Micah 2:13
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.
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(13) The breaker.—“This Breaker is, by the confession of the Jews, the title of the Messias. . . . The same appeareth by that saying of Moses Haddershan in Bereshith Rabba: The plantation from above is Messias; as it is written, the Breaker is come up before them’” (Pearson, On the Creed, Art. 6, note).



Micah 2:13

Micah was contemporary with Isaiah. The two prophets stand, to a large extent, on the same level of prophetic knowledge. Characteristic of both of them is the increasing clearness of the figure of the personal Messiah, and the increasing fulness of detail with which His functions are described. Characteristic of both of them is the presentation which we find in this text of that Messiah’s work as being the gathering together of the scattered captive people and the leading them back in triumph into the blessed land.

Such is the image which underlies my text. Of course I have nothing to do now with questions as to any narrower and nearer historical fulfilment, because I believe that all these Messianic prophecies which were susceptible of, and many of which obtained, a historical and approximate fulfilment in the restoration of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, have a higher and broader and more real accomplishment in that great deliverance wrought by Jesus Christ, of which all these earlier and partial and outward manifestations were themselves prophecies and shadows.

So I make no apology for taking the words before us as having their only real accomplishment in the office and working of Jesus Christ. He is ‘the Breaker which is come up before us.’ He it is that has broken out the path on which we may travel, and in whom, in a manner which the Prophet dreamed not of, ‘the Lord is at the head’ of us, and our King goes before us. So that my object is simply to take that great name, the Breaker, and to see the manifold ways in which in Scripture it is applied to the various work of Jesus Christ in our redemption.

I. I follow entirely the lead of corresponding passages in other portions of Scripture, and to begin with, I ask you to think of that great work of our Divine Redeemer by which He has broken for the captives the prison-house of their bondage.

The image that is here before us is either that of some foreign land in which the scattered exiles were bound in iron captivity, or more probably some dark and gloomy prison, with high walls, massive gates, and barred windows, wherein they were held; and to them sitting hopeless in the shadow of death, and bound in affliction and iron, there comes one mysterious figure whom the Prophet could not describe more particularly, and at His coming the gates flew apart, and the chains dropped from their hands; and the captives had heart put into them, and gathering themselves together into a triumphant band, they went out with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads; freemen, and on the march to the home of their fathers. ‘The Breaker is gone up before them; they have broken, and passed through the gate, and are gone out by it.’

And is not that our condition? Many of us know not the bondage in which we are held. We are held in it all the more really and sadly because we conceit ourselves to be free. Those poor, light-hearted people in the dreadful days of the French Revolution, used to keep up some ghastly mockery of society and cheerfulness in their prisons; and festooned the bars with flowers, and made believe to be carrying on their life freely as they used to do; but for all that, day after day the tumbrils came to the gates, and morning after morning the jailer stood at the door of the dungeons with the fatal list in his hand, and one after another of the triflers was dragged away to death. And so men and women are living a life which they fancy is free, and all the while they are in bondage, held in a prison-house. You, my brother! are chained by guilt; you are chained by sin, you are chained by the habit of evil with a strength of which you never know till you try to shake it off.

And there comes to each of us a mighty Deliverer, who breaks the gates of brass, and who cuts the bars of iron in sunder. Christ comes to us. By His death He has borne away the guilt; by His living Spirit He will bear away the dominion of sin from our hearts; and if the Son will make us free we shall be free indeed. Oh! ponder that deep truth, I pray you, which the Lord Christ has spoken in words that carry conviction in their very simplicity to every conscience: ‘He that committeth sin is the slave of sin.’ And as you feel sometimes-and you all feel sometimes-the catch of the fetter on your wrists when you would fain stretch out your hands to good, listen as to a true gospel to this old word which, in its picturesque imagery, carries a truth that should be life. To us all ‘the Breaker is gone up before us,’ the prison gates are open. Follow His steps, and take the freedom which He gives; and be sure that you ‘stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free, and be not entangled again with any yoke of bondage.’

Men and women! Some of you are the slaves of your own lusts. Some of you are the slaves of the world’s maxims. Some of you are held in bondage by some habit that you abominate, but cannot get away from. Here is freedom for you. The dark walls of the prison are round us all. ‘The Scripture hath shut up all in sin, that He might have mercy upon all.’ Blessed be His name! As the angel came to the sleeping Apostle, and to his light touch the iron gates swung obedient on their hinges, and Roman soldiers who ought to have watched their prey were lulled to sleep, and fetters that held the limbs dropped as if melted; so, silently, in His meek and merciful strength, the Christ comes to us all, and the iron gate which leadeth out into freedom opens of its own accord at His touch, and the fetters fall from our limbs, and we go forth free men. ‘The Breaker is gone up before us.’

II. Again, take another application of this same figure found in Scripture, which sets forth Jesus Christ as being the Opener of the path to God.

‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life, no man cometh to the Father but by Me,’ said He. And again, ‘By a new and living way which He hath opened for us through the veil’ {that is to say, His flesh}, we can have free access ‘with confidence by the faith of Him.’ That is to say, if we rightly understand our natural condition, it is not only one of bondage to evil, but it is one of separation from God. Parts of the divine character are always beautiful and sweet to every human heart when it thinks about them. Parts of the divine character stand frowning before a man who knows himself for what he is; and conscience tells us that between God and us there is a mountain of impediment piled up by our own evil. To us Christ comes, the Path-finder and the Path; the Pioneer who breaks the way for us through all the hindrances, and leads us up to the presence of God.

For we do not know God as He is except by Jesus Christ. We see fragments, and often distorted fragments, of the divine nature and character apart from Jesus, but the real divine nature as it is, and as it is in its relation to me, a sinner, is only made known to me in the face of Jesus Christ. When we see Him we see God; Christ’s tears are God’s pity, Christ’s gentleness is God’s meekness, Christ’s tender, drawing love is not only a revelation of a most pure and sweet Brother’s heart, but a manifestation through that Brother’s heart of the deepest depths of the divine nature. Christ is the heart of God. Apart from Him, we come to the God of our own consciences and we tremble; we come to the God of our own fancies and we presume; we come to the God dimly guessed at and pieced together from out of the hints and indications of His works, and He is little more than a dead name to us. Apart from Christ we come to a peradventure which we call a God; a shadow through which you can see the stars shining. But we know the Father when we believe in Christ. And so all the clouds rising from our own hearts and consciences and fancies and misconceptions, which we have piled together between God and ourselves, Christ clears away; and thus He opens the path to God.

And He opens it in another way too, on which I cannot dwell. It is only the God manifest in Jesus Christ that draws men’s hearts to Him. The attractive power of the divine nature is ail in Him who has said, ‘I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.’ The God whom men know, or think they know, outside of the revelation of divinity in Jesus Christ, is a God before whom they sometimes tremble, who is far more often their terror than their love, who is their ‘ghastliest doubt’ still more frequently than He is their ‘dearest faith.’ But the God that is in Christ woos and wins men to Him, and from His great sweetness there streams out, as it were, a magnetic influence that draws hearts to Him. The God that is in Christ is the only God that humanity ever loved. Other gods they may have worshipped with cowering terror and with far-off lip reverence, but this God has a heart, and wins hearts because He has. So Christ opens the way to Him.

And still further, in a yet higher fashion, that Saviour is the Path-breaker to the Divine Presence, in that He not only makes God known to us, and not only makes Him so known to us as to draw us to Him, but in that likewise He, by the fact of His Cross and passion, has borne and borne away the impediments of our own sin and transgression which rise for ever between us and Him, unless He shall sweep them out of the way. He has made ‘the rough places plain and the crooked things straight’; levelled the mountains and raised the valleys, and cast up across all the wilderness of the world a highway along which ‘the wayfaring man though a fool’ may travel. Narrow understandings may know, and selfish hearts may love, and low-pitched confessions may reach the ear of the God who comes near to us in Christ, that we in Christ may come near to Him. The Breaker is gone up before us; ‘having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest of all . . . by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us . . . let us draw near with true hearts’

III. Then still further, another modification of this figure is found in the frequent representations of Scripture, by which our Lord is the Breaker, going up before us in the sense that He is the Captain of our life’s march.

We have, in the words of my text, the image of the gladly-gathered people flocking after the Leader. ‘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.’ The Prophet knew not that the Lord their King, of whom it is enigmatically said that He too, as well as ‘the Breaker,’ is to go before them, was in mysterious fashion to dwell in that Breaker; and that those two, whom He sees separately, are yet in a deep and mysterious sense one. The host of the captives, returning in triumphant march through the wilderness and to the promised land, is, in the Prophet’s words, headed both by the Breaker and by the Lord. We know that the Breaker is the Lord, the Angel of the Covenant in whom is the name of Jehovah.

And so we connect with all these words of my text such words as designate our Saviour as the Captain of our salvation; such words as His own in which He says, ‘When He putteth forth His sheep He goeth before them’-such words as His Apostle used when he said, ‘Leaving us an ensample that we should follow in His steps.’ And by all there is suggested this-that Christ, who breaks the prison of our sins, and leads us forth on the path to God, marches at the head of our life’s journey, and is our Example and Commander; and Himself present with us through all life’s changes and its sorrows.

Here is the great blessing and peculiarity of Christian morals that they are all brought down to that sweet obligation: ‘Do as I did.’ Here is the great blessing and strength for the Christian life in all its difficulties-you can never go where you cannot see in the desert the footprints, haply spotted with blood, that your Master left there before you, and planting your trembling feet in the prints, as a child might imitate his father’s strides, may learn to recognise that all duty comes to this: ‘Follow Me’; and that all sorrow is calmed, ennobled, made tolerable, and glorified, by the thought that He has borne it.

The Roman matron of the legend struck the knife into her bosom, and handed it to her husband with the words, ‘It is not painful!’ Christ has gone before us in all the dreary solitude, and in all the agony and pains of life. He has hallowed them all, and has taken the bitterness and the pain out of each of them for them that love Him. If we feel that the Breaker is before us, and that we are marching behind Him, then whithersoever He leads us we may follow, and whatsoever He has passed through we may pass through. We carry In His life the all-sufficing pattern of duty. We have in His companionship the all-strengthening consolation. Let us leave the direction of our road in His hands, who never says ‘Go!’ but always ‘Come!’ This General marches in the midst of His battalions and sets His soldiers on no enterprises or forlorn hopes which He has not Himself dared and overcome.

So Christ goes as our Companion before us, the true pillar of fire and cloud in which the present Deity abode, and He is with us in real companionship. Our joyful march through the wilderness is directed, patterned, protected, companioned by Him, and when He ‘putteth forth His own sheep,’ blessed be His name, ‘He goeth before them.’

IV. And now, lastly, there is a final application of this figure which sets forth our Lord as the Breaker for us of the bands of death, and the Forerunner ‘entered for us into the heavens.’

Christ’s resurrection is the only solid proof of a future life. Christ’s present resurrection life is the power by partaking in which, ‘though we were dead, yet shall we live.’

He has trodden that path, too, before us. He has entered into the great prison-house into which the generations of men have been hounded and hurried; and where they lie in their graves, as in their narrow cells. He has entered there; with one blow He has struck the gates from their hinges, and has passed out, and no soul can any longer be shut in as for ever into that ruined and opened prison. Like Samson, He has taken the gates which from of old barred its entrance, and borne them on His strong shoulders to the city on the hill, and now Death’s darts are blunted, his fetters are broken, and his gaol has its doors wide open, and there is nothing for him to do now but to fall upon his sword and to kill himself, for his prisoners are free. ‘Oh, death! I will be thy plague; oh, grave! I will be thy destruction.’ ‘The Breaker has gone up before us’; therefore it is not possible that we should be holden of the impotent chains that He has broken.

The Forerunner is for us entered and passed through the heavens, and entered into the holiest of all. We are too closely knit to Him, if we love Him and trust Him, to make it possible that we shall be where He is not, or that He shall be where we are not. Where He has gone we shall go. In heaven, blessed be His name! He will still be the leader of our progress and the captain at the head of our march. For He crowns all His other work by this, that having broken the prison-house of our sins, and opened for us the way to God, and been the leader and the captain of our march through all the pilgrimage of life, and the opener of the gate of the grave for our joyful resurrection, and the opener of the gate of heaven for our triumphal entrance, He will still as the Lamb that is in the midst of the Throne, go before us, and lead us into green pastures and by the still waters, and this shall be the description of the growing blessedness and power of the saints’ life above, ‘These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.’2:12,13 These verses may refer to the captivity of Israel and Judah. But the passage is also a prophecy of the conversion of the Jews to Christ. The Lord would not only bring them from captivity, and multiply them, but the Lord Jesus would open their way to God, by taking upon him the nature of man, and by the work of his Spirit in their hearts, breaking the fetters of Satan. Thus he has gone before, and the people follow, breaking, in his strength, through the enemies that would stop their way to heaven.The Breaker is come up - (gone up) before them; they have broken up (Broken through) and have passed the gate, and have gone forth The image is not of conquest, but of deliverance. They "break through," not to enter in but to "pass through the gate and go forth." The wall of the city is ordinarily broken through, in order to make an entrance Psalm 80:13; Psalm 89:41; Isaiah 5:5; Nehemiah 2:13, or to secure to a conqueror the power of entering in Proverbs 25:28; 2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 25:23; 2 Chronicles 26:6 at any time, or by age and decay 2 Chronicles 32:5. But here the object is expressed, to go forth. Plainly then, they were confined before, as in a prison; and the gate of the prison was burst open, to set them free. It is then the same image as when God says by Isaiah; "I will say to the North, give up; and to the South, Hold not back" Isaiah 43:6, or, "Go ye forth of Babylon, Say ye, the Lord hath redeemed His servant Jacob" Isaiah 48:20; or, with the same reminiscence of God's visible leading of His people out of Egypt "Depart ye, depart ye; for ye shall not go out with haste, nor yet by flight, for the Lord God shall go before you, and the God of Israel will be your reward;" or as Hosea describes their restoration (Hosea 1:11, (Hosea 2:2, Hebrew)); "Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together and appoint themselves one Head, and they shall go up out of the land". Elsewhere, in Isaiah, the spiritual meaning of the deliverance from the prison is more distinctly brought out, as the work of our Redeemer. "I will give Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house" Isaiah 42:6-7; and, "the Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord hath anointed Me to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound" Isaiah 61:1.

From this passage, the "Breaker-through" was one of the titles of the Christ, known to the Jews , as One who should be "from below and from above" also; and from it they believed that "captives should come up from Gehenna, and the Sheehinah," or the Presence of God, "at their head." : "He then, who shall break the way, the King and Lord who shall go up before them, shall be the Good Shepherd, who puts them together in the fold. And this He doth when, as He saith, 'He putieth forth His own sheep, and He goeth before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His Voice' John 10:4. How doth He go befree them but by suffering for them, leaving them an example of suffering, and opening the entrance of Paradise? The Good Shepherd goeth up to time Cross John 10:15; John 12:32, and is lifted up from the earth, laying down His Life for His sheep, to draw all men unto Him. He goeth up, trampling on death by His resurrection; He goeth up above the heaven of heavens, and sitteth on the Right Hand of the Father, opening the way before them, so that the flock, in their lowliness, may arrive where the Shepherd went before in His Majesty. And when He thus breaketh through and openeth the road, they also 'break through and pass through the gate and go out by it,' by that Gate, namely, whereof the Psalmist saith, 'This is the Gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter into It' Psalm 118:20.

What other is this Gate than that same Passion of Christ, beside which there is no gate, no way whereby any can enter into life? Through that open portal, which the lance of the soldier made in His Side when crucified, and 'there came thereout Blood and Water, they shall pass and go through,' even as the children of Israel passed through the Red Sea, which divided before them, when Pharaoh, his chariots and horsemen, were drowned.'" Dionysius: "He will be in their hearts, and will teach and lead them; He will shew them the way of Salvation, 'guiding their feet into the way of peace' Luke 1:79, and they shall pass through the strait and narrow gate which leadeth unto life; of which it is written, 'Enter ye in at the strait gate; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. And their King shall pass before them' Matthew 7:13-14, as He did, of old, in the figure of the cloud, of which Moses said, 'If Thy Presence go not, carry us not up hence; and wherein shall it be known that I have found grace in Thy sight, I and Thy people, is it not in that Thou goest up with us?' Exodus 33:15-16, and as He then did when He passed out of this world to the Father." "And the Lord on (that is, at) the head of them," as of His army.

Rup.: "For the Lord is His Name, and He is the Head, they the members; He the King, they the people; He the Shepherd, they the sheep of His pasture. And of this passing through He spake, 'By Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture' John 10:9. For a man entereth in, when, receiving the faith, he becomes a sheep of this Shepherd, and goeth out, when he closeth this present life, and then findeth the pastures of unfading, everlasting life" ; "passing from this pilgrimage to his home, from faith to sight, from labor to reward." Again, as describing the Christian's life here, it speaks of progress. Jerome: "Whoso shall have entered in, must not remain in the state wherein he entered, but must go forth into the pasture; so that, in entering in should be the beginning, in going forth and finding pasture, the perfecting of graces. He who entereth in, is contained within the bounds of the world; he who goeth forth, goes, as it were, beyond all created things, and, counting as nothing all things seen, shall find pasture above the Heavens, and shall feed upon the Word of God, and say, "The Lord is my Shepherd" Psalm 23:1, (and feedeth me,) I can lack nothing.

But this going forth can only be through Christ; as it followeth, 'and the Lord at the head of them.'" Nor, again, is this in itself easy, or done for us without any effort of our own. All is of Christ. The words express the closeness of the relation between the Head and the members; and what He, our King and Lord, doth, they do, because He who did it for them, doth it in them. The same words are used of both, shewing that what they do, they do by virtue of His Might, treading in His steps, walking where He has made the way plain, and by His Spirit. What they do, they do, as belonging to Him. He "breaketh through," or, rather, in all is "the Breaker-through." They, having broken through, pass on, because He "passeth before them." He will Isaiah 45:2 break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron. He "breaketh through" whatever would hold us back or oppose us, all might of sin and death and Satan, as Moses opened the Red Sea, for "a way for the ransomed to pass over" Isaiah 51:10; and so He saith, "I will go before thee, I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron, and I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places" Isaiah 45:2-3.

So then Christians, following Him, the Captain of their salvation, strengthened by His grace, must burst the bars of the flesh and of the world, the chains and bonds of evil passions and habits, force themselves through the narrow way and narrow gate, do violence to themselves 2 Timothy 2:3, endure hardness, as good soldiers of Jesus Christ. The title of our Lord, the Breaker-through, and the saying, "they break through," together express the same as the New Testament doth in regard to our being partakers of the sufferings of Christ Romans 8:17. Joint heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together 2 Timothy 2:11-12. If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him 1 Peter 4:1. Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh - arm yourselves likewise with the same mind.

The words may include also the removal of the souls of the just, who had believed in Christ before His Coming, into Heaven after His Resurrection, and will be fully completed when, in the end, He shall cause His faithful servants, in body and soul, to enter into the joy of their Lord.

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).

In the opinion of those who account the 12th verse to be part of the flattering discourse of false prophets, this verse is the prophet Micah’s reply to those false teachers; so far is it from truth that God will restore the remnant, and establish them, that he assures them the contrary will surely and suddenly befall them; and these do in the same manner expound the words as they of the third opinion, mentioned Micah 2:12, thus:

The breaker; the Assyrian with his mighty host, i.e. Shalmaneser and his army.

Is come up; the present put (after the style of the prophets) for the future, because the thing was near, and very certain.

Before them; the people of Israel might see them, would they open their eyes; the preparations for this expedition are visible to all that will observe what is doing abroad. The mighty army of the Assyrian king shall ere long approach the confines, enter the land, invest the cities, yea, the metropolis of Israel.

They have broken up; no frontiers shall be strong enough to keep them out of the land.

Have passed through the gate; no cities so strong with walls and gates, which the Assyrian shall not take and possess, and enter in through the gates, as of his own cities.

And are gone out by it; and securely go out too.

Their king, Shalmaneser,

shall pass before, in triumphant manner,

them, his own army, and the captive Jacob.

And the Lord, offended with the Jews,

on the head of them; leading and succeeding the Assyrians in this war. The breaker up is come up before them,.... Not the enemy, either the Assyrian or Chaldean army, or any part thereof, going up before the rest, breaking down the walls of the city, either of Samaria or Jerusalem, so making way for entrance therein; nor Zedekiah, as Joseph Kimchi, who made his escape through the wall broken down; nor the Maccabees, who were instruments of great salvation and deliverance to the Jews after the captivity, and before the coming of Christ. Kimchi makes mention of an exposition, which interprets "the breaker" of Elijah, that was to come before the Messiah; "and their king", in the latter part of the text, of the branch the son of David; that is, the Messiah; which sense Mr. Pocock thinks may be admitted of, provided by Elijah we understand John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, who is the true Elijah that was to come; who broke, prepared, and cleared the way for Christ by his doctrine and baptism see Luke 1:16; but it is best to interpret "the breaker" of Christ himself; and so I find it explained (a) by the Jews also, to whom this and all the rest of the characters in the text agree; and who may be so called with respect to his incarnation, being the firstborn that opened the womb, and broke forth into the world in a very extraordinary manner; his birth being of a virgin, who was so both before and after the birth; thus Pharez had his name, which is from the same root, and is of a similar sound with Phorez here, from his breaking forth before his brother, unawares, and contrary to expectation, Genesis 38:29; this agrees with Christ, with respect to his death, when he broke through and vanquished all enemies, sin, Satan, the world, and death; broke through all the troops of hell, and spoiled principalities and powers; and through all difficulties that lay in the way of the salvation of his people; he broke down the middle wall of partition, the ceremonial law which was between Jew and Gentile; and broke off the yoke of sin, Satan, and the law, under which they were, and set them at liberty; and at his resurrection he broke asunder the cords of death, as Samson did his withs as a thread of tow; and at his ascension he broke his way through the regions of the air, and legions of devils there, leading captivity captive, and entered into heaven; and was "pandens iter", as the Vulgate Latin version here renders it, "opening the way" for his people into it; by the ministry of the word, he broke his way into the Gentile world, conquering and to conquer, which was mighty, through God, for the pulling down of strong holds, and reducing multitudes to his obedience; at the conversion of every sinner he breaks open the everlasting doors of their hearts, and enters in; he breaks their rocky hearts in pieces, and then binds up what he has broken; and in the latter day he will break in pieces all his enemies as a potter's vessel; yea, he will break in pieces and consume all the kingdoms of the earth, which will become like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors: and now he is ascended, or "gone up" to heaven to his Father there, and "before them" his sheep, his people, said to be assembled, gathered and put together; he is ascended as the forerunner of them, to receive gifts for them, and bestow them on them, and to prepare heaven for them, and to make intercession on their behalf; and, as sure as he is gone up, so sure shall they also follow:

they have broken up, and have passed through the gate, and are gone out by it; not either the Assyrians or Chaldeans; nor the people that fled with Zedekiah; but the sheep of Christ following him their Shepherd; who, in the strength of Christ, and the power of his grace, break out of their prison houses; and break off the yokes and fetters in which they have been detained, and all allegiance to former lords; and break through their enemies, and become more than conquerors through him that has loved them; and "pass through him the gate"; the strait gate, and narrow way, that leads to the Father, and to the enjoyment of all the blessings of grace; and into the sheepfold, the church, and the privileges of it; and even into heaven itself, eternal life and happiness: and by which also they "go out", for he is a door of escape unto them out of the hands of all their enemies, and from wrath to come; and he is a door of hope of all good things unto them, and which leads to green pastures, and by which they go in and out, and find pasture:

and their King shall pass before them, and the Lord on the head of them; not the king of Assyria or Babylon, before their respective armies, the Lord God himself being in a providential way at the head of them, and succeeding them; nor Hoshea or Zedekiah, going before their people into captivity, the Lord having forsaken them; but the King Messiah, who is King of Zion, King of saints, that goes before his people as a king before his subjects, and as a shepherd before his flock; and who is the true Jehovah, the Lord our righteousness, who is at the head, and is the Head of his church; the Captain of their salvation, that is at the head of his armies, his chosen and faithful ones, they following and marching after him, Revelation 17:14.

(a) In Mattanot Cehunah in Bereshit Rabba, parash. 85. fol. 75. 2. Vid. Galatia. Arcan. Cathol. Ver. l. 3. c. 30.

The {p} 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 {q} on the head of them.

(p) The enemy will break their gates and walls, and lead them into Chaldea.

(q) To drive them forward, and to help their enemies.

13. The breaker is come up, &c.] Rather, ‘One that breaketh through is gone up before them; they have broken through, and passed on by the gate, and are gone out thereat; and their king is passed on before them, and Jehovah at their head. ‘One that breaketh through’—i.e. through the prison in which the people are confined—is the epithet of a conqueror, not Jehovah, but a human leader, analogous to Moses and Joshua of old. We need not rack our brains as to who this conqueror is; in the light of other prophecies he can be no other than the Messiah. But Jehovah (‘our king,’ Isaiah 33:22) is not absent from His people; He leads the van of the host, as of yore at the Exodus (Isaiah 52:12; comp. Exodus 13:21).

is come up … have broken up] The verbs in the perfect tense picturesquely describe the irresistible progress of the hosts.Verse 13. - The breaker is come (gone) up before them. Micah depicts Israel's redemption under the figure of release from captivity. The passage is clearly Messianic, and can neither be considered an interpolation nor tortured into a declaration of the siege and ruin of Samaria or Jerusalem. "One that breaketh" is a liberator, a leader that overcomes all obstacles which oppose Israel's return. There may be an allusion in the first instance to a human leader, such as Zerubbabel, in analogy with Moses and Joshua in old time, but the real conqueror intended is generally regarded as Messiah. The Breaker up is supposed to be a title of the Messiah well known to the Jews (see Pusey; and Pearson, 'Exposition of the Creed,' art. 7, note y). This interpretation is rejected by Professor Driver (Expositor, April 1887), who considers the "breaker up" to be "either a leader or a detachment of men, whose duty it was to break up walls or other obstacles opposing the progress of an army." But is not this to introduce an agency unknown to these times? Was there any special body of men trained and maintained for this particular duty? This "breaker up," according to Dr. Driver's conception, "advances before them, breaking through the gates of the prison in which the people are confined; they follow, marching forth triumphantly through this open way; their king, with Jehovah at his side (Psalm 110:5), heads the victorious procession (Exodus 13:21; Isaiah 52:12)? They have broken up; broken forth, or through. The captives cooperate with their leader. Have passed through the gate, etc. The prophet speaks of a solemn, regular removal, like the Exodus from Egypt, which no human power can oppose. Their king. The same as Jehovah in the next clause (Isaiah 33:22). He shall lead the host, as he headed the Israelites when they left the house of bondage (Exodus 13:21). The prediction may look forward to the final gathering of Israel, which St. Paul seems to contemplate when he writes, "And so all Israel shall be saved" (Romans 11:26).

This threat is carried out still further in Amos 6:8-11. Amos 6:8. "The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by Himself, is the saying of Jehovah, the God of hosts: I abhor the pride of Jacob, and his palaces I hate; and give up the city, and the fulness thereof. Amos 6:9. And it will come to pass, if then men are left in a house, they shall die. Amos 6:10. And when his cousin lifts him up, and he that burieth him, to carry out the bones out of the house, and saith to the one in the hindermost corner of the house, Is there still any one with thee? and he says, Not one; then will he say, Hush; for the name of Jehovah is not to be invoked. Amos 6:11. For, behold, Jehovah commandeth, and men smite the great house to ruins, and the small house into shivers." In order to show the secure debauchees the terrible severity of the judgments of God, the Lord announces to His people with a solemn oath the rejection of the nation which is so confident in its own power (cf. Amos 6:13). The oath runs here as in Amos 4:2, with this exception, that instead of בּקדשׁו we have בּנפשׁו in the same sense; for the nephesh of Jehovah, His inmost being or self, is His holiness. מתאב, with the guttural softened, for מתעב. The participle describes the abhorrence as a continued lasting feeling, and not a merely passing emotion. גּאון יעקב, the loftiness or pride of Jacob, i.e., everything of which Jacob is proud, the true and imaginary greatness and pride of Israel, which included the palaces of the voluptuous great men, for which reason they are placed in parallelism with גאון יע. This glory of Israel Jehovah abhors, and He will destroy it by giving up the city (Samaria), and all that fills it (houses and men), to the enemies to be destroyed. גאון יע, to give up to the enemy, as in Deuteronomy 32:30 and Obadiah 1:14; not to surround, to which וּמלאהּ is unsuitable. The words not only threaten surrounding, or siege, but also conquest, and (Amos 6:11) the destruction of the city. And then, even if there are ten in one house, they will all perish. אנשׁים: people, men. Ten in one house is a large number, which the prophet assumes as the number, to give the stronger emphasis to the thought that not one will escape from death. This thought is still further explained in Amos 6:10. A relative comes into the house to bury his deceased blood-relation. The suffix to נשׂאו refers to the idea involved in מתוּ, a dead man. Dōd, literally the father's brother, here any near relation whose duty it was to see to the burial of the dead. מסרף for משׂרף, the burner, i.e., the burier of the dead. The Israelites were indeed accustomed to bury their dead, and not to burn the corpses. The description of the burier as mesârēph (a burner) therefore supposes the occurrence of such a multitude of deaths that it is impossible to bury the dead, whose corpses are obliged to be burned, for the purpose of preventing the air from being polluted by the decomposition of the corpses. Of course the burning did not take place at the house, as Hitzig erroneously infers from להוציא עצמים; for עצמים denotes the corpse here, as in Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32, and 2 Kings 13:21, and not the different bones of the dead which remained without decomposition or burning. The burier now asks the last living person in the house, who has gone to the very back of the house in order to save his life, whether there is any one still with him, any one still living in the house beside himself, and receives the answer, אפס (Adv.), "Nothing more;" whereupon he says to him, has, "Be still," answering to our Hush! because he is afraid that, if he goes on speaking, he may invoke the name of God, or pray for the mercy of God; and he explains his words by adding, "The name of Jehovah must not be mentioned." It is not Amos who adds this explanation, but the relation. Nor does it contain "the words of one who despairs of any better future, and whose mind is oppressed by the weight of the existing evils, as if he said, Prayers would be of no use, for we too must die" (Lievl., Ros.). לא להזכּיר, "it is not to (may not) be mentioned," would be unsuitable as an utterance of despair. It rather indicates the fear lest, by the invocation of the name of God, the eye of God should be drawn towards this last remaining one, and he also should fall a victim to the judgment of death. This judgment the Lord accomplishes not merely by a pestilence which breaks out during the siege, and rages all around (there is no ground for any such limitation of the words), but also by sword and plague during the siege and conquest of the town. For the reason assigned for the threat in Amos 6:11 points to the latter. כּי links the words to the main thought in Amos 6:11, or even Amos 6:10: "When the Lord delivers up the city and all that fills it, they will all perish; for, behold, He commands, orders the enemy (the nation in Amos 6:14), and it will smite in pieces the houses, great and small." The singular הבּית is used with indefinite generality: every house, great and small (cf. Amos 3:15).
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