Micah 3:1
And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?
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(1) Hear, I pray you.—In the second division of his prophecy Micah protests against the evil influences exercised upon the people in high places. The princes, the prophets, and the priests, to whom their interests were confided, were guilty of wrong, oppression, and robbery.

Ye princes.—Rather, judges, magistrates; but a different word is used from that which was given to the chiefs in the old days “when the judges ruled.”

Micah 3:1-4. Hear, O heads of Jacob, &c. — That the justice of God, in bringing upon them the punishments which he had threatened, might more evidently appear, the prophet here shows that there was no rank of them free from very grievous crimes; that even those, who ought to have excelled others in piety and virtue, were the first in offences. We find Ezekiel making the same complaint, Ezekiel 22:6, &c. Is it not for you to know judgment — Ought not you to understand and conform to the just laws of your God? You princes, magistrates, and ruling officers, ought of all men to know and do right. And, as it is your province to judge and punish those who break human laws, this ought to make you reflect that God will certainly execute judgment on the breakers of his laws. If you make any reflection, you must needs be sensible, that punishment must await you for your crimes. Who hate the good — Ye who hate, not only to do good, but the good which is done, and those that do it; and love the evil — Choose and delight in both evil works and evil workers; who pluck off their skin from off them — Who use the people, whom you govern, as cruelly as the shepherd would use his flock, who, instead of shearing the fleece, would pluck the skin and flesh from off their bones. Who eat the flesh of my people, &c. — Who devour the goods and livelihood of your brethren. And break their bones, &c. — An allusion to lions, bears, or wolves, which devour the flesh, and break the bones of the defenceless lambs. And chop them in pieces as for the pot, &c. — All these are metaphorical expressions, to signify the oppressions of the people by their heads, or great men; and how they, by one means or other, deprived them of their substance, and divided it among themselves. Then shall they — Namely, the heads of the people and princes spoken of above; cry unto the Lord — When these miseries come upon them; but he will not hear them, he will even hide, &c. — As they have showed no pity to others, he will have no pity on them.

3:1-8 Men cannot expect to do ill, and fare well; but to find that done to them which they did to others. How seldom do wholesome truths reach the ears of those in high stations or in authority! Those who deceive others are preparing confusion for their own faces. The prophet had ardent love to God and to the souls of men; deep concern for his glory and their salvation, and zeal against sin. The difficulties he met with did not drive him from his work. He had this strength; not from and of himself, but he was full of power by the Spirit of the Lord. Those who act honestly, may act boldly. And those who come to hear the word of God, must be willing to be told of their faults, must take it kindly, and be thankful.And I said - God's love for us is the great incitement, constrainer, vivifier of His creature's love. Micah had just spoken of God's love of Israel; how He would gather them into one fold under One Shepherd, guard them, lead them, remove all difficulties before them, be Himself their Head and enable them to follow Him. He turns then to them. These are God's doings; this, God has in store for you hereafter. Even when mercy itself shall require chastisement, He doth not cast off forever. The desolation is but the forerunner of future mercy. What then do ye? The prophet appeals to them, class by class. There was one general corruption of every order of men, through whom Judah could be preserved, princes Micah 3:1-4, prophets Micah 3:5-7, priests Micah 3:11. The salt had lost its savor; wherewith could it be seasoned? whereby could the decaying mass of the people be kept from entire corruption?

Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel - He arraigns them by the same name, under which He had first promised mercy. He had first promised mercy to all Jacob and the remnant of Israel. So now he upraids the "heads of Jacob, and the princes of the house of Israel," lest they should deceive themselves. At the same time he recalls them to the deeds of their father. Judah had succeeded to the birthright, forfeited by Reuben, Simeon and Levi; and in Judah all the promises of the Messiah were laid up. But he was not like the three great patriarchs, the father of the faithful (Abraham), or the meek Isaac, or the much-tried Jacob. The name then had not the reminiscences, or force of appeal, contained in the titles, seed of Abraham, or Isaac, or Israel.

Is it not for you to know judgment? - It is a great increase of guilt, when persons neglect or pervert what it is their special duty and office to guard; as when teachers corrupt doctrine, or preachers give in to a low standard of morals, or judges pervert judgment. The "princes" here spoken or are so named from judging, "deciding" causes. They are the same its the "rulers," whom Isaiah at the same time upbraids, as being, from their sins, rulers of Sodom , whose hands were full of blood Isaiah 1:15. They who do not right, in time cease, in great measure, to know it. As God withdraws His grace, the mind is darkened and can no longer see it. So it is said of Eli's sons, they were sons of Belial, they knew not the Lord 1 Samuel 2:12; and, Into a malicious soul Wisdom shall not enter, nor dwell in a body that is subject unto sin (Wisd. 1:4). Such , "attain not to know the judgments of God which are a great deep: and the depth of His justice the evil mind findeth not." But if men will not "know judgment" by doing it, they shall by suffering it.


Mic 3:1-12. The Sins of the Princes, Prophets, and Priests: The Consequent Desolation of Zion.

1. princes—magistrates or judges.

Is it not for you?—Is it not your special function (Jer 5:4, 5)?

judgment—justice. Ye sit in judgment on others; surely then ye ought to know the judgment for injustice which awaits yourselves (Ro 2:1).Micah reproveth the cruelty of the princes, Micah 3:1-4, and the falsehood of the prophets, Micah 3:5-7. His zeal in showing the sins of the princes, priests, and prophets, and their illgrounded security, Micah 3:8-12.

And I said: in further discharge of his prophetic office, and his direction from the Lord, the prophet proceeds to preach.

Hear; attend diligently, and give good ear. I pray you: being to address to governors, he entreats their attention, as we have the Hebrew particle here rendered, which might have been rendered now, and so the Gallic version doth render it, and the particle signifieth both.

O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; you that are by birth heads of the families, and by office princes and rulers in Israel and Jacob, i.e. in the kingdom both of the ten tribes, and more particularly the two tribes, as appears from the last verse of this chapter.

Is it not for you? are you not bound by office? do not men expect? doth not God require? doth not the public weal engage you to be well skilled in the laws of God?

To know judgment; understand, approve, conform to and rule by equity, and the just laws of your God. You, princes, magistrates, and ruling officers, ought to know and do judgment and justice; you of all men should know and do right.

And I said, hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel,.... This seems to be a new sermon or discourse, delivered at another time and to another people than the preceding for, as that chiefly concerns the ten tribes, this the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and was spoken to them in the times of Hezekiah, as appears from Jeremiah 26:18; for though Jacob and Israel generally design the ten tribes, yet here the other two, as is manifest from the above cited place, and also from Micah 3:9; and not only heads of families, but such as were the highest posts under the government, the sanhedrim of the nation, judges, rulers, and nobles, are here addressed; and who had a great share in national guilt, being ringleaders in sin, who ought to have set good examples to others; and these are not to be spared because of their grandeur and dignity, but to faithfully reproved for their vices, and which they should diligently attend unto; though they are to be addressed in a respectful and honourable manner, and be entreated to hearken to the word of the Lord by his prophet; all which was carefully observed by Micah; and it was with pleasure he could reflect upon his plain, faithful, and affectionate reproof of those great men:

is it not for you to know judgment? what is just and right to be done by men, and what sentence is to be passed in courts of judicature, in cases brought before them and not only to know, in a speculative way, what is equitable, but to practise it themselves, and see that it is done by others; and when they duly considered this, they would be able to see and own that what the prophet from the Lord would now charge them with, or denounce upon them, was according to truth and justice.

And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know {a} judgment?

(a) That thing which is just and lawful, both to govern my people properly, and also to clear your own conscience.

1–4. Chiefly a description of the savage behaviour of the ruling class

1. O heads of Jacob] The prophet addresses the official class of all Israel, especially the judges, who appear from Jeremiah 21:11-12 to have been (in Judah at any rate) chiefly members of the royal family (a numerous body in Judah as well as in Egypt).

Verse 1-ch. 5:15. - Part II. DENUNCIATION OF THE CRIMES OF THE GRANDEES, FOLLOWED BY A PROMISE OF THE GLORIFICATION OF ZION, THE BIRTH OF MESSIAH, AND THE HIGHEST EXALTATION OF THE PEOPLE. Verses 1-4. - § 1. Sins of the rulers, and their punishment. Verse 1. - The prophet denounces the sins of the rulers, false prophets, and priests; and begins with the injustice and oppression practised by the great men. And I said. The new address is thus introduced as being analogous to the denunciations in the preceding chapter, which were interrupted by the promise of deliverance, to which there is no reference here. O heads of Jacob; synonymous with princes of the house of Israel (comp. ver. 8; Micah 1:5). Micah addresses the heads of families and the officials to whom the administration of justice appertained. These magistrates and judges seem to have been chiefly members of the royal family, at any rate in Judah; see Jeremiah 21:11, 12 (Cheyne). Septuagint, οἱ κατάλοιποι οἴκου Ἰσραήλ, "ye remnant of the house of Israel." Is it not for you to know judgment? Ye, of all men, ought to know what is just and fair, and to practise it (compare the opening of the Book of Wisdom). Micah 3:1First strophe. - Micah 3:1. "And I said, Hear ye, O heads of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know the right? Micah 3:2. Ye who hate good, and love evil; who draw off their skin from them, and their flesh from their bones. Micah 3:3. And who have eaten the flesh of my people, and stripped off their skin from them; and broken their bones, and cut them in pieces, as if in the pot, and like flesh in the midst of the caldron. Micah 3:4. Then will they cry to Jehovah, and He will not hearken; and let Him hide His face from them at the same time, as they have made their actions evil." By the expression "And I said" (vâ'ōmar), the following address is indicated as a continuation of the preceding one. The reproofs of this chapter are also a still further expansion of the woe pronounced in Micah 2:1-2 upon the godless chiefs of the nation. The heads of Jacob are addressed, that is to say, the princes of the tribes and families of Israel, and the qetsı̄nı̄m, lit., deciders (answering to the Arabic qâḍy, a judge) of the house of Israel, i.e., the heads of families and households, upon whom the administration of justice devolved (cf. Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 22:3). הלוא לכן, is it not your duty and your office to know justice? Da‛ath is practical knowledge, which manifests itself in practice; mishpât, the public administration of justice. Instead of this, they do the opposite. The description of this conduct is appended by participles, in the form of apposition to the heads and princes addressed in Micah 3:1. Hating good and loving evil refer to the disposition, and indicate the radical corruption of these men. רעה, generally misfortune, here evil; hence the Masoretes have altered it into רע; but the very fact that it deviates from the ordinary rule shows that it is the original word. Instead of administering justice to the people, they take off their skin, and tear the flesh from the bones. The suffixes attached to עורם and שׁארם point back to בּית־ישׂראל in Micah 3:1. The words answer to the German expression, "to pull the skin over the ears." In Micah 3:3 the expression is still stronger; but the address is continued in the form of a simple description, and instead of the participles, אשׁר is used with the finite verb. They not only flay the people, i.e., rob them of all their means of subsistence, but even devour them - treat them like cattle, which men first of all flay, then break their bones, but the flesh into pieces, and boil it in the pot. In this figure, which is carried out into the most minute details, we must not give any special meaning to the particular features, such as that "the skin, and boiling portions, which are cut up and put into the pot, are figures signifying the pledged clothing and coveted fields (Micah 2:2, Micah 2:8)." The prophet paints in very glaring colours, to make an impression upon the ungodly. Therefore, in the time of judgment, God will not hear their crying to Him for help, but will hide His face from them, i.e., withdraw His mercy from them. אז and בּעה ההיא point back to the evil time announced in Micah 2:3. For Micah 3:4, compare Proverbs 1:28. Veyastēr in Micah 3:4 is an optative. The prophet continues the announcement of the punishment in the form of a desire. כּאשׁר, as equals according to the way in which, as in 1 Samuel 28:18; Numbers 27:14, etc., i.e., answering to their evil doings.
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