Micah 2:4
In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Shall one take up a parable against youi.e., the enemies shall repeat in mockery the doleful lamentations with which you bewail your pitiable state.

Turning away he hath divided.—Rather, to an apostatei.e., an idolater—he hath divided our fields. The land they were taking from others God would give into the hands of an idolatrous king.

Micah 2:4-6. In that day shall one take up a parable — Shall use a figurative speech, against you — A parable signifies a speech out of the ordinary way, as the Greek word παροιμια imports, and illustrated with metaphors or rhetorical figures. So speaking in parables is opposed to speaking plainly, John 16:25; John 16:29. And lament, &c. — Your friends for you, and you for yourselves. He hath changed the portion of my people — Their wealth, plenty, freedom, joy, and honour, into poverty, famine, servitude, grief, and dishonour. How hath he removed it — How dreadfully hath God dealt with Israel; removing their persons into captivity, and transferring their possessions to their enemies! Turning away he hath divided our fields — Turning away from us in displeasure, God hath divided our fields among others. Thou shalt have none that shall cast a cord — None that shall ever return to this land, to see it allotted by line, and given them to possess it. In the congregation of the Lord — They shall no more be the congregation of the Lord, nor their children after them. They shall not prophesy — The people often said to the prophets, Prophesy ye not; and God here declares that he would, in his displeasure, grant their desire: and that the time should come, when the prophets should no longer prophesy unto them, that they might no longer bring contempt upon themselves, or be ignominiously treated by the people, as they had long been.

2:1-5 Woe to the people that devise evil during the night, and rise early to carry it into execution! It is bad to do mischief on a sudden thought, much worse to do it with design and forethought. It is of great moment to improve and employ hours of retirement and solitude in a proper manner. If covetousness reigns in the heart, compassion is banished; and when the heart is thus engaged, violence and fraud commonly occupy the hands. The most haughty and secure in prosperity, are commonly most ready to despair in adversity. Woe to those from whom God turns away! Those are the sorest calamities which cut us off from the congregation of the Lord, or cut us short in the enjoyment of its privileges.In that day shall one take up a parable against you - The mashal or likeness may, in itself, be any speech in which one thing is likened to another:

1) "figured speech,"

2) "proverb," and, since such proverbs were often sharp sayings against others,

3) "taunting figurative speech."

But of the person himself it is always said, he "is made, becomes a proverb" Deuteronomy 28:37; 1 Kings 9:7; 2 Chronicles 7:20; Psalm 44:15; Psalm 69:12; Jeremiah 24:9; Ezekiel 14:8. To take up or utter such a speech against one, is, elsewhere, followed by the speech itself; "Thou shalt take up this parable against the king of Babylon, and say, ..." Isaiah 14:4. "Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and say, ..." Habakkuk 2:6. Although then the name of the Jews has passed into a proverb of reproach (Jerome, loc. cit.), this is not contained here. The parable here must be the same as the doleful lamentation, or dirge, which follows. No mockery is more cutting or fiendish, than to repeat in jest words by which one bemoans himself. The dirge which Israel should use of themselves in sorrow, the enemy shall take up in derision, as Satan does doubtless the self-condemnation of the damned. Ribera: "Men do any evil, undergo any peril, to avoid shame. God brings before us that deepest and eternal shame," the shame and everlasting contempt, in presence of Himself and angels and devils and the good Psalm 52:6-7; Isaiah 66:24, that we may avoid shame by avoiding evil.

And lament with a doleful lamentation - The words in Hebrew are varied inflections of a word imitating the sounds of woe. It is the voice of woe in all languages, because the voice of nature. Shall wail a wail of woe, It is the funeral dirge over the dead Jeremiah 31:15, or of the living doomed to die Ezekiel 32:18; it is sometimes the measured mourning of those employed to call forth sorrow Amos 5:16; Jeremiah 9:17, Jeremiah 9:19, or mourning generally 1 Samuel 7:2; Jeremiah 9:18. Among such elegies, are still Zion-songs, (elegies over the ruin of Zion,) and mournings for the dead. The word woe is thrice repeated in Hebrew, in different forms, according to that solemn way, in which the extremest good or evil is spoken of; the threefold blessing, morning and evening, with the thrice-repeated name of God Numbers 6:24-26, impressing upon them the mystery which developed itself, as the divinity of the Messiah and the personal agency of the Holy Spirit were unfolded to them. The dirge which follows is purposely in abrupt brief words, as those in trouble speak, with scarce breath for utterance. First, in two words, with perhaps a softened inflection, they express the utterness of their desolation. Then, in a threefold sentence, each clause consisting of three short words, they say what God had done, but name Him not, because they are angry with Him. God's chastisements irritate those whom they do not subdue .

The portion of my people He changeth;

How removeth He (it) as to me!

To a rebel our fields He divideth.

They act the patriot. They, the rich, mourn over "the portion of my people" (they say) which they had themselves despoiled: they speak, (as men do,) as if things were what they ought to be: they hold to the theory and ignore the facts. As if, because God had divided it to His people, therefore it so remained! as if, because the poor were in theory and by God's law provided for, they were so in fact! Then they are enraged at God's dealings. He removeth the portion as to me; and to whom giveth He our fields?

"To a rebel!" the Assyrian, or the Chaldee. They had deprived the poor of their portion of "the Lord's land" . And now they marvel that God resumes the possession of His own, and requires from them, not the fourfold Exodus 22:1; 2 Samuel 12:6; Luke 19:8 only of their spoil, but His whole heritage. Well might Assyrian or Chaldee, as they did, jeer at the word, renegade. They had not forsaken their gods; - but Israel, what was its whole history but a turning back? "Hath a nation changed their gods, which yet are no gods? But My people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit" Jeremiah 2:11.

Such was the meaning in their lips. The word "divideth" had the more bitterness, because it was the reversal of that first "division" at the entrance into Canaan. Then, with the use of this same word Numbers 26:53, Numbers 26:55-56; Joshua 13:7; Joshua 14:5; Joshua 18:2, Joshua 18:5, Joshua 18:10; Joshua 19:51, the division of the land of the pagan was appointed to them. Ezekiel, in his great symbolic vision, afterward prophesied the restoration of Israel, with the use of this same term Ezekiel 47:21. Joel spoke of the parting of their land, under this same term, as a sin of the pagan (Joel 4:2, (Joel 3:3 in English)). Now, they say, God "divideth our fields," not to us, but to the pagan, whose lands He gave us. It was a change of act: in impenitence, they think it a change of purpose or will. But what lies in that, we be "utterly despoiled?" Despoiled of everything; of what they felt, temporal things; and of what they did not feel, spiritual things.

Despoiled of the land of promise, the good things of this life, but also of the Presence of God in His Temple, the grace of the Lord, the image of God and everlasting glory. "Their portion" was changed, as to themselves and with others. As to themselvcs, riches, honor, pleasure, their own land, were changed into want, disgrace, suffering, captivity; and yet more bitter was it to see others gain what they by their own fault had forfeited. As time went on, and their transgression deepened, the exchange of the portion of that former people of God became more complete. The casting-off of the Jews was the grafting-in of the Gentiles Acts 13:46. Seeing ye judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo! we turn to the Gentiles. And so they who were "no people" Romans 10:19, became the people of God, and they who were His people, became, for the time, "not My people" Hosea 1:9 : and "the adoption of sons, and the glory, and the covenants, and the lawgiving, and the service of God, and the promises" Romans 9:4-5, came to us Gentiles, since to us Christ Himself our God blessed forever came, and made us His.

How hath He removed - The words do not say what He removed. They thought of His gifts, the words include Himself. They say "How?" in amazement. The change is so great and bitter, it cannot be said. Time, yea eternity cannot utter it. "He hath divided our fields." The land was but the outward symbol of the inward heritage. Unjust gain, kept back, is restored with usury Proverbs 1:19; it taketh away the life of the owners thereof. The vineyard whereof the Jews said, the inheritance shall be ours, was taken from them and given to others, even to Christians. So now is that awful change begun, when Christians, leaving God, their only unchanging Good, turn to earthly vanities, and, for the grace of God which He withdraws, have these only for their fleeting portion, until it shall be finally exchanged in the Day of Judgment Luke 16:25. Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and thou art tormented.

continued...

4. one take up a parable against you—that is, Some of your foes shall do so, taking in derision from your own mouth your "lamentation," namely, "We be spoiled," &c.

lament with a doleful lamentation—literally, "lament with a lamentation of lamentations." Hebrew, naha, nehi, nihyah, the repetition representing the continuous and monotonous wail.

he hath changed the portion of my people—a charge of injustice against Jehovah. He transfers to other nations the sacred territory assigned as the rightful portion of our people (Mic 1:15).

turning away he hath divided our fields—Turning away from us to the enemy, He hath divided among them our fields. Calvin, as the Margin, explains, "Instead of restoring our territory, He hath divided our fields among our enemies, each of whom henceforward will have an interest in keeping what he hath gotten: so that we are utterly shut out from hope of restoration." Maurer translates as a noun, "He hath divided our fields to a rebel," that is, to the foe who is a rebel against the true God, and a worshipper of idols. So "backsliding," that is, backslider (Jer 49:4). English Version gives a good sense; and is quite tenable in the Hebrew.

In that day; when God shall retaliate, as Micah 2:3, when he shall by the Assyrian captivity fulfil what hero is threatened by the prophet.

Shall one take up; there shall be taken up, or be in common ordinary use among those that know what is befallen you.

A parable; or taunting, scorning proverb; this tells them how their Assyrian conquerors should reflect reproach and shame upon captive Israel, much like that Psalm 137:3, which the Babylonians used toward captive Judah.

Lament with a doleful lamentation; your friends for you, and you for yourselves, shall mourn most bitterly, as the import of the Hebraism is, lament with a lamentation of lamentations. So though all are not alike affected, yet every one shall carry it towards miserable Israel according as they are affected, condoling their sad state, or insulting over them.

We be utterly spoiled: this is the sum of their mournful lamentation over their own state; Our land wasted, our friends slain, our cities taken, plundered, and sacked, our houses and goods either taken away from us or burnt, and our persons no more our own, but captives, under the power and will of our enemy; thus spoiled, nothing is any longer ours.

He; the Assyrian, say some; God, say others; indeed God did it by the Assyrians. Hath changed the portion; the estate, wealth, plenty, freedom, safety, joy, and honour, into poverty, famine, servitude, danger, grief, and dishonour. The land of Canaan was the inheritance, and all the conveniencies it afforded were part of the portion of Israel; but, O doleful change! these all taken away from Israel, and given to others.

My people; it is either the prophet, who calls them his people, or rather, every one of Israel that useth this lamentation, Who saith

my people. How hath he removed it from me! how dreadfully hath God dealt with Israel! removing their persons into captivity, and transferring their right and possession to enemies!

Turning away he hath divided our fields; either, thus turning away from us in displeasure, God hath divided our fields among others, given them to the enemy, and he hath divided them to whom he pleaseth, to his own people and soldiers; or else this word turning away may be rendered returning, and be spoken of the enemy, when he returned he did divide our fields; or, as the margin of our Bibles, instead of restoring our fields, which we hoped, and our mistaken leaders promised, God hath given the enemy success and power to divide our fields, and to allot them to others.

In that day shall one take up a parable against you,.... Making use of your name, as a byword, a proverb, a taunt, and a jeer; mocking at your calamities and miseries: or, "concerning you" (c); take up and deliver out a narrative of your troubles, in figurative and parabolical expressions; which Kimchi thinks is to be understood of a false prophet, finding his prophecies and promises come to nothing; or rather a stranger, a bystander, a spectator of their miseries, an insulting enemy, mimicking and representing them; or one of themselves, in the name of the rest:

and lament with a doleful lamentation; or, "lament a lamentation of lamentation" (d): a very grievous one; or, "a lamentation that is", or "shall be", or "is done" (e); a real one, and which will continue:

and say, we be utterly spoiled; our persons, families, and friends; our estates, fields, and vineyards; our towns and cities, and even our whole land, all laid waste, spoiled, and plundered:

he hath changed the portion of my people; the land of Israel, which was the portion of the people of it, given unto them as their portion by the Lord; but now he, or the enemy the Assyrian, or God by him, had changed the possessors of it; had taken it away from Israel, and given it to others:

how hath he removed it from me! the land that was my portion, and the portion of my people; how comes it to pass that he hath taken away that which was my property, and given it to another! how strange is this! how suddenly was it done! and by what means!

turning away, he hath divided our fields; either God, turning away from his people, because of their sins, divided their fields among their enemies; "instead of restoring" (f), as some read it, he did so; or the enemy the Assyrian, turning away after he had conquered the land, and about to return to his own country, divided it among his soldiers: or, "to the perverse", or "rebellious one (g), he divideth our fields"; that is, the Lord divides them to the wicked, perverse, and blaspheming king of Assyria; so the word is used of one that goes on frowardly, and backslides, Isaiah 57:17.

(c) "super vos", Pagninus, Montanus; "de vobis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "super vobis", Cocceius. (d) "et lamentabitur lamentum lamenti", Montanus. (e) "factum est", De Dieu; "ejulatu vero", Cocceius; "actum est", Burkius. (f) "pro reddendo", Castalio. (g) "aversus, refractarius", Drusius; "ingrato et rebelli", De Dieu.

In that day shall one take up a parable against you, and lament with a doleful lamentation, and say, {b} We be utterly spoiled: he hath changed the portion of my people: how hath he removed it from me! turning away he hath divided our fields.

(b) Thus the Jews lament and say that there is no hope of restitution, seeing their possessions are divided among the enemies.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. shall one take up a parable] Or, a taunting song (as probably Isaiah 14:4, Habakkuk 2:6). The Hebr. mâshâl means properly a saying characterized by parallelism—‘the parallelism may consist either in the moral application of emblems, or simply in the parallel disposition of the lines and the sense. From the fact that emblems were generally applied in a witty, satirical manner, mâshâl sometimes obtains the meaning of taunt-song.’ So, too, we may add, the participial noun môshçl acquires the sense of taunt-singer in Numbers 21:27, Ezekiel 16:44. In the present instance, the prophet means (see next clause) that the same words from different speakers would be at once a lamentation and a taunt. When an Israelite should say plaintively, ‘It is all over,’ his enemy should take up his words in a tone of triumph or mockery.

and lament with a doleful lamentation, &c.] Rather, and lament with a lamentation:

‘It is done,’ they shall say,

‘We be utterly spoiled:

He changeth the portion of my people;

How doth he remove it from me!

Unto the rebellious he divideth our fields.’

The purport of the complaint is that Jehovah (for the Israelites recognize him as the sender of their trouble) has transferred the promised land to heathen men, who from their very birth have been rebels against Jehovah. The epithet ‘rebellious’ deserves notice. True, it is the Jews who use it, but the prophet would certainly have sanctioned its employment. We find him, in chap. Micah 5:15, announcing the punishment of the heathen for their disobedience, and his great contemporary Isaiah, in Isaiah 10:5-15 (comp. Isaiah 37:26), rebuking Sennacherib for ‘vaunting himself’ against Him who gave him his commission. Both prophets imply that the heathen had a certain natural light, which might have led them to the true God, or at least have preserved them from rejecting Him, when His claims were brought before them. Comp. St Paul’s words in Romans 1:20, ‘so that they are without excuse.’

Verse 4. - In that day. The evil time mentioned in ver. 3. A parable (mashal); probably here "a taunting song." The enemy shall use the words in which Israel laments her calamity as a taunt against her (Habakkuk 2:6). And lament with a doleful lamentation. The Hebrew gives a remarkable alliteration, Nahah nehi niheyah; Septuagint, Θρηνηθήσεται θρῆνος ἐν μέλει, "Lament a lamentation with melody;" Vulgate, Cantabitur canticum cum suavitate; "Wail a wail of woe." (Pusey). The Syriac coincides with the LXX. By taking the three words as cognates, we get a very forcible sentence; but most modern commentators consider niheyah not a feminine formation, butniph. of the substantive verb hayah; hence the words would mean, "Lament with the lamentation;" "It is done," they shall say; "we are utterly spoiled." Thus Cheyne. The lamentation begins with "It is done," and continues to the end of the verse. The verbs are used impersonally - "one shall take up," "one shall lament," "one shall say;" but it is plain that the last two refer to the Jews who shall utter the given dirge, which in turn shall be repeated as a taunt by the enemy. We are utterly spoiled. According to the second of the explanations of the preceding clause, these words expand and define the despairing cry, "It is done!" In the other case, they are the commencement of the lamentation. Septuagint, Ταλαιπωρίᾳ ἐταλαιπωρήσαμεν, "We are miserably miserable." The complaint is twofold. First, the once flourishing condition of Israel is changed to ruin and desolation. Secondly, He hath changed (changeth) the portion of my people. This is the second calamity: he, Jehovah, passes our inheritance over to the hands of others; the land of Canaan, pledged to us, is transferred to our enemies. Septuagint κτεμετρήθη ἐν σχοινίῳ, "hath been measured with a line." How hath he removed it [the portion] from me! This is better than the alternative rendering, "How doth he depart from me?" Turning away he hath divided our fields; rather, to an apostate he divideth our fields. The apostate is the King of Assyria or Chaldea; and he is so named as being a rebel against Jehovah, whom he might have known by the light of natural religion (comp. Micah 5:15; Romans 1:20). This was fulfilled later by the colonization of Samaria by a mixed population. Micah 2:4"Therefore thus saith Jehovah, Behold, I devise evil concerning this family, from which ye shall not withdraw your necks, and not walk loftily, for it is an evil time. Micah 2:4. In that day will men raise against you a proverb, and lament a lamentation. It has come to pass, they say; we are waste, laid waste; the inheritance of my people he exchanges: how does he withdraw it from me! To the rebellious one he divides our field." The punishment introduced with lâkhēn (therefore) will correspond to the sin. Because they reflect upon evil, to deprive their fellow-men of their possessions, Jehovah will bring evil upon this generation, lay a heavy yoke upon their neck, out of which they will not be able to necks, and under which they will not be able to walk loftily, or with extended neck. המּשׁפּחה הזּאת is not this godless family, but the whole of the existing nation, whose corrupt members are to be exterminated by the judgment (see Isaiah 29:20.). The yoke which the Lord will bring upon them is subjugation to the hostile conqueror of the land and the oppression of exile (see Jeremiah 27:12). Hâlakh rōmâh, to walk on high, i.e., with the head lifted up, which is a sign of pride and haughtiness. Rōmâh is different from קוממיּוּת, an upright attitude, in Leviticus 27:13. כּי עת רעה, as in Amos 5:13, but in a different sense, is not used of moral depravity, but of the distress which will come upon Israel through the laying on of the yoke. Then will the opponents raise derisive songs concerning Israel, and Israel itself will bewail its misery. The verbs yissâ', nâhâh, and 'âmar are used impersonally. Mâshâl is not synonymous with nehı̄, a mournful song (Ros.), but signifies a figurative saying, a proverb-song, as in Isaiah 14:4; Habakkuk 2:6. The subject to ישּׂא is the opponents of Israel, hence עליכם; on the other hand, the subject to nâhâh and 'âmar is the Israelites themselves, as נשׁדּנוּ teaches. נהיה is not a feminine formation from נהי, a mournful song, lamentum lamenti, i.e., a mournfully mournful song, as Rosenmller, Umbreit, and the earlier commentators suppose; but the niphal of היה (cf. Daniel 8:27): actum est! it is all over! - an exclamation of despair (Le de Dieu, Ewald, etc.); and it is written after 'âmar, because נהיה as an exclamation is equivalent in meaning to an object. The omission of the copula Vav precludes our taking 'âmar in connection with what follows (Maurer). The following clauses are a still further explanation of נהיה: we are quite laid waste. The form נשׁדּנוּ for נשׁדּונוּ is probably chosen simply to imitate the tone of lamentation better (Hitzig). The inheritance of my people, i.e., the land of Canaan, He (Jehovah) changes, i.e., causes it to pass over to another possessor, namely, to the heathen. The words receive their explanation from the clauses which follow: How does He cause (sc., the inheritance) to depart from me! Not how does He cause me to depart. לשׁובב is not an infinitive, ad reddendum, or restituendum, which is altogether unsuitable, but nomen verbale, the fallen or rebellious one, like שׁובבה in Jeremiah 31:22; Jeremiah 49:4. This is the term applied by mourning Israel to the heathenish foe, to whom Jehovah apportions the fields of His people. The withdrawal of the land is the just punishment for the way in which the wicked great men have robbed the people of their inheritance.
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