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Book of Micah

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Books of Nevi'im
First Prophets
Joshua
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Contents

Who wrote it?

Micah wrote the book in the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, roughly 735-700 BC Few Old Testament scholars today would defend Micah's authorship of the entire book. However, some scholars attribute much more of the materials to Micah than others. The authorship of the book of Micah is somehow controversial.

When was it written?

The superscription suggests the time of the ministry of Micah as being during the reigns of Jotham (742-735 BC), Ahaz (735-715 BC), and Hezekiah (715-687 BC). These figures allow a maximum period of fifty-five years for Micah's ministry, but it is not likely that he was active as a prophet during all of that time. He was active during the late eighth century BC; he was among the earliest of the Minor Prophets. The message in Micah 1:2-9 (http://wikisource.org/wiki/Bible%2C_English%2C_King_James%2C_Micah#Chapter_1) was given before the destruction of Samaria in 721 BC. The appeal of Jeremiah's supporters to the prophecy of Micah confirms his connection with Hezekiah: "And some of the land arose and said to all the assembled people, Micah of Moresheth prophesied during the days of Hezekiah king of Judah" (Jeremiah 26:17 (http://wikisource.org/wiki/Bible%2C_English%2C_King_James%2C_Jeremiah#Chapter_26))

Where was it written

Micah had a populist message in a small town southwest of Jerusalem, Moresheth-gath. Most of the messages of hope can be credited to Micah, but often their general content hinders reconstruction of a specific historical setting. Although we read the canonical book through the eyes of the postxilic community of faith, who come to the fore in 7:8-20, the importance of these sections lies in the spiritual message of these prophetic texts. For this reason, scholars look very carefully at messages of hope. They ask whether they came from the prophet who gave his name to the book or from later prophets. Certainly the final edition of the book gives the impression of coming from early postexilic times.

Why was it written

The purpose of writing the book was to express disdain for the corruptions and pretensions of Jerusalem and its leaders. In an era of urbanization, he championed the traditions of early Israel. Micah condemned religious practice untethered from ethical performance (3:9-10,6:3-5,6-8). Micah was probably not a professional prophet. He criticizes the prophets who give oracles for money (3:11) or tailor their messages according to their clients' generosity (3:5). His credentials are divine inspiration and his unflinching stand for moral truth (3:8). His strong sense of call is exhibited in virtually every line. Fervently yet concisely he speaks to the issues of his day in terms of Israel's covenant obligations. Behind the covenant, in spite of Israel's failure to maintain that bond, is the God of the covenant who yet will lead his people to future glory.

What are the themes of the books?

The book may be divided into three sections:

  1. Chapters 1-3 mainly consist of oracles of judgment.
  2. Chapters 4-5 of oracles of hope.
  3. Chapters 6-7 begins with judgment and moves to hope.

Chapters 1-3, mainly consist of oracles of judgment. The judgment motif is so strong in this book that Micah only preached about judgment. Judgment in Micah is seen in destruction of Samaria, in the coming of a invader against Jerusalem, in the greedy land-grabbers loss of their land and in their being abandoned by Yahweh, in shame for the false prophets, in the siege of Jerusalem and the cleaning of the land from idolatry and militarism.

Chapters 4-5 consist of oracles of hope. The prophet said that those conditions would not prevail forever. Judgment would come but a saved, chastened, and faithful remnant would survive. A new king from the line of David would be born in Bethlehem and replace the present weak king on the throne. He would reign in the majesty of the name of Yahweh. His people would dwell securely and he would be great to the ends of earths.

Chapters 6-7, begin with judgment and move to hope. Micah puts a protest on the people's lips, offering any religious response God cared to ask for. God's idictment becomes specific in 6:9-16. Violence, deception, and crooked business practices were rampant. They would bring desolation and destruction to the land. The reference to Omri and Ahab indicates that the same kinds of corruption that destroyed the northern kingdom had now spread to Judah.

In conclusion, Micah's later hearers take his messages to heart. His words of hope gave them new heart to live as God's people in a darkened world.

References

  • Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.
  • LaSor, William Sanford et al. Old Testament Survey: the Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1996.

Prepared in 2005 for the course BIBL5023 at Acadia Divinity College

External links

This entry incorporates text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897, with some modernisation.

[Category:Jewish texts/Nevi'im|Micah, Book of]]de:Micha (Buch) ko:미가 (구약성서) nl:Micha sv:Mika

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