Micah 3:12
Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.
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(12) Therefore shall Zion . . .—Micah declared this sentence of Divine judgment with an intrepidity that was long remembered by the Jews. More than a century later the elders of the land, speaking in justification of the course taken by Jeremiah, used as a precedent the example of Micah. They spake to all the assembly of the people, saying, “Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah, saying, ‘Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.’ Did Hezekiah, king of Judah, and all Judah put him at all to death? Did he not fear the Lord, and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented Him of the evil which He had pronounced against them?” (Jeremiah 26:17-19).

Shall become heaps.—So also, in after-days, the doom of Jerusalem was pronounced by our Lord: “The days will come when there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.”

Micah 3:12. Therefore shall Zion for your sake — That is, because of your transgressions, ye judges, priests, and prophets; be ploughed as a field — “There is nothing which hinders us from referring this prophecy to the first destruction of Jerusalem: for though the foundations of the walls were left, yet a great number of houses within the city were overturned, as well by the Chaldeans as by the Jews themselves; who possibly used the materials to repair the breaches made in the walls during the long siege they underwent; when there could be no wonder if many places were ploughed as a field, for the purposes of corn, which before were gardens and houses: see 1Ma 4:38. The prophecy, however, may have a further respect to the total destruction of Jerusalem when Terentius Rufus, by the order of Titus, ploughed up the very foundations of it.” See Houbigant and Calmet. And Jerusalem shall become heaps — The word heaps alludes to the heaps of stones laid up together in fields newly ploughed. And the mountain of the house — That is, of the Lord’s house; as the high places of the forest — The place where the temple stood, which was upon mount Moriah, shall be overrun with grass and shrubs, like mountains situated in a forest. This is that passage, quoted Jeremiah 26:18, which Hezekiah and his princes took in good part, yea, it seems, they believed and laid it to heart, in consequence whereof they repented, and so the execution of it did not come in their days.

3:9-12 Zion's walls owe no thanks to those that build them up with blood and iniquity. The sin of man works not the righteousness of God. Even when men do that which in itself is good, but do it for filthy lucre, it becomes abomination both to God and man. Faith rests in the Lord as the soul's foundation: presumption only leans upon the Lord as a prop, and would use him to serve a turn. If men's having the Lord among them will not keep them from doing evil, it never can secure them from suffering evil for so doing. See the doom of wicked Jacob; Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field. This was exactly fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and is so at this day. If sacred places are polluted by sin, they will be wasted and ruined by the judgments of God.Therefore shall Zion for your sake - for your sake shall Zion

Be plowed as a field - They thought to be its builders; they were its destroyers. They imagined to advance or secure its temporal prosperity by bloods; they (as men ever do first or last,) ruined it. Zion might have stood, but for these its acute, far-sighted politicians, who scorned the warnings of the prophets, as well-meant ignorance of the world or of the necessities of the state. They taught, perhaps they thought, that "for Zion's sake" they, (act as they might,) were secure. Practical Antinomians! God says, that, "for their sake," Zion, defiled by their deeds, should be destroyed. The fulfillment of the prophecy was delayed by the repentance under Hezekiah. Did he not, the elders ask Jeremiah 26:19, fear the Lord and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented Him of the evil which He had pronounced against them? But the prophecy remained, like that of Jonah against Nineveh, and, when man undid and in act repented of his repentanee, it found its fulfillment.

Jerusalem shall become heaps - (Literally, of ruins) and "the mountain of the house," Mount Moriah, on which the house of God stood, "as the high places of the forest," literally "as high places of a forest." It should return wholly to what it had been, before Abraham offered up the typical sacrifice of his son, a wild and desolate place covered with tangled thickets Genesis 22:13.

The prophecy had a first fulfillment at its first capture by Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah mourns over it; "Because of the mountain of Zion which is desolate, foxes walk" Lamentations 5:18 (habitually upon it. Nehemiah said, "Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste" Nehemiah 2:17; and Sanballat mocked at the attempts to rebuild it, as a thing impossible; "Will they revive the stones out of the heaps of dust, and these too, burned?" (Nehemiah 4:2, (3:34, Hebrew)), and the builders complained; "The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed (literally, sinketh under them), and there is much dust, and we are not able to build the wall" (Nehemiah 4:10, (Nehemiah 4:4, Hebrew)). In the desolation under Antiochus again it is related; "they saw the sanctuary desolate, and the altar profaned, and the gates burned up, and shrubs growing in the courts, as in a forest or in one of the mountains" (1 Macc. 4:38). When, by the shedding of the Blood of the Lord, they "filled up the measure of their fathers" Matthew 23:32, and called the curse upon themselves, "His Blood be upon us and upon our children" Matthew 27:25, destruction came upon them to the uttermost.

With the exception of three towers, left to exhibit the greatness of Roman prowess in destroying such and so strong a city, they , "so levelled to the ground the whole circuit of the city, that to a stranger it presented no token of ever having been inhabited." He "effaced the rest of the city," says the Jewish historian, himself an eyewitness . The elder Pliny soon after, 77 a.d., speaks of it, as a city which had been and was not . "Where was Jerusalem, far the most renowned city, not of Judaea only, but of the East" , a funeral pile."

With this corresponds Jerome's statement , "relics of the city remained for fifty years until the Emperor Hadrian." Still it was in utter ruins . The toleration of the Jewish school at Jamnia the more illustrates the desolation of Jerusalem where there was none. The Talmud relates how R. Akiba smiled when others wept at seeing a fox coming out of the Holy of holies. This prophecy of Micah being fulfilled, he looked the more for the prophecy of good things to come, connected therewith. Not Jerusalem only, but well-nigh all Judaea was desolated by that war, in which a million and a half perished , beside all who were sold as slaves. "Their country to which you would expell them, is destroyed, and there is no place to receive them," was Titus' expostulation to the Antiochenes, who desired to be rid of the Jews their fellow-citizens.

A pagan historian relates how, before the destruction by Hadrian , "many wolves and hyenas entered their cities howling." Titus however having left above 6,000 Roman soldiers on the spot, a civil population was required to minister to their needs. The Christians who, following our Lord's warning, had fled to Pella , returned to Jerusalem , and continued there until the second destruction by Hadrian, under fifteen successive Bishops . Some few Jews had been left there ; some very probably returned, since we hear of no prohibition from the Romans, until after the fanatic revolt under Barcocheba. But the fact that when toward the close of Trajan's reign they burst out simultaneously, in one wild frenzy , upon the surrounding pagan, all along the coast of Africa, Libya, Cyrene, Egypt, the Thebais, Mesopotamia, Cyprus , there was no insurrection in Judaea, implies that there were no great numbers of Jews there.

Judaea, aforetime the center of rebellion, contributed nothing to that wide national insurrection, in which the carnage was so terrible, as though it had been one convulsive effort of the Jews to root out their enemies . Even in the subsequent war under Hadrian, Orosius speaks of them, as "laying waste the province of Palestine, once their own," as though they had gained possession of it from without, not by insurrection within it. The Jews assert that in the time of Joshua Ben Chananiah (under Trajan) "the kingdom of wickedness decreed that the temple should be rebuilt" . If this was so, the massacres toward the end of Trajan's reign altered the policy of the Empire. Apparently the Emperors attempted to extinguish the Jewish, as, at other times, the Christian faith. A pagan Author mentions the prohibition of circumcision .

The Jerusalem Talmud speaks of many who for fear became uncircumcised, and renewed the symbol of their faith "when Bar Cozibah got the better, so as to reign 2 12 years among them." The Jews add, that the prohibition extended to the keeping of the sabbath and the reading of the law . Hadrian's city, Aelia, was doubtless intended, not only for a strong position, but also to efface the memory of Jerusalem by the Roman and pagan city which was to replace it. Christians, when persecuted, suffered; Jews rebelled. The recognition of Barcocheba, who gave himself out as the Messiah , by Akibah and "all the wise (Jews) of his generation" , made the war national.

Palestine was the chief seat of the war, but not its source. The Jews throughout the Roman world were in arms against their conquerors ; and the number of fortresses and villages which they got possession of, and which were destroyed by the Romans , shows that their successes were far beyond Judaea. Their measures in Judaea attest the desolate condition of the country. They fortified, not towns, but "the advantageous positions of the country, strengthened them with mines and walls, that, if defeated, they might have places of refuge, and communication among themselves underground unperceived."

For two years, (as appears from the coins struck by Barcocheba They had possession of Jerusalem. It was essential to his claim to be a temporal Messiah. They proposed, at least, to "rebuild their temple" and restore their polity." But they could not fortify Jerusalem. Its siege is just named ; but the one place which obstinately resisted the Romans was a strong city near Jerusalem , known before only as a deeply indented mountain tract, Bether . Probably, it was one of the strong positions, fortified in haste, at the beginning of the war .

The Jews fulfilled our Lord's words, "I am come in My Father's Name and ye receive Me not; if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive" John 5:43. Their first destruction was the punishment of their Deicide, the crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ; their second they brought upon themselves by accepting a false Christ, a robber and juggler . "580,000 are said to have perished in battle" , besides "an incalculable number by famine and fire, so that all Judaea was made well-nigh a desert." The Jews say that "no olives remained in Palestine." Hadrian "destroyed it," making it "an utter desolation" and "effacing all remains of it." "We read" , says Jerome (in Joel 1:4), "the expedition of Aelius Hadrianus against the Jews, who so destroyed Jerusalem and its walls, as, from the fragments and ashes of the city to build a city, named from himself, Aelia." At this time there appears to have been a formal act, whereby the Romans marked the legal annihilation of cities; an act esteemed, at this time, one of most extreme severity . When a city was to be built, its compass was marked with a plow; the Romans, where they willed to unmake a city, did, on rare occasions, turn up its soil with the plow. Hence, the saying , "A city with a plow is built, with a plow overthrown." The city so plowed forfeited all civil rights ; it was counted to have ceased to be.

The symbolical act under Hadrian appears to have been directed against both the civil and religious existence of their city, since the revolts of the Jews were mixed up with their religious hopes. The Jews relate that both the city generally, and the Temple, were plowed. The plowing of the city was the last of those mournful memories, which made the month Ab a time of sorrow. But the plowing of the temple is also especially recorded. Jerome says , "In this (the 5th Month) was the Temple at Jerusalem burnt and destroyed, both by Nebuchadnezzar, and many years afterward by Titus and Vespasian; the city Bether, whither thousands of Jews had fled, was taken; the Temple was plowed, as an insult to the conquered race, by Titus Annius Rufus." The Gemara says , "When Turnus, (or it may be "when Tyrant) Rutus plowed the porch," (of the temple) Perhaps Hadrian meant thus to declare the desecration of the site of the Temple, and so to make way for the further desecration by his temple of Jupiter. He would declare the worship of God at an end.

The horrible desecration of placing the temple of Ashtaroth over the Holy Sepulchre was probably a part of the same policy, to make the Holy City utterly pagan. The "Capitoline" was part of its new name in honor of the Jupiter of the Roman Capitol. Hadrian intended, not to rebuild Jerusalem, but to build a new city under his own name . "The city being thus bared of the Jewish nation, and its old inhabitants having been utterly destroyed, and an alien race settled there, the Roman city which afterward arose, having changed its name, is called Aelia in honor of the Emperor Aelius Hadrianus." It was a Roman colony , with Roman temples, Roman amphitheaters.


12. Jer 26:18 quotes this verse. The Talmud and Maimonides record that at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus, Terentius Rufus, who was left in command of the army, with a ploughshare tore up the foundations of the temple.

mountain of the house—the height on which the temple stands.

as the high places of the forest—shall become as heights in a forest overrun with wild shrubs and brushwood.

By this it appears that this sermon was preached to Judah and its governors, priests, and prophets, who were thus wicked in Ahaz’s time, and probably continued so in the beginning of Hezekiah’s time. Jeremiah puts this out of all doubt, Jeremiah 26:18, saying that Micah spake these words to all Judah. As for the time, it was in all likelihood before the thirteenth year of Hezekiah, say some; I rather think it was in the very beginning of Hezekiah, and that this might awaken them of that age to comply with Hezekiah in the reformation. Zion here is threatened as endangered, nay ruined, by the sins of magistrates, priests, and prophets: they thought that Zion should be their safety, however they sinned; God by his prophet assures them the quite contrary, their sins should be the danger and destruction of Zion.

For your sake; because your sins are so great and many. God would have spared Sodom for the sake of righteous men, these may be safety to a city; but God will not spare the wicked for any place’s sake, nor shall a temple be more security to a wicked people than heaven was to sinning angels. Though these flagitious men cried out against Micah, and suchlike men, as a public danger, truth is, the injustice, idolatry, and inhumanity of public persons were the great danger.

Ploughed as a field; either by the enemy and conqueror, thereby forbidding it to be ploughed without his leave, or by such as remained after the body of the people were carried captive. Jerusalem, one of the goodliest cities of the world, proud in its lofty and beautiful buildings, the city of the great King, shall become heaps; shall all lie in rubbish, its stately buildings shall be demolished and lie buried in their own ruins.

The mountain of the house, holy mountain, on which the temple, one of the wonders of the world, did stand, beautified with rarest buildings,

as the high places of the forest; shall lie so long waste as to be run over with wood as a forest, and be a lodge of wild beasts.

Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field,.... That is, for your sins, as the Targum; for the bloodshed, injustice, and avarice of the princes, priests, and prophets; not that the common people were free from crimes; but these are particularly mentioned, as being ringleaders into sin, and who ought to have set better examples; as also to take off their vain confidence in themselves, who thought that Zion and Jerusalem would be built up and established by them, and preserved for their sakes; as well as to show the prophet's boldness and intrepidity in his rebukes and menaces of them: now this was prophesied of in the days of Hezekiah, before the invasion of Judea and siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib; it was deferred upon the repentance and reformation of the people; and was fulfilled in part at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, when the city was reduced to a heap of rubbish; and more fully when it was destroyed by the Romans, and ploughed up by Terentius, or Turnus Rufus, as the Jews say; so that there was not a house or building left upon it, but it became utterly desolate and uninhabited, especially in the reign of Adrian:

and Jerusalem shall become heaps; not only the city of David, built on Mount Zion, should be demolished, but the other part of the city called Jerusalem should be thrown down, and its walls and houses lie in heaps, like heaps of stones in the midst of a ploughed field:

and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest; Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built; hence called here, by the Targum, the mountain of the house of the sanctuary; the temple upon it should be destroyed, and not one, tone left upon another; and the place on which it stood be covered with grass and trees, with briers and thorns, as a forest is, all which have been exactly fulfilled. The Jews say (i) of Turnus Rufus before mentioned, that he both ploughed up the city of Jerusalem, and the temple, the ground on which they stood; and Jerom (k) affirms the temple was ploughed up by Titus Annius Ruffus; which, as it literally fulfilled this prophecy, denotes the utter destruction of them; for, as it was usual with the ancients to mark out with a plough the ground on which a city was designed to be built; so they drew one over the spot where any had stood, which was become desolate, and to signify that the city was no more to be rebuilt and inhabited: thus Seneca (l), Horace (m), and other writers, express the utter destruction of a city by such phrases.

(i) T. Hieros. Taaniot. fol. 69. 2. Juchasin, fol. 36. 2. & Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 28. 1.((k) Comment. in Zechariah 8.19. (l) "Aratrum vetustis urbibus inducere", Seneca de Clementia, l. 1. c. 26. (m) "------Imprimeretque muris Hostile aratrum exercitus insolens". Hor. Carmin. l. 1. Ode 36.

Therefore shall Zion for your sake be {k} plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest.

(k) Read Jer 26:18.

12. be plowed as a field] This striking prophecy was quoted at a critical point in the history of Jeremiah when ‘the priests and the prophets and all the people’ had pronounced sentence of death upon the prophet by acclamation. ‘Certain of the elders of the land’ we are told invoked the respectful treatment of Micah by king Hezekiah as a precedent for granting Jeremiah a similar immunity. So far from putting Micah to death, Hezekiah, they declare, had been moved by his sombre prediction to ‘fear the Lord and beseech the Lord,’ ‘and the Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced upon them’ (Jeremiah 26:17-19). In fact, all prophecy is conditional. The prophets declare the great principles of God’s moral government, and apply them to individual cases. But if the moral conditions of the cases to which these principles are applied be altered, the threatening or the promise is postponed, modified, or recalled. We have no difficulty therefore, in reconciling the genuineness of Micah’s prophecy with the fact thus stated by Dean Stanley. “The destruction which was then threatened has never been completely fulfilled. Part of the southeastern portion of the city has for several centuries been arable land; but the rest has always been within the walls. In the Maccabæan wars (1Ma 4:38) the Temple courts were overgrown with shrubs, but this has never been the case since.” (Jewish Church, ii. 464.) There is a parallel to this passage of Micah in Isaiah (Isaiah 32:13-14), which is all the more remarkable as Isaiah generally predicts the destruction of the Assyrians and the deliverance of Jerusalem (e.g. Isaiah 29:5, Isaiah 30:19, Isaiah 31:4). At the time when Micah and Isaiah delivered their gloomy vaticinations, the moral state of Jerusalem must have been worse than usual. The uncompromising severity with which they announced the inevitable punishment was (as Jeremiah 26:17-19 shews) the means chosen of God for producing at least a partial repentance.

the mountain of the house] i.e. mount Moriah.

as the high places of the forest] Rather, heights in the wood. The temple-mount shall be overgrown with low brushwood (comp. Isaiah 32:13). The word rendered ‘heights’ (bâmôth) may also mean ‘high places,’ and perhaps the writer means to suggest that the temple shall be treated no better than if it were a ‘high place.’ The plural ‘heights’ to correspond to the plural ‘heaps.’

Verse 12. - This is the prophecy quoted by the elders to King Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 26:17, etc.). It may have been delivered before Hezekiah's time originally, and repeated in his reign, when it was productive of a reformation. The denunciation is a mourn-fill contrast to the announcement in Micah 2:12; but it was never completely fulfilled, being, like all such judgments, conditioned by circumstances. Therefore... for your sake. For the crimes of rulers, priests, and prophets. Shall Zion... be ploughed as a field. Three localities are specified which destruction shall overtake Zion, Jerusalem, and the temple. Zion means that part of the city where stood the royal palace. The prophecy relates primarily to the destruction of the city by the Chaldeans, when, as Jeremiah testifies (Lamentations 5:18), Zion was desolate and foxes walked upon it. The expression in the text may be hyperbolical, but we know that the ploughing up of the foundations of captured cities is often alluded to. Thus Horace, 'Carm.,' 1:16, 20 -

"... imprimeretque muris
Hostile aratrum exercitus insolens."
(Comp. 'Propert.,' 3:7, 41; and for the whole passage, Isaiah 32:13, 14.) "The general surface of Mount Zion descends steeply eastwards into the Tyropoeon and Kidron, and southwards into the Valley of Hinnom. The whole of the hill here is under cultivation, and presents a most literal fulfilment of Micah's prophecy" (Thomson, 'The Land and the Book,' p. 540). "From the spot on which I stood," says Dr. Porter, "I saw the plough at work in the little fields that now cover the site of Zion" ('Illustrations of Bible Prophecy,' p. 17). Jerusalem shall become heaps. The city proper shall become heaps of ruins (Jeremiah 9:11; Nehemiah 2:17; Nehemiah 4:2) Septuagint, ὡς ὀπωροφυλάκιον ἔσται, "as a storehouse for fruits," as in Psalm 78. (79) 1. The mountain of the house. The mountain on which the temple was built, Mount Moriah, and therefore the temple itself, no longer mentioned as the Lord's dwelling place. As the high places of the forest; or, as wooded heights, returning, as it were, to the wild condition in which it lay when Abraham offered his sacrifice thereon. In the time of the Maccabees, after its profanation by the heathen, the account speaks of shrubs growing in the courts as in a forest or in one of the mountains (1 Macc. 4:38). Such was to be the fate of the temple in which they put their trust and made their boast.

Micah 3:12"Therefore will Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem become stone heaps, and the mountain of the house become forest heights." Lâkhēn (therefore) applies primarily to Micah 3:11, directing the threat of punishment by בּגללכם to all the sinners mentioned there; but it also points back to Micah 3:9, Micah 3:10, expressing what is there indicated by "this." Zion is not "the site on which the city stood," or Jerusalem, "the mass of houses in the city," as Maurer and Caspari suppose; but Zion is that portion of the city which contained the royal palace, and Jerusalem the rest of the city (cf. Micah 4:8). The mountain of the house, i.e., the temple hill, is also specially mentioned, for the purpose of destroying all false trust in the temple (cf. Jeremiah 7:4). The predicates are divided rhetorically, and the thought is this: the royal palace, the city, and the temple shall be so utterly destroyed, that of all the houses and palaces only heaps of rubbish will remain, and the ground upon which the city stood will be partly used as a ploughed field, and partly overgrown with bushes (cf. Isaiah 32:13-14). On sâdeh as an accusative of effect (as a field equals becoming a field), see Ewald, 281, e; and for the plural form עיּין, see Ewald, 177, a. Habbayith (the house) is probably chosen intentionally instead of bēth Yehōvâh (the house of Jehovah), because the temple ceased to be the dwelling-place of Jehovah as soon as it was destroyed. Hence in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 10:18., Ezekiel 11:22.) the Schechinah departs before the Babylonians destroy it. With regard to the fulfilment of this threat, see the points discussed at Micah 4:10.
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