Micah 6:7
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) The fruit of my body.—Will God require the sacrifice of such a precious possession, as Isaac was to Abraham, to atone for my wrong-doing? There may possibly be an allusion to human sacrifices, such as Ahaz offered to Molech, or to the act of Mesha, King of Moab, who “took his eldest son, that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him up for a burnt offering upon the wall.”

6:6-8 These verses seem to contain the substance of Balak's consultation with Balaam how to obtain the favour of Israel's God. Deep conviction of guilt and wrath will put men upon careful inquiries after peace and pardon, and then there begins to be some ground for hope of them. In order to God's being pleased with us, our care must be for an interest in the atonement of Christ, and that the sin by which we displease him may be taken away. What will be a satisfaction to God's justice? In whose name must we come, as we have nothing to plead as our own? In what righteousness shall we appear before him? The proposals betray ignorance, though they show zeal. They offer that which is very rich and costly. Those who are fully convinced of sin, and of their misery and danger by reason of it, would give all the world, if they had it, for peace and pardon. Yet they do not offer aright. The sacrifices had value from their reference to Christ; it was impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sin. And all proposals of peace, except those according to the gospel, are absurd. They could not answer the demands of Divine justice, nor satisfy the wrong done to the honour of God by sin, nor would they serve at all in place of holiness of the heart and reformation of the life. Men will part with any thing rather than their sins; but they part with nothing so as to be accepted of God, unless they do part with their sins. Moral duties are commanded because they are good for man. In keeping God's commandments there is a great reward, as well as after keeping them. God has not only made it known, but made it plain. The good which God requires of us is, not the paying a price for the pardon of sin and acceptance with God, but love to himself; and what is there unreasonable, or hard, in this? Every thought within us must be brought down, to be brought into obedience to God, if we would walk comfortably with him. We must do this as penitent sinners, in dependence on the Redeemer and his atonement. Blessed be the Lord that he is ever ready to give his grace to the humble, waiting penitent.Wherewith shall I come before the Lord? - The people, thus arraigned, bursts in, as men do, with professions that they would be no more ungrateful; that they will do anything, everything - but what they ought. With them it shall be but "Ask and have." They wish only to know, with what they shall come? They would be beforehand with Him, anticipating His wishes; they would, with all the submission of a creature, bow, prostrate themselves before God; they acknowledge His High Majesty, who dwelleth on high, the most High God, and would abase themselves before His lofty greatness, if they but knew, "how" or "wherewith."

They would give of their best; sacrifices the choicest of their kind, which should be wholly His, whole-burnt-offerings, offered exactly according to the law, "bullocks of a year old" Leviticus 9:2-3; then too, the next choice offering, the rams; and these, as they were offered for the whole people on very solemn occasions, in vast multitudes, thousands or ten thousands ; the oil which accompanied the burnt sacrifice, should flow in rivers ; nay, more still; they would not withhold their sons, their first born sons, from God, part, as they were, of themselves, or any fruit of their own body.

They enhance the offering by naming the tender relation to themselves Deuteronomy 28:53. They would offer everything, (even what God forbade) excepting only what alone He asked for, their heart, its love and its obedience . The form of their offer contains this; they ask zealously, "with what shall I come." It is an outward offering only, a thing which they would bring. Hypocritical eagerness! a sin against light. For to enquire further, when God has already revealed anything, is to deny that He has revealed it. It comes from the wish that He had not revealed what lie has revealed. : "whose, after he hath found the truth, discusseth anything further, seeketh a lie." God had told them, long before, from the time that He made them His people, what he desired of them; So Micah answers,

7. rivers of oil—used in sacrifices (Le 2:1, 15). Will God be appeased by my offering so much oil that it shall flow in myriads of torrents?

my first-born—(2Ki 3:27). As the king of Moab did.

fruit of my body—my children, as an atonement (Ps 132:11). The Jews offered human sacrifices in the valley of Hinnom (Jer 19:5; 32:35; Eze 23:27).

Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams? the law did direct the offering of rams, single beasts for single sacrifices; if this be too little, they shall be multiplied, we will give many, very many; for the phrase is a hyperbole.

With ten thousands of rivers of oil: oil was required too in their sacrifices, in the meat-offerings of them, but in no great quantities, a log, or hin, i.e. half a pint, or three quarts; but we know such gifts are infinitely short of the Divine goodness bestowed on us; he who is our God is worthy of rivers of oil, multiplied to thousands; had we such store it should be all his. Such-like hyperbole you meet with in Isaiah 40:15-17.

Shall I give my first-born? this is proposed not as a thing practicable by any rule of reason or religion, but as a proof of their readiness, as Abraham, to offer up their first-born, as he did offer up his Isaac to God. It is much to part with any of our children, but it is more to part with the strength, and glory, and hope of our families; yet, like hypocrites, or like unnatural heathen, this they would do, rather than what would please the Lord.

For my transgression; to appease the anger of the Lord for my sins; would these be expiatories?

The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? the question is repeated to affect us the more: the words would bear this reading, Shall I give my first-born? This would be my sin. The fruit of my body? These would be the sin of my soul. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,.... If single burnt offerings of bullocks and heifers will not do, will rams, and thousands of them, be acceptable to him? if they will, they are at his service, even as many as he pleases; such creatures, as well as oxen, were offered by Balak, Numbers 23:1;

or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? for meat offerings, as Jarchi, in which oil was used: this is a hyperbolical expression, as Kimchi rightly observes; suggesting that he was willing to be at any expenses, even the most extravagant, if he could but gain his point, and get the God of Israel on his side. Some render it, "ten thousands of fat valleys" (d); abounding with corn, and wine, and oil; the produce of which, had he so many, he could freely part with, could he but obtain his end; see Job 20:17;

shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? his Son, his firstborn, his own flesh and blood, to make atonement for his sins and transgressions; this betrays the person speaking. The people of Israel, though they were sometimes guilty of this horrid, unnatural, and abominable sin, in the height of their degeneracy and apostasy, as to sacrifice their children to Mo; yet when convinced of their sins, and humbling themselves before God for them, even though but in a hypocritical way, could never be so weak and foolish, so impious and audacious, as to propose that to God, which they knew was so contrary to his will, and so abominable in his sight, Leviticus 18:21; but this comes well enough from a Heathen prince, with whom it was the, height of his devotion and religion, and the greatest sacrifice he thought he could offer up to God; for there is a climax, a gradation in the words from lesser things to greater; and this is the greatest of all, and what was done among the Heathens, 2 Kings 17:31; and was afterwards done by a king of Moab, 2 Kings 3:26.

(d) "in decem millibus vallium pinguium", Munster.

Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my {f} firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

(f) There is nothing so dear to man, but the hypocrites will offer it to God, if they think by this to avoid his anger. But they will never by brought to mortify their own affections, and to give themselves willingly to serve God as he commands.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. with thousands of rams] With hecatombs, a Greek would have said. The calves are estimated by quality; the rams, by quantity.

rivers of oil] Or, ‘torrents of oil;’ like ‘brooks [torrents] of honey,’ Job 20:17.

my firstborn for my transgression] This is the climax of Israel’s offers; he will not withhold his most precious possession. The valley of Hinnom was for centuries defiled by sacrifices of children to the ‘devouring’ Fire-god, Moloch; a custom derived from ‘the nations whom Jehovah cast out from before the children of Israel’ (2 Kings 16:3). The narrative of the substitution of the ram for Isaac (Genesis 22:13), and the law of the redemption of the firstborn of man (Exodus 13:13), show that, although perhaps permitted ‘for the hardness of men’s hearts’ in earlier times, such human sacrifices were no longer admitted by the prophetic and legal interpreters of the Divine will to Israel. Comp. Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2, 2 Kings 16:3; 2 Kings 23:10, Isaiah 57:5, Jeremiah 7:31, Ezekiel 16:20; Ezekiel 20:26Verse 7. - Thousands of rams, as though the quantity enhanced the value, and tended to dispose the Lord to regard the offerer's thousandfold sinfulness with greater favour. Ten thousands of rivers (torrents, as in Job 20:17) of oil. Oil was used in the daily meal offering, and in that which accompanied every burnt offering (see Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 7:10-12; Numbers 15:4, etc.). The Vulgate has a different reading, In multis millibus hircorum pinguium; so the Septuagint, ἐν μυριάσι χιμάρων [ἀρνῶν, Alex.] πτόνων, "with ten thousands of fat goats," so also the Syriac. The alteration has been introduced probably with some idea of making the parallelism more exact. Shall I give my firstborn? Micah exactly represents the people's feeling; they would do anything but what God required; they would make the costliest sacrifice, even, m their exaggerated devotion, holding themselves ready to make a forbidden offering; but they would not attend to the moral requirements of the Law. It is probably by a mere hyperbole that the question in the text is asked. The practice of human sacrifice was founded on the notion that man ought to offer to God his dearest and costliest, and that the acceptability of an offering was proportioned to its preciousness. The Hebrews had learned the custom from their neighbours, e.g. the Phoenicians and Moabites (comp. 2 Kings 3:27), and had for centuries offered their children to Moloch, in defiance of the stern prohibitions of Moses and their prophets (Leviticus 18:21; 2 Kings 16:3; Isaiah 57:5). They might have learned, from many facts and inferences, that man's self-surrender was not to be realized by this ritual; the sanctity of human life (Genesis 9:6), the substitution of the ram for Isaac (Genesis 22:13), the redemption of the firstborn (Exodus 13:13), all made for this truth. But the heathen idea retained its hold among them, so that the inquiry above is in strict keeping with the circumstances. The fruit of my body; i.e. the rest of my children (Deuteronomy 28:4). The Kingdom of God Set Up. - Since God, as the unchangeable One, cannot utterly destroy His chosen people, and abolish or reverse His purpose of salvation, after destroying the sinful kingdom, He will set up the new and genuine kingdom of God. Amos 9:11. "On that day will I set up the fallen hut of David, and wall up their rents; and what is destroyed thereof I will set up, and build it as in the days of eternity. Amos 9:12. That they may taken possession of the remnant of Edom, and all the nations upon which my name shall be called, is the saying of Jehovah, who doeth such things." "In that day," i.e., when the judgment has fallen upon the sinful kingdom, and all the sinners of the people of Jehovah are destroyed. Sukkâh, a hut, indicates, by way of contrast to bayith, the house or palace which David built for himself upon Zion (2 Samuel 5:11), a degenerate condition of the royal house of David. This is placed beyond all doubt by the predicate nōpheleth, fallen down. As the stately palace supplies a figurative representation of the greatness and might of the kingdom, so does the fallen hut, which is full of rents and near to destruction, symbolize the utter ruin of the kingdom. If the family of David no longer dwells in a palace, but in a miserable fallen hut, its regal sway must have come to an end. The figure of the stem of Jesse that is hewn down, in Isaiah 11:1, is related to this; except that the former denotes the decline of the Davidic dynasty, whereas the fallen hut represents the fall of the kingdom. There is no need to prove, however, that this does not apply to the decay of the Davidic house by the side of the great power of Jeroboam (Hitzig, Hofmann), least of all under Uzziah, in whose reign the kingdom of Judah reached the summit of its earthly power and glory. The kingdom of David first became a hut when the kingdom of Judah was overcome by the Chaldeans, - an event which is included in the prediction contained in Amos 9:1., and hinted at even in Amos 2:5. But this hut the Lord will raise up again from its fallen condition. This raising up is still further defined in the three following clauses: "I wall up their rents" (pirtsēhen). The plural suffix can only be explained from the fact that sukkâh actually refers to the kingdom of God, which was divided into two kingdoms ("these kingdoms," Amos 6:2), and that the house of Israel, which was not to be utterly destroyed (Amos 9:8), consisted of the remnant of the people of the two kingdoms, or the ἐκλογή of the twelve tribes; so that in the expression גדרתי פרציהן there is an allusion to the fact that the now divided nation would one day be united again under the one king David, as Hosea (Hosea 2:2; Hosea 3:5) and Ezekiel (ch. Ezekiel 37:22) distinctly prophesy. The correctness of this explanation of the plural suffix is confirmed by הרסתיו in the second clause, the suffix of which refers to David, under whom the destroyed kingdom would rise into new power. And whilst these two clauses depict the restoration of the kingdom from its fallen condition, in the third clause its further preservation is foretold.

בּנה does not mean to "build" here, but to finish building, to carry on, enlarge, and beautify the building. The words כּימי עולם (an abbreviated comparison for "as it was in the days of the olden time") point back to the promise in 2 Samuel 7:11-12, 2 Samuel 7:16, that God would build a house for David, would raise up his seed after him, and firmly establish his throne for ever, that his house and his kingdom should endure for ever before Him, upon which the whole of the promise before us is founded. The days of the rule of David and of his son Solomon are called "days of eternity," i.e., of the remotest past (compare Micah 7:14), to show that a long period would intervene between that time and the predicted restoration. The rule of David had already received a considerable blow through the falling away of the ten tribes. And it would fall still deeper in the future; but, according tot he promise in 2 Samuel 7, it would not utterly perish, but would be raised up again from its fallen condition. It is not expressly stated that this will take place through a shoot from its own stem; but that is implied in the fact itself. The kingdom of David could only be raised up again through an offshoot from David's family. And that this can be no other than the Messiah, was unanimously acknowledged by the earlier Jews, who even formed a name for the Messiah out of this passage, viz., בר נפלין, filius cadentium, He who had sprung from a fallen hut (see the proofs in Hengstenberg's Christology, vol. i. p. 386 transl.). The kingdom of David is set up in order that they (the sons of Israel, who have been proved to be corn by the sifting, Amos 9:9) may take possession of the remnant of Edom and all the nations, etc. The Edomites had been brought into subjection by David, who had taken possession of their land. At a late period, when the hut of David was beginning to fall, they had recovered their freedom again. This does not suffice, however, to explain the allusion to Edom here; for David had also brought the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, and the Aramaeans into subjection to his sceptre, - all of them nations who had afterwards recovered their freedom, and to whom Amos foretels the coming judgment in Amos 1:1-15. The reason why Edom alone is mentioned by name must be sought for, therefore, in the peculiar attitude which Edom assumed towards the people of God, namely, in the fact "that whilst they were related to the Judaeans, they were of all nations the most hostile to them" (Rosenmller). On this very ground Obadiah predicted that judgment would come upon the Edomites, and that the remnant of Esau would be captured by the house of Jacob. Amos speaks here of the "remnant of Edom," not because Amaziah recovered only a portion of Edom to the kingdom (2 Kings 14:7), as Hitzig supposes, but with an allusion to the threat in Amos 1:12, that Edom would be destroyed with the exception of a remnant. The "remnant of Edom" consists of those who are saved in the judgments that fall upon Edom. This also applies to כּל־הגּוים. Even of these nations, only those are taken by Israel, i.e., incorporated into the restored kingdom of David, the Messianic kingdom, upon whom the name of Jehovah is called; that is to say, not those who were first brought under the dominion of the nation in the time of David (Hitzig, Baur, and Hofmann), but those to whom He shall have revealed His divine nature, and manifested Himself as a God and Saviour (compare Isaiah 63:19; Jeremiah 14:9, and the remarks on Deuteronomy 28:10), so that this expression is practically the same as אשׁר יהוה קרא (whom Jehovah shall call) in Joel 3:5. The perfect נקרא acquires the sense of the futurum exactum from the leading sentence, as in Deuteronomy 28:10 (see Ewald, 346, c). יירשׁוּ, to take possession of, is chosen with reference to the prophecy of Balaam (Numbers 24:18), that Edom should be the possession of Israel (see the comm. on this passage). Consequently the taking possession referred to here will be of a very different character from the subjugation of Edom and other nations to David. It will make the nations into citizens of the kingdom of God, to whom the Lord manifests Himself as their God, pouring upon them all the blessings of His covenant of grace (see Isaiah 56:6-8). To strengthen this promise, נאם יי וגו ("saith Jehovah, that doeth this") is appended. He who says this is the Lord, who will also accomplish it (see Jeremiah 33:2).

The explanation given above is also in harmony with the use made by James of our prophecy in Acts 15:16-17, where he derives from Amos 9:11 and Amos 9:12 a prophetic testimony to the fact that Gentiles who became believers were to be received into the kingdom of God without circumcision. It is true that at first sight James appears to quote the words of the prophet simply as a prophetic declaration in support of the fact related by Peter, namely, that by giving His Holy Spirit to believers from among the Gentiles as well as to believers from among the Jews, without making any distinction between Jews and Gentiles, God had taken out of the Gentiles a people ἐπὶ τῶ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ, "upon His name" (compare Acts 15:14 with Acts 15:8-9). But as both James and Peter recognise in this fact a practical declaration on the part of God that circumcision was not a necessary prerequisite to the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of Christ, while James follows up the allusion to this fact with the prophecy of Amos, introducing it with the words, "and to this agree the words of the prophets," there can be no doubt that James also quotes the words of the prophet with the intention of adducing evidence out of the Old Testament in support of the reception of the Gentiles into the kingdom of God without circumcision. But this proof is not furnished by the statement of the prophet, "through its silence as to the condition required by those who were pharisaically disposed" (Hengstenberg); and still less by the fact that it declares in the most striking way "what significance there was in the typical kingdom of David, as a prophecy of the relation in which the human race, outside the limits of Israel, would stand to the kingdom of Christ" (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, pp. 84, 85). For the passage would contain nothing extraordinary concerning the typical significance possessed by the kingdom of David in relation to the kingdom of Christ, if, as Hofmann says (p. 84), the prophet, instead of enumerating all the nations which once belonged to the kingdom of David, simply mentions Edom by name, and describes all the others as the nations which have been subject like Edom to the name of Jehovah. The demonstrative force of the prophet's statement is to be found, no doubt, as Hofmann admits, in the words כּל־הגּוים אשׁר נקרא שׁמי עליהם. But if these words affirmed nothing more than what Hofmann finds in them - namely, that all the nations subdued by David were subjected to the name of Jehovah; or, as he says at p. 83, "made up, in connection with Israel, the kingdom of Jehovah and His anointed, without being circumcised, or being obliged to obey the law of Israel" - their demonstrative force would simply lie in what they do not affirm, - namely, in the fact that they say nothing whatever about circumcision being a condition of the reception of the Gentiles. The circumstance that the heathen nations which David brought into subjection to his kingdom were made tributary to himself and subject to the name of Jehovah, might indeed by typical of the fact that the kingdom of the second David would also spread over the Gentiles; but, according to this explanation, it would affirm nothing at all as to the internal relation of the Gentiles to Israel in the new kingdom of God. The Apostle James, however, quotes the words of Amos as decisive on the point in dispute, which the apostles were considering, because in the words, "all the nations upon whom my name is called," he finds a prediction of what Peter has just related, - namely, that the Lord has taken out of the heathen a people "upon His name," that is to say, because he understands by the calling of the name of the Lord upon the Gentiles the communication of the Holy Ghost to the Gentiles.

(Note: Moreover, James (or Luke) quotes the words of Amos according to the lxx, even in their deviations from the Hebrew text, in the words ὅπως ἂν ἐκζητήσωσιν οἱ κατάλοιποι τῶν ἀνθρώπων με (for which Luke has τὸν κύριον, according to Cod. Al.), which rest upon an interchange of למען יירשׁוּ את־שׁארית אדום with למען ידרשׁוּ שׁארית אדם; because the thought upon which it turned was not thereby altered, inasmuch as the possession of the Gentiles, of which the prophet is speaking, is the spiritual sway of the people of the Lord, which can only extend over those who seek the Lord and His kingdom. The other deviations from the original text and from the lxx (compare Acts 15:16 with Amos 9:11) may be explained on the ground that the apostle is quoting from memory, and that he alters ἐν τῆ ἡμερᾶ ἐκείνη ἀναστήσω into μετὰ ταῦτα ἀναστρέψω καὶ ἀνοικοδομήσω, to give greater clearness to the allusion contained in the prnophecy to the Messianic times.)

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