Micah 4:10
Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shall you go forth out of the city, and you shall dwell in the field, and you shall go even to Babylon; there shall you be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem you from the hand of your enemies.
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(10) Thou shalt go even to Babylon.—This prediction has naturally caused difficulty to those who doubt the power of prophets to prophesy: for Babylon was not at all considered in the days of Micah, when Assyria was in the ascendant. It was a century after Micah’s time before Babylon recovered its ancient dignity. The fact, however, remains that Micah wrote, “Thou shalt go to Babel;” and there is the other fact, that the people of Judah (not Israel) did go. Micah also declared, “THERE shalt thou be delivered:” and in the time of Cyrus the Jews were delivered there. The repetition, “There . . . there,” is emphatic.

4:9-13 Many nations would assemble against Zion to rejoice in her calamities. They would not understand that the Lord had collected them as sheaves are gathered to be threshed; and that Zion would be strengthened to beat them to pieces. Nothing has yet taken place in the history of the Jewish church agreeing with this prediction. When God has conquering work for his people to do, he will furnish them with strength and ability for it. Believers should cry aloud under distresses, with the prayer of faith, not with despondency.Be in pain, and labor to bring forth - (Literally, Writhe and burst forth,) as if to say, "thou must suffer, but thy suffering and thy joy shall be one. Thou canst not have the joy without the suffering. As surely as thou sufferest, thou shalt have joy. In all sorrow, lose not faith and hope, and "thou shalt be sorrowful, but thy sorrow shall be turned into joy" John 16:20. Cyril: "Good daughter, be very patient in the pangs, bear up against your sorrows," so shall the birth be nigh. Yet for the time she must "go forth out of the city" into captivity. "And thou shalt dwell in the field," houseless, under tents, as captives were accustomed to be kept, until all were gathered together to be led away; a sore exchange for her former luxury, and in requital of their oppression Amos 6:1-14; Micah 2:8-9.

And thou shalt go even to Babylon - Not Babylon, but Assyria was the scourge of God in Micah's time. Babylon was scarcely known, a far country 2 Kings 20:14. Yet Micah is taught of God to declare that thither shall the two tribes be carried captive, although the ten were carried captive by Assyria. "There (see the note at Hosea 2:15) shalt thou be delivered, there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies." God's judgments, or purifying trials, or visitation of His saints, hold their way, until their end be reached. They who suffer them cannot turn them aside; they who inflict them cannot add to them or detain them. The prison house is the place of deliverance to Joseph and Peter; the Red Sea to Israel; the judges were raised up, when Israel was mightily oppressed; Jabesh-Gilead was delivered when the seventh day was come 1 Samuel 11:3, 1 Samuel 11:10-11; the walls of Jerusalem were the end of Sennacherib; Judah should have long been in the very hand and grasp of Babylon, yet must its clenched hand be opened.

10. Be in pain, and labour—carrying on the metaphor of a pregnant woman. Thou shalt be affected with bitter sorrows before thy deliverance shall come. I do not forbid thy grieving, but I bring thee consolation. Though God cares for His children, yet they must not expect to be exempt from trouble, but must prepare for it.

go forth out of the city—on its capture. So "come out" is used 2Ki 24:12; Isa 36:16.

dwell in the field—namely, in the open country, defenseless, instead of their fortified city. Beside the Chebar (Ps 137:1; Eze 3:15).

Babylon—Like Isaiah, Micah looks beyond the existing Assyrian dynasty to the Babylonian, and to Judah's captivity under it, and restoration (Isa 39:7; 43:14; 48:20). Had they been, as rationalists represent, merely sagacious politicians, they would have restricted their prophecies to the sphere of the existing Assyrian dynasty. But their seeing into the far-off future of Babylon's subsequent supremacy, and Judah's connection with her, proves them to be inspired prophets.

there … there—emphatic repetition. The very scene of thy calamities is to be the scene of thy deliverance. In the midst of enemies, where all hope seems cut off, there shall Cyrus, the deliverer, appear (compare Jud 14:14). Cyrus again being the type of the greater Deliverer, who shall finally restore Israel.

Be in pain, and labour to bring forth; it may be read, Thou shalt be in pain, and thou shalt labour, &c.; so it will be a prediction of the troubles, sorrows, and dangers that they shall meet with in the wars against the Babylonians, and in their captivity under them.

O daughter of Zion; all the house of Judah, particularly you that dwell in Jerusalem and near Mount Zion. Like a woman in travail; whose sorrows are very sharp, but somewhat mitigated by expectation of a good delivery, and the birth of a living child: let your hopes so mitigate your sorrows too.

For now; ere long, within a few years, you will see or hear that Israel is carried captive (which Micah lived to see): this may be an admonition, it is certainly a token that you shall be captives too; and this came upon them one hundred and thirty years after, when in Zedekiah’s time the daughter of Zion was deplorably wasted, conquered, and captivated by Nebuchadnezzar.

Thou shalt go forth out of the city; forced thereto by the prevailing power of the Babylonians, who took Zedekiah and those that accompanied him when they stole out of the city: these did go out when they could keep in it no longer.

Thou shalt dwell in the field; as conquered, made prisoners, and held so in the fields under a strong guard, until all the conquered were brought together, that they might in one body be led away. In their journey to Babylon they were forced to lodge in the fields, also exposed to all the inconveniencies of heat in the day and of cold in the night, weary, hungry, thirsty, and faint near to death.

Thou shalt go even to Babylon; O daughter of Zion, thou shalt certainly be carried captive to Babylon, where thy dwelling shall be little bettered, thou shalt dwell by the river, without the city.

There shalt thou be delivered; by Cyrus first, and by Darius Hystaspes next, and by Artaxerxes in Nehemiah’s time; all this as type of a greater deliverance.

The Lord; the everlasting God, thy God, whose servants the Persian kings that favoured the Jews were, and by whose motion they did incline to release them. Shall redeem; the Hebrew word points out a redemption by the next kinsman, and so fairly minds us of the Messiah, the great Redeemer of the church. And to him, and the redemption of the church by him, do these deliverances ultimately and principally point.

From the hand of thine enemies; who would have detained the people of God longer in slavery, or who would have hindered the rebuilding of the temple, and the re-establishment of the worship of God. Proportionably to this type doth the antitype answer, Luke 1:74,75. Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion,

like a woman in travail,.... Bear thy troubles and calamities, sufferings and sorrows, patiently, and expect deliverance from them, as a woman in such circumstances does: or, as some render it in the future, "thou shalt be in pain", &c. (y); and so is a prediction of their distress and captivity, which is expressed in plainer terms in the following clauses:

for now shalt thou go forth out of the city; the city of Jerusalem; either by flight, in a private and secret manner, as Zedekiah and his princes, and part of his army did; or by force, being taken and led out by the enemy:

and thou shalt dwell in the field; being turned out of their houses, they were obliged to lodge in the fields, while they were collected together, and in a body marched as captives to Babylon; and while on the road lay in the open fields, and not in houses, who had been used to dwell in a city, and in their panelled houses; but now even their city itself was ploughed like a field, as before predicted:

and thou shalt go even to Babylon; to the city of Babylon, as their king did, and many of them also; and others of them into various parts of that kingdom: this is a clear prophecy of the Babylonish captivity, which came to pass upwards of a hundred years after this:

there shalt thou be delivered; after seventy years captivity, by the hand of Cyrus; who taking the city of Babylon, and making himself master of the whole empire, delivered the Jews from their bondage, and gave them liberty to return to their own land:

there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies; the Chaldeans: and this was typical of the deliverance and redemption of all the Lord's people from the hand of all their spiritual enemies; from Satan and the world, law, death, and hell; by the blood of the great Redeemer, and near kinsman of his people, the Lord Jesus Christ.

(y) "dolebis ac suspirabis", so some in Vatablus.

Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail: for now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon; there shalt thou be delivered; there the LORD shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies.
10. Be in pain, &c.] There is no remedy for Zion’s distress. Having sinned, she must bear her punishment. Having lost her first purity, she must be refined.

for now shalt thou go forth] ‘Now,’ because the future is realized by the prophet as if present. To heighten the effect of his announcement, he describes one by one the stages of the calamity,—the going out of the city, the dwelling in the open country, houseless and unprotected, and lastly the coming to Babylon, the scene of captivity. To ‘go forth’=to surrender, as Isaiah 36:16, 2 Kings 24:12.

and thou shalt go even to Babylon] These words are very difficult, when viewed in relation to the context. For 1, the enemy, whose destruction the prophet anticipates, is the contemporary kingdom of Assyria (see Micah 5:6), not that of Babylon, which had in fact been conquered by Tiglath-Pileser, and only succeeded to the place and power of Assyria a century later; and 2, we read in Micah 4:12 that Jehovah has brought the hostile nations to Jerusalem that they may be destroyed there, which seems not to allow space for a transportation of the Judæans to Babylon. Thus the difficulty in admitting that Micah really foretold the Babylonian captivity is based on purely exegetical grounds. It has indeed been replied 1, that Babylon is here mentioned only as a province of the Assyrian empire, and 2, that it appears from 2 Kings 17:24 (confirmed by the Annals of Sargon, Records of the Past, vii. 29), that Sargon transported a part of the rebellious population of Babylonia to N. Israel, which we may presume that, according to the custom of the Assyrians, he replaced by captive Israelites. It is therefore quite conceivable that in foretelling an invasion of Judah by Sargon, the prophet might represent the captives of Judah as following their Israelitish brethren to Babylonia. This reply is perhaps adequate as against the first-mentioned difficulty, but it leaves the second in its full force. It is necessary therefore to assume either that these words, ‘and thou shalt go to Babylon,’ are the interpolation of a later editor of the prophetic writings, who overlooked or misunderstood the context, or that they represent a subsequent revelation made by the Spirit of prophecy to Micah himself. The former view is perhaps at first sight objectionable, because it assumes that Divine Providence has not watched over the text of the Scriptures so as to prevent alterations from being made in their original form. But we must remember that the permanent function of the Old Testament for Christians is simply to point to Jesus Christ, as the Saviour both of Jew and of Gentile, and that no superficial changes of the text are of any religious importance which leave the performance of this function unimparied. The hypothesis of interpolation is confirmed (to mention the principal evidence only) by the occurrence of closely analogous words, undoubtedly interpolated, in the Septuagint version of Micah 4:8, the second part of which runs thus, καὶ εἰσεύσεται ἡ ἀρχὴ ἡ πρώτη, βασιλεία ἐκ Βαβυλῶνος τῇ θυγατρὶ Ἱερουσαλήμ. These words seem to give us the point of view from which the students (translators or editors) of the Scriptures approached the prophecies after the exile. The great deliverance from Babylon swallowed up all others, and they discovered references to it which are not warranted by the context of the passages. In a certain sense, it is true, the Babylonian captivity was the fulfilment of the prophecy before us; for neither the actual punishment nor the actual deliverance of Jerusalem in Micah’s time corresponded exactly to the prophet’s statements. Whether it be for the repentance of Hezekiah, or for any other reason known only to God, Jerusalem was not suffered to come to such extremities as the prophet describes, and consequently the Divine interposition was not so striking and unique. If however we prefer the second of the alternatives mentioned above, analogies for this view are also forthcoming. Isaiah repeatedly intermixes the matter of later discourses with that of earlier ones—an inevitable consequence of the mode in which the prophetic discourses were brought into their present form on the basis of notes and recollections (see the present annotator’s edition of Isaiah).

there shalt thou be delivered] If we accept the former of the alternatives proposed in the foregoing note, so that ‘and thou shalt go even to Babylon’ becomes an interpolation, we must suppose the promised deliverance to take place ‘in the field’ (or open country) where the people of Jerusalem have assembled. They are in fact on the point of surrendering to the Assyrians, their king (see Micah 5:1) has suffered the grossest indignity, when Jehovah suddenly interposes for their relief. Otherwise the deliverance will be that from the Babylonian exile, a view however which is difficult to reconcile with Micah 4:12.Verse 10. - Be in pain. The anguish is not to be resisted, but shall end, like birth pains, in deliverance. Septuagint, Ωδινε καὶ ἀνδρίζου καὶ ἔγγιζε, "Be in pain, and do bravely, and draw near," which is like Aeneas's encouragement to his friends (Virgil, 'AEneid,' 1:207) -

"Durate, et vosmet rebus servate secundis." For now shalt thou go forth. The prophet leaves his metaphor, and announces that the people shall "go forth" into captivity. He says "now,"as having the scene before his eyes. They must leave their city, live shelterless in the open country, be carried to a distant land, even to Babylon. Shall dwell in the field; i.e. while they are making their way to the place of their captivity. Thou shall go even to Babylon. This is simple prophecy, and could have been known to Micah only by inspiration. In his day Assyria was the enemy whom Israel had to dread (as Micah 5:5, 6), Babylon being at this time in the position of a conquered country, and not becoming again powerful and independent for another century, So Isaiah prophesied of the captivity to Babylon (Isaiah 39:3-8), if modern critics have not shaken our faith in the genuineness of that chapter. Micah does not define the time of the Captivity, or the agents; he notes merely the place whither the Jews were at last to be deported. Even in this case "Babylon" may have its typical import, and be taken to represent the great world power arrayed against the chosen race; and the prophecy may look forward to other fulfilments in succeeding ages. Some commentators think that Babylon is here mentioned as the most distant country known, or as a portion of the Assyrian empire. Others suppose that Sargon transported some Israelitish captives to Babylon to replace the rebellious Babylonians whom he exiled to Palestine ('Records of the Past,' 7:29; 2 Kings 17:24; comp. 2 Chronicles 33:11), and that thus Micah was naturally led to represent the Judaeans as following their brethren. Whichever explanation we take, there is no reason to consider that the reference to Babylon is the interpolation of a late editor of the prophetic writings. There shall thou be delivered. In Babylon deliverance shall arise. This prophecy was first literally fulfilled in the return from captivity under Cyrus; it is further fulfilled, under Christ, in the rescue of the true Israelites from the bondage of sin and the world. In return for this rebellion against Jehovah, Amos foretels to the priest the punishment which will fall upon him when the judgment shall come upon Israel, meeting his words, "Thou sayst, Thou shalt not prophesy," with the keen retort, "Thus saith Jehovah." הטּיף, to drip, applied to prophesying here and at Micah 2:6, Micah 2:11, and Ezekiel 21:2, Ezekiel 21:7, is taken from Deuteronomy 32:2, "My teaching shall drip as the rain," etc. Isaac (yishâq) for Israel, as in Amos 7:9. The punishment is thus described in Amos 7:17 : "Thy wife will be a harlot in the city," i.e., at the taking of the city she will become a harlot through violation. His children would also be slain by the foe, and his landed possession assigned to others, namely, to the fresh settlers in the land. He himself, viz., the priest, would die in an unclean land, that is to say, in the land of the Gentiles, - in other words, would be carried away captive, and that with the whole nation, the carrying away of which is repeated by Amos in the words which the priest had reported to the king (Amos 7:11), as a sign that what he has prophesied will assuredly stand.
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