Habakkuk 1:12
Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, you have ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, you have established them for correction.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12-17) Though sore perplexed, Habakkuk feels sure that the God whom this swaggering conqueror has insulted will at last vindicate Himself.

(12) We shall not diei.e., God’s people may suffer, but shall not be obliterated, shall not be “given over unto death.” The rest of the verse runs literally, Jehovah, for judgment hast Thou appointed him, and O Rock, for chastisement hast Thou founded him. “Him,” means, of course, the Chaldæan invader, whom Habakkuk regards as raised up only to be God’s instrument of correction. The term “Rock” has been paraphrased in the Authorised Version. Used absolutely, it occurs as a Divine title in Deuteronomy 32:4. Generally it is qualified in some way, as “my rock,” “our rock,” “rock of salvation” &c.

Habakkuk 1:12. Art thou not, &c. — Here the prophet, upon being made sensible that the king of Babylon should attribute all his victories to some false or fictitious deity, or to his own abilities, breaks out into a passionate exclamation to Jehovah, Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God? — Art not thou he, who only hath been from everlasting; while all others that are called gods have had a beginning, and there was a time when neither they nor the men that set them up had any being? Thou, therefore, art infinitely superior, both to the most powerful men, and to all that are called gods. We shall not die — We shall not utterly perish by the Chaldeans, though we shall suffer severely from them. Or, as Secker renders it, Let us not die. Thou hast ordained them for judgment — Thou hast appointed the Chaldeans to execute thy judgments on sinners. And, O mighty God — Whose sovereignty is unquestionable, and power irresistible; thou hast established them for correction — The Hebrew is, thou hast founded them as a rock for correction, namely, of the Jewish people.1:12-17 However matters may be, yet God is the Lord our God, our Holy One. We are an offending people, he is an offended God, yet we will not entertain hard thoughts of him, or of his service. It is great comfort that, whatever mischief men design, the Lord designs good, and we are sure that his counsel shall stand. Though wickedness may prosper a while, yet God is holy, and does not approve the wickedness. As he cannot do iniquity himself, so he is of purer eyes than to behold it with any approval. By this principle we must abide, though the dispensations of his providence may for a time, in some cases, seem to us not to agree with it. The prophet complains that God's patience was abused; and because sentence against these evil works and workers was not executed speedily, their hearts were the more fully set in them to do evil. Some they take up as with the angle, one by one; others they catch in shoals, as in their net, and gather them in their drag, their enclosing net. They admire their own cleverness and contrivance: there is great proneness in us to take the glory of outward prosperity to ourselves. This is idolizing ourselves, sacrificing to the drag-net because it is our own. God will soon end successful and splendid robberies. Death and judgment shall make men cease to prey on others, and they shall be preyed on themselves. Let us remember, whatever advantages we possess, we must give all the glory to God.The prophet, having summed up the deeds of the enemy of God in this his end, sets forth his questions anew. He had appealed against the evil of the wicked of his people; he had been told of the vengeance by the Chaldaeans (Heading of Habakkuk 1). But the vengeance is executed by them who are far worse. How then? The answer is: "Wait to the end, and thou shalt see." What remains are the triumphs of faith; the second chapter closes with the entire prostration of the whole world before God, and the whole prophecy with joyous trust in God amid the entire failure of all outward signs of hope. Here, like the Psalmists (Asaph, Psalm 73 Ethan Psalm 76:1-12) and Jeremiah Jer 12:1, he sets down at the very beginning his entire trust in God, and so, in the name of all who at any time shall be perplexed about the order of God's judgments, asks how it shall be, teaching us that the only safe way of enquiring into God's ways is by setting out with a living conviction that they, Psalm 25:10, are "mercy and truth." And so the address to God is full of awe and confidence and inward love. For "God placeth the oil of mercy in the vessel of trustfulness."

Art Thou not - (the word has always an emphasis) "Thou" and not whatsoever or whosoever it be that is opposed to Thee (be it Nebuchadnezzar or Satan).

From everlasting - literally, from before? See the note at Micah 5:2. Go back as far as man can in thought - God was still before; and so, much more before any of His creatures, such as those who rebel against Him.

O Lord - it is the proper name of God, Revelation 1:8, "Which is and Which was and Which is to come" - I am, the Unchangeable; my God, i. e., whereas his own might is (he had just said) the pagan's god, the Lord is his;

Mine Holy One - one word, denoting that God is his God, sufficeth him not, but he adds (what does not elsewhere occur) "mine Holy One" in every way, as hallowing him and hallowed by him. Dion.: "Who hallowest my soul, Holy in Thine Essence, and whom as incomparably Holy I worship in holiness." All-Holy in Himself, He becometh the Holy One of him to whom He imparteth Himself, and so, by His own gift, belongeth, as it were, to him. The one word in Hebrew wonderfully fits in with the truth, that God becomes one with man by taking him to Himself. It is fall of inward trust too, that he saith, "my God, my Holy One," as Paul saith, Galatians 2:9, "Who loved me, and gave Himself for me," i. e., as Augustine explains it , "O Thou God Omnipotent, who so carest for every one of us, as if Thou caredst for him only; and so for all, as if tbey were but one." The title, "my Holy One," includes his people with himself; for God was his God, primarily because he was one of the people of God; and his office was for and in behalf of his people.

It involves then that other title which had been the great support of Isaiah , by which he at once comforted his people, and impressed upon them the holiness of their God, the holiness which their relation to their God required, the Holy One of Israel. Thence, since Habakkuk 54ed, for his people with himself, on this relation to God, as my God, my Holy One, and that God, the Unchangeable; it follows," We shall not die." There is no need of any mark of inference, "therefore we shall not die." It is an inference, but it so lay in those titles of God, "He Is, My God, My Holy One," that it was a more loving confidence to say directly, we shall not die. The one thought involved the other. God, the Unchangeable, had made Himself their God. It was impossible, then, that lie should cast them off or that they should perish.

We shall not die, is the lightning thought of faith, which flashes on the soul like all inspirations of God, founded on His truth and word, but borne in, as it were, instinctively without inference on the soul, with the same confidence as the Psalmist says Psalm 118:18, "The Lord hath chastened me sore; but He hath not given me over unto death;" and Malachi Mal 3:6, "I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." Jerome: "Thou createdst us from the beginning; by Thy mercy we are in being hitherto." Thy "gifts and calling are without repentance." Romans 11:29 "did we look to his might; none of us could withstand him. Look we to Thy mercy, Thine alone is it that we live, are not slain by him, nor led to deeds of death." O Lord, again he repeats the Name of God, whereby He had revealed Himself as their God, the Unchangeable; "Thou, whose mercies fail not, hast ordained them for judgment," not for vengeance or to make a full end, or for his own ends and pleasure, but to correct Thine own Jeremiah 10:24; Jeremiah 30:11 in measure, which he, exceeding, sinned (See Isaiah 10:5; Isaiah 47:6; Zechariah 1:15).

And O mighty God - literally, Rock. It is a bold title. "My rock" is a title much used by David , perhaps suggested by the fastnesses amid which he passed his hunted life, to express that not in them but in His God was his safety. Habakkuk purposely widens it. He appeals to God, not only as Israel's might and upholder, but as the sole Source of all strength, the Supporter of all which is upheld , and so, for the time, of the Chaldaean too. Hence, he continues the simple image: "Thou hast founded him" . "Thou hast made him to stand firm as the foundation of a building;" to reprove or set before those who have sinned against Thee, what they had done. Since then God was the Rock, who had founded them, from Him Alone had they strength; when He should withdraw it, they must fall. How then did they yet abide, who abused the power given them and counted it their own? And this the more, since ...

12. In opposition to the impious deifying of the Chaldeans power as their god (Maurer, or, as the English Version, their attributing of their successes to their idols), the prophet, in an impassioned address to Jehovah, vindicates His being "from everlasting," as contrasted with the Chaldean so-called "god."

my God, mine Holy One—Habakkuk speaks in the name of his people. God was "the Holy One of Israel," against whom the Chaldean was setting up himself (Isa 37:23).

we shall not die—Thou, as being our God, wilt not permit the Chaldeans utterly to destroy us. This reading is one of the eighteen called by the Hebrews "the appointment of the scribes"; the Rabbis think that Ezra and his colleagues corrected the old reading, "Thou shalt not die."

thou hast ordained them for judgment—that is, to execute Thy judgments.

for correction—to chastise transgressors (Isa 10:5-7). But not that they may deify their own power (Hab 1:11, for their power is from Thee, and but for a time); nor that they may destroy utterly Thy people. The Hebrew for "mighty God" is Rock (De 32:4). However the world is shaken, or man's faith wavers, God remains unshaken as the Rock of Ages (Isa 26:4, Margin).

Art thou not from everlasting? in being, thou art that God who art not like the gods of the nations, upstart and novel, but before the mountains were brought forth thou wast God; thou hast permitted, borne with, restrained, overthrown, and punished such proud, bloody, and sacrilegious wretches. In thy works of old, before this proud Chaldean monarch was thought of, thou wert as now, wonderful, just, and good, and thy saints found support in the remembrance thereof, Psalm 74:12 77:5,11 143:5 Isaiah 45:21. In covenant with thine Israel, which covenant is not of late years, it is an ancient covenant, and as it hath, it still shall be kept for our good.

O Lord; the Sovereign Lord and Ruler of the world, who only art Jehovah.

My God; Judge and Vindex by office; as Judge, engaged to defend, rescue, and avenge the oppressed; and my God or Judge. Whether the prophet speaks only in his own, or in his people’s name, he hath a respect to that peculiar relation he or they had to God, much like that Isaiah 63:19. He refers to the ancient covenant relation which God had taken them into, and implies his hope and expectation of help from God, their Judge and Vindex.

Mine Holy One; holy in thy nature, law, and government, in thy mercies, and in judgments, who dost intend to make thy holiness appear in due time by saving us; though thou seem to forget, or at least to delay the work, yet thou art the Holy One in the midst of us, Isaiah 12:6, and we wait for thee.

We, who are thine, and oppressed, threatened, and exposed to the avarice and cruelty of the Chaldean,

shall not die; be utterly cut off and destroyed, for the death of a nation is the destruction or desolation of it. Thou who hast made us thine by an everlasting covenant of mercy, wilt show us such mercy that we shall outlive the rage of our enemies.

O Lord: with humble veneration he doth look towards God, and discerneth what quieteth his spirit, and confirms his faith and patience.

Thou hast ordained, set up, maintained, and designed, them, the Chaldean kingdom, as Habakkuk 1:6.

for judgment; to execute this judgment, which is ever attempered with mercy, which ever betters, never destroys thy people: see Isaiah 10:5, &c. Babylon, as Assyria, was the rod of God’s indignation, &c.

O mighty God: this he repeats for confirmation and illustration, and intimateth God to be his people’s rock and refuge.

Thou hast established, strengthened and fortified, them for correction; to chastise and discipline, not to destroy. Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine holy One? .... The prophet, foreseeing these calamities coming upon his nation and people, observes some things for their comfort in this verse; and expostulates with God in the following verses Habakkuk 1:13 about his providential dealings, in order to obtain an answer from him, which might remove the objections of his own mind, and those of other good men he personates, raised against them; being stumbled at this, that wicked men should be suffered to succeed and prosper, and the righteous should be afflicted and distressed by them: but for his own present consolation, and that of others, in a view of the worst that should befall them, he strongly asserts,

we shall not die; meaning not a corporeal death, for that all men die, good and bad; and this the Jews did die, and no doubt good men among them too, at the siege and taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldean army, either by famine, or pestilence, or sword: nor a death of affliction, which the people of God are subject to, as well as others; is often their case, and is for their good, and in love, and not wrath: but a spiritual death, which none that are quickened by the Spirit and grace of God ever die; though grace may be low, it is never lost; though saints may be in dead and lifeless frames, and need quickening afresh, yet they are not without the principle of spiritual life; grace in them is a well of living water, springing up to everlasting life; their spiritual life can never fail them, since it is secured in Christ: and much less shall they die the second, or an eternal death; they are ordained to eternal life; Christ is come, and given his flesh for it, that they might have it; it is in his hands for them; they are united to him, and have both the promise and pledge of it: and this may be argued, as by the prophet here, from the eternity of God, art "thou not from everlasting?" he is from everlasting to everlasting, the Ancient of days, that inhabits eternity, is, was, and is to come: therefore "we shall not die"; none of his people shall perish, because he loves them with an everlasting love; has made an everlasting choice of them; has set up Christ from everlasting as their surety and Saviour; entered into an everlasting covenant with them in Christ; is their everlasting Father, and will be their everlasting portion; is the unchangeable Jehovah, and therefore they shall not be consumed: this may be concluded from their covenant interest in God, "O Lord my God"; they are his peculiar people, given to Christ to be preserved by him, and covenant interest always continues; he that is their God is their God and guide unto death: and also from the holiness of God, "mine holy One"; who has sworn by his holiness to them, and is faithful to his covenant and promise; and is the sanctifier of them, that has sanctified or set them apart for himself; made Christ sanctification to them, and makes them holy by his Spirit and grace, and enables them to persevere in grace and holiness: moreover, this may be understood of the people of the Jews, as a church and nation; who, though they would be carried captive into Babylon, yet would still continue as such, and be returned again as such, and not die, sink, and perish; since the Messiah was to spring from them; and they might be assured of their preservation for that purpose, from the perfections of God, his covenant with them, and their relation to him: nor shall the church of Christ in any age die and perish, though in ever so low a state; a particular church may, but the interest and church of Christ in general, or his spiritual seed, never shall. This is one of the eighteen passages, as Jarchi, Kimchi, and Ben Melech observe, called "Tikkun-Sopherim", the correction of the scribes, of Ezra, and his company; it having been written, in some copies, "thou shall not die" (a); asserting the immortality of God, or his eternity to come; and that, as he was from everlasting, so he should continue to everlasting; and to this sense the Targum paraphrases the words,

"thy Word remaineth for ever;''

and so the Syriac version follows the same reading:

O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment: that is, the Chaldeans; either to be judged and punished themselves for their sins, as all wicked Christless sinners are, even righteously foreordained to condemnation for their sins; or rather to be the instruments of punishing the wicked among the Jews; for this purpose were these people ordained in the counsels of God, and raised up in his providence, and constituted a kingdom, and made a powerful nation:

O mighty God; or "rock" (b); the rock and refuge of his people:

thou hast established them for correction; or "founded" (c) them, and settled them as a monarchy, strong and mighty for this end, that they might be a rod in the hand of the Lord, not for destruction, but for correction and chastisement; and from hence it might be also comfortably concluded that they should not die and utterly perish.

(a) "non morieris", Vatablus, Drusius, Grotius. (b) "O rupes", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Van Till; "O petra", Drusius. (c) "fundasti eum", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Cocceius, Van Till; "constituisti", Vatablus.

Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? we shall not {k} die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.

(k) He assures the godly of God's protection, showing that the enemy can do no more than God has appointed, and also that their sins require such a sharp rod.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12–17. Remonstrance of the Prophet with God, the righteous Ruler of the world, over the cruelties and inhumanity of the Chaldeans

12. The words down to “die” must form two lines and cannot be divided at “Holy One.” Most naturally thus:

Art not thou from everlasting, O Jehovah!

My God, mine Holy One, we shall not die!

Others make the division at “my God.” The word “everlasting” again Deuteronomy 33:27. The eternity of their God is often a ground of confidence to Israel; Isaiah 40:28, “an everlasting God is Jehovah, he fainteth not neither is weary.” Cf. Psalm 90:2, “from everlasting to everlasting thou art God.”

we shall not die] This is said half in supplication, half in assurance; Psalm 118:17; cf. 1 Samuel 20:14. Comp. the assurance “shall live” ch. Habakkuk 2:4. The accumulation of divine names shews the earnestness and importunity of the prophet. According to Jewish tradition “we shall not die” is a tiḳḳun (emendation) of the “scribes” for thou shall not die (diest not). Opinions differ as to who the “scribes” are. Some consider that the original authors are meant, in which case the tiḳḳun would be a second thought of the writer. What occurred to him to say first was “thou diest not,” but reverence restrained him from bringing the ideas of death and God together, and he said “we shall not die.” We are not informed how this interesting process in the prophet’s mind became known to after-times. Obviously this is not the real account of the matter, which is not easy to give. No doubt, however, these so-called emendations—there are eighteen of them—were either (1) real corrections by the scribes, i.e. copyists or editors of the sacred books; or (2) they are no emendations at all, but the original text; the supposed readings which they are said to have supplanted being mere fancies of Jewish scholars as to what might have been written. Possibly they are partly of the one class and partly of the other. In the present passage Sept. agrees with Heb., but in another, Job 7:20, it exhibits the supposed original reading: “I am become a burden unto Thee” (Heb. unto myself).

ordained them for judgment] lit. him, i.e. the Chaldean. The prophet proceeds in the same tone of half prayer, half confidence, struck in “we shall not die,” explaining to himself and venturing to suggest before God what must be the meaning of the Chaldean’s supremacy and oppression—he is not meant to cause Israel to perish, only to execute God’s temporary judgment upon it. Ewald takes the other possible view, viz. that it is the Chaldean himself who is appointed to be judged and receive punishment. This view is less natural in the connexion.

O mighty God … correction] and O Rock thou hast appointed him for correction—to be the instrument of chastising Israel. The term Rock is used of God, Deuteronomy 32:4; Deuteronomy 32:18; Deuteronomy 32:30-31; 1 Samuel 2:2, 2 Samuel 22:32; 2 Samuel 23:3; cf. Genesis 49:24.Verses 12-17. - § 4. The prophet, in reply, beseeches the Lord not to suffer his people to perish, seeing that he has deigned to be in covenant with them, but to remember mercy even during the affliction at the hand of their rapacious enemies. Verse 12. - Habakkuk calls to mind God's immutability and his covenant with Israel. Art thou not from everlasting, etc.? An affirmative answer is expected. This is one ground of confidence in the corrective nature of the chastisement. God is Jehovah, the covenant God, who has been in personal relation to Israel from time immemorial, and is himself eternal. Mine Holy One. He speaks in the person of the righteous people, and he refers to God's holiness as a second ground of hope, because, although God must punish sin, he will not let the sacred nation, the chosen guardian of the faith, perish utterly. And then he expresses this confidence: We shall not die. We shall be chastened, but not killed. The Masorites assert that the present reading is a correction of the scribes for "thou wilt not die," which the prophet wrote originally, and which was altered for reverence' sake. But this is a mere assumption, incapable of proof. Its adoption would be an omission of the very consolation to which the prophet's confidence leads. Thou hast ordained them (him) for judgment. Thou hast appointed the Chaldean to execute thy corrective punishment on Israel (comp. Jeremiah 46:28). Others take the meaning to be - Thou hast predestined the Chaldean to be judged and punished This is not so suitable in this place. O mighty God; Hebrew, O Rock - an appellation applied to God, as the sure and stable Resting place and Support of his people (Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 37; Psalm 18:2, 31:3; Isaiah 17:10). Thou hast established them (him) for correction. Thou appointedst the Chaldean, or madest him strong, in order to correct thy people. He is, like the Assyrian, the rod of God's anger (Isaiah 10:5). Septuagint, Απλασέ με τοῦ ἐλέγχειν παιδείαν αὐτοῦ, "He formed me to prove his instruction." This, says St. Jerome, is spoken in the person of the prophet announcing his call and office. And the judgment will not even stop at Jerusalem, but will spread still further over the land. This spreading is depicted in Micah 1:13-15 in the same manner as before. Micah 1:13. "Harness the horse to the chariot, O inhabitress of Lachish! It was the beginning of sin to the daughter Zion, that the iniquities of Israel were found in her. Micah 1:14. Therefore wilt thou give dismissal-presents to Moresheth-gath (i.e., the betrothed of Gath); the houses of Achzib (lying fountain) become a lying brook for Israel's kings. Micah 1:15. I will still bring thee the heir, O inhabitress of Mareshah (hereditary city); the nobility of Israel will come to Adullam. Micah 1:16. Make thyself bald, and shave thyself upon the sons of thy delights: spread out thy baldness like the eagle; for they have wandered away from thee." The inhabitants of Lachish, a fortified city in the Shephelah, to the west of Eleutheropolis, preserved in the ruins of Um Lakis (see at Joshua 10:3), are to harness the horses to the chariot (rekhesh, a runner; see at 1 Kings 5:8 : the word is used as ringing with lâkhı̄sh), namely, to flee as rapidly as possible before the advancing foe. רתם, ἁπ. λεγ. "to bind ... the horse to the chariot," answering to the Latin currum jungere equis. Upon this city will the judgment fall with especial severity, because it has grievously sinned. It was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion, i.e., to the population of Jerusalem; it was the first to grant admission to the iniquities of Israel, i.e., to the idolatry of the image-worship of the ten tribes (for פּשׁעי ישׂראל, see Micah 1:5 and Amos 3:14), which penetrated even to the capital. Nothing more is known of this, as the historical books contain no account of it. For this reason, namely, because the sin of Israel found admission into Jerusalem, she (the daughter Zion) will be obliged to renounce Moresheth-gath. This is the thought of Micah 1:14, the drapery of which rests upon the resemblance in sound between Moresheth and me'orâsâh, the betrothed (Deuteronomy 22:23). Shillūchı̄m, dismissal, denotes anything belonging to a man, which he dismisses or gives up for a time, or for ever. It is applied in Exodus 18:2 to the sending away of wife and children to the father-in-law for a time; and in 1 Kings 9:16 to a dowry, or the present which a father gives to his daughter when she is married and leaves his house. The meaning "divorce," i.e., sēpher kerı̄thuth (Deuteronomy 24:1, Deuteronomy 24:3), has been arbitrarily forced upon the word. The meaning is not to be determined from shillēăch in Jeremiah 3:8, as Hitzig supposes, but from 1 Kings 9:16, where the same expression occurs, except that it is construed with ל, which makes no material difference. For נתן אל signifies to give to a person, either to lay upon him or to hand to him; נתן ל, to give to him. The object given by Zion to Moresheth as a parting present is not mentioned, but it is really the city itself; for the meaning is simply this: Zion will be obliged to relinquish all further claim to Moresheth, to give it up to the enemy. Mōresheth is not an appellative, as the old translators suppose, but the proper name of Micah's home; and Gath is a more precise definition of its situation - "by Gath," viz., the well-known Philistian capital, analogous to Bethlehem-Judah in Judges 17:7-9; Judges 19:1, or Abel-maim (Abel by the water) in 2 Chronicles 16:4. According to Jerome (comm. in Mich. Prol.), Morasthi, qui usque hodie juxta Eleutheropolin, urbem Palaestinae, haud grandis est viculus (cf. Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 423). The context does not admit of our taking the word in an appellative sense, "possession of Gath," since the prophet does not mean to say that Judah will have to give up to the enemy a place belonging to Gath, but rather that it will have to give up the cities of its own possession. For, as Maurer correctly observes, "when the enemy is at the gate, men think of defending the kingdom, not of enlarging it." But if the addition of the term Gath is not merely intended to define the situation of Moresheth with greater minuteness, or to distinguish it from other places of the same name, and if the play upon words in Moresheth was intended to point to a closer relation to Gath, the thought expressed could only be, that the place situated in the neighbourhood of Gath had frequently been taken by the Philistines, or claimed as their property, and not that they were in actual possession of Gath at this time.

The play upon words in the second clause of the verse also points to the loss of places in Judaea: "the houses of Achzib will become Achzab to the kings of Israel." אכזב, a lie, for נחל אכזב, is a stream which dries up in the hot season, and deceives the expectation of the traveller that he shall find water (Jeremiah 15:18; cf. Job 6:15.). Achzib, a city in the plain of Judah, whose name has been preserved in the ruins of Kussabeh, to the south-west of Beit-Jibrin (see at Joshua 15:44). The houses of Achzib are mentioned, because they are, properly speaking, to be compared to the contents of the river's bed, whereas the ground on which they stood, with the wall that surrounded them, answered to the river's bed itself (Hitzig), so that the words do not denote the loss or destruction of the houses so much as the loss of the city itself. The "kings of Israel" are not the kings of Samaria and Judah, for Achzib belonged to the kingdom of Judah alone, but the kings of Judah who followed one another (cf. Jeremiah 19:13); so that the plural is to be understood as relating to the monarchy of Israel (Judah). Mareshah will also pass into other hands. This is affirmed in the words, "I will bring the heir to thee again" (אבי for אביא, as in 1 Kings 21:29). The first heir of Mareshah was the Israelites, who received the city, which had been previously occupied by the Canaanites, for their possession on the conquest of the land. The second heir will be the enemy, into whose possession the land is now to pass. Mareshah, also in the lowland of Judah, has been preserved, so far as the name is concerned, in the ruins of Marash (see at Joshua 15:44, and Tobler, Dritte Wanderung, pp. 129, 142-3). To the north of this was Adullam (see at Joshua 12:15), which has not yet been discovered, but which Tobler (p. 151) erroneously seeks for in Bêt Dûla. Micah mentions it simply on account of the cave there (1 Samuel 22:1), as a place of refuge, to which the great and glorious of Israel would flee ("the glory of Israel," as in Isaiah 5:13). The description is rounded off in Micah 1:16, by returning to the thought that Zion would mourn deeply over the carrying away of the people, with which it had first set out in Micah 1:8. In קרחי וגזּי Zion is addressed as the mother of the people. קרח, to shave smooth, and גּזז, to cut off the hair, are synonyms, which are here combined to strengthen the meaning. The children of thy delights, in whom thou hast thy pleasure, are the members of the nation. Shaving the head bald, or shaving a bald place, was a sing of mourning, which had been handed down as a traditional custom in Israel, in spite of the prohibition in Deuteronomy 14:1 (see at Leviticus 19:28). The bald place is to be made to spread out like that of a nesher, i.e., not the true eagle, but the vulture, which was also commonly classed in the eagle family, - either the bearded vulture, vultur barbatus (see Oedmann, Verm. Samml. i. p. 54ff.), or more probably the carrion vulture, vultur percnopterus L., common in Egypt, and also in Palestine, which has the front part of the head completely bald, and only a few hairs at the back of the head, so that a bald place may very well be attributed to it (see Hasselquist, Reise, p. 286ff.). The words cannot possibly be understood as referring to the yearly moulting of the eagle itself.

If we inquire still further as to the fulfilment of the prophecy concerning Judah (Micah 1:8-16), it cannot be referred, or speaking more correctly, it must not be restricted, to the Assyrian invasion, as Theod., Cyril, Marck, and others suppose. For the carrying away of Judah, which is hinted at in Micah 1:11, and clearly expressed in Micah 1:16, was not effected by the Assyrians, but by the Chaldeans; and that Micah himself did not expect this judgment from the Assyrians, but from Babel, is perfectly obvious from Micah 4:10, where he mentions Babel as the place to which Judah was to be carried into exile. At the same time, we must not exclude the Assyrian oppression altogether; for Sennacherib had not only already conquered the greater part of Judah, and penetrated to the very gates of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13-14, 2 Kings 18:19; Isaiah 36:1-38:22), but would have destroyed the kingdom of Judah, as his predecessor Shalmaneser had destroyed the kingdom of Israel, if the Lord had not heard the prayer of His servant Hezekiah, and miraculously destroyed Sennacherib's army before the walls of Jerusalem. Micah prophesies throughout this chapter, not of certain distinct judgment, but of judgment in general, without any special allusions to the way in which it would be realized; so that the proclamation embraces all the judgments that have fallen upon Judah from the Assyrian invasion down to the Roman catastrophe.

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