Micah 1:8
Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Dragons . . . owls.—Literally, jackals and ostriches. They are selected by reason of the dismal howls and screeches they make during the night.

Micah 1:8-9. Therefore I will wail and howl — I will mourn and lament. I will go stripped and naked — That is, without an upper garment; or with garments rent and torn. This would fitly denote the naked condition to which the ten tribes were to be reduced by their enemies. I will make a wailing like dragons — The word rendered dragons, according to Pocock on the place, may “signify a kind of wild beast like a dog, between a dog and a fox, or a wolf and a fox, which the Arabians, from the noise which they make, call Ebn Awi, (filius Eheu,) and our English travellers jackals; which, abiding in the fields and waste places, make in the night a lamentable, howling noise:” see Encycl. Brit. And mourning as the owls — Or rather, ostriches: see note on Job 30:29. “It is affirmed by travellers of good credit,” says Pocock, “that ostriches make a fearful, screeching, lamentable noise.” Shaw also observes, that “during the lonesome part of the night, they often make a very doleful and hideous noise;” and that he had “often heard them groan, as if they were in the greatest agonies.” For her wound is incurable — The wound of Samaria and Israel, namely, their own sins and God’s just displeasure: the calamities coming upon them will end in their destruction: nothing can prevent it. It is come even unto Judah — The contagion of her sins, and the indignation of God against them, have reached to Judah also, yea, to Jerusalem. This was accordingly fulfilled: for a few years after the Assyrians had destroyed Samaria, and spoiled all the land of Israel, their conquering army, led by Sennacherib, entered the kingdom of Judah, and took all the fenced cities; and a part of it, termed a great host, was sent up to the gates of Jerusalem, as is related, 2 Kings 18:17.

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.Therefore I will - Therefore Iwould

Wail - (properly, beat, that is, on the breast).

And howl - "Let me alone," he would say, "that I may vent my sorrow in all ways of expressing sorrow, beating on the breast and wailing, using all acts and sounds of grief." It is as we would say, "Let me mourn on," a mourning inexhaustible, because the woe too and the cause of grief was unceasing. The prophet becomes in words, probably in acts too, an image of his people, doing as they should do hereafter. He mourns, because and as they would have to mourn, bearing chastisement, bereft of all outward comeliness, an example also of repentance, since what he did were the chief outward tokens of mourning.

I will (would) go stripped - despoiled .

And naked - He explains the acts, that they represented no mere voluntary mourning. Not only would he, representing them, go bared of all garments of beauty, as we say "half-naked" but despoiled also, the proper term of those plundered and stripped by an enemy. He speaks of his doing, what we know that Isaiah did, by God's command, representing in act what his people should thereafter do. : "Wouldest thou that I should weep, thou must thyself grieve the first." Micah doubtless went about, not speaking only of grief, but grieving, in the habit of one mourning and bereft of all. He prolongs in these words the voice of wailing, choosing unaccustomed forms of words, to carry on the sound of grief.

I will make a wailing like the dragons - (jackals).

And mourning as the owls - (ostriches). The cry of both, as heard at night, is very piteous. Both are doleful creatures, dwelling in desert and lonely places. "The jackals make a lamentable howling noise, so that travelers unacquainted with them would think that a company of people, women or children, were howling, one to another."

"Its howl," says an Arabic natural historian , "is like the crying of an infant." "We heard them," says another , "through the night, wandering around the villages, with a continual, prolonged, mournful cry." The ostrich, forsaking its young Job 39:16, is an image of bereavement. Jerome: "As the ostrich forgets her eggs and leaves them as though they were not her's, to be trampled by the feet of wild beasts, so too shall I go childless, spoiled and naked." Its screech is spoken of by travelers as "fearful, aftrighting." : "During the lonesome part of the night they often make a doleful and piteous noise. I have often heard them groan, as if they were in the greatest agonies."

Dionysius: "I will grieve from the heart over those who perish, mourning for the hardness of the ungodly, as the Apostle had Romans 9:1 great heaviness and continual sorrow in his heart for his brethren, the impenitent and unbelieving Jews. Again he saith, "who is weak and I am not weak? Who is offended, and I burn not?" 2 Corinthians 11:29. For by how much the soul is nobler than the body, and by how much eternal damnation is heavier than any temporal punishment, so much more vehemently should we grieve and weep for the peril and perpetual damnation of souls, than for bodily sickness or any temporal evil."

8. Therefore I will wail—The prophet first shows how the coming judgment affects himself, in order that he might affect the minds of his countrymen similarly.

stripped—that is, of shoes, or sandals, as the Septuagint translates. Otherwise "naked" would be a tautology.

naked—"Naked" means divested of the upper garment (Isa 20:2). "Naked and barefoot," the sign of mourning (2Sa 15:30). The prophet's upper garment was usually rough and coarse-haired (2Ki 1:8; Zec 13:4).

like the dragons—so Jerome. Rather, "the wild dogs," jackals or wolves, which wail like an infant when in distress or alone [Maurer]. (See on [1150]Job 30:29).

owls—rather, "ostriches," which give a shrill and long-drawn, sigh-like cry, especially at night.

Therefore, because of those dreadful slaughters and devastations made in Israel and Samaria,

I will wail, solemnly, as when they who are skilful in lamentation do at funerals bewail in most affective manner to stir up the like sorrow in others: see Amos 5:16.

And howl; the same in a word of like sense, to ascertain the thing, and to intimate the doubled sorrow, the multiplied miseries of this people.

I will go stripped and naked; as one spoiled of his clothes by force, or as one that in bitterness of passion hath cast off his upper garment, or as if discomposed in mind through the greatness of his vexations; now this the prophet either speaks as fellow sufferer with them, or as intimating what they should be reduced to at last: so Isaiah 20:2,3: whether of these, or whether both, I determine not.

Dragons: see Malachi 1:3: rather jackals, which haunt desolate places, and make great and hideous noise by night, by their wailing, or doleful cries, in which it is said they answer one another, and fill the air with the sound and travellers with fear: these creatures are between a fox and wolf for bigness, and seem somewhat like each in qualities, and probably their noise may be as mixed of the barking of the fox and howling of the wolf. It is possible the prophet by this kind of wailing would intimate the near approach of the Assyrian lion, hungering and thirsting, and pursuing the prey; as the jackal runs a little before the lion, so this wailing of the prophet should be followed very suddenly with the roaring of the lion.

Owls; a melancholy creature, and loves night, and makes a most unpleasant noise, haunts desolate places, and so fitly is an emblem of Israel’s doleful, desolate state: others render it ostrich, which makes a doleful cry in the deserts: either will fit the place.

Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked,.... To his shut, putting off his upper garment; the rough one, such as the prophets used to wear; which he did as the greater sign of his mourning: sometimes, in such cases, they rent their garments; at other times they stripped themselves of them, and walked naked, as Isaiah did, Isaiah 20:3; he went about like a madman, one disturbed in his mind, bereft of his senses, because of the desolation coming upon Israel; and without his clothes, as such persons often do: so the word rendered "stripped" signifies, as the Jewish commentators observe. This lamentation, and with these circumstances, the prophet made in his own person, to show the reality and certainty of their ruin, and to represent to them the desolate condition they would be in, destitute of all good things, and to them with it; as well as to express the sympathy of his heart, and thereby to assure them that it was not out of ill will to them, or a spirit of revenge, that he delivered such a message: or this he did in the person of all the people, showing what they would do, and that this would be their case shortly. So the Targum,

"for this they shall wail and howl, and go naked among the spoilers;''

I will make a wailing like the dragons; as in their fight with elephants, at which time they make a hideous noise (n); and whose hissings have been very terrible to large bodies of men. Aelianus (o) speaks of a dragon in India, which, when it perceived Alexander's army near at hand, gave such a prodigious hiss and blast, that it greatly frightened and disturbed the whole army: and he relates (p) of another, that was in a valley near Mount Pellenaeus, in the isle of Chios, whose hissing was very terrible to the inhabitants of that place; and Bochart (q) conjectures that this their hissing is here referred to; and who observes of the whale, that it has its name from a word in the Hebrew tongue, which signifies to lament; and which word is here used, and is frequently used of large fishes, as whales, sea calves, dolphins, &c. which make a great noise and bellowing, as the sea calf; particularly the balaena, which is one kind of a whale, and makes such a large and continued noise, as to be heard at the distance of two miles, as Rondeletius (r) says; and dolphins are said to make a moan and groaning like human creatures, as Pliny (s) and Solinus (t) report: and Peter Gillius relates, from his own experience, that lodging one night in a vessel, in which many dolphins were taken, there were such weeping and mourning, that he could not sleep for them; he thought they deplored their condition with mourning, lamentation, and a large flow of tears, as men do, and therefore could not help pitying their case; and, while the fisherman was asleep, took that which was next him, that seemed to mourn most, and cast it into the sea; but this was of no avail, for the rest increased their mourning more and more, and seemed plainly to desire the like deliverance; so that all the night he was in the midst of the most bitter moaning: wherefore Bochart, who quotes these instances, elsewhere (u) thinks that the prophet compares his mourning with the mourning of these creatures, rather than with the hissing of dragons. Some (w) think crocodiles are here meant; and of them it is reported (x), that when they have eaten the body of a creature, which they do first, and come to the head, they weep over it with tears; hence the proverb of crocodiles tears, for hypocritical ones; but it cannot well be thought, surely, that the prophet would compare his mourning to that of such a creature. The learned Pocock thinks it more reasonable that the "jackals" are meant, called by the Arabians "ebn awi", rather than dragons; a creature of a size between a fox and a wolf, or a dog and a fox, which makes a dreadful howling in the night; by which travellers, unacquainted with it, would think a company of women or children were howling, and goes before the lion as his provider;

and mourning as the owls; or "daughters of the owl" (y); which is a night bird, and makes a very frightful noise, especially the screech owl. The Targum interprets it of the ostrich (z); and it may be meant either of the mourning it makes when its young are about to be taken away, and it exposes itself to danger on their account, and perishes in the attempt. Aelianus (a) reports that they are taken by sharp iron spikes fixed about their nest, when they are returning to their young, after having been in quest of food for them; and, though they see the shining iron, yet such is their vehement desire after their young, that they spread their wings like sails, and with great swiftness and noise rush into the nest, where they are transfixed with the spikes, and die: and not only Vatablus observes, that these creatures have a very mournful voice; but Bochart (b) has shown, from the Arabic writers, that they frequently cry and howl; and from John de Laet, who affirms that those in the parts about Brazil cry so loud as to be heard half a mile; and indeed they have their name from crying and howling. The Targum renders it by a word which signifies pleasant; and so Onkelos on Leviticus 11:16, by an antiphrasis, because its voice is so very unpleasant. Or, since the words may be rendered, "the daughters of the ostrich" (c), it may be understood of the mourning of its young, when left by her, when they make a hideous noise and miserable moan, as some observe (d).

(n) Aelian. de Animal. l. 6. c. 22. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 11. (o) Ib. l. 15. c. 21. (p) Ib. l. 16. c. 39. (q) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 3. c. 14. col. 437. (r) Apud Bochart. ib. par. 1. l. 1. c. 7. Colossians 47. (s) Nat. Hist. l. 9. c. 9. (t) Polyhistor. c. 22. (u) Ut supra, (Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 3. c. 14.) Colossians 48. (w) Ludolphus apud Burkium in loc. (x) Vid. Frantzii Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 1. c. 26. sect. 2.((y) "ut filiae ululae", Piscator, Burkius; "instar filiarum. ululae", Cocceius. So Montanus. (z) So the Vulgate Latin, Munster, Pagninus, Drusius, Bochartus, and others. (a) De Animal. l. 14. c. 7. (b) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 14. col. c. 228. (c) "Filiarum struthionis", Pagninus; "juvenes struthiones", Tigurine version. (d) Vid. Frantz. Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 2. c. 2. p. 339, 342.

Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8–16. Micah’s Lamentation

8. Therefore I will wail] Such exuberance of emotion specially characterizes the Jews and the Arabs; it reminds us of the Homeric heroes. The prophets did not cease to be men when they received the gift of inspiration. Sometimes they seem to have had a kind of double consciousness, uniting them on the one hand with the inspiring Spirit, and on the other with their much-loved people. Hence their abrupt transitions from stern denunciation to tender compassion.

stript and naked] i.e. without an outer garment; comp. 1 Samuel 19:24, Amos 2:16, John 21:7. It seems to be a single symbolic act which is referred to (comp. Isaiah 20:2). The word ‘stripped’ indicates that the appearance of the prophet is significant of the enforced nakedness of his people on their way to captivity (Isaiah 20:3-4).

dragons … owls] Rather, jackals … ostriches (comp. Job 30:29). The Hebrew poets are fond of likening the note of lamentation to those of animals. In Isaiah the swift, the crane, the dove, and the bear are referred to (Isaiah 38:14; Isaiah 59:11); while here it is the ‘long, piteous cry’ of the jackal, and the ‘fearful screech’ of the ostrich which furnish the object of comparison.

Verses 8, 9. - 3. Micah mourns because the punishment extends to Judah also. Verse 8. - I will wail. The prophet marks the destruction of Samaria with these outward signs of mourning, in order that he might affect the minds of his own countrymen, and show how he grieved over their sins which should bring like punishment. The word rendered "wail" means "to beat" the breast. Septuagint, κόψεται: Vulgate, plangam. Stripped and naked. The former epithet the LXX. translate ἀνυπόδετος, as if it meant "barefoot;" and they refer the verse to Samaria, not to Micah. The two epithets contain one notion; the prophet assumes the character, not merely of a mourner, who put off his usual garments, but that of a captive who was stripped to the skin and carried away naked and despoiled (comp. Isaiah 20:2-4; Isaiah 47:2, 8). Dragons; Septuagint, δρακόντων: Hebrew, tannim, "jackals" (Job 30:29; Malachi 1:3), whose mournful howling is well known to all travellers in the East. Owls; Septuagint, θυγατέρων σειρήνων, "daughters of sirens;" Vulgate, struthionum. The bird is called in Hebrew bath yaanah, which some explain "daughter of the desert," or else refer to roots meaning either "to cry out" or "to be freed." Doubtless the ostrich is meant. Concerning the fearful screech of this bird, Pusey quotes Shaw, 'Travels,' 2:349, "During the lonesome part of the night they often make a doleful and piteous noise. I have often heard them groan as if they were in the greatest agonies." Micah 1:8The judgment will not stop at Samaria, however, but spread over Judah. The prophet depicts this by saying that he will go about mourning as a prisoner, to set forth the misery that will come upon Judah (Micah 1:8, Micah 1:9); and then, to confirm this, he announces to a series of cities the fate awaiting them, or rather awaiting the kingdom, by a continued play upon words founded upon their names (Micah 1:10-15); and finally he summons Zion to deep mourning (Micah 1:16). Micah 1:8. "Therefore will I lament and howl, I will go spoiled and naked: I will keep lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches. Micah 1:9. For her stripes are malignant; for it comes to Judah, reaches to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem." על־זאת points back to what precedes, and is then explained in Micah 1:9. The prophet will lament over the destruction of Samaria, because the judgment which has befallen this city will come upon Judah also. Micah does not speak in his own name here as a patriot (Hitzig), but in the name of his nation, with which he identifies himself as being a member thereof. This is indisputably evident from the expression אילכה שׁילל וערום, which describes the costume of a prisoner, not that of a mourner. The form אילכה with י appears to have been simply suggested by אילילה. שׁילל is formed like הידד in Isaiah 16:9-10, and other similar words (see Olshausen, Gramm. p. 342). The Masoretes have substituted שׁלל, after Job 12:17, but without the slightest reason. It does not mean "barefooted," ἀνυπόδετος (lxx), for which there was already יחף in the language (2 Samuel 15:30; Isaiah 20:2-3; Jeremiah 2:25), but plundered, spoiled. ערום, naked, i.e., without upper garment (see my comm. on 1 Samuel 19:24), not merely vestitu solido et decente privatus. Mourners do indeed go barefooted (yâchēph, see 2 Samuel 15:30), and in deep mourning in a hairy garment (saq, 2 Samuel 3:31; Genesis 37:34, etc.), but not plundered and naked. The assertion, however, that a man was called ̀ârōm when he had put on a mourning garment (saq, sackcloth) in the place of his upper garment, derives no support from Isaiah 20:2, but rather a refutation. For there the prophet does not go about ‛ârōm veyâchēph, i.e., in the dress of a prisoner, to symbolize the captivity of Egypt, till after he has loosened the hairy garment (saq) from his loins, i.e., taken it off. And here also the plundering of the prophet and his walking naked are to be understood in the same way. Micah's intention is not only to exhibit publicly his mourning fore the approaching calamity of Judah, but also to set forth in a symbolical form the fate that awaits the Judaeans. And he can only do this by including himself in the nation, and exhibiting the fate of the nation in his own person. Wailing like jackals and ostriches is a loud, strong, mournful cry, those animals being distinguished by a mournful wail; see the comm. on Job 30:29, which passage may possibly have floated before the prophet's mind. Thus shall Judah wail, because the stroke which falls upon Samaria is a malignant, i.e., incurable (the suffix attached to מכּותיה refers to Shōmerōn, Samaria, in Micah 1:6 and Micah 1:7. For the singular of the predicate before a subject in the plural, see Ewald, 295, a, and 317, a). It reaches to Judah, yea, to Jerusalem. Jerusalem, as the capital, is called the "gate of my people," because in it par excellence the people went out and in. That עד is not exclusive here, but inclusive, embracing the terminus ad quem, is evident from the parallel "even to Judah;" for if it only reached to the border of Judah, it would not have been able to come to Jerusalem; and still more clearly so from the description in Micah 1:10. The fact that Jerusalem is not mentioned till after Judah is to be interpreted rhetorically, and not geographically. Even the capital, where the temple of Jehovah stood, would not be spared.
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