Micah 1:16
Make you bald, and poll you for your delicate children; enlarge your baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from you.
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(16) Make thee bald.—Joel appeals to the land of Judah to go into deep mourning by reason of the loss of her children, slain in war or carried into captivity. The shaving of the head as a token of grief was common amongst Eastern nations, and is distinct from the idolatrous custom of cutting the hair in a peculiar shape denounced by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 9:26, margin), and forbidden by the Jewish Law (Leviticus 19:27-28).

As the eagle.—The Hebrew name for eagle includes the different kinds of vultures. Entire baldness is a marked feature of the vulture.

The terms in which Joel speaks of the entire desolation of the cities of Judah must refer to a more complete calamity than that inflicted by Sennacherib; they rather suit the period of the Babylonian captivity.

Micah 1:16. Make thee bald — O Judah and Israel, tear off thy hair; and poll thee — Shave what thou canst not tear off; for thy delicate children, &c. — For the loss of them, some being slain, others starved or swept away by pestilence, and the residue carried into captivity. Cutting the hair, or shaving it close, were expressions of mourning and lamentation anciently used among most nations. Enlarge thy baldness as the eagle — When she moults her feathers; for they are gone into captivity, &c. — By these phrases the prophet signifies, that the calamity would be so great as to deserve the strongest expressions of grief. 1:8-16 The prophet laments that Israel's case is desperate; but declare it not in Gath. Gratify not those that make merry with the sins or with the sorrows of God's Israel. Roll thyself in the dust, as mourners used to do; let every house in Jerusalem become a house of Aphrah, a house of dust. When God makes the house dust it becomes us to humble ourselves to the dust under his mighty hand. Many places should share this mourning. The names have meanings which pointed out the miseries coming upon them; thereby to awaken the people to a holy fear of Divine wrath. All refuges but Christ, must be refuges of lies to those who trust in them; other heirs will succeed to every inheritance but that of heaven; and all glory will be turned into shame, except that honour which cometh from God only. Sinners may now disregard their neighbours' sufferings, yet their turn to be punished will some come.Make thee bald, poll - (literally, shear thee for thy delicate children Some special ways of cutting the hair were forbidden to the Israelites, as being idolatrous customs, such as the rounding the hair in front, cutting it away from the temples , or between the eyes Deuteronomy 14:1. All shearing of the hair was not forbidden ; indeed to the Nazarite it was commanded, at the close of his vow. The removal of that chief ornament of the countenance wasa natural expression of grief, which revolts at all personal appearance. It belonged, not to idolatry, but to nature . "Thy delicate children." The change was the more bitter for those tended and brought up delicately. Moses from the first spoke of special miseries which should fall on the tender and very delicate. "Enlarge thy baldness;" outdo in grief what others do; for the cause of thy grief is more than that of others. The point of comparison in the Eagle might either be the actual baldness of the head, or its moulting. If it were the baldness of the head, the word translated eagle Unless nesher be the golden Eagle there is no Hebrew name for it, whereas it is still a bird of Palestine, and smaller eagles are mentioned in the same verse, Leviticus 11:13; namely, the ossifrage, פרס, and the black eagle, עזניה, so called from its strength, like the valeria, of which Pliny says, "the melanaetos or valeria, least in size, remarkable for strength, blackish in color." x. 3. The same lint of unclean birds contains also the vulture, דיה, Deuteronomy 14:13, (as it must be, being a gregarious bird, Isaiah 34:15) in its different species Deuteronomy 14:13 the gier-eagle, (that is, Geyer) (vulture) eagle gypaetos, or vultur percnopterus, (Hasselquist, Forskal, Shaw, Bruce in Savigny p. 77.) partaking of the character of both, (רהם Leviticus 11:18; Deuteronomy 14:17 together with the falcon (דאה Leviticus 11:14 and hawk, with its subordinate species, (למינהו נץ) Leviticus 11:18; Deuteronomy 14:15.), although mostly used of the Eagle itself, might here comprehend the Vulture . For entire baldness is so marked a feature in the vulture, whereas the "bald-headed Eagle" was probably not a bird of Palestine . On the other hand, David, who lived so long among the rocks of Palestine, and Isaiah seem to have known of effects of moulting upon the Eagle in producing, (although in a less degree than in other birds,) a temporary diminution of strength, which have not in modern times been commonly observed.

For David says, "Thou shalt renew, like the eagle, thy youth, which speaks of fresh strength after temporary weakness" Psalm 103:5; and Isaiah, "They that trust in the Lord shall put forth fresh strength; they shall put forth pinion-feathers like eagles" Isaiah 40:31, comparing the fresh strength which should succeed to that which was gone, to the eagle's recovering its strong pinion-feathers. Bochart however says unhesitatingly , "At the beginning of spring, the rapacious birds are subject to shedding of their feathers which we call moulting." If this be so, the comparison is yet more vivid, For the baldness of the vulture belongs to its matured strength, and could only be an external likeness. The moulting of the eagle involves some degree of weakness, with which he compares Judah's mournful and weak condition amid the loss of their children, gone into captivity .

Thus closes the first general portion of the prophecy. The people had east aside its own Glory, God; now its sons, its pride and its trust, shall go away from it.

Lap.: "The eagle, laying aside its old feathers and taking new, is a symbol of penitence and of the penitents who lay aside their former evil habits, and become other and new men. True, but rare form of penitence!" Gregory the Great thus applies this to the siege of Rome by the Lombards. : "That happened to her which we know to have been foretold of Judea by the prophet, enlarge thy baldness like the eagle. For baldness befalls man in the head only, but the eagle in its whole body; for, when it is very old, its feathers and pinions fall from all its body. She lost her feathers, who lost her people. Her pinions too fell out, with which she was accustomed to fly to the prey; for all her mighty men, through whom she plundered others, perished. But this which we speak of, the breaking to pieces of the city of Rome, we know has been done in all the cities of the world. Some were desolated by pestilence, others devoured by the sword, others racked by famine, others swallowed by earthquakes. Despise we them with our whole heart, at least, when brought to nought; at least with the end of the world, let us end our eagerness after the world. Follow we, wherein we can, the deeds of the good." One whose commentaries Jerome had read, thus applies this verse to the whole human race. "O soul of man! O city, once the mother of saints, which wast formerly in Paradise, and didst enjoy the delights of different trees, and wast adorned most beautifully, now being east down from thy place aloft, and brought down unto Babylon, and come into a place of captivity, and having lost thy glory, make thee bald and take the habit of a penitent; and thou who didst fly aloft like an eagle, mourn thy sons, thy offspring, which from thee is led captive."

16. Make thee bald, &c.—a token of deep mourning (Ezr 9:3; Job 1:20). Mourn, O land, for thy darling children.

poll—shave off thy hair.

enlarge thy baldness—Mourn grievously. The land is compared to a mother weeping for her children.

as the eagle—the bald eagle, or the dark-winged vulture. In the moulting season all eagles are comparatively bald (compare Ps 103:5).

Make thee bald; O Judea and Israel, in token of sorrow for these wasting judgments, tear off thy hair with thine own hands.

Poll thee; shave off with the razor and by others’ hand what thou canst not tear off.

For thy delicate children; for the loss of them, some being slain, others starved or swept away with pestilence, and the residue carried captive; express thy deep sorrow for these miseries conformably to the custom of bitter mourning, Job 1:20 Isaiah 3:24 15:2 Jeremiah 7:29.

Enlarge thy baldness; make thy baldness greater than usual, for the occasion does require and will justify it.

As the eagle; which loseth at once her strength, courage, and beauty, and languisheth in her baldness.

For they, thy delicate children,

are gone into captivity from thee; never to return more: or not till a long captivity expire. Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children,.... Which is said, either with respect to Mareshah, or to Adullam, or to the whole land, as Kimchi observes; rather to the latter; and that either to Israel, or to Judah, or both; the prophecy in general being concerning them both, Micah 1:1; making baldness, whether by plucking off the hair, or by shaving it, was used in token of mourning, Job 1:20; and so it is designed to express it here: the inhabitants of the land are called to lamentation and weeping for their children taken from them, whom they dearly loved, and brought up in a delicate manner. The Targum is,

"pluck off thy hair, and cast it upon the children of thy delight;''

and Sanctius observes; that it was a custom with the Gentiles to cut off their hair, and cast it into the graves of their kindred and friends at their interment, to which be thinks the prophet alludes:

enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; when it moults, and cast off all its feathers, as it does in old age, and so renews its youth; to which the allusion seems to be in Psalm 103:5; or every year, as birds of prey usually do at the beginning of the spring. The Jewish writers (y) say this happens to it every ten years; when, finding its feathers heavy and unfit for flying, it makes a tour to the sun with all its force it can, to get as near it as possible; and, having heated its plumage excessively, it casts itself into the sea for cooling, and then its feathers fall off, and new ones succeed; and this it does until it is a hundred years old; and to its then state of baldness, while it is moulting, is the allusion here; unless it can be thought any respect is had to that kind of eagle which is called the bald one. In Virginia (z) there are three sorts of eagles; one is the grey eagle, about the size of a kite; another the black eagle, resembling those in England; and a third the bald eagle, so called because the upper part of the neck and head are covered with a sort of white down: but the former sort of baldness seems to be intended, which is at certain stated times, and not what always is, and is only partial; for it denotes such an universal baldness to be made, as to take in all the parts of the body where any hair grows; as expressive of the general devastation that should be made, which would be the cause of this great mourning:

for they are gone into captivity from thee; that is, the delicate children of Israel and Judah, and so were as dead unto them, or worse: this was accomplished in Israel or the ten tribes, partly by Tiglathpileser, and more completely by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, 2 Kings 15:29; and in Judah or the two tribes, when Sennacherib came and took their fenced cities; and doubtless some of the inhabitants and their children were carried captive by him, though not Jerusalem; and therefore cannot be addressed here, as some do interpret the words, unless the prophecy is to be extended to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians.

(y) Saadiah Gaon apud Kimchi & Ben Melech in Psal. ciii. 5. & lsa. xl. 31. (z) See Harris's Voyages and Travels, vol. 2. p. 229. Lowthorp's Philosoph. Transact. abridged, vol. 3. p. 589.

Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.
16. Make thee bald] The prophet addresses the sorrowing mother, Judah, who sees her children go forth into exile. The injunction is to be understood poetically (see on Micah 1:13). Artificial baldness, as a sign of mourning, was against the Law (Leviticus 19:27-28, Deuteronomy 14:1), but this prohibition was apparently not recognized in the Shephélah. Micah speaks in the character of a man of the Shephélah.

as the eagle] The word for ‘eagle’ (nesher) seems, in common discourse, to have included the vulture (so also ἀετός, Matthew 24:28), which is common in Egypt and Palestine.Verse 16. - § 5. The prophet calls upon Zion to mourn for her captivity. Make thee bald. The Hebrew word implies "to make the back of the head bald." Micah addressee Zion as the mother of the children who are to be led into captivity. Shaving the head in sign of mourning seems to have been retained as a traditionary custom in spite of the prohibition of the Law against certain forms which the practice assumed (see Leviticus 19:27; Deuteronomy 14:1; and for the actual custom, comp. Isaiah 3:24; Jeremiah 7:29; and the note on Amos 8:10). Poll thee. Cut off thy hair, nearly synonymous with the word in the former clause. Thy delicate children; literally, the children of thy delights; i.e. the children who are a joy and comfort to thee, the citizens of thy kingdom (comp. Micah 2:9). As the eagle (nesher). The vulture is meant, either Vultur percnopterus, common in Egypt and Palestine, which is bald on the front of the head and neck, or more probably Vultur fulvus, the griffon vulture, whose whole head and neck are destitute of true feathers (see 'Bible Educator,' 2:247). Into captivity. This cannot refer exclusively to the Assyrian invasion, wherein very few captives were taken, but must look forward to the Babylonian deportation in ch. 4:10. The latter calamity alone is parallel to the destruction of Samaria announced in vers. 6, 7 of this chapter.

This threatening judgment will not be averted by the Israelites, even by their feasts and sacrifices (Amos 5:21, Amos 5:22). The Lord has no pleasure in the feasts which they celebrate. Their outward, heartless worship, does not make them into the people of God, who can count upon His grace. Amos 5:21. "I hate, I despise your feasts, and do not like to smell your holy days. Amos 5:22. For if ye offer me burnt-offerings, and your meat-offerings, I have no pleasure therein; and the thank-offering of your fatted calves I do not regard. Amos 5:23. Put away from me the noise of thy songs; and I do not like to hear the playing of thy harps. Amos 5:24. And let judgment roll like water, and righteousness like an inexhaustible stream." By the rejection of the opus operatum of the feasts and sacrifices, the roots are cut away from the false reliance of the Israelites upon their connection with the people of God. The combination of the words שׂנאתי מאסתּי expresses in the strongest terms the dislike of God to the feasts of those who were at enmity with Him. Chaggı̄m are the great annual feasts; ‛ătsârōth, the meetings for worship at those feasts, inasmuch as a holy meeting took place at the ‛ătsereth of the feast of Passover and feast of Tabernacles (see at Leviticus 23:36). Rı̄ăch, to smell, is an expression of satisfaction, with an allusion to the ריח ניחוח, which ascended to God from the burning sacrifice (see Leviticus 26:31). Kı̄, in Amos 5:22, is explanatory: "for," not "yea." The observance of the feast culminated in the sacrificers. God did not like the feasts, because He had no pleasure in the sacrifices. In Amos 5:23 the two kinds of sacrifice, ‛ōlâh and minchâh, are divided between the protasis and apodosis, which gives rise to a certain incongruity. The sentences, if written fully, would read thus: When ye offer me burnt-offerings and meat-offerings, I have no pleasure in your burnt-offerings and meat-offerings. To these two kinds the shelem, the health-offering or peace-offering, is added as a third class in Amos 5:22. מריאים, fattened things, generally mentioned along with bâqâr as one particular species, for fattened calves (see Isaiah 1:11). In הסר (Amos 5:23) Israel is addressed as a whole. המון שׁריך, the noise of thy songs, answers to the strong expression הסר. The singing of their psalms is nothing more to God than a wearisome noise, which is to be brought to an end. Singing and playing upon harps formed part of the temple worship (vid., 1 Chronicles 16:40; 1 Chronicles 23:5, and 1 Chronicles 23:25). Isaiah (Isaiah 1:11.) also refuses the heartless sacrifice and worship of the people, who have fallen away from God in their hearts. It is very clear from the sentence which Amos pronounces here, that the worship at Bethel was an imitation of the temple service at Jerusalem. If, therefore, with Amos 6:1 in view, where the careless upon Mount Zion and in Samaria are addressed, we are warranted in assuming that here also the prophet has the worship in Judah in his mind as well; the words apply primarily and chiefly to the worship of the kingdom of the ten tribes, and therefore even in that case they prove that, with regard to ritual, it was based upon the model of the temple service at Jerusalem. Because the Lord has no pleasure in this hypocritical worship, the judgment shall pour like a flood over the land. The meaning of Amos 5:24 is not, "Let justice and righteousness take the place of your sacrifices." Mishpât is not the justice to be practised by men; for "although Jehovah might promise that He would create righteousness in the nation, so that it would fill the land as it were like a flood (Isaiah 11:9), He only demands righteousness generally, and not actually in floods" (Hitzig). Still less can mishpât ūtsedâqâh be understood as relating to the righteousness of the gospel which Christ has revealed. This thought is a very far-fetched one here, and is only founded upon the rendering given to ויגּל, et revelabitur (Targ., Jerome, equals ויגּל), whereas יגּל comes from גּלל, to roll, to roll along. The verse is to be explained according to Isaiah 10:22, and threatens the flooding of the land with judgment and the punitive righteousness of God (Theod. Mops., Theodoret, Cyr., Kimchi, and others).
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