Micah 7:4
The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of your watchmen and your visitation comes; now shall be their perplexity.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) The day of thy watchmeni.e., the time which thy prophets have foreseen, about which they have continually warned thee. “Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken” (Jeremiah 6:17).

7:1-7 The prophet bemoans himself that he lived among a people ripening apace for ruin, in which many good persons would suffer. Men had no comfort, no satisfaction in their own families or in their nearest relations. Contempt and violation of domestic duties are a sad symptom of universal corruption. Those are never likely to come to good who are undutiful to their parents. The prophet saw no safety or comfort but in looking to the Lord, and waiting on God his salvation. When under trials, we should look continually to our Divine Redeemer, that we may have strength and grace to trust in him, and to be examples to those around us.The best of them is as a brier - The gentlest of them is a thorn , strong, hard, piercing, which letteth nothing unresisting pass by but it taketh from it, "robbing the fleece, and wounding the sheep." "The most upright", those who, in comparison of others still worse, seem so, "is sharper than a thorn hedge", (literally, the upright, them a thorn hedge.) They are not like it only, but worse, and that in all ways; none is specified, and so none excepted; they were more crooked, more tangled, sharper. Both, as hedges, were set for protection; both, turned to injury. Jerome: "So that, where you would look for help, thence comes suffering." And if such be the best, what the rest?

The day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh - When all, even the good, are thus corrupted, the iniquity is full. Nothing now hinders the "visitation", which "the watchmen", or prophets, had so long foreseen and forewarned of. "Now shall be their perplexity" ; "now", without delay; for the day of destruction ever breakcth suddenly upon the sinner. "When they say, peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them" 1 Thessalonians 5:3. : "whose destruction cometh suddenly at an instant". They had perplexed the cause of the oppressed; they themselves were tangled together, intertwined in mischief, as a thorn-hedge. They should be caught in their own snare; they had perplexed their paths and should find no outlet.

4. as a brier—or thorn; pricking with injury all who come in contact with them (2Sa 23:6, 7; Isa 55:13; Eze 2:6).

the day of thy watchmen—the day foretold by thy (true) prophets, as the time of "thy visitation" in wrath [Grotius]. Or, "the day of thy false prophets being punished"; they are specially threatened as being not only blind themselves, but leading others blindfold [Calvin].

now—at the time foretold, "at that time"; the prophet transporting himself into it.

perplexity—(Isa 22:5). They shall not know whither to turn.

The best; among all naught, who is least naught passeth for best; and so must it be here, not one good, but the least evil man is by the prophet called the best.

Of them; of people, prophets, judges, great men, and princes.

Is as a brier; mischievous and hurtful to all that meddle with them; and perhaps the prophet alludes to briers infolded in each other, that shall so be devoured at last. The most upright; in the same sense upright as they are said to be best.

Is sharper than a thorn hedge; the same in different words, i.e. hurtful and mischievous to all.

The day of thy watchmen; literally taken for such as on the watchtowers observe whether enemies approach; the day in which they shall give the affrighting intelligence, and sound the alarm. Or else figuratively, watchmen, i.e. governors, prophets, and teachers, either good and faithful, or evil and unfaithful. The day which the true prophets foretold would come, which faithful teachers confirmed, good governors believed, feared, and, as Hezekiah, endeavoured to prevent, will certainly overtake you, that day of evil which your sins have provoked God to appoint. Or else, that day of good, which your false prophets have promised, your corrupt princes, judges, great men do expect and hope for, shall be a day of visitation, grievous punishment, by which the falsehood of flattering prophets shall be discovered, and the truth of Micah, and Isaiah, &c., true prophets, be confirmed.

Cometh, i.e. surely, speedily, and unavoidably on impenitent ones, how many or how great soever.

Now; when the day is come as to Samaria in its captivity by the Assyrian tyrant, and to Jerusalem in the Babylonish captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, and in many other nows intervening between the time of Micah’s minatory predictions and the full accomplishment of them.

Shall be their perplexity; the astonishing, overwhelming sorrows, fears, and confusions which shall wreck these great, notorious, and impudent oppressors, hunters, and sellers of justice. They shall be perplexed because the sore evils foretold by the true prophets of God shall overwhelm them, and because the peace and prosperity promised by the false prophets is unexpectedly turned into troubles, desolation, and utter ruin to their state, cities, and families.

The best; among all naught, who is least naught passeth for best; and so must it be here, not one good, but the least evil man is by the prophet called the best.

Of them; of people, prophets, judges, great men, and princes.

Is as a brier; mischievous and hurtful to all that meddle with them; and perhaps the prophet alludes to briers infolded in each other, that shall so be devoured at last. The most upright; in the same sense upright as they are said to be best.

Is sharper than a thorn hedge; the same in different words, i.e. hurtful and mischievous to all.

The day of thy watchmen; literally taken for such as on the watchtowers observe whether enemies approach; the day in which they shall give the affrighting intelligence, and sound the alarm. Or else figuratively, watchmen, i.e. governors, prophets, and teachers, either good and faithful, or evil and unfaithful. The day which the true prophets foretold would come, which faithful teachers confirmed, good governors believed, feared, and, as Hezekiah, endeavoured to prevent, will certainly overtake you, that day of evil which your sins have provoked God to appoint. Or else, that day of good, which your false prophets have promised, your corrupt princes, judges, great men do expect and hope for, shall be a day of visitation, grievous punishment, by which the falsehood of flattering prophets shall be discovered, and the truth of Micah, and Isaiah, &c., true prophets, be confirmed.

Cometh, i.e. surely, speedily, and unavoidably on impenitent ones, how many or how great soever.

Now; when the day is come as to Samaria in its captivity by the Assyrian tyrant, and to Jerusalem in the Babylonish captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, and in many other nows intervening between the time of Micah’s minatory predictions and the full accomplishment of them.

Shall be their perplexity; the astonishing, overwhelming sorrows, fears, and confusions which shall wreck these great, notorious, and impudent oppressors, hunters, and sellers of justice. They shall be perplexed because the sore evils foretold by the true prophets of God shall overwhelm them, and because the peace and prosperity promised by the false prophets is unexpectedly turned into troubles, desolation, and utter ruin to their state, cities, and families. The best of them is as a brier,.... Good for nothing but for burning, very hurtful and mischievous, pricking and scratching those that have to do with them:

the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge; which, if a man lays hold on to get over, or attempts to pass through, his hands will be pricked, his face scratched, and his clothes tore off his back; so the best of these princes, judges, and great inch, who put on a show of goodness, and pretended to do justice, yet fetched blood, and got money out of everyone they were concerned with, and did them injury in one respect or another; or the best and most upright of the people of the land in general, that made the greatest pretensions to religion and virtue, yet in their dealings were sharp, and biting, and tricking; and took every fraudulent method to cheat, and overreach, and hurt men in their property:

the day of thy watchmen; either which the true prophets of the Lord, sometimes called watchmen, foretold should come, but were discredited and despised, will now most assuredly come; and it will be found to be true what they said should come to pass: or the day of the false prophets, as Kimchi and Ben Melech; either which they predicted as a good day, and now it should be seen whether it would be so or not; or the day of their punishment, for their false prophecies and deception of the people:

and thy visitation cometh; the time that God would punish the people in general for their iniquities, as! well as their false prophets, princes, judges, and great men; who also may be designed by watchmen:

now shall be their perplexity: the prince, the judge, and the great man, in just retaliation for their perplexing the cause of the poor; or of all the people, who would be surrounded and entangled with calamities and distresses, and not know which way to turn themselves, or how to get out of them.

The best of them is as {e} a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: the day of {f} thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.

(e) They that are of most estimation and are counted most honest among them, are but thorns and briers to prick.

(f) Meaning the prophets and governors.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. The best of them is as a brier] Comp. 2 Samuel 23:6 ‘and good-for-nothing men are all of them as thorns thrust away.’ ‘Thorns’ are in the Bible symbols of sin and its effects, and of the temptations which beset man’s path. But the Hebrew text has not the appearance of being sound.

the day of thy watchmen] i.e. the day foreseen by thy prophets. A prophet is stationed to look out for the approach of the ‘day of Jehovah;’ comp. Isaiah 21:6 (where the same form is used in the Hebrew as here), Jeremiah 6:17 (a different form).

thy visitation] i.e. thy punishment.

now shall be their perplexity] ‘Now,’ i.e. when this day has come. Wild confusion shall prevail, even among the faithful servants of Jehovah, when the long-predicted ‘day of Jehovah’ shall dawn. For the first result to the faithful Israel will be, not happiness, but misery—the chastisement due to past sins. The change of persons from the second to the third is harsh, but not unexampled.Verse 4. - The best of them is as a briar; hard and piercing, catching and holding all that passes by. The plant intended by the word chedek is a thorny one used for hedges (Proverbs 15:19). Under another aspect thorns are a symbol of what is noxious and worthless (2 Samuel 23:6), or of sin and temptation. The most upright is sharper (worse) than a thorn hedge. Those who seem comparatively upright are more injurious, tangled, and inaccessible than a hedge of thorns. In punishment of all this corruption, the prophet points to the day of judgment. The day of thy watchmen. The day of retribution foretold by the prophets (Isaiah 21:6; Jeremiah 6:17; Ezekiel 3:17). And (even) thy visitation; in apposition with the day, the time, and explanatory of punishment. Cometh; is come - the perfect tense denoting the certainty of the future event. Septuagint, Οὐαὶ αἱ ἐκδικήσεις σου ἥκασι, "Woe! thy vengeance is come." Now shall be their perplexity. When this day of the Lord comes, there shall be confusion (Isaiah 22:5); it shall bring chastise ment before deliverance. The prophet here, as elsewhere, changes from the second to the third person, speaking of the people gene rally. Septuagint, Νῦν ἔσονται κλαυθμοὶ αὐτῶν "Now shall be their weeping;" so the Syriac. Pusey notes the paronomasia here. They were as bad as a thorn hedge (merucah); they shall fall into perplexity (mebucah). "Does it not come to pass in that day, is the saying of Jehovah, that I destroy the wise men out of Edom, and discernment from the mountains of Esau? Obadiah 1:9. And thy heroes despair, O Teman, that every one may be cut off by murder from the mountains of Esau." In order to give up the Edomites to destruction at that time, the Lord will take away discernment from their wise men, so that even they will not be able to help them. The destruction of the wise men is not to be understood as signifying that the wise men will all be slain, or slain before any others, but simply that they will be destroyed as wise men by the withdrawal or destruction of their wisdom. This meaning is sustained, not only by the fact that in the second clause tebhūnâh only is mentioned as that which is to be destroyed, but also by the parallel passages, Jeremiah 49:7; Isaiah 19:11; Isaiah 29:14. Jeremiah mentions here the wisdom of the Temanites in particular. That they were celebrated for their wisdom, is evident not only from this passage, but also from the fact that Eliphaz, the chief opponent of Job in argument, was a Temanite (Job 2:1, etc.). With this withdrawal of wisdom and discernment, even the brave warriors lose their courage. The heroes are dismayed (chattū), or fall into despair. Tēmân, which the Chaldee has rendered incorrectly as an appellative, viz., inhabitants of the south (dârōmâ'), is a proper name of the southern district of Idumaea (see at Amos 1:12), so called from Teman, a son of Eliphaz and grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:11, Genesis 36:15). Gibbōrekhâ (thy heroes), with the masculine suffix, the people inhabiting the district being addressed under the name of the district itself. God inflicts this upon Edom with the intention (lema‛an, to this end) that all the Edomites should be cut off. Miqqâtel, from the murdering, by murder (compare Genesis 9:11, where min occurs after yikkârēth in this sense); not "without conflict," as Ewald renders it, for qetel signifies slaying, and not conflict. The thought of connecting miqqâtel with what follows cannot for a moment be entertained (vid., lxx, Syr., Vulg.). It is opposed not only by the authority of the Masoretic punctuation, but still more decisively by the fact, that the stronger and more special word (qetel) cannot precede the weaker and more general one (châmâs), and that the murder of certain fugitives is placed first in the list of crimes committed by Edom upon the Israelites (Obadiah 1:10-14).
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