Micah 6:12
For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.
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(12) The rich men thereofi.e., of the city. The sins of spoliation and fraud were practised by men who had not even the pitiable excuse of poverty and distress.

6:9-16 God, having showed how necessary it was that they should do justly, here shows how plain it was that they had done unjustly. This voice of the Lord says to all, Hear the rod when it is coming, before you see it, and feel it. Hear the rod when it is come, and you are sensible of the smart; hear what counsels, what cautions it speaks. The voice of God is to be heard in the rod of God. Those who are dishonest in their dealings shall never be reckoned pure, whatever shows of devotion they may make. What is got by fraud and oppression, cannot be kept or enjoyed with satisfaction. What we hold closest we commonly lose soonest. Sin is a root of bitterness, soon planted, but not soon plucked up again. Their being the people of God in name and profession, while they kept themselves in his love, was an honour to them; but now, being backsliders, their having been once the people of God turns to their reproach.For the rich men thereof - that is, "of the city, Micah 6:9 are full of violence." It bad been little, had thieves and robbers lived by violence, but now, (as Isaiah at the same time upbraids them,) "her princes were become companions of thieves" Isaiah 1:23. Not the poor out of distress, but the rich, out of wantonness and exceeding covetousness and love of luxury, not only did wrong but were filled, not so much with riches, as with violence. Violence is the very meat and drink wherewith they are filled, yea, and wherewith they shall be filled, when it is returned upon their heads.

And the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies - Fraud is itself lying, and lying is its inseparable companion. Jerome: "Lying followeth the gathering together of riches, and the hard custom to lay up riches hath a deceitful tongue." The sin, he saith, is spread throughout all her inhabitants; that is, all of them, as their custom, have spoken lies, and, even when they speak not, the lie is ready; "their tongue is deceitful (literally, deceit) in their mouth." It is deceit, nothing but deceit, and that, deceit which should "overthrow" and ruin others. One intent on gain has the lie ever ready to be uttered, even when he speaks not. It lurks concealed, until it is needed.

12. For—rather, "Inasmuch as"; the conclusion "therefore," &c. following in Mic 6:13.

thereof—of Jerusalem.

For: this is given as an evidence of the truth of the charge, and of the justness of the resolution God had declared to punish them.

The rich men; who of all men had least temptation to deal unjustly; they were so well provided for, that without a trade they might live, and in trading they should have been content with honest gain; they should have been examples of charity and bounty, but these are the men deepest in this guilt.

Thereof; of Jerusalem, Samaria, and of every traded city in the land.

Full of violence; full of principles, practices, and fruits of violence and rapine, their minds inclined to cheatings and dishonesty, their practices managed with fraud and falsehood, and their riches heaped up through violence.

The inhabitants: the disease is universal, not some few rich men, but they that dwell in the city, are wholly oppression; or perhaps thus, who come to dwell among them, soon catch the disease, and learn these ways.

Thereof; of all the cities of the land of Canaan.

Have spoken lies; have accustomed themselves to speak falsehood, there is no truth in their affirmations or negations.

Their tongue is deceitful in their mouth; there is not a man of plain-heartedness, integrity, and honesty among them. So David complains of his times, Psalm 12:1,2.

For the rich men thereof are full of violence,.... That is, the rich men of the city, to whom the voice of the Lord cried, Micah 6:9. Jerusalem or Samaria, or any or all the cities of Israel and Judah; the rich men of these cities, who had enough of the world, and were under no temptation to do an ill thing, to get money; and yet their hands and their houses, and their treasuries, as the Targum, were full of goods gotten by violent measures, by the oppression of the poor and needy:

and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies; the rest of the inhabitants, who were not so rich as others, and who had it not in the power of their hands to oppress as others had; yet used deceitful and fraudulent methods to cheat their neighbours in buying and selling; and, to do this, did not stick to tell downright deliberate lies:

and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth; say one thing, and mean another; deceive their neighbours with their tongues in trade and commerce; averting things for truth they know to be false.

For the rich men thereof {i} are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth.

(i) That is, of Jerusalem.

Verse 12. - The rich men thereof; i.e. of the city mentioned in ver. 9. They have just been charged with injustice and fraud, now they are denounced for practising every kind of violence. And not only the rich, but all the inhabitants fall under censure for lying and deceit. Their tongue is deceitful; literally, deceit; they cannot open their mouth without speaking dangerous and destructive lies. Micah 6:12The threatening words commence in Micah 6:10; Micah 6:10-12 containing a condemnation of the prevailing sins. Micah 6:10. "Are there yet in the house of the unjust treasures of injustice, and the ephah of consumption, the cursed one? Micah 6:11. Can I be clean with the scale of injustice, and with a purse with stones of deceit? Micah 6:12. That their rich men are full of wickedness, and their inhabitants speak deceit, and their tongue is falseness in their mouth." The reproof is dressed up in the form of a question. In the question in Micah 6:10 the emphasis is laid upon the עוד, which stands for that very reason before the interrogative particle, as in Genesis 19:12, the only other place in which this occurs. אשׁ, a softened form for ישׁ, as in 2 Samuel 14:19. Treasures of wickedness are treasures acquired through wickedness or acts of injustice. The meaning of the question is not, Are the unjust treasures not yet removed out of the house, not yet distributed again? but, as Micah 6:10 and Micah 6:11 require, Does the wicked man still bring such treasures into the house? does he still heap up such treasures in his house? The question is affirmative, and the form of a question is chosen to sharpen the conscience, as the unjust men to whom it is addressed cannot deny it. איפת רזון, ephah of consumption or hungriness, analogous to the German expression "a hungry purse," is too small an ephah (cf. Deuteronomy 25:14; Amos 8:5); the opposite of א שׁלמה (Deuteronomy 25:15) or א צדק (Leviticus 19:36), which the law prescribed. Hence Micah calls it זעוּמה equals זעוּם יהוה in Proverbs 22:14, that which is smitten by the wrath of God (equivalent to cursed; cf. Numbers 23:7; Proverbs 24:24). Whoever has not a full ephah is, according to Deuteronomy 25:16, an abomination to the Lord. If these questions show the people that they do not answer to the demands made by the Lord in Micah 6:8, the questions in Micah 6:11 also teach that, with this state of things, they cannot hold themselves guiltless. The speaker inquires, from the standpoint of his own moral consciousness, whether he can be pure, i.e., guiltless, if he uses deceitful scales and weights, - a question to which every one must answer No. It is difficult, however, to decide who the questioner is. As Micah 6:9 announces words of God, and in Micah 6:10 God is speaking, and also in Micah 6:12, Micah 6:13, it appears as though Jehovah must be the questioner here. But אזכּה does not tally with this. Jerome therefore adopts the rendering numquid justificabo stateram impiam; but זכה in the kal has only the meaning to be pure, and even in the piel it is not used in the sense of niqqh, to acquit. This latter fact is sufficient to overthrow the proposal to alter the reading into piel. Moreover, "the context requires the thought that the rich men fancy they can be pure with deceitful weights, and a refutation of this delusive idea" (Caspari). Consequently the prophet only can raise this question, namely as the representative of the moral consciousness; and we must interpret this transition, which is so sudden and abrupt to our ears, by supplying the thought, "Let every one ask himself," Can I, etc. Instead of רשׁע we have the more definite mirmh in the parallel clause. Scales and a bag with stones belong together; 'ăbhanı̄m are the stone weights (cf. Leviticus 19:36; Deuteronomy 25:13) which were carried in a bag (Proverbs 16:11). In Micah 6:12 the condemnation of injustice is widened still further. Whereas in the first clause the rich men of the capital (the suffix pointing back to עיר in Micah 6:9), who are also to be thought of in Micah 6:10, are expressly mentioned, in the second clause the inhabitants generally are referred to. And whilst the rich are not only charged with injustice or fraud in trade, but with châmâs, violence of every kind, the inhabitants are charged with lying and deceit of the tongue. Leshōnâm (their tongue) is not placed at the head absolutely, in the sense of "As for their tongue, deceit is," etc. Such an emphasis as this is precluded by the fact that the preceding clause, "speaking lies," involves the use of the tongue. Leshōnâm is the simple subject: Their tongue is deceit or falsehood in their mouth; i.e., their tongue is so full of deceit, that it is, so to speak, resolved into it. Both clauses express the thought, that "the inhabitants of Jerusalem are a population of liars and cheats" (Hitzig). The connection in which the verse stands, or the true explanation of אשׁר, has been a matter of dispute. We must reject both the combination of Micah 6:12 and Micah 6:13 ("Because their rich men, etc., therefore I also," etc.), and also the assumption that Micah 6:12 contains the answer to the question in Micah 6:10, and that אשׁר precedes the direct question (Hitzig): the former, because Micah 6:12 obviously forms the conclusion to the reproof, and must be separated from what precedes it; the latter, because the question in Micah 6:11 stands between Micah 6:10 and Micah 6:12, which is closely connected with Micah 6:10, and Micah 6:12 also contains no answer to Micah 6:10, so far as the thought is concerned, even if the latter actually required an answer. We must rather take אשׁר as a relative, as Caspari does, and understand the verse as an exclamation, which the Lord utters in anger over the city: "She, whose rich men are full," etc. "Angry persons generally prefer to speak of those who have excited their wrath, instead of addressing their words to them."
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