The Prophets who Pervert
Verses 6-11 of Micah chapter 2 are set as a refutation by Micah to the objections of his audience to the prophet’s proclamation of doom over them for their wickedness. The objectors were likely the wealthy and powerful who had coveted and seized fields and houses from the poor and less fortunate in Judah. They could not believe that God’s judgment was to fall upon them. They preferred to hear prevaricate predictions from perverted prophets who prophesized for profit. Micah countered with his own prophetic purpose. His prophecies benefited those who walk in righteousness. God’s verdict on those who rise up like the enemy and walk in wickedness was their eviction notice. They would soon rise up and walk into exile.
2:6 “Do not preach,” they preach.
“They should not prophesy about such things;
disgrace will not overtake us.”
Micah does not identify the “they” of this verse. It is possible that they are false prophets who speak on behalf of those who pay them to say soothing words without any warning of God’s judgment coming upon them. However the “they” in 2:6, in the context of 2:1-6 and following most likely refers to those who plot and then plunder the poor. They are the people who tell Micah and other true prophets not to prophesy (preach) “about such things,” which is the coming judgment of God upon them. The wicked could not believe that they were going to face the disgrace of being evicted from their land. They could not believe that the very disgrace of losing their own ancestral lands and the fields and houses that they had seized from the poor and less fortunate was going to happen to them. The ESV begins vs. 6 with “Do not preach – thus they preach – one should not preach.” The threefold occurrence of “preach” are all derivatives of the Hebrew word nâṭap̱, which has the meaning of “to ooze or fall in drops” like rain from the sky or words from a speaker’s mouth. A similar situation occurred in the ministry of the prophet Amos who faced opposition to his prophecies from Amaziah, the priest of Bethel. Amos repeated the words that Amaziah spoke against him, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.” Amos 7:16. The word “preach” in this verse is the same Hebrew word used by Amos for “preach” in Micah 2:6. The judgment of God upon the northern kingdom of Israel in the days of Amos was much the same as His judgment upon the southern kingdom of Judah in the days of Micah. Responding to the words of Amaziah, Amos reveals that God’s judgment upon them is that “your land will be split up by a measuring line. You yourself will die in an unclean land, and Israel will surely be led away into exile out of its land.” Amos 7:17b. See also Isaiah 30:10-11, stating that the demand of the wicked to Isaiah was to not prophesy of God’s righteous words, and also Isaiah 30:12-17, stating God’s resulting judgment . Micah would again use nâṭap̱ in 2:11 which is translated by the English words “prophesy” and “prophet.”
2:7a Should it be said, O house of Jacob,
“Is the Spirit of the LORD exhausted?
Are these his doings?”
The plotting predators, verses 1-2, who have become perverted prophets “preach” that the LORD would not exhaust His patience over their behavior. They refused to believe the words of Micah who predicted that the LORD was bringing disaster and exile upon them. These prophesies of Micah, they proclaim, could not be the actions of their covenant God. The perverted prophets ask three rhetorical questions, (1) Should Micah’s prophecy be spoken about us? (2) Is God short of wrath? (3)Are the predicted disaster and exile actually acts of God? They expected that each question would have a negative answer….no, of course not!
The identification phrase “house of Jacob” in 2:7 and 3:9 refers to the covenant people of God. See notes on “Jacob” in 1:5. In the N.T. the only occurrence of “house of Jacob” (many English versions) is in Luke 1:33, “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” This is an outstanding Messianic promise of the one named Jesus, the son of Mary, Luke 1:30-31, who will have a kingdom that last forever and who will reign over the “house of Jacob” forever. It could be implied that not only will the “house of Jacob” referring to all of God’s covenant people, be in existence during the duration of the millennial reign of Christ, but also they will be in existence forever.
The phrase “Spirit of the LORD” in Micah 2:7 also occurs in 3:8. It occurs 24 times in the O.T. and 4 in the N.T. In the O.T. it refers to God’s holy divine nature which empowers believers to accomplish the will of God. God’s Spirit came mightily upon Saul, 1 Samuel 10:6; 11:6; David, 1 Samuel 16:13; upon certain prophets, Ezekiel 11:5 and Micah 3:8; but most significantly upon the Servant of the LORD, the Messiah, Isaiah 11:2; and 61:1. In the context of Micah 2:7 the wicked use this phrase in their defense suggesting that the Spirit of God would certainly not bring judgment upon them for they claimed, God would never give up on them, no matter how grievous or wicked their behavior. Isaiah prophesized of the anger and judgment of the LORD over the arrogance and self-reliance of His covenant people, Isaiah 9:8-21.
The word “exhausted” Hebrew qâṣar, has the meaning of being short or inadequate. It is often translated as “reaping” or “gathering,” but also as “impatient” as in Micah 2:7. One of the various ways it is translated occurs in Proverbs 10:27, (cut short) “The fear of the LORD prolongs days, but the years of the wicked are cut short.” Examples of the translation of this word as “impatient,” includes the response of Job to those who mocked him, “As for me, is my complaint with humans? Why should I not be impatient?” Zechariah recorded God’s impatience with those who were false shepherds, “I eliminated the three shepherds in one month; for I was impatient with them, and they also detested me.” Zechariah 11:8. However, there is hope in the future. Micah in the last portion of his written prophetic message states, “Who is a God like you, that pardons iniquity, and passes over the transgress of the remnant of his possession? He does not remain angry forever, because he delights in loyal love.” Micah 7:18. The LORD hundreds of years earlier had reminded Moses that He would both forgive iniquity and yet would not pardon the guilty, “the LORD passed by in front of him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD, a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loyal love and truth,7 keeping loyal love for thousands of generations, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin. Yet he will by no means pardon the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the children’s children to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7.
2:7b “Do not my words benefit him who walks uprightly?
2:8 But recently my people rise up like an enemy;
strip the robe off those who peacefully pass by,
like those returning from war.
Some English versions like the DASV have inserted a space just before the last line of 2:7 indicating that it is a separate phrase. The content of this phrase indicates that these words came from another speaker. Micah could be speaking for himself but most likely he is quoting the words of God who refutes the claims of false security by the wicked. God’s words are a “benefit” to those who walk uprightly, Hebrew yâšâr, meaning “straight” or “in righteousness.” The words of God include those He has given to the prophet Micah but may also include all His recorded words He has previously spoken to His covenant people.6 The word “benefit,” Hebrew yâṭaḇ, is translated as “do good” in many English versions. In sharp contrast, in Micah 7:3 yâṭaḇ is translated as “skilled” in the DASV signifying that the hands of the wicked “do good” in doing evil.
In contrast to those who walk uprightly, God in 2:8, describes His people as those who “rise up” like an enemy. Those who “rise up” 2:8, Hebrew qûm, are commanded to “get up”, qûm in 2:10 and leave their country because of their rebellion against God. These also could be the same predators who rise up from their beds to carry out the wicked plot they have conceived in the night, 2:1. The wicked, 2:8, strip the robe, literally, “rich garment,” from those who walk by them in peace. The peaceful walkers have the confidence that they can walk within their country without harm, just as those who have returned victoriously from war. But the peaceful walkers have an enemy within their midst, the wicked who unabashedly and greedily strip from them their outer garment and any attached costly ornaments that adorn the garment.
2:9 You evict the women of my people from their pleasant houses;
from their young children you take away my glory forever.
God continues His three-fold indictment against His people in 2:9. Not only have they (1) removed the robes of the peaceful, 2:8; but they also (2) removed women from their homes and (3) removed children from their inheritance. The women who have been evicted from their pleasant houses, are likely the widows who have no husband to protect them. They may have had loans which were on demand for payment. The predatory lenders demanded payment thus forcing these women who could not pay the amount owing to give up their homes and lands. The young children may have been living with their widowed mothers and thus they also have been stripped forever of their family inheritance, which is stated in the DASV as God’s glory. It is the glory or splendor of God to provide a family inheritance to His chosen people, Jeremiah 3:19. Also, see notes on 2:2 above. The leadership of the nation had a responsibility to care and protect the children, and those who were oppressed, poor and needy, Psalm 72:1-14; Jeremiah 22:15-16. The LORD also is the protector of His people, Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 69:5-56; 146:7-9 and 147:1-6.
2:10 Get up, and leave;
for this is not your resting place,
because of uncleanness that destroys,
with a terrible destruction.
Just as the predators of the poor and less fortunate got up from their “resting place” to evict widows and orphans and got up as an enemy to strip the rich robe from the peaceful and unsuspecting, 2:1-2, 8-9, the LORD commands them in judgment to get up and leave their country for it will no longer be their “resting place,” Deuteronomy 12:9; Psalm 95:11; Their “uncleanness,” their wickedness which made them enemies of God, (cf. Psalm 106:38-39). brought upon them God’s judgment that will destroy them and their land with a terrible (grievous, painful) destruction, Lev. 26:38; Jer. 9:19; 10:18.
The word “destroys” in 2:10 is the Hebrew ḥâḇal means to write in pain and the word “destruction” 2:10 is the Hebrew word ḥeḇel which is related to ḥâḇal. Destruction, ḥeḇel has several meanings in the O.T. including, twisted cords or ropes, a measured area, or destruction. It is translated as “boundaries” in Micah 2:5.
2:11 If a person were walking around uttering blustery lies, saying,
‘I will prophesy to you of wine and of strong drink,’
he will be the perfect prophet for this people.
In 2:11, Micah records the concluding words of God’s indictment against His covenant people in the first oracle or message of Micah’s prophecy, 1:2-2:13. The remaining two verses, 12-13, are a stunning prophecy of God’s rescuing of His people. In 2:11, there are links to previous verses which tie this section together. The Hebrew word nâṭap̱ translated as “preach, preach and prophesy” in vs. 6 also occurs in vs. 11 translated as “prophesy” and “prophet.” Thus, those who were false prophets demanding Micah and other true prophets not to preach/prophesy about God’s certain judgment upon them, are the same people in vs. 11 who utter lies and prophesy only of good times consisting of wine and strong drink. Another connection is the Hebrew word rûaḥ, translated as “Spirit” in 2:7 and “blustery” in 2:11. This word literally means “wind” and is often a reference to the Spirit of God in the O.T. In 2:11 it has the meaning of a blowing wind carrying the lies of those who act as false prophets.
Micah uses a literary wordplay on two words in 2:11. The word “lies” is the Hebrew word šeqer, which sounds like the Hebrew word for “strong drink” (beer), šêḵâr.7 The irony of this is that those who prophesy falsely, “uttering blustery lies” compound their sinfulness by preaching that good times are in store for the people of Judah. God concludes that such lying preachers will be a perfect fit for a society of liars. A popular paraphrase version states, “Suppose a prophet full of lies were to say to you, I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and drink! That’s just the kind of prophet you would like!” Micah 2:11. NLT.
It was a similar situation for Isaiah’s audience who would not listen to the truth. They said, “Stop prophesying to us about what is right, tell us pleasantries, prophesy illusions.” Isaiah 30:10. See also Jeremiah 6:14; 23:17, 25-27; Ezekiel 13:17-19; and in the N.T. Romans 16:18; and 2 Timothy 4:3-4. God had given His people the mark of a true prophet, Deuteronomy 13:1-5. See also Deuteronomy 18:14-22. Those who are false prophets are evil and are to be removed from the midst of God’s covenant people, Deuteronomy 13:5. Because the people of God would not remove false prophets, and for other grievous sins against Him, God would come out of His heavenly temple, 1:2 and come into the midst of His people and remove all who sin from the land. The whole society was corrupt and the whole society would face eviction from their family inheritance.
Application of Micah 2:1-11 for today.
The combination of predators who prey upon the poor and less fortunate and those who prophesy of wealth and prosperity are just as prevalent today as they were in Micah’s day. On one side of today’s society, even withing Christian assemblies, there are those who for greed, force others to live in poverty, without a home of their own. Evil business practices including usury for loans and demanding immediate full payment for longer terms loans are not limited to secular society. Those who would identify with the Christian faith are not immune to taking advantage or plundering those who have limited resources. On the other side, there are those who take advantage of the more gullible within Christian assemblies and promise God’s financial and health blessings for those who give monetary gifts to these preachers. Many have impoverished themselves contributing to the accumulated wealth of these charlatans.
Isaiah recorded God’s will concerning these issues, “Learn to do good. Seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:17. Isaiah also recorded that the rulers of society did not rescue or defend the orphans or plead for widows, “Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves. Everyone loves bribes, and chases after payoffs. They refuse to defend the orphan, and the widow’s cause does not come before them.” Isaiah 1:23. Jeremiah had a similar message, “Execute justice and righteousness. Deliver those who are robbed from their oppressors. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, fatherless, or the widow.” Jeremiah 22:3a. God had in the days of Moses, promised a blessing on those who took care of the less fortunate in society. See Deuteronomy 14:29. See also Job 31:16-17, 21 and Psalm 146:9. In the New Testament, James clearly defines righteous religious practice, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:17. The word for “visit,” is the Greek episkeptomai which has the meaning not only to visit by looking into matters but to look out for and relieve distress.
The application for believers today is obvious. There is no place in God’s family for social injustice. Believers who think they are immune to God’s chastisement because they are “secure” in their salvation should seriously consider the consequences of any injustice to the poor, less fortunate, and to widows and orphans. God will defend these unfortunate souls and punish those who afflict them. Physical death is one way that God deals with sinful behavior of His children. Other methods of chastisement could include illness, separation from family, loss of income, destitution, etc. But this is not God’s intention for His children. He will abundantly bless those who are faithful to Him and care for those who are less fortunate. God’s blessings are not counted in dollars. Believers store up treasures in heaven when they are obedient to God’s will for them on earth.
Notes for Micah 2:6-11
- Stephen G. Dempster, Micah, The Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2017, Kindle Edition, notes on 2:7.
- Thomas E. McComiskey, Micah, page 414.