Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?
Mic 3:1-12. The Sins of the Princes, Prophets, and Priests: The Consequent Desolation of Zion.
1. princes—magistrates or judges.
Is it not for you?—Is it not your special function (Jer 5:4, 5)?
judgment—justice. Ye sit in judgment on others; surely then ye ought to know the judgment for injustice which awaits yourselves (Ro 2:1).
Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones;
2. pluck off their skin … flesh—rob their fellow countrymen of all their substance (Ps 14:4; Pr 30:14).
Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.
3. pot … flesh within … caldron—manifold species of cruel oppressions. Compare Eze 24:3, &c., containing, as to the coming punishment, the same figure as is here used of the sin: implying that the sin and punishment exactly correspond.
Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings.
4. Then—at the time of judgment, which Micah takes for granted, so certain is it (compare Mic 2:3).
they cry … but he will not hear—just as those oppressed by them had formerly cried, and they would not hear. Their prayer shall be rejected, because it is the mere cry of nature for deliverance from pain, not that of repentance for deliverance from sin.
ill in their doings—Men cannot expect to do ill and fare well.
Thus saith the LORD concerning the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace; and he that putteth not into their mouths, they even prepare war against him.
5. Here he attacks the false prophets, as before he had attacked the "princes."
make my people err—knowingly mislead My people by not denouncing their sins as incurring judgment.
bite with … teeth, and cry, Peace—that is, who, so long as they are supplied with food, promise peace and prosperity in their prophecies.
he that putteth not into their mouths, they … prepare war against him—Whenever they are not supplied with food, they foretell war and calamity.
prepare war—literally, "sanctify war," that is, proclaim it as a holy judgment of God because they are not fed (see on Jer 6:4; compare Isa 13:3; Joe 1:14).
Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them.
6. night … dark—Calamities shall press on you so overwhelming as to compel you to cease pretending to divine (Zec 13:4). Darkness is often the image of calamity (Isa 8:22; Am 5:18; 8:9).
Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer of God.
7. cover their lips—The Orientals prided themselves on the moustache and beard ("upper lip," Margin). To cover it, therefore, was a token of shame and sorrow (Le 13:45; Eze 24:17, 22). "They shall be so ashamed of themselves as not to dare to open their mouths or boast of the name of prophet" [Calvin].
there is no answer of God—They shall no more profess to have responses from God, being struck dumb with calamities (Mic 3:6).
But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.
8. I—in contrast to the false prophets (Mic 3:5, 7).
full of power—that which "the Spirit of Jehovah" imparts for the discharge of the prophetical function (Lu 1:17; 24:49; Ac 1:8).
judgment—a sense of justice [Maurer]; as opposed to the false prophets' speaking to please men, not from a regard to truth. Or, "judgment" to discern between graver and lighter offenses, and to denounce punishments accordingly [Grotius].
might—moral intrepidity in speaking the truth at all costs (2Ti 1:7).
to declare unto Jacob his … sin—(Isa 58:1). Not to flatter the sinner as the false prophets do with promises of peace.
Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity.
9. Hear—resumed from Mic 3:1. Here begins the leading subject of the prophecy: a demonstration of his assertion that he is "full of power by the Spirit of Jehovah" (Mic 3:8).
They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.
10. They—change of person from "ye" (Mic 3:9); the third person puts them to a greater distance as estranged from Him. It is, literally, "Whosoever builds," singular.
build up Zion with blood—build on it stately mansions with wealth obtained by the condemnation and murder of the innocent (Jer 22:13; Eze 22:27; Hab 2:12).
The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us.
11. heads thereof—the princes of Jerusalem.
judge for reward—take bribes as judges (Mic 7:3).
priests teach for hire—It was their duty to teach the law and to decide controversies gratuitously (Le 10:11; De 17:11; Mal 2:7; compare Jer 6:13; Jude 11).
prophets … divine—that is, false prophets.
Is not the Lord among us?—namely in the temple (Isa 48:2; Jer 7:4, 8-11).
Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.
12. Jer 26:18 quotes this verse. The Talmud and Maimonides record that at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus, Terentius Rufus, who was left in command of the army, with a ploughshare tore up the foundations of the temple.
mountain of the house—the height on which the temple stands.
as the high places of the forest—shall become as heights in a forest overrun with wild shrubs and brushwood.