Micah 4:11
Now also many nations are gathered against you, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look on Zion.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Let her be defiled.—The seventy-fourth Psalm records the calamity foreseen by the prophet: “They have cast fire into Thy sanctuary, they have defiled (by casting down) the dwelling-place of Thy Name to the ground.”

Look uponi.e., contemplate her destruction with pleasure.

Micah 4:11-12. Now also — The time is at hand; many nations are gathered against thee — This may be understood of the Chaldeans and their associates, who pleased themselves with the thoughts of profaning the temple, laying waste the city of Jerusalem, and looking upon it in that condition. Or, it may be understood of the heathen nations round about Jerusalem, who should take occasion to insult the Jews in their calamity, should please themselves with seeing the temple profaned, and should gratify their spite with viewing Jerusalem in a forlorn condition. To look upon an enemy, signifies, in Scripture phrase, to behold his fall with delight. But they know not the thoughts of the Lord — But while they act in such a manner, and take pleasure in insulting over thee in thy calamitous condition, they are altogether ignorant of God’s designs in permitting this, and what is soon to follow, namely, that he will gather them as sheaves into the floor, to be trodden under foot, and broken in pieces, while he will deliver and restore to their own land his people, whose miseries these their enemies now please themselves with the thoughts of beholding.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.Now also - (And now.) The prophet had already spoken of the future before them, with this word Now. Then, he distinctly prophesied the captivity to Babylon. Twice more he begins anew; as Holy Scripture, so often, in a mystery, whether speaking of evil or of good, of deliverance or of punishment, uses a threefold form. In these two, no mention is made of the enemy, and so there is some uncertainty. But the course must apparently be either backward or forward. They must either be two nearer futures before the Captivity, or two more distant after it. This second gathering might, in itself, either be that of the Assyrian hosts under Sennacherib out of all the nations subject to him; or that of the many petty nations in the time of the Maccabees, who took advantage of the Syrians' oppression, to combine to eradicate the Jews (1 Macc. 5:1, 2). If understood of Sennacherib, the prophet, having foretold the entire captivity of the whole people to Babylon, would have prophesied the sudden destruction of a nearer enemy, whose miraculous and instantaneous overthrow should be the earnest of the destruction of Babylon and of their deliverance from it. This would suit well with the description, "He shall gather them as sheaves to the floor," and would correspond well with the descriptions in Isaiah. On the other hand, whereas this description would suit any other event, in which man gathered his strength against God and was overthrown, the following words, "Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion," etc., fit better with the victories of the Maccabees, in which Israel was active, than with the overthrow of Sennacherib, in which they were wholly passive, and God did all for them, as Isaiah and Nahum foretell the same overthrow Isaiah 10:24-34; Isaiah 14:24, Isaiah 14:5; Isaiah 17:12-14; Isaiah 29:7-8; Nahum 1:10-13. Then also, if the course of the description was backward:

1) the captivity in Babylon

2) the destruction of Sennacherib

There is no earlier event to correspond with "the smiting of the judge of Israel on the cheek" (Micah 5:1-4 in Hebrew). The malice also of the nations gathered against Zion suits better with the abiding character of the petty nations, and of their hereditary envy against Israel and its high claims. To Nineveh and Babylon, Israel was but one little corner of ground, which rounded their territory and connected them with Egypt. They disdained them, even while they sought to subdue them. Micah describes the exultation of petty gratified rivalry.

That say, let her be defiled - The bad have a keen eye for the haltings and inconsistencies and falls of God's people, for which they are ever on the watch. Like Satan, they are first tempters, then the accusers; first desecrators, then sanctimonious justiciaries. God, in His judgment, leaves what has been inwardly defiled to be outwardly profaned. "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple are ye" 1 Corinthians 3:17. "The faithful city had become a harlot" Isaiah 1:21. "The land had become polluted by its inhabitants" Jeremiah 3:9; Psalm 106:38; Isaiah 24:5. Now it was to be polluted by the enemy. Its seducers ask for the judgment of God. "It has become like us in its deeds; let it no more be distinguished from us by the name of the people of God."

And let our eye look upon Zion - With pleasure upon its desolation, and feed itself with its misery. : "Where the eye, there love; where the hand, there pain." "They opened their mouth wide against me: they said, Aha, Aha, our eye hath seen" Psalm 35:21. The world hates the Church; Edom, Israel; it cannot be satisfied with beholding its chastisements Micah 7:10; Obadiah 1:12. The sufferings of the Martyrs were the choice spectacle of the pagan.

11. many nations—the subject peoples composing Babylon's armies: and also Edom, Ammon, &c., who exulted in Judah's fall (La 2:16; Ob 11-13).

defiled—metaphor from a virgin. Let her be defiled (that is, outraged by violence and bloodshed), and let our eye gaze insultingly on her shame and sorrow (Mic 7:10). Her foes desired to feast their eyes on her calamities.

Now, i.e. ere long, the time is near at hand. Many nations; many for number and great for name, mighty in power, all that were at that time confederate with or feudatory to Sennacherib king of Assyria, or else to the king of Babylon.

Are gathered against thee; the present tense for the future, in the prophetic style, to express the certainly and the nearness of the judgment; they will all of them assemble and come up against Judah and Jerusalem, as Sennacherib did when he besieged Jerusalem, or as Nebuchadnezzar did when he took it.

That say; propose it as their design, hope for it as their end, and boast of it as easy.

Let her be defiled; let us use her contemptuously, tread her under foot as a common and polluted thing, let us destroy her with such spite and scorn as a defiled thing deserveth: so the phrase 2 Kings 23:8: let her be polluted with blood, and without respect to her former holiness let us enter, sack, and destroy her temple and palaces.

Let our eye look, delighting ourselves in the ruin; let us feed our envious, revengeful eye.

Upon Zion; upon Jerusalem, the royal palace, and the sacred temple, buried in their own rubbish. Now also many nations are gathered against thee,.... Which is to be understood, not of Sennacherib's army invading Judea, and besieging Jerusalem, in Hezekiah's time; for that was not threshed, as the phrase is afterwards used, or destroyed by the daughter of Zion, but by an angel from heaven: nor of the Babylonians or Chaldeans, since they succeeded in their attempt, and were the conquerors, and not conquered: rather this respects the times of the Maccabees, as the series of prophecy and history agreeing together shows; in which times many of the neighbouring nations of the Jews gave them a great deal of trouble, and especially Antiochus king of Syria; and many and mighty armies sent by him. The Jews, as Kimchi, Aben Ezra, and Abarbinel (z), interpret this of the armies of Gog and Magog, in the times of their vainly expected Messiah. Some Christian interpreters, with much more probability, understand this passage of the first times of the Gospel, and the opposition made to that and the Christian church, which yet in the issue prevailed; and perhaps it may have reference to the last times, and receive its full accomplishment in the battle at Armageddon, Revelation 16:14;

that say, let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion; either defiled with sin; so the Targum,

"that say, when will she sin, and our eye shall behold the fall of Zion?''

as the effect of her sin: or, as others, "let her play the hypocrite" (a); and be condemned as such: or rather, be defiled with slaughter and bloodshed, that they might be delighted with so pleasing a sight, and their eyes might feed with pleasure on an object so agreeable to their wishes.

(z) Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 62. 1.((a) "hypocrita fuit", Tigurine version; velut hypocrita damnatur", Tarnovius; "hypocrisi contaminabitur, Cocceius.

Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
11–13. Wonderful change in the fortunes of God’s people

11. Now also many nations …] The ‘many nations’ are either the Assyrians (comp. Isaiah 33:3), or the peoples who after their defeat come to worship at Jerusalem (Micah 4:1-2); but Micah 5:5 is in favour of the former view. They gather together to besiege Jerusalem (comp. Ezekiel 38, 39, Joel 3, Zechariah 12, 14); how fruitlessly, the next two verses declare. ‘Now also’ should rather be And now. There is an implied contrast to the ideal description in Micah 4:1-4; we have already seen that the original draft of chaps. 4, 5. has received various additions, and in order to get a clear connexion, we ought to inclose these inserted passages in parentheses. Thus if we bracket Micah 4:5-10, Micah 4:11 becomes perfectly clear, and the original sequence of thought is restored.Verses 11-13. - § 7. Rescued from Babylon, Zion overcomes all enemies in the strength of God. Verse 11. - Now also; and now. A new scene is presented in contrast to the view in vers, 1-4. Many nations are gathered against thee. Primarily the Assyrians are meant (Isaiah 33:3), whose armies were composed of various nationalities (Isaiah 22:6; see below, Micah 5:5). Pusey thinks that the reference is rather to the attacks of petty enemies, e.g. in Maccabean times, and in the Samaritans' opposition to the rebuilding of the temple. Cheyne would place vers. 5-10 in a parenthesis, and connect the present with the ideal description in vers. 1-4. Let her be defiled; i.e.. profaned, despoiled of her boasted holiness and inviolability. LXX., ἐπιχαρούμεθα, "we will rejoice." The Vulgate, lapidetur, points to her punishment as an adulteress, which does not suit the context. Let our eye look upon Zion. The heathen anticipate with malicious pleasure the sight of the humiliation of Jerusalem (comp. Obadiah 1:12, 13). Vision of a Basket of Ripe Fruit. - Amos 8:1. "Thus did the Lord Jehovah show me: and behold a basket with ripe fruit. Amos 8:2. And He said, What seest thou, Amos? And I said, A basket of ripe fruit. Then Jehovah said to me, The end is come to my people Israel; I will not pass by them any more. Amos 8:3. And the songs of the palace will yell in that day, is the saying of the Lord Jehovah: corpses in multitude; in every place hath He cast them forth: Hush!" כּלוּב from כּלך, to lay hold of, to grasp, lit., a receiver, here a basket (of basket-work), in Jeremiah 5:27 a bird-cage. קיץ: summer-fruit (see at 2 Samuel 16:1); in Isaiah 16:9; Isaiah 28:4, the gathering of fruit, hence ripe fruit. The basket of ripe fruit (qayits) is thus explained by the Lord: the end (qēts) is come to my people (cf. Ezekiel 7:6). Consequently the basket of ripe fruit is a figurative representation of the nation that is now ripe for judgment, although qēts, the end, does not denote its ripeness for judgment, but its destruction, and the word qēts is simply chosen to form a paronomasia with qayits. לא אוסיף וגו as in Amos 7:8. All the joy shall be turned into mourning. the thought is not that the temple-singing to the praise of God (Amos 5:23) would be turned into yelling, but that the songs of joy (Amos 6:5; 2 Samuel 19:36) would be turned into yells, i.e., into sounds of lamentation (cf. Amos 8:10 and 1 Maccabees 9:41), namely, because of the multitude of the dead which lay upon the ground on every side. השׁליך is not impersonal, in the sense of "which men are no longer able to bury on account of their great number, and therefore cast away in quiet places on every side;" but Jehovah is to be regarded as the subject, viz., which God has laid prostrate, or cast to the ground on every side. For the adverbial use of הס cannot be established. The word is an interjection here, as in Amos 6:10; and the exclamation, Hush! is not a sign of gloomy despair, but an admonition to bow beneath the overwhelming severity of the judgment of God, as in Zephaniah 1:7 (cf. Habakkuk 2:20 and Zechariah 2:13).
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