Micah 5:5
And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) And this man shall be the peacei.e., He shall Himself be Peace (after the same idiomatic expression David speaks of himself, “For my love they are my adversaries, but I am Prayer”—Psalm 109:4). This sentence is connected with the former instead of the following passage, with which the Authorised Version joins it.

When the Assyrian shall come into our land.—This may refer to the imminent apprehension of the invasion of Sennacherib, but the actual event does not correspond to it. It may look forward to the time when the enemies of Israel attacked the Jews in the Maccabean period, and the shepherds, seven or eight—i.e., an indefinite number—successfully resisted the attacks upon the flock. The intention of the passage may be spiritually interpreted as pointing to the eight principal, strictly anointed men, who, as Christian pastors, receive their commission from the Messiah.

Micah 5:5. This man shall be the peace — Christ is our peace as a priest, making atonement for sin, and reconciling us to God: he is our peace as a king, conquering our enemies, protecting us against their attacks, and preserving our minds in peace and tranquillity. In this latter sense the expression seems to be taken here: as if he had said, The Messiah, in all ages, whether before or after his incarnation, secures the peace and welfare of his church and people, against all the attempts of his and their enemies. When the Assyrian, &c. — After the illustrious prophecy relating to the Messiah, in the foregoing verses, the prophet passes on to the subversion of the Assyrian empire, and, under the type of that ancient enemy of God’s people, foretels the overthrow of all their enemies, especially of the antichristian powers which should attack his church in the latter days. Shall come into our land — As Sennacherib did with an overwhelming army, within a few years after this prophecy was delivered, when, by the power and authority of the Messiah, the Son of God, in his pre-existent state, (see Micah 5:2,) the Assyrian army was defeated, and Judea’s peace secured. When he shall tread in our palaces — Which Sennacherib did in all the cities or Judah, except Jerusalem, against which he could not prevail, because Immanuel was with Hezekiah and that city, as foretold Isaiah 8:8-10; Isaiah 37:32-35, where see the notes. Then shall we raise against him — Namely, Hezekiah, and with him the prophets and people, by prayer shall prevail with God to send deliverance. This seems primarily to refer to the deliverance of Hezekiah and his kingdom from the Assyrian army who invaded them. Seven shepherds and eight principal men — Or, seven rulers and eight princes of men, as Archbishop Newcome renders it, who thinks the prophet means the chiefs of the Medes and Babylonians, the prefects of different provinces, who, some time after the fall of Sennacherib, took Nineveh, overthrew the Assyrian empire, and thereby delivered the Jews from that oppressive power. Their number, he thinks, may have been what is here specified. Or, seven and eight may stand for an indefinite number, as similar expressions often do.5:1-6 Having showed how low the house of David would be brought, a prediction of the Messiah and his kingdom is added to encourage the faith of God's people. His existence from eternity as God, and his office as Mediator, are noticed. Here is foretold that Bethlehem should be his birthplace. Hence it was universally known among the Jews, Mt 2:5. Christ's government shall be very happy for his subjects; they shall be safe and easy. Under the shadow of protection from the Assyrians, is a promise of protection to the gospel church and all believers, from the designs and attempts of the powers of darkness. Christ is our Peace as a Priest, making atonement for sin, and reconciling us to God; and he is our Peace as a King, conquering our enemies: hence our souls may dwell at ease in him. Christ will find instruments to protect and deliver. Those that threaten ruin to the church of God, soon bring ruin on themselves. This may include the past powerful effects of the preached gospel, its future spread, and the ruin of all antichristian powers. This is, perhaps, the most important single prophecy in the Old Testament: it respects the personal character of the Messiah, and the discoveries of himself to the world. It distinguishes his human birth from his existing from eternity; it foretells the rejection of the Israelites and Jews for a season, their final restoration, and the universal peace to prevail through the whole earth in the latter days. In the mean time let us trust our Shepherd's care and power. If he permits the assault of our enemies, he will supply helpers and assistance for us.And this Man shall be the Peace - This, emphatically, that is, "This Same," as is said of Noah, "This same shall comfort us" Genesis 5:29, or, in the song of Moses, of the Lord, "This Same is my God" Exodus 15:2. Of Him he saith, not only that He brings peace, but that He Himself is that Peace; as Paul saith, "He is our Peace" Ephesians 2:14, and Isaiah calls Him "the Prince of peace" Isaiah 9:6, and at His Birth the heavenly host proclaimed "peace on earth" Luke 2:14; and He "preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh" Ephesians 2:17; and on leaving the world He saith, "Peace I leave with you, My Peace I give unto you" John 14:27. "He shall be our Peace," within by His Grace, without by His Protection. Lap.: "Wouldest thou have peace with God, thine own soul, thy neighbor? Go to Christ who is our Peace," and follow the footsteps of Christ. "Ask peace of Him who is Peace. Place Christ in thy heart and thou hast placed Peace there."

When the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces - Assur stands for the most powerful and deadliest foe, "ghostly and bodily," as the Assyrian then was of the people of God. For since this plainly relates to the time after Christ's coming, and, (to say the least,) after the captivity in Babylon and deliverance Micah 4:10 from it, which itself followed the dissolution of the Assyrian Empire, the Assyrians cannot be the literal people, who had long since ceased to be In Isaiah too the Assyrian is the type of antichrist and of Satan .

As Christ is our Peace, so one enemy is chosen to represent all enemies who Acts 12:1 vex the Church, whether the human agents or Satan who stirs them up and uses them. "By the Assyrian," says Cyril, "he here means no longer a man out of Babylon, but rather marks out the inventor of sin, Satan. Or rather, to speak fully, the implacable multitude of devils, which spiritually ariseth against all which is holy, and fights against the holy city, the spiritual Zion, whereof the divine Psalmist saith, "Glorious things are spoken of thee, thou city of God." For Christ dwelleth in the Church, and maketh it, as it were, His own city, although by His Godhead filling all things. This city of God then is a sort of land and country of the sanctified and of those enriched in spirit, in unity with God. When then the Assyrian shall come against our city, that is, when barbarous and hostile powers fight against the saints, they shall not find it unguarded."

The enemy may tread on the land and on its palaces, that is, lay low outward glory, vex the body which is of earth and the visible temple of the Holy Spirit, as he did Paul by the thorn in the flesh, the minister of Satan to buffet him, or Job in mind body or estate, but Luke 12:4 after that he has no more than he can do; he cannot hurt the soul, because nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, and (Rup.) Christ who is our Peace is in us; and of the saint too it may be said, "The enemy cannot hurt him" Psalm 89:22. Rib.: Much as the Church has been vexed at all times by persecutions of devils and of tyrants, Christ has ever consoled her and given her peace in the persecutions themselves: "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ" 2 Corinthians 1:4-5. The Apostles Act 5:41 departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His Name. And Paul writeth to the Hebrews, "ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing that ye have in heaven a better and more enduring substance" Hebrews 10:34.

Then shall we raise against him seven shepherds and eight principal men - (Literally, anointed, although elsewhere used of pagan princes.)

The "shepherds" are manifestly inferior, spiritual, shepherds, acting under the One Shepherd, by His authority, and He in them. The princes of men are most naturally a civil power, according to its usage elsewhere Joshua 13:21; Psalm 83:12; Ezekiel 32:30. The "seven" is throughout the Old Testament a symbol of a sacred whole, probably of the union of God with the world , reconciled with it; eight, when united with it, is something beyond it . Since then "seven" denotes a great, complete, and sacred multitude, by the eight he would designate "an incredible and almost countless multitude." Rib.: "So in defense of the Church, there shall be raised up very many shepherds and teachers (for at no time will it be forsaken by Christ;) yea by more and more, countlessly, so that, however persecutions may increase, there shall never be lacking more to teach, and exhort to, the faith."

5. this man—in Hebrew simply "This." The One just mentioned; He and He alone. Emphatical for Messiah (compare Ge 5:29).

the peace—the fountainhead of peace between God and man, between Israel and Israel's justly offended God (Ge 49:10; Isa 9:6; Eph 2:14, 17; Col 1:20), and, as the consequence, the fountain of "peace on earth," where heretofore all is strife (Mic 4:3; Ho 2:18; Zec 9:10; Lu 2:14).

the Assyrian—Being Israel's most powerful foe at that time, Assyria is made the representative of all the foes of Israel in all ages, who shall receive their final destruction at Messiah's appearing (Eze 38:1-23).

seven shepherds, and eight—"Seven" expresses perfection; "seven and eight" is an idiom for a full and sufficient number (Job 5:19; Pr 6:16; Ec 11:2).

principal men—literally, "anointed (humble) men" (Ps 62:9), such as the apostles were. Their anointing, or consecration and qualification to office, was by the Holy Spirit [Calvin] (1Jo 2:20, 27). "Princes" also were anointed, and they are mentioned as under Messiah (Isa 32:1). English Version therefore gives the probable sense.

This verse, as the former, is abstruse, and the particulars are not easily accommodated to times and things.

And this; so the Hebrew, and it may be read as the neuter gender, and be referred to time, or thing, or both, following in the text, thus: At that time this thing shall be our peace, viz. when the Assyrian shall invade us, we shall raise by our prayers sufficient strength against him, here expressed by seven shepherds, &c. Our version supplies the defect of the substantive with

man, i.e. the Messiah the Ruler, who stands and feeds in the strength of the Lord. Shall be the peace, which is promised to and expected by the people of God, all their preservation and deliverances are not only for the sake, but effected by the power, of the Messiah.

When the Assyrian shall come into our land; as Sennacherib did within a few years after this prophecy was delivered; and then by the power and authority of Messiah was Sennacherib and his army defeated, and Judah’s peace was secured.

When he shall tread in our palaces; which the Assyrian did in all the cities of Judah, except Jerusalem, against which he could do nothing, because God-man the Messiah was with Hezekiah and Jerusalem, as foretold. Isaiah 8:8-10 37:32-35.

Then, shall we; Hezekiah, and with him the prophets and people, by prayer to God, shall prevail with God to send deliverance and salvation to them.

Raise against him seven shepherds: the number is certain, but put for an uncertain; and the quality of those raised is expressed by shepherds, in a decorum to the representation of the people of God by the metaphor of sheep, or flock, of which shepherds do particularly take care.

And eight principal men: here again a determinate number is put for an indeterminate, and for a sufficient number, that the effect may be sure. God will raise a sufficient number of deliverers for his people: this is the import of this phrase, as elsewhere six troubles and seven, Job 5:19. Thus in the letter and historical reference I suppose the words do look to the wonderful deliverance of Hezekiah and Jerusalem from the Assyrian, but I doubt not they have a mystical and spiritual reference, and contain a prediction of that peace Christ did make, and doth maintain, for his churches against all enemies, typified by the Assyrian. Besides this exposition given, I must not pass over that note, viz. The word rendered peace signifieth also recompence, and so might be rendered: This shall be the recompence of the Assyrian by the seven shepherds, rendered for his invading and spoiling Judah, and for attempting against Jerusalem. And this man shall be the peace,.... The word man is not in the text, only this; and refers to the person before spoken of, who was to be born in Bethlehem, to be the ruler in Israel, that should stand and feed his people, and should be great to the ends of the earth; and is no other than the Messiah, as Kimchi, and other Jewish writers, own, Kimchi's note is,

"this peace respects the Messiah; for he shall be the cause or author of peace; as it is said, "he shall speak peace unto the Heathen", Zechariah 9:10;''

and R. Isaac (x) expresses his sense of the words in much the same language; and it is an observation the Jews sometimes make, and which they give as a sign of the Messiah's coming,

"when you see a Persian horse bound in the land of Israel, look for the feet of the Messiah;''

which is the sense of Micah 5:5; "this shall be the peace, when the Assyrian comes into our land" (y), &c. so Jesus the true Messiah is called "our peace", Ephesians 2:14; and is the cause and author of peace, not only between Jew and Gentile, but between God and men; which he has made by the blood of his cross, and speaks and gives peace to men; and he is the author of peace in his churches, whose kingdom is a kingdom of peace, of which there will be an abundance in the latter day; for all which he would not be sufficient was he a mere man; though it was proper he should be a man, that he might have blood to shed, a body to offer up, and in it die to procure peace; and yet be more than a man, God also, to put virtue and efficacy into what he did and suffered to obtain it, as well as to secure and continue the peace of his people, and preserve them from all their enemies:

when the Assyrian shall come into our land; not Sennacherib king of Assyria; though by the invasion of Judea, and siege of Jerusalem, he might have lately been concerned in, and by reason of the terror which that had raised in the people; the Assyrian may be here put for any powerful enemy of the people of God in later times; or Satan, and his principalities and powers, even all the powers of darkness Christ our peacemaker engaged with, at the time he made peace by his sufferings and death; and perhaps may chiefly design the Turk, the Gog and Magog of Ezekiel, as Mr. Mede (z) thinks, that will enter into the land of Judea, in order to take it out of the hands of the Jews, who will be possessed of it upon their conversion to Christ; but he by his instruments will secure to them the possession of it, and their peace and prosperity in it:

and when he shall tread in our palaces; the palaces of our princes, and nobles, and great men, at least attempt to do it:

then shall we raise against him; the Assyrian, or whatsoever enemy is meant by him: or, "with him", that is, the Messiah, as Kimchi and others (a) interpret it. The Targum is,

"then will we appoint over us;''

which sense the above writer wonders at, as being contrary to the Hebrew text:

seven shepherds, and eight principal men; that is, many, as the phrase is used in Ecclesiastes 11:2; to which passage Aben Ezra and Kimchi refer us; these are, as the last mentioned writer and others say (b), the princes of the Messiah; and, according to the ancient (c) Jewish Rabbins, the seven shepherds are particularly these, David in the midst, Adam, Seth, Methuselah, on his right hand (Kimchi has it, Seth, Enoch, and Methuselah), and Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, on his left hand; and the eight principal men are, Jesse, Saul, Samuel, Amos, Zephaniah, Zedekiah (in Kimchi and Rabbot it is Hezekiah), Elijah, and the Messiah; but, as Aben Ezra, not fifteen persons are designed, at most but eight, according to this form of speech in Proverbs 30:15; &c. Calmet (d) takes those seven or eight shepherds to he the seven princes confederate with Darius the son of Hystaspes, who killed Smerdis the Magian, who had possessed himself of the empire of the Persians, after the death of Cambyses; but Smerdis was not an Assyrian, nor is the kingdom of Persia here meant, but the land of Judea; and the prophecy respects the times of the Messiah, who should appear there, and where would be raised up men to support his interest: and if conjecture may be allowed, as this may be understood of the apostles and first preachers of the Gospel, the princes of the Messiah, who were raised up, at the prayer and request of the church, to oppose Satan and his emissaries, in the first times of the Gospel; by these may be meant the writers of the New Testament, the four evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Apostles Peter, James, and Jude, which make the seven shepherds; and if you add to these the Apostle Paul, they will make eight principal men; or rather I should think the seven angels are pointed at, that shall pour out the last plagues on the antichristian states; to which, if another angel is added, that will proclaim the fall of Babylon, the same number will be made up; see Revelation 16:1; and who will assist the Jews against the Turks, when they shall attempt to dispossess them of their land, they shall again inherit.

(x) Ut supra. (Chizzuk Emunah, par. 1. p. 281.) (y) Echa Rabbati, fol. 48. 3.((z) Works, l. 4. Ephesians 41. p. 796. (a) Vid. Chizzuk Emunah, par. 1. p. 282. (b) Ibid. (c) T. Bab. Succa, fol. 52. 2. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 26. 3.((d) Dictionary, in the word "Shepherds".

And this man {f} shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.

(f) This Messiah will be a sufficient safeguard for us, and though the enemy invades us for a time, yet will God stir up many who will be able to deliver us.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. the peace] Rather, Peace (peace personified). An allusion perhaps to Isaiah’s second great Messianic prophecy (Isaiah 9:6, ‘Prince of peace’). There ought to be a full stop after ‘Peace.’

when the Assyrian shall come …] This is quite correctly rendered; the prophet, speaking in the name of the people, looks forward to an Assyrian domination over the Holy Land. Many commentators unnecessarily suppose it to be a hypothetical clause—‘supposing that another Assyrian should invade our land, Israel will be able to meet him with abundance of capable leaders,’ and Castalio (Châtillon) compares the line of Virgil (Ecl. 4:34),

‘Alter erit tum Tiphys, et altera quae vehat Argo

Delectos heroas.’

seven shepherds] ‘Shepherds,’ i.e. princes; ‘seven,’ as being the perfect number. Nothing is told us of the relation of these princes to the Messiah. Comp. Isaiah 32:1.

eight principal men] ‘Eight,’ as if to say, more than enough. In the hour of need God can raise up a superabundance of capable men. ‘Principal men;’ rather, princes among men.

5, 6. These verses appear to have been added by an after-thought. Two plausible reasons may be given for the insertion. 1. It was not clear who the ‘many nations’ and ‘many peoples’ of Micah 4:11; Micah 4:13 were; the first clause of Micah 5:5 may perhaps be taken as interpreting those rather vague phrases of the Assyrians. 2. In the first gush of inspiration, the prophet had omitted the period of foreign rule over the land of Israel. Thus the picture of the Messianic time was left indistinct; by the insertion of Micah 5:5-6 this omission was rectified. The connexion is improved, if we inclose these verses in a parenthesis; it should be observed that the same vague phrase ‘many peoples’ reappears in Micah 5:7-8, indicating that these verses belonged to the original draft of the prophecy. How greatly our idea of the Biblical literature gains in distinctness by the insight we are now acquiring into the methods and processes of the prophetic writers and editors!Verses 5, 6. - § 9. Under Messiah's rule shall be peace. Cheyne considers these verses to have been inserted by an afterthought, either to explain the "many nations" and "many peoples" of Micah 4:11, 13, or to rectify the omission of the period of foreign rule. This may be reasonably allowed; but it is not necessary to the explanation of the paragraph, which is merely a further description of Messiah's kingdom. Verse 5. - And this Man shall be the Peace; and he shall be Peace; Vulgate, et erit iste Pax. This same Ruler will not only bring peace, and be the Author of peace, but be himself Peace; as Isaiah (Isaiah 9:5) calls him "Prince of Peace," and St. Paul (Ephesians 2:14) "our Peace." Peace personified (comp. Zechariah 9:9). It is best to put a full stop here, and remove the colon at "land" in the next clause. There may be an allusion to Solomon, the peaceful king, who erected the temple and whose reign exhibited the ideal of happy times. Septuagint, καὶ ἔσται αὐτῇ εἰρήνη, "and to her shall be peace." When the Assyrian shall come. The prophet, in this and the following verses, shows what is that peace which Messiah shall bring. Asshur is named as the type of Israel's deadliest foe, and as that which even then was threatening the kingdom: witness Sennaeherib's invasion in Hezekiah's time, when the angel of the Lord smote the alien army with sudden destruction (2 Kings 19.). The prophecy looks forward to a far distant future, when the world power is strayed against God's people; the details (as often in such prophecies) do not exactly suit the actual facts in contemporary history. Then shall we raise against him seven shepherds. We, the Israel of God, shall be enabled to repel the enemy. "Shepherds," i.e. princes, and those in abundance. "Seven" is the perfect number, representing completeness and rest. And eight principal men; or, princes among men, appointed by the Ruler as his subordinates and representatives. These are said to be "eight," to imply their great number: there should be a superabundance of able leaders. (On a similar use of numbers, see note on Amos 1:3.) The LXX. renders, ὀκτὼ δήγματα ἀνθρώπων, "eight attacks of men," reading differently. Such wickedness as this would be severely punished by the Lord. Amos 8:7. "Jehovah hath sworn by the pride of Jacob, Verily I will not forget all their deeds for ever. Amos 8:8. Shall the earth not tremble for this, and every inhabitants upon it mourn? and all of it rises like the Nile, and heaves and sinks like the Nile of Egypt." The pride of Jacob is Jehovah, as in Hosea 5:5 and Hosea 7:10. Jehovah swears by the pride of Jacob, as He does by His holiness in Amos 4:2, or by His soul in Amos 6:8, i.e., as He who is the pride and glory of Israel: i.e., as truly as He is so, will He and must He punish such acts as these. By overlooking such sins, or leaving them unpunished, He would deny His glory in Israel. שׁכח, to forget a sin, i.e., to leave it unpunished. In Amos 8:8 the negative question is an expression denoting strong assurance. "For this" is generally supposed to refer to the sins; but this is a mistake, as the previous verse alludes not to the sins themselves, but to the punishment of them; and the solemn oath of Jehovah does not contain so subordinate and casual a thought, that we can pass over Amos 8:7, and take על זאת as referring back to Amos 8:4-6. It rather refers to the substance of the oath, i.e., to the punishment of the sins which the Lord announces with a solemn oath. This will be so terrible that the earth will quake, and be resolved, as it were, into its primeval condition of chaos. Râgaz, to tremble, or, when applied to the earth, to quake, does not mean to shudder, or to be shocked, as Rosenmller explains it after Jeremiah 2:12. Still less can the idea of the earth rearing and rising up in a stormy manner to cast them off, which Hitzig supports, be proved to be a biblical idea from Isaiah 24:20. The thought is rather that, under the weight of the judgment, the earth will quake, and all its inhabitants will be thrown into mourning, as we may clearly see from the parallel passage in Amos 9:5. In Amos 8:8 this figure is carried out still further, and the whole earth is represented as being turned into a sea, heaving and falling in a tempestuous manner, just as in the case of the flood. כּלּהּ, the totality of the earth, the entire globe, will rise, and swell and fall like waters lashed into a storm. This rising and falling of the earth is compared to the rising and sinking of the Nile. According to the Parallel passage in Amos 9:5, כּאר is a defective form for כּיאר, just as בּוּל is for יבוּל in Job 40:20, and it is still further defined by the expression כּיאור מצרים, which follows. All the ancient versions have taken it as יאור, and many of the Hebrew codd. (in Kennicott and De Rossi) have this reading. Nigrash, to be excited, a term applied to the stormy sea (Isaiah 57:20). נשׁקה is a softened form for נשׁקעה, as is shown by שׁקעה in Amos 9:5.
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