Micah 1:4
And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.
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(4) The mountains shall be molten.—The manifestations of the presence of God are taken from the description of the giving of the Law, when “the hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth” (Psalm 97:5). Dean Stanley refers the imagery to the memorable earthquake mentioned in Amos 1:1 :—“Mountains and valleys are cleft asunder, and melt as in a furnace; the earth heaving like the rising waters of the Nile; the sea bursting over the land; the ground shaking and sliding as, with a succession of shocks, its solid framework reels to and fro like a drunkard” (Jewish Church, Lect. 37).

1:1-7 The earth is called upon, with all that are therein, to hear the prophet. God's holy temple will not protect false professors. Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, can secure themselves or the land from the judgments of God. If sin be found in God's people he will not spare them; and their sins are most provoking to him, for they are most reproaching. When we feel the smart of sin, it behoves us to seek what is the sin we smart for. Persons and places most exalted, are most exposed to spiritual diseases. The vices of leaders and rulers shall be surely and sorely punished. The punishment answers the sin. What they gave to idols, never shall prosper, nor do them any good. What is got by one lust, is wasted on another.And the mountains shall be molten under Him - It has been thought that this is imagery, taken from volcanic eruptions ; but, although there is a very remarkable volcanic district just outside of Gilead, it is not thought to have been active at times so late as these; nor were the people to whom the words were said, familiar with it. Fire, the real agent at the end of the world, is, meanwhile, the symbol of God's anger, as being the most terrible of His instruments of destruction: whence God revealed Himself as a consuming fire Deuteronomy 4:24, and at this same time said by Isaiah; "For behold, the Lord will come with fire ... to render His anger with fury, and His rebuke with flames of fire" Isaiah 66:15.

And the valleys shall be cleft as wax before the fire - It seems natural that the mountains should be cleft; but the valleys , so low already! This speaks of a yet deeper dissolution; of lower depths beyond our sight or knowledge, into the very heart of the earth. Sanch.: "This should they fear, who will to be so low; who, so far from lifting themselves to heavenly things, pour out their affections on things of earth, meditate on and love earthly things, and forgetful of the heavenly, choose to fix their eyes on earth. These the wide gaping of the earth which they loved, shall swallow: to them the cleft valleys shall open an everlasting sepulchre, and, having received them, shall never part with them."

Highest and lowest, first and last, shall perish before Him. The pride of the highest, kings and princes, priests and judges, shall sink and melt away beneath the weight and Majesty of His glory; the hardness of the lowest, which would not open itself to Him, shall be cleft in twain before Him.

As wax before the fire - (See Psalm 97:5), melting away before Him by whom they were not softened, vanishing into nothingness. Metals melt, changing their form only; wax, so as to cease to be.

As the waters poured down - (As a stream or cataract, so the word means .)

A steep place - Down to the very edge, it is borne along, one strong, smooth, unbroken current; then, at once, it seems to gather its strength, for one great effort. But to what end? To fall, with the greater force, headlong, scattered in spray, foam and froth; dissipated, at times, into vapor, or reeling in giddy eddies, never to return. In Judea, where the autumn rains set in with great vehemence, the waters must have been often seen pouring in their little tumultuous brooklets down the mountain side , hastening to disappear, and disappearing the faster, the more vehemently they rolled along . Both images exhibit the inward emptiness of sinners, man's utter helplessness before God. They need no outward impulse to their destruction. Jerome: "Wax endureth not the nearness of the fire, and the waters are carried headlong. So all of the ungodly, when the Lord cometh, shall be dissolved and disappear." At the end of the world, they shall be gathered into bundles, and cast away.

4. Imagery from earthquakes and volcanic agency, to describe the terrors which attend Jehovah's coming in judgment (compare Jud 5:5). Neither men of high degree, as the mountains, nor men of low degree, as the valleys, can secure themselves or their land from the judgments of God.

as wax—(Ps 97:5; compare Isa 64:1-3). The third clause, "as wax," &c., answers to the first in the parallelism, "the mountains shall be molten"; the fourth, "as the waters," &c., to the second, "the valleys shall be cleft." As wax melts by fire, so the mountains before God, at His approach; and as waters poured down a steep cannot stand but are diffused abroad, so the valleys shall be cleft before Jehovah.

The mountains shall be molten: if literally understood, we know it hath been so: when God will kindle that fire which shall burn up the earth, and the works of it, as he will when he cometh finally to judge the world, it shall be done again. But figuratively mountains are mighty states and kingdoms, flourishing with prosperity, and which do think the foundation of this sure as mountains. So Amos 6:1,2 Hab 3:6 Isaiah 2:14, Or possibly these mountains may be, by a synecdoche, put for those who dwell on them, mountaineers, who were usually more fierce, secure hardy, and of difficult access, and therefore less regardful of threats and punishments.

Shall be molten under him: which way soever you take mountains, yet the effect of God’s powerful anger and justice shall be this, they shall be no more able to bear his indignation, or withstand it, than that which like wax melts before a strong fire.

The valleys; which either are emblems of the lower sort of men, or the men that dwell in the valleys with their cities built there, which might hope to escape the storm, lying more under covert. But such shall be the sweeping, searching, and rapid storm of God’s judgments, that no places, no persons shall either withstand or divert them.

Shall be cleft; or rent in sunder, broken up, as the word Genesis 7:11, and slide away.

As wax, which doth easily and speedily dissolve, and run before the fire.

And as the waters that are poured down a steep place; which immediately spreads itself and runs down the precipice, not able to keep together in one body, but scattered one part from other, loseth itself without remedy; so shall the glory and strength of Samaria melt away before the fire of God’s displeasure executed by Shalmaneser, and by Sennacherib and Nebuchadnezzar on Judah.

And the mountains shall be molten under him,.... As Sinai was when he descended on it, and as all nations will be at the general conflagration; but here the words are to be taken, not literally, but figuratively, for the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and for the kings, and princes, and great men in them, that lifted up their heads as high, and thought themselves as secure, as mountains; yet when the judgments of God should fall upon them, their hearts would melt through fear under him; as well as all their glory and greatness depart from them, and they be no more what they were before, but levelled with the meanest subject:

and the valleys shall be cleft: have chasms made in them by the melting of the mountains, or by the flow of water from the hills: these may design the lower sort of people, who shall have their share in this calamity; the inhabitants of the valleys and country villages; who, though mean and low, shall be lower still, and lose that little substance, that liberty and those privileges, they had; as valleys may be cleft, and open, and sink into the lower parts of the earth; so it is signified that these people should be in a more depressed state and condition:

as wax before the fire; melts, and cannot stand the force of it; so the mountains should melt at the presence of the Lord; and kingdoms and states, and the greatest and mightiest of men in them, would not be able to stand before the fierceness of his wrath; see Psalm 68:2;

and as the waters that are poured down a steep place; that run with great swiftness, force, and rapidity, and there is no stopping them; so should the judgments of God come down upon the lower sort of people, the inhabitants of the valleys; neither high nor low would escape the indignation of the Lord, or be able to stand against it, or stand up under it.

And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.
4. the mountains shall be molten …] The figure is that of a storm, but no ordinary storm. Lightning descends, and dissolves the very mountains, and torrents of rain scoop out channels in the valleys. Similar symbolic descriptions occur in Jdg 5:5, Isaiah 64:1, Habakkuk 3:6; comp. Exodus 19:18.

Verse 4. - The description of God's advent to judgment is founded on the idea of a terrible storm and earthquake, perhaps accompanied with volcanic eruption, though evidence of such eruptions in the historical period is not forthcoming. The description recalls the awful revelation at Sinai (Exodus 19.). Shall be molten; either by the lightning or the showers of rain that descend from heaven. The mountains, the type of stability and strength, fall away at the presence of the Judge. Septuagint, σαλευθήσεται, "shall be shaken;" Vulgate, consumentur (Judges 5:4, 5; Psalm 18:7, etc.; Psalms 68:8; 97:4, 5; Amos 9:5). Be cleft; Septuagint, τακήσονται, "shall melt." The valleys shall be hollowed out into channels by the force of the water, which falls in torrents. As wax (Psalm 68:2; Psalm 97:5). This belongs to the first clause, "the mountains," etc. As waters. This belongs to the second clause. The cloven plains shall melt away as waters disappear down a precipice. The idea that underlies this description is that the inanimate creation shares in the effects of the judgment on man, and is used as an instrument in his punishment. Micah 1:4The heading in Micah 1:1 has been explained in the introduction. Micah 1:2-4 form the introduction to the prophet's address. Micah 1:2. "Hear, all ye nations: observe, O earth, and that which fills it: and let the Lord Jehovah be a witness against you, the Lord out of His holy palace. Micah 1:3. For, behold, Jehovah cometh forth from His place, and cometh down, and marcheth over the high places of the earth. Micah 1:4. And the mountains will melt under Him, and the valleys split, like wax before the fire, like water poured out upon a slope." The introductory words, "Hear, ye nations all," are taken by Micah from his earlier namesake the son of Imlah (1 Kings 22:28). As the latter, in his attack upon the false prophets, called all nations as witnesses to confirm the truth of his prophecy, so does Micah the Morashite commence his prophetic testimony with the same appeal, so as to announce his labours at the very outset as a continuation of the activity of his predecessor who had been so zealous for the Lord. As the son of Imlah had to contend against the false prophets as seducers of the nation, so has also the Morashtite (compare Micah 2:6, Micah 2:11; Micah 3:5, Micah 3:11); and as the former had to announce to both kingdoms the judgment that would come upon them on account of their sins, so has also the latter; and he does it by frequently referring to the prophecy of the elder Micah, not only by designating the false prophets as those who walk after the rūăch and lie, sheqer (Micah 2:11), which recals to mind the rūăch sheqer of the prophets of Ahab (1 Kings 22:22-23), but also in his use of the figures of the horn of iron in Micah 4:13 (compare the horns of iron of the false prophet Zedekiah in 1 Kings 22:11), and of the smiting upon the cheek in Micah 5:1 (compare 1 Kings 22:14). ‛Ammı̄m kullâm does not mean all the tribes of Israel; still less does it mean warlike nations. ‛Ammı̄m never has the second meaning, and the first it has only in the primitive language of the Pentateuch. But here both these meanings are precluded by the parallel ארץ וּמלאהּ; for this expression invariably signifies the whole earth, with that which fills it, except in such a case as Jeremiah 8:16, where 'erets is restricted to the land of Israel by the preceding hâ'ârets, or Ezekiel 12:19, where it is so restricted by the suffix 'artsâh. The appeal to the earth and its fulness is similar to the appeals to the heaven and the earth in Isaiah 1:2 and Deuteronomy 32:1. All nations, yea the whole earth, and all creatures upon it, are to hear, because the judgment which the prophet has to announce to Israel affects the whole earth (Micah 1:3, Micah 1:4), the judgment upon Israel being connected with the judgment upon all nations, or forming a portion of that judgment. In the second clause of the verse, "the Lord Jehovah be witness against you," it is doubtful who is addressed in the expression "against you." The words cannot well be addressed to all nations and to the earth, because the Lord only rises up as a witness against the man who has despised His word and transgressed His commandments. For being a witness is not equivalent to witnessing or giving testimony by words, - say, for example, by the admonitory and corrective address of the prophet which follows, as C. B. Michaelis supposes, - but refers to the practical testimony given by the Lord in the judgment (Micah 1:3 ff), as in Malachi 3:5 and Jeremiah 42:5. Now, although the Lord is described as the Judge of the world in Micah 1:3 and Micah 1:4, yet, according to Micah 1:5., He only comes to execute judgment upon Israel. Consequently we must refer the words "to you" to Israel, or rather to the capitals Samaria and Jerusalem mentioned in Micah 1:1, just as in Nahum 1:8 the suffix simply refers to the Nineveh mentioned in the heading, to which there has been no further allusion in Nahum 1:2-7. This view is also favoured by the fact that Micah summons all nations to hear his word, in the same sense as his earlier namesake in 1 Kings 22:28. What the prophet announces in word, the Lord will confirm by deed, - namely, by executing the predicted judgment, - and indeed "the Lord out of His holy temple," i.e., the heaven where He is enthroned (Psalm 11:4); for (1 Kings 22:3) the Lord will rise up from thence, and striding over the high places of the earth, i.e., as unbounded Ruler of the world (cf. Amos 4:13 and Deuteronomy 32:13), will come down in fire, so that the mountains melt before Him, that is to say, as Judge of the world. The description of this theophany is founded upon the idea of a terrible storm and earthquake, as in Psalm 18:8. The mountains melt (Judges 5:4 and Psalm 68:9) with the streams of water, which discharge themselves from heaven (Judges 5:4), and the valleys split with the deep channels cut out by the torrents of water. The similes, "like wax," etc. (as in Psalm 68:3), and "like water," etc., are intended to express the complete dissolution of mountains and valleys. The actual facts answering to this description are the destructive influences exerted upon nature by great national judgments.
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