Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practise it, because it is in the power of their hand.
Mic 2:1-13. Denunciation of the Evils Prevalent: The People's Unwillingness to Hear the Truth: Their Expulsion From the Land the Fitting Fruit of Their Sin: Yet Judah and Israel Are Hereafter to Be Restored.
1. devise … work … practise—They do evil not merely on a sudden impulse, but with deliberate design. As in the former chapter sins against the first table are reproved, so in this chapter sins against the second table. A gradation: "devise" is the conception of the evil purpose; "work" (Ps 58:2), or "fabricate," the maturing of the scheme; "practise," or "effect," the execution of it.
because it is in the power of their hand—for the phrase see Ge 31:29; Pr 3:27. Might, not right, is what regulates their conduct. Where they can, they commit oppression; where they do not, it is because they cannot.
And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage.
2. Parallelism, "Take by violence," answers to "take away"; "fields" and "houses," to "house" and "heritage" (that is, one's land).
Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, against this family do I devise an evil, from which ye shall not remove your necks; neither shall ye go haughtily: for this time is evil.
3. against this family—against the nation, and especially against those reprobated in Mic 2:1, 2.
I devise an evil—a happy antithesis between God's dealings and the Jews' dealings (Mic 2:1). Ye "devise evil" against your fellow countrymen; I devise evil against you. Ye devise it wrongfully, I by righteous retribution in kind.
from which ye shall not remove your necks—as ye have done from the law. The yoke I shall impose shall be one which ye cannot shake off. They who will not bend to God's "easy yoke" (Mt 11:29, 30), shall feel His iron yoke.
go haughtily—(Compare Note, see on Jer 6:28). Ye shall not walk as now with neck haughtily uplifted, for the yoke shall press down your "neck."
this time is evil—rather, "for that time shall be an evil time," namely, the time of the carrying away into captivity (compare Am 5:13; Eph 5:16).
In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.
4. one take up a parable against you—that is, Some of your foes shall do so, taking in derision from your own mouth your "lamentation," namely, "We be spoiled," &c.
lament with a doleful lamentation—literally, "lament with a lamentation of lamentations." Hebrew, naha, nehi, nihyah, the repetition representing the continuous and monotonous wail.
he hath changed the portion of my people—a charge of injustice against Jehovah. He transfers to other nations the sacred territory assigned as the rightful portion of our people (Mic 1:15).
turning away he hath divided our fields—Turning away from us to the enemy, He hath divided among them our fields. Calvin, as the Margin, explains, "Instead of restoring our territory, He hath divided our fields among our enemies, each of whom henceforward will have an interest in keeping what he hath gotten: so that we are utterly shut out from hope of restoration." Maurer translates as a noun, "He hath divided our fields to a rebel," that is, to the foe who is a rebel against the true God, and a worshipper of idols. So "backsliding," that is, backslider (Jer 49:4). English Version gives a good sense; and is quite tenable in the Hebrew.
Therefore thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord by lot in the congregation of the LORD.
5. Therefore—resumed from Mic 2:3. On account of your crimes described in Mic 2:1, 2.
thou—the ideal individual ("me," Mic 2:4), representing the guilty people in whose name he spoke.
none that … cast a cord by lot—none who shall have any possession measured out.
in the congregation of the Lord—among the people consecrated to Jehovah. By covetousness and violence (Mic 2:2) they had forfeited "the portion of Jehovah's people." This is God's implied answer to their complaint of injustice (Mic 2:4).
Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame.
6. Prophesy ye not, say they—namely, the Israelites say to the true prophets, when announcing unwelcome truths. Therefore God judicially abandons them to their own ways: "The prophets, by whose ministry they might have been saved from shame (ignominious captivity), shall not (that is, no longer) prophesy to them" (Isa 30:10; Am 2:12; 7:16). Maurer translates the latter clause, "they shall not prophesy of such things" (as in Mic 2:3-5, these being rebellious Israel's words); "let them not prophesy"; "they never cease from insult" (from prophesying insults to us). English Version is supported by the parallelism: wherein the similarity of sound and word implies how exactly God makes their punishment answer to their sin, and takes them at their own word. "Prophesy," literally, "drop" (De 32:2; Eze 21:2).
O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the spirit of the LORD straitened? are these his doings? do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?
7. O thou … named the house of Jacob—priding thyself on the name, though having naught of the spirit, of thy progenitor. Also, bearing the name which ought to remind thee of God's favors granted to thee because of His covenant with Jacob.
is the Spirit of the Lord straitened?—Is His compassion contracted within narrower limits now than formerly, so that He should delight in your destruction (compare Ps 77:7-9; Isa 59:1, 2)?
are these his doings?—that is, Are such threatenings His delight? Ye dislike the prophets' threatenings (Mic 2:6): but who is to blame? Not God, for He delights in blessing, rather than threatening; but yourselves (Mic 2:8) who provoke His threatenings [Grotius]. Calvin translates, "Are your doings such as are prescribed by Him?" Ye boast of being God's peculiar people: Do ye then conform your lives to God's law?
do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly—Are not My words good to the upright? If your ways were upright, My words would not be threatening (compare Ps 18:26; Mt 11:19; Joh 7:17).
Even of late my people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war.
8. Your ways are not such that I can deal with you as I would with the upright.
Even of late—literally, "yesterday," "long ago." So "of old." Hebrew, "yesterday" (Isa 30:33); "heretofore," Hebrew, "since yesterday" (Jos 3:4).
my people is risen up as an enemy—that is, has rebelled against My precepts; also has become an enemy to the unoffending passers-by.
robe with the garment—Not content with the outer "garment," ye greedily rob passers-by of the ornamental "robe" fitting the body closely and flowing down to the feet [Ludovicus De Dieu] (Mt 5:40).
as men averse from war—in antithesis to (My people) "as an enemy." Israel treats the innocent passers-by, though "averse from war," as an enemy" would treat captives in his power, stripping them of their habiliments as lawful spoils. Grotius translates, "as men returning from war," that is, as captives over whom the right of war gives the victors an absolute power. English Version is supported by the antithesis.
The women of my people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away my glory for ever.
9. The women of my people—that is, the widows of the men slain by you (Mic 2:2) ye cast out from their homes which had been their delight, and seize on them for yourselves.
from their children—that is, from the orphans of the widows.
taken away my glory—namely, their substance and raiment, which, being the fruit of God's blessing on the young, reflected God's glory. Thus Israel's crime was not merely robbery, but sacrilege. Their sex did not save the women, nor their age the children from violence.
for ever—There was no repentance. They persevered in sin. The pledged garment was to be restored to the poor before sunset (Ex 22:26, 27); but these never restored their unlawful booty.
Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction.
10. Arise ye, and depart—not an exhortation to the children of God to depart out of an ungodly world, as it is often applied; though that sentiment is a scriptural one. This world is doubtless not our "rest," being "polluted" with sin: it is our passage, not our portion; our aim, not our home (2Co 6:17; Heb 13:14). The imperatives express the certainty of the future event predicted. "Since such are your doings (compare Mic 2:7, 8, &c.), My sentence on you is irrevocable (Mic 2:4, 5), however distasteful to you (Mic 2:6); ye who have cast out others from their homes and possessions (Mic 2:2, 8, 9) must arise, depart, and be cast out of your own (Mic 2:4, 5): for this is not your rest" (Nu 10:33; De 12:9; Ps 95:11). Canaan was designed to be a rest to them after their wilderness fatigues. But it is to be so no longer. Thus God refutes the people's self-confidence, as if God were bound to them inseparably. The promise (Ps 132:14) is quite consistent with temporary withdrawal of God from Israel for their sins.
it shall destroy you—The land shall spew you out, because of the defilements wherewith ye "polluted" it (Le 18:25, 28; Jer 3:2; Eze 36:12-14).
If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.
11. walking in the spirit—The Hebrew means also "wind." "If a man professing to have the 'spirit' of inspiration (Eze 13:3; so 'man of the spirit,' that is, one claiming inspiration, Ho 9:7), but really walking in 'wind' (prophecy void of nutriment for the soul, and unsubstantial as the wind) and falsehood, do lie, saying (that which ye like to hear), I will prophesy," &c., even such a one, however false his prophecies, since he flatters your wishes, shall be your prophet (compare Mic 2:6; Jer 5:31).
prophesy … of wine—that is, of an abundant supply of wine.
I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of men.
12. A sudden transition from threats to the promise of a glorious restoration. Compare a similar transition in Ho 1:9, 10. Jehovah, too, prophesies of good things to come, but not like the false prophets, "of wine and strong drink" (Mic 2:11). After I have sent you into captivity as I have just threatened, I will thence assemble you again (compare Mic 4:6, 7).
all of thee—The restoration from Babylon was partial. Therefore that here meant must be still future, when "all Israel shall be saved" (Ro 11:26). The restoration from "Babylon" (specified (Mic 4:10) is the type of the future one.
Jacob … Israel—the ten tribes' kingdom (Ho 12:2) and Judah (2Ch 19:8; 21:2, 4).
remnant—the elect remnant, which shall survive the previous calamities of Judah, and from which the nation is to spring into new life (Isa 6:13; 10:20-22).
as the sheep of Bozrah—a region famed for its rich pastures (compare 2Ki 3:4). Gesenius for Bozrah translates, "sheepfold." But thus there will be tautology unless the next clause be translated, "in the midst of their pasture." English Version is more favored by the Hebrew.
The breaker is come up before them: they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it: and their king shall pass before them, and the LORD on the head of them.
13. The breaker—Jehovah-Messiah, who breaks through every obstacle in the way of their restoration: not as formerly breaking forth to destroy them for transgression (Ex 19:22; Jud 21:15), but breaking a way for them through their enemies.
they—the returning Israelites and Jews.
passed through the gate—that is, through the gate of the foe's city in which they had been captives. So the image of the resurrection (Ho 13:14) represents Israel's restoration.
their king—"the Breaker," peculiarly "their king" (Ho 3:5; Mt 27:37).
pass before them—as He did when they went up out of Egypt (Ex 13:21; De 1:30, 33).
the Lord on the head of them—Jehovah at their head (Isa 52:12). Messiah, the second person, is meant (compare Ex 23:20; 33:14; Isa 63:9).