three important
functions. First, if the woe oracle is derived from the mourning cry,
its use here serves to announce the certainty of judgment upon the
oppressors. Those addressed by the prophet are on a path that leads
directly to the grave.1 Second, the woe oracle allows the prophet to
describe in some detail the behavior that he finds to be unacceptable.
Third, since the woe oracle typically employs reversal imagery,2 the
prophet is able to use it to introduce his belief that the oppressors will
be dispossessed.
The woe cry also makes it clear that the prophet is relying upon an
emotional appeal to convince his audience of this point of view. He
makes no effort to prove logically that judgment upon the oppressors
1. Mays, Micah, p. 62.
2. W. Janzen, Mourning Cry and Woe Oracle (BZAW 125; Berlin: de Gruyter,
1972), pp. 35-39.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

89

is the outcome of the present situation. The prophet simply proclaims


the reality of that outcome with a cry of mourning over the oppressors as if the situation were already reversed. In addition, the reality
of the coming judgment is underscored by the detailed picture that the
prophet paints for his audience. The judgment will be permanent
('they will not remove their necks') and irreversible (v. 5). The
judgment will also involve humiliation: their lands will be divided by
one considered to be their inferior (v. 4). Both the woe oracle and the
detailed description of the judgment heighten the emotional impact of
Micah's words and thus convince his hearers of the reality that produces such emotions.
In addition to the emotional appeal, the prophet relies upon an
appeal to authority to convince his hearers. The beginning of v. 3
makes it clear that the audience is to receive the proclamation of
judgment not simply as the words of the prophet, but as the words of
Yahweh himself. Indeed, as noted above, throughout this discourse
there seems to be little distinction between the words of the prophet
and the words of Yahweh. The prophet has assumed the stance of
Yahweh's spokesman to make his speech more persuasive and to
counter the arguments of opposing prophets.
In vv. 6-9 the prophet refutes the arguments of his opponents.
First, the objections that he expects to be raised are set forth. These
objections are three-fold. First, the opponents remind the prophet that
Yahweh has not cursed Israel, and secondly they point out that
Yahweh is a patient God (v. 6b). Finally, the opponents seem to
suggest that they are actually the righteous who 'walk uprightly'. In
citing the objections of his opponents Micah is following an effective
rhetorical strategy which allows the speaker to refute the specific
objections he anticipates his speech will encounter.1
Having acknowledged the objections to his message, Micah turns to
refute those objections (vv. 8-9). Now, however, the prophet uses a
rational appeal. His argument basically has three parts. Underlying the
prophet's argument is the unspoken assumption that Yahweh's people
follow certain accepted standards of conduct.2 In particular, they
1. It is unlikely that we have here a record of Micah's actual debate with his
opponents. Rather, in vv. 6-7 the prophet quotes the objections he has heard or
expects to encounter.
2. Logical arguments often assume the major premise since it is accepted by

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

respect the property rights of others. Yet, according to the prophet,


the accused have violated this standard of conduct (vv. 8b-c, 9). This
description of the conduct of his opponents is also a direct answer to
their claim that they walk upright. Because they have not acted as
Yahweh's people should, the prophet concludes that they are no longer
Yahweh's people, but have become his enemy (v. 8a). They have thus
forfeited the right to the patience and protection Yahweh has
promised his people (v. 10).
Ridicule is a powerful weapon in rhetoric against those who reject
the arguments of the speaker.1 Micah thus employs ridicule against
those who still reject his assessment of the situation. Not only is their
blindness held up for others to see, but also the ridicule heaped upon
them makes others less inclined to reject the prophet's arguments.
Finally, the prophet addresses those who are currently oppressed
and suffering. The survivors are to be gathered and Israel will be
reunited. Yahweh will surely gather the oppressed who are like sheep
in distress. The certainty of the gathering of the survivors is conveyed
through the use of the absolute infinitive.2 The prophet can be certain
that a radical change of circumstances is imminent because of the
events that are described in v. 13. Already Yahweh has accomplished
a victory through a king. The tide has turned, and this victory signals
the beginning of the reversal of the current situation.
In summary, the prophet's strategy is to convince through a deliberative speech utilizing both emotional and rational appeals. In each
case, the argument has the same goal: to convince his audience of the
reality of the coming judgment and to refute the claims of his opponents that judgment cannot overtake them. Micah paints a detailed
picture of judgment which has negative implications for the oppressors and offers hope to the oppressed. It is noteworthy that in proclaiming both the negative and positive aspects of judgment the
prophet speaks on behalf of Yahweh, thus giving authority to his
words. Both these negative and positive factors as well as the use of

both speaker and audience; Kennedy, New Testament Interpretation, pp. 16-17.
1. C. Perelman and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca, The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on
Argumentation (trans. J. Wilkinson and P. Weaver; Notre Dame: University of
Notre Dame Press, 1969), p. 206.
2. Williams, Hebrew Syntax: An Outline, pp. 37-38.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

91

ridicule help to persuade his audience to adopt a certain attitude or


action toward present and future events.
Historical Possibilities
If Mic. 2.1-13 is indeed an original unity as I have suggested, what
historical background can be proposed for the speech? First, it should
be noted that any attempt to locate the historical setting for these
verses must be viewed as tentative. The chapter contains no explicit
reference to a known historical event, nor does it name a historical
figure or place. Consequently many scholars are either quite general
when discussing the background of the chapter, or simply offer no
proposal at all for the historical setting. Nevertheless, in light of the
elements in the rhetorical situation, some attempt can be made to
discern the historical circumstances behind Micah 2.
In particular, the historical setting must take into account the societal divisions presupposed by the discourse. A substantial group within
Israel ('this family') is involved in harassing and dispossessing those
who are 'averse to war'. Those being terrorized and driven out may
include populations and towns (v. 9). A military victory, however,
has signaled the turning of the tide and the prophet now expects judgment to overtake the oppressors. When these factors are taken into
consideration, it is possible to evaluate suggested historical settings
and perhaps propose a possible background for Mic. 2.1-13.
On the one hand, some have suggested that the events underlying
Micah's discourse represent the normal state of affairs for Israel.
George Adam Smith suggests that the situation in Micah 2 is the time
between major threats to Judah when normal social life could proceed
and the rich could exploit the poor. Thus, he proposes either the
period between 719 and 710 or 710 and 705 BCE. 1 Schibler also
suggests that the majority of the chapter dates to about 715 BCE before
the reforms of Hezekiah.2
Unfortunately, to suggest that the events depicted in chapter 2 do
not presuppose a major disruption of Israel's social life is to ignore
the factors in the rhetorical situation. As noted above, the discourse
1. G.A. Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets, I (New York: Doubleday,
1929), p. 389.
2. Schibler, Le Prophete Michee, p. 144.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

presupposes events more disruptive than the unethical acquisition of


land by the rich. Indeed, the violent dispossession of the peaceful is a
far different situation from foreclosing mortgages and imposing debt
servitude. What is represented in Micah 2 is clearly out of the ordinary and an attempt should be made to find the unusual historical
circumstances which prompted the speech.
On the other hand, some have suggested that the historical reality
underlying all or part of Mic. 2.1-13 is an expected Assyrian invasion
in either 725-722 BCE or 701 BCE. 1 Several reasons are cited in
support of such a scenario. First, it is assumed that the expectation of
an invasion is presupposed by v. 4.2 Second, a number of scholars
have dated vv. 12-13 to 701 BCE on the assumption that these verses
describe the Assyrian invasion and the gathering of refugees into
Jerusalem.3 Finally, van Hoonacker has suggested that Mic. 2.1-13
dates to 725-722 on the assumption that chapter 2 gives the reasons
for judgment announced in chapter I.4 In addition, van Hoonacker
concludes that Mic. 2.8 should be emended so that the text refers to
Shalmaneser.
In each case the evidence is doubtful. First, the judgment announced
in v. 4 suggests that the land will be divided by 'a rebel', an inappropriate designation for the Assyrians.5 In addition, v. 5 depicts judgment as excluding the guilty from participation in the traditional
allotment of land in Israel. Such a judgment does not suggest that a
foreign power is to be the agent of judgment. On the contrary,
Israelites will divide among themselves the land of the guilty.
Second, it is doubtful that vv. 12 and 13 can be read as a description of the seige of Jerusalem. Not only would the perfects of v. 13
have to be read as futures, but one would have to imagine a rather odd
description of the attempt to find refuge in Jerusalem. 'Cramming of a
besieged people into Jerusalem would hardly be described as
Yah wen's gathering of his flock... '6
Finally, van Hoonacker's attempt to connect the discourse of
1. Lindblom, Micha literarisch untersucht, pp. 143-45; Mays, Micah, p. 62;
van Hoonacker, Les douze petits prophetes, pp. 341-71.
2. Mays, Micah, p. 62; J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 58.
3. See above, p. 73, n. 6.
4. Van Hoonacker, Les douze petits prophetes, pp. 341-44.
5. Killers, Micah, p. 32, n. p.
6. Killers, Micah, p. 39.

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

93

Micah 2 with the events of 725-722 BCE must be rejected. The


suggested emendations of Mic. 2.8 are doubtful and unnecessary. In
addition, even if Micah 1 does date to 701 BCE it would be doubtful
that chapters 1 and 2 are part of the same speech. The strategies and
rhetorical situations are sufficiently different to point to separate
speeches delivered on separate occasions.
Interestingly, those who date the speech to a time when invasion
seemed imminent read Micah 2 as a description of the rich seizing the
lands of the poor. If an invasion seemed likely, it is doubtful that
individuals would occupy themselves with acquiring land. Events
during the Babylonian invasion of 586 BCE show that acquiring property during such a time was considered a foolish act.1 On the other
hand, if Micah 2 describes violent dispossession and harassment then
one must confess that such a scenario has little connection with what is
known of any periods of Assyrian invasion.
The search for a historical setting for Micah 2 thus leads one back
to that period of Israel's history in the eighth century when there were
societal divisions and near or actual civil war. As noted in the previous chapter the time near the death of Jeroboam II was probably a
period of internal strife for Israel and Judah. It is likely that the
causes of this infighting were Jeroboam's policy toward Assyria and
the uneven distribution of wealth in Israel and Judah. As a result,
various factions competed with Jerusalem and Samaria for the control
of the nation.
Although many factions may have competed for control of Israel in
the years after the death of Jeroboam II, the biblical account focuses
on the rivalry between Shallum and Menahem (2 Kgs 15.8-16).
Shallum assassinated Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II, and seized the
throne of Samaria. The overthrow of the Jehu dynasty was apparently
supported by many who hoped for a change in economic conditions
and in the national policy toward Assyria. Indeed, the biblical account
may indicate that sizeable segments of the population supported
Shallum in his struggle with Menahem (2 Kgs 15.16). In light of the
close connection between Israel and Judah, Shallum probably found
supporters not only in the north, but also among factions in Judah
which were discontented with policies under Jeroboam and Jotham. It

1.

See Jer. 32.6-15.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

is thus possible that Shallum's accession also proved to be a threat to


Jotham and Jerusalem.
On the other hand, Menahem apparently represented a faction that
wanted to continue the pro-Assyrian policies of Jeroboam II and
Jotham. Subsequent actions reveal Menahem's willingness to co-operate with Assyria. No later than 738 BCE Menahem paid tribute to
Tiglath-Pileser III when the latter was in the area.1 More importantly,
2 Kgs 15.19 makes it clear that Menahem was able to maintain his rule
only with the help of Assyria: Tul, the king of Assyria came against
the land; and Menahem gave Pul a thousand talents of silver, that he
might help him confirm his hold of the royal power'. 2 Kgs 15.19
may be interpreted as a report that Menahem paid for Assyrian troops
to be stationed in Israel.2 Whatever the exact significance of this text,
it is clear that Menahem pursued a policy of co-operation with
Assyria. It is thus possible that his revolt against Shallum was an
attempt to preserve the pro-Assyrian policies of Jeroboam II and
Jotham.3
The struggle between Menahem and Shallum may be reflected in the
discourse of Mic. 2.1-13. This chapter clearly assumes that society is
badly divided although the divisions are not along class lines. A
powerful group within Israel is gaining control of territory through
harassment and acts of violence. If my interpretation of Mic. 2.9 is
correct the group which has become an 'enemy' (v. 8) is guilty of
attacking and driving out populations and seizing control of towns
which belong to Jerusalem ('her house'). Micah equates the actions of
the oppressors with violations of the accepted codes of conduct
regarding property rights. It may be significant that a similar characterization is made by Hosea: 'The princes of Judah have become like
those who remove the landmark...' (Hos. 5.10).
Although the oppressors are not clearly identified they may be
supporters of Shallum's attempt to set Israel on a different course. In
any case, since the oppressors are seizing territories that belong to
Jerusalem, one may safely infer that the attackers are sufficiently
1. ANET, p. 283.
2. T.R. Hobbs, 2 Kings (WBC 13; Waco, TX: Word Books, 1985).
3. For the theory that the conflicts of this period must be interpreted in light of
policy toward Assyria see especially K. Fullerton, 'Isaiah's Earliest Prophecy
against Ephraim', AJSL 33 (1916-17), pp. 9-39 (esp. pp. 32-33).

2. 'My People Have Become an Enemy': Micah 2.1-13

95

discontent with Jerusalem's policies to contest her control of the


country.
It may be possible to understand Mic. 2.12-13 in light of the
struggle between Shalum and Menahem. Micah seems to have in mind
a specific event when he refers to a military victory in v. 13. In
addition, the above interpretation suggests that the prophet points to a
specific individual, identified as 'their king', as the agent of judgment
upon the oppressors. If this interpretation is correct, it may be
possible to understand Mic. 2.13 as a description of Menahem's revolt
against Shallum.
The assassination of Shallum would appear to have involved a military campaign. The account in 2 Kgs 15.14 suggests not the actions of
a lone assassin, but a co-ordinated military coup. The fact that it is
reported that Menahem went up from Tirzah suggests that he had the
support of that local population, and perhaps commanded a sizeable
force of men from the old capital of Israel. In addition, the report
could be interpreted as a description of a military assault on Samaria:
the verb 'go up' ('dlah) is often used of a military campaign (see
2 Kgs 17.3, 5). In any case, it is unlikely that Menahem singlehandedly entered the fortified town of Samaria, killed the king, and
overcame the forces in Samaria which were loyal to Shallum. The fact
that Menahem encountered resistance to his rule also suggests that he
had to use considerable force to claim the throne initially. Quite
possibly, the situation was similar to a much earlier coup in which
Omri, an army commander, led a revolt against the usurper, Zimri
(1 Kgs 16.15-20).
If Menahem did in fact win a military victory in his overthrow of
Shallum, it may be this victory to which the prophet Micah refers in
Mic. 2.13. Menahem could well be the 'one who breaks out', that is,
the one who has broken away or rebelled. In addition, he leads an
army which can be described as those who have 'broken away'. Micah
thus pictures Menahem leading a rebellious faction into battle. In
addition, Menahem may be the one who is described as the 'rebel' who
will divide up the land of the oppressors (v. 4). 'The gate' mentioned
in v. 13 could either be a reference to Samaria or the gate of the city
which they 'go up against', or it could be a reference to the gates of
Tirzah through which Menahem leads his troops against Shallum. On
the other hand, as noted above, the phrase 'pass through the gate' may
be an idiomatic expression for preparing for or going into battle or a

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

reference to a military ritual undertaken under special circumstances.


Perhaps most important, if this verse refers to Menahem's coup, the
prophet designates Menahem as 'their king' who stands in a special
relationship with Yahweh. Indeed, the faction of Menahem has the
blessing of Yahweh since Micah pictures Yahweh himself leading
those who have broken away into battle.
There can be little doubt that Menahem's coup was a significant
victory for those in Israel and Judah who were willing to co-operate
with Assyria. Indeed, Menahem's rule was later supported by Assyria.
It can also be assumed that Menahem's rise to power also served to
check, for a moment and to a limited extent, those discontented
factions which were challenging Jerusalem's authority. Thus, Micah is
able to foresee a time when an individual ruler (Menahem) would
bring judgment on the oppressors and restore the fortunes of those
who have either refused to join Shallum's bid for power or have been
caught in the middle of the struggle. It is this recognition of the
significance of Menahem's victory that has led Micah boldly to
proclaim a reversal of the present situation.

Chapter 3
'is IT NOT FOR You TO ACKNOWLEDGE THE DECISION?'
MICAH3.1-4.8

Text and Translation


(3.1)

(2)

And I said:
Hear this, O heads of Jacob
and rulers2 of the House of Israel:
Is it not for you to acknowledge the decision?
You who hate good and love evil,
who strip the skin off them,
and their flesh from their bones;

1. The LXX reads 'and he said'. Both MT and LXX present problems in
interpretation. See the surveys by Renaud, Formation, pp. 119-21 and J.T. Willis,
'A Note on TB0] in Micah 3.1', ZA W 80 (1968), pp. 50-54. In both the LXX and the
MT the opening word is unexpected and has been the subject of much debate.
Generally three different explanations are set forth for the occurrence of 'and I said'.
Mays suggests that the word is an editorial gloss intended to join 3.1-12 to the
preceding material (Micah, p. 78), while Willis believes the word is an editorial
addition meant to emphasize the break with the preceding oracle ('Micah 3.1',
p. 54). Others have taken the word as an indication that this section of Micah is to be
understood as part of a debate with the prophet's opponents (van der Woude,
'Micah in Dispute', pp. 244-60; T.A. Boogart, Reflections on the Restoration: A
Study of Prophecies in Micah and Isaiah About the Restoration of Northern Israel
(dissertation, Groningen, 1981), p. 60). Obviously, certainty is not possible. It is
the opinion of the present writer, however, that the occurrence of 'and I said' is an
indication that there once existed a prophetic narrative which recorded the
circumstances and occasion upon which the following discourse was delivered. Such
is the conclusion of Allen (Micah, p. 305) and Budde ('Eine folgenschwere
Redaction des Zwolfprophetenbuchs', ZAW39 [1921], p. 322).
2. The LXX reading 'remaining ones' is difficult to explain and may be a reading
based on an interpretation of 2.12-13. See Killers, Micah, p. 42.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


(3)

(4)

(5)

(6)

(7)

(8)

and who consume the flesh of my people,


and flay their skin off them,
and break to pieces their bones;
and divide it up1 like that which2 is in the pot,
like flesh for the kettle.
If they were to cry to Yahweh,
then he will not answer.
And he will hide his face from them at that time,
for they have made evil their deeds.
Thus says Yahweh against the prophets
who lead my people astray
those who bite with their teeth and declare peace;
and whenever one does not put something in their mouths
they sanctify war against him.3
Therefore it will be night to youwithout vision.
And darkness4 to youwithout divination.
And the sun will go down on the prophets,
and black will be the day for them.
And the seers will be made ashamed
and the diviners disgraced.
They shall cover their lipsall of them
when there is no response from God.
But as for me: I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of Yahweh
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression
and to Israel his sin.

1. Reading prs as equivalent to prs (see Lam. 4.4 and the LXX).
2. The LXX apparently read kise 'er instead of MT ka 'eser. A number of scholars
have accepted the LXX reading (Mays, Micah, p. 76; Allen, Micah, p. 304; Killers,
Micah, p. 42; J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 71). The reading of the LXX is easily
explained by confusion with the word se'er which occurs earlier in the line. The MT
is thus retained, although it appears to be rather awkward.
3. Notice the reading of the Targum: 'Whoever gives them a banquet of meat,
they prophecy peace for him; but whoever does not offer them something to eat, they
prepare war against him'. The Targum of the Minor Prophets. The Aramaic Bible,
Vol. 14 (trans. K.J. Cathcart and R.P. Gordon; Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier,
1989).
4. Reading the noun with the LXX. So Renaud, Formation, p. 131; Hillers,
Micah, p. 44; Allen, Micah, p. 310, n. 27; Mays, Micah, p. 80; Rudolph, Micah,
p. 67, n. 6a.
5. For the LXX of this verse see Renaud, Formation, p. 131; Hillers, Micah,
p. 44.

3. 'To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8


(9)

(10)
(11)

(12)

(4.1)

(2)

99

Hear this, heads of the house of Jacob


and rulers1 of the house of Israel
who abhor justice
and pervert all this is upright,
who would build up2 Zion with blood
and Jerusalem with acts of violence
her heads make decisions for a bribe,
and her priests give instruction for a price;
and her prophets divine for money;
but they lean on Yahweh, saying,
'Is not Yahweh in our midst?
Evil cannot come upon us.'
Therefore, because of you,
Zion will be plowed as a field
and Jerusalem will become heaps of ruins;3
and the temple mount of the house
will become wooded heights.4
But5 in the days to come,
the mountain of the house6 of Yahweh will be
established as the highest of mountains,
and will be lifted up above the hills,
And the peoples will flow to it,
and many nations will come and say,7

1. LXX again reads 'remaining ones'. See above, p. 97, n. 2.


2. The participle in the MT is singular. Although most agree it should be
emended to the plural, it could be understood as a collective.
3. Jer. 26.18 reads 'iyytm instead of 'iyyin. The variation may be explained as a
dialectic one. See Millers, Micah, p. 47.
4. The versions read a singular rather than the plural 'wooded heights' as found
in the MT. The MT should be retained as the more difficult text. See the comments by
J. Vincent, 'Michas Gerichtswort gegen Zion (3.12) in seinem Kontext', ZTK 83
(1986), pp. 176-77.
5. The textual variants in vv. 1-3 are of a minor nature and primarily involve
differences with Isa. 2.2-4. No discussion of these variants is necessary since 'there
is little if any basis for a preference' (Killers, Micah, p. 49). See also the comments
by Mays, Micah, pp. 94-95. For an examination of the variants between Micah and
Isaiah, consult H. Wildberger, Jesaja (BKAT 10.1; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener
Verlag, 1972), pp. 75-80.
6. LXX omits bet.
1. Some scholars have omitted we'amSru on the basis of the LXX and meter.
The verb is to be retained as an anacrosis. See Hillers, Micah, p. 50; Renaud,
Formation, p. 152.

100

(3)

(4)

(5)

(6)

(7)

(8)

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


'Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh,
and to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.'
For out of Zion will come forth instruction,
and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem.
And He will arbitrate among many peoples
and decide the cases for strong, distant nations.1
And they will bend their swords into ploughshares
and their spears into pruning knives;
nation will not lift up sword against nation,
and they shall train for war no more.
They shall dwell, each one under his own vine,
and under his own fig tree,
and there will be none to terrify,
for the mouth of Yahweh Sebaoth has spoken.
Surely every nation walks in the name of its god
so let us walk in the name of Yahweh, our god
forever and ever.
On that day, Yahweh has decreed,
'I will gather the one who limps,
and collect her who has wandered,
and whomever I have injured.
And I will make the one who limps into a remnant,
and the wandering one into a mighty nation.
And Yahweh will rule over them on Mount Zion,
from now and forever.
And you, tower of the flock,
Ophel of the daughter of Zion,
to you shall come and enter in,2
the former dominion,3 rule by Jerusalem.'

Unity and Date


The material in Mic. 3.1-4.8 is usually divided into as many as five
separate units: 3.1-4; 5-8; and 9-12 are oracles of judgment while 4.11. 'ad-rahdq is absent from Isa. 2.4 and is taken by Renaud to be a gloss
(Formation, p. 153).
2. Both synonymous verbs can be retained. The repetition of verbs may well be
a stylistic device according to Hillers, Micah, p. 56.
3. The LXX adds 'from Babylon'. The phrase is to be understood not as a
misreading but as a later gloss.

3. 'To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8

101

5 and 6-8 are generally classified as oracles of salvation.1 It is generally conceded that at some level Mic. 3.1-12 forms a 'kerygmatic' or
'compositional' unity. 2 Indeed, the three oracles are linked thematically by their accusations against the leaders of society. Moreover, the
similarity of form, as well as wordplay, assonance and verbal links tie
the material together.3 While it is generally believed that, in spite of
the unity, these oracles were delivered on separate occasions4 the possibility that the oracles comprise an original unity must not be dismissed. Indeed, the thematic and verbal links as well as the movement
of the chapter toward a clear goal (v. 12) indicate a coherent unity.
On the other hand, the material in Mic. 4.1-8 appears to be united
by the theme of the restoration of the nation and the future glory of
Zion. Mic. 4.1-8 is thus considered by most to be distinct from the
preceding material or even a complete contradiction to the judgments
envisioned in 3.1-12.5 This apparent contrast has led some to the
conclusion that 4.1-8 was added by a later hand to soften the harsh
judgment foreseen for Jerusalem in Mic. 3.12.6
There are, however, strong links between 3.1-12 and 4.1-8 based on
both theme and rhetorical situation. First, both 3.9-12 and 4.1-5 focus
on the theme of 'building up Zion'. On the one hand, the former
oracle describes the attempts of the nation's leaders to build up Zion
through violence and bloodshed. Their efforts result in the destruction
of Jerusalem. On the other hand, Mic. 4.1-5 describes the building up
of Zion by Yahweh with the result that Jerusalem receives honor,
prestige and power (see also v. 8). The two sections are linked
1. There are, of course, other proposed divisions of this material. For example,
Lescow divides 3.5-8 into two separate units ('Micah 1-5', p. 48). More serious
disagreements concern the division of Mic. 4.1-8. In particular, commentators are
almost evenly divided on the question of whether v. 8 belongs with the preceding
material, that which follows, or is an independent saying. See Schibler, Le Prophete
Michee, p. 30, n. 21, 22, and 23.
2. Allen, Micah, p. 304; Killers, Micah, p. 42; Rudolph, Micha, p. 68;
Lescow, 'Micha 1-5', p. 47; Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 73; Vincent, 'Michas
Gerichtswort', p. 169.
3. See Hillers, Micah, p. 42; Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 173.
4. Rudolph, Micha, p. 68; Vincent, 'Michas Gerichtswort', p. 169.
5. Note especially Mays who concludes that Mic. 4.1-4 is a 'direct
contradiction' to the judgment of 3.12 (Micah, p. 95).
6. So Stade, 'Bemerkungen iiber das Buch Micha', pp. 169-70; Marti, Das
Dodekapropheten, pp. 262-64; Mays, Micah, p. 29.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

grammatically by a conjunction (4.1) and by a progression of thought:


after human efforts fail to build up Zion Yahweh himself will exalt
the city by his own deeds.
In addition to the thematic link between 3.1-12 and 4.1-8, a
common rhetorical situation is presupposed. Both sections reflect the
speaker's certainty that disaster is inevitable for Jerusalem. Mic. 3.112 gives the reasons for the impending disaster and culminates in the
declaration that Jerusalem will be destroyed. On the other hand, all of
4.1-8 underscores the certainty of judgment since the oracles of
restoration assume that disaster will most definitely come. It is thus
erroneous to view Mic. 4.1-8 as a contradiction of Mic. 3.12. Hillers
notes that a true contradiction of 3.12 would have to be 'Jerusalem
will not fall, etc.'1 There is obviously a contrast between 3.12 and 4.1,
but the words of 4.1-4 'do not ease the indictment, they confirm it, for
if the functions of authority continue, the functionaries disappear'.2 In
other words, the judgment upon the priests, prophets and heads of
Israel will result in Yahweh himself removing these officials and
carrying out their tasks. Mic. 3.9-12 and 4.1-8 can thus be taken as
two ways of looking at the same idea of the corruption of national
leaders and the righteousness of Yahweh.3
The theme of the building of Zion and the speaker's certainty that
Jerusalem will be destroyed unite the material in 3.1-4.8, but also
separate it from the following discourse in Micah 4.9ff. In 4.9ff. the
theme is not those who build up Zion, but the peoples who deliberately attempt to destroy the city. Thus, in 3.11 the people who are
addressed appear convinced that Jerusalem will not fall: 'Yet they lean
upon Yahweh and say, "Is not Yahweh among us? No evil can come
upon us'". In contrast, in 4.9-10 Micah's audience is in panic and distress with no sign of the false confidence evident in 3.1-4.8.
Moreover, condemnation of national leaders is not found in Mic.
4.9ff, but dominates all of 3.1-12 and is indirectly involved in 4.1-4
where the function of national leadership is taken over by Yahweh.
The themes of the building of Zion and the certainty of disaster thus
mark Mic. 3.1-4.8 as a single discourse.
1. Hillers, Micah, p. 53. On the possibility that so-called oracles of hope
actually confirm the certainty of disaster, see below under 'Goals and Strategy'.
2. Hillers, Micah, p. 51.
3. This observation is made by Cuffey, The Coherence ofMicah, pp. 347-55.

3. 'To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8

103

A question closely related to that of the unity of Mic. 3.1-4.8 is the


date of this material. If it can be decisively demonstrated that this
material must be derived from times other than Micah, the unity must
be explained as redactional. On the other hand, if arguments for the
later dating of the material are not convincing, the possibility is left
open that Mic. 3.1-4.8 is an original unity.
While scholars assign the majority of material in Mic. 3.1-12 to the
prophet himself, some have sought to isolate later additions to the
authentic sayings. In 3.4b the phrase 'in that time' is taken by some to
be an editorial addition meant to apply Micah's words to the time of
the exile.1 The only basis for such a conclusion is a rather arbitrary
assumption that any temporal phrase represents a rereading of the
text. There is no firm evidence to indicate that references to a future
time represent later additions in Micah or other prophetic books.
Nothing compels the reader to assume that 3.4b is an exilic updating
of the text.
Somewhat more complicated is the question of the phrase 'the Spirit
of Yahweh' (3.8). On the basis of meter and its prosaic character a
number of scholars have deleted this phrase as a later addition.2
Rudolph argues that the inclusion of the phrase is illogical: '...der
Geist Jahwes kann nicht zwischen den von ihm gewirkten
Eigenschaffen genannt werden'.3 Renaud also notes that the reference
to Yahweh's Spirit in connection with prophecy appears to reflect the
notion of prophecy in EzekieFs time.4
Although the speech is not greatly affected if the phrase 'the Spirit
of Yahweh' were to be a later gloss, a number of observations need to
be made on this redactional question. As always, meter is a very
precarious criterion for identifying editorial additions. Allen and
Lindblom find the meter of 3.8 as it stands to be a very regular 2 + 2
+ 2.5 The validity of Rudolph's observation is certainly open to

1. Mays, Micah, p. 80; Renaud, Formation, pp. 128-29; Lescow, 'Micha 15', p. 47; Jeremias, 'Die Deutung', p. 335.
2. Rudolph, Micha, p. 68; Wellhausen, Kleinen Propheten, p. 141; Mays,
Micah, p. 81; Renaud, Formation, pp. 134-46.
3. Rudolph, Micha, p. 68.
4. Renaud, Formation, p. 135.
5. Allen, Micah, p. 314, n. 40; J. Lindblom, Prophecy in Ancient Israel
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1962), p. 174, n. 107.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

debate. Moreover, it is not certain that the phrase is to be understood


as an attribute of Yahweh's Spirit. The phrase 'et-ruah can be understood as prepositional: 'With the help of Yahweh's Spirit'. This interpretation raises questions not only about Rudolph's comments but also
about Renaud's assertion that the notion of prophecy found in Mic. 3.8
is similar to that found in Ezekiel. If Micah is merely claiming that
true prophecy is possible only through the Spirit of Yahweh, then his
point of view is not very distant from that expressed in the prophetic
legend of 1 Kings 22 (especially v. 24) which is generally considered
to date from a pre-exilic time.1
Lescow has proposed that all of Mic. 3.10-11 is a later addition to
Mican material.2 His only support for this suggestion is the change of
person in vv. 10 and 11. Thus, Renaud views Lescow's deletion of
3.10-11 as arbitrary and comments: '...il serait excessif d'en tirer
argument pour envisager une modification du texte'.3
The most difficult problem raised by Mic. 3.1-4.8 is the question of
the origin of Mic. 4.1-4. Since the oracle contained in Mic. 4.1-4 is
also found in Isa. 2.2-4, serious doubts are raised about attributing the
material to Micah. On the basis of vocabulary, theme and style a
number of scholars have concluded that the oracle is Isaianic,4 while
others have used these same criteria to conclude that the oracle is
original to Micah.5
Most scholars, however, consider the oracle to be a late composition
which has been placed in both books by an editor or editors.6 Such
1. S.J. De Vries, Prophet Against Prophet (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978),
pp. 4, 44-46.
2. Lescow, 'Micha 1-5', pp. 49-50.
3. Renaud, Formation, p. 141.
4. Wildberger, Jesaja, pp. 75-80; Rudolph, Micha, p. 77; vanderWoude,
'Micah 4.1-5', p. 399.
5. J. Gray, 'The Kingship of God in the Prophets and Psalms', VT 11 (1961),
p. 15. See other references in Schibler, La Prophete Michee, p. 155 and
Wildberger, Jesaja, p. 78.
6. J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 83; Lescow, 'Micha 1-5', p. 75; Stade
'Bemerkungen iiber das Buch Micha', p. 165; Marti, Das Dodekapropheten,
p. 281; Mays, Micah, p. 95; Wellhausen, Kleinen Propheten, pp. 142-43;
Lindblom, Micha literarisch untersucht, p. 80. For other references consult
vanderWoude, ('Micah 4.1-5', pp. 396-97). A good study of representative
interpretations is found in E.H. Scheffler, 'Micah 4.1-5: An Impasse in Exegesis?',
Old Testament Essays 3 (1985), pp. 46-61.

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105

ideas as the peaceful pilgrimage of the nations to Jerusalem, universal


eschatological peace, the exaltation of Zion and a positive relation
between Yahweh's reign and the nations, it is argued, are generally
found in post-exilic works or passages thought to be later additions to
earlier works.1
Finally, scholars argue that the vocabulary of the oracle contains a
number of expressions not attested until the exilic or post-exilic
period. In particular, Cannawurf suggests that the parallel 'JerusalemZion' is 'typical for the post-exilic time'.2 Renaud cites a number of
phrases which possibly indicate a late origin for the oracle.3 In particular, a late date is suggested by the phrase 'at the end of days', the
metaphorical use of the verb 'flow' (attested in Jer. 31.12) and the
phrase 'powerful nation' (found in Deut. 9.14; 26.5 and Isa. 60.22). In
addition, the parallel 'many people-strong nation' (4.3) occurs only in
Zech. 8.22, and the phrase 'mountain of the house of Yahweh' has its
only parallel in 2 Chron. 33.15. Finally, 'to learn war' is found only
in Ps. 18.35; Ps. 144.1; 1 Chron. 5.18 and the gloss in Judg. 3.2.
The arguments for a late date for Mic. 4.1-4 have not been found
compelling, however, and a number of scholars have argued convincingly that the oracle under consideration is the product of pre-exilic
times.4 In the first place, it is not at all clear that the themes of the
oracle are confined to the post-exilic period. The concepts found in
Mic. 4.1-4 have clear parallels in the Zion-Psalms (Pss. 46; 48; 68;
76).5 J.J.M. Roberts has argued convincingly that motifs that belong
to the Zion tradition (e.g. the divine mountain, the defeat of the
nations, and the pilgrimage of the nations) are quite ancient.6 Indeed,
1. See Renaud, Formation, pp. 165-81; Mays, Micah, p. 95; G. Wanke, Die
Ziontheologie der Korachten (BZAW 97; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1966).
2. E. Cannawurf, The Authenticity of Micah IV 1-4', VT 13 (1963), p. 32.
3. Renaud, Formation, pp. 177-78.
4. A.S. Kapelrud, 'Eschatology in the Book of Micah', VT 11 (1961),
pp. 392-405; van der Woude, 'Micah 4.1-5', pp. 397-401; Hillers, Micah, p. 52;
Wildberger, Jesaja, pp. 75-80; W. Brueggemann, 'Vine and Fig Tree: A Case
Study in Imagination and Criticism', CBQ 43 (1981), p. 189; Allen, Micah, p. 325
5. See Wildberger, Jesaja, pp. 75-80.
6. J.J.M. Roberts, "The Davidic Origin of the Zion Tradition', JBL 92 (1973),
pp. 329-44; see also his article 'Zion Tradition', in IDBS, pp. 985-87; and 'Zion in
the Theology of the Davidic-Solomonic Empire', in T. Ishida (ed.), Studies in the
Period of David and Solomon and other Essays (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns,
1982).

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

the motifs found in the Zion traditions are present even in the mythology of the Canaanites as well as the ancient Psalm 86. Roberts concludes that the most likely time for the formation of the Zion tradition
was not the post-exilic time: the 'exilic ruins and post-exilic restoration' hardly provide a plausible background for the development of
such traditions about a glorious Zion important enough for nations
either to honor or attack. Rather, the united monarchy of David with
its triumphant Yahwism, its need to establish the validity of Jerusalem
as Israel's capital and its stream of vassal states bringing tribute to the
capital provides the most likely setting for the formation of the Zion
tradition. Roberts thus builds a convincing case that the Zion tradition
such as that reflected in Mic. 4.1-4 took shape long before the eighth
century and was certainly not a product of the exilic period.
Second, there are serious doubts that the vocabulary of Mic. 4.1 -4
demands a post-exilic dating. E. Lipinski has demonstrated that the
phrase 'in the latter days' occurs in texts as early as the Yahwistic
source of the Pentateuch.1 The simple occurrence of this phrase in
Mic. 4.1 does not therefore compel one to accept a late date for this
material. In addition, Cannawurf's suggestion that the parallelism of
Zion and Jerusalem is 'typical for post-exilic time' is rather puzzling.
On the one hand, he offers no evidence to support this assertion. On
the other hand, Cannawurf apparently ignores the fact that the ZionJerusalem parallel occurs in Mic. 3.10 and 3.12, two passages universally accepted as Mican.
Other vocabulary which according to Renaud indicates a late date
for the oracle is of questionable value. Since both phrases 'many
people-powerful nations' and 'mountain of the house of Yahweh' have
only one parallel in other works, it is doubtful that much can safely be
concluded concerning the date of their possible origins.
The parallels with other uses of the verb 'flow' and the phrase
'learn war' are inconclusive. It should be pointed out that in neither
case is there an exact parallel to the phrases in which the words occur
in Mic. 4.1-5. As Hillers points out, the question of vocabulary can
easily become an 'argument about what is a significant parallel,

1. E. Lipinski, 'D'OTi rnnxa dans les Textes Pre^xiliques', VT 20 (1970),


pp. 445-50.

3. 'To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8

107

thereby revealing the somewhat unsatisfactory nature of the


criterion'.1
It must be conceded, however, that the style of 4.1-5 stands in sharp
contrast to the style of 3.1-12. The liturgical style of 4.1-5 suggests
the possibility that the prophet is actually quoting a cultic oracle with
which his audience was familiar.2 Indeed, given the oracle's liturgical
style, the possible earlier origin of the oracle's motifs and the fact that
the same oracle is found in a discourse attributed to another eighthcentury prophet, it seems best to agree with those who have concluded
that Micah is simply quoting a well-known oracle at this point. As we
shall see, the quotation of a saying known to the audience is an important rhetorical device.
Verse 5 has the nature of a liturgical response to the preceding
oracle and may in fact be the response recited in the cult. While some
suggest that this response comes from the hand of a later redactor,3 it
is possible that the response is the composition of Micah himself.
Certainly, there is nothing in its vocabulary or concepts which mark
4.5 as a late composition. Mic. 4.1-4 can thus be understood as a selfcontained, cultic oracle which the prophet incorporated into his discourse and to which a response has been added.4 Neither vocabulary
nor motifs demands a date later than the eighth century BCE.
Renaud has found several possible indications that Mic. 4.6-8 is an
addition by a later editor.5 First, the occurrence of the phrase, 'on that
1. Hillers, Micah, p. 52.
2. Kapelrud, Micah, p. 395; Gray, The Kingship of God', p. 15; Allen,
Micah, p. 325.
3. J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 88; Renaud, Formation, p. 158; Rudolph, Micha,
p. 81; Marti, Das Dodekapropheten, p. 282.
4. Redactional considerations of 4.1-4 are complicated by the possibility that
Micah himself was the redactor. That is, the prophet may have used the ancient oracle
making minor changes for his own purposes. It is suggested by some that 4.4 is a
contradiction to 4.1-3 and therefore must be an addition to the oracle (J.M.P. Smith,
Micah, p. 83; Marti, Das Dodekapropheten, p. 282). However, Brueggemann has
shown that 4.4 is a traditional formula expressing the ideal of peace and in many
ways is a parallel to 4.2 ('Vine and Fig Tree', pp. 191-93). It is thus likely that 4.4
is a part of the original oracle that is absent from the text in Isa. 2.2-4 (so Hillers,
Micah, p. 51).
5. See Renaud, Formation, pp. 184-87. Also see, N. Mendecki ('Die
Sammlung der Zerstreuten in Mi 4,6-7', BZ 27 (1983), pp. 218-21) who seeks to
trace the influence of Ezekiel and Deutero-Isaiah on the oracle in Micah. Mendecki

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

day' indicates a rereading which applied the oracle to the time of the
exile. Second, a number of terms such as 'gather', 'assemble', 'vanish'
and 'injure' are applied to the exile by later texts. Third, the expression 'Yahweh will rule' is absent from the pre-exilic Psalms, but is
found in numerous post-exilic texts. Fourth, the expression, 'now and
forever' only appears in post-exilic texts.
While Renaud's evidence is impressive, there are a number of
weaknesses in his arguments. As has been noted, it is rather arbitrary
to assume that each occurrence of 'on that day' is a reference to the
exilic period. Second, with regard to the vocabulary parallels,
Renaud admits that these terms are not used exclusively in the exilic
period.1 Renaud's argument is further weakened by his need to assume
that 2 Sam. 14.13-14, which uses the word 'banish', is redactional.
Perhaps most questionable is his assertion that the phrase mlk YHWH
is absent from pre-exilic Psalms. The phrase appears most often in the
genre of the enthronement Psalms, and Mowinckel has argued that this
genre existed in the cult of the pre-exilic temple.2
More problematic is Renaud's observation concerning the theological motif of the 'remnant'.3 While Isaiah typically uses the form
se"ar, Mic. 4.7 uses sg'erit which is typical of later works. More
importantly, Renaud argues that the positive valuation attached to the
concept of the remnant is a later theological development.
Two observations can be made on the use of the word 'remnant'.
First, the use of se"erit rather than se"dr may simply point to a difference in style rather than a difference in time. Second, the question of
the origin and development of the concept of remnant is uncertain and
is made quite complicated by the question of the 'authenticity' of
passages in Amos and Isaiah.4 It is thus difficult to know exactly when
and how the concept assumed a positive theological connotation.
Killers has noted that 'the term "remnant" or "survivors" is an old
one; to turn it to a positive sense, almost a title of honor could be the
apparently does not consider the possibility that the oracle in Micah could have
influenced the later prophetic material.
1. Renaud, Formation, p. 186.
2. S. Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel's Worship, I (Nashville: Abingdon
Press, 1962), p. 117.
3. Renaud, Formation, pp. 187-90.
4. See V. Herntrich, 'The "Remnant" in the Old Testament', TDNT, IV,
pp. 196-209.

3. 'To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8

109

work of a very brief time'.1 Certainly, in Micah's day, Isaiah was


already in the process of transforming the concept of remnant into a
positive one. Micah may thus be reflecting the development of the
remnant concept in the preaching of Isaiah.
Finally, Mic. 4.8 is often assigned to a later redactor.2 It is generally assumed that the passage presupposes the destruction of Jerusalem
and the end of the Davidic line. There is nothing in the oracle,
however, that indicates either exile or that the Davidic line has
perished. Mic. 4.8 'would fit the circumstances of a kingdom whose
territory had been much reduced...' 3 It should be noted that the
vocabulary of 4.8 is not cited as an indication of a later date.
In summary, the arguments for a late date for all or part of Mic.
3.1-4.8 are not convincing. Since the material appears to be united by
a common theme and a common rhetorical situation the possibility
that Micah 3.1-4.8 is a unified discourse must be left open. An attempt
can be made to find the possible historical background of the speech
by a closer examination of the factors in the rhetorical situation.
The Rhetorical Situation
Objective Factors
The major objective factor reflected in the speech can be summarized
concisely: some leaders of Israel have undertaken a course of action
that, in the opinion of Micah, is harmful to the nation and ultimately
will bring about the destruction of Jerusalem. The dynamics of this
situation are revealed by an investigation of the identity of the leaders
and the nature of their actions.
Within Mic. 3.1-12 heads, rulers, prophets and priests are accused
of abusing their power and bringing harm to others. Singled out for
the harshest condemnations are the heads (r'os) and rulers (qasin).
That these authorities have national governing responsibilities is seen
in the fact that they are called the 'heads of Jacob' and 'rulers of
Israel', r'osis a rather imprecise term which could refer to leadership

1.
2.
3.

Hillers, Micah, p. 55.


Renaud, Formation, p. 194; Mays, Micah, p. 102.
Hillers, Micah, p. 56.

110

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

in general and may include those who function as judges (cf. v. II) 1
although the term is also used of those who perform military
functions.2
On the other hand, qasin occurs infrequently. Mays notes that other
than its occurrences in Isaiah and Micah, the title refers to a military
leader.3 Yet, in at least one of the four occurrences in Isaiah qasin also
refers to a military authority (Isa. 22.3) and the other occurrences do
not exclude the idea of a military commander (Isa. 1.10; 3.6, 7). It is
also of interest that the only other occurrence of the pair r'osfqasin is
in reference to Jephthah's role as the military ruler of Gilead.4 It is
thus probable that the leaders addressed in v. 1 and v. 9 are military
leaders who are royal administrative appointees5 and who probably
had the power to settle disputes.
That military authorities had such power is evidenced by the Mesad
Hashavyahu letter, in which a laborer appealed to a commander (saf)
to decide his dispute against one who had taken his mantle.6 It is thus
not unlikely that the 'heads of Israel' and 'rulers of the house of Jacob'
exercised authority in military matters as well as in the settlement of
disputes.
1. For the various uses of the term r'os, see BOB, pp. 910-11. Also see
J.R. Bartlett, 'The Use of the word /-'twas a Title in the Old Testament', VT 19
(1969), pp. 1-10.
2. The passages cited by Bartlett as examples of ro's with military associations
include 1 Sam. 15.17; Num. 14.14 and 2 Sam. 23.8-39. He also points out that in
several cases (e.g. Judg. 7.16, 20; 9.34; 1 Sam. 11.11) ro's refers to small companies of soldiers ('The Use of the Word Ro's ', pp. 2-4). Also see J.A. Dearman,
Property Rights in the Eighth-Century Prophets: The Conflict and Its Background
(SBLDS 106; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988), p. 50.
3. Mays, Micah, p. 78.
4. Dearman, Property Rights, p. 50, n. 1. Wolff makes this same observation
but concludes that Micah is here utilizing a pre-monarchic tradition ('Micah the
Moreshite', pp. 78-79).
5. That the heads and rulers were appointed by the king to administer affairs in
areas outside of Jerusalem is the logical conclusion of Hammershaimb, 'Some
Leading Ideas in the Book of Micah', pp. 31-32. Dearman (Property Rights,
pp. 143-44) and Wolff ('Micah the Moreshite', pp. 78-79) also conclude that these
officials were probably royally appointed members of the administrative/judicial
system.
6. H. Donner and W. Rollig, Kanaanaische und Aramdische Inschriften I
(Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1971), p. 36, n. 200.

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111

While the 'heads' and 'rulers' probably held some degree of judicial
authority, it is doubtful that their settlement of legal disputes is the
main concern of Mic. 3.1-12. The accusing question of Mic. 3.1 has
generally been understood as an indication that the leaders have failed
to render just decisions in accordance with the requirements of the
law. 1 In v. 1, however, the term hammispat may refer to something
other than justice in general. Since the noun is preceded by the definite
article the prophet may have in mind a specific decision or judgment.2
If this interpretation is correct the usual translation, 'to know justice'
cannot be accepted; rather lada 'at 'et-hammispat must mean 'to
acknowledge (i.e. abide by) the decision'. The accusation thus is not
that the leaders are ignorant of the law, but that they have failed to
recognize and accept a specific decision or judgment.
Verses 2 and 3 develop the accusation against the national leaders.
According to v. 2 the rulers 'hate good and love evil'. In other
words, their values and sense of right and wrong are inverted. This
inversion of values is demonstrated by their refusal to abide by 'the
decision' as well as by the description of their actions in vv. 2b-3. It
has been suggested that the leaders addressed in vv. 1 and 9 are guilty
of exploiting peasants through oppressive economic measures.3 As was
the case in Mic. 2.1-13, however, there is nothing to indicate that the
oppressed are peasants or that the crime of the heads and rulers is
economic exploitation. Since the language of the prophet is exaggerated and metaphorical in vv. 2-4, it is impossible to know the exact
nature of the crimes. The exaggerated descriptions of barbaric acts of
violence, however, certainly suggest acts of terror and violence rather
than calculated economic exploitation. Moreover, if r'os and qasm
refer to military authorities the gruesome acts described in vv. 2 and
1. A somewhat different view is suggested by Wolff, who suggests that the
accusation in v. 2 is that the leaders are ignorant of the laws and traditions utilized in
rural areas ('Micah the Moreshite', p. 79). Such an interpretation is not likely in light
of the possibility that the mispat refers not to a code of laws, but to a specific decree.
2. The mispat is used for a specific decision in Deut. 1.17; 17.9, 11; 1 Kgs
3.28; 7.7. See also V. Herntrich, lMishpat\ TDNT, III, pp. 923-33, especially
p. 927. Boogart recognizes that the term refers to a specific decision although there
is little basis for his interpretation of the setting of this chapter as an ongoing debate
regarding a military expedition to Edom (Restoration, p. 61).
3. Such is the interpretation of Allen, Micah, p. 307; J.M.P. Smith, Micah,
p. 73; and Mays, Micah, p. 79.

112

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

3 could reflect acts of terror carried out by armed raids.


The violent nature of the deeds of the heads and rulers is underscored again in Mic. 3.10: they would build Jerusalem with blood and
Zion with acts of violence. While the second term ('awldh) can be
used of injustice in general, parallelism with 'bloodshed' (damim)
suggests that the meaning here is 'violent deeds of injustice'.1 Indeed,
in a number of cases 'awlah refers to violent deeds such as raids and
murders (2 Sam. 3.34; 7.10; 1 Chron. 17.9).
While it is clear that the rulers are accused of carrying out deliberate acts of violence, it is difficult to discern the motivation for their
deeds. According to v. 10, the rulers and heads of Israel hope to
'build' Jerusalem through their deeds. Most have taken the participle
boneh in a literal sense and have concluded that Micah is condemning
the building of fortifications through forced labor2 or the construction
of estates through economic exploitation.3 Deliberate acts of violence
could conceivably point to forced labor, although this is not clear
from the information in v. 10. In any case, the 'building of Zion'
suggests efforts to increase the power and prestige of the city. The
participle may thus convey the more general idea of 'building up' the
city of Jerusalem.4
The result of attempts to build up Jerusalem will be the destruction
of the city (3.12). The destruction of Jerusalem is described in
language that is similar to that found in international treaties pronouncing curses upon rebellious vassals.5 In particular, the treaty
between Ashurnirari V and Mati'lu of Arpad contains this threat
against those who violate the treaty: '...may Ashur, father of the
gods, who grants kingship, turn your land into wasteland, your people
into...your cities into ruin mounds, your house into ruins'.6 Also
significant is the consequence for rebellion described in the treaties of
1. BOB, p. 732 d.
2. S. Wagner, lbanah\ TDOT, II, p. 174. Also see Margolis (Micah, p. 40)
who suggests the term refers either to 'judicial murder' or 'working the poor to
death'.
3. For example, Mays, Micah, p. 88.
4. Cf. Ps. 102.17 where Yahweh is said to 'build up Jerusalem'. The sense
seems to be 'to exalt' rather than construct buildings.
5. D. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets (BO 16; Rome:
Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1964), pp. 44-54. See also his Micah, p. 48.
6. ANET, p. 532.

3. 'To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8

113

Esarhaddon: 'May Shamash plow up your cities and districts with an


iron plow'.1 Although Micah may have simply cast the decree of
Jerusalem's destruction in the form of treaty curses, the language may
indicate that the leaders' efforts to build up Jerusalem constitute a violation of an actual treaty by which Israel was bound. It is thus possible
that the purpose of the actions of the leaders is to rebel against a
specific treaty.
The prophets who are addressed in vv. 5-8 appear to be accomplices to the acts of violence carried out by the heads and rulers. What
Micah attacks is not their status as prophets or the methods they use;2
rather, he accuses the prophets of producing oracles related to the
receipt of payment they are given. Most commentators envision a
situation in which individuals consult a prophet concerning a particular need; the prophet then responds according to the amount of payment offered to the prophet. Mays represents the usual interpretation
of the passage: 'Probably the prophets produced oracles of misfortune
against those who did not support them'.3
The specific accusation against the prophets, however, is not that
they produce unfavorable oracles, but that they 'sanctify war'. As
Soggin points out, to 'sanctify war' means literally to prepare for a
holy war.4 It is clear that in ancient Israel prophets were involved in
the conduct of war.5 In the days before the monarchy Samuel and
Deborah, both of whom are said to fulfill a prophetic role, called
Israel to go into battle. Even during the time of the monarchy it is
reported that kings sought oracles from prophets before going into
battle (1 Kgs 22; 2 Kgs 3). Prophets are also seen calling for revolution and the overthrow of various kings (1 Kgs 14.7-11; 21.20). It is
1. ANET, p. 529.
2. Killers, Micah, p. 46.
3. Mays, Micah, p. 83. It is difficult to know how seriously to take the charges
that the prophets produced oracles appropriate to the amount they were paid. Conflict
within the ranks of the prophets was especially bitter and intense, and it is certainly
possible that Micah's accusation is a distortion or misrepresentation of the situation.
On the nature of intra-prophetic conflict see especially, J.L. Crenshaw, Propheti
Conflict (BZAW 124; New York: de Gruyter, 1971), especially, pp. 1-4.
4. J.A. Soggin, 'Der Prophetische Gedanke iiber den Heiligen Krieg, als
Gericht gegen Israel', VT 10 (1960), pp. 79-85.
5. In addition to the passages noted above see 2 Kgs 14.25 and 1 Chron. 5.22.
See K. Koch, The Prophets I (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), pp. 27-32.

114

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

thus likely that in Micah's time the prophets were involved in giving
advice or even calling for 'holy war' against some enemy. Their role
in inciting the people to war probably lies behind Micah's condemnation of the prophets.
It is clear that Micah disagrees with the prophets' oracles on war
and peace: their decisions are less than the truth and one cannot place
confidence in their oracles. The prophets could be bribed into
supporting one side in a conflict while advising or calling for war
against those who would not pay them. The fact that the address to the
prophets immediately follows the address to the heads and commanders may suggest that the prophets were co-conspirators with the
heads and commanders in their deeds against the people of the nation
('my people'). Since the advice of the prophets was sought in matters
of importance, the average person ('my people') could easily be led to
support military action called for by less than truthful prophets. It is
quite likely, therefore, that the accusation against the prophets should
be taken literally: the prophets are encouraging war against those
from whom they receive no financial benefit and are doing so with the
encouragement and support of those rulers who do pay.
Mic. 3.11 refers to the leaders of Jerusalem. These religious and
political authorities are probably a distinct group from the 'heads' and
'rulers' who are addressed in Mic. 3.1, 9. The latter officials are
apparently those who were appointed by the king to govern throughout the country. In contrast, the group of officials in 3.11 are all
located in Jerusalem. The exact connection between the two groups is
not immediately apparent although their deeds are similar to those of
the prophets who apparently support the deeds of the rulers and heads.
Two accusations are spoken against the prophets, priests and heads
of Jerusalem. First, they accept bribes which prevent them from faithfully executing their responsibilities. Second, they adhere to a false
hope that Yahweh will protect Jerusalem in spite of their deeds and
possibly in spite of the deeds of the leaders and heads.
As noted above, nothing in the chapter indicates that the victims of
the violent acts of the rulers and heads are the poor or the helpless.
The only clue to the identity of the oppressed is that they are called
'my people' (vv. 3, 5). Unless one draws a sharp distinction between
the words of the prophet and the words of Yahweh, the phrase can be
taken to mean 'the people of Yahweh'. As has been shown, in some
cases 'my people' refers to the oppressed while in other cases

3. 'To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8

115

(Mic. 2.8) the phrase refers to the oppressors.1 In addition, the term is
also used for Judah in Mic. 1.9. Micah may simply use the phrase 'my
people' to designate Israel or Judah or a part of the nation as the
people of God. Thus, the use of the phrase in Mic. 3.2, 5 as a designation for the victims may simply underscore the fact that the ultimate
victim in Mic. 3.1-12 is the nation itself. In any case, the only sure
conclusion that can be drawn from the use of this term is that the
victims are members of Israelite society.
Subjective Factors
Two basic subjective factors have shaped the prophetic discourse.
First is the prophet's conviction that the present situation can only end
in disaster. It is noteworthy that the judgments announced in chapter 3
are all manifestations of Yahweh's withdrawing his protection and
help. When the rulers and heads of the nation cry to Yahweh for help,
their pleas will be ignored (v. 4). For the prophets there will be
darkness and night 'for there is no answer from God' (v. 7). Finally,
the military destruction of Jerusalem is the sure sign that Yahweh has
withdrawn his protection from the city.
A second subjective factor seen in Micah's discourse is his belief
that there will be a restoration beyond the judgment. In his belief in a
transformed remnant and a glorious future for Israel, Micah echoes
some of the same beliefs of his contemporary, Isaiah.2 Unlike Isaiah,
however, Micah has concluded that Zion will fall and then be transformed (cf. Isa. 29.1-8). Exactly how Micah arrives at this conclusion
1. See especially the observations of Willis, 'Micah 2.6-8', pp. 86-88. Also see
the proposed interpretation of Mic. 2.8 in the preceding chapter. The observation that
'my people' can refer to either the oppressed or the oppressor contrasts with the
opinion of Wolff who argues that the term 'means the country population and does
not include that of the residential city of Jerusalem' ('Micah the Moreshite', p. 80).
It should be noted, however, that Wolff emends Mic. 2.8 so that 'my people'
becomes the object of oppression rather than the subject. An extensive critique of
Wolffs interpretation of 'my people' and his theory that Micah speaks as an elder
from Moresheth is set forth by J.N. Carreira, 'Michaein Altester von
Moreschet?', 7TZ90 (1981), pp. 19-28.
2. For a brief summary of Isaiah's thought see G. von Rad, Old Testament
Theology II (New York: Harper & Row, 1965), pp. 147-75; T.C. Vriezen,
'Essentials of the Theology of Isaiah', in B.W. Anderson and W. Harrelson (eds.),
Israel's Prophetic Heritage: Essays in Honor of James Muilenburg (New York:
Harper Brothers, 1962), pp. 128-42.

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The Speeches of Micah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

is impossible to say. Nevertheless, it is clear that the prophet is convinced that Jerusalem will be destroyed but restored and transformed
at some future point in time.
Three convictions about this future restoration of Israel are evident
in the discourse. First, the time beyond the destruction will be the
time when an earlier oracle regarding Jerusalem will be fulfilled.
Yahweh will rule from an exalted Jerusalem, and nations will journey
to learn from Yahweh during a time of universal peace. While others
took comfort from the Zion theology for the present, Micah is convinced such beliefs will only be realized on the other side of disaster.
Second, the prophet envisions the restoration to be a time when
Israel will be gathered and reunited. Verse 7 does not contain references to three distinct groups; rather the descriptions refer to the
people of Israel in general who have survived judgment and destruction. The prophet believes that just as Yahweh has punished them, so
will he regather and transform them into a powerful nation.
Finally, v. 8 apparently reflects the prophet's belief that a Davidic
king will once again rule over an empire from Jerusalem. It must be
conceded that the exact significance of the phrase, 'tower of the flock'
(migdal 'eder) is uncertain. Some have suggested that Migdal Eder
should be understood as a reference to a small village or outpost of
Jerusalem.1 Although Gazelles suggests that the place in question is an
expansion of Jerusalem there is no evidence to support such an interpretation.2 On the other hand, Gen. 35.21 contains a reference to a
Migdal Eder near Bethlehem. A precise location cannot be established
and it is unclear whether the Migdal Eder near Bethlehem is a town or
a less permanent structure.3
The difficulty in identifying Migdal Eder with a site outside of
Jerusalem lies in the fact that in the context of Mic. 4.8 the place in
question appears to be part of Jerusalem itself. In apposition to Migdal
Eder is the phrase 'Ophel of the daughter of Zion'. The Ophel is
probably the hill on which the original Canaanite town was located

1. Simons, Geographical and Topographical Texts, p. 473. H. Gazelles,


'Historic et Geographic en Mich6e 4.6-13', in Fourth World Congress of Jewish

Studies (Papers I; Jerusalem: World Union of Jewish Studies, 1967), pp. 87-89.
2.

Gazelles, 'Historic', pp. 87-89.

3. Simons, Geographical and Topographical Texts, p. 220.

3. 'To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8

117

and which David captured and made his capital.1 Mays points out that
'in its topographical uses [Ophel] is applied only to the ridge on whose
lower reaches to the south the Old City of Davidic time was built'.2 If
Ophel is in apposition to 'tower of the flock' then the latter is probably a reference to the fortifications and structures of the oldest part of
the city, that is, the city of David.
Micah's references to the Davidic part of Jerusalem recall the rule
of David over a united kingdom. Thus when Micah proclaims that the
'former dominion' and 'rule from Jerusalem' will be restored, it is
likely that he envisions a future in which a Davidic king will rule.
Such a belief does not necessarily contradict the description of
Yahweh's rule in Mic. 4.1-5. According to the Israelite understanding
of kingship, Yahweh adopts the king who then shares in Yahweh's
rule not only over Israel, but over all the nations (Ps. 2; 89; HO).3
Moreover, if my geographical conclusions about v. 8 are correct, the
4
Ophel' may also be symbolic of the joint rule of Yahweh and the
king: 'It was in the general area where the old Jebusite fortress had
stood, that the temple and palace were erected as joint tokens of divine
rule mediated through an earthly king'.4 It is therefore probable that
Micah believes that the restoration beyond judgment will include the
renewal of the rule of the Davidic kings.
It is also noteworthy that while the prophet condemns priests,
prophets, rulers and heads, he never condemns the king of Jerusalem.
It is possible that this silence reflects a sympathetic, supportive attitude
toward the Davidic king. It is thus not surprising that a glorious
future is envisioned for the Davidic dynasty.
Goals and Strategy
The discourse that Micah produces in response to the rhetorical
situation is designed to persuade his audience that disaster will be the
outcome of their actions and to convince them of the certainty of
destruction. Preventing his audience from accepting the certainty of
disaster is their conviction that they are assured of Yahweh's
1. K.M. Kenyon, Archaeology in the Holy Land (New York: W.W. Norton,
4th edn, 1979), pp. 234-37.
2. Mays, Micah, p. 103.
3. See de Vaux, Ancient Israel I, p. 109.
4. Allen, Micah, p. 331.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

protection (3.11). Both the words of those prophets opposed to Micah


and a well-known oracle (4.1-4) contribute to a false security based on
a belief in Yahweh's unconditional protection. Micah is thus
confronted with the task of shattering the false security of his audience
and persuading them that their present course of action is leading to a
certain judgment. The prophet's persuasive strategy and progression
of thought can be seen in an outline of Mic. 3.1-4.8.
I.

II.

III.

IV.

Responsibility of 'heads and rulers'


for the coming disaster (3.1-4)
A. The deeds of the 'heads and rulers'
1. They ignore the decision (3.1)
2. They hate the 'good' (v. 2)
3. They carry out acts of violence against
their own people (v. 3)
B. Result: Yahweh will withdraw his help (v. 4)
Responsibility of prophets for coming disaster (5-8)
A. Their deeds (5)
1. Lead people astray
2. 'Sanctify war' against those who do not pay them
B. Results (6-7)
1. No answer will come from Yahweh
2. They will be put to shame
C. Micah in contrast to the prophets (8)
1. Filled with justice, power, might (8a)
2. Purpose: to declare transgression and sin (8b)
Recapitulation (9-12)
A. Deeds of 'heads and rulers' (9-10)
B. The corrupt authorities of Jerusalem (11)
C. Result: destruction of Jerusalem (12)
Certainty of coming destruction (4.1-8)
A. Promise to Jerusalem to be fulfilled after
destruction (in latter days) (4.1-5)
B. Israel will need to be regathered (6-7)
C. Power and prestige of Jerusalem will be restored (8)

The prophet opens his discourse with a summons to hear addressed to


the heads and commanders of Israel. Following the opening summons
Micah sets forth in rapid succession a series of accusations against the
national leaders. The variety of both the content and form of these

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119

accusations holds the attention of the audience. Moreover, the succession of accusations makes it clear that Micah's strategy is to adopt an
extremely confrontational style which places the leaders on the defensive. Such a confrontational style is probably intended to shake the
leaders' false confidence which is revealed in 3.11.
The first accusation takes the form of a question: 'Is it not for you
to acknowledge the decision?' By casting his accusation as a question
Micah forces his audience to take an active role in the persuasive process.1 The accused cannot be passive, but must formulate an answer or
a defense to the accusing question. Before an answer can be set forth,
however, the prophet moves rapidly to a direct accusation that the
leaders hate the good and love the evil. The repetition of accusations
serves to heighten the emotional impact and persuasive force of the
speech.
The third accusation takes the form of an extended and exaggerated
description of the deeds of the national rulers. Although the progression of thought in vv. 2-3 appears somewhat chaotic, it is clear that
Micah uses an implied metaphor to describe the behavior of the
national leaders: their deeds are those of cannibals who chop, cook
and devour other Israelites. The emotional impact of this gruesome
metaphor is dramatic. By its nature a metaphor is a powerful way of
making a statement: 'Hence, while the simile gently states that one
thing is like or resembles another, the metaphor boldly and warmly
declares that one thing is another'. 2 In this case Micah further
heightens the impact of the metaphor by his chaotic and repetitious
description.
In addition, the metaphor continues Micah's strategy of involving
the audience since the hearers must decide how the deeds of the
leaders are and are not cannibalistic: 'Metaphor derives much of its
convincing power because it does not allow its hearers to be passive,
but requires them to participate in the construction of metaphorical
meaning'.3
Although the prophet relies mainly on the emotional impact of
1. Holman, A Handbook to Literature, p. 452.
2. E.W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech used in the Bible (London: Eyre and
Spottiswoode, 1898; repr. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1968), p. 735.
3. C. Newsom, 'A Maker of MetaphorsEzekiel's Oracles Against Tyre', Int
38 (1984), p. 153.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

presenting the leaders as cannibalistic, he has also constructed a


rational appeal of three parts. First, it is the duty of leaders to
acknowledge the decision in question (Ib), yet the leaders' actions
demonstrate that they have failed in their duty (2-3). Therefore, one
can expect serious consequences to follow (v. 4).
It is somewhat surprising that following such an intense, emotional
appeal and vivid description of the deeds of the accused, the prophet's
description of judgment is rather short and vague. The lack of details
concerning the judgment may lead the audience to anticipate a more
concrete description and thus prepares the audience for the thesis
presented in 3.9-12.
In Mic. 3.5-8 the speaker turns his attention to the prophets of
Israel. Unfortunately, in attacking other prophets Micah creates a
dilemma for himself. How is the audience to know if the true word of
Yahweh is being spoken by Micah or by the prophets whom he condemns? Micah seeks to convince the audience of the truth of his word
in two ways. First, he makes an appeal to authority by prefacing his
words about the prophets with the phrase 'thus says Yahweh'. This
appeal to authority identifies Micah's words as those of Yahweh
himself; to reject Micah's message is to reject Yahweh's message.
Second, Micah makes an ethical appeal. To win the confidence of his
audience Micah gives a description of his character and mission which
stands in sharp contrast to those of his opponents (3.8).1
The repetition of the images of darkness and light as well as the
focus on the shame and distress of the prophets creates a vivid picture
of the disgrace that will overtake Micah's opponents. The certainty of
judgment seems to be confirmed by Micah's ability to give vivid
details about that judgment.
Only in the recapitulation of the charges against the leaders does
Micah direct his words of doom against Jerusalem itself. Micah has
made it clear that his concern is with coming judgment and its cause.
He has also led the hearer to anticipate a more detailed account of
judgment, and established the fact that there is a basic conflict between
the speaker and those addressed. Building on those elements, Micah
now states his thesis: the deeds of the leaders will result in the
destruction of Jerusalem.
1. On the nature and function of the ethical appeal and the appeal to authority see
above, Chapter 1, 'Goals and Strategy'.

3. To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8

121

The thesis restates the previous accusations and is formulated as a


direct address to the leaders and rulers of Israel. At this point it
finally becomes clear that the deeds of violence described in 3.2-3
have to do with attempts to enhance the prestige and power of Zion.
Whatever the exact meaning of 'building up Zion with blood', it is
clear that Micah is holding the national leaders responsible for the
state of leadership in Jerusalem itself. Verse 12 can be understood as a
description of the results of the deeds of the national leaders. The
emphatic word order and the repetitious nature of v. 12 underscore
the seriousness of the situation in Jerusalem. The description of such a
serious state of affairs is meant to justify to the audience the conclusion that Jerusalem cannot escape destruction.
Having shown the cause and nature of the coming disaster, Micah
now turns his efforts to underscoring the certainty of disaster. To an
audience that refuses to believe that evil will come, he must prove that
it is indeed possible for Zion to be destroyed. With an ingenious
stroke, Micah turns against his audience an oracle that seems to
support their belief that Zion cannot be destroyed. Yet by quoting the
oracle at this precise location, the prophet gives it new meaning: 'in
the latter days' (4.1) is now made to refer to the time after the
destruction of Jerusalem (3.12). Micah is thus careful not to deny the
truth of the oracle; instead he insists that since its fulfillment is not for
the present, the oracle does not preclude the possibility of Jerusalem's
destruction.
By its nature the oracle in 4.1-4 is a practice in imagination which
undergirds Micah's purpose in two ways:
On the one hand, it introduces a sphere of freedom. Israel is invited to
think about inexplicable futures which God may yet give, that are beyond
human engineering. On the other hand, the promise subverts the present.
It announces that the managers of the present (Zion) system have not
spoken the last word or fully co-opted all the energies at work in life.1

The very oracle in which Micah's audience found security actually


demonstrates that their security is false. Yahweh alone controls the
future; the designs and plans of the rulers will be superseded by
Yahweh's plan. Indeed, the leadership functions of rulers, prophets,
priests and judges will be carried out by Yahweh himself. The oracle
accepted by his audience thus becomes the prophet's major resource in
1.

Brueggemann, 'Vine and Fig Tree', p. 190.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

refuting their point of view and confirming his own belief that judgment is coming.
Micah seeks to demonstrate the certainty of judgment by describing
the gathering of the nation after judgment. Micah is so convinced that
present events will lead to disaster that he already imagines the time of
restoration after catastrophe. In this way Micah is not unlike Hosea,
who coupled his proclamation of disaster with descriptions of a
restoration:
For Hosea... Israel's downfall is definitely sealed, so that it is appropriate
for him to look beyond the impending disaster to a new order fulfilling the
will of God. In other words, Hosea's words would be less drastic if they
did not include a hope. The presence of the promise makes it clear
that... the content of the threats given by him is not avertable.1

Not only do such promises regarding the future reveal the prophet's
certainty that disaster is coming, but also they have a powerful
persuasive effect. The audience which denies the very possibility of
judgment is invited to look at disaster as so certain that even now one
may begin to look at the shape of the future beyond the disaster. The
promise of restoration thus leads the audience to imagine what had
previously been unimaginable and to accept as certain that which they
had denied as possible. Such an exercise in imagination serves to make
the possibility of judgment and disaster vividly real for the audience.
The promise in v. 8 also functions to underscore the certainty of
disaster. In particular, this verse addresses the question of the future
of the Davidic dynasty. The fact that Micah had not previously
directly addressed the present or future fate of the Davidic ruler
creates a certain amount of suspense and anticipation. This suspense is
heightened further by the construction of the address in v. 8. The
prophet only announces the fate of the monarchy after a series of
vocatives and a repetition of verbs. The prophet underscores the
importance of his pronouncement on the fate of the monarchy by
using a series of ancient names to designate the Davidic house. The
drama and suspense deliberately developed in this section indicate that
here the prophet has reached the climax of his speech. The emotional
impact is such that the audience is invited to see the Davidic line as the
ancient line, but also as the future monarchy that will rule a restored
and transformed Israel.
1.

Buss, The Prophetic Word of Hosea, p. 128.

3. 'To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8

123

With the dramatic announcement of the future of the Davidic


monarchy Micah brings his discourse to a close. The entire speech is
well crafted to shake the false confidence of the leaders of society
through confrontation. The series of accusations against the governing
authorities gives the reasons for the prophet's conclusion that the
present course of action will lead to judgment. Micah finds common
ground with his audience by quoting an oracle known to them, but he
uses the oracle to demonstrate his conclusion that a glorious future in
which Yahweh's protection of Israel is realized is only possible after
the time of destruction. The certainty of judgment is emphasized by
the description of Yahweh's gathering of a weak and injured Israel
and the promise of the restoration of the former dominion of
Jerusalem.
Historical Possibilities
If Mic. 3.1-4.8 is to be read as a single discourse, what is the historical occasion for the speech? Almost all commentators have assigned
all or part of chapter 3 to the time of Hezekiah and more specifically
to either 722 or 701 BCE.1 It is apparent, however, that this dating of
the material is based more on external considerations than internal
evidence. In particular, Jer. 26.19 is cited as evidence that Mic. 3.9-12
dates to the time of Hezekiah.
Recent scholarship has been sensitive to the difficulties involved in
using the data in Jer. 26.19 as clear-cut historical evidence.
H.G. Reventlow has done an exhaustive study of Jeremiah 26 and has
concluded that the chapter is composite in nature and not an eyewitness account of the events of Jeremiah's ministry.2 Rather, the
narrative was compiled at a later date for a specific purpose: 'Der
Erzahler benutzt einen Stoff aus der Wirksamkeit Jeremias, um daraus
fur seinen Zeitgenossen im Exil Mahnung und Hoffung zu schopfen'.3
In addition, Vincent has questioned the eyewitness nature of the
account by arguing that the identical wording of the difficult Mican
1. For example, Sellin, Des Zwolfprophetenbuch, p. 277; Mays, Micah, p. 92;
Allen, Micah, p. 243; Hillers, Micah, pp. 8-9; Rudolph, Micha, p. 701; Renaud,
Formation, p. 145; Haupt, 'The Book of Micah', pp. 1-63.
2. H.G. Reventlow, 'Gattung und Uberlieferung in der "Tempelrede Jeremias',
Jer. 7 und 26', ZAW 81 (1969), pp. 315-52.
3. Reventlow, 'Gattung', p. 351.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

passage in Jeremiah 26 points to the conclusion that the narrator of


Jeremiah 26 had a written Vorlage at his disposal.1 More importantly,
however, the narrator sets the context for the Mican oracle in a
meeting between Hezekiah and Micah which leads to Hezekiah's repentance. Vincent concludes that the editor of Jeremiah 26 has read the
Isaianic and Mican traditions as complementing one another. His con
clusion is significant: 'Diese Beobachtungen miissen uns zur Vorsicht
mahnen, methodisch Jer 26 zur Frage der historischen Verankerung
und zur Rekonstruktion der urspriinglichen Textgestalt von Mi 3, 12
unkritisch zu verwenden'.2
In light of the work of Reventlow and Vincent, it is advisable to
consider the historical background of Micah's speech from the point
of view of internal evidence. In particular, the objective factors of the
rhetorical situation may provide information concerning the historical
occasion of Mic. 3.1-4.8. Unfortunately, any proposal must remain
tentative since the text itself refers to no king by name and only makes
reference to the nation of Israel.
The objective factors of the rhetorical situation indicate a time when
some of the national leaders of Israel have chosen to disregard a
particular decision, decree, or judgment. Although we are not told the
exact nature of the decision it is safe to assume that their disregard for
the judgment is related to their acts of violence against other
Israelites. Also related to their refusal to abide by the decision are
their attempts to 'build up' the power and prestige of Jerusalem. In
addition, if my interpretation of 3.12 is correct, the refusal to abide
by the decision has, in the opinion of the prophet, brought into effect
the curses of the treaty by which Israel was bound.
In the process of disregarding the treaty, these leaders have apparently found support among those prophets who were willing to
'sanctify war' against those from whom they derived no financial
benefit. In addition, some of the religious and political leaders of
Jerusalem appear to be supportive of the attempts of the 'heads' and
'rulers' to build up Jerusalem (3.11).
The internal evidence of the rhetorical situation makes it possible to
rule out certain dates. First, it seems quite unlikely that the occasion
that prompted the prophet's speech was the period 705-701 BCE. It is
1.
2.

Vincent, 'Michas Gerichtswort', pp. 184-85.


Vincent, 'Michas Gerichtswort', p. 185.

3. 'To Acknowledge the Decision?': Micah 3.1-4.8

125

true that Judah violated a treaty with Assyria during that time and that
Jerusalem itself was threatened because of that violation. On the other
hand, the actions of the national leaders against segments of Israelite
society do not parallel any known events of 705-701 BCE. As far as
we know Judah and certainly Jerusalem were united in supporting
Hezekiah's actions, and there were no internal divisions associated
with the rebellion against Assyria.
Another occasion to which the speech is not suited is the time of
Samaria's rebellion against Assyria. There can be little doubt that the
Assyrians took action against Samaria in 728-727 and again in 725
BCE because Hoshea had violated the terms of Israel's vassal treaty
with Assyria (see 2 Kgs 17.3-4). Micah's speech, however, focuses on
the fate of Jerusalem, not Samaria. While Jerusalem may have felt
threatened by the Assyrian actions against Samaria, there is no
evidence that Judah rebelled against Assyria. In addition, the internal
divisions with accompanying acts of violence which are presupposed
by the discourse are not reflected in the historical sources for the
events of 725-722 BCE.
The most likely occasion for the discourse of Mic. 3.1-4.8 is the
period prior to the Syro-Ephraimite siege of Jerusalem. Pekah probably seized the throne of Samaria in the autumn of 734 BCE.1 This
coup was but the culmination of Syria's long struggle to bring Israel
under the control of Rezin as a member of his anti-Assyrian coalition.
With Pekah's takeover of Samaria, the entire northern kingdom was
now firmly aligned with Rezin against Assyria (Isa. 7.2a). Moreover,
Pekah's ascension to the throne of Samaria placed great pressure on
Jerusalem to ally itself with Syria. Since Judah was subservient to
Samaria, it could reasonably be assumed that Ahaz of Judah would
follow any course of action pursued by Samaria. Adding to the pressure on Ahaz was popular Judean support for Pekah and Rezin (Isa.
8.6) as well as Philistine encroachment on Judean territory (2 Chron.
28.17-18).
Nevertheless, Ahaz apparently decided very quickly to remain
neutral and not follow the lead of Samaria. This decision was obviously not popular with those of Judah who 'rejoiced before Rezin'
(Isa. 8.6). Moreover, Isa. 7.2b may indicate that Pekah's coup even
1. For this chronology and sequence of events see the study and proposals set
forth by Irvine, Isaiah, Ahaz, and the Syro-Ephraimitic Crisis, pp. 161-79.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

caused the 'resolve' of the members of the house of David to waver


'as trees of the forest waver before the wind'. In other words, some
within Jerusalem and even within the royal court had second thoughts
about Ahaz's course of action.1 Eventually Pekah and Rezin would
attempt to replace Ahaz with a more co-operative king. This step was
probably taken in the winter or spring of 733 BCE after it had become
clear that Ahaz would not capitulate to the demands of Rezin and
Pekah.
The discourse of Mic. 3.1-4.8 may well reflect the situation in the
period after Pekah's coup but before Pekah and Rezin embarked on a
course of military action against Ahaz. The decision that the rulers
and heads have refused to acknowledge may well be the decision of
Ahaz that Judah would remain neutral and break with its policy of
sharing a common international policy with Israel. If the heads and
rulers are military officials appointed by the king to govern the country, their allegiance to the king was taken for granted. Micah's question in v. 2 thus takes on added meaning: it was without question the
duty of the rulers and heads appointed by the king to abide by the
king's decisions.
Their refusal to acknowledge the decision was seen by Micah as not
only a betrayal of their king but also disastrous for the country. They
had chosen that which was evil over that which was good for the
country. The imagery of butchering, dividing up and devouring 'my
people' reflects Micah's view that the country was being carved up and
taken over by these leaders.
The possibility that the discourse concerns those rulers who have
sided with Rezin and Pekah and refused to accept Ahaz's decision is
supported by the observation that the goal of these leaders is to 'build
up' the power and prestige of Jerusalem. Obviously, to join Israel and
Syria in defying Assyrian power would be a sign of the power and
might of Jerusalem. In addition, if, as seems likely, Judah was under
obligation to pay tribute to Assyria, the end of such payments would
serve to increase the wealth of Jerusalem.2 Co-operation with Syria
may also have been seen as a means to regain valuable territory and
1. Irvine, Isaiah, Ahaz, and the Syro-Ephraimitic Crisis, pp. 242-43.
2. If Jerusalem was politically subservient to Samaria, it is reasonable to assume
that she would have been expected to share in the tribute that Israel was required to
pay Assyria.

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127

trade routes which may have been lost to Jerusalem during the long
struggle with Rezin. Clearly, the hopes of building up Jerusalem's
power, wealth and prestige was an inducement to join the antiAssyrian coalition.
In Micah's view, however, the 'building up' of Jerusalem would be
accomplished through acts of violence against those loyal to Ahaz.
Such acts probably occurred throughout the country and may have
culminated in an attempt to assassinate Ahaz and in the SyroEphraimite siege of Jerusalem. In any case, that the building up of
Jerusalem involved that city's rebellion against Assyria is suggested by
the possibility that Mic. 3.12 refers to the curses upon those cities that
sin against the treaty with Assyria.
Supporting the rulers who refuse to accept the decision are a number of prophets whom Micah accuses of accepting bribes. Significant
for this interpretation is the fact that these prophets 'sanctify war'
against those who refuse to pay them for their oracles. These prophets
may have been calling for the assassination of Ahaz or for military
action against the house of David, which had asserted its independence
from Samaria. Their prophetic activities are leading astray the nation
('my people') and are not unlike the activities of those prophets who
encouraged Ahab to go to war.
Finally, if the resolve of the house of David wavered and many in
Jerusalem itself had second thoughts about the wisdom of Ahaz's
decision, it is understandable why Micah lashes out at the political and
religious leaders of Jerusalem (v. 11). Micah characterizes their
decisions and actions as those of people who have succumbed to
bribery.
From Mic. 3.12 we may infer that Micah believed that the heads
and rulers would succeed in either pressuring Ahaz to follow Samaria
or in removing Ahaz and bringing Judah into the anti-Assyrian coalition. Micah apparently looks beyond that event to the consequences of
Jerusalem's participation in such a coalition: ultimately, the curses of
the treaty with Assyria would overtake the city and Jerusalem would
be destroyed by the Assyrians. This outcome is so certain to Micah
that he already looks beyond the destruction to a Jerusalem transformed by Yahweh himself. Significantly, the prophet sees in that
restoration a special place of power and honor for the Davidic dynasty
of which Ahaz was a member (4.8).

Chapter 4

'THERE WILL You BE DELIVERED?'


MICAH 4.9-5.14
Text and Translation
(4.9)

(10)

(11)

(12)

Now why are you crying out?


Have you no king?
Has your counselor perished,
that pains have seized you like a woman in labor?1
Writhe and bring forth,2
daughter of Zion,
like a woman in labor.
If now you go forth from the city
and dwell in the open fields,
or go as far as Babylon,
there will you be delivered?
There shall Yahweh redeem you
from the hand of your enemy?3
For now mighty nations are assembled against you
those who say, 'Let her be defiled;4
let our eyes gloat over Zion.'
But they do not know the thoughts of Yahweh,
nor do they understand his plan;

1. For a similar construction of a triple question see Shalom Paul, 'Amos 3.3-8:
The Irresistible Sequence of Cause and Effect', HAR1 (1983), p. 206.
2. The exact meaning of wagoM is uncertain, but the verb apparently has the
meaning, 'to burst forth or bring forth' (BDB, p. 161). For a survey of the
proposed emendations of this verse J.T. Willis, The Structure, Setting and
Interrelationships of the Perlcopes in the Book ofMicah (dissertation, Vanderbilt
University, 1966), p. 326, n. 1. The above translation follows that of Renaud,
Formation, p. 196.
3. For a discussion of this translation see below under 'Unity and Date'.
4. Although the versions present a variety of readings, the MT is acceptable and
does not need to be emended.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

(13)

(14)

(5.1)

129

for he has gathered them like sheaves


on the threshing floor.
Arise and thresh, daughter of Zion,
for I will make your horn into iron
and I will make your hooves into bronze;
and you shall trample mighty peoples,
and you shall devote1 their booty to Yahweh,
their wealth to the Lord of the whole earth.
So now, gash yourself, daughter of a raid2
who has laid siege against us.3
With a rod they will strike upon the cheek
the ruler of Israel.
But you, Bethlehem Ephratha,4
small to be5 among the clans of Judah,

1. The verb is the old form of the second-person feminine singular rather than
the first-person masculine. So Rudolph (Micha, p. 89) and the versions.
2. This verse has been the subject of much speculation and emendation. A
majority of scholars have followed Wellhausen's suggestion (Kleinen Propheten,
p. 145) and have emended MT to hitgoded hitgodgdi (e.g. J.M.P. Smith, Micah,
p. 100; Marti, Das Dodekapropheten, p. 286; Hillers, Micah, p. 62). Nevertheless,
the MT is understandable. As Rudolph notes, most explanations suffer from an
attempt to give the verb (titgodedi) a meaning similar to the substantive (g&dud). It is
best to see a play on the sound of the words rather than the meaning. Thus each word
retains its normal meaning. For a discussion of this difficult text and a survey of
proposed readings see Rudolph, Micha, p. 89; J.T. Willis, 'Micah IV, 14-V.5A
Unit', VT 18 (1968), pp. 529-47; S.J. Schwantes, 'A Note on Micah 5.1 (Hebrew
4.14)', AUSS 1 (1963), pp. 105-7).
3. This translation follows the suggestion of Rudolph that the clause is to be
understood as a relative clause without 'aser (Micha, p. 89).
4. The LXX reading 'Bethlehem house of Ephratha' has led some to conclude
that the original text read Beth-Ephratha and that Bethlehem was added as a gloss. It
is more likely, however, that 'house' is an addition in the LXX since all other
versions as well as Mur 88 support MT. So Renaud, Formation, p. 221; Hillers,
Micah, p. 64; Rudolph, Micha, p. 89; Wolff, Micah, p. 131. The unique double
name is evidently meant to distinguish this town from the Bethlehem in Zebulon.
Wolff points out that a similar double name ('Bethlehem Judah') is found in 1 Sam.
17.12 (Micah, p. 144).
5. Many have deleted liheyot as dittography. (So Renaud, Formation, p. 222;
Hillers, Micah, p. 64; Mays, Micah, p. Ill, n. b; Rudolph, Micha, p. 90.) The MT
is awkward but not ungrammatical, and the meaning is fairly clear. The repetition of
the word liheyot in the next line does not justify its deletion here. See Allen, Micah,
p. 339, n. 2.

130

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

(6)

(7)

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


from you for me he goes forth to be ruler in Israel;
and his origin is of old, from days of long ago.
Therefore, he will give them up,
until she who is in labor gives birth.
Then what remains of his brothers shall return
to1 the children of Israel.
And he will take his stand and shepherd
by the strength of Yahweh,
in the name of Yahweh his God.
And they will remain, for now he will be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he will be the One of Peace.2
As for Assyria, if3 he comes into our land,
and if he treads upon our fortified palaces,
then we will raise up against him seven shepherds
and eight rulers of men.
And they will rule the land of Assyria with the sword,
and the land of Nimrod with drawn dagger.4
And he will deliver from Assyria,
if he comes into our land,
if he treads upon our territory.
And the remnant of Jacob will be
in the midst of mighty peoples,
like dew from Yahweh,
like showers upon grass which wait not for anyone,
nor stay for human beings.
And the remnant of Jacob will be among the nations,
in the midst of mighty peoples,
like a lion among the beasts of the forest,
like a young lion among a flock of sheep;

1. Retaining MT 'al. See Renaud, Formation, pp. 226-27.


2. zeh salom is understood as the title of the ruler. See Willis, 'Micah IV, 14-V,
5', p. 544; Kevin Cathcart, 'Notes on Micah 5.4-5', Bib 49 (1968), pp. 511-14;
Hillers, Micah, p. 65; W. Harrelson, 'Nonroyal Motifs in the Royal Eschatology',
in Anderson and Harrelson (eds.), Israel's Prophetic Heritage, p. 159; D.J. Bryant,
'Micah 4.14-5.14: An Exegesis', ResQ 21 (1978), p. 224. For a survey of other
proposed readings see Willis, 'Micah IV, 14-V, 5', pp. 543-44.
3. For this translation of ki see BDB, p. 473a. Also see Luker, Doom and
Hope, p. 126, n. 2; Allen, Micah, p. 339.
4. Most scholars emend MT bipgtaheyha ('in its entrances') to bapMhah ('with
the dagger'). Parallelism seems to justify this emendation which is accepted by
Hillers, Micah, pp. 68-9; Renaud, Formation, p. 230; Luker, Doom and Hope,
p. 127, n. 4; Rudolph, Micha, pp. 91-2; Mays, Micah, p. 118, n. c.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

(8)
(9)

(10)
(11)
(12)

(13)
(14)

131

when it comes near and tramples and tears,


there is no one that can deliver.
May your hand1 be exalted over your adversaries;
and may all your enemies perish!
And it will be on that day, decrees Yahweh,
that I will cut off your horses from your midst,
and I will destroy your chariots.
And I will cut off the cities of your land,
and I will tear down all your fortresses.
And I will cut off sorceries from your hand,
and you shall have no more soothsayers.
And I will cut off your carvings,
and your pillars from your midst;
so that you will no longer bow down
to the work of your hands.
And I will pull down your Asherim from your midst,
and I will destroy your cities.2
Andin anger and wrath
I will execute vengeance
upon the nations which did not obey.

Unity and Date


Generally, Mic. 4.9 (or 4.1)-5.14 has been understood as either a
collection of oracles that are only superficially connected3 or a series
of oracles from various times that have been arranged according to

1. Verbs in the MT are in the jussive.


2. On the basis of parallelism, many emend MT 'dreykd to 'asabeyka ('your
idols'). However, K. Jeppesen has suggested that the parallelism between Asherim
and 'cities' is not unlikely, if one takes into account the possibility that different
aspects of Yahwism or Canaanite religion may have been associated with different
cities ('Micah V 13 in the Light of a Recent Archaeological Discovery', VT 34
[1984], pp. 462-66). While the details of his argument should probably not be
pressed too far, Jeppesen's observations do suggest that the MT can be retained. It is
also possible that 'areyka refers to an enclosed area or quarter of the city. For
example, the 'city of David' in Jerusalem apparently refers to the royal compound.
The reference here may thus be to temple precincts in various towns. For other
suggestions see Renaud (Formation, p. 263) and Bryant ('Micah 4.14-5.14',
pp. 229-30).
3. J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 82; Marti, Das Dodekapropheten, p. 263;
E.A. Leslie, 'Micah the Prophet', IDE, III, p. 371.

132

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

some proposed redactional scheme.1 In either case, the unity of Mic.


4.8-5.14 is viewed as the result of a redactional structure imposed
upon the oracles.
Recently, Cuffey has isolated five factors other than the arrangement of these oracles which mark Mic. 4.9-5.14 as a distinct unit.2
First, the material is integrated and distinguishable from other
material in the book of Micah by the theme of the nations that defile
and destroy. In contrast to 4.9-5.14, the preceding section of Micah
has dealt with the peaceful pilgrimage of the nations to Jerusalem,
while other sections have shown little interest in nations other than
Israel or Judah. Second, Mic. 4.9-5.14 assumes and depicts a time of
distress followed by a coming victory. Third, Cuffey notes that this
section is unique in the way in which it pictures God or the Messianic
figure as the source of victory for the people.
A fourth element uniting this material is the repetition of unique
and important vocabulary. In particular, the repeated occurrences of
nasal should be noted (4.10; 5.5, 7). In addition, the fact that the vast
majority of the occurrences of qereb and 'attah are found in this section suggests that Mic. 4.9-5.14 forms a fairly well-defined unit
within the book of Micah.
A final factor indicating the unity of Mic. 4.9-5.14 is a clear, progressive development of thought. The text moves from a description
of present distress (4.9-11) to an announcement of salvation (4.12-13).
The announcement of salvation is followed by descriptions of the way
in which God will save through a Messianic figure and by allowing the
people to raise up deliverers (4.14-5.4a). The remnant is thus made
1. While the particulars of the theories vary widely, all of the following believe
that the present arrangement of the material in 4.9 (or 4.1)-5.14 is the result of a
carefully conceived redactional scheme: J.T. Willis, The Structure of Micah 3-5
and the Function of Micah 5.9-14 in the Book', ZAW 81 (1969), p. 197; Lescow,
'Redaktionsgeschichtliche von Micha 1-5', pp. 46-85. R.E. Wolfe, 'The Editing of
the Book of the Twelve', ZAW 53 (1933), pp. 90-130. Wolff suggests that the
oracles were arranged for a service of lament and part of a larger scheme of 'Doom
and Hope' (Micah, p. 22). Renaud finds the oracles to be arranged according to a
chiastic structure (Structure et Attaches litteraires de Michee IV-V [Cahiers de la
Revue Biblique 2; Paris: Gabalda, 1964], p. 11). Mays sees these chapters as 'a
collection of oracles of salvation assembled to form the counterpart of the prophecies
of judgment in chs. 1-3' (Micah, p. 26).
2. Cuffey, The Coherence ofMicah, pp. 350-56.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

133

invincible (5.4b-8) and is purged by Yahweh who then judges the


disobedient nations (5.9-14).
Cuffey's arguments lead to the conclusion that at some level Mic.
4.9-5.14 is a deliberately structured unit within the book of Micah. Of
course, the undeniable unity of this material does not lead to the conclusion that Mic. 4.9-5.14 is an originally unified speech from the
eighth-century prophet, since such a structuring could have been
accomplished by a later redactor.1 In fact, it is the conclusion of a
significant number of scholars that most or all of the material in 4.95.14 could not have been composed before 586 BCE. Therefore, it is
necessary to give attention to the question of the possible dating of this
material.
It will be impossible, however, to consider all the arguments concerning the dating of Mic. 4.9-5.14. Willis notes that for Mic. 5.9-14
alone at least 31 arguments for a pre-exilic dating have been proposed
and 39 arguments for a later dating.2 Obviously, one can only consider those arguments that are representative or appear to be more
convincing. For the sake of convenience in discussing the various
proposals, the text will be sub-divided into smaller units.
Mic. 4.9-10 has generally been denied to Micah because v. lOb is
interpreted as a reference to exile in Babylon. If one assumes that this
is a genuine reference two possible explanations have been proposed,
however. Allen has argued that the reference to Babylon may not be
an anachronism if the prophetic narrative of Isaiah 38 with its reference to exile to Babylon is authentic.3
More incisive is Rudolph's observation that Mic. 4.10b names
Babylon as the place of exile and not the power which exiles.4
Moreover, 2 Kings 17 lists Babylon as one of the places to which the
residents of Samaria were exiled following the Assyrian victory in
720 BCE. If one assumes that Mic. 4.10 was spoken after the defeat of

1. That the unity is redactional is the apparent conclusion of Cuffey, The


Coherence of Micah, pp. 385-86.
2. Willis, 'The Authenticity and Meaning of Micah 5.9-14', p. 363, n. 50.
3. Allen, Micah, p. 246; A similar argument based on the authenticity of the
Isaiah narratives is advanced by Gazelles, 'Historic et Geographic en MicheV,
p. 87. Gazelles offers the unlikely explanation that 'to go to Babylon' refers to
seeking assistance from Merodach Baladan in 705.
4. Rudolph, Micha, p. 87.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Samaria, it is not unlikely that the prophet could have named Babylon
as a specific, distant place of exile.
While Rudolph's explanation is possible, one must still admit that
this interpretation of 4.9-10 sounds suspiciously like a vaticanum ex
eventum. Not surprisingly, therefore, a number of scholars have
proposed deleting all or part of 1 Ob as a gloss to an original eighthcentury oracle.1
A basic problem with the interpretations usually proposed for v. 10
is the conclusion that the verse is an announcement of exile. Two
observations call this interpretation into question, however. The
phrase 'you shall go to ['ad\ Babylon' is an unusual way of expressing
the thought that the population of Jerusalem will be exiled to
Babylon.2 More importantly, it is possible for v. lOb, c to be construed not as a statement but as two questions preceded by conditional
clauses.3 Since the prophet's strategy at the opening of the speech is to
use questions to reproach the audience (v. 9), it is possible that he
continues to employ questions after the command that opens v. 10.
The entire phrase could thus be rendered: 'If [ki\ you escape from the
city and dwell in the country or go as far as [ 'ad] Babylon, is it there
1. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 124, n. 5; Sellin, Das Zwolfprophetenbuch,
pp. 285-86; Yehezkel Kaufman, The Religion of Israel (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1960), p. 352; van Hoonacker, Les douze petits prophetes, p. 385.
2. If the expression ubo't 'ad-babel refers to exile, it is a unique designation.
The closest parallels would be found in Jer. 20.6; 34.4 (ubabel tabo'), both of which
refer to an individual going into exile in Babylon. The verbs more commonly used to
designate going to Babylon in exile are the hiphil of bo' (2 Kgs 27.7; 2 Chron. 36.7,
18; Jer. 20.6; 28.3) or a form of galah (2 Kgs 24.25; 1 Chron. 9.1; 2 Chron. 36.20;
Ezra 5.12; Jer. 27.20; 29.1, 4; 40.1, 7). Regardless of which verb is used, the
prepositional phrase 'ad-babel never occurs to designate going into exile in Babylon.
Most often a directive accusative or the directive ending - 'ah is used. Where a
preposition is used, it is either / (1 Chron. 9.1; 2 Chron. 36.7; Ezra 5.12) or (once)
'el (2 Chron. 36.20).
3. That a question can be expressed in Hebrew merely by the intonation of the
speaker is a recognized fact (see Williams, Hebrew Syntax, p. 91). It is interesting
to note that many scholars see a similar question preceded by a conditional sentence
in Isa. 1.18 (for references see O. Kaiser, Isaiah 1-12 [OTL; Philadelphia:
Westminster Press, 1972], p. 17 n. b). In some cases such as Ruth 1.12 the particle
ki can apparently refer to a condition contrary to fact. See Williams, Hebrew Syntax,
p. 73, para. 448 and J. Muilenberg, 'The Linguistic and Rhetorical Usage of the
Particle Jtf in the Old Testament', HUCA 32 (1961), p. 145.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

135

that you will be delivered? Is it there that Yahweh will redeem you
from the hand of your enemy?'
The purpose of such a question would be to reproach those who are
considering an escape from the city. The prophet may be arguing that
deliverance will not be found by fleeing from the city. Even fleeing
'as far as' Babylon will not bring Yahweh's deliverance. Such an
interpretation may be supported by the fact that the following verses
exhort Zion to stand and defeat her foes. This summons to battle in
v. 11 begins with the word we"attah which is often used when a conclusion is drawn from the preceding argument.1 If v. 10 announces
exile, an exhortation to stand and fight would not be an appropriate or
logical conclusion. However, if v. 10 is a series of questions which
make the point that deliverance will not be found in fleeing from the
city, the exhortation in v. 11 is a natural and logical conclusion. Like
vv. 11-13, Mic. 4.10 may thus assume the tradition of Zion theology
that deliverance is to take place on Zion where, with Yahweh's help,
the foes of Jerusalem will be defeated (11-13).2
Such an interpretation of v. 10 removes what has been viewed as a
contradiction within a possibly homogeneous, original unity. Renaud
argues that the theme, meter, style and structure of Mic. 4.9-14 can
only be explained realistically by the conclusion that these verses were
an original unity.3 Although Renaud's arguments are quite convincing,
his interpretation of v. 10 forces him to admit that there is a contradiction between 4.9-10, which speaks of deliverance after exile in
Babylon, and 4.11-13, in which Jerusalem defeats the foes who are
attacking her.
The contradiction between a siege resulting in exile and a siege
terminating in victory cannot be explained easily. Certainly, Renaud's
explanation that there is in these verses a prophetic 'telescoping' is
rather strained.4 On the other hand, interpreting v. 10 as a leading
question eliminates the supposed contradiction between vv. 9-10 and
vv. 11-13. Since a reference to Babylon is not unlikely in the eighth
1. See A. Laurentin, 'we 'attah-kai nun, Formule caracte"ristique des textes
juridiques et liturgique (a propos de Jean 17.5)', Bib 45 (1964), pp. 168-97,
413-32.
2. For this motif of the Zion tradition, see Roberts, 'The Davidic Origin of the
Zion Tradition', pp. 343-44.
3. Renaud, Formation, p. 213.
4. Renaud, Formation, p. 216.

136

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

century, and since the text may not even be a reference to exile,
nothing prevents dating 4.9-10 to the eighth century.
Many have suggested a late exilic date for the 'summons to battle' of
Mic. 4.11-13 since the same motif of the defeat of the nations is found
in Ezekiel 38-39.' In addition, the fact that the terms 'thought' and
'plan' also occur twice in parallelism in Jeremiah (49.20; 50.45) has
been argued as indicating that Mic. 4.12 derives from the exilic
period.2
Neither of these suggestions is convincing. Two occurrences of a
particular parallelism in Jeremiah hardly justify the conclusion that
4.11-13 dates to the exile. Moreover, although there are undeniable
similarities to Ezekiel 38-39, it is clear that the motif of the defeat of
the nations in Israel in both Micah and Ezekiel is dependent on Zion
theology.3 As noted in the previous chapter, it is quite possible that
this Zion tradition was formed early in Jerusalem's history.4 If so, the
appearance of this motif does not demand a post-exilic dating of Mic.
4.11-13.
The material within Mic. 4.14-5.3 has been dated to a time near the
end of the exile by many scholars.5 Renaud notes that Mic. 5.1, 3 have
a number of similarities to Jer. 30.20-21.6 Since Jer. 30.20-21 is less
ambiguous than Micah 5.1, 3, Renaud suggests that the latter texts
must presuppose that its hearers were already familiar with the oracle

1. J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 97; Mays, Micah, pp. 107-9; Lescow, 'Micha 15', pp. 66-7. Wolff argues that all of the material in 4.9-5.6 originated shortly afte
586 BCE and not only presupposes the events of that time, but at places pictures in
detail the Babylonian siege and deportation (Micah, pp. 136-38).
2. Renaud, Formation, pp. 211-12. Also see Mays, Micah, p. 110.
3. See Roberts, 'Zion Tradition', pp. 985-86.
4. Roberts, 'Zion Tradition', pp. 986-87. Especially see Roberts, 'The Davidic
Origin of the Zion Tradition', pp. 343-44, where he argues that the defeat of the
nations (vassals) on Zion is an idea that derives from the historical circumstances of
David's reign. While Roberts' arguments are significant, one suspects that the Zion
tradition might reflect ancient mythological and cultic motifs rather than a specific set
of historical circumstances. Nevertheless, if one believes that the Zion tradition
reflects historical circumstances, Roberts is correct in pointing to the DavidicSolomonic period rather than the exilic/post-exilic era as a likely time for the
emergence of such traditions.
5. J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 102; Mays, Micah, p. 113.
6. Renaud, Formation, pp. 240-42.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

137

of Jer. 30.20-21. The texts in Micah are thus thought to be later than
the time of Jeremiah.
In addition, Renaud finds in Mic. 5.1, 3 a number of allusions to 1
Sam. 16.12-13; 1 Sam. 17.12; 2 Sam. 7.8 and Isa. 11.1.1 These points
of contact are taken to indicate that Mic. 5.1, 3 are anthological in
nature and thus later than any of the texts to which they allude.
Finally, Renaud suggests that an eighth-century BCE prophet would
not have referred to the Davidic time as 'ancient'.2
Other scholars have been skeptical of the arguments for a late
dating of Mic. 4.14-5.3. In the first place, the similarities with other
texts may indicate that all of these texts are drawing upon a common
tradition about kingship in Israel.3 If Micah's audience was familiar
with this traditional material, the oracle of 5.1, 3 would not have been
ambiguous to them. Second, it is entirely possible that an eighthcentury prophet could have characterized the time of David as
'ancient'. Weinfeld has noted that the emphasis on the ancient origins
of the king in Mic. 5.1 parallels the court ideology of both Assyria
and Babylon which emphasized the antiquity of the king's dynasty.4
Thus the reasons for dating any material in 4.14-5.3 to a later time
are rather weak.
In spite of the fact that Mic. 5.4b-5 refers to Assyria, the dominant
power of Micah's day, some have suggested that the material is post

1. Renaud, Formation, pp. 240-42. Also puzzling is Wolffs explanation that


4.9-10 come from the time of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, but 4.11-13 derive
from a time 'during and immediately after' the siege as a word of comfort to the
defeated city (Micah, pp. 137, 142). It is difficult to see either the purpose of
summons to battle after Jerusalem's defeat or how such a saying would offer much
comfort. Also unlikely is the suggestion that we have an alternation of speakers
engaged in a dispute (van der Woude, 'Micah in Dispute with the PseudoProphets', pp. 248-56) since there are no clear indications of changes of speakers.
2. Renaud, Formation, p. 245.
3. W. Beyerlin, Die Kulttraditionen Israels in der Vekiindigung des Propheten
Micha (FRLANT 54; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1959), pp. 77-78;
Millers, Micah, p. 65.
4. M. Weinfeld, 'Zion and Jerusalem as Religions and Political Capital:
Ideology and Utopia', in R.E. Friedman (ed.), The Poet and the Historian: Essays in
Literary and Biblical Criticism (HSS 26; Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983),
pp. 101, 103.

138

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

exilic.1 In particular it is argued that Assyria is used here as the prototype of Israel's enemies, and that any claim of military domination of
Assyria is unlikely in the eighth century.
In response, it can be noted that the burden of proof is clearly upon
those who see Assyria as a euphemism for Israel's enemies in postexilic texts since there is no known text where this is clearly the case.
Whether or not an eighth-century prophet would have imagined
Israelite domination of Assyria is simply not possible to know. As we
shall see, however, an even more basic question which must be
explored is whether these verses really refer to Israelite domination of
Assyria. In any case, the possibility must be kept open that Mic. 5.4-5
is an example of the prophetic imagination which envisioned a
completely transformed future.
Mic. 5.6-8 is generally thought to be a late post-exilic oracle
because it assumes a unified, powerful remnant in the midst of the
nations. 2 In response, it can only be noted again that the term
'remnant' was simply a military term denoting survivors after battle,
which could be used at practically any period in Israel's history. With
the annexation of Israelite territory by Syria and Assyria as well as
conflicts with neighboring states, it must have been quite natural to
refer to Israel in the late eighth century BCE as a remnant.3 Moreover,
the phrase 'in the midst of mighty nations' does not necessarily assume
an exile and dispersion. The phrase may simply indicate Israel as a
nation alongside other nations.
Finally, Mic. 5.9-14 has been denied a pre-exilic origin based on
style, motifs and vocabulary.4 In particular, Mays notes that other
oracles containing the description of a divine purge of horses and
chariots are in the post-exilic works of Hag. 2.22 and Zech. 9.16.5
Others have noted that the condemnation of images, pillars and
1. J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 107; Wolff, Micah, pp. 136-37; Lescow, 'Micha
1-5', p. 78; Mays, Micah, p. 120.
2. Renaud, Formation, p. 262; Mays, Micah, p. 121; Lescow, 'Micha 1-5,
p. 78.
3. Boogart, Reflections on the Restoration, p. 52; Hillers, Micah, pp. 54-55.
4. Jeremias, 'Deutung', pp. 344-46; Mays, Micah, pp. 124-25; Stade,
'Bemerkungen iiber das Buch Micha', p. 165; Duhm, Die Zwolf Propheten,
p. XXXI; for others and a summary of arguments against a pre-exilic dating see
Willis, 'Authenticity' p. 364.
5. Mays, Micah, p. 125; Lescow, 'Micha 1-5', pp. 77-78.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

139

Asherah seems to presuppose the reform of Josiah.1 In response to


these arguments Willis has noted that 'the fact that the Deuteronomistic
Reform denounced graven images, pillars and Asherah does not prove
that this was the first time that they were denounced'.2 Indeed, such
passages as Hos. 3.4; 8.4-6; 10.1-2; 13.2; 14.4; Isa. 2.8; 10.10 and
37.7 contain at least implied censures against some cultic paraphernalia. It should also be noted that the motif of Yahweh's destruction of
the weapons of war is found in Pss. 46.10 and 76.3-4, both of which
most likely contain pre-exilic material.3
Although the idea of Yahweh's taking vengeance on the nations is
found in post-exilic times, Luker has shown that a theophany in which
Yahweh judges the nations has ancient parallels.4 It is thus doubtful
that either 5.14 or 5.9-13 should be denied a pre-exilic dating based
on motifs.5
Mic. 4.9-5.14 is thus seen to be a section displaying the marks of a
distinct unit within the book of Micah. In addition, the arguments for
assigning the material in this section to an exilic or post-exilic time
are rather weak. A pre-exilic date for all the material in 4.9-5.14 is
thus not improbable. Whether the unit can be understood as a unified
discourse addressing a particular situation in the time of Micah
depends upon a consideration of the rhetorical situation and the possible goals and strategy that unite the discourse.
The Rhetorical Situation
Objective Factors
The major objective factor reflected in the present discourse is a siege
of Jerusalem (4.9, 11, 14). Although this factor is obvious, both the
identity of the attackers and the response of the population merit
closer investigation.
1. Marti, Das Dodekapropheten, pp. 269, 290.
2. Willis, 'Authenticity', p. 365.
3. Mowinckel, 'The Psalms in Israel's Worship', I, pp. 152-53.
4. Luker, Doom and Hope, pp. 136-37.
5. Among those concluding the material is possibly Mican are: Wellhausen,
Kleinen Propheten, p. 146; Sellin, Das Zwolfprophetenbuch, pp. 292-93; Weiser,
Das Buch der zwolf Kleinen Propheten, p. 232; Killers, Micah, p. 74. Both J.M.P
Smith (Micah, p. 114) and Renaud (Formation, pp. 357-61) are open to the
possibility that the material is early.

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The attackers of Jerusalem are not explicitly identified. Rather they


are called 'the nations' or simply 'your enemies' (4.10b, 11, 13; 5.9,
14). Although it has been suggested that 'the nations' are the various
national units that comprised the Assyrian army,1 it is unlikely that
those laying siege to Jerusalem are to be identified as the Assyrians. In
Mic. 5.4b-5 an Assyrian attack is seen only as a future possibility;
nothing is stated that even implies a present siege by Assyria. It challenges credulity to assume that a prophet would have spoken only of a
possible future confrontation with Assyria at the very moment that the
Assyrian army was laying siege to Jerusalem.
A clue to the identity of Jerusalem's attackers may be found in the
enigmatic address in Mic. 4.14. Rudolph has suggested that 4.14 is
addressed not to Jerusalem but to the armies laying siege to
Jerusalem.2 If one assumes a relative clause without the relative pronoun it is possible to read 4.14, 'Now gash yourself, daughter of a
raid who has laid siege to us'. Such a reading seems likely in light of
the context of this verse. The prophet has just announced the defeat of
those who are attacking Jerusalem (4.11-13). The announcement of
the defeat of Jerusalem's enemies could logically be followed by a call
to those enemies to perform acts of mourning.
It is possible, therefore, that the disparaging title 'daughter of a
raid' is being applied to those attacking Jerusalem rather than to the
city of Zion itself. If Rudolph is correct that the title 'daughter of a
raid' is to be applied to the army attacking Jerusalem, then one is also
led to the conclusion that the 'judge of Israel' may be a leader of the
army laying siege to the Judean capital. A call for the attacking army
to mourn would hardly be followed by the announcement of the
humiliation of the Judean king. It would be logical, however, to
follow the call to mourning with a reason for mourning. If this interpretation of 4.14 is correct, one is thus led to the conclusion that those
laying siege to Jerusalem include Israelites, since the prophet calls
their leader the 'judge of Israel'.
The seriousness of the present situation is underscored by an indication that part of the people has already been conquered. Mic. 5.2
seems to interrupt the oracle about the ideal ruler and may be understood as the prophet's own application of the traditional cultic oracle
1.
2.

Allen, Mica/i, p. 336.


Rudolph, Micha, p. 94.

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141

in 5.1, 3-4a. The subject of 'he will give them up' is generally agreed
to be Yahweh, and the sense of natan is probably 'to deliver into the
hands of the enemy'.1 While there is some disagreement about the
antecedent of 'them', it is likely that the word refers to 'what remains
of his brothers' in the next line. We have already observed cases in
which the prophet (perhaps deliberately) places the pronoun before
the antecedent (see 3.2-3).
Allen has suggested that since in the Davidic tradition the northern
tribes referred to David as their own flesh and blood (2 Sam. 5.1), the
'brothers' must here refer to the northern kingdom which is apparently in exile.2 Such an interpretation is problematic, however, since
the text does not clearly presuppose an exile of any or all of Israel.
The brothers do not return to the land of Israel, but to the children of
Israel.3 What seems to be presupposed is the loss of a part of Israel to
the enemy.
Finally, the response of the audience to the siege must be noted. The
questions of Mic. 4.9 make it clear that the population is in panic and
distress. The conventional description of a woman in labor is applied
to the city's reaction to the siege.4 Verse 9 appears to indicate that the
population of Jerusalem also has serious doubts about the adequacy of
its leadership in the face of such a crisis. During a siege it would be
understandable for the people of the besieged city to question the
wisdom of the ruler or even to contemplate deserting or overthrowing
the king. Not surprisingly, such doubt and possible disloyalty is
reflected in several places in the discourse where the prophet must
remind the people of the significance and divine legitimation of the
Davidic king.
In particular, the leading questions of Mic. 4.9 can be understood as
a reproach to the people for failing to understand the significance of
the king in their midst. Generally two interpretations of Mic. 4.9 have
1. Wolff, Micah, p. 145; Hillers, Micah, p. 66.
2. Allen, Micah, p. 34; J. Coppens, 'Le cadre littdraire de Michde V, 1-5', in
H. Goedicke (ed.), Near Eastern Studies in honor of W.F. Albright (Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971), p. 60. For a similar interpretation see
Wolff (Micah, p. 145) and Mays (Micah, p. 117).
3. Hillers notes that the term 'remainder' 'should mean those left in the land, not
the exiles; cf. Zech. 14.2' (Micah, p. 66).
4. See D. Hillers, 'A Convention in Hebrew Literature: The Reaction to Bad
News', ZAW 11 (1965), pp. 86-90.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

been followed. Some have understood Yahweh to be the king in whom


the people are called to trust.1 Others have seen the questions as taunts
at the people for trusting a human king whose policies have now
failed.2 None has considered the possibility that these questions can
quite naturally be understood as a reproach to the population for failing to take courage from the presence of the actual Davidic king
currently reigning. If the questions are intended as such a reproach,
they are indications that the prophet's audience has serious doubts
about the adequacy of the leadership of the Davidic king.
The severity of the audience's doubts and fears may be indicated by
the questions of v. 10. Some apparently are considering 'fleeing'
(tese'T) from the city in order to be delivered from the enemies who
are laying siege to Jerusalem. Although the reference to fleeing to
Babylon is probably not to be taken as a indication that some were
seriously considering going to Babylon, the questions of v. 10 seem to
reflect the audience's attitude that defeat is so certain that the best
course of action is to abandon the city.
Finally, Mic. 5.4b-5 notes that many in Micah's audience were
concerned about the possibility of an Assyrian attack. As noted above,
these verses view an Assyrian intervention as only a future possibility.
Nevertheless, the fact that the prophet raises the issue suggests that, in
the minds of many, Assyrian military action was considered to be
likely even though it is not immediately clear why such action may be
expected.
It also seems likely that in these verses Micah is responding to some
who were in favor of joining an anti-Assyrian coalition. Some have
seen in the announcement that seven or eight rulers will dominate
Assyria a contradiction to the idea of a single, ideal ruler.3 A number
of commentators attempt to explain this apparent contradiction by a
rather elaborate redactional scheme in which an editor imperfectly
adapted the oracle.4 Others have suggested that rather than indicating
1. Renaud, Formation, p. 205.
2. Mays, Micah, p. 105; Killers, Micah, p. 59.
3. Mays, Micah, pp. 118-19; Wolff, Micah, pp. 147-48; Renaud, Formation,
p. 250; J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 107; Stade, 'Bemerkungen iiber das Buch
Micha', p. 168; For a survey of the problems and various solutions proposed for
these verses see Willis, 'Micah IV, 14-V, 5', pp. 537-41 and Renaud, Formation,
pp. 234-35.
4. Mays, Micah, pp. 118-19; Wolff, Micah, pp. 147-48; Allen believes that

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a number of rulers, the numerical sequence simply means that the


leadership of the ideal ruler will be sufficient. 1 This explanation is
implausible in light of the fact that 5a clearly implies more than one
ruler will dominate Assyria: 'They will shepherd [wgrd 'u] the land of
Assyria...'
Millers has attempted to resolve the apparent contradiction by suggesting that the text refers to an alliance of Israel with Aramean
chiefs.2 While the textual emendation proposed by Millers has no
versional support and cannot be accepted, his general interpretation of
the verse is probably correct. It is unlikely that the prophet envisioned
Israel not only defeating Assyria but also ruling over that nation.
Indeed, it is never stated that the princes are Israelite, and the rulers
are described as 'rulers of man'. The prophet may therefore have in
mind the raising up of a multi-national coalition against Assyria in the
event that Assyria attacks Jerusalem ('us').3 Deliverance from Assyria
is thus the work of a coalition as well as the accomplishment of the
ideal ruler (v. 5b).4
Micah thus does not dismiss the idea of participating in such a
multi-national coalition, but he sets forth a specific set of conditions
that would justify support of such an anti-Assyrian coalition. It would
be necessary to raise up princes and rulers only if Assyria launches a
direct attack on 'our land' and 'treads down our fortresses'. If this
interpretation is correct, one may reasonably conclude that some in
the prophet's audience were in favor of participation in a coalition at
present even though an attack from Assyria was only a possibility and
not a reality.
The objective factors reflected in the situation can thus be stated
concisely. Jerusalem is being besieged by enemies which apparently
include Israelites. Related to this present crisis is the presupposition
that part of the kingdom (Judah?) has been 'given up' or has 'gone
Micah is using an old, national song of victory (Micah, p. 347).
1. Willis, 'Micah IV, 14-V, 5', pp. 541-42; Bryant, 'Micah 4.14-5.14',
pp. 216-17.
2. Hillers, Micah, pp. 68-69. J.C. Peiser had previously suggested that 'adorn
be emended to Edom ('Micha V, OLZ 20 [1917], p. 365). As is the case with
Hillers' proposal, there is no textual evidence to support such an emendation.
3. Such is the suggestion of H. Gazelles ('Micah', EncJud, XI, p. 1481): 'The
shepherd is capable of organizing a coalition against Assyria...'
4. This interpretation is similar to Cuffey's (The Coherence of Micah, p. 272).

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

over' to the hands of their enemies. The response of the prophet's


audience is one of panic and fear. They lack confidence in their king
and some are considering fleeing from the city. There also appears to
be a concern about possible Assyrian intervention. The way in which
Micah responds to this situation is determined by his own convictions
and his evaluation of the situation.
Subjective Factors
The subjective factors reflected in the present discourse are comprised
of the prophet's response to the siege of Jerusalem and, more
specifically, to the fears and concerns of his audience. In contrast to
the audience's assessment of the situation, Micah appears confident of
Jerusalem's triumph and certain of the present king's ability to lead.
In particular, the speaker is convinced that Jerusalem will be victorious, that the present king will emerge as the ideal ruler who will reunite the nation which will then be transformed. Furthermore, the
prophet is confident of Jerusalem's ability to deal with a possible
Assyrian intervention.
First, in contrast to his audience, the prophet believes that the
present siege of Jerusalem will result in victory rather than defeat. In
particular, the presence of a king in Jerusalem is, for Micah, a sign
that the city will be triumphant. The leading questions of 4.9 suggest
that the prophet is reproaching his audience for not being encouraged
by the presence of the king (presumably Davidic) in Jerusalem. In the
Davidic-Zion theology the Davidic king was a living reminder of
Yahweh's choice and, thus, his protection of Zion. As Moshe Weinfeld
notes, there is a 'strong connection between the founding of the
Davidic dynasty and the establishment of an eternal seat for God and
his ark'1 (see especially Ps. 132). The presence of a Davidic king in
Jerusalem was the sign of Yahweh's choice of Zion and a reminder of
divine presence and protection.
In addition, in the pre-exilic royal Psalms, Yahweh's choice of a
king was associated with the defeat of the king's enemies (Pss. 2;
89.20-23; 110; 132). It is generally believed that Yahweh's pledge to
defeat the king's enemies was part of the testimony (hoq) which was
read at the king's enthronement (see Ps. 110 and especially Ps. 2).2
1.
2.

M. Weinfeld, 'Davidic Covenant', IDBSup, p. 189.


De Vaux, Ancient Israel, I, p. 109.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

145

The king was thus a living reminder not only of Yahweh's choice of
Zion, but of Yahweh's pledge to defeat the enemies of the king and
thus deliver Zion. The leading questions of Mic. 4.9 are grounded in
the belief that the Davidic king was a sign of Yahweh's presence and
pledge to defeat the enemies of the king.
Confidence in Jerusalem's victory is further grounded in the
prophet's acceptance of a Zion theology that expected the defeat of
Jerusalem's enemies. It is generally recognized that Mic. 4.11-13
reflects a traditional motif of the Zion theology in which Yahweh
gathers the nations to Jerusalem in order to defeat them.1 As noted
above, the leading questions of 4.10 also assume the traditional theme
that the defeat of the nations (deliverance) is to occur not in a distant
place, but on Zion itself. Apparently, these leading questions are
meant to remind the audience of this tradition which the prophet
clearly articulates in the following section (vv. 11-13). Micah's
assessment of the situation is thus dependent not only on the presence
of the Davidic king, but also on traditional elements of a Zion
theology.
A second subjective factor is the prophet's high regard for the
Davidic king. It is generally assumed that Mic. 5.1-4a constitutes a
'tribal oracle' addressed to Bethlehem.2 The oracle reflects the
common motif of Yahweh's choice of a great ruler from a small or
insignificant place (2 Sam. 9.21; Judg. 6.15). The relationship between
Yahweh and the ideal ruler is further defined by the oracle: the ruler's
will is subordinate to Yahweh's since he stands forth 'for me' (i.e., for
Yahweh) and will rule 'by the strength of Yahweh' (5.1, 3).3 The
oracle concludes with a descriptive name of the ideal ruler: 'This one
shall be the one of peace' (cf. Isa. 9.4).
Unfortunately, the ambiguity of the oracle has led some to conclude
that the prophet is actually rejecting the Davidic dynasty. A number of
scholars have concluded that the coming ruler is a new David or
David redivus.4 Indeed, the oracle does contain direct allusions to the
1. See above, p. 135 n. 2.
2. See Mays, Micah, p. 102.
3. For a complete survey as well as a different interpretation of li see
J.T. Willis, 'Mimekattyesem Micah 5.1', JQR 58 (1967-68), pp. 317-22.
4. G.A. Smith, Twelve Prophets, pp. 442-43; Mays, Micah, p. 113; Wolff,
Micah, pp. 144-45; Hillers, Micah, p. 66; Rudolph, Micha, p. 96; Renaud,
Formation, p. 242.

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Davidic ideology reflected in the oracle of Nathan in 2 Sam. 7.6-17


Common to Micah 5.1-2 and 2 Sam. 7.6-7 are the themes of the
humble origins of David, the peaceful rule of the king, and an
emphasis on the divine initiative. In addition, both texts contain the
verb liheyot and avoid the word 'king'. The oracle in Mic. 5.1-2,
however, is often interpreted as a 'revision' of Nathan's oracle: the
emphasis on the origins of David rather than the promise to David's
descendants is assumed to suggest both a rejection of the Davidic
dynasty and a new beginning signaled by the rise of a new David.
On the other hand, some have pointed out that far from rejecting
the Davidic dynasty, the oracle announces that an ideal ruler will
come from among the descendants of David.2 The reference to
Bethlehem, the allusion to the Davidic traditions, and the statement
that the ruler's origins are 'from days of old' indicate that the future
monarch will be of the old, established line of David. It is further
suggested that the emphasis on the smallness of Bethlehem may be
intended as a analogy for the low state of the Judean monarchy which
will yet produce an ideal ruler.3
Logic appears to be on the side of those who interpret the oracle of
Mic. 5.1, 3-4a as an affirmation that the Davidic line will produce a
great ruler. If the prophet intended to reject the Davidic dynasty it is
unlikely that he would have utilized traditions about the founder of
that dynasty and have made such an ambiguous statement about that
rejection. In fact, the use of such traditions might have been selfdefeating since the royal psalms indicate that the Davidic tradition was
used to legitimize the rule of David's descendants (e.g. Ps. 132). It
seems best to conclude that the oracle does envision a Davidide as the
ideal ruler. The quotation of this oracle is thus a reminder to a
doubting people that the present ruler is a member of the line that has

1. See Renaud, Formation, pp. 242-45; Beyerlin, Die Kulttraditionen,


pp. 77-78.
2. J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 104; Bryant, 'Micah 4.14-5.14', pp. 218, 221
Beyerlin, Die Kulttraditionen, pp. 77-78; Coppens, 'Le cadre litte'raire de MicheV,
pp. 60-61; J. Mauchline, 'Implicit Signs of a Persistent Belief in the Davidic
Empire', VT 20 (1970), p. 292; Allen, Micah, p. 343, n. 23. Lescow, 'Das
Geburtsmotiv in den Messianischen Weissagungen bei Jesaja und Micha', ZAW79
(1967), p. 197.
3. Lescow, 'Das Geburtsmotiv', p. 197; Allen, Micah, p. 143.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

147

divine legitimation 'from ancient times' and which will yet produce a
great ruler.
Some may object that rather than bolstering confidence in the
Davidic king, Mic. 4.14 announces the defeat of the king in Jerusalem.
To 'strike on the cheek' is a figurative way of depicting the humiliation of an individual.1 As we have seen, however, this verse is probably directed not at the king in Jerusalem, but at a leader of those
laying siege to Jerusalem. If this interpretation is correct, the contrast
between 4.14 and 5.1 is not a contrast between the present ruler of
Jerusalem and the future ruler; rather the contrast is between the
'judge of Israel' who is attacking Jerusalem and the Davidic king in
Jerusalem. One is to be humiliated, but the other rules by divine
choice and will emerge ('stand forth') as the ideal ruler.
That the prophet views the present Davidic king as the one who will
emerge as the ideal ruler is plausible if it is remembered that such
oracles of royal Messianic hope had a two-fold meaning:
... every king of the Davidic line is a figure and shadow of the ideal king
of the future. In fact none of these kings attained the ideal, but at the
moment of their enthronement, at each renewal of the Davidic covenant,
this same hope was expressed...2

Micah could thus be reminding his audience of the fact that at the
king's enthronement (or annual anniversary of the enthronement) the
belief was expressed that the present ruler was the ideal ruler from
the line of David. It may be that Micah sees in the present crisis the
opportunity for the monarch to fulfill the role of the ideal ruler who
will re-unite Israel and restore its former greatness. The quotation of
a traditional oracle may thus show the prophet's high regard not only
for the Davidic line in general but also for the present ruler in
particular.
A third subjective factor is the prophet's assessment of the outcome
of a possible conflict with Assyria. As noted above, the prophet
specifies in these verses the conditions that would justify participation
in an international coalition against Assyria. If Assyria attacks, Micah
is convinced that a coalition would be able not only to repel such an
assault, but to dominate Assyria.
The role of the people of Yahweh in such a coalition is apparently
1.
2.

See 1 Kgs 22.24; Job 16.10; Ps. 3.7; Lam. 3.30.


De Vaux, Ancient Israel, I, p. 110.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

described in the following verses. A number of scholars have interpreted these two sayings as a description of Israel's dual role of
blessing and cursing.1 Such a sharp contrast in meaning is open to
question, however. Wolff notes that in 2 Sam. 17.2 dew represents not
blessing, but that which is mysterious and unexpected.2 Wolff thus
concludes that Mic. 5.6 concerns the miraculous origin of the remnant
of Jacob. Verse 6 emphasizes the fact that the remnant exists not by
human effort and thus vulnerable to human strength (6c), but only by
the power of Yahweh (6b).
The following verse (v. 7) uses the lion simile to emphasize the
irresistible power of the remnant. Together these verses convey the
idea that the power of the survivors of Jacob will come from Yahweh.
As a result, 'no one can deliver' from the remnant which is like a lion
among sheep. The last phrase of v. 7 is significant. Allen points out
that the words 'no one can deliver' are frequently used in connection
with Yahweh's punishment of his enemies (Deut. 32.39; Job 10.7; Ps
50.22; Hos. 5.14).3 The thought of Mic. 5.6 may thus be that the
remnant of Jacob serves as 'a representative of the divine Victor'.4 It
is on Yahweh's behalf that the remnant assumes the role of a lion
among the nations, and it is from Yahweh, rather than military might,
that the remnant ultimately derives its power. The prophet thus is
convinced that if Assyria attacks Jerusalem, the remnant of Jacob will
assume its place among the mighty nations of the coalition as a nation
empowered by Yahweh himself, and thus be able to repel an Assyrian
attack.
Finally, the prophet believes that a triumphant Jerusalem will lead
to a transformed Israel. Although Mic. 5.9-14 clearly implies som
accusation and judgment these verses also suggest that, stripped of
weapons, certain religious artifacts and inferior religious practices,
Israel will be better able to trust Yahweh alone. Weinfeld has noted
that the motif of the elimination of weapons is associated both with the
coming of the ideal ruler and with Yahweh's triumph over his
1. Renaud, Formation, p. 258; Allen, Micah, p. 352. For a survey of
proposed interpretations see Bryant, 'Micah 4.14-5.14', p. 226.
2. Wolff, Micah, pp. 155-56. Similar conclusions are reached by Mays (Micah,
p. 123), Killers (Micah, p. 71) and Bryant, 'Micah 4.14-5.14', p. 227.
3. Allen, Micah, p. 354.
4. Allen, Micah, p. 355.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

149

enemies on Mount Zion (Ps. 76; 28; Zech. 9.9-10; Isa. 11.1-10).1
Apparently, from ancient times the royal city was associated with
peace, and the ideal Davidic ruler was one who brought peace and
eliminated weapons of war. This royal ideology probably lies behind
the prophet's announcement that a dramatic transformation of Israel
will occur with Yahweh's triumph and the emergence of the ideal
ruler.
The prophet thus has an optimistic assessment of the outcome of
present events. He does not deny the difficulty of the present but views
the situation in light of well-established traditions concerning David
and Zion. These traditions lead to the conviction that Jerusalem will
triumph and that the present ruler will emerge as the ideal ruler of
Israel. Ultimately, the prophet looks ahead to a time when the whole
of Israel is transformed and trusts solely in Yahweh.
Goals and Strategy
The objective and subjective factors of the rhetorical situation result
in a discourse with a single purpose: to persuade the audience to stand
firm and repel the attack on Jerusalem. While the population of
Jerusalem appears to be paralyzed by fear and panic, the prophet is
convinced that the present crisis is part of Yahweh's plan for the triumph of Jerusalem and the restoration of Israel. The challenge before
Micah is to convey his convictions persuasively to an audience that
doubts that victory is possible.
In meeting this challenge Micah produces a discourse which exhorts
and encourages the audience. The goal of the discourse and the means
of persuasion are made evident by an outline of Mic. 4.9-5.14.
I.

II.

III.

1.

Introduction (4.9)
A. Indirect accusations through questions (4.9a)
B. Description of panic (4.9b)
Thesis
A. Exhortation: Labor and bring forth (4.10a)
B. Reason: Will Yahweh deliver you if you flee?
(4.1 Ob, c)
Confirmation
A. Zion tradition promises victory (4.11-13)
Weinfeld, 'Zion and Jerusalem', pp. 102-104.

150

IV.

V.

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


B. Summons for Zion's enemies to mourn (4.14)
C. Oracle promises restoration under Davidic ruler
(5.1-4a)
Refutation (5.4b-7)
A. Response to possible Assyrian intervention
(5.4b-5)
B. Description of a united Israel's part in an
international coalition (5.6-7)
C. Exhortation to victory (5.8)
Conclusion: Recapitulation and synthesis
A. Transformation of Israel (5.9-13)
B. Judgment upon the nations (5.14)

Although rather brief Mic. 4.9 is a remarkably effective introduction


to the discourse. By opening with leading questions, the prophet
immediately captures the attention of his audience and involves them
in the persuasive process.1 The rapid succession of questions heightens
the impact and further pushes the audience to take an active role in the
persuasive process.
The opening series of questions also functions to accuse his audience
of irrational fear. By accusing his audience indirectly, however, the
prophet is careful not to turn his audience against him. Like a good
introduction, Mic. 4.9 catches the audience's attention and makes the
audience willing to hear the message of the speaker.2 The introduction
also makes clear the prophet's relation to his audience and his attitude
toward his subject: unlike his audience the prophet does not see the
crisis as a cause for despair.
Like the introduction the thesis is stated in concise terms (4.10).
The imperative 'bring forth like a woman giving birth' adds an urgent
tone to the prophet's message. In addition, the use of the imperative
establishes an authoritarian mood and further defines the relation of
the speaker to the audience. Thus use of such an authoritarian mood
'establishes a social relationship between the two locutors: one gives

1. For the effect of such leading questions, see above, p. 54 n. 2.


2. Corbett notes that the introduction functions to inform the audience of the
subject of the discourse, and to dispose the audience to be receptive to what is said
(Classical Rhetoric, p. 303).

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

151

orders, the other obeys'.1 Micah thus takes the stance of one in
authority who commands the obedience of his audience.
The use of the childbirth simile in an unexpected way commands the
attention of the audience. The prophet first reproaches the people for
allowing distress to overtake them so that they act 'like a woman in
labor'. He then uses the childbirth imagery in an unexpected way by
commanding his audience to 'labor and bring forth like a woman
giving birth'. This latter command should probably be understood in a
very positive sense. The prophet calls not for a labor of futility and
panic, but a fruitful labor which 'brings forth' victory.2 Luker's
observation is incisive: 'It is a time of pain, but the necessary pain will
bear the future in which the tables will be turned'.3
This masterful use of a simile in an unexpected way serves to negate
the former simile which equates labor with despair.4 The prophet
exhorts the audience to turn their fruitless labor into productive labor.
This transformation of the metaphor of a woman in labor is unexpected and thus functions to capture the audience's attention.
In spite of the authoritarian stance of the prophet such a bold thesis
must be supported with reasons. Once again the prophet uses a series
of questions to involve the audience and to lead them to the conclusion
that deliverance will not come from fleeing from Jerusalem. In this
case the questions do not accuse; rather they serve as reminders of the
tradition that Yahweh will defeat Jerusalem's enemies on Zion.
This appeal to traditional beliefs accepted by his audience is made
explicitly in the confirmation. In 4.11-13 it is impossible to know if
Micah is directly quoting a traditional oracle about Zion or simply
adapting elements of the Zion tradition. In any case, it is reasonable to
conclude that he is utilizing material that was familiar to his audience.
The citation of traditional material functions to support the
prophet's thesis in two ways. First, an allusion to a well-known and
accepted tradition serves as an appeal to authority.5 In addition, the
appeal to authority is made more emphatic since Yahweh himself is
1. A. Goldschlager, Towards a Semiotics of Authoritarian Discourse', Poetics
Today 3 (1982), pp. 12-13.
2. The LXX literally reads, 'Act the man and draw nigh'. See the comments by
Killers, Micah, p. 58.
3. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 177.
4. Gitay, Prophecy and Persuasion, p. 70.
5. Corbett, Classical Rhetoric, p. 138.

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the speaker in this oracle. While previously Micah had stated the thesis
that deliverance was assured, Yahweh himself now promises deliverance and commands the city to take action.
Second, the use of ancient traditions about Zion gives to the city an
aura of mystery which allows the audience to conclude that with Zion
the seemingly impossible is indeed possible:
Rhetorically considered, Mystery is a major resource of persuasion.
Endow a person, an institution, a thing with the glow or resonance of the
Mystical, and you have set up a motivational appeal to which people
spontaneously respond. In this respect, an ounce of Mystery is worth a
ton of argument. Indeed, where Mystery is, we can be assured that the
arguments will profusely follow, as intellectus flows from fides.1

Micah's argument is thus based on both an appeal to authority and an


appeal to the mystery associated with Zion itself. Obviously the
prophet's use of mystery is an appeal to the emotions of his audience.
The quotation of words attributed to Yahweh and the Zion tradition
itself are meant to evoke a certain emotional response toward the city
and toward the present crisis.
It is clear that Micah is attempting to apply to the present situation
the motifs of the nations' assault on Jerusalem and Yahweh's deliverance. Verse 14 indicates that in light of Yahweh's promise to
Jerusalem, those who now lay siege to the city should mourn since
their defeat is divinely assured. Moreover, their ruler will be humiliated (struck on the cheek) as Yahweh has promised he would do to
those who attack Jerusalem (see Ps. 2.9). The summons to mourning
in v. 14 thus serves to apply the Zion tradition to the present situation
and to create a sense of certainty about Jerusalem's victory since the
attacking army is summoned to act as if it were already defeated.
All of v. 14 also serves to establish a sharp contrast between
Jerusalem and her enemies. Jerusalem is the 'daughter of Zion' (4.13)
while the enemy is the daughter of a 'raid' (or 'raiding party'), a term
that usually has a pejorative sense (Hos. 6.9; 7.1; Gen. 49.19; Jer.
18.22). 2 The former is commanded to thresh but the latter is
commanded to mourn. Moreover, as a link to what follows, 4.14
1. K. Burke, 'Mysticism as a Solution to the Poet's Dilemma', in S.R. Hopper
(ed.), Spiritual Problems in Contemporary Literature (New York: Harper, 1957),
p. 105.
2. Wolff, Micah, p. 131.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

153

contrasts the commander of the attacking army to the king in


Jerusalem: the former is the judge of Israel destined to be humiliated;
the latter is the ruler who comes forth for Yahweh and is destined to
be 'great to the ends of the earth'.
The contrasts established by 4.14 are an effective means of defining
the special nature and destiny of Jerusalem and her king.1 At the same
time the weakness of the enemy is defined: they are but raiders whose
ruler will be struck down. The negative definition of the enemy is
reinforced by the puns of v. 14. While paranamosia often are used
simply to reinforce an idea, in 4.14 the puns may add a tone of sarcasm and taunting. Mic. 4.14 thus uses a number of persuasive devices
to define the enemy in negative terms and, by means of contrast, to
give a positive sense of special identity to Jerusalem.
Mic. 5.1-4a functions in much the same way as does 4.9-13. The
quotation of a traditional oracle spoken by Yahweh himself appeals to
an accepted authority while simultaneously giving an air of mystery to
the Davidic king and dynasty. By his interpretive statement in 5.2 the
prophet applies the ancient oracle to the present situation. Those who
are now separated from the children of Israel will return as soon as
the one in labor gives birth. The exact meaning of this reference in
5.2 is debated. Some have seen in v. 2a a parallel to a Ras Shamra
myth which tells that a woman will bear a son to the moon god.2
Others have interpreted the verses as a prophecy of the birth of an
ideal ruler3 or an allusion to Isa. 7.144
Although each of these interpretations has its merits, within the
context of the discourse the 'one who is in labor' probably refers to
Jerusalem, which in 4.9-10 is described as a woman in labor.5 Thus in
5.2 the prophet is probably proclaiming that the defeat of some within
Israel will continue until the time that Jerusalem's labor has ended;
that is, until she has defeated her enemies.
1. According to Aristotle,'... things are known by opposition, and are all the
better when the opposites are placed side by side' (Rhetoric 3,9.1410a). See the
discussion in Corbett (Classical Rhetoric, pp. 40-421).
2. Kapelrud, 'Eschatology', p. 400.
3. For example, J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 100.
4. Bryant, 'Micah 4.14-5.14', p. 223; Rudolph, Micha, p. 96; Allen, Micah,
p. 395.
5. This is the approximate conclusion of Mays, Micah, pp. 116-17; Lescow,
'Das Geburtsmotiv', pp. 199-205; Hillers, Micah, p. 66.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

The prophet's application of the traditional oracle thus serves to


encourage and exhort his audience. Since the restoration of Israel will
come when the one in labor gives birth, the day of restoration depends
on how quickly Jerusalem brings forth victory (see. 4.10). Micah not
only supports his argument through an ancient oracle, but also applies
the oracle in such a way that his audience is exhorted to take action.
Mic. 5.4b-8 can be understood as a refutation. Even if one were
convinced that the present crisis could result in victory for Jerusalem
and the re-unification of Israel, some were concerned that Assyria
would intervene, leaving the people no better off than at present.
Micah responds to this concern in two ways. First, he makes an ethical
appeal. The use of the first-person plurals in 5.4b identifies the
prophet closely with his audience. Such a solidarity between the audience and speaker helps to persuade the hearers that the prophet is not
encouraging them to take an unrealistic or dangerous course of action
since his fate is the same as theirs.
Second, Micah describes a scenario in which 'the remnant of Jacob'
responds to an Assyrian invasion through participation in a multinational coalition which is able to check Assyrian power. Such a
description of an Assyrian defeat undoubtedly had a strong emotional
appeal to a large portion of his audience who had anti- Assyrian feelings. The nationalistic appeal is continued in vv. 6, 7 where the
prophet declares that Israel will assume a place of strength among the
nations. The emotional appeal is further reinforced by Micah's designation for the restored kingdom, the 'remnant of Jacob'. The fact that
Israel is addressed with the title 'Jacob' reminds the audience of the
nation's origins and their identity as the chosen people.1
Mic. 5.4b-5 is thus a remarkably well-crafted refutation. The
prophet anticipates the objection that Assyria will have the last word
concerning Jerusalem's fate. In addition, he acknowledges the sentiment of some that they should join in a coalition against Assyria. In
response, Micah describes the circumstances in which anti-Assyrian
action might be justified. He then paints a vivid picture of a powerful,
restored Israel which is able to turn back an Assyrian invasion and
which is unchallenged among the nations. The picture is made persuasive by its appeal to national and religious pride in addition to the
ethical appeal which the prophet incorporates. The climax of the
1.

G.E. Mendenhall, 'Election', IDB, II, p. 78.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

155

refutation is the exhortation of v. 8, which once again calls for


Israel's victory over all her enemies. The inclusive phrase 'all your
enemies' serves to bring the hearers' attention to the present crisis as
well as the future possible encounter with Assyria.
Mic. 5.9-14 functions as a conclusion which unites and recapitulates
a number of themes in the discourse.1 First, the verses restate the
prophet's assertion that Yahweh himself will punish the nations. In
4.11-13 it is Yahweh who gives Jerusalem the resources to defeat 'the
nations'; in 5.14 Yahweh again states his intention of punishing 'the
nations'. Second, 5.9-13 unites two ideas that have furnished the proof
for Micah's discourse. As noted previously, both the ideology of
Jerusalem and the royal ideology of the ideal ruler include the motif
of the destruction of weapons and the coming of peace. Yahweh's
declaration in 5.9-14 that the weapons of war will be eliminated draws
together the concept of the tradition of the ideal ruler and the tradition of Zion and points to the result of Jerusalem's victory and the
emergence of the Davidic ruler.
Third, these verses unite the themes of judgment and transformation. The discourse has proceeded from the call for the defeat of
Jerusalem's enemies (4.9-5.1) to the description of a transformed
Israel, united and secure among the nations and protected by
Yahweh's power (5.1-7). Mic. 5.9-14 implies accusation and judgment, but also points to the transformation of the nation into one that
trusts solely in Yahweh.
In addition to recapitulation and synthesis, the conclusion functions
to create the emotion and attitude which the prophet has sought to
evoke throughout the discourse.2 Throughout the discourse the
prophet has based his exhortation to Jerusalem on his belief that
Yahweh intends to bring both victory to Jerusalem and transformation
to Israel. The use of Yahweh's words as an appeal to authority is
found in both the Zion and Davidic traditions, but is present in its
strongest form in Mic. 5.9-14. The explicit identification of Yahweh
as the speaker and the repeated use of the first person provide an
emphatic appeal to authority. The prophet thus concludes with a
1. Recapitulation and application are included among the functions of a
conclusion (Corbett, Classical Rhetoric, pp. 328-37).
2. On emotional appeal as a part of the conclusion, see Corbett, Classical
Rhetoric, pp. 334-36.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

statement in the strongest terms possible that judgment on the nations


and the transformation of Israel are the purposes of Yahweh himself.
Historical Possibilities
If Mic. 4.9-5.14 is to be read as an originally unified discourse, what
historical circumstances are indicated by the objective and subjective
factors? As noted above, a large number of scholars deny most or all
of the material in this section to the time of Micah, and suggest either
the year 586 or a more indefinite 'exilic' or 'post-exilic' setting for
the material. Since I have already suggested that there is no reason to
deny an eighth-century date to this section, however, we can turn our
attention to a consideration of the historical background suggested by
those scholars who do find Mican material in 4.9-5.14.
Most of those who believe the section contains Mican material date
that material to the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem in 701.1 Such a date is
supposedly suggested by the fact that a situation of siege is assumed in
4.9-14. Moreover, the reference to the Assyrians in 5.4b-5 has led
commentators to conclude that this material presupposes the Assyrian
invasion of 701 BCE. Finally, the indication in 5.2 that part of Israel
or Judah has been conquered seems to correspond to Sennacherib's
invasion in which much of the Shephelah succumbed to the Assyrian
army.
The above examination of objective factors raises serious doubts
that any of this material should be dated to the 701 Assyrian invasion
of Judah. First, the Assyrian threat is raised by the prophet totally in
terms of a potential possibility in 5.4b-5, not as a present reality.
Second, the proposed reading of Mic. 4.14 suggests the possibility that
the attackers are Israelites since their leader is addressed as the 'judge
of Israel'.
These two factors alone suggest that the historical background
1. Hillers suggests that much of the material (4.14; 5.4-5,9-14) presupposes the
events of 701 (Micah, pp. 63, 69, 74). Bryant dates 4.14-5.14 to a time after 721
and before 701, but emphasizes the Assyrian threat as the main factor in the unit
('Micah 4.14-5.14', p. 226). Similarly, Kapelrud ('Eschatology', p. 401) dates
5.1-4 to a time after 722 BCE. Willis dates 4.14-5.5 to 701 BCE ('Micah IV, 14-V
5', p. 545) and 5.9-14 to the time of Hezekiah ('Authenticity', pp. 366-68). Allen
suggests that throughout this section the threat is of an imminent Assyrian invasion
(Micah, p. 349).

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

157

addressed and assumed by Mic. 4.9-5.14 is not an Assyrian (or


Babylonian) siege of Jerusalem. Instead they suggest a situation
similar to the Syro-Ephraimite siege of Jerusalem in late 734 or early
733 BCE. Indeed, the attack on Jerusalem by Rezin and Pekah may
account for the complex matrix of factors evident in the discourse.
In the first place, Israel participated in the attack on Jerusalem in
734. Although Syria is the only other power said to be directly
involved in the assault on Jerusalem, the western anti-Assyrian coalition was probably supported by a number of other nations including
Philistia, Edom, Tyre and even a large part of Judah itself.1 The
probability that a number of nations were aligned with Syria and
Israel against Jerusalem may explain how Micah can speak of 'the
nations' who wish to see Jerusalem profaned and at the same time
single out the 'judge' of Israel for punishment (4.14).
The judge of Israel who is to be humiliated would appear to be
Pekah. As noted above, the purpose of 4.14 is to provide a contrast
between the ruler of Israel and the Davidic king. It is worth noting
that Isaiah employs this same strategy of contrast when he reminds
Ahaz that 'the head of Samaria it the son of Remaliah' (Isa. 7.9). In
addition to contrasting the Davidic king with Pekah, it may also be
significant that Isaiah never refers to Pekah by name, nor does he
designate him 'king' of Israel. Micah may also deliberately be avoiding bestowing the authority of kingship on Pekah by referring to him
only as the 'judge' of Israel who is to be struck with a rod. Micah's
attijude toward the 'judge of Israel' is thus quite similar to the attitude
which Isaiah displays toward the 'son of Remaliah' during the SyroEphraimite siege of Jerusalem.
The events of the Syro-Ephraimite campaign against Jerusalem may
also explain the division assumed in Mic. 5.2. The 'brothers' whom
Yahweh has 'given up' could refer to those who have either allied
themselves with Pekah or to those who have been subjected to Pekah
through his coup in Samaria. The brothers may also include Judeans
loyal to Pekah and the anti-Assyrian coalition (see Isa. 8.6). In any
case, in Micah's view they have left 'the children of Israel' by their
willing or forced support of Pekah.
The questions concerning the king in Jerusalem (4.9) take on an
added significance if this passage dates to late 734 or early 733.
1.

On the participants in the coalition, see Irvine, Isaiah, Ahaz, pp. 101-103.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

According to the proposed historical reconstruction followed in this


dissertation, 734-733 was not only the year of the Syro-Ephraimite
siege of Jerusalem, it was the year of Uzziah's death. Although he had
been forced to surrender the office to Jotham earlier, Uzziah probably
was regarded as the 'elder statesmen' until his death during the reign
of Ahaz. The loss of an experienced leader at such a crucial moment
no doubt shook the confidence of the people and raised concerns about
the ability of Ahaz to lead without Uzziah. In part, this crisis of
confidence prompted Micah to remind the people that there was
indeed a king in their midst even though Uzziah had died. Their king
had not perished and Ahaz was to be the rallying point for the people
of Jerusalem.
In addition, one must remember that the siege of Jerusalem was a
response to Ahaz's refusal to co-operate with Pekah, the king of
Israel. As suggested in the previous chapter (in the section entitled
'Historical Possibilities'), Ahaz's decision marks the first time in
generations that the Davidic king in Jerusalem had not submitted to
the king in Samaria. The questions of v. 9 may thus reflect Micah's
attempt to persuade the inhabitants of Jerusalem to follow the Davidic
king rather than the king in Samaria.
The prophet proclaims that Ahaz was not only the king and counselor to whom they must look, but also that Ahaz embodied the ideals
of the Davidic monarchy. Ahaz's refusal to join Israel in support of
the anti-Assyrian coalition signaled Jerusalem's rejection of its subservient role to Samaria. More importantly, if Ahaz could defeat
Pekah, the possibility was open for him to assume rule of both Judah
and Israel, thus uniting the divided kingdom. In the crisis of the
moment the prophet apparently saw the opportunity for the recovery
of the Davidic empire.
Micah's assessment of Ahaz is strikingly similar to Isaiah's. Irvine
has argued that Isa. 9.6-7 and 11.1-5 refer to Ahaz and hail his break
with Samaria: 'Ahaz's break with Pekah marked the realization of the
ideal claims of royal theology. He no longer ruled in the shadow of an
Israelite king, but rather as a fully independent king with divine legitimation'. 1 Like Isaiah, Micah may have seen in Ahaz's decision to
break with Samaria the fulfillment of the royal ideology of the
Davidic king. For Micah, Ahaz is the ideal ruler who, according to a
1.

Irvine, Isaiah, Ahaz, p. 393; also see pp. 486-92.

4. 'There Will You Be Delivered?': Micah 4.9-5.14

159

traditional oracle, is to 'stand forth' or 'emerge' (yese"; cf. Isa. 11.1)


and lead a united and transformed Israel. He is designated as "The One
of Peace' (zeh salom; cf. Isa. 9.5, sar salom).
If the events of 734-33 provide the background for Mic. 4.9-5.14,
the audience's concern with Assyrian intervention is understandable.
As noted in the previous chapter (in the section entitled 'Historical
Possibilities'), there were probably some in Jerusalem itself who
questioned the wisdom of Ahaz's refusal to join the coalition against
Assyria. In addressing this sentiment, Micah specifies the conditions in
which participation in such a coalition would be justified.
Furthermore, a significant portion of the population not only of the
northern kingdom, but also of Judah itself had engaged in or supported anti-Assyrian activities. Assyrian retaliation not only against
Judah, but possibly against the capital city of Jerusalem was thus not
out of the question. Micah's argument that if an invasion came, the
'remnant of Jacob' would assume its place in a coalition is thus
probably to be interpreted as addressing the audience's concern over
potential Assyrian retaliation.
Finally, the historical circumstances of 733 may explain what at
first appears to be a dramatic shift in Micah's message. While Micah
had previously declared that Jerusalem would be destroyed (3.12), in
4.9-5.14 he proclaims that Jerusalem will triumph over her enemies
who are threatening to destroy her. It must be remembered, however,
that in 3.1-4.8 the prophet was primarily addressing those who were
refusing to abide by Ahaz's decision not to join the anti-Assyrian
forces. In Micah's view, to overturn the king's decision and to participate in the anti-Assyrian coalition was to invite the destruction of
Jerusalem by the Assyrian armies.
In contrast, in Mic. 4.9-5.14 Jerusalem is being attacked not by
Assyria but by Israelites determined to overturn Ahaz's decision not
to bring Judah into the anti-Assyrian coalition. In Micah's view, the
city had not violated the terms of the treaty with Assyria and thus
would not be punished. He therefore encourages his audience to stand
fast with Ahaz to defeat the foes of Jerusalem who had rebelled
against Assyria.
In both 3.1-4.8 and 4.9-5.14, the constant factors are Micah's
support of the Davidic king (3.1; 4.8; 5.1-4a) and the conviction that
present participation in any actions against Assyria is unacceptable

160

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

(3.1; 5.4b-5). The different expressions these constant factors assume


is a testimony to changed circumstances and to the fact that every
prophetic speech was originally directed to the particulars of a distinct
situation.

Chapter 5
'A RODAND WHO HAS APPOINTED IT AGAIN?'
MICAH6.1-7.7

Text and Translation


(6.1)

(2)

(3)
(4)

(5)

Hear now what Yahweh is saying:


'Arise, argue your case
in the presence of the mountains,1
and let the hills hear your voice.'
Hear, O mountains, the contention of Yahweh,
you primeval ones, you everlasting streams;2
for the contention of Yahweh is with his people
and with Israel will he dispute.
'My people, what have I done to you?
How have I wearied you? Answer me!
Surely I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
and from the house of slavery I redeemed you.
And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
My people,3 remember now what Balak, king of Moab plotted;
and remember how Baalam, son of Beor, answered him.
[Remember what happened]4 from Shittim to Gilgal

1. It has been suggested that 'et should be emended to 'el (see J.M.P. Smith,
Micah, p. 119). The word 'et can be retained, however, with the meaning 'in the
presence of, or 'before' (Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 107, n. 1; Rudolph, Micha,
p. 107; Killers, Micah, p. 7$).
2. Although a number of scholars have emended the MT to 'improve' the parallelism, the MT presents no real problems and can be retained without emendation.
See Rudolph, Micha, p. 107; Hillers, Micah, p. 75. Allen points out the occurrence
of this phrase in Isa. 23.12 (Micah, p. 36, n. 15).
3. Some have emended 'ammi to 'immo and attached the word to the preceding
verse (Mays, Micah, p. 128; Rudolph, Micha, p. 107). Nothing necessitates or
justifies such an emendation, however.
4. Evidently the beginning of the line is either lost or, more likely, the command
'Remember what happened' is implied. Proposed reconstructions are surveyed by

162

(6)

(7)

(8)

(9)

(10)
(11)

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


in order that you may acknowledge
the righteous acts of Yahweh.'
With what should I come before Yahweh,
and bow down before God on high?
Shall I come before Him with whole burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will Yahweh be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my first-born for my transgression
the fruit of my body for the sin of my life?
He has told you, O man, what is good.
And what is Yahweh seeking from you,
but that you establish justice, love kindness,1
and walk wisely2 with your God?
The voice of Yahweh calls to the city
(and wise is the one who looks for your name!).3
Listen!
A rodand who has appointed it again?4
Can I tolerate5 in the house of the wicked6
treasures of wickedness and the cursed scant ephah?
Shall I approve one with false scales,

J.M.P. Smith (Micah, p. 122) and Killers (Micah, p. 76).


1. No single word adequately translates the Hebrew term hesed. See the
discussion below, The Rhetorical Situation'.
2. The Hebrew term hasenea' occurs in other texts apparently with the meaning
'cautiously' or 'wisely'. See the discussion in J.P. Hyatt, 'On the Meaning and
Origin of Micah 6.8', ATR 34 (1952), pp. 232-39.
3. This line interrupts the flow of thought and may well be a gloss. On its possible significance see the discussion under 'Historical Possibilities' below. There is
no need to emend the MT since it is understandable. See Margolis, Micah, pp. 65-66.
4. The MT is difficult but understandable and extensive emendation is not
required. The proposed translation assumes a pause after sime'u and includes the
first word of v. 10 with the last phrase of 9b. For a discussion of this translation see
below, 'The Rhetorical Situation'.
5. Some have suggested that ha'is can be understood as a form of hayes
(Killers, Micah, p. 80; Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 128, n. 8). The point of the
resulting question is unclear, however, and there is a lack of parallelism with the
following line and no clear progression to the following questions. It is thus preferable to emend to ha'essah. See Renaud, Formation, pp. 328-29; B. Duhm,
'Anmerkungen zu den Zwolfpropheten', ZAW31 (1911), p. 90; Lindblom, Micha,
p. 116.
6. It is not necessary or justified to emend bet to bat since the MT is
understandable.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again?': Micah 6.1-7.7


(12)

(13)
(14)

(15)

(16)

163

and a bag of deceitful weights?


O you whose1 rich ones are filled with violence
and whose leaders speak lies,
whose tongue is deceitful in their mouths.
Indeed I have made you sick with smiting,2
making you desolate on account of your sins.
You shall eat, but not be satisfied,
and you shall take in,
but be consumed by dysentery.3
And you will rescue, but will not escape,
and whoever would flee, I will give to the sword.
You will sow, but you will not reap;
you will tread olives,
but you will not anoint yourself with oil.
You will tread grapes,
but you will not drink wine.
For the statutes of the house of Omri are observed,4
and all the works of the house of Ahab;
and you5 have walked
according to their counsel.
Thus61 turn you into a wasteland,
and make her leaders into something to hiss at;

1. A majority of commentators understand the antecedent of 'User to be 'city' in


v. 9, and a variety of proposals, none very convincing, have been put forth to
rearrange these verses. See Killers, Micah, p. 80; Mays, Micah, p. 143; Renaud,
Formation, p. 330. The proposed translation follows Luker who argues that 'aser
brings the listener back to the 'city' of v. 9: 'These verses are not out of order as is
commonly argued, though the logic is not Western, but Hebrew-poetic' (Doom and
Hope, p. 128, n. 10).
2. Most emend to read with the LXX, 'I have begun to smite...' The MT can be
retained, however. Allen points to the 'idiomatic juxtaposition of the two roots for
"be sick" and "strike" in Jer. 10.19; 14.17; 30.12; Nah. 3.19...' as justification for
retaining the MT (Micah, p. 376, n. 58).
3. The meaning of this verse is obscure and the versions provide little help. The
above translation follows that proposed by Albert Ehrman, 'A Note on Micah VI,
14', VT 23 (1973), pp. 103-5. For a survey of proposed readings see Renaud,
Formation, pp. 331-34, and Margolis, Micah, pp. 65-66.
4. The MT third, masculine singular is to be understood as the impersonal. See
Allen, Micah, p. 376, n. 3.
5. Luker notes that the alternation between the singular and the plural is not
unusual when addressing a general audience (Doom and Hope, p. 129, n. 14).
6. This reading follows Luker who understands the first word of the line to be
the lema'an of result (Doom and Hope, p. 129, n. 15).

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

(7.1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

and she shall bear the scorn of my people.


Woe is me!
For I have become
as after the summer fruit has been gathered,1
after the vineyard has been gleaned.
There is no cluster to eat,
no ripe fig which my appetite desires.
The righteous one has perished from the land
and there is none righteous among mortals.
All of them lie in wait for blood;
each hunts his brother with a net.
Their hands are good at doing evil;2
The prince and also the ruler ask for a bribe,3
and the great one speaks the evil desire of his soul;
and they twist it together.4
The best of them is like a briar bush;5
the most upright is like a hedge.6
The day of your watchmen,
of your divine visitation has come;
now their confusion7 is at hand.

1. The MT is to be retained since the particle of comparison often has a temporal


sense. See J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 140; Renaud, Formation, p. 347; Allen,
Micah, p. 383, n. 1; Bo Reicke, 'Liturgical Traditions in Mic 7', HTR 60 (1967),
pp. 352-53.
2. The MT is awkward but the meaning is clear.
3. Rather than assume that part of this verse is missing it is better to take
uhasopet as a second subject to the verb. See Renaud, Formation, pp. 346-47.
4. The verb 'dbat is a hapax legomenon so its precise meaning is uncertain.
Nevertheless, its possible derivation from 'abot (rope) suggests a meaning such as
'weave' or 'twist'. Later rabbinic interpretation understood the verb in this way. I
have assumed the meaning 'weave' and taken the pronominal suffix as an indefinite
neuter object. See Margolis, Micah, p. 71.
5. The superlative is expressed by the pronomial suffix. See Williams, Hebrew
Syntax, p. 17.
6. Although somewhat awkward, the MT is not ungrammatical and parallelism
with the preceding line makes the sense clear. See Renaud, Formation, pp. 350-51.
7. The suffixes are supported by the versions and should be retained. As noted
above, changes of pronouns are not unusual in addressing a general audience. See
Allen, Micah, p. 387; Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 131, n. 9.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again?': Micah 6.1-7.7


(5)

(6)

(7)

165

Do not rely on a neighbor;


do not trust a friend;
From her who lies in your bosom
guard the door of your mouth.
For a son treats a father like a fool,
daughter rebels against her mother,
daughter-in-law against mother-in-law,
And the enemies of a person are those in his own house.
But as for meI will watch for Yahweh;
I will hope in the God who saves me.
My God shall hear me.

Unity and Date


Mic. 6.1-7.7 is generally divided into at least three independent units:
6.1-8 (a rib); 6.9-16 (an oracle of judgment); and 7.1-7 (a lament).1
There are, of course, a number of scholars who offer various subdivisions of these three units.2
Although at least three different genres are present in this material,
a number of factors in the rhetorical situation appear to define Mic.
6.1-7.7 as a single speech unit. In particular, throughout this material
a breakdown in the social order is presupposed in which even the most
basic social obligations are being neglected. Mic. 6.1-8 addresses a
situation in which there is an emphasis on the sacrificial cult concurrent with a neglect of basic obligations to justice, kindness, and
obedience. Similarly, Mic. 6.9-16 presupposes a situation in which
justice is lacking and the people walk not with their God, but according
to the statutes of Omri and Ahab. It is this same absence of basic social
obligations that the prophet laments in 7.1-7, where we are told the
righteous one (hasid) has perished from the land, the rulers of society
are conspirators, and family relationships are destroyed.
1. J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 129; B. Stade, 'Streiflichter auf die Entstehung
der jetzigen Gestalt der alttestamentlichen Prophetenschriften', ZAW 23 (1903),
p. 168; Vuilleumier, Michee, p. 75; Allen, Micah, p. 363; Wolff, Micah, pp. 168,
188, 202-3; Renaud, Formation, pp. 301, 318, 340; Killers, Micah, pp. 77, 85, 88.
2. Lescow divides chapter 6 into four units: 1-5; 6-8; 9-12; 13-16
('Redaktionsgeschichtliche Analyse von Micha 6-7', p. 183). Mays sees three units
in 6 (2-5; 6-8; 9b-15) and understands 7.1-6 to be original with 7.7 a later addition
(Micah, pp. 10-11). Wolfe also subdivides 6.1-8 into two units: 1-5, 6-8 (Micah,
p. 936).

166

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

While the motif of the breakdown of the social order unites 6.1-7.7
into a single discourse, this material is distinguished from what precedes and follows by a number of factors. The preceding material was
built upon Davidic and Zion traditions which are lacking in 6.1-7.7.
Moreover, 4.9-5.14 expects the defeat of the nations laying siege to
Jerusalem. In contrast, nothing in 6.1-7.7 suggests that the nations
will be defeated by the besieged. Indeed, 6.1-7.7 assumes judgment
upon an unnamed city and the triumph of that city's enemies.
Mic. 6.1-7.7 is also separated from the preceding by a clear new
beginning in 6.1. Luker has drawn attention to possible connections
between 5.14 and 6.1 and has suggested that these connections show
that 6.1-7.7 belongs with the previous material as part of a single
unit. 1 The link with preceding material, however, is nothing more
than the repetition of the word 'hear' (sam'a). Since the word in 5.14
clearly means 'obey' while in 6.1 it functions as a summons to hear,
the connection is at best superficial. It therefore seems more likely
that the summons to hear in 6.1 marks the beginning of a new unit.
Mic. 6.1-7.7 is also separated from the material that follows in 7.820 by many factors. First, in 6.1-8 Yahweh contends with his people,
while in 7.8-20 Yahweh is expected to contend on behalf of Israel.
Second, within 6.1-7.7 a preliminary judgment has already come, but
6.11-12 makes it clear that the prophet expects more judgment to
follow. In contrast, in Mic. 7.8-20 the prophet looks beyond possibl
destruction to some sort of divine intervention and restoration.
Moreover, in 6.16 the city is to be put to shame, while in 7.16 the
nations are to be made ashamed of their deeds.
Finally, 7.7 can be understood as a conclusion to the prophet's
lament which began in 7.1. A number of scholars have noted the
change in tone between 7.6 and 7.7 and have suggested that 7.7 actually begins a new unit.2 In fact, the change in tone from pessimism to
optimism is typical of laments3 and the beginning of v. 7 suggests
continuation of the preceding material. Finally, while some lament

1. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 185.


2. Hermann Gunkel, The Close of Micah, a Prophetical Liturgy', in What
Remains of the Old Testament (New York: Macmillan, 1928), pp. 115-49;
O. Eissfeldt, 'Ein Psalm aus Nord-Israel; Micha 7, 7-20', ZDMG 112 (1962),
p. 264; J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 145.
3. Allen, Micah, p. 383. See Pss. 5; 13; 22; 31; 55; 71.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again?': Micah 6.1-7.7

167

psalms do begin with an expression of trust similar to that of v. 7,


Lindblom has noted that a number of psalms also begin with the mention of an enemy as in v. 8 (Pss. 3; 35; 59; 79).' Thus the syntactical
continuity with the preceding material and the function of v. 7 as a
typical conclusion to a lament suggests that a break should be made
between Mic. 7.7 and 7.8.
As is the case with Mic. 4.9-5.14, a number of scholars argue that
all or a large part of the material in Mic. 6.1-7.7 could not have
originated in the eighth century BCE. Although it is neither possible
nor necessary to examine all of the arguments for a post-eighthcentury dating of this material, a number of the arguments must be
considered.
First, it is argued that Mic. 6.1-8 cannot be Mican since the purpose
and situation presupposed by this unit is quite different from the
'authentic' oracles in Micah 1-3.2 In particular, the complaint of the
audience that Yahweh has 'wearied' them stands in sharp contrast to
the confidence which Micah's audience placed in Yahweh (Mic. 2.7;
3.11). In addition, the purpose of Micah 1-3 is to proclaim judgment
while the purpose of 6.1-7.7 is to bring all Israel to a knowledge of
Yahweh's righteous deeds. It is also noted that Micah 1-3 consists of
concrete complaints and settings in contrast to the more general
instruction found in Mic. 6.1-8.
Second, a few scholars have interpreted the reference to 'man'
('adani) in Mic. 6.8 as an example of the universalizing and individualizing tendencies of the post-exilic period.3 They thus conclude that
not only did Mic. 6.1-8 not originate in the eighth century, but also
that the oracle must be post-exilic.
The most important considerations for a dating of Mic. 6.1-8 are its
similarities in style and vocabulary to Deuteronomistic paraenesis and
the longer speeches of the Deuteronomistic history.4 For example, the
word 'ransom' (v. 4) is used for the exodus in Deut. 7.8; 13.6; 9.26;
15.15; 21.8; 24.18; 2 Sam. 7.23 and a few other supposedly late texts.
Also, the phrase 'house of bondage' is a phrase commonly found in
1. Cited in Allen, Micah, p. 383.
2. Mays, Micah, p. 130; Wolff, Micah, p. 169.
3. Lescow, Micha 6, 6-8: Studien zu Sprache, Form undAuslegung (Arbeiten
zur Theologie 1/25; Stuttgart: Calwer Verlag, 1966), p. 57; J.M.P. Smith, Micah,
p. 124.
4. In particular see Mays, Micah, p. 130; Wolff, Micah, pp. 172-79.

168

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Deuteronomistic material (Deut. 7.8; 13.6) and the expression 'in


order to know' (Mic. 6.5) is found only in the Deuteronomistic history (Josh. 4.24; Judg. 3.2; 1 Kgs 8.60) and Ezek. 38.16. Moreover,
the call to remember, coupled with the motif of salvation history in
order to enforce Israel's relation to Yahweh, is a typical feature of
Deuteronomic paraenesis (e.g. Deut. 5.15; 7.18; 8.2; 9.7; 15.15; 16.3;
24.9, 18, 22). Finally, the phrase 'Shittim to Gilgal' (Mic. 6.5) refers
to the events recorded by the Deuteronomistic historian (Josh. 3-5).
Wolff has found particularly close similarities between Mic. 6.1-8
and the structure, motifs, vocabulary and style of three of the longer
speeches of the Deuteronomistic historian.1 Specifically, 1 Sam. 12.6,
like Mic. 6.1-8, includes references to the righteous acts of Yahweh,
the 'sending' of Moses and Aaron to 'go up' from the land of Egypt,
and references to the king of Moab. The second speech, Josh. 24.2-15,
includes references to the sending of Moses and Aaron, and refers to
'Baalam, son of Beor', Balak, and the 'house of bondage'. The final
speech, Deut. 10.12-22, contains striking structural and vocabulary
parallels to Mic. 6.8.
As impressive as these arguments appear, they are not to be
accepted without close scrutiny. First, it is extremely difficult to deny
authenticity based on style and the situation presupposed by the
speech. Obviously, both the message and the style would vary according to the situation and the audience being addressed. Underlying the
attempt to deny this material to Micah is the questionable assumption
that Micah was only active for a short period of time and could not
have proclaimed anything but unconditional judgment.
The second argument, that the word 'adam represents simultaneously a universalizing and individualizing tendency of the post-exilic
age, is simply not persuasive. An examination of all the occurrences
of 'adam reveals that the word could be used in even the oldest
sources in an inclusive sense: 'The use of the word 'adam in the Old
Testament presents one of the strongest evidences for ancient Israelite
universalism'.2 In addition, as we shall see, it is possible that in Mic.
6.8 'adam refers not to humanity in general nor to every Israelite, but
to a particular individual.
While there are undeniable similarities with the Deuteronomistic
1. Wolff, Micah, pp. 170-72.
2. F. Maaz, 'adham', TDOT, I, p. 83.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again ?': Micah 6.1-7.7

169

speeches, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the date of Mic. 6.18 based on these similarities. Unfortunately, the date and origin of the
traditions and sources that ultimately produced Deuteronomy and the
Deuteronomistic history are far from certain. Some have now concluded that the school that produced Deuteronomy had its beginnings
in the late eighth century BCE.1 Blenkinsopp has even suggested that
the preaching of Micah himself contributed to the rise of this school.2
While certainty is not possible, it is quite probable that the
Deuteronomistic school has roots that go back into the eighth century.
In addition, at places the vocabulary of Mic. 6.1-8 differs in important ways from typical Deuteronomistic speech. For example, where
Wolff sees striking similarities between Mic. 6.8 and Deut. 10.12,
Renaud notes several significant differences in vocabulary.3 First, in
place of the terms sa'al and me'immak, Micah uses the words daras
and mimm?ka. Second, Deut. 10.12 uses the phrase 'walk in the ways
of God' while the corresponding phrase in Micah is 'walk with your
God'. Renaud also correctly observes that the emphases of the two
texts differ: the emphasis of Deut. 10.12 is theological while Mic. 6.8
emphasizes the ethical.
Renaud points to some other differences between Mic. 6.1-8 and
Deuteronomic texts. The phrase 'house of bondage' is not found parallel to 'land of Egypt' except in Deut. 13.6. Yet even here, it is important to note that Micah uses the verb 'alah, while Deut. 13.6 uses the
verb yasa' which in Deuteronomy is always used with the expression
'house of bondage'. This use of a different verb with the same phrase
may be significant since it has been argued that the verb 'alah is a
characteristic term of pre-Deuteronomistic material.4 Indeed, the
phrase 'house of bondage' is found in pre-Deuteronomistic texts
1. Hillers, Micah, p. 79; E.W.Nicholson, Deuteronomy and Tradition
(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967). H. Spieckermann (Juda unter Assur in der
Sargonidenzeit (Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982) argues for the formation of the deuteronomistic school in the early seventh century. D.N. Freedman
('Deuteronomistic History', IDBSup, p. 227) and N. Lohfink ('Deuteronomy',
IDBSup, p. 229) both point to the eighth century under Hezekiah as a possible time
of origin of the Deuteronomistic school.
2. J. Blenkinsopp, A History of Prophecy in Israel (Philadelphia: Westminster
Press, 1983), pp. 143-46.
3. Renaud, Formation, pp. 319-26.
4. T.R. Hobbes, 'Amos 3,lb and 2,10', ZAW 81 (1969), pp. 384-87.

170

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

accompanied by the verb 'aldh rather than the typical Deuteronomic


verb, yasa' (Exod. 13.3, 4).
In light of his insightful observations, it is curious that Renaud does
not go beyond the tentative suggestions that Mic. 6.1-8 is pre-exilic,
and was possibly composed in Judah after the introduction of the law
code of Deuteronomy.1 Actually, the differences he has noted lend
support to the possibility that Mic. 6.1-8 is not only pre-exilic, but
also pre-Deuteronomistic. In light of the differences between Mic.
6.1-8 and typical Deuteronomistic speech, and in light of the possibility that the school which produced Deuteronomy had its origins in the
eighth century, the probability must be left open that this oracle does
in fact date to the time of Micah.
Mic. 6.9-16 has been assigned to a time later than Micah based upon
considerations of vocabulary and possible historical allusions within
the text. First, it is noted that it was not until the time of Jeremiah that
Jerusalem was referred to as 'the city' (e.g. Jer. 6.6; 8.16; 17.24;
Ezek. 4.3; 5.2; 7.15).2 Second, certain phrases also seem to presuppose the time of Jeremiah. The phrase 'give to the sword' in Mic. 6.14
is found in Jer. 15.9, and the phrase 'a horror, a thing to be hissed at'
(Mic. 6.16) occurs in Jer. 19.8; 25.9, 18 and 29.18.3
Third, the passage could allude to the situation during the
Babylonian siege of Jerusalem. The supposed reference to a citizen's
assembly in Mic. 6.9 may presuppose the Babylonian crisis when no
king ruled.4 In addition, the phrase 'I have begun to smite you' in
Mic. 6.14 is also interpreted as a reference to the Babylonian crisis
around 600 BCE.5 Finally, Mays has asserted that the literary setting
and distance from the certain authentic material in the book of Micah
argue against the authenticity of Mic. 6.9-16.6
The arguments for a late dating of Mic. 6.9-16 are quite weak,
however. In the first place, it is not certain that 'the city' refers to
Jerusalem. As we shall see below, there are a number of factors which
suggest that 'the city* in Mic. 6.9 is Samaria rather than Jerusalem. In
addition, one would hardly assume that such a general expression as
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.

Renaud, Formation, pp. 319-26.


Wolff, Micah, p. 190; Jeremias, 'Die Deutung', p. 342.
Wolff, Micah, p. 190.
Mays, Micah, p. 145.
Wolff, Micah, p. 190.
Mays, Micah, p. 144.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again?': Micah 6.1-7.7

171

'the city' could have had a specific time of origin. Second, similarities
of two phrases to passages in Jeremiah hardly demand that Mic. 6.916 derives from the time of Jeremiah. Moreover, neither of the two
phrases finds exact parallels in Jeremiah.
The apparent allusions to a Babylonian siege are actually quite
problematic. First, both of the alleged allusions to the Babylonian
crisis are derived from emendations of the text which are not
required. In addition, even if these emendations are accepted it is not
clear that they must refer only to the events associated with the fall of
Jerusalem in 586. Finally, the assertion that Mic. 6.9-16 is literarily
distant from the 'authentic' oracles of Micah is valid only if one
assumes a priori that the authentic material of Micah is found only in
Micah 1-3. Moreover, even if one assumes that Mican material is
found only in Micah 1-3, one cannot ignore the fact that Mic. 6.9-16
is similar in content and spirit to the oracles of judgment in the early
chapters of the book. The lack of compelling evidence for a later date,
and the similarity to Micah 1-3 thus open the possibility of assigning
Mic. 6.9-16 to the time of Micah.1
Finally, the material in Mic. 7.1-7 has been denied to the time of
Micah. James L. Mays has claimed that the lament in Mic. 7.1-6
'expresses the anguish of a hasid (faithful one) at circumstances which
are probably those of the late exilic or post-exilic community'.2 In
addition, Wolff has suggested that the style of speech and subject
matter of Mic. 7.1-6 are found mainly in the early exilic times, but
especially in Trito-Isaiah (Isa. 57.1-2; 59.4-8; Jer. 9.1-5; 12.6).3
Once again, there are several serious problems with these arguments for a late date. It is certainly not clear that the breakdown in the
social order presupposed by Mic. 7.1-7 dates to the post-exilic community. A general depiction of social chaos could apply to any
number of situations in Israel's history, including the traumatic events
of the last half of the eighth century.4 In addition, it is difficult to
1. A date in the time of Micah is supported by Allen, Micah, p. 250; Killers,
Micah, p. 82; Renaud, Formation, p. 342; Wolfe, Micah, p. 941; Lindblom,
Micha, p. 150.
2. Mays, Micah, pp. 31, 150.
3. Wolff, Micah, p. 204.
4. J.T. Willis suggests that the social chaos is a reflection of conditions in the
northern kingdom from the time of Zechariah to Hoshea ('A Reapplied Prophetic
Hope Oracle', VTSup 26 [1974], p. 70). Eissfeldt suggests that the catastrophe of

172

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

make any firm conclusions based on similarities of style and content.


The language used in Mic. 7.1-7 and later sources appears to be
stereotyped descriptions found in even quite ancient, non-Israelite
texts that depict the collapse of social order.1 Leslie Allen is thus
justified in his assertion that Mic. 7.1-7 'reveals no features which do
not fit with Micah and his time'.2
The Rhetorical Situation
Objective Factors
A careful reading of Mic. 6.1-7.7 can reveal the identity, attitudes,
actions and circumstances of the audience Micah addresses. In particular, four objective factors seem to have shaped the discourse.
First, the speech assumes a time when catastrophe in the form of a
military invasion appears to be imminent. Mic. 7.4b reveals that
immediate disaster is expected: 'The day of your watchmen, of your
divine visitation has come; now is their confusion at hand'. It may be
that the 'day of your watchmen' refers to the destruction proclaimed
by the prophets, who were often described as the watchmen of Israel.3
On the other hand, the verse may simply be a metaphorical designation for the time of battle or siege. It was the function of the watchmen to warn a city of approaching danger and also to report on the
progress of military encounters (1 Sam. 14.16; 2 Sam. 13.34; 18.2427; 2 Kgs 9.17-20). The 'day of your watchmen' may thus be a reference to a time when the watchmen of the city must sound the alarm to
warn of approaching danger and provide reports concerning the
progress of combat in the field. If this interpretation of Mic. 7.4 is

732 or 722 is presupposed ('Ein Psalm aus Nord', p. 264).


1. Egyptian and Babylonian parallels are cited by Killers (Micah, pp. 85-86),
Reicke ('Liturgical Traditions', pp. 358-61), and M. Weinfeld, 'Ancient Near
Eastern Patterns in Prophetic Literature', VT 27 (1977), pp. 178-95. For later
Rabbinic sources see Margolis, Micah, pp. 72-73.
2. Allen, Micah, p. 250. Others who conclude that Micah 7.1-7 is Mican include
Killers, Micah, p. 85; van Hoonacker, Les douze petits prophetes, p. 353; Sellin, Das
Zwolfprophetenbuch, p. 260; Lindblom, Micha, p. 124; Wolfe, Micah, p. 942;
Rudolph, Micha, p. 126. For others see Schibler, Le Prophete Michee, pp. 66-67,
n. 10.
3. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 201; Margolis, Micah, p. 71.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again ?': Micah 6.1-7.7

173

correct, the speaker sees that destruction from a military assault is


about to begin.
Another suggestion that a military invasion is imminent may be
found in Mic. 6.9b. Most commentators, citing the LXX, have concluded that the MT in 9b and lOa is a corruption of a Vorlage which
originally read 'Hear, O tribe and assembly of the city'.1 The evidence
from the LXX does not presuppose the word 'assembly' and although
the noun 'city' is present in the LXX, it may be nothing more than an
interpretation of the feminine pronominal suffix on the verb ya'ad.2
It is also important to note that 'tribe' is only one possible interpretation of matteh. The noun also has the meaning 'rod [of punishment]'.3 A few commentators have accepted this latter interpretation
of matteh and have concluded that the subsequent feminine
pronominal suffix designates the city referred to in 9a.4 It is possible,
however, that the feminine suffix should be understood as a neuter
pronoun which takes the masculine noun matteh as its antecedent.5 The
entire verse could thus be translated: 'Hear! A rodand who has
appointed it again?'
If this translation of v. 9b is correct one may reasonably assume
that the 'rod' could be identified as Assyria since the prophet Isaiah, a
contemporary of Micah, also designated Assyria as the rod of
Yahweh's anger (Isa. 10.5). If Assyria is to be identified as the rod
that Yahweh has appointed to punish Israel, there can be little doubt
that the judgment which Micah's audience expects is a military
invasion or siege.
That destruction is expected in the near future is also suggested by
the so-called 'futility curses' in Mic. 6.14-15. In particular, v. 15
indicates that disaster will come quickly: before that which is sown

1. Wellhausen, Kleinen Propheten, p. 128; Allen, Micah, p. 375; Hillers,


Micah, p. 80; Mays, Micah, p. 143; J.M.P. Smith, Micah, pp. 130-31. Similarly,
Renaud assumes a haplography of the y and repoints MT to read 'and whoever
assembles in the city' (Formation, p. 328). This latter emendation is also accepted
by Wolff, Micah, p. 186.
2. See K. Jeppesen, The verb ya'ad in Nahum 1.10 and Micah 6.9', Bib 65
(1984), p. 574.
3. BOB, p. 641.
4. Jeppesen, 'The verb ya'ad', p. 573; Rudolph, Micha, pp. 114-15.
5. Rudolph, Micha, p. 115; Margolis, Micah, p. 66.

174

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

can be harvested or that which is harvested can be enjoyed, destruction will overtake the nation.
It should be noted that the approach of disaster is evident not only
to the prophet, but also to the audience. Mic. 7.4-7 depicts a breakdown in the order of society which would accompany the approach of
war. More importantly, the accusing questions of Mic. 6.6-7 suggest a
sense of desperation. In an effort to gain the favor of Yahweh increasingly costly sacrifices, perhaps including child sacrifice, have been
offered or planned.
Some have suggested that the question regarding child sacrifice in
Mic. 6.7 does not necessarily imply that such human sacrifice was
being practiced when this prophetic word was delivered.1 Rather, the
inclusion of human sacrifice in this list of offerings is meant to
demonstrate the shocking and absurd outcome of the attempt to win
Yahweh's approval through increasingly costly sacrifices.
Although certainty cannot be attained, the possibility must remain
open that the prophet is addressing the practice of child sacrifice. 2
Kings claims that human sacrifice was practiced during the reigns of
Ahaz and Mannasseh in Judah (2 Kgs 16.3; 21.6) and in Israel near the
end of the northern kingdom (2 Kgs 17.17). In addition, Hos. 13.2
may allude to the practice of human sacrifice.2 If, as I have argued,
Mic. 6.1-6 is pre-exilic, then it is not unlikely that the prophet is
referring to the practice of child sacrifice, which in either theory or
practice is the outcome of increasingly costly sacrifice.
Human sacrifice apparently tended to appear at times of great
distress and adversity.3 Certainly a non-Israelite example of adverse
circumstances prompting human sacrifice is found in 2 Kgs. 3.27. It is
quite possible that Ahaz's sacrifice of his son was a reaction to the
distress caused by the siege of Jerusalem. Similarly, it has been suggested that the human sacrifices mentioned by Jeremiah may have
resulted from the Babylonian crisis.4 Even within Mic. 6.1-8, the
offering of the first-born appears to be a response to distress and a
great sense of sin and guilt ('the sin of my life'). In fact, if Mic. 6.17.7 is a unified speech, a cause for extreme distress may be found in
1.
2.
3.
4.

Allen, Micah, p. 369; Hillers, Micah, p. 78; Wolff, Micah, pp. 178-79.
See the discussion by Wolff, Hosea, p. 225.
See Gray, Kings, p. 631.
Gray, Kings, pp. 631, 638.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again?': Micah 6.1-7.7

175

the expectation that a harsh and severe situation is about to fall upon
the audience. The elaborate and costly sacrifices may thus be a desperate response to the imminent invasion. In any case, the questions
clearly betray the attitude that extraordinary measures are necessary
to win the favor of Yahweh.
While disaster appears to be imminent, there are also indications
that the audience to whom Micah speaks has recently experienced
great misfortune. In particular, in v. 13 Yahweh declares,
"Therefore, I have made you sick with smiting, making you desolate
on account of your sins'. Moreover, the statement in v. 9 that the rod
of punishment has been appointed again implies that similar punishment has already been experienced by the audience. Finally, the question in v. 3 may indicate that the people have suffered for a prolonged period of time since the audience apparently feels 'wearied'.
The speech thus reflects a situation in which catastrophe has recently
been experienced but is also expected to recur in the near future.
A third factor which has prompted the prophet to speak is the failure of some in his audience to fulfill their responsibilities (6.8). The
first and last requirements of Mic. 6.8 are fairly clear. To 'establish
justice' is 'to uphold what is right according to the tradition of
Yahweh's will, both in legal proceedings and in the conduct of life'.1
'To walk wisely with your God', involves obedience and 'the
employment of discretion, prudence, and wisdom in the religious
life'.2
Unlike the other two terms, the exact meaning of kindness (hesed)
has been the subject of much discussion and disagreement. Nelson
Glueck's study of the occurrences of the word hesed in the Old
Testament led him to conclude that it refers to the conduct demanded
of both parties in a covenant relationship.3 Consequently, it would
follow that the term in Mic. 6.8 refers to Israel's failure to do those
things required by her covenant with Yahweh.
Such an interpretation is open to question, however. First, Glueck's
1. Mays, Micah, p. 142; see similar comments by Wolff (Micah, p. 181) and
Allen (Micah, p. 372).
2. Hillers, Micah, p. 78. Also see Mays, Micah, p. 142.
3. N. Glueck, Das Wort hesed im alttestamentlichen Sprachgebrauche als
menschliche und gottliche gemeinschaftgemasse Verhaltungsweise (Giessen:
Topelmann, 1927) = E.L. Epstein (ed.), Hesed in the Bible (trans. A. Gottschalk;
Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1967).

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thesis has been called into question by the fact that in both secular and
sacred contexts in the Old Testament the term refers not to conduct
required or demanded by a covenantal relationship but to 'goodness or
kindness.. .beyond what is expected or deserved, based solely on ready
magnanimity toward others'.1 In a recent survey of the occurrences of
hesed in the Old Testament, Francis Andersen reached the conclusion
that 'the heart of the matter is a generous and beneficial action, not at
all required'.2
In addition, it has been noted that only in a very few texts is hesed
explicitly connected with the term or concept of a covenant.3 Even in
these cases, however, it can be argued that an act of hesed results in
the making of a covenant and is not the conduct required by a prior
covenant. 4 Thus, both the nature of the usage of hesed in the Old
Testament and the lack of a specific connection to a covenant concept
raise doubts that the term must always refer to covenant obligations of
conduct.
While hesed may not be the conduct required by a specific covenant,
there is no denying that in Mic. 6.8 it is stated that Yahweh requires
hesed. It is thus possible to suggest that in a paradoxical way hesed is
both the conduct Yahweh expects of his people and at the same time a
mode of conduct involving spontaneous, unexpected acts of kindness.
Wolff summarizes the combination of spontaneity and obligation that
hesed entails: the word 'denotes the kindhearted action that, by spontaneous love and the faithful meeting of responsibilities, creates or
establishes a sense of community'.5
If hesed is in fact kindness beyond what is normally expected or
deserved, then it follows that Mic. 6.8 requires not acts of hesed
directed to Yahweh, but acts of kindness toward others. Zobel
1. H.J. Stoebe, 'Die Bedeutung des Wortes Hasad im Alten Testament', VT 2
(1952), pp. 244-54. A similar conclusion is reached by Buss, Hosea, pp. 106-7.
2. F.I. Anderson, 'Yahweh, the Kind and Sensitive God', in P.T. O'Brien
and D.G. Peterson (eds.), God Who is Rich in Mercy (Grand Rapids: Baker,
1986), p. 44. Similar conclusions have been reached by M.V. Fox ('Jeremiah 2.2
and the "Desert Ideal'", CBQ 35 (1973), pp. 441-50) and R.C. Bailey (A Critical
Investigation of 2 Samuel 10-12 and Its Implications for the So-Called Throne
Succession Narrative (dissertation, Emory University, 1987), pp. 137-47).
3. A. Jepsen, 'Gnade und Barmherzigkeit im AT', KD 7 (1961), pp. 261-71.
4. For examples see Anderson, 'Yahweh', pp. 44-80.
5. Wolff, Hosea, p. 59.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again ?': Micah 6.1-7.7

177

correctly points out that there cannot be 'any possibility that human
beings...could repay Yahweh in turn the divine kindness they have
experienced or do him an act of kindness'.1 This is not to say that
Yahweh's hesed does not require of his people acts of kindness,
however: 'God's kindness toward an individual places that individual
in a new relationship with his neighbor, a relationship based on
Yahweh's kindness; in his daily contacts with others he must keep the
kindness he has experienced, he must practice righteousness and
justice, kindness and mercy'.2 It is therefore likely that the hesed
required by Yahweh's saving acts in Mic. 6.1-8 are deeds of kindness
to other members of the community as a response to the deeds of
kindness that Yahweh has shown (Mic. 6.3-5).
Of whom is justice, kindness, and obedience required? Although the
evidence is open to more than one interpretation, Mic. 6.8 may be
addressed primarily to the reigning king. The vocative 'adam is
generally taken to be a designation for any Israelite or for humanity
in general. Such an interpretation is open to question, however. One
may ask if it is reasonable to conclude that every Israelite, much less
every mortal, was actually expected to 'establish justice' and 'love
deeds of kindness'. Rather, the requirements found in Mic. 6.8 are
similar to the responsibilities assumed by the king at his installation or
at the celebration of his coronation.
Not only in Israel, but also throughout the ancient Near East, kings
were charged with the duty of upholding justice and dealing kindly
with the poor and weak.3 Psalm 72 is a prayer that the king will
'judge thy people with righteousness and thy poor with justice'
(bemispat, v. 2).4 Even more significant is Psalm 101, which may
have been spoken by the king at the celebration of his coronation.5
The king vows to adhere to certain moral and religious standards and
promises to follow a wise and perfect way. Significantly, these vows
are introduced with the declaration, 'I will sing of kindness and
justice' (hesed-umispai). It is reasonable to infer that the entire code
1. T. Zobel, 'hesed', TDOT, IV, p. 63; See also Andersen, 'Yahweh', p. 81.
2. Zobel, 'hesed', p. 63. See similar comments by Renaud, Formation, p. 298.
3. The Ugaritic legend of Keret makes it clear that the king was responsible for
defending the poor and the widow (ANET, p. 149). See the discussion of the king's
duties by S. Szikszai, 'King, Kingship', IDB, III, pp. 12-13.
4. See de Vaux, Ancient Israel, I, p. 111.
5. See Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel's Worship I, pp. 65-67.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

of conduct set forth for the king in Psalm 101 is summarized by the
phrase mispat and hesed. One is thus led to the conclusion that hesed
and mispat were viewed as the special responsibilities of the king.
While exact parallels to Mic. 6.8 are lacking, the duties of the king
enumerated in Psalms 72 and 101 may indicate that Mic. 6.8 was
addressed to the king rather than each member of society. The term
'adam may thus be a circumlocution for the title 'king' rather than a
designation for humanity in general. If this interpretation is correct,
the phrase, 'he has declared to you what is good' may be an allusion to
the instruction given to the king at the time of his installation.1 In
addition, the question of vv. 6-7 could be a reference to sacrifices
offered at the enthronement festival (cf. 1 Kgs 1.9). In any case, it
seems likely that Mic. 6.6-8 addresses not society in general, but the
king.
Micah also holds other leaders responsible for the catastrophe which
is about to overtake society. Mic. 6.12 is generally thought to be an
accusation against the 'inhabitants' (yoseb) of the city. While this
interpretation is possible, it should be noted that in some cases the
term yoseb refers to the leaders of a city.2 Thus, Mic. 6.12 may
accuse the rulers of the city of deceit and violence.
It is generally assumed that vv. 10 and 11 show that the misdeeds
with which the prophet is concerned include economic fraud accomplished through false weights and measures. The information in these
verses must be evaluated carefully, however, since the obvious nature
of the answer to these questions suggests that they are to be taken as
1. Mays (Micah, p. 141) suggests the prophet has in mind the teachings of
earlier prophets. On the other hand Allen (Micah, p. 362, n. 6) believes the reference
is to priestly instruction. Wolff (Micah, p. 179) points out that the oracle could refer
to priestly prophetic and even Deuteronomic teaching. However, see 2 Kgs 14.11
where Joash at his coronation is handed the 'protocol' (ha'edut). Deut. 17.18 also
makes reference to the king being given the law at the time of his enthronement. See
de Vaux, Ancient Israel I, pp. 102-3. Babylonian and Egyptian sources indicate that
the king was given instruction by the priest at the celebration of his enthronement
(Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel's Worship I, pp. 66-67).
2. P.M. Cross and D.N. Freedman ('The Song of Miriam', JNES 14 [1955],
pp. 248-49) suggest that the noun has this meaning in Judg. 5.23. An extensive
study of the term and its possible meaning of 'ruler' is found in N.K. Gottwald, The
Tribes ofYahweh: A Sociology of the Religion of Liberated Israel (Maryknoll: Orbis
Books, 1979), pp. 512-30. See also W.G.E. Watson, 'David Ousts the City Ruler
of Jebus', VT 20 (1970), pp. 501-2.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again?': Micah 6.1-7.7

179

leading questions. Obviously, Yahweh cannot approve of false weights


or forget ill-gotten treasures. Neither, therefore, can he forget or
approve of the violent and dishonest deeds of the leaders of the city
which parallel those of dishonest commerce.
A related accusation against the city (and thus against its leaders) is
that it has kept the statutes of Omri and walked in the counsels of
Ahab. Most commentators interpret this accusation as a reference to
the legal and economic abuses attributed to Ahab in the story of
Naboth's vineyard or as a reference to apostasy and idolatry as
suggested by 2 Kgs 10.18; 21.3.l Certainly both of these are possible
interpretations.
Another possible interpretation should not be excluded. Under
Omri and Ahab Israel reached the zenith of its power through a series
of alliances with Phoenicia, Damascus and Judah.2 The marriage of
Ahab to Jezebel no doubt reflects the alliance between Israel and
Phoenicia. It may also be inferred from Assyrian inscriptions that one
of the purposes of these ninth-century alliances was to counter the
Assyrian military threat to the region. The precepts of Omri and
statutes of Ahab can thus be a reference to the policy of alliances
followed by Israel under these two kings. If so, the accusations against
the city suggest that it has pursued international alliances intended to
counteract Assyrian military might.
Finally, the failure of leadership is evident in Mic. 7.3 which
describes how the actions of the prince (sar), the judge (sopet) and the
great one (hagadol) have contributed to the collapse of justice and
order. The word sopet indicates one who exercises the legal function
of rendering a judgment. Since the word sar is used for almost any
official subject to the king it is impossible to know with certainty the
particular kind of leader indicated by this term.3 Unfortunately, it is
also impossible to know whether Micah meant to indicate a particular
individual, a kind of official, or rulers in general by the word
hagadol. In other texts the term refers to administrative officials who
serve the king (2 Sam. 3.38; 2 Kgs 10.6). In any case these three
1. Killers, Micah, p. 82; Allen, Micah, p. 381.
2. For an assessment of the strength of Israel under Omri and Ahab see
C.F. Whitley, The Deuteronomic Presentation of the House of Omri', VT2 (1952),
pp. 137-51; Miller, 'The Elisha Cycle', pp. 441-55.
3. BDB, p. 978. Wolff notes that sar is a civilian or military leader, while the
'great one' may refer to high administrative officials (Micah, p. 206).

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groups of leaders are singled out as responsible for the chaotic


conditions in society.
A final question that will influence the interpretation of Mic. 6.17.7 is the question of the identity of the city in 6.9-16. A majority of
scholars has suggested that the city in question must be Jerusalem.1 As
we have seen however, this assumption is based on highly questionable
arguments and a doubtful emendation of the text. On the other hand, a
number of commentators have argued that the city addressed in 6.9-16
is Samaria.2 Among the arguments for the identification of the city as
Samaria, the most persuasive is the observation that the reference to
Omri and Ahab would have been more significant for a north Israelite
audience than an audience in Judah. One may also add that the lack of
any reference to Davidic or Zion traditions in this material is striking
and stands in contrast to other parts of the book of Micah which, in
addressing Jerusalem, rely heavily upon such traditions (3.11; 4.1-4;
4.9-5.4). The reference to Omri and Ahab along with the absence of
traditions associated with Jerusalem may thus indicate that the city in
question in Mic. 6.9-16 is Samaria rather than Jerusalem.
Subjective Factors
The above consideration of the objective factors has indirectly touched
on the subjective factors that shaped the discourse. The most important of these subjective factors include the prophet's own convictions
concerning the reasons for judgment and the role of the sacrificial
cult.
First, the prophet is convinced that both the disasters that have come
as well as those that are now coming are the just judgments of
Yahweh. Mays notes that the question of v. 3 suggests that the people
'live in circumstances which have exhausted their patience and [they]
hold YHWH responsible'.3 In contrast to the people who complain that
Yahweh has wearied them, Micah suggests a clear cause and effect
relationship between judgment and the actions of the leaders. Indeed,
1. For example, Mays, Micah, p. 148; Allen, Micah, p. 377; J.M.P. Smith,
Micah, p. 131; Wolff, Micah, p. 190; Margolis, Micah, p. 65.
2. Van Hoonacker, Les douze petits prophetes, p. 351; Lindblom, Micha,
p. 150; Eissfeldt, The Old Testament, p. 411; van der Woude, Micah, pp. 22223. For other references and a summary of arguments for a northern audience see
Willis, 'Hope Oracle', pp. 64-76.
3. Mays, Micah, p. 133.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again ?': Micah 6.1-7.7

181

Mic. 6.12-13 states that the judgment which has already come (v. 13)
is a direct result of the deeds of violence and deceit of the rulers of
the city. Another cause and effect relationship is established in v. 16
where it is stated that the city is to be made a wasteland because its
inhabitants have kept the statutes of Omri.
In any case, it is clear that, unlike his audience, Micah draws a clear
connection between the coming judgment and the actions of the
leaders of society. It is this contrast between the prophet's conviction
that there are obvious, justifiable reasons for judgment and the
people's conviction that Yahweh has unfairly wearied them that
ultimately prompt Micah to speak.
A second subjective factor is the prophet's attitude toward the
sacrificial cult. Mic. 6.6-8 has often been understood as the prophet's
rejection of the cult.1 Such an interpretation is questionable, however,
since the sacrifices named in these verses are only the most costly and
elaborate. The whole burnt offering was by its nature the most
demanding sacrifice (see Lev. 9.3; 22.27), and the costliness of the
sacrifice of rams and oil is intensified by the vast quantity of these
items. Obviously, the giving of the first-born child represents the
ultimate sacrifice in terms of its cost. What Micah is rejecting is not
sacrifice per se, but the belief that Yahweh's favor is to be obtained by
the offering of costly and elaborate sacrifices. In contrast to the
attitude that Yahweh can be pleased through cultic means alone, the
prophet is convinced that Yah wen's favor also demands the faithful
execution of the responsibilities of leadership (6.8, 12, 16; 7.4).
Goals and Strategy
The factors in the rhetorical situation make it clear that Micah's task
was to interpret a misfortune that was about to recur. The audience
apparently believes that Yahweh has 'wearied' them without cause. In
contrast, Micah understands that what pleases Yahweh is honest and
faithful conduct by those in positions of power. The gulf between the
point of view of the audience and the point of view of the prophet
indicates that the prophet's task is to persuade his audience of his
interpretation of the judgment while simultaneously refuting their
interpretation of events.
1.

Killers, Micah, p. 78; Mays, Micah, p. 137.

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To accomplish his task Micah takes a confrontational approach and


casts his speech in the general form of a dispute. There is a consensus
among commentators that Micah 6.1-8 in particular is a rib. While
scholars do not agree on whether this form is derived from the secular, legal sphere, the cult, or is patterned after international treaties of
the ancient Near East, it is generally agreed that the rib, as a prophetic
lawsuit speech, is occasioned by Israel's violation of its covenant
(presumably the Sinai covenant) with Yahweh.1
While these issues are too complex to deal with in detail in the
present study the theory that Mic. 6.1-8 is a prophetic or covenant
lawsuit appears doubtful. In a recent article Michael de Roche
surveys the usages of the term rib in the Old Testament and concludes
that it is a general term which only indicates that one party has a
grievance against another.2 The dispute can be resolved either bilaterally (the two parties argue the case between themselves, perhaps
even resorting to force) or trilaterally (a third party mediates the
dispute or a judge decides the case). It is only appropriate to speak of
a lawsuit when there is a trilateral resolution of a rib resulting in a
binding decision by a judge.
Mic. 6.1-8 is obviously not a lawsuit, but a dispute in which
Yahweh as the harmed party 'takes it upon himself to seek an acceptable solution to his quarrel with Israel'.3 While de Roche suggests that
the solution Yahweh seeks is found in the description of desired
behavior, it is more likely that the actual resolution is found in the
continuation of Yaweh's judgment upon Israel (vv. 9-16) since, as
de Roche himself notes, force is indeed a way to resolve a bilateral
dispute.4
1. The literature on this subject is vast. For a survey of each proposal with
bibliographical references see D.R. Daniels, 'Is There a "Prophetic Lawsuit"
Genre?' ZAW 99 (1987), pp. 339-60; K.Nielsen, Yahweh as Prosecutor and
Judge: An Investigation of the Prophetic Lawsuit (Rib Pattern) (JSOTSup 9;
Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1978); March, 'Prophecy', pp. 165-68.
2. Michael de Roche, 'Yahweh's Rib Against Israel: A Reassessment of the
So-called "Prophetic Lawsuit" in the Pre-exilic Prophets', JBL 102 (1983), pp. 56374.
3. De Roche, 'Yahweh's Rib\ p. 570.
4. Goetze observes that the Hittites viewed warfare as a means of allowing the
gods to decide a dispute between two countries: 'In other words, the controversy
which had arisen between the two parties was considered as a legal case. Now, a

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183

It is preferable to classify Mic. 6.1-16 as a dispute. It should be


noted that the prophet does not identify or assume a specific YahwehIsrael covenant that has been violated. Certainly, the audience has
failed to live up to well-known norms of conduct which Yahweh has
revealed (6.8). It is unnecessary, however, to posit the violation of a
specific, formal covenant similar to treaties of the ancient Near East.
Mic. 6.1-7.7 may best be described as a dispute in which Yahweh as
the harmed party accuses Israel of specific acts against him. The
judgment that has overtaken the audience represents Yahweh's action
to resolve the dispute. The entire speech may be outlined as follows:
I.

II.

III.

IV.

Introduction
A. General summons (6.la)
B. Yahweh's charge to the prophet (6.1b)
C. The prophet's announcement of the dispute (6.2)
The elements of the dispute
A. Implied accusation: Yahweh has wearied us (6.3)
B. Yahweh's response: His deeds of kindness (6.4, 5)
C. Implied accusation: It is virtually impossible to
please Yahweh (6.6, 7)
D. Prophet's response: Yahweh's requirements of
justice, kindness and obedience are well known (6.8)
Yahweh's resolution of the dispute
A. Identification of speaker and addressee (6.9a)
B. How Yahweh will resolve his dispute: A 'rod' of
punishment has been appointed (6.9b)
C. Justification of Yahweh's judgment (6.10-12)
1. Premise stated by leading questions: Yahweh
cannot tolerate deceit and dishonesty (6.10-11)
2. Accusation: The city's inhabitants have practiced
deceit and dishonesty (6.12)
3. Conclusion: Therefore judgment has come (6.13)
D. Description of continuing effects of judgment (6.14-15)
Recapitulation: Accusation and announcement of judgment

lawsuit between two ordinary individuals may turn out too difficult for the highest
court to judge so that it must be turned over to the gods to decide by ordeal. In the
same way, the lawsuit pending between two kings neither of whom conceded
himself to be in the wrong must be brought before the gods who will decide by the
ordeal of war' ('Warfare in Asia Minor', pp. 126-27).

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

V.

against the city (6.16)


Epilogue (7.1-7)
A. Description of situation and prophet's reaction (7.1-4a)
B. Announcement that judgment has arrived (7.4b)
C. Advice to audience (7.5-6)
D. Prophet's exemplary faith (7.7)

Mic. 6.1-2 functions as an introduction to the entire speech. The


repeated summons to hear as well as the announcement of the subject
of the speech (6.2) intends to attract the attention of the audience.1
Whatever the exact significance, the calling of natural elements as witnesses adds a dramatic quality which holds the attention of the audience.2 These verses also fulfill the rhetorical function of establishing
the relationship between the speaker and the audience. The audience is
identified as the accused with whom Yahweh has a dispute. In contrast,
6.2 can best be understood as addressed to the prophet, charging him
with the task of contending with Israel on behalf of Yahweh. Verse 2
thus functions to establish an adversarial relationship between the
prophet and the audience. In addition, Mic. 6.2 serves as an ethical
appeal since it establishes the prophet's authority and credentials.
The above outline suggests that Mic. 6.3-8 can be understood as a
description of the elements of the dispute. More precisely, these verses
set forth the positions and attitudes of the participants in the rib. The
use of dialogue in these verses heightens the dramatic effect and thus
holds the attention of the audience.3
The opening question by Yahweh (v. 3) is a defensive question
which is to be understood as a response to the people's attitude that
Yahweh has wearied them. The use of the phrase 'my people' adds an
1. Some see v. la as a redactional addition meant to introduce the final chapters
of the book (e.g., Mays, Micah, pp. 32, 128; Renaud, Formation, p. 308; WilliPlein, Vorformen, p. 97). The interpretation proposed here follows Lescow, who
understands the multiple summons as a summons to the general audience, followed
by a specific summons to the prophet ('Micha 6-7', p. 283). See also J.M.P. Smith,
Micah, p. 119; Wellhausen, Kleinen Propheten, p. 143.
2. For a discussion of the function of the appeal to the natural elements see
Daniels, 'Prophetic Lawsuit', pp. 356-68. Daniels' own conclusion is that 'heaven
and earth are called upon as entities directly affected by the people's actions and not
as judges or witnesses to a previous covenant' (p. 358).
3. For the dramatic effect of dialogue in Deutero-Isaiah see Gitay, Prophecy and
Persuasion, p. 74.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again ?': Micah 6.1-7.7

185

emotional appeal to Yahweh's defense by emphasizing the intimate


nature of Israel's relationship with Yahweh. As Allen notes, the
phrase contains 'a whole volume of reproof.1 The emotional impact is
intensified by the repetition of questions, followed by a demand for an
answer which compels the audience to become involved as active
participants in the persuasive process.
Yahweh's actual defense takes the form of a recitation of his deeds
of kindness toward Israel, particularly the deliverance of Israel from
foreign oppressors. This presentation of evidence concerning
Yahweh's dealings with Israel functions as a rational appeal since it
sets forth the facts so that the audience can evaluate them and reach
their own conclusions.
Instead of a direct response to Yahweh's questions or an analysis of
the evidence, the prophet puts into the mouth of the audience a series
of questions which demonstrate Israel's attitude that pleasing Yahweh
was an impossibility. The questions are skillfully crafted and cast in
the form of an 'entrance liturgy'.2 The use of a form familiar to the
people serves to involve them in the speech.
The prophet's conviction that present efforts to obtain Yahweh's
favor are both desperate and misplaced is conveyed by increasing
either the quantity or the costliness of the sacrifices in each succeeding
question to the point of absurdity. This movement to increasingly
costly and eventually absurd sacrifices suggests that the prophet is
ridiculing the entire notion that Yahweh's favor can be obtained by
elaborate sacrificial rituals. It is also possible that Micah is ridiculing
the practice of human sacrifice as the absurd outcome of such a line of
reasoning.3 Thus we should note that even while the prophet sets forth
the people's complaint that Yahweh cannot be appeased, he ridicules
that complaint.
As one charged with the task of contending with Israel the prophet
himself offers his own response to the complaint against Yahweh
1. Allen, Micah, p. 365.
2. For the function and purpose of the entrance liturgy see K. Koch,
Tempeleinlassliturgien und Dekalog', in Studien zur Theologie des alttestamentlichen Ueberlieferung (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1961), pp. 45-64.
That the prophet has adapted this familiar form is suggested by the fact that the
vocabulary and content are not typical of the priestly entrance liturgy. See Millers,
Micah, p. 78; Mays, Micah, p. 137.
3. On the effectiveness of ridicule as a rhetorical tool see above, p. 90 n. 1.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

(v. 8). The response functions as an appeal to authority. As noted


above, v. 8 may allude to the instruction or law which was given to
the king at the time of his enthronement. In any case, Micah is not
setting forth a new and unheard-of requirement; rather he is appealing
to a teaching or tradition with which his audience was familiar.
Any attempt by the audience to refute or reject the prophet's words
is effectively cut short by the sudden announcement in v. 9 that
Yahweh is speaking once again. The announcement that Yahweh is
calling to the city and the command 'Hear!' focus the attention of the
audience and add a new intensity and authority to the message. The
unparalleled line in 9b is probably a rhetorical device meant to
emphasize the content of the verse.1 The purpose of the question in 9b
is to announce that the approaching disaster is Yahweh's just resolution of his dispute with his people.
Verses 10-12 can be understood as a series of leading questions
whose purpose is not to accuse, but to establish a premise. In each case
the answer to the question is obvious: Yahweh cannot forget ill-gotten
treasure, nor can he accept the use of unjust weights. In short, through
these questions Micah has his audience assent to the basic principle that
dishonesty, deceit and violence are violations of Yahweh's will. Using
the basic principle to which they have assented, Micah then entraps his
audience: 'Your rich are full of deceit...therefore I have made you
sick... ' 2 Through such entrapment Micah is attempting to demonstrate
for his audience a clear cause and effect relationship between their
deeds and the judgment that has overtaken them. In so doing he
successfully refutes the charge that Yahweh has wearied Israel without
reasonable cause.
Rather than end with the refutation of the complaint against
Yahweh, Micah shocks his audience by announcing that judgment and
its effects will not abate. The repetitive, formulaic nature of vv. 1415 heightens the emotional impact and paints a vivid picture of the allencompassing nature of the results of the coming judgment.
In v. 16 Micah recapitulates his arguments, giving both accusations
and reasons for judgment. Whatever the exact meaning of the reference
to Omri and Ahab, it is clear that the prophet is inviting his audience
1. See Gitay, Prophecy and Persuasion, p. 106.
2. On the rhetoric of entrapment see Alter, The Art of Biblical Poetry,
pp. 142-46.

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again ?': Micah 6.1-7.7

187

to view the inhabitants and rulers of the city in the same way they
view the house of Omri. The reference to a once-great, but now
extinct dynasty hints at the fate of the leaders and king of the city
which will become a desolation.
Finally, Mic. 7.1-7 can be understood as an epilogue. Classical
writers noted that an epilogue should fulfill four functions.1 First, it
should make the audience favorably inclined to the speaker and illdisposed to his opponents. Second, an epilogue should magnify those
things in favor of the speaker while minimizing those things against
his case. Third, it should have the appropriate emotional impact on the
audience and, finally, it should refresh their memories.
By the criteria of classical rhetoricians, Mic. 7.1-7 functions well as
an epilogue. In these verses Micah emphasizes his sadness and despair
at the moral collapse of society (7.1) as well as his faith in Yahweh
(7.7). The advice he gives also presents him as one concerned about
the welfare of his hearers. In short, the prophet here presents an ethical argument by showing himself to be an individual whose words can
be trusted. Clearly the intention is to make the audience well-disposed
toward Micah.
Mic. 7.1-7 also magnifies the case against his opponents. Through
the use of metaphor and simile Micah paints a vivid, haunting picture
of a moral wasteland. His search for a righteous individual is like a
search for fruit after the harvest when even the gleanings are gone. In
fact, even the best leaders of society are briers and thorns instead of
the desired fruit. The picture of society as an empty, thorn-infested
field tends both to magnify Micah's case through its vividness and to
create an emotional response of horror in his audience.
Finally, the depiction of the lack of righteousness recalls a number
of elements in the speech and thus refreshes the minds of his hearers.
The search for a hasid (righteous one) recalls Yahweh's demand for
hesed while the description of the behavior of the society's leaders is
meant to recall the actions described in 6.12. Finally, the harvest
imagery of 7.1 echoes the picture of judgment in 6.11. The prophet
thus closes his speech by skillfully recalling the images and arguments
that have played a crucial part in the discourse as a whole.

1.

See Gitay, Prophecy and Persuasion, p. 105.

188

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Historical Possibilities
It has already been argued that there is no evidence that compels one
to deny Mic. 6.1-7.7 to the time of Micah. Unfortunately, among
those who date this material to Micah's time there is no consensus
concerning the historical circumstances reflected in the material in
these chapters. Indeed, a wide range of suggestions concerning the
historical background of Mic. 6.1-7.7 has been proposed.
A number of scholars have argued that Micah's ministry extended
into the reign of Manasseh and that the material in chapters 6 and 7
date to the time of that seventh-century ruler.1 It is argued that the
pessimistic attitude of these chapters reflects the kinds of conditions
which are assumed to have been widespread in the time of Manasseh.
In particular, the reference to child sacrifice in Mic. 6.7 is interprete
as an allusion to Manasseh's participation in such rites (2 Kgs 21.6).
The evidence for a seventh-century date is quite weak, however.
While it is true that Manasseh is said to have participated in child
sacrifice, one must not overlook reports that human sacrifice occurred
in both Israel and Judah during the last decades of the eighth century.
Further, the generally pessimistic tone could be a reflection of the
succession of assassinations, conspiracies, rebellions and wars of the
last few decades of the eighth century. In other words, both the tone
of the discourse and the allusion to child sacrifice can be explained
satisfactorily by events that occurred in the eighth century, and
nothing demands a date during the reign of Manasseh.
A second group of commentators has concluded that some or all of
the material in Mic. 6.1-7.7 reflects the cultic reform of Hezekiah.
Rudolph has suggested that Mic. 6.1-8 presupposes a situation in
which Israel's political situation has not improved in spite of
1. Vuilleumier (Michee, pp. 77-82) believes that all of Micah 6-7 is the work of
Micah during the reign of Manasseh while Duhm ('Anmerkungen zu den Zwolf
Propheten', pp. 90-91) assigns only 6.1-8, 9-16 to Micah's supposed activities in
the seventh century. Others think that only 6.1-8 is Mican material from Manasseh's
time (G.A. Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets [Expositor's Bible;
N.Y. Armstrong, 1908], p. 372; Lindblom, Micha, p. 115). Weiser limits the
material to 7.1-7 (Kleinen Propheten, p. 286). It should be noted that some scholar
believe that the historical background of some or all of this material is the reign of
Manasseh, but they deny that it is Mican (Stade, 'Bemerkungen iiber das Buch
Micha', p. 162; Nowack, Die Kleinen Propheten,p. 205).

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again ?': Micah 6.1-7.7

189

Hezekiah's reform of the cult. 1 On the other hand, R.E. Wolfe


believes that 6.6-8 reflects the sacrifices of Hezekiah described in
2 Chron. 30.34.2 While there is a certain probability to both of these
suggestions, both fail to take into account other elements of the discourse which indicate the situation at hand is a desperate reaction to an
imminent invasion.
More often scholars have seen the events of 701 BCE as the historical background for most of the material in 6.1-7.7.3 Such a date is
appealing since Sennacherib's invasion of Judah and siege of Jerusalem
could be understood as the judgment that 'the city' has experienced. In
addition, the distress caused by a siege could be presupposed by 6.3-8,
and the aftermath of the invasion could be reflected in the desolation
pictured in 7.1-6. Finally, the above survey of objective factors in the
rhetorical situation suggests that by analogy with Isaiah's preaching,
the 'rod' of punishment which Yahweh has appointed should be
identified as Assyria.
It must be remembered, however, that invasion and siege were
experienced by the northern kingdom at least two or three decades
before the Assyrian campaign against Jerusalem in 701. Moreover, the
objective factors of the discourse suggest the possibility that the city
addressed is Samaria rather than Jerusalem. A more likely historical
background for Mic. 6.1-7.7 may be found in the north before the
fall of Samaria in 722.
The rhetorical factors further narrow the time presupposed by the
discourse to a period after the Assyrian suppression of Rezin's coalition in 732-31. If the proposed interpretation of Mic. 6.9b is correct,
this text indicates that the 'rod' of punishment has been experienced on
at least one previous occasion. That occasion may have been 732-31
when Israel incurred the wrath of Assyria and witnessed the conversion of former territories into Assyrian provinces.4 The events which
1. Rudolph, Micha, pp. 110, 113-14.
2. Wolfe, Micah, p. 939.
3. Willis ('Micha 6, 6-8', p. 277) places Mic. 6.1-16 during 701 BCE while
Weiser (Kleinen Propheten, pp. 79, 239) limits the 701 material to 6.1-8. Allen
concludes that it is 'reasonable to assume' that 7.1-7 comes from 701 (Micah,
p. 250; similarly Lindblom, Micha, p. 150) and Wolfe (Micah, p. 941) believe that
6.9-16 reflects Sennacherib's invasion.
4. For the probability that territory claimed by Israel was made into an Assyrian
province after of the Syro-Ephraimite crisis see Chapter 6, 'Historical Possibilities'.

190

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Micah addresses in 6.1-7.7 must be after this hostile Assyrian incursion into Israel.
On the other hand, if Mic. 6.6-8 is an address to a king, it is reasonable to conclude that the discourse presupposes a time no later than the
725 arrest of Hoshea, the last known king of Samaria. While it is quite
possible that the people of Samaria designated another person as king
after Hoshea's arrest,1 it is not certain that Micah would have recognized him as a legitimate ruler. In contrast, Mic. 6.6-8 does not question the right of the king to rule, but accuses the king of a failure to
execute the duties of his office.
If the discourse dates to a time between 731 and 725, the king
addressed in 6.8 would be Hoshea since he was the only king in
Samaria during this time. Although Hoshea ascended the throne of
Samaria with Assyrian approval,2 it is likely that he rebelled against
Assyria on two different occasions. First, 2 Kgs 17.3 reports that
Shalmaneser came up against Hoshea, and Hoshea submitted and paid
tribute to the Assyrian. The occasion of Hoshea's submission was
probably in 727 when Shalmaneser was concluding an Assyrian
campaign which had been initiated in 728 by his predecessor, TiglathPileser III.3 The target of this campaign was apparently Damascus,
and one may reasonably assume neighboring states, including Israel,
were involved in the rebellion. As a result of this first rebellion,
Hoshea would have reassumed the status of vassal to Assyria and to
Shalmaneser in particular.
A second rebellion is apparently alluded to in 2 Kgs 17.4 where it is
reported that Hoshea discontinued the payment of tribute and sought
the aid of 'So, king of Egypt'. Unfortunately, the identity of the
1. It may be significant that Sargon notes that in 720 the Samarians revolted
against him with a king hostile to them (see C.J. Gadd, 'Inscribed Prisms of Sargon
II from Nimrud', Iraq 16 [1954], pp. 173-201). It is not known if the king was a
ruler in Samaria or a foreign king.
2. Tiglath-Pileser III claims that he designated Hoshea as king of Samaria
(ANET, p. 284).
3. Although the text is fragmentary and the name of the city is lost, the campaign
reported in the Eponym list for 728-27 is probably against Damascus. See
G. Smith, 'On a New Fragment of the Assyrian Canon Belonging to the Reigns of
Tiglath-Pileser and Shalmaneser', TSBA 2 (1873), pp. 321-22. The succession of
Shalmaneser is reported for the next year (727-26). The Babylonian Chronicle dates
the death of Tiglath-Pileser to the month of Tebet (ABC, p. 72).

5. 'And Who Has Appointed It Again ?': Micah 6.1-7.7

191

Egyptian ruler is not certain.1 Nevertheless, the report that Hoshea


was negotiating with an Egyptian ruler suggests that his rebellion was
part of a co-ordinated, multi-national coalition against Assyria. As a
result of his activities, Hoshea was arrested: 'the king of Assyria shut
him up and bound him in prison' (2 Kgs 17.4). The exact circumstances of Hoshea's arrest are not known, nor is it clear what other
actions were taken against Samaria at the time of Hoshea's arrest.
After Hoshea's capture, however, Samaria apparently revolted again
with the result that Assyria invaded the land and laid siege to Samaria
(2 Kgs 17.5). The siege culminated in the capture of Samaria in
722-21.
The discourse in Mic. 6.1-7.7 could be related to Hoshea's rebellion
of 727 or 726-25. For a number of reasons, the more likely occasion
was 726-25, however.2 The indication that the audience is 'wearied'
and that judgment has recently been experienced (6.12) may suggest a
time shortly after the Assyrians had intervened and forced Hoshea's
submission in 727. Further, the expectation of serious consequences
including the destruction of the city (v. 16) may have been seen as
more likely if the present ruler had already been involved in a
rebellion.
A date near the 725 rebellion of Hoshea could explain a number of
elements in the discourse. The statutes of Omri and Ahab may be a
reference to the international coalition in which Samaria was participating. The impending conquest of the city is the direct result of pursuing the Omride policies of building alliances to counter Assyrian
might. Rebellion against Assyria could have meant the breaking of an
oath of allegiance possibly sworn in Yahweh's name.3 Thus, the leaders of the city are those who are 'filled with violence' and who 'speak
lies, whose tongue is deceitful in their mouths' (6.12). Moreover, by
1. See the discussion by Herbert Donner, The Separate States of Israel and
Judah', in J.H. Hayes and J.M. Miller (eds.), Israelite and Judaean History
(Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1977), pp. 432-33. A recent, detailed discussion
is given by D.L. Christensen, The Identity of "King So" in Egypt (2 Kings XVIII
4)', VT39 (1989), pp. 140-53.
2. Lindblom (Micha, p. 150) dates Micah 6.9-16 to 725 BCE. Willis ('Hope
'Oracle', p. 70) and van Hoonacker (Les douze petits prophetes, p. 465) assign
7.1-7 to 721 BCE.
3. See especially M. Tsevat, The Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian Vassal
Oaths and the Prophet EzekieP, JBL 78 (1959), p. 199.

192

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

his deceit and the breaking of his oath, Hoshea had failed to 'establish
justice' and to 'walk wisely' with God. Since the oath that has been
violated was sworn in Yahweh's name, Yahweh himself assumes the
responsibility of punishing the guilty (6.13-16). It is of interest that in
Mic. 6.14-15 the punishment is cast in the form of 'futility curses'
which could have been attached to a treaty to describe the punishment
to be inflicted upon the one who violates the terms of the treaty.1
These indications that a treaty of loyalty has been broken may well
reflect the situation in 726-25 BCE when Hoshea ceased to be a loyal
vassal of Assyria by conspiring with other nations and withholding
tribute from Assyria.
Finally, the recitation of the 'righteous acts' of Yahweh (6.5-6)
would have been especially appropriate to the situation of 725. At a
time when Hoshea looked to 'So, king of Egypt' for deliverance,
Micah reminds his audience of how Yahweh had delivered them from
Egypt. Similarly, at a time when Israel was relying upon coalitions
with neighboring states, the prophet reminds his audience of the wellknown story about the harm that these same states once intended (Mic.
6.5a; cf. Num. 23.1-6) and the danger of involvement with these same
states (Mic. 6.5b; cf. Num. 25.1-12). The particular deeds of Yahwe
that Micah chooses are thus well-suited to demonstrate the folly of
coalitions and the wisdom of trusting Yahweh.
Of course, certainty is not possible. Nevertheless, the factors
reflected in Mic. 6.1-7.7 appear to point to a time when Samaria was
in rebellion against Assyria. The reference to a king further suggests
that Hoshea had not yet been arrested. Indeed, the reference to
sacrifices and the declaration to a king may indicate that Micah was
speaking during or shortly after the annual celebration of Hoshea's
enthronement. The expectation of immediate military retaliation may
point to a time shortly after the enthronement festival of 726, before
the Assyrian arrest of Hoshea. In any case, it is clear that Micah skillfully argues that the impending disaster is the result of the failure of
leaders who have chosen to pursue the policies of Omri and Ahab and
who have thus failed to execute their duties faithfully.

1. For the purpose and form of the futility curses see the discussion in Wolff,
Micah, pp. 196-97.

Chapter 6
'THAT DAY THE DECREE WELL BE RESCINDED!'
MICAH 7.8-20

Text and Translation


(8)

(9)

(10)

(11)

Rejoice not over me, O my enemy!


Though I have fallen, I shall rise.1
though I sit in darkness
Yahweh is a light to me.
I will bear the rage of Yahweh
for I have sinned against him!
until he pleads my cause
and executes justice for me.
He will bring me out to the light,
and I shall behold his righteous deeds.
Then my enemy will see, and her shame will cover hershe who said to me:
'Where2 is He, Yahweh3 your God?'
My eyes will gloat over her;
now will she be trodden down
like mud in the streets.
A day for building your walls!

1. Although the verb is in the perfect, the context calls for a future meaning. A
waw may have dropped out since the LXX appears to have read a 'converted perfect'
See Killers, Micah, p. 88, n.a.
2. The MT 'ayyo can be retained. The 3rd masculine suffix anticipates the noun
to which it refers. See Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 132, n.13; Killers, Micah, p. 88,
n.c; J.M.P. Smith, Micah, p. 147.
3. Some have suggested that the divine name is inappropriate in a taunt spoken
by the enemies of Israel and have thus suggested that its occurrence in this verse is
either a deliberate gloss or a scribal error (Renaud, Formation, p. 359; Wolff,
Micah, p. 213). This proposed deletion of the divine name is speculative and
unnecessary, however, and the MT should be retained.

194
(12)

(13)

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


That day1 the decree2 will be rescinded!3
On that day they4 will come to you
from Assyria and the cities of5 Egypt,6
from Tyre7 and as far as the River and the sea;
from the sea and the loftiest mountain.8
And the land will be desolate
on account of its rulers,

1. Although the MT is unusual, its sense is clear and may be defended as


grammatical (Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 132, n.15). Renaud (Formation, p. 359)
and Wolff (Micah, p. 213) note the unusual construction, but offer a translation
essentially the same as the one proposed here. Killer's redivision of the verse does
not solve the problem (Micah, p. 88, n.e).
2. Since the noun hoq does not usually mean 'borders' I have adopted a more
common and equally plausible reading (BDB, p. 349). Other proposed
interpretations are surveyed by Margolis, Micah, p. 75. See the discussion below
under 'Objective Factors'.
3. For this meaning of the verb rhq see below under 'Objective Factors'.
4. The 3rd masculine singular is generally taken as a collective.
5. Most assume a confusion of r and d and emend we 'are to we 'ad (e.g. Allen,
Micah, p. 391, n.38; Wolff, Micah, p. 213; Mays, p. 160, n.e; Renaud, Formation,
p. 36). If one assumes that these verses throughout are based on the common
construction min.,. 'ad the text must be emended to conform to this construction.
Such an assumption is unfounded and not supported by the rest of v. 12 in the MT,
however. The MT may thus be retained. See also Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 133,
n.18; Margolis, Micah, p. 75.
6. In this case masor is another form of misrayim (2 Kgs 19.24; Isa. 37.26; Isa.
19.6). P. Calderone (The Rivers of "Masor"', Bib 42 [1961], pp. 423-32)
emends the phrase to read 'and the city of the rock'. This textual emendation is not
supported by the versional evidence, however, and more importantly, the MT
presents no real problem.
7. The repetition of masor combined with the fact that the LXX presupposes the
reading 'from Tyre' makes it likely that the MT should be emended at this point See
Renaud, Formation, p. 361 and the comments by Calderone, 'The Rivers',
pp. 423-32.
8. The MT literally reads 'sea from sea and mountain of the mountain'. Scholars
have usually resorted to emendations to obtain the reading 'from sea to sea and
mountain to mountain'. Once again, emendations are based on the assumption that
the verses contain a geographical formula based on the construction min... 'ad. The
proposed reading simply rearranges the punctuation, reading the athnah on weyam
rather than nahar so that the first word of 12d ('and sea') is joined with the preceding
phrase. The resulting phrase in 12d can be read 'from the sea to the loftiest
mountain'. Luker (Doom and Hope, p. 133, n.19) and Renaud (Formation, p. 359)
read harhahar as the superlative genitive.

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 195


(14)

(15)
(16)

(17)

(18)

(19)

because of the fruit of their deeds.


Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
the ones dwelling1 alone in the forest,
in the midst of forest land.2
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead as in days of old.
'As when you came out of the land of Egypt
I3 shall cause him to see wonders.'
Nations will see4 and be ashamed of all their power.
They will clasp their hands over their mouths,
their ears will be deaf;
they will lick the dust like a snake,
like those that crawl on the ground;
they will come trembling from their strongholds
to Yahweh our God;
and they will tremble and be afraid because of you.5
Who is a God like you, forgiving iniquity,
and passing over rebellion
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He will not hold his anger forever,
for he delights in kindness.
He will again6 have compassion on us;
He will tread down7 our iniquities.

1. The word sokeni is to be taken as a participle with the yod compaginis (cf.
Deut. 33.16; Jer. 49.16; Obad. 3). So Wolff, Micah, p. 214; Luker, Doom and
Hope, p. 134, n.21; Renaud, Formation, p. 362; Killers, Micah, p. 88.
2. Whether karmel is to be taken as a proper noun or a common noun is a
debated point For the translation adopted here, see below under 'Objective Factors'.
3. Many have emended the first-person verb to a third person (e.g. Allen,
Micah, p. 392, n.43; Killers, Micah, p. 88; Wolff, Micah, p. 214; Mays, Micah,
p. 163, n.b). If one takes this verse as a divine response, however, no emendation
is necessary. See Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 134, n. 22; Renaud, Formation,
p. 362.
4. The verbs could be taken as jussives (Mays, Micah, p. 163; Wolff, Micah,
p. 212) but most commentators understand them as third-person imperfects.
5. The second person refers to Yahweh even though the speaker refers to the
deity in the third person in the preceding line. See Killers, Micah, p. 88; Luker,
Doom and Hope, p. 134, n.23.
6. Literally, 'He will return to have compassion on us'.
7. Some (e.g. Rudolph, Micha, p. 129; Eissfeldt, 'Ein Psalm aus Nord-Israel',
p. 267; Sellin, Das Zwolfprophetenbuch, p. 303) have proposed emending yikbos
to yikab ('wash away'). Although such a reading is supported by a few Greek
manuscripts, the MT should be retained since it is supported by the LXX and the

196

(20)

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis


Then you will cast into the midst of the sea
all of their sins.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob,
kindness to Abraham,
just as you swore to our fathers from days of old.

Unity and Date


Mic. 7.8-20 is usually divided into four distinct units: 8(7)-10, a song
of trust; vv. 11-13, an oracle of salvation; vv. 14-17, a lament; and
vv. 18-20, a hymn of praise.1 There is a consensus that this material
should be understood as a unity even though this unity is generally
considered to be redactional.2 Indeed, a number of factors support the
probability that Mic. 7.8-20 forms a unified block of material. Renaud
has noted the stylistic features that unite these verses.3 For example,
'heritage' occurs both in v. 14 and v. 18, and the word 'sin' (hatta'f)
occurs in vv. 9 and 19. Moreover, the phrase 'days of old' (v. 20)
echoes the phrase 'ancient days' of v. 14, and the verb 'see' (r'ah)
occurs four times distributed throughout the poem (vv. 9, 10, 15,
16). Renaud also demonstrates how the recurrence of meter, the constant reprise of themes, and a natural connection between motifs lend
unity to these verses.
A second factor indicating the unity of Mic. 7.8-20 is the structure of
this section. Gunkel noted that although the four units are of different

versions and because it is the more difficult reading. More importantly,


R.P, Gordon has noted that Akkadian KABASU occurs in both Neo-Babylonian
and Neo-Assyrian texts with the idiomatic meaning 'to forgive/pardon' ('Micah VII
19 and Akkadian Kabasu\ VT 28 [1978], p. 355). It is thus uncertain if 'sin' is
personified here or if the phrase is an idiomatic expression.
1. This general division and identification of the various parts is followed by
Gunkel (The Close of Micah', pp. 115-49); Mays (Micah, pp. 154-56); Wolff
(Micah, pp. 215-17); Allen (Micah, p. 393); Millers (Micah, p. 89); Rudolph
(Micha, p. 131); and Eissfeldt (The Old Testament, p. 251). Of course, others have
divided the section into two or three units, but these proposed divisions have not
convinced a majority of commentators. For other proposals see Schibler, Le
Prophete Michee, p. 70, notes 20 and 21.
2. A possible exception is Luker, who discusses the possibility that 'the
prophet' is the one who 'produced' such a lament (Doom and Hope, pp. 214-15).
3. Renaud, Formation, pp. 369-70.

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 197


genres, they are arranged into two balanced pairs: the song of trust
(vv. 8-10) is answered by a divine oracle (vv. 11-13) and the lament
(vv. 14-17) is balanced by a hymn of assurance (vv. 18-20).1 This
clearly discernible structure suggests that the material was deliberately
arranged into a whole either by the author or an editor.
More important than the balanced structure of these verses is the
fact that all of these units are typical components of the genre of the
lament.2 Although the arrangement and number of these components
may vary3 the lament may include a confession and expression of
confidence (vv. 8-10), a divine oracle (vv. 11-13, 15), a plea for
restoration (vv. 14-17) and a vow or exclamation of praise (cf.
vv. 18-20). The four sub-units of Micah 7.8-20 are therefore typical
components of the larger form of the lament and thus express the
unity of that form.
Finally, the unity of Mic. 7.8-20 is supported by the fact that a similar situation is assumed throughout the poem. Each section presupposes that the community is defeated and is powerless to act on its own
behalf. Indeed, Yahweh alone is able to intervene for Israel's vindication and restoration. Thus, one day Yahweh will vindicate his people
and defeat her enemies who now rejoice. Unlike the preceding section
which anticipates defeat and destruction, all of Mic. 7.8-20 assumes
that defeat and destruction have occurred and anticipates restoration.
The fact that Mic. 7.8-20 is comprised of elements typical of the
lament genre coupled with the assumed situation of national defeat
suggests that the poem was a liturgy meant to be used on an occasion
of lamentation and confession.4 Although we cannot be certain that the
author was not merely modelling his work after such a liturgy, the
possibility that Mic. 7.8-20 was used in a liturgical setting suggests
1. Gunkel, The Close of Micah', pp. 142-49.
2. See the discussion by Luker, Doom and Hope, pp. 197-209. For the
component parts of the lament genre see E. Gerstenberger, 'Psalms', in J.H. Hayes
(ed.), Old Testament Form Criticism (San Antonio, TX: Trinity University Press,
1977), pp. 200, 206.
3. Gerstenberger, 'Psalms', p. 200.
4. Among those who have proposed a cultic setting for Mic. 7.8-20 are Gunkel,
The Close of Micah', pp. 115-49; Reicke, 'Liturgical Traditions', pp. 349-67;
Kapelrud, 'Eschatology', pp. 25-28. Similar liturgical settings are apparently
assumed by Eissfeldt, The Old Testament, p. 251; Allen, Micah, p. 393; and Hillers
(Micah, p. 89), who refers to the material as a 'liturgy'.

198

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

that a final factor lending unity to this section is its liturgical function
and possible Sitz im Leben in the cult.
With very few exceptions scholars have assigned Mic. 7.8-20 to the
exilic or post-exilic period.1 Support for this date comes from two
basic arguments.2 First, it is suggested that the themes and motifs of
Mic. 7.8-20 reflect the exilic or post-exilic theological concerns similar to those found in the book of Lamentations. The motifs usually
cited include the admission of responsibility for sin which has brought
punishment (Mic. 7.9; Lam. 1.8-9, 17-18; 5.15-18), the belief in
Yahweh's pardon (Mic. 7.18-20; Lam. 3.31-33), and the taunts of the
enemies (Lam. 1.21; 2.15-16; 3.31-33; Mic. 7.8). Additional motifs
common to Mic. 7.8-20 and Lamentations include the imagery of
darkness (Mic. 7.8; Lam. 5.17) and the reference to solitude (Lam.
1.1; 3.8; Mic. 7.14a). Finally the prayer for a renewal of the 'ancient
days' is found in both Micah and Lamentations (Mic. 7.14, 20; Lam.
5.21).
Similar lines of connections are also found between Mic. 7.8-20 and
Isa. 59.9-15 and 63.7-64.12.3 In particular this portion of Trito-Isaiah
contains the form-critical elements of confession, complaint before
Yahweh, and an appeal to the marvels of ancient days. In addition, it
is pointed out that Isa. 63.16 refers to the promise to Abraham (cf.
Mic. 7.20) which is not found in the pre-exilic prophets.
Finally, an exilic or post-exilic date is supported by the assumption
that the speaker in Mic. 7.8 is Jerusalem after the destruction of 586
BCE (cf. Lam. l.l). 4 The address to the enemies is assumed to be
Jerusalem's address to Edom (Lam. 4.21; Ps. 137.7; Isa. 34.5-17;
Obadiah), and the walls which are to be rebuilt are assumed to be the
walls of Jerusalem.
In spite of the evidence, the case for an exilic or post-exilic date for
1. Notable exceptions include Smith, The Twelve Prophets, p. 734; van
Hoonacker, Les douze petits prophetes, p. 353; and Eissfeldt, 'Ein Psalm aus NordIsrael', pp. 359-68; Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 214. Willis concedes that the poem
could have originated in the eighth century ('Hope Oracle', p. 76). Hillers believes
that Mic. 7.8-20 'fits conditions in Micah's time...' (Micah, p. 89).
2. Both of these arguments are presented in detail by Renaud (Formation,
pp. 276-77) and Wolff (Micah, pp. 217-20).
3. See Renaud, (Formation, p. 376); Wolff (Micah, p. 219).
4. In addition to Renaud and Wolff see Mays (Micah, pp. 163, 167) and Allen
(Micah, pp. 393-94).

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 199


Mic. 7.8-20 is not particularly strong. First, one must be cautious in
drawing conclusions concerning the date based on similar elements in
Lamentations and Trito-Isaiah. Some of the supposed similarities are
quite questionable. For example, does Lam. 5.17 ('our eyes have
grown dim') really use the same theme of darkness and light found in
Mic. 7.8 ("Though I sit in darkness...')? In addition, the imagery of
darkness and light is employed in Isaiah 59 in a way quite different
from its use in Mic. 7.8. In the former text darkness refers to injustice
while in the latter text darkness refers to a military defeat. Such distant similarities suggest very few valid conclusions concerning the
date of Micah 7.
Similarly the occurrence of the name 'Abraham' forms at best a
distant parallel to post-exilic prophetic works. The post-exilic prophets
always referred to Abraham as an individual. In contrast, Mic. 7.20
uses the name to designate the entire community.1 It is questionable
that far-reaching conclusions regarding the date of material should be
drawn upon the use of the same term in significantly different ways.
More importantly, a large number of the motifs and theological
themes common to Mic. 7.8-20, Lamentations and Trito-Isaiah are
poor indicators of a specific date since these elements are typical of
the lament genre in a wide variety of settings over an extended period
of time.2 For example, the admission that punishment is deserved is
the equivalent to the confession of sin found in laments such as Pss.
26.4-6 and 51.5-7. Laments in the Psalms also routinely contain
expressions of confidence in Yahweh's mercy and pardon (Ps. 13.6;
22.10-11; 31.2-6; 142.6) and include allusions to the taunts of the sufferer's enemies (Ps. 42.4, 11; 79.10). Other elements Mic. 7.8-20
shares with the lament genre are the plea for vindication and the
defeat of one's enemies (Pss. 17.6-9; 80.14-17; 83.9-18), and a reference to Yahweh's mighty acts (Pss. 9.2; 26.7; 86.10; 71.17; 77;
83.10).
We may thus conclude that Lamentations, Trito-Isaiah and Mic. 7.820 contain a number of motifs and elements that are typical of the
lament genre. Such stock elements certainly are used to express a
situation of national distress, but their occurrence in a variety of
1.
231.
2.

This unique use of the term 'Abraham' is noted by Wolff, Micah, pp. 219,
See Luker, Doom and Hope, pp. 197-209.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Psalms suggests that their usage was not limited to the time after the
destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE; rather, they could be employed
in any lament when the situation was appropriate.
Finally, it is important to remember that Lamentations repeatedly
identifies the fallen city and community as Jerusalem and Judah. In
contrast, the feminine figure who speaks in Mic. 7.8-10 is never
specifically identified as Jerusalem. It may also be significant that there
is no reference to the temple or altar as is found in Lamentations
(2.6-7.20), nor is the enemy identified as Edom. In addition, although
the word for 'walls' in Mic. 7.11 is only rarely used of the walls of a
city,1 it is not certain that the city walls of Jerusalem are meant. It
thus remains nothing more than an assumption that the speaker in Mic.
7.8-20 is the city of Jerusalem after its destruction in 586 BCE.
Whether or not this assumption is a valid one can only be decided by a
closer examination of the objective factors of the rhetorical situation.
The significant conclusion to be noted here is that the evidence for
dating Mic. 7.8-20 is open to more than one interpretation. In the
absence of strong evidence to the contrary the possibility must be left
open that the poem dates to the time of Micah and reflects the
conditions of that time.
The Rhetorical Situation
Objective Factors
The presence of typical elements of the lament genre in Mic. 7.8-20
presents a unique challenge to one attempting to isolate the factors that
constitute the rhetorical situation. Nevertheless, while it may be
difficult to isolate the particular situation presupposed by the poem, it
is logical to assume that the outline of the general situation can be
determined. In other words, it is safe to assume that a lament over a
military defeat would not be used on the occasion of a natural disaster.
The typical elements are therefore reliable in defining the general
outline of the particular situation.
Further insight into the rhetorical situation can be gained by careful
attention to the unique features contained in Mic. 7.8-20. The

1.

Hillers, Micah, p. 90.

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 201


particular aspect of the rhetorical situation may well be revealed in
those very elements which appear not to fit the expected pattern of the
lament genre. As we shall see, the difficult and enigmatic contents of
vv. 11-13 may be the key to discovering the situation that prompted
the composition of this lament. Taken together, the typical features
along with the unexpected elements can provide insight into those
factors which produced the lament of Mic. 7.8-20.
The most obvious factor that is presupposed throughout this
material is that the community has suffered a military defeat. In
traditional language the community is described as 'fallen' (v. 8) and
humiliated by the taunts of her enemies (v. 10). The plea for the
defeat and humiliation of the enemies (v. 10, vv. 16-17) also suggests
that these same enemies are responsible for the defeat of the community that laments. The helpless condition of the defeated community is
underscored by the emphasis on the need for miraculous, divine interventions similar to the exodus to bring about restoration and renewal
(vv. 14-17).
Two further indications that Yahweh's people have suffered a military defeat appear in v. 11. First, v. l l a clearly indicates that walls
are in need of repair. Since the word used for 'walls' is not the typical
term designating the wall of a city, it has been suggested that the
reference is a metaphorical allusion to the defences of the land.1
Support for such a conclusion appears to be found in v. 1 Ib if one
translates the verse, 'On that day your borders will be enlarged'.2
Thus v. lla apparently stands parallel to a description of an enlargement of national boundaries rather than the restoration of a particular
city.
Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that v. lla refers to the
walls of a city. Though not common, the term is used for city walls in
Ezra 9.9, Jer. 49.3, and Ps. 89.41. In addition, it is far from certain
that the following verse refers to the extension of the boundaries of
the nation. Indeed, when used alone, the noun hoq never refers to the

1. Willi-Plein, Vorformen, pp. 107-8; Hillers notes that the term may indicate
'walled towns in general' (Micah, p. 90). Reicke makes a similar observation
('Liturgical Traditions', p. 363).
2. Such an interpretation is given by Wolff, Micah, p. 212; Mays, Micah,
p. 160; Hillers, Micah, p. 87; Reicke, 'Liturgical Traditions', p. 363; Luker, Doom
and Hope, p. 104.

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borders of a nation although it may refer to natural limits.1


What then is meant by the phrase yirhaq hoql Some have concluded
that the MT is corrupt and must be emended to yield an intelligible
meaning. Most often it is suggested that hoq be interpreted as 'the
appointed time' and yirhaq be emended to some form of dahaq so that
the verse conveys the meaning 'the appointed time presses near'.2
Others have suggested that the MT should read yirhaqhaq? The verse
could then read 'The day for building your walls, even that day should
be far removed'. While these emendations are possible they have no
textual support since the versions appear to presuppose the MT. The
simplest solution may be to assign the common meaning of both the
noun and the verb in v. lib. The noun hoq used alone generally
refers to a decree, statute, or ordinance,4 and the verb yirhaq usually
means 'to become distant', or 'to remove'.5 Apparently, the root of
the verb also conveyed the idea, 'to rescind' or 'renounce'. In the
Elephantine texts, the Aramaic expression spr mrhq designates a 'deed
of renunciation'.6 The MT of Mic. 7.11 could thus be rendered, 'The
day when the decree will be rescinded/renounced'.
In the context of Mic. 7.8-20 the 'decree' may well be a reference
to the terms imposed upon the defeated community by the conquering
enemies.7 Such an interpretation is plausible since the reversal of these
terms would coincide with the rebuilding of fortifications destroyed
by enemy armies. It may be significant that a sentence or decree was
pronounced on a rebellious vassal by a conquering king (cf. 2 Kgs
25.6). In any case, it is reasonable to conclude that vv. 11 and 12
refer to the rebuilding of fallen defenses and the end of the subjugation or political arrangements decreed by the conquerors. The community thus finds itself defeated and helpless, but looking for a day of
restoration.
1. Willi-Plein, Vorformen, pp. 107-108.
2. Eissfeldt, 'Bin Psalm aus Nord-Israel', p. 266; Gunkel, The Close of
Micah', p. 129; Rudolph, Micha, p. 128.
3. Cited by Margolis, Micah, p. 75.
4. BDB, p. 349, especially number 6.
5. BDB, pp. 934-35.
6. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri, p. 16, no. 6, line 22.
7. Similarly, Margolis suggests the decree is a 'decree of destruction' (Micah,
p. 75). This is how the phrase is understood by most of the versions. See Rudolph,
Micha, p. 128, n. e.

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 203


A second objective factor concerns the geographical situation of the
community: is either the community or a part of the community in
exile? Some have interpreted Mic. 7.12 as a description of the return
of people from a 'widely spread diaspora'.1 Others have suggested that
the verse depicts not a return from exile, but the pilgrimage of the
nations to an exalted Zion.2 Such an interpretation of v. 12 is suggested by the fact that the motif of the pilgrimage of the nations is a
stock element in the Zion tradition.3
Another possible interpretation has been proposed by Margolis,
who understands v. 12 as a description of an assault by the enemies of
Israel.4 A number of factors appear to support this interpretation.
First, the verb in the MT is the third masculine singular rather than a
plural. While the singular may be a collective, it may also refer to the
'enemy' as in Mic. 5.4-5. More importantly, Margolis correctly points
out that v. 13 yields no satisfactory sense if v. 12 refers to a return
from exile: why should a return coincide with a desolation of 'the
land' whether it is the land of Palestine or foreign lands? Mays has
suggested that vv. 12-13 are meant to picture a 'complete contrast
between Zion and the rest of the world...' 5 Such a contrast is not
found in other traditions about the exaltation of Zion, however, and
supposed parallels (e.g. Obad. 16; Joel 4.18-20; Zech. 14.10-11; Jer.
24.1-6) are at best distant since none contrasts the destruction of the
land to the exaltation of Zion. Also, the most natural interpretation of
'the land' {ha'ares) is not 'the rest of the world', but 'the land of
Israel'.
The difficulty posed by v. 13 may be explained by classifying v. 13
as a gloss,6 but it is difficult to understand why a gloss would be added
that results in confusion rather than clarity. Verse 13 thus appears to
stand in contradiction to the concept of a return from exile or a
pilgrimage of the nations. On the other hand, if v. 12 is understood
as a reference to an enemy attack, the destruction or desolation
1. Mays, Micah, p. 161. Also Wellhausen, Kleinen Propheten, p. 149; Wolff,
Micah, p. 224; Rudolph, Micha, p. 133.
2. Eissfeldt, 'Bin Psalm aus Nord-Israel', pp. 259-68.
3. See above, Chapter 3, 'Objective Factors'.
4. Margolis, Micah, pp. 75-76.
5. Mays, Micah, p. 162.
6. So Renaud, Formation, p. 366. Wolff (Micah, p. 216) argues that all of
vv. 11-12 is a later addition, and v. 13 is an even later gloss.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

of the land of Palestine would be a logical result.


A final clue that v. 12 does not refer to a diaspora is the difference
between this verse and other texts that describe a return from exile.
Isa. 11.11-16; 27.12 and Zech. 10.8-12 are often cited as parallels to
Mic. 7.11-12.1 Yet, in all of these supposed parallels, it is stated
explicitly that Yahweh himself will 'gather' his people from various
distant lands. In Mic. 7.12, however, there is no gathering of the
people by Yahweh; rather, the text states that 'he will come to you'
from the distant places of the earth. Whatever the subject of the verb,
it is clear that what is depicted in Mic. 7.12 is not a divine act, but an
act initiated by human will. A profound theological difference thus
exists between Mic. 7.12 and those texts that clearly describe a return
from exile. This difference may be explained by the possibility that
Mic. 7.12 is not a description of a return, but a declaration of a
movement of people which will accompany the desolation of the land.
While the proposal of Margolis is closer to the meaning of the verse
there remain some obstacles to his interpretation. First, Margolis himself acknowledges that an enemy would not be described as coming
'to' ('ad) the speaker, but as coming 'against' ('at).2 His suggestion that
the text be 'corrected' at this point cannot be accepted since there is no
support for such an emendation. In addition, it must be remembered
that there is nothing to prevent one from interpreting the singular
verb as a collective. Indeed, in this case it is quite natural to understand the verb not as a reference to a specific enemy but to an
indefinite 'they'.
A third possibility must be considered. Mic. 7.12 may refer to the
settlement of people from other countries in the land of Israel as a
result of rebellion. Indeed, in the eighth century it was Assyrian
policy to deal with rebellious vassals through deportation of the population and resettlement of other peoples in the area.3 Such a policy of
deportation and resettlement was no doubt well known to most nations
who had experienced any dealings with Assyria. It may well be that
this policy is what the prophet has in mind in v. 12. Such an interpretation explains how people from every possible direction would 'come
1. Mays, Micah, p. 162; Wolff, Micah, p. 224.
2. Margolis, Micah, p. 76.
3. Donner, 'The Separate States', p. 419; B. Oded, Mass Deportations and
Deportees in the Neo-Assyrian Empire (Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 1979).

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 205


to' the speaker and at the same time how the land itself could be
described as desolate or 'empty'.
The proposed reading of v. 12 indicates that those who are settled
in the land will come from all directions. 'Assyria and the cities of
Egypt' represents the northern and southern extremes from which the
people will come. Verse 12b indicates the eastern and western points
from which the people will come: Tyre lies to the west, and the 'river'
and the 'sea' probably represent the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf in
the east.1 Finally, v. 12c indicates another east-west axis, slightly to
the south of the preceding one. In this case, the 'sea' is probably the
Mediterranean2 and the 'loftiest' mountain may be Mount Hermon, the
highest mountain in Syria-Palestine.
It is difficult to determine how to evaluate the geographical information in v. 12. On the one hand, if the people who are to be settled
in the land come from these places it is logical to assume that they are
occupied or controlled by the enemy. On the other hand, the prophet
may simply use these places to emphasize his belief about the diversity
of the population that will inherit the land. In any case, the text probably does not present a picture of a return from exile or an attack by
the nations; rather it describes both the movement of foreign people
into the land of Israel as well as the desolation of the land.
While a widespread diaspora is not presupposed by vv. 11-13, the
community apparently dwells in a much reduced territory. The plea
that God's people may dwell in Bashan and Gilead (v. 14c) is generally taken as an indication that these Transjordanian areas have been
lost to Israelite control. The community is clearly confined to the
territory west of the Jordan.
If v. 14c is clear, v. 14b presents a number of difficulties to the
interpreter. First, the participle at the beginning of the line does not
agree in gender with the preceding noun. This apparent grammatical
difficulty led Eissfeldt to theorize that the verse is a descriptive title
for Yahweh: 'He who dwells alone in the forest in the midst of
Carmel'.3 Little support has been given to Eissfeldt's interpretation,
however, since there is no evidence that such a title was ever applied
1. For this identification of the 'sea' and the 'river' see Rudolph, Micha, p. 133
and Margolis, Micah, p. 76.
2. Rudolph, Micha, p. 133; Margolis, Micah, p. 76.
3. Eissfeldt, 'Bin Psalm aus Nord-Israel', pp. 259-68.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

to Yahweh. Moreover, most commentators have recognized the participle as a collective which takes as its antecedent the masculine noun
'people' in the preceding verse.1 The apparent grammatical difficulties
are thus not great enough to justify the kind of interpretation
proposed by Eissfeldt.
A second problem is the interpretation of the noun karmel. In the
Old Testament the term occurs both as a common noun meaning
'forested land' and as a proper noun referring to the Carmel ridge
which divided the Plain of Acco and the Plain of Sharon.2 It is
difficult to determine whether Mic. 7.14b designates the Carmel ridge
or refers to fertile upland. In support of interpreting karmel as a
common noun it has been pointed out that there is no proper noun in
parallelism with Carmel in this verse.3 In addition, there is no situation known in which the people of God were confined to the area of
Mount Carmel.4 The verse may thus be rendered: 'Who dwell alone in
a forest, in the midst of forest land'. The image intended is one in
which the people are confined to scrub and forested upland which is
surrounded by fertile land inhabited by others.
One is thus able to make two observations about the geographical
situation addressed by Mic. 7.8-20. First, there is no evidence for a
widespread diaspora if Mic. 7.12 does not refer to a return from
exile. Rather, v. 12 appears to refer to the arrival of foreigners in the
land of Israel. Second, the country itself is reduced in size with the
Transjordanian areas beyond access to God's people. Indeed, the
community can be described as isolated and living on land comparable
to a wilderness that is not suitable for human habitation.
A final objective factor which must be determined is the identity of
those addressed by this poem. As I have noted in the previous section,
the conclusion that the speaker in vv. 8-10 is Jerusalem amounts to
nothing more than an assumption. Indeed, a significant number of
scholars have suggested that the city who speaks in these verses may
well be Samaria.5 Two arguments support the possibility that the
1. Killers, Micah, p. 88; Wolff, Micah, p. 214; Renaud, Formation, p. 362.
2. G.W. Van Beck, 'Mount Carmel', IDB, I, p. 538.
3. Rudolph, Micha, p. 129; Renaud, Formation, p. 362.
4. Hillers, Micah, p. 91.
5. Smith, Twelve Prophets, p. 534; van Hoonacker, Les douze petits prophetes
pp. 392,394, 409; F. Burkitt, 'Micah 6 and7: a Northern Prophecy', JBL 45 (1926),
pp. 159-60; Reicke, 'Liturgical Traditions', pp. 349-67; Kapelrud, 'Eschatology',

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 207


poem concerns Samaria and the northern kingdom.1
First, it is often noted that the places named in Mic. 7.14 are all
located in territory generally assigned to the northern kingdom. This
evidence must be weighed carefully, however, since Bashan and
Gilead may be 'explained as geographical references chosen for their
fertile grazing lands and their location at the northern extreme of
Israel's territory when she was at her largest'.2 In other words, the
restoration of these Transjordanian areas was not an exclusively
northern interest since a renewal of the Davidic kingdom would
encompass Bashan and Gilead. Nevertheless, even with this caution
about the significance of the references to Bashan and Gilead,
Kapelrud's observation about this material is still valid:
It is geographically outside the Judean perspectives of Ezekiel and
Nehemiah, and does not mention Babylon and Jerusalem, but Assyria in
v. 12 and Carmel, Bashan and Gilead in v. 14. These names refer to the
historical and geographical horizon of the Northern Kingdom.3

Thus while the reference to Bashan and Gilead provides no conclusive


evidence concerning the identity of the audience, the interest in these
areas along with an absence of any references to Jerusalem or Judah
does create at the least a 'northern perspective'.4
A second argument for identifying the audience as a northern one is
the absence of any references to Davidic or Zion traditions.5 If the
p. 405; Eissfeldt, 'Bin Psalm aus Nord-Israel', pp. 259-68; J. Dus, 'Weiteres zum
nordisraelitischen Psalm Micha 7.7-20', ZDMG 115 (1965), pp. 14-22; Willis
('Hope Oracle', p. 69. For other scholars, see Willis, 'Hope Oracle', p. 69, n. 1.
1. Willis, ('Hope Oracle', pp. 69-71) lists three. The third argument, based on
the proximity of Mic. 7.8-20 to the supposed northern material in 6.1-7.4 carries
little weight, however.
2. Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 212.
3. Kapelrud, 'Eschatology', p. 363. This observation is valid even though
Carmel is probably not to be taken as a proper place name.
4. It should be noted that this author is not suggesting a northern origin for this
material; rather arguing that the liturgy deals with the northern kingdom and was
intended for a northern audience. See below, 'Historical Possibilities'.
5. While some have suggested that the traditions in this section are 'northern', it
is doubtful that one can identify exclusively northern traditions which would not have
been known by a prophet in Judah. Hillers notes that even if the traditions were
originally northern, they may have quickly assumed an all-Israel perspective (Micah,
p. 90; also see Luker, Doom and Hope, p. 212).

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

fallen city is Jerusalem, one could reasonably expect to uncover parts


of the Zion tradition, if not an explicit reference to that city. The
absence of Zion and Davidic traditions argues against identifying the
audience which has suffered defeat as the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and
suggests that the poem's focus is the northern kingdom.
Admittedly, the evidence for a northern audience is not conclusive.
On the other hand, it is difficult to adduce any evidence that the subject of the poem is Jerusalem and Judah. The geographical references
and the absence of Davidic or Zion traditions suggest the possibility
that the audience for whom this lament was intended was a northern
one.
Subjective Factors
The subjective factors in Mic. 7.8-20 are comprised of the prophet's
evaluation of the situation and the audience's assessment of its circumstances. The very fact that the prophet utilizes the lament genre
reveals a belief that the situation calls for confession, acts of mourning, and an acknowledgment of guilt for the present catastrophe.
Moreover, the poem reveals an almost passive attitude concerning the
immediate future. The course of action envisioned is not one of
resistance and struggle, but one in which the community must quietly
bear the wrath of Yahweh and wait for Yahweh to restore the community and execute justice.
In fact, any human attempt at restoration is described as ending in
further catastrophe. Many have taken vv. 11-12 as a divine oracle
which announces the restoration of the community and the return
from exile.1 As I have suggested, however, v. 12 appears to be a
description of a further disaster which will leave the land completely
devastated (v. 13). If this interpretation is correct, vv. 11-13 do not
constitute an oracle of salvation, but a warning against any attempt to
rebuild defences or rebel against the terms imposed by the enemy's
decree. Indeed, 'that day' when the walls are rebuilt and 'that day'
when the decree is renounced is the very day when a complete
resettlement of the land will take place.
It is quite possible that v. 11 reveals the attitude of at least some in
1. Mays, Mic ah, p. 154; Gunkel, 'The Close of Micah', p. 130;
D.G. Hagstrom, The Coherence of the Book ofMicah: A Literary Analysis (SBLDS
89; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988), p. 109.

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 209


the prophet's audience. If it is necessary for Micah to warn against
rebuilding and rebellion, it is logical to assume that some are calling
for these very actions. In contrast, the prophet calls for a time of
repentance and mourning. The immediate future thus calls for a
course of action in which the community bears the wrath of Yahweh.
Of course, Micah is not opposed to the restoration and rebuilding of
the community. In the prophet's view, however, restoration and
renewalas well as revengewill come about through Yahweh's
direct intervention in history. A time similar to the exodus from
Egypt is thus envisioned when Yahweh himself will show signs and
wonders, causing all nations to tremble and humiliating the enemies of
the community.
Micah's view of the time of restoration is also revealed in v. 14.
While members of the audience appear to be calling for rebellion and
military action, Micah calls for Yahweh to shepherd his people. It
may also be significant that Micah's prayer is not for a restoration of
military might, but for a time of peace in which those who are now
dispossessed can live safely in the best lands which were traditionally
claimed by Israel.
Undergirding the prophet's belief that restoration will come about
as a result of Yahweh's actions is his belief in the faithfulness of
Yahweh (v. 18). It is this confidence in the faithfulness of Yahweh
that makes it possible to bear Yahweh's wrath and to wait patiently for
divine redeeming acts. This same confidence in Yahweh is what Micah
must try to instill in his audience as he warns them against taking
matters into their own hands and as he invites them to join in
repentance and confession.
Goals and Strategy
Even though Mic. 7.8-20 manifests many features of a liturgy, this
material also functions as an attempt to persuade the audience to
accept a certain point of view. Since he has composed a lament, the
prophet obviously believes that lamentation and confession are appropriate responses to the current situation. As has been noted, however,
the objective factors appear to indicate that some in the audience do
not share the prophet's conclusions. The liturgy thus has as its goal to
persuade its hearers that lamentation, confession and a patient

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

acceptance of punishment comprise the best course of action for the


immediate future.
Mic. 7.8-20 seeks to achieve its goal through a variety of rhetorical
devices. An analysis of how the liturgy attempts to persuade is assisted
by the following outline:
I.

II.

III.

IV.

Thesis: Even though I have fallen, I will rise (8)


A. Description of present situation
1. Humiliated by enemy (8a)
2. Fallen, in darkness (8b, c)
B. Confidence towards future
I . I shall rise (8b)
2. Yahweh will be a light to me (8c)
Development of Thesis (9, 10)
A. Confession: punishment is justified (9a)
B. Expressions of confidence in Yahweh (9b, c)
1. He will plead my cause (9b)
2. He will bring me to light (9c)
C. Result of Yahweh's acts to vindicate speaker
1. Enemy will see and be ashamed (lOa)
2. Speaker will see and gloat (lOc)
3. Enemy will be destroyed (lOd)
Refutation: Divine warning against revenge (11-13)
A. Slogans of those calling for immediate action (11)
B. Result of any immediately attempted revenge (12-13)
1. Resettlement of land with foreigners (12)
2. Desolation of the land (13)
Reasons to wait confidently on Yahweh (14-20)
A. Yahweh is a shepherd to the dispossessed (14)
B. Yahweh himself promises restoration (15-17)
1. Yahweh's promise (15)
2. Results of Yahweh's deeds (16, 17)
C. Yahweh is incomparable in mercy (18-20)
1. The kind, forgiving nature of Yahweh (18)
2. Application of theological formula to
present situation (19-20)
a. Complete removal of sin
b. Keeping of promise to patriarchs

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 211


The opening verse of the lament sets the tone and concisely states the
thesis for the entire liturgy: even though disaster has come, Yahweh
will bring a restoration. By use of a direct address to the 'enemy' the
speaker very quickly establishes the nature of the relationship among
the concerned parties. On the one hand, the 'enemy' who rejoices
presumably is responsible for the misfortune of the speaker. On the
other hand, the speaker currently suffers, but expects Yahweh to
vindicate her. Yahweh is thus presented as an ally of the speaker and
an adversary of the enemy. Both the thesis and the interrelationship
among Yahweh, the speaker, and the enemy is further developed in
the following verses.
Verse 9 is a confession in which the speaker acknowledges her sin
against Yahweh as well as her confidence that he will vindicate her.
With that vindication, the enemy who has served as an instrument for
Yahweh's judgment will be punished and humiliated (v. 10). It is
clear, however, that the punishment of the enemy is the work of
Yahweh who 'executes justice' and causes people to see 'his righteous
deeds'. Throughout, the speaker is passive: she is brought out to the
light and observes Yahweh's deeds and finally watches with satisfaction as the enemy is trampled like mud in the streets. It is thus clear
that Yahweh is the one who is to act while the speaker waits and
watches for restoration.
How can the audience be convinced to accept the passive role
assigned to it? Most scholars recognize that the speaker in vv. 8-10 is
a representative of the community or the congregation as it participates, literally or figuratively, in a liturgy of confession and lamentation.1 The audience therefore is not allowed to disengage itself from
the rhetorical process. Rather, the hearers must become directly
involved, either by speaking the words of confession and lamentation
or by deciding if the speaker truly represents their attitudes. In either
case, the cultic setting as well as the representative nature of these
verses create a powerful emotional appeal that will not allow the
audience the privilege of being unmoved spectators.
Undergirding the powerful invitation to own the confession and
lament is an appeal to the audience's desire for revenge. The prophet
clearly suggests that the opportunity to see the destruction of the
enemy comes through accepting punishment and allowing Yahweh to
1.

See the list in Hagstrom, Coherence of the Book of Micah, pp. 108-109.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

execute justice by his righteous deeds. The affirmation of Yahweh's


faithfulness in these verses comforts the suffering community and
intends to create in the audience a willingness to wait for Yahweh to
act (v. 9). In v. 10 the prophet paints a vivid picture of the time
when the enemy is defeated and the suffering community is able to
gloat over her destruction. The description of the destruction of the
one who has inflicted suffering no doubt was intended to stir a deep
emotional response from the suffering community.
Verses 11-13 also address the question of revenge. The fragmentary
nature of the sentences in v. 11 suggests that the prophet may be quoting
the slogans of those who seek immediate revenge by calling for the
rebuilding of defences and the repudiation of the terms decreed by the
enemy. Micah uses the slogans against those who quote them by stating
that the day of rebuilding and rebellion will result in greater
destruction and defeat. These verses thus function as a refutation of
those who are calling for immediate rebellion against the enemy.
The refutation is based on both an emotional appeal and an appeal to
authority. The quotation of calls for rebellion continues to play on the
audience's desire for revenge, causing them to become more involved
in the liturgy. In addition, the repetition of the key phrase 'that day'
builds an intensity which holds the audience's attention. The redundant
and comprehensive description in v. 12 paints a vivid picture of a
complete resettlement of the land by foreigners. The implication is
that the course of action envisioned in v. 11 is futile since the result
will be an overwhelming defeat.
The prophet's argument at this point is also based on an appeal to
authority. Most scholars understand these verses as a divine response
to the confession and lament of vv. 8-10.1 Since these words are
presented as those of Yahweh himself they represent the highest
authority possible for the audience.
The prophet now turns his attention to setting forth reasons why
Yahweh can be trusted to vindicate his people. In v. 14 the prophet or
the people speaks once again. The focus has now changed from a
concern for revenge to a concern for those who are now dispossessed
by the destruction that has come.
Beyond serving as a plea for the safety of those who suffer, the
verse reminds its hearers of the intimate relation between Yahweh and
1.

Hagstrom, Coherence of the Book ofMicah, pp. 104-105.

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 213


his people. In metaphorical language, Yahweh is depicted as the shepherd who is concerned for his flock. Indeed, they are his 'inheritance'.
Mays notes that the term 'inheritance' eventually 'came to be used for
the people as the special possession of YHWH created by his
election...'1 The emphasis on the intimate relationship between
Yahweh and his people once again invites the audience into a relationship in which they trust Yahweh for guidance as sheep rely on the
shepherd to lead them to good pastures. Thus, the metaphor of sheep
and shepherd reiterates the relationship established in vv. 8-10.
Yahweh is the one who acts and is to be trusted. The people must wait
for Yahweh's deeds and depend on his guidance.
A second reason that Yahweh is to be trusted to vindicate his people
is found in v. 15. Here the intervention of Yahweh which the prophet
announced in vv. 9-10 is now promised by Yahweh himself.2
Obviously, the divine announcement utilizes an appeal to authority
since the words are attributed to Yahweh. In addition, the reference to
the exodus serves as an appeal to Israel's tradition and provides a concrete example of how Yahweh has previously intervened in history.
Moreover, the allusion to the exodus invites the audience to consider
that such an intervention is again possible.
To help his audience imagine another divine intervention in their
history, the prophet depicts in vivid language the results of Yahweh's
causing the enemy to see wonders. Verses 16-17 describe the fear and
humiliation the hostile nations will feel when Yahweh acts to vindicate
his people. Verse 16 depicts the effect of Yahweh's deeds on the senses
of the enemy. This emphasis on the senses underscores the reality of
Yahweh's deeds: they can be seen, and they impact both speech and
hearing. Verse 16 thus presents the audience with a vivid picture of
the results of Yahweh's intervention by stressing both the reality and
the power of his deeds.
Similarly, v. 17 presents a concrete picture of the humiliation of
the enemy. They will be like a serpent licking the dust. More importantly, v. 17 closes with a reminder that the humiliation of the enemy
will be the result of Yahweh's work. The enemy comes trembling to
Yahweh and is in fear because of what he has done. The prophet thus
1. Mays, Micah, p. 164.
2. The verbs in the MT are in the first person and need not be emended if it is
assumed that Yahweh is the speaker.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

once again returns to his theme that the people are helpless to act and
must wait for Yahweh who has promised to show the enemy wonders
like the exodus.
A final reason Yahweh is to be trusted is that it is his nature to have
compassion and not to remain angry (v. 18). Mays has pointed out
that these concluding verses sound 'like a hymn composed on the text
of the theological formula, "Yahweh, a God compassionate and
gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and faithfulness"
(Exod. 34.6; Neh. 9.18; Pss. 86.15; 103.8; 145.8; Jon. 4.2)'.! It may
well be that the prophet has this familiar formula in mind at this
point. If so, these verses appeal to a tradition which was probably well
known to the audience. The assertion that Yahweh can be trusted is
thus undergirded by an appeal to a tradition which the audience
accepted as authoritative. Although the question at the beginning of
v. 18 is directed to Yahweh, it is also asked in order to invite the
audience to consider the answer. Such leading questions involve the
audience in the persuasive process as they formulate the expected
answer that Yahweh is incomparable in his mercy.
Having obtained the audience's assent that Yahweh is compassionate
and merciful, the prophet announces how the merciful nature of
Yahweh will make itself known in the present situation (vv. 19-20):
Yahweh will have compassion, and remove all sins. Through the
repetition of images of God dealing with sin, the prophet focuses the
audience's attention on the forgiving nature of Yahweh.
The speech closes by again focusing on the intimate relationship
between Yahweh and his people. They are his 'inheritance'.
Moreover, the reference to Jacob and Abraham reminds the community of its special history and relationship to Yahweh.2 No doubt, the
reference to Jacob and Abraham reminded the audience of Yahweh's
promises to these patriarchs. It is this special, intimate relationship
between Yahweh and the community that invites the audience to trust
in Yahweh for their future deliverance.

1.
2.

Mays, Micah, p. 167.


Gitay, Prophecy and Persuasion, p. 86.

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 215


Historical Possibilities
Among those scholars who find a pre-exilic date for Mic. 7.8-20 a
number of settings have been proposed. Perhaps the most extraordinary is the suggestion by Jan Dus that this material dates to 1100
BCE and reflects the situation following the capture of the ark by the
Philistines. 1 The evidence for such an early date is not strong,
however. Dus finds the question in v. 10 ('Where is Yahweh?') to be
a mocking question asked by the enemies who have captured the ark
upon which Yahweh is enthroned. Dus' proposal, however, is unable
to account adequately for other elements of the poem such as the
references to Bashan and Gilead and the description of the arrival of
peoples from other lands (v. 12). In addition, his argument is based in
part on the doubtful suggestion that v. 14 is a reference to Yahweh.2
Finally, the lack of even a remote reference to the ark or the
Philistines underscores the fragile nature of Dus' conclusions.
The time of Tiglath-Pileser's 734-32 BCE campaign has been
proposed as a likely setting for all or part of Mic. 7.8-20.3 Scholars
supporting this historical background interpret the references to
Bashan and Gilead as an indication that Israel must have recently lost
these areas. According to 2 Kgs 15.29 Tiglath-Pileser III captured
'Ijon, Abel-bet-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee,
and the land of Naphtali, and he carried the people captive to Assyria'.
This information must be evaluated carefully, however, since other
evidence suggests that these areas were lost to Israelite control before
734 BCE.4 Tiglath-Pileser describes the boundaries of Syria as reaching from 'Mount Lebanon as far as the town of Gilead and the town of
Abel-beth-Maacah which are on the borderland of the land of BethOmri...' 5 The implication is that these territories were in 734
1. Dus, 'Micha 7', pp. 14-22.
2. Dus, 'Micha 7', pp. 21-22.
3. Those accepting a date of 734-32 include Smith, Twelve Prophets, p. 373;
Willis, 'Hope Oracle', p. 72.
4. On the basis of Assyrian inscriptions (III R, 10; Layard, 29b) Irvine
concludes that Syria's southern border at the time of the Syro-Ephraimite crisis
included not only Bashan and Golan, but also the Galilean hill country (Isaiah, Ahaz,
pp. 96-98).
5. ANET, p. 284 reconstructed in light of ND 400, 4301 and 4305. See
H. Tadmor, The Southern Border of Aram', IEJ 12 (1962), pp. 114-17;

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

considered part of Syria rather than Israel.


In fact, it is quite likely that Syria had annexed the areas of Bashan
and Gilead before 734 BCE. Amos, prophesying in the reign of
Jeroboam II, says of Damascus, 'they have threshed Gilead with
threshing sledges of iron' (Amos 1.3). It might also be added that
nothing in Mic. 7.1 suggests that these territories have been lost
recently or that their populations have been taken into exile. Certainly
the text implies that these areas are not under Israelite control, but it
is doubtful that Israel ever held firm control of the Transjordan
during much of the eighth century. In any case, the reference to
Bashan and Gilead does not obligate one to date this material to the
time immediately after the 734-32 BCE campaigns of Tiglath-Pileser.
Other obstacles stand in the way of associating Mic. 7.8-20 with the
Assyrian campaigns of 734-32. It is not clear that the northern kingdom suffered great destruction during Tiglath-Pileser's suppression of
the rebellion. The overthrow of Pekah and the submission of Hoshea
probably averted major military action against the heart of Israel and
spared Samaria a direct attack from the Assyrian army.1 Assyrian
inscriptions report some deportations and the confiscation of territory,
although it not clear whether the territory was Syrian or Israelite (see
above). However, Tiglath-Pileser's statement, 'Samaria alone I left',
suggests that the interior of Israel was spared the brunt of Assyrian
reprisals.2 It is thus doubtful that the northern capital and community
could describe itself as 'fallen' in the time immediately after 732 BCE.
A time when Samaria and Israel could be described as 'fallen' and
under terms decreed by an enemy is the period immediately after the
Assyrians captured Samaria itself. The fact that the conquest of
Samaria is attributed to both Shalmaneser V and Sargon II suggests
that Assyrian action against the city involved two phases.3
First, according to 2 Kgs 17.1-16 the city was captured by
Shalmaneser at the end of a three-year siege in the ninth year of
D.J. Wiseman, Two Historical Inscriptions from Nimrod', Iraq 13 (1951), pp. 2126 and 'A Fragmentary Inscription of Tiglath-Pileser III from Nimrod', Iraq 18
(1956), pp. 117-29.
1. This is the conclusion of Irvine, Isaiah, Ahaz, pp. 107-8.
2. Layard, 66. See translation and discussion in Irvine, Isaiah, Ahaz, p. 58.
3. This is the conclusion of H. Tadmor, 'The Campaigns of Sargon II of Assur:
A Chronological-Historical Study', JCS 12 (1958). This same conclusion is reached
by Hayes and Hooker, A New Chronology, pp. 72-73.

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 217


Hoshea (722-21 BCE). This information is confirmed by the
Babylonian Chronicles, which report that Shalmaneser 'broke' the city
of Samaria.1 Dalley points out that the verb 'broke' could reflect a
usage which 'may have its origins in the successful culmination of a
siege, in the breaching of the walls of the national frontiers'.2 That
Shalmaneser breached the walls of Samaria and captured the city
appears to be certain.
It is unlikely, however, that Shalmaneser was able to deport a large
portion of the population of Samaria as is reported in 2 Kgs 17.6. The
Babylonian Chronicles report that Shalmaneser V died in the winter
of his fifth year; that is, late in 722 or early 721 BCE. There was
probably not enough time between the fall of Samaria and the death of
the Assyrian ruler to allow Shalmaneser to complete the deportation
of the population and to provincialize Samaria. Indeed, the rise of
Sargon and the serious domestic unrest in Assyria may have led to the
withdrawal of Assyrian troops not only from Samaria, but also from
most of the western provinces.
A variety of sources reveal that Sargon's accession was greeted with
both domestic unrest and a rebellion by the Elamites.3 When Sargon
had established himself on the throne and quelled the resistance to his
rule within Assyria, he faced a task of suppressing rebellion by a
coalition of western states including Hamath, Arpad, Simirra,
Damascus and Samaria.4
Although the exact sequence of events is not certain, a number of
Assyrian inscriptions report that in the course of suppressing this
rebellion Sargon II conquered Samaria, deported some 27,900 of its
1. A.K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (Locust Valley, NY:
J.J. Augustin, 1975), p. 73.
2. S. Dalley, 'Foreign Chariotry and Cavalry in the Armies of Tiglath-Pileser
III and Sargon II', Iraq 47 (1985), p. 33.
3. See the discussion and references by Tadmor, 'The Campaigns of Sargon II',
pp. 37-38. Also see Dalley, 'Foreign Chariotry', pp. 33-34. The extent of the
unrest is revealed by the Borowski Stela, which indicates that thousands of Assyrian
troops in Syria rebelled against his rule and were resettled in the west. See discussion
in O.W. Muscarella (ed.), Ladders to Heaven: Art Treasures from Lands of the
Bible (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1981), p. 125. Verse 12 probably indicate
that the speaker is aware of the rebellion against Sargon by his own forces, if not the
resettlement of some of those already in the west
4. ANET, p. 285.

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

inhabitants, rebuilt the city and settled people from other parts of the
empire in Israel.1 The so-called Khorsabad Annals place this conquest
of Samaria in the first year of Sargon (722-21 BCE).2 This date is
almost certainly incorrect, however, since other inscriptions indicate
that Sargon's conquest of Samaria occurred in 720.3 In addition, the
serious domestic unrest Sargon encountered probably prevented him
from dealing with any problems in the west in his first year. Finally,
Tadmor has shown that the Khorsabad Annals along with parallel
accounts in the Display Inscription are based on a primary source that
is arranged geographically rather than chronologically.4 These factors
thus suggest that those sources that place Sargon's conquest of Samaria
in 720 BCE are more reliable.
It is thus probable that Assyrian conquest and provincialization of
Samaria occurred in two phases. Shortly after Shalmaneser took the
city, Assyrian forces had to withdraw, preventing the completion of
deportation and provincialization. The unrest at the time of the death
of Shalmaneser and the rise of Sargon afforded an opportunity for
Samaria along with several other states to revolt once again. In 720,
Sargon took the city and was able to carry out deportations and
resettle foreign populations in the area.5
The time suggested by the objective factors of Mic. 7.8-20 is the
period after Shalmaneser had conquered the city late in 722 or early
in 721, but before the final capture by Sargon II in 720 BCE. More
precisely, it may be that the liturgy reflects conditions after the death
of Shalmaneser when Samaria was involved in yet another rebellion
against Assyria. In the first place, the fact that v. 12 only threatens the
introduction of foreigners into the land indicates that the time is one
before the final resettlement of Samaria was carried out by Sargon. In
addition, after the conquest of Samaria in 722 the city and the northern kingdom itself could accurately be described as 'fallen' (Mic. 7.8)
1. ANET, pp. 284-85.
2. ANET, p. 284. See the translation and discussion by Tadmor, 'The
Campaigns of Sargon IF, pp. 33-36.
3. ANET, p. 285.
4. Tadmor, The Campaigns of Sargon IF, p. 36.
5. Tadmor suggests the date of 716 BCE for the resettlement of Samaria although
the evidence is not conclusive and it is not clear why Sargon would have waited four
years to resettle the city and begin rebuilding (The Campaigns of Sargon IF,
pp. 38-39).

6. 'That Day the Decree Will Be Rescinded!': Micah 7.8-20 219


and suffering the humiliation of defeat by the enemy (vv. 9, 10). If
Shalmaneser did in fact breach the walls of Samaria as is suggested by
the Babylonian Chronicles, then it is clear why Mic. 7.12 refers to a
'building of walls'. Finally, the fact that the community is under a
'decree' of the enemies corresponds well to the time after 722 when
Shalmaneser had decided to provincialize the northern kingdom.
The call for a rebuilding of walls and the removal of the 'decree' of
the enemy thus points to a time when some in Samaria were calling
for yet another rebellion against Assyria. Such a time would be during
Sargon's preoccupation with domestic matters and rebellion in the
east.
Micah is well aware that while Assyria may have been weakened,
she was still powerful. In vv. 12-13 the prophet makes it clear that
further acts of rebellion will result in even more destruction and the
bringing of foreign populations into the land. Micah obviously realizes that further rebellion by Samaria would be dealt with in a harsh
manner and thus addresses the futility of revolting against Assyria
(vv. 11-13) and argues for an acceptance of punishment as a means of
averting even greater disaster (vv. 8-10).
In many ways, the rebellion by the western states in the absence of
Assyrian power provided a possible opportunity for Samaria to avoid
the deportation and resettlement that Shalmaneser had decreed. If
Samaria had remained loyal to Assyria, or at least refused to participate in further rebellion, she might reasonably have expected lenient
treatment when and if Assyria reasserted control over the area. Thus
Micah calls for the people to bear their punishment and wait for
Yahweh to act. On the other hand, further rebellion by Samaria which
had already caused the Assyrians so much trouble would undoubtedly
bring even greater destruction when Assyria was able to attack.
In particular, the greater destruction that can be expected is the
resettlement of the area by people from other conquered areas as well
as the deportation of others. Thus the land itself is 'desolate' because
of the deeds of the people while at the same time foreigners come to
the cities and are settled here. In other words, Samaria would be
treated the way the Assyrians treated all states who had repeatedly
rebelled against them.
Once again, it is not known where or if this liturgy was observed.
While it is not impossible that such a liturgy was composed for use in
Samaria, it may be more probable that the intended audience were

220

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

citizens of the north who had come to Jerusalem and the south either
temporarily or as refugees. If the ritual of lamentation accompanying
the liturgy took place in Jerusalem, it is likely that the setting was the
temple. Moreover, the audience would have included not only persons
from the north, but also many Judeans and citizens of Jerusalem.
Micah's liturgy is thus a warning to the leadership of Judah as well as
a warning to the citizens of the north regarding future political
actions.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS


This study began with the observation that, in general, two approaches
have been taken to the interpretation of the book of Micah. On the one
hand, scholars, following the lead of Stade, have concluded that the
material that is derived from the eighth-century prophet is restricted
to the first three chapters of Micah. The remaining material is thought
to differ in message and style from Micah 1-3 and to presuppose
historical circumstances of the exilic and post-exilic periods. This
conclusion is thought to be supported by similarities in vocabulary and
themes between Micah 4-7 and later prophetic works.
On the other hand, some scholars have been reluctant to assign all
of Micah 4-7 to a time later than Micah. While recognizing differences in themes and style, it is argued that these differences can be
explained by changes in historical circumstances during Micah's ministry. These scholars are unconvinced by most of the arguments that
the themes and vocabulary of Micah 4-7 presuppose a time later than
the eighth century.
To a large extent, the present study was prompted by the suggestion
of scholars in this second group that differences within the book of
Micah can be explained by changes in circumstances during the time
of Micah. Working from the assumption that the role of the prophets
in Israel was similar to that of the orators of ancient Greece, this
investigation explored rhetorical situations and themes to define six
discourses in the book of Micah. Within each of these speeches a
variety of persuasive methods and styles are employed. The limits and
unity of these discourses were further defined by observations concerning progression of thought, the logical arrangements of arguments and proofs, and, in some cases, various devices which indicate
the beginning and conclusion of the speech. In addition to demonstrating the unity of each discourse, a detailed examination of the rhetorical situation demonstrated that each speech addresses a unique matrix
of events and circumstances.

222

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

(1) Mic. 1.2-16. This first discourse remains in many ways the most
enigmatic and difficult in the book of Micah. Extensive use of wordplay and short, almost fragmentary addresses often obscure the
meaning of the verses. Nevertheless, a number of conclusions concerning the rhetorical situation addressed by this discourse were
reached. First, the speech addresses the capitals and perhaps the kings
of Samaria and Jerusalem. In contrast to the general interpretation of
this material, the situation presupposes not an invasion by a foreign
army, but the defection and disloyalty of cities in the Shephelah and,
by implication, cities in the northern kingdom. The national policies
pursued by the capital cities are viewed as the reason for the chaos
described in this discourse. The greater guilt, however, lies with
Samaria whose destruction is announced at an unspecified future time
by a foe whom the prophet does not name.
(2) Mic. 2.1-13. In contrast to the preceding discourse, the focus in
Mic. 2.1-13 is a powerful, clearly defined group within the nation
which is guilty of acts of violence involving the taking of land. The
oppressed are not the poor and defenseless, however. Rather, the
victims are landowners who are 'averse to war'; that is, they are
opposed to policies that would lead to war. Micah announces a
reversal of fate in which the powerful aggressors will be defeated and
their lands portioned out to others. The speech closes with a description of the prophet's basis for confidence: a king approved and led by
Yahweh has already gone forth into battle.
(3) Mic. 3.1-4.8. The leaders of the nation are addressed in this
discourse. In particular, they are accused of failing to acknowledge a
specific decision or judgment. As a result, they are depicted as carving
up the nation with the encouragement and assistance of prophets.
Their deeds are described as an attempt to 'build Zion with blood'.
While the exact meaning of this accusation is not clear, it is certain
that the prophet holds these leaders responsible for what appears to be
the certain destruction of Jerusalem. Mic. 4.1-8 does not negate the
judgment described in 3.1-12; rather these verses confirm that judgment by offering a description of the time after destruction. The
speech closes with a declaration that the power and prestige which the
Davidic house once enjoyed will return when Yahweh restores and
transforms Jerusalem.
(4) Mic. 4.9-5.14. This discourse is the longest in the book and
addresses a situation in which Jerusalem is under siege. The

Summary and Conclusions

223

aggressors against Jerusalem are not the Assyrians but the Israelites
led by the 'ruler of Israel'. Throughout this discourse Micah addresses
the fears and doubts created by the crisis of siege. In particular, he
utilizes traditional material about Zion and David to exhort the population of Jerusalem to stand firm and trust in the present king in
Jerusalem. The discourse seeks to persuade the audience that deliverance is to be found on Zion and that the present king is to be the ideal
ruler from the house of David. Further, the discourse attempts to
calm fears about Assyrian intervention and closes with a description
of a transformed Israel.
(5) Mic. 6.1-7.7. A number of factors were found to indicate that
this discourse is addressed primarily to the king and rulers of Israel,
or more specifically, of Samaria. The king is accused of failing to
execute his responsibilities and the rulers are described as conspiring
together for evil purposes. The accusation against the leadership is
summed up in the statement that the policies of Omri and Ahab have
been followed. As a result of this course of action, Micah foresees
punishment in the form of destruction by war. The speech closes with
a description of a chaotic society and the prophet's vow to trust in
Yahweh.
(6) Mic. 7.8-20. It is probable that the final discourse of the book is
also addressed to Samaria. The city has suffered defeat, but some of
its inhabitants are determined to rebuild and to renounce the decree
imposed upon them by their conquerors. In contrast, Micah declares
that such a course of action will result in the resettlement of the land
by foreign populations. In order to avoid such a fate, Micah encourages the city to bear its judgment with lamentation and confession. He
also petitions Yahweh to show kindness to the defeated people and to
subdue the enemy with a demonstration of his power. The discourse
closes with a declaration of Yahweh's compassion and faithfulness.
By taking into account the rhetorical situation it was possible to
offer an evaluation of historical backgrounds that have been proposed
for each discourse. In general, the historical circumstances usually
suggested for the material were found to be inappropriate. While most
scholars limit the ministry of Micah to a short period of time, the
variety of rhetorical situations presupposed by the speeches in Micah
point to a much longer period of activity. In particular, the present
investigation proposed that the earliest discourse dates to a time before
the death of Jeroboam II and the latest to a time between 722 and 720

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The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

BCE. Following are the proposed historical settings for each discourse.
(1) Mic. 1.2-16 dates to the reign of Jotham before the death of
Jeroboam II (747). The pro-Assyrian policy of Jeroboam II, the
splintering of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, and the spirit of cooperation between Jerusalem and Samaria are characteristic of this
period and seem to be reflected in the discourse. The loss of territory
in the Shephelah is probably to be interpreted as a rebellion against
the pro-Assyrian stance of Jerusalem and Samaria.
(2) Mic. 2.1-13 probably dates to the time of Menahem's coup. The
factional struggle reflected in the discourse may be a struggle between
those who want to rebel against Assyria and those who are proAssyrian. While such factions probably existed throughout the latter
half of the eighth century, the description of a king whose going forth
to battle is expected to bring punishment to the aggressors may point
to the time of the struggle between Menahem and Shallum for control
of Samaria.
(3) Mic. 3.1-4.8 may reflect the time after Pekah's takeover in
Samaria. Samaria's move to an anti-Assyrian position was expected to
bring Ahaz and Jerusalem into the anti-Assyrian camp. Ahaz decided
not to join the anti-Assyrian coalition, however. This decision was not
supported by many not only in Judah but also in Jerusalem itself. The
refusal of many leaders to accept Ahaz's decision is reflected throughout this discourse.
(4) Mic. 4.9-5.14 presupposes the Syro-Ephraimite siege of
Jerusalem which occurred shortly after the death of Uzziah. The panic
caused by the siege and the lack of confidence in Ahaz are reflected in
the speech. In response to those who are in favor of joining the antiAssyrian coalition, Micah spells out the conditions under which
Jerusalem and Judah will assume a place in such an alliance.
(5) Mic. 6.1-7.7 is probably to be dated to a time shortly before the
arrest of Hoshea in 725 BCE. The accusation that the city has followed
the policies of Omri and Ahab may be a reference to Hoshea's attempt
to imitate those kings by participating in an alliance against Assyria.
The speech may thus reflect that time when Hoshea was negotiating
with Egypt for support against Assyria. The tone of the speech suggests that Assyrian reprisals are imminent.
(6) Mic. 7.8-20 addresses the inhabitants of Samaria sometime after
the first capture of the city in 722-21. Shalmaneser's death and
widespread domestic unrest in Assyria gave the city an opportunity to

Summary and Conclusions

225

participate in another revolt against Assyria. Micah sees such action as


hastening the time when Assyria will carry out planned deportations
and resettlements.
The present investigation reaches conclusions about the message and
ministry of Micah which are dramatically different from those of
most scholars. Micah appears not as a rural prophet protesting the
economic exploitation of peasants by the ruling elite, but as a skilled
orator addressing the critical issues of national and international political life. Moreover, the discourses in the book of Micah reveal that the
prophet was a strong supporter of the Davidic king, especially Ahaz.
Perhaps most important is the prophet's unwavering conviction that,
barring extraordinary circumstances, participation in a coalition
against Assyria was an unwise and unfaithful act which Yahweh, as
guarantor of the oath of allegiance to Assyria, would punish. It is in
the task of conveying this conviction to others that Micah employed
his considerable persuasive skills and produced the discourses which
comprise a record of his ministry and times.

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INDEXES
INDEX OF BIBLICAL REFERENCES
OLD TESTAMENT

Genesis
35.21
38.5
49.19

16
46
152

Exodus
13.3-4
15.11
22.26-27
23.28
23.31
34.6
34.11

170
37
80
81
81
78, 214
81

Leviticus
9.3
22.27

181
181

Numbers
14.8
14.14
23.1-6
25.1-12

78
110
192
192

15.15
16.3
17.6
17.18
21.8
24.1-4
24.9
24.12-13
24.18
24.22
26.5

32.39
33.16

167, 168
168
41
178
167
42, 74
168
80
167, 168
168
105
148
195

Joshua

Deuteronomy
5.15
168
7.8
167, 168
7.18
168
8.2
168
168
9.7
9.14
105
9.26
167
10.12-22 169
10.12
169
13.6
167-69

3-5
4.24
11.21
13.3
15.34
15.35
15.37
15.44
24.2-15
24.21

168
168
46
46
63
45
47
46
168
81

Judges
3.2
6.15
7.16
7.20
9.34
9.55
21.23

105, 168
145
110
110
110
81
81

Ruth
1.12

134

1 Samuel
7.14
11.11
12.6
14.16
15.17
16.12-13
17.12
17.52
31

47
110
168
172
110
137
129, 137
46
80

2 Samuel
1.19-27
3.34
3.38
5.1
7.6-17
7.6-7

7.8
7.10
7.23
9.21
11.11
13.34
14.13-14
15.20
17.2
18.24-27
22
22.8-39

40
112
179
141
146
146
137
112
167
145
86
172
108
70
148
172
37
110

239

Index of Biblical References


/ Kings
1.9
8.60
10.29
14.7-11
16.15-20
21.20
22
22.4
22.24
22.28

178
168
76
113
95
113
61, 104, 113
104
147
32

2 Kings
3
3.27
9.17-20
9.22
10.6
10.18
13.4-5
13.14
14
14.11
14.17-22
14.25
14.27
15.1
15.8-16
15.14
15.16
15.19
15.23
15.29
15.37
16.3

6, 113
114
172
49
179
179
66
85
61
178
42
113
64
30
93
63,95
62,63,93
94
64
215
63
174

16.5

60

16.6
17
17.1-16
17.3-4
17.3
17.4
17.5
17.6
17.17
18.13
19.32-37
21.3

65
133
216
125
95, 190
190, 191
95, 191
217
174
30,58
58
179

21.6
24.25
25.6
27.7

174, 188
134
202
134

/ Chronicles

4.21-22
4.21
5.17-22
5.18
9.1
11.7
11.8
17.9
20.11
26.6-8
26.6
27.4
27.5
28.5-15
28.17-18
28.17
28.18
30.34
33.15
36.7
36.18
36.20

46
43
61
105
134
45
46
112
81
64
46
64
62
59
125
65
59,60
189
105
134
134
134

Ezra

5.12
9.9

134
201

Nehemiah

9.18

214

Job

3.3
10.7
16.10

69
148
147

Psalms
2
2.9
3
3.7
9.2
13.6

117, 144
152
167
147
199
199

17.6-9
18
18.33
18.35
22.10-11
26.4-6
26.7
28
31.2-6
35
42.4
42.11
46
46.10
48
50.22
51.5-7
59
60.11
68
71.17
72
74
76
76.3-4
77
79
79.10
80.12
80.14-17
83
83.9-18
83.10
86
86.10
86.15
89
89.20-23
89.40
89.41
94.16
101
102.17
103.8
110
132
137.7
142.6

199
37
37
105
199
199
199
149
199
167
199
199
105
139
105
148
199
167
37
105
199
177, 17
37
105, 14
139
37, 199
167
199
85
199
37
199
199
105
199
214
37, 117
144
85
201
37
177, 17
112
214
117, 14
144, 14
198
199

240

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

144.1
145.8
Isaiah
1.10
1.18
2.2-4
2.4
2.7
2.8
3.6
3.7
5.5
7.1
7.2
7.9
7.14
8.6
9.4
9.5
9.6-7
9.12
10.5
10.10
11.1-5
11.1
11.1-10
11.11-16
19.6
22.3
23.12
23.17
27.12
29.1-8
30.16
30.33
31.1
34.5-17
36.1
37.7
37.26
38
52.12
57.1-2
59.9-15
60.22
63.764.12

105
214

110
134
99, 104
100
41
139
110
110
85
60
125
157
153

60, 125, 157


145
159
158
62
173
139
158
137, 159
149
204
194
110
161
49
204
115
41
70
41

198
30
139
194
133

75, 76
171
198
105
198

63.16

198

Jeremiah
6.6
8.16
9.1-5
9.17-19

170
170
171
84

10.19
12.6
14.17
15.9
17.24
18.22
19.8
20.6

163
171
163
170
170
152
170
134

24.1-6

203

25.9
25.18
26

170
170
17, 123, 124

26.18

12,15-17,45,

99, 123
27.20

134

28.3
29.1
29.4
29.18
30.12

134
134
134
170
163

30.20-21

136, 137

31.12

105

32.6-15

93

34.4
40.1
40.7
49.3
49.16

134
134
134
201
195

49.20

136

50.8

75, 76

50.45

136

Lamentations
1.1
198
1.8-9
198
1.17-18
198
1.21
198
2.6-7
200
2.15-16
198
3.30
147
3.31-33
198

4.4
4.21
5.15-18
5.17
5.21

98
198
198
198, 199
198

Eiekiel
4.3
5.2
7.15
16.13
16.31
23.26
38-39
38.16

170
170
170
49
49
80
136
139, 165

Hosea
3.4
5.14
6.9
7.1
10.1-2
10.13
8.4-6
13.2
14.3
14.4

94
148
152
152
139
41
139
139, 174
41
139

Joel
4.18-20

203

Amos
1.3
1.6
1.13-15
3.15
4.1
4.11
6.4

48

Obadiah
3
16

195
203

Jonah
4.2

214

216
62
62
66
66
48

Index of Biblical References


Micah
1-3

1.1
1.2
1.2-16

1.2-8
1.2-7
1.2-4
1.5-3.12

1.5
1.6-7
.6
.7

.8-1
.8-9
.9

1.10-16

1.10-15
.10
.11
.12
.13
.14
.15
.16

2.1-13

2.1-11
2.1-5
2.1-2
2.2
2.3-5
2.3
2.4-5

2.4
11, 12, 15, 16,
87, 167, 171,
221
45
53
32,36-39,51,
56,58,60,61,
65, 67, 222,
224
36
36, 39, 58, 59
13, 53
12, 13
36,37,41,43,
48,50,53,54,
58,67
36, 38, 39, 48,
51,58
48,49,55
48,49,55
34, 36, 57, 58
37,43,55
38,39,41,48,
115
34, 36, 40, 44,
45,47,48,50,
55, 59, 60, 83
40, 51, 56, 57,
83
40,47,57,60
40,41,58
51
42,43
42-44, 45, 48,
58
43, 50
40, 48, 57, 83
68, 77, 78, 84,
91, 92, 94,
111,222,224
71, 72, 75, 77
71, 72, 79
73
79-82
72, 73
72-74, 79, 89
72,77

2.5
2.6-11
2.6-9
2.6-7
2.6
2.7
2.8-9
2.8

2.9
2.10
2.11
2.12-13

2.12
2.13
3.1-4.8

3.1-12

3.1-4
3.1-3
3.1
3.2-4
3.2
3.2-3

3.3
3.4
3.5-8
3.5
3.7
3.8
3.9-12

72-74, 77, 84,


85,88,92,95
72-74,89,92
71,72,74
89
72, 78, 79, 86,
87
69,72,79,89
167
80, 82, 89
79-81, 83, 87,
90,92-94,115
79, 81-83, 87,
90,91,94
72,73,90
79
12,13,18,72,
75-77, 85, 92,
95
72, 76, 77, 92
72, 76, 77, 85,
86,90,92,95
100, 102-104,
109, 118, 12326, 159, 222,
224
97, 101-103,
109, 111, 115,
222
100
99
78,110,111,
114, 120, 159,
160
HI
111, 115, 126
111, 119, 120,
121, 141
111, 114
103, 115, 120
100, 101, 113,
120
114, 115
115, 116
103, 104, 116,
120
100-102, 120,
123

3.9
3.10-11
3.10
3.11

3.12

4-7
4-5
4.1-5.14
4.1-8
4.1-5

4.1-4
4.1
4.3
4.5-10
4.5
4.6-8
4.7
4.8-5.14
4.8
4.9-5.14

4.9-5.4
4.9-5.1
4.9-14
4.9-13
4.9-11
4.9-10

4.9

4.10

241
110, 111, 114
104
106, 112
101, 102, 110,
114, 117-19,
124, 127, 167,
180
12, 16, 17,
101, 102, 106,
112, 121, 124,
127, 159
13, 16, 221
12
12
18, 101, 102,
222
100, 101, 106,
107, 117
13, 18, 101,
102, 104-107,
118, 121, 180
102, 106, 121
105
13
107
12, 18, 101, 107
108
132
101, 109, 116,
117, 122, 127,
159
128, 131-33,
139, 149, 156,
157, 159, 166,
166, 222, 224
180
180
135, 156
153
132
102, 133-37,
153
134, 139, 141,
144, 145, 150,
157, 158
16, 18, 13235, 142, 145,
150, 154

242

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

4.11-14
4.11-13
4.11

4.12-13
4.12
4.13
4.14-5.4
4.14-5.3
4.14

5. -7
5. -4
5. -3
5. -2
5.

5.2
5.3-4
5.3
5.4-8
5.4-5

5.4
5.5
5.6-14
5.6-8
5.6
5.7
5.8
5.9-14

5.9-13
5.9
5.14
6-7
6.1-7.7

6.1-7.6
6.1-16

13
135-37, 140,
145, 151, 155
16, 135, 139,
140
132, 140
136
140, 152
132
136, 137
139, 140, 147,
152, 153, 156,
157
155
132
13
146
136, 137, 141,
145-47
140, 153, 156,
157
141, 146
136, 137, 145
133,154
13,137,138,
140, 142, 156,
160, 203
154
132
13
18, 138
148, 154
132, 148, 154
155
133, 138, 148,
155, 156
139, 155
140
139, 140, 155,
166
16
16, 161, 16567, 172, 174,
180, 183, 18892, 223, 224
13
183

6.1-8

6.1-6
6.1-2
6.1
6.2
6.3-8
6.3-5
6.5-6
6.5
6.6-8
6.6-7
6.7
6.8

6.9-16
6.9

6.10-11
6.11-12
6.11
6.12-13
6.12
6.13-16
6.13
6.14-15
6.15
6.16
7.1-7

7.1-6
7.1
7.3
7.4-7
7.4
7.6
7.7
7.7-20
7.8-20

7.8-10

165-70, 174,
177, 182, 188
174
184
166
184
184, 189
177
192
168
178, 181, 189,
190
174, 178
174
167, 169, 17578,181,183,
186, 188, 190
165, 170, 171,
180, 182
162,163,170,
173, 175, 186,
189
178
166, 186
187
181
178, 181, 187,
191
192
175, 181
173, 186, 192
173
173
165, 171, 172,
187
171, 189
166, 187, 216
179
174
172, 181
166
166, 167
12, 13,215
18, 166, 196,
198-202, 206,
208-10,216,
218,223,224
196, 197, 200,

7.15
7.16-17
7.16
7.17
7.18-20
7.18
7.19-20
7.20

206, 211-13,
219
167, 198, 199,
201, 218
213
196,198,211,
212, 219
196,201,211,
212, 215
196,197,201,
205, 208, 212,
219
204, 208
200-202,208,
212
203,219
202-206, 208,
212,215,218,
219
203,208
196, 197, 201
196,198,205207,209,212,
215
196,197,213
201,213
166, 196, 213
213
196-98
196, 209. 214
214
196, 198. 199

Nahum
3-4
3.19

49
163

Haggai
2.22

138

7.8

7.9-10
7.9
7.10
7.11-13

7.11-12
7.11
7.12-13
7.12

7.13
7.14-17
7.14

ZecHariah
8.22
9.9-10

9.16
10.8-12
11.13
14.10-11

105
149
138
204
81
203

INDEX OF AUTHORS
Abel, P.M. 45, 46
Aharoni, Y. 42, 46
Ahlstrom, G.W. 44, 81
Albright, W.F. 46
Allen, L. 16-18, 32, 34, 35, 53, 56, 59, 68,
70, 71. 73, 75, 76, 80, 82, 97, 98,
101, 103, 105, 107, 111, 117, 123,
129, 130, 133, 140-42, 146, 148,
153, 156, 161, 163-67, 171-75, 17880, 185, 189, 194, 195-98
Alt, A. 79
Alter, R. 54, 186
Anderson, F. 176, 177

Carreira, Jose N. 115


Carrier, A.S. 35
Cathcart, K.J. 130
Gazelles, H. 116, 133, 143
Childs, B.S. 11
Christensen, D. 191
Cook, H.J. 64
Conder, E.R. 45, 47
Coppens, J. 141, 146
Corbett, E.P.J. 53, 55, 150, 151, 153, 155
Cowley, A. 202
Crenshaw, J.L. 32, 36, 113
Cross, P.M. 178
Cuffey, K.H. 11, 18, 24, 25, 56, 102, 132,
133, 143

Bailey, R. 176
Bartlett, J.R. 110
Beck, G.W. van 206
Dalley, S. 217
Beyerlin, W. 137, 146
Daniels, D.R. 182
Davies, G.I. 44
Bissel, E.G. 41
Bitzer, L. 22
De Roche, M. 182
Black, C.C. 23,28
DeVries, S.J. 104
Blenkinsopp, J. 169
Dearman, J.A. 119
Bliss, F.J. 45,46
Demsky, A. 43, 46
Boogart, T.A. 97, 111, 138
Donat, H. 79
Boyd, B. 42
Donner, H. 59, 110, 191, 204
Breuggemann, W. 105, 107, 121
Duhm, B. 21, 138, 162, 188
Bright, J. 59, 60, 62, 64
Dus, J. 207, 215
Bryant, D.J. 130, 131, 143, 146, 148, 153,
Ehrman, A. 69, 163
156
Budde, K. 97
Eissfeldt, O. 57, 166, 171, 180, 195-98,
Bullinger, E.W. 119
202, 203, 205, 207
Burke, K. 152
Elliger, K. 34, 35, 45, 47, 57
Buss, M. 20-22, 73, 122, 176
Ewald, H. 11, 12,76
Calderone, P. 194
Cannawurf, E. 105, 106

Fohrer, G. 15, 33, 34, 44, 58, 59


Fox, M.V. 22, 27, 170, 176

244

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

Freedman, D.N. 56, 59, 169, 178


Fritz, F. 39
Fullerton, K. 94
Gadd, C.J. 190
Gerstenberger, E. 72, 197
Gitay, Y. 20, 24, 54, 55, 73, 151, 184,
186, 187, 214
Glueck, N. 175
Goetze, A. 85, 86, 182
Gold, V.R. 45
Goldschlager, A. 151
Gordon, R.P. 196
Gottwald, N. 178
Gowan, D.E. 40
Graham, W.C. 55
Gray, J. 63, 104, 107, 174
Grayson, A.K. 217
Greenberg, M. 26
Greenstein, E.L. 19
Gunkel, H. 20, 166, 196, 197, 202, 208
Hagstrom, D.G. 208, 211, 212
Halper, B. 49
Hamilton, R.W. 44
Hammershaimb, E. 17, 18
Haupt, P. 13, 15, 123
Harrelson, W. 130
Hayes, J.H. 20, 29, 30, 191, 216
Herntrich, V. 108,111
Killers, D. 16, 17, 19, 26, 32, 34, 38, 42,
43, 68-71, 75, 76, 79, 80, 92, 97102, 105-109, 112, 113, 123, 129,
130, 137, 138, 141, 143, 145, 148,
151, 153, 156, 161-63, 165, 169,
171-75, 181, 185, 193-98, 200, 201,
206, 207
Hobbs, T.R. 94, 169
Holman, C.H. 54, 119
Hoonacker, A. van 15, 16, 18, 26, 35, 38,
58, 59, 76, 92, 134, 172, 180, 191,
198, 206
Horton, R.F. 15,18
Hyatt, P.H. 162

Janzen, W. 88
Jeppesen, K. 11, 131, 173
Jepsen, A. 38, 57, 176
Jeremias, J. 36, 37,45, 72, 73, 74, 78, 103,
138
Kaiser, O. 134
Kaufman, Y. 134
Keller, C.A. 72, 73
Kellerman, D. 47
Kennedy, G.A. 20, 23, 25, 28, 87, 90
Kenyon, K.M. 117
Koch, K. 113, 185
Laurentin, A. 135
Lescow, T. 37, 39, 72, 73, 76, 101, 103,
104, 132, 136, 146, 153, 165, 167
Lewis, R.L. 23, 54, 55
Lindblom, J. 57, 58, 92, 103, 104, 162,
171, 172, 180, 188, 191
Lipinski, E. 106
Lohfink, J. 169
Luker, L. 11, 18, 33, 35, 37, 40, 41, 55,
56, 70, 73, 83, 84, 101, 130, 134,
139, 151, 161-64, 166, 172, 193-99,
201, 207
Luria, B.Z. 42
Lux, R.C. 34,36,45-47,56,57

Maaz, F. 168
March, W.E. 20, 182
Margolis, M. 15, 18, 70, 112, 162-64,
172, 173, 180, 194,202-205
Marti, K. 13, 15, 57, 69, 70, 101, 104,
107,129,131,139
Mauchline, J. 146
Mays, J.L. 13-15, 19, 20, 34, 36, 37, 41,
43, 45, 53, 57, 69-78, 80, 88, 92, 9799, 101, 103-105, 109-113, 117,
123, 129, 132, 136, 138, 141, 142,
148, 153, 161, 163, 165, 167, 170,
171, 173, 175, 178, 180, 181, 184,
185, 194-96, 201, 203-205, 213,
214
Mazar, B. 46
Irvine, S.A. 60, 62, 125, 126, 157, 158, McClean, H.B. 62
215, 216
Mendecki, N. 76, 107
Millard, A.R. 65

Index of Authors
Montgomery, J.A. 63
Mowinckel, S. 108, 139, 177, 178
Muilenburg, J. 134
Muscarella, O.W. 217

245

Oded, B. 204
Olbrechts-Tyteca, L. 90

Smith, J.M.P. 36, 68-70, 75, 76, 80, 82,


92,98, 104, 107, 111, 129, 131, 136,
138, 139, 142, 146, 153, 161, 162,
164-67, 173, 180, 184, 193, 198,
206, 215
Soggin, J.A. 113
Spieckermann, M. 169
Stade, B. 11-13, 15, 17, 26, 75, 76, 101,
104, 138, 142, 165, 188, 221
Stansell, G. 32, 36
Stoebe, H.J. 176
Strachey, E. 21
Szikszai, S. 177

Peiser, J.C. 143


Perleman, C. 90
Pusey, E.B. 15, 17

Tadmor, H. 65, 215-18


Tsevat, M. 191
Tucker, G. 20

Rad, G. von 115


Rainey, A. 46
Reed, W.L. 62, 63
Reicke, B. 164, 172, 197, 201, 206
Renaud, B. 13, 14, 32, 36-39, 58, 68, 7078, 97-100, 103-109, 123, 128-32,
135-37, 139, 142, 145, 146, 148,
162-65, 169-71, 173, 177, 184, 19396, 198, 203, 206
Reventlow, H.G. 123, 124
Roberts, J.J.M. 105, 106, 135, 136
Robinson, T.H. 13
Rollij, W. 110
Rudolph, W. 16, 18, 32, 33, 36, 58, 68, 69,
75, 76, 78, 98, 101, 103, 104, 107,
123, 129, 133, 134, 140, 145, 153,
161, 172, 173, 189, 195, 196, 202,
203, 205, 206

Ussishkin, D. 44, 57

Neiderhiser, E.A. 69-71


Newsome, C. 119
Nicholson, E.W. 169
Nielsen, K. 182
Nowack, W. 69

Vaux, R. de 76, 86, 117, 144, 147, 177,


178

Vincent, J. 99, 101, 124


Vriezen, T.C. 115
Vuilleumier, R. 72, 73, 188

Waard, J. de 79
Wagner, S. 112
Wanke, G. 105
Watson, W.G.E. 33, 178
Weinfeld, M. 137, 143, 148, 149
Weiser, A. 15, 18, 139, 188, 189
Wellhausen, J. 11, 68, 70, 75, 103, 104,
129, 139, 173, 184, 203
Welten, P. 46
Westbrook, R. 43, 74, 80, 81
Whitley, C.F. 179
Sasson, J.M. 56
Wildberger, H. 99, 104, 105
Scheffler, E.H. 104
Willi-Plein, I. 13, 14, 184, 201, 202
Schibler, D. 36, 71, 76, 86, 91, 101, 104, Williams, R.J. 69,90, 134, 164
172, 196
Willis, J.T. 11, 18, 53, 55, 58, 69, 70, 72,
Schmidt, H. 76
75, 80, 87, 97, 115, 128, 130, 132,
Schwantes, S.J. 34, 35, 129
133, 138, 139, 142, 143, 145, 156,
Sellin, E. 15, 16, 18, 76, 123, 134, 139,
171, 180, 189, 191, 198, 207, 215
172, 195
Wolfe, R.E. 132, 165, 171, 172, 189
Simons, J. 45-47, 116
Wolff, H.W. 13, 14, 15, 20, 34, 38, 46, 48,
Smith, G. 190
79, 82, 110, 115, 129, 132, 136-38,
Smith, G.A. 91, 145, 188
141, 143, 145, 148, 152, 165, 167-

246

The Speeches ofMicah: A Rhetorical-Historical Analysis

71, 173-76, 178-80, 192-96, 199, Wright, G.E. 46


201, 203, 204, 206
Woude, A.S. van 16, 34, 58, 76, 79, 97, Zobel, T. 177
104, 105, 137, 180

JOURNAL FOR THE STUDY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT


Supplement Series
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

I, HE, WE AND THEY:


A LITERARY APPROACH TO ISAIAH 53
DJ.A. Clines
JEWISH EXEGESIS OF THE BOOK OF RUTH
D.R.G. Beattie
THE LITERARY STRUCTURE OF PSALM 2
P. Auffret
THANKSGIVING FOR A LIBERATED PROPHET:
AN INTERPRETATION OF ISAIAH CHAPTER 53
R.N. Whybray
REDATING THE EXODUS AND CONQUEST
J.J. Bimson
THE STORY OF KING DAVID:
GENRE AND INTERPRETATION
D.M. Gunn
THE SENSE OF BIBLICAL NARRATIVE I:
STRUCTURAL ANALYSES IN THE HEBREW BIBLE (2nd edition)
D. Jobling
GENESIS l-ll:
STUDIES IN STRUCTURE AND THEME
P.O. Miller

9
10
11
13

YAIIWEH AS PROSECUTOR AND JUDGE:


AN INVESTIGATION OF THE PROPHETIC LAWSUIT (RIB PATTERN)
K. Nielsen
THE THEME OF THE PENTATEUCH
David J.A. Clines
STUDIA BIBLICA 19781:
PAPERS ON OLD TESTAMENT AND RELATED THEMES
Edited by E.A. Livingstone
ISAIAH AND THE DELIVERANCE OF JERUSALEM:
A STUDY OF THE INTERPRETATION OF PROPHECY
IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
R.E. Clements

14

THE FATE OF KING SAUL:


AN INTERPRETATION OF A BIBLICAL STORY

15

THE DEUTERONOMISTIC HISTORY


Martin Noth

D.M. Gunn

16

PROPHECY AND ETHICS:


ISAIAH AND THE ETHICAL TRADITION OF ISRAEL

17

THE ROLES OF ISRAEL' S PROPHETS


David L. Petersen
THE DOUBLE REDACTION OF THE DEUTERONOMISTIC HISTORY
Richard D. Nelson

Eryl W. Davies

18

19
20

ART AND MEANING:


RHETORIC IN BIBLICAL LITERATURE
Edited by David J.A. Clines, David M. Gunn & Alan J. Hauser
THE PSALMS OF THE SONS OF KORAH
Michael D. Goulder

21

COLOUR TERMS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT


Athalya Brenner

22

AT THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD:


STORY AND THEOLOGY IN EXODUS 32-34

23

THE GLORY OF ISRAEL:


THE THEOLOGY AND PROVENIENCE OF THE ISAIAH TARGUM

R.W.L. Moberly

24

Bruce D. Chilton
MIDI AN, MOAB AND EDOM:

THE HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY OF LATE BRONZE AND


IRON AGE JORDAN AND NORTH-WEST ARABIA
25

Edited by John F.A. Sawyer & David J.A. Clines


THE DAMASCUS COVENANT:

AN INTERPRETATION OF THE 'DAMASCUS DOCUMENT'


26

Philip R. Davies
CLASSICAL HEBREW POETRY :

A GUIDE TO ITS TECHNIQUES


Wilfred G.E. Watson
27

PSALMODY AND PROPHECY

28

W.H. Bellinger, Jr
HOSEA:
AN ISRAELITE PROPHET IN JUDEAN PERSPECTIVE
Grace I. Emmerson

29
30
31

EXEGESIS AT QUMRAN:
4QFLORILEGIUM IN ITS JEWISH CONTEXT
George J. Brooke
THE ESTIIER SCROLL:
THE STORY OF THE STORY
David J.A. Clines
IN THE SHELTER OF EL YON:
ESSAYS IN HONOR OF G.W. AHLSTROM
Edited by W. Boyd Barrick & John R. Spencer

32

36

THE PROPHETIC PERSONA:


JEREMIAH AND THE LANGUAGE OF THE SELF
Timothy Polk
LAW AND THEOLOGY IN DEUTERONOMY
J.G. McConville
THE TEMPLE SCROLL:
AN INTRODUCTION, TRANSLATION & COMMENTARY
Johann Maier
SAGA, LEGEND, TALE, NOVELLA, FABLE:
NARRATIVE FORMS IN OLD TESTAMENT LITERATURE
Edited by George W. Coats
THE SONG OF FOURTEEN SONGS

37

Michael D. Goulder
UNDERSTANDING THE WORD:

33
34
35

ESSAYS IN HONOR OF BERNHARD W. ANDERSON


Edited by James T. Butler, Edgar W. Conrad & Ben C. Ollenburger

38

SLEEP, DIVINE AND HUMAN, IN THE OLD TESTAMENT


Thomas H. McAlpine

39
40
41
42

THE SENSE OF BIBLICAL NARRATIVE II:


STRUCTURAL ANALYSES IN THE HEBREW BIBLE
David Jobling
DIRECTIONS IN BIBLICAL HEBREW POETRY
Edited by Elaine R. Follis
ZION, THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING:
A THEOLOGICAL SYMBOL OF THE JERUSALEM CULT
Ben C. Ollenburger
A WORD IN SEASON:
ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF WILLIAM MCKANE
Edited by James D. Martin & Philip R. Davies

43
44
45

THE CULT OF MOLEK:


A REASSESSMENT
G.C. Heider
THE IDENTITY OF THE INDIVIDUAL IN THE PSALMS
Steven J.L. Croft
THE CONFESSIONS OF JEREMIAH IN CONTEXT:
SCENES OF PROPHETIC DRAMA
A.R. Diamond

46
47

THE BOOK OF JUDGES:


AN INTEGRATED READING
Barry G. Webb
THE GREEK TEXT OF JEREMIAH:
A REVISED HYPOTHESIS
Sven Soderlund

48

TEXT AND CONTEXT:

OLD TESTAMENT AND SEMITIC STUDIES FOR F.C. FENSHAM


Edited by W. Claassen
49

THEOPHORIC PERSONAL NAMES IN ANCIENT HEBREW:

50

A COMPARATIVE STUDY
Jeaneane D. Fowler
THE CHRONICLER'S HISTORY
Martin Moth
Translated by H.G.M. Williamson with an Introduction

51

DIVINE INITIATIVE AND HUMAN RESPONSE IN EZEKIEL


Paul Joyce

52

THE CONFLICT OF FAITH AND EXPERIENCE IN THE PSALMS :


A FORM-CRITICAL AND THEOLOGICAL STUDY
Craig C. Broyles
THE MAKING OF THE PENTATEUCH :
A METHODOLOGICAL STUDY
R.N. Whybray
FROM REPENTANCE TO REDEMPTION:
JEREMIAH'S THOUGHT IN TRANSITION
Jeremiah Unterman
THE ORIGIN TRADITION OF ANCIENT ISRAEL:

53

54

55

1. THE LITERARY FORMATION OF GENESIS AND EXODUS 1-23


56

57

58

59

T.L. Thompson
THE PURIFICATION OFFERING IN THE PRIESTLY LITERATURE:
ITS MEANING AND FUNCTION
N. Kiuchi
MOSES:
HEROIC MAN, MAN OF GOD
George W. Coats
THE LISTENING HEART:
ESSAYS IN WISDOM AND THE PSALMS
IN HONOR OF ROLAND E. MURPHY, O. CARM.
Edited by Kenneth G. Hoglund, Elizabeth F. Huwiler, Jonathan T. Glass
and Roger W. Lee
CREATIVE BIBLICAL EXEGESIS:
CHRISTIAN AND JEWISH HERMENEUTICS THROUGH THE CENTURIES
Edited by Benjamin Uffenheimer & Henning Graf Reventlow

60

HER PRICE IS BEYOND RUBIES:


THE JEWISH WOMAN IN GRAECO-ROMAN PALESTINE

61

FROM CHAOS TO RESTORATION:


AN INTEGRATIVE READING OF ISAIAH 24-27

Lonie J. Archer

Dan G. Johnson

62

THE OLD TESTAMENT AND FOLKLORE STUDY


Patricia G. Kirkpatrick

63

SHILOH:
A BIBLICAL CITY IN TRADITION AND HISTORY
Donald G. Schley

64

TO SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE:


ISAIAH 6.9-10 IN EARLY JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN INTERPRETATION
Craig A. Evans
THERE IS HOPE FOR A TREE: THE TREE AS METAPHOR IN ISAIAH

65

66
67

Kirsten Nielsen
SECRETS OF THE TIMES :
MYTH AND HISTORY IN BIBLICAL CHRONOLOGY
Jeremy Hughes
ASCRIBE TO THE LORD:

BIBLICAL AND OTHER STUDIES IN MEMORY OF PETER C. CRAIGIE


Edited by Lyle Eslinger & Glen Taylor
68

THE TRIUMPH OF IRONY IN THE BOOK OF JUDGES


Lillian R. Klein

69

ZEPHANIAH, A PROPHETIC DRAMA


Paul R. House
NARRATIVE ART IN THE BIBLE

70

Shimon Bar-Efrat
71

QOHELET AND HIS CONTRADICTIONS

72

Michael V. Fox
CIRCLE OF SOVEREIGNTY:

73
74

A STORY OF STORIES IN DANIEL 1-6


Danna Nolan Fewell
DAVID' s SOCIAL DRAMA:
A HOLOGRAM OF THE EARLY IRON AGE
James W. Flanagan
THE STRUCTURAL ANALYSIS OF BIBLICAL AND CANAANITE POETRY
Edited by Willem van der Meer & Johannes C. de Moor

75
76

DAVID IN LOVE AND WAR:


THE PURSUIT OF POWER IN 2 SAMUEL 10-12
Randall C. Bailey
GOD IS KING:
UNDERSTANDING AN ISRAELITE METAPHOR
Marc Zvi Brettler

77
78

79

EDOM AND THE EDOMITES


John R. Bartlett
SWALLOWING THE SCROLL:
TEXTUALITY AND THE DYNAMICS OF DISCOURSE
IN EZEKIEL'S PROPHECY
Ellen F. Davies
GlBEAH:

THE SEARCH FOR A BIBLICAL CITY


Patrick M. Arnold, S.J.

80

THE NATHAN NARRATIVES

81

Gwilym H. Jones
ANTI-COVENANT:

COUNTER-READING WOMEN'S LIVES IN THE HEBREW BIBLE


82
83

Edited by Mieke Bal


RHETORIC AND BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION
Dale Patrick & Allen Scult
THE EARTH AND THE WATERS IN GENESIS 1 AND 2:

A LINGUISTIC INVESTIGATION
84

David Toshio Tsumura


INTO THE HANDS OF THE LIVING GOD
Lyle Eslinger

85

FROM C ARMEL TO HOREB:


ELUAH IN CRISIS
Alan J. Hauser & Russell Gregory

86

THE SYNTAX OF THE VERB IN CLASSICAL HEBREW PROSE


Alviero Niccacci

87

THE BIBLE IN THREE DIMENSIONS:


ESSAYS IN CELEBRATION OF FORTY YEARS OF BIBLICAL STUDIES
IN THE UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD

Translated by W.G.E. Watson

88

89

Edited by David J.A. Clines, Stephen E. Fowl & Stanley E. Porter


THE PERSUASIVE APPEAL OF THE CHRONICLER:
A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS
Rodney K. Duke

THE PROBLEM OF THE PROCESS OF TRANSMISSION


IN THE PENTATEUCH
RolfRendtorff
Translated by John J. Scullion

90

BIBLICAL HEBREW IN TRANSITION:


THE LANGUAGE OF THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL
Mark F. Rooker

91
92
93

THE IDEOLOGY OF RITUAL:


SPACE, TIME AND STATUS IN THE PRIESTLY THEOLOGY
Frank H. Gorman, Jr
ON HUMOUR AND THE COMIC IN THE HEBREW BIBLE
Edited by Yehuda T. Radday & Athalya Brenner
JOSHUA 24 AS POETIC NARRATIVE

William T. Koopmans

94

WHAT DOES EVE Do TO HELP? AND OTHER READERLY QUESTIONS


TO THE OLD TESTAMENT
David J.A. Clines

95

GOD SAVES:
LESSONS FROM THE ELISHA STORIES
Rick Dale Moore

96

ANNOUNCEMENTS OF PLOT IN GENESIS


Laurence A. Turner
97
THE UNITY OF THE TWELVE
Paul R. House
98
ANCIENT CONQUEST ACCOUNTS:
A STUDY IN ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN AND BIBLICAL HISTORY WRITING
K. Lawson Younger, Jr
99
WEALTH AND POVERTY IN THE BOOK OF PROVERBS
R.N. Whybray
100 A TRIBUTE TO GEZA VERMES :
ESSAYS ON JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN
LITERATURE AND HISTORY
Edited by Philip R. Davies & Richard T. White

101
102
10 3

THE CHRONICLER IN HIS AGE


Peter R. Ackroyd
THE PRAYERS OF DAVID (PSALMS 51-72):
STUDIES IN THE PSALTER, II
Michael Goulder
THE SOCIOLOGY OF POTTERY IN ANCIENT PALESTINE:
THE CERAMIC INDUSTRY AND THE DIFFUSION OF CERAMIC STYLE
IN THE BRONZE AND IRON AGES

104

Bryant G. Wood
PSALM STRUCTURES:

105

A STUDY OF PSALMS WITH REFRAINS


Paul R. Raabe
ESTABLISHING JUSTICE
Pietro Bovati

106

GRADED HOLINESS :
A KEY TO THE PRIESTLY CONCEPTION OF THE WORLD
Philip Jenson

107

THE ALIEN IN THE PENTATEUCH


Christiana van Houten

108

THE FORGING OF ISRAEL:


IRON TECHNOLOGY, SYMBOLISM AND TRADITION IN ANCIENT SOCIETY
Paula M. McNutt
SCRIBES AND SCHOOLS IN MONARCHIC JUDAH:
A Socio-ARCHAEOLOGICAL APPROACH

109

David Jamieson-Drake
110

THE CANAANITES AND THEIR LAND:


THE TRADITION OF THE CANAANITES
Niels Peter Lemche

111

YAHWEHANDTHESUN:
THE BIBLICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
J. Glen Taylor

112
113
114
115

WISDOM IN REVOLT:
METAPHORICAL THEOLOGY IN THE BOOK OF JOB
Leo G. Perdue
PROPERTY AND THE FAMILY IN BIBLICAL LAW
Raymond Westbrook
A TRADITIONAL QUEST:
ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF LOUIS JACOBS
Edited by Dan Cohn-Sherbok
I HAVE BUILT You AN EXALTED HOUSE:
TEMPLE BUILDING IN THE BIBLE IN THE LIGHT OF MESOPOTAMIAN
AND NORTH-WEST SEMITIC WRITINGS
Victor Hurowitz

116
117
118

119
120
121
122

NARRATIVE AND NOVELLA IN SAMUEL:


STUDIES BY HUGO GRESSMANN AND OTHER SCHOLARS 1906-1923
Translated by David E. Orton, edited by David M. Gunn
SECOND TEMPLE STUDIES:
I.PERSIAN PERIOD
Edited by Philip R. Davies
SEEING AND HEARING GOD WITH THE PSALMS:
THE PROPHETIC LITURGY FROM THE SECOND TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM
Raymond Jacques Tournay
Translated by J. Edward Crowley
TELLING QUEEN MICHAL'S STORY:
AN EXPERIMENT IN COMPARATIVE INTERPRETATION
Edited by David J.A. Clines & Tamara C. Eskenazi
THE REFORMING KINGS :
CULT AND SOCIETY IN FIRST TEMPLE JUDAH
Richard H. Lowery
KING SAUL IN THE HISTORIOGRAPHY OF JUDAH
Diana Vikander Edelman
IMAGES OF EMPIRE
Edited by Loveday Alexander

123

JUDAHITE BURIAL PRACTICES AND BELIEFS ABOUT THE DEAD


Elizabeth Bloch-Smith

124

LAW AND IDEOLOGY IN MONARCHIC ISRAEL


Edited by Baruch Halpern and Deborah W. Hobson

125
126

PRIESTHOOD AND CULT IN ANCIENT ISRAEL


Edited by Gary A. Anderson and Saul M. Olyan
W.M.L.DE WETTE, FOUNDER OF MODERN BIBLICAL CRITICISM:
AN INTELLECTUAL BIOGRAPHY
John W. Rogerson

127

THE FABRIC OF HISTORY:


TEXT, ARTIFACT AND ISRAEL'S PAST
Edited by Diana Vikander Edelman

128

BIBLICAL SOUND AND SENSE:


POETIC SOUND PATTERNS IN PROVERBS 10-29
Thomas P. McCreesh

129

THE ARAMAIC OF DANIEL IN THE LIGHT OF OLD ARAMAIC


Zdravko Stefanovic

130

STRUCTURE AND THE BOOK OF ZECHARI AH


Michael Butterworth
FORMS OF DEFORMITY:
A MOTIF-INDEX OF ABNORMALITIES, DEFORMITIES AND DISABILITIES
IN TRADITIONAL JEWISH LITERATURE

131

Lynn Holden

132
133
135

136

CONTEXTS FOR AMOS :


PROPHETIC POETICS IN LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE
Mark Daniel Carroll R.
THE FORSAKEN FIRSTBORN:
A STUDY OF A RECURRENT MOTIF IN THE PATRIARCHAL NARRATIVES
R. Syr^n
ISRAEL IN EGYPT:

A READING OF EXODUS 1-2


G.F. Davies
A WALK THROUGH THE GARDEN:
BIBLICAL, ICONOGRAPHICAL AND LITERARY IMAGES OF EDEN
Edited by P. Morris and D. Sawyer

137
138
139
140
141

JUSTICE AND RIGHTEOUSNESS:


BIBLICAL THEMES AND THEIR INFLUENCE
Edited by H. Graf Reventlow & Y. Hoffman
TEXT AS PRETEXT:
ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF ROBERT DAVIDSON
Edited by R.P. Carroll
PSALM AND STORY: INSET HYMNS IN HEBREW NARRATIVE
J.W. Watts
PURITY AND MONOTHEISM:
CLEAN AND UNCLEAN ANIMALS IN BIBLICAL LAW
Walter Houston
DEBT SLAVERY IN ISRAEL AND THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST
Gregory C. Chirichigno

142

DIVINATION IN ANCIENT ISRAEL AND ITS NEAR EASTERN ENVIRONMENT:


A SOCIO-HISTORICAL INVESTIGATION
Frederick H. Cryer

144

AMONG THE PROPHETS:


ESSAYS ON PROPHETIC TOPICS
Edited by P.R. Davies and D.J.A Clines
THE SPEECHES OF MICAH:
A RHETORICAL-HISTORICAL ANALYSIS
Charles S. Shaw

145