Selected Topics (Subjects)
Instead of a table or index of subjects that is usually placed at the end of most commentaries and studies, this section of selected topics (subjects) is intended as suggestions for further study. Bible students who desire more in-depth information on any word or topic in the Book of Micah should consult Bible Dictionaries, Encyclopedias and other reference works. Many of these recommended resources are listed in the Bibliography section that follows these selected topics.
These selected studies are listed in alphabetical order and not in the verse order of the Book of Micah. The English words are from the DASV. These words may be different in other English Versions.
Accursed, zâ‘am (Micah 6:10)
Occurring in Micah 6:10 the Hebrew word zâ‘am describes God’s judgment on the practice of the wicked who use scales in the marketplace that are rigged to give a false balance thus deceiving their customers. This word has the basic meaning of anger and indignation often by God who brings judgment (accursed) because of the wickedness of His covenant people. The verb zâ‘am occurs in Numbers 23:7, 8 (twice); Psalm 7:11; Proverbs 22:14; 24:24; 25:23; Isaiah 66:14; Daniel 11:30; Micah 6:10; Zechariah 1:12 and Malachi 1:4. As a noun zâ‘am is often translated as indignation, fury or wrath. It occurs in Psalm 38:3; 69:24; 78:49; 102:10; Isaiah 10:5, 25; 13:5; 26:20; 30:27; Jeremiah 10:10; 15:17; 50:25; Lamentations 2:6; Ezekiel 21:31; 22:24, 31; Daniel 8:19; 11:36; Hosea 7:16; Nahum 1:6; Habakkuk 3:12 and Zephaniah 3:8.
Asherah, ’ăšêrâ (Micah 5:14)
Asherah was a Canaanite “goddess of happiness and fortune and was the imagined consort of the god Baal. Her images were set up in many places often in a grove of trees. God commanded that these images of Asherah be torn down and that Israel only worship the LORD who described Himself as a jealous God, Exodus 34:13-14. However, to Israel’s grief bringing upon them God’s judgment, they disobeyed God by continually worshipping the carved image of Asherah. The word ’ăšêrâ occurs 40 times in the O.T. including four occurrences in the writing prophets in Isaiah 17:8, 27:9; Jeremiah 17:2 and Micah 5:14.
Assyria, ’aššûr (Micah 5:5, 6(2x); 7:12)
“Assyria” literally ’aššûr. The land of Assyria and the Assyrian people was rooted in the city of Assur which was named after the pagan “god” Ashur. The Assyrians were the chief antagonists against Judah during the days of Isaiah and Micah and were an instrument of judgment in God’s hands to destroy the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C. and to ravage most of Judah in 701 B.C. The capital city of Assyria was Nineveh to which the 8th century prophet Jonah was sent in B.C. and of which the Nahum prophesized against prior to the destruction of the city by the Babylonians in 612 B.C. God did not allow the Assyrians to conquer Jerusalem. The Assyrian army surrounding Jerusalem was destroyed by God’s appointed angel, Isaiah 37:36.
Babylon, ḇâḇel (Micah 4:10)
In the context of Micah’s writings, Babylon referred both to the capital city of the Chaldeans and to the Chaldeans themselves. The city was located on the eastern side of the Euphrates River about twenty miles south of modern Bagdad. The Hebrew word ḇâḇel occurs about 290 times in the O.T. with its first occurrence being in Genesis 10:10. The mention of the Babylon in Micah is an amazing prophecy as the dominant world power in the Ancient Near East in Micah’s day was Assyria. Micah was declaring a prophecy of future exile that only God could know and reveal to the prophet. For a discussion on Babylon, see notes for the introduction to Micah 2:12-13, and notes for 4:10, 4:11-13 and 5:1.
Bondage, ‘eḇeḏ (Micah 6:4)
This Hebrew word is usually translated as slave, slavery or servant amongst its 799 occurrences in the O.T. The most significant “servant” in the O.T. was the Messiah who is mentioned in the great prophetic passages in Isaiah often called the “Songs of the Servant,” Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11 and 52:13-53:12. The word ‘eḇeḏ in Micah 6:4 has the meaning of slaves held in bondage in Egypt. The LORD often reminded His people of their prior miserable position of bondage under Pharoah and that He redeemed them from this bondage. See for example Deuteronomy 5:6, 15; 15:15.
Burnt offerings, ‘ôlâ (Micah 6:6)
The Hebrew word ‘ôlâ, occurring 289 times in the O.T., has the meaning of ascent or going up and also descriptive of stairs ascending. It most often occurs in the context offerings that are completely burnt in which the smoke from the offering goes up to God. The first occurrence of ‘ôlâ is in Genesis 8:20-21 in which Noah took from every clean bird and animal and offered burnt offerings to God. God smelled the sweet (soothing) aroma from these burnt offerings and vowed never again to destroy every living thing as He had done in the flood. Covenant regulations for burnt offerings begin in Exodus 20:24 and continue in the Torah to Deuteronomy 27:6. Mention of burnt offerings occur in Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Job, and the Psalms. In the writing prophets, ‘ôlâ occurs in Isaiah 1:11; 40:16; 43:23; 56:7; 61:8; Jeremiah 6:20; 7:21, 22; 14:12; 17:26; 19:5; 33:18; Ezekiel 40:26, 38, 39, 42 (twice); 43:18, 24, 27; 44:11; 45:15, 17 (twice), 23, 25; 46:2, 4, 12 (twice), 13, 15; Hosea 6:6; Amos 5:22 and Micah 6:6. In Ezekiel ‘ôlâ occurs in reference to the future millennial temple.
Children of Israel, ḇên, often translated as son, and iyśrâ’êl, Israel (the descendants of the sons of Jacob.) In Micah 5:3 the phrase “children of Israel” is a reference to the Messiah. See notes for this verse. This phrase is translated as “children of Israel” in the DASV, ASV, KJV, LEB, and the NKJV, as “people of Israel” in the ESV and CSB, as “sons of Israel in the NASB and as “the Israelites” in the NIV. In the DASV the English phrase “children of Israel” occurs in Genesis 32:32; Exodus 1:7, 12; 2:23, 25; 3:9, 13, 15; 32:20; 33:5, 6; Numbers 3:40; 35:10; Joshua 22:13; 2 Kings 8:12; 2 Chronicles 28:8; 34:33; Psalm 103:7; Isaiah 17:3, 9; 31:6; Jeremiah 3:21; 23:7; 32:30; Ezekiel 48:11; Hosea 1:10, 11; 3:4 and Micah 5:3.
clans, ’elep̱ (Micah 5:2: clans; 6:7: thousands)
The Hebrew word ’elep̱ occurring over 500 times in the O.T. has the meaning of “a thousand” and is often translated as a numerical value as in Isaiah 37:36, “185,000.” It also is used to indicate a large number signifying unlimited resources such as in Psalm 50:10, “cattle upon a thousand hills;” or a vast time such as in Psalm 90:4, “a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past.” In Micah 5:2, ’elep̱ is translated as “clans” representing a town with at least a thousand residents that could be readily available for military action. Bethlehem was so tiny, it could not boast of a thousand residents. See a similar usage in Isaiah 60:22, in the DASV, “the little one will become a thousand.” The word “thousand” is translated as “clan” in some English versions. In Micah 6:7 this word is translated as “thousands,” “Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams.”
Covet: Hebrew ḥâmaḏ (Micah 2:2)
The word ḥâmaḏ, which occurs 21 times in the O.T., has the meaning of delight, desire, and covet in both a positive and negative sense. It is an inward desire to attain something which is deemed to be pleasant or desirable. Its first occurrence is in Genesis 2:9 regarding the trees that God planted in the Garden of Eden. These trees were pleasant to the eyes and fruit bearing. The negative sense is expressed, for example, in the tenth commandment, not to covet anything of your neighbors, Exodus 20:17.
The most significant occurrence of ḥâmaḏ occurs in Isaiah 53:2 prophesying the death of the Messiah, “For he grew up before him like a tender plant, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no impressive form or beauty to attract us to him; there was nothing about his appearance that we should desire him.” The word “desire” is the Hebrew word ḥâmaḏ. Arnold Fruchtenbaum argues that Isaiah 53:1-9 is the recording of Israel’s confession of its national sin of rejecting the Messiah during his first advent. 1
The word ḥâmaḏ occurs in Genesis 2:9; 3:6; Exodus 20:17 (2x); 34:24; Deuteronomy 5:21; 7;25; Joshua 7:21; Job 20:20; Psalm 19:10; 39:11; 68:16; Proverbs 1:22; 6:25; 12:12; 21:20; Song of Solomon 2:3; Isaiah 1:29; 44:9; 53:3 and Micah 2:2.
Evil: Hebrew rǎʿ (Micah 1:12; 2:1, 3(2x); 3:2, 7:3)
Occurring 663 times, rǎʿ is the most common word in the O.T. for wickedness and its consequences. The practice of evil brings God’s judgment both upon His covenant people and the Gentiles. It is translated by a variety of words in the English versions. In two-thirds of its occurrences it is translated “evil.” Another common translation is “wicked” and “wickedness.” Other translated words for rǎʿ include “mischief,” “bad,” “harm,” “trouble,” “affliction” and “adversity.” The following verses are a few selected samples of the occurrences of rǎʿ in the O.T.
Its first occurrence is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.
“And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil were in the middle of the garden.” Genesis 2:9.
When the children of Israel rejected God and demanded that a king be appointed to rule over them.
“But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses; yet you have said to him, No, appoint a king over us.” 1 Samuel 10:19
The LORD’s charge to Solomon upon the completion of the temple.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
David’s beloved Shepherd’s Psalm
“Even though, I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no harm, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Isaiah’s warning about the “day of the Lord”
“I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity. I will cause the arrogance of the proud to cease and bring down the haughtiness of the ruthless.” Isaiah 13:11.
The Lord’s reminder of who He is and what He does.
“I am the LORD, there is no other. I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create calamity. I am the LORD who does all these things.” Isaiah 45:6b-7.
The admonition of Amos, a Judean prophet sent to the kingdom of Israel.
“Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish justice in the city gate. It may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” Amos 5:15
(The bolded words in these verses indicate the Hebrew word rǎʿ)
Execute, ‘âśâ (Micah 1:8: not translated in DASV; 2:1: do; 5:5: execute; 6:3: done; 6:8: do; 7:9: executes)
The primitive root ‘âśâ occurs thousands of times in the O.T. often translated as to do, to make. It also describes God’s actions in creating, fashioning, performing miracles and wonders and in the context of Micah 5:15 to “execute vengeance.” This phrase also occurs in the DASV in Leviticus 26:25 and Psalm 149:7.
Faithfulness, ḥeseḏ (Micah 6:8 and 7:20: faithfulness; 7:18: loyal love)
The Hebrew word ḥeseḏ has major theological significance as it depicts God’s loyal and faithful love to His covenant people in which God faithfully keeps His covenant promises. It also is depicted as kindness and mercy enacted between humans which is not related directly to the covenants between God and His created image bearers. It occurs 248 times in the Hebrew O.T. often translated as faithfulness, goodness, goodness, kindness, love, lovingkindness and mercy.
Fear, râ’â (Micah 6:9; 7:9, 10(2x), 15, 16)
The Hebrew word râ’â occurs over 1300 times in the O.T. with a basic meaning of inspect, look at, perceive, provide, regard and most often see. In some instances, such as in Micah 6:9 it is translated as “fear” which could be understood as to regard with reverence and intent. Other occurrences of râ’â in Micah, translated in the DASV as “see” in 7:9, 10 (twice); and 7:16 and as “show” in 7:15.
Fold, NASB, ḇoṣrâ (Micah 2:12)
Occurring only in Micah 2:12, the Hebrew word ḇoṣrâ has the meaning of sheep fold, where sheep are penned in. However, it is also the name of a location in ancient Edom (now Jordan) called Bozrah. Refer to the notes for Micah 2:12 for its significance.
God of Jacob, ’elôhîym, and ya‘ăqôb (Micah 4:2)
This descriptive phrase of God combines the plural ’elôhîym, the “Creator,” Genesis 1:1, as well as many other descriptive titles including, for this study, a few selected titles in Isaiah, “God of Justice,” Isaiah 30:18; “everlasting God,” Isaiah 40:28; “God who formed the earth,” Isaiah 45:18; “God (who) reigns,: Isaiah 52:7; “God of the entire earth,” Isaiah 54:5; and “God of truth,” Isaiah 65:16. The word “God” in Micah 4:2, is paired with a favorite name for God’s covenant people, ya‘ăqôb, Jacob. The name Jacob occurs several times in Micah, 1:5 (twice); 2:7, 12; 3:1, 8, 9; 4:2; 5:7, 8 and 7:20. The phrase “God of Jacob” occurs 18 times in the English text of the DASV in, Exodus 3:6, 15; 4:5; 2 Samuel 23:1; Psalm 20:1; 24:6; 46:7, 11; 75:9; 76:6; 81:1, 4; 84:8; 94:7; 114:7; 146:5; Isaiah 2:3 and Micah 4:2. A parallel title is “God of Israel”, which in the English occurs 200 times in the O.T., the first occurrence being Exodus 5:1 and the last being Malachi 2:16
Holiness (Micah 1:2: holy)
The Triune God, God’s people and things that are called holy in the Bible. This is a brief and non-exhaustive study from the English text.
God is described as holy: Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26; 21:8; Joshua 24:19; 1 Samuel 2:2; 16:20; Job 6:10; Psalm 22:3; 99:3, 5, 9; Proverbs 9:10; 30:3; Isaiah 5:16; 6:3 (3x); 10:17; 40:25; 43:15; 49:7; 52:10; Ezekiel 39:7; Daniel 40:8, 9, 18; 5:11; Hosea 11:9, 12; Habakkuk 1:12; 3:3. New Testament: John 17:11; Revelation 4:8 (3x); 6:10; 15:4
Jesus Christ is described as holy: Mark 1:24; Luke 1:35, 4:34; Acts 2:27 and 13:35 quoting Psalm 16:10; Acts 3:14; 4:27, 30; Hebrews 7:26; 1 John 2:20; Revelation 3:7
Holy Spirit: Psalm 51:11; Isaiah 63:10-11. New Testament: many references.
God’s name is holy: Leviticus 20:3; 22:2, 32; 1 Chronicles 16:10, 35; 29:16; Psalm 30:4; 33:21; 97:12; 103:1; 105:3; 106:47; 111:9; 145:21; Isaiah 57:15; Ezekiel 20:39; 36:20, 21, 22; 39:7, 25; 43:7, 8; Amos 2:7. New Testament: Luke 1:49.
The Holy One of Israel (Jacob): 2 Kings 19:22; Psalm 71:22; 78:41; 89:18; Isaiah 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23; 30:11, 12, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14; Jeremiah 50:29; 51:5;
Jerusalem, Zion and mountain are described as holy: Nehemiah 11:1, 18; Psalm 2:6; 48:1; Isaiah 4:3; 11:9; 27:13; 48:2; 52:1; 56:7; 57:13; 65:11, 25; 66:20; Ezekiel 20:40; 43:12; Daniel 9:16. 20, 24; 11:45; Joel 2:1; 3:17; Obadiah 1:16; Zephaniah 3:11; Zechariah 8:3; New Testament: Matthew 4:5; 27:53; Revelation 11:2; 21:2, 10; 22:19. See also the Holy Land: Zechariah 2:12.
God’s people are commanded to be holy: Exodus 22:31; Leviticus 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7, 26; Ephesians 1:4, 5:27; 1 Peter 1:15, 16; 2 Peter 3:11
The nation of Israel is called holy: Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; 26:19; 28:9;
God’s people called holy: Isaiah 62:12; 63:18; Daniel 8:24; 12:7; 1 Corinthians 7:14, 34; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:27; 1 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 3:1; 1 Peter 3:5; 2 Peter 1:21; Revelation 20:6.
Believer’s bodies as living sacrifice is called holy: Romans 12:2.
Believers are called the temple of the Holy Spirit: 1 Corinthians 3:17; 6:19; See Ephesians 2:21.
Believers are called a holy priesthood: 1 Peter 2:5 and a holy nation, 1 Peter 2:9.
Believers calling is called holy: 2 Timothy 1:9.
Believer’s faith is called holy: Jude 1:20.
Apostles and prophets are called holy: Ephesians 3:5; 2 Peter 3:2; Revelation 18:20; 22:6.
Church Elders are to be holy: Titus 1:8.
Heaven is described as holy: Psalm 20:6.
God’s throne is described as holy, Psalm 47:8.
God’s words are holy: Jeremiah 23:9.
The Scriptures are holy: Romans 1:2; 2 Timothy 3:15.
God’s law and commandments are holy: Romans 7:12; 2 Peter 2:21.
God’s covenants are holy: Daniel 11:28, 30. New Testament: Luke 1:72.
Other designations of “holy” in the Scriptures include the Sabbath, Exodus 16:23; 20:8; Leviticus 23:3; Deuteronomy 5:12; Nehemiah 9:14; Isaiah 58:13; the tabernacle, its altars, furnishings, and the worship performed within it; Exodus chapter 26 and following; 1 Kings 8:4; the feasts of the Lord, Leviticus 23:4; priests, 2 Chronicles 23:6. The future temple of God and its surroundings: Ezekiel chapters 40-48.
House of Jacob House: ḇayit and Jacob: ya‘ăqôb (Micah 2:7; 3:9)
Occurring also in Micah 3:9, and as “house of the God of Jacob” in Micah 4:2; this phrase was a favorite of Micah’s contemporary, Isaiah. See Isaiah 2:5, 6; 8:17; 10:20; 14:1; 29:22; 46:3; 48:1 and 58:1. The prophet Amos employed this phrase when referring to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, Amos 3:13 and 9:8. Jeremiah in 2:4 used the dual phrase, “house of Jacob” and “house of Israel.” The DASV in Jeremiah 2:4 has “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel.” This could be understood as referring to both the extant (at that time) people of Judah and the exiled people of Israel. The NASB for Jeremiah 2:4 has “Hear the word of the LORD, O house of Jacob and all the families of the house of Israel.” The NKJV and CSB also have “families” instead of the DASV’s “remnant.” The ESV and NIV have “clans.”
Idols p̱esîyl (Micah 1:7; 5:13)
Many Hebrew words are used in the O.T. which in English are translated as idols or images. One of the most common Hebrew words is gil·lû·l occurring first in Leviticus 26:30 where God states His abhorrence and condemnation for idol worship, “I will destroy your high places and cut down your incense altars and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you.” (ESV). The first occurrence of idols in the Scriptures is in Genesis 31:19, 34, 35, which Rachel took from the home of her father Laban. It is likely that these were a source of wealth to Laban and may explain why he was desperate to find them. Jacob, following God’s directive to go to Bethel to live and build an altar to God, buried all the idols (foreign gods) before he left Shechem. Genesis 35: 2-4.
Following the incident with Rachel’s theft of her father’s “household gods” and their burial at Shechem, the next mention of idols is the second commandment, Exodus 20:4-6, “4 You shall not make for yourselves a graven image, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 and showing steadfast love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (DASV). The continual, relentless, rebellion of the people of Israel against God by breaking the first two commandments and God’s judgment upon them is a major theme of the O.T. along with God’s mercy and forgiveness for such practices. God hated their sinfulness but loved them as He faithfully remembered His covenants with them and preserved a remnant from their midst who were faithful to Him.
The first of the two words for idols in Micah 1:7, “graven images” also occurs in Deuteronomy 7:5, 25; 12:3; Judges 3:19, 26; 18:17; 2 Kings 17:41; 2 Chronicles 33:19, 22; 34:3, 4, 7; Psalm 78:58; Isaiah 10:10; 21:9; 30:22; 42:8; Jeremiah 8:19; 50:38; 51:47, 52; Hosea 11:2 and Micah 5:13. From this list one example of God’s position regarding images is stated in Isaiah 42:8, “I am the LORD, that is my name; and my glory I will not give to another, or my praise to carved idols.”
The second word for idols in Micah 1:7, “idols” also occurs in 1 Samuel 31:9; 2 Samuel 5:21; 1 Chronicles 10:9; 2 Chronicles 24:18; Psalm 106: 36, 38; Psalm 115:4; 135:15; Isaiah 10:11; 46:1; 48:5; Jeremiah 50:2; Hosea 4:17; 8:4; 13:2; 14:8; and Zechariah 13:2. When the Messiah comes to rule over His kingdom on the earth, idols will finally be eradicated and will no longer be remembered, “On that day, says the LORD of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more.” Zechariah 13:2.
The worship of idols were an ever present reality in the days of the apostles, Acts 15:20, 29; 17:16; 21:25; Romans 2:22; 1 Corinthians 8:1, 4, 10; 10:19, 28; 12:2; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 John 5:21; Revelation 2:14, 20; and will be during the days of the great Tribulation, Revelation 9:20. Millions of people, today still worship false gods formed as graven and carved images. The warning of the apostle Paul regarding this practice, Romans 1:18-32, remains as valid today as in the day Paul wrote his letter to the Christians in Rome. God still hates and condemns the practice of the worship of idols/images. Sadly, it will take the terrifying judgment upon the world during the future great Tribulation to finally eliminate this practice.
Iniquity ’âewn (Micah 2:1)
In the context of Micah 2:1 and following verses, ’âewn has the meaning of the planning of wicked behavior and the trouble and misery caused by the carrying out of these plans. In the O.T. ’âewn occurs 78 times and has the general meaning of evil, deceit, vanity and wickedness and is often translated in English versions as evil. It also is often associated with idolatry. An associated word is ʾāʹ·wěn, occurring in Micah 7:18 translated as iniquity, and 7:19 as iniquities. A few selected verses containing ʾāʹ·wěn are identified as examples of the many ways in which it is translated in the English versions. “He has not seen any misfortune in Jacob; nor has he seen trouble for Israel. The LORD his God is with him, and he has been proclaimed king among them.” Numbers 23:21. “You, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, arise to punish all the nations; have no mercy on all of these evil traitors.” Psalm 59:5. “If I had harbored sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Psalm 66:18. “The days of our life are seventy years, or possibly by reason of strength eighty years; yet even at their best they are but toil and trouble; for they are soon gone, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10. “Woe to those who make unjust decrees, and to the writers who write oppressive laws.” Isaiah 10:1. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous his thoughts. Let them return to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” Isaiah 55:7. “For the household gods have spoken nonsense, and the diviners have seen a lie; they have told false dreams, and they offer empty comfort. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are attacked because there is no shepherd.” Zechariah 10:2. The Hebrew words ḥāšab and ʾāʹ·wěn occur together in Psalm 36:4 and Ezekiel 11:2. (The bolded words in these verses indicate the Hebrew word ʾāʹ·wěn)
Justice, mišp̱âṭ (Micah in 3:1, 8, 9; 6:8; and 7:9)
Justice means much more than a knowledge of the law and rigorously applying it.2 It also has the meaning of judging righteously and fairly and for individuals to treat all members of society as they would want to be treated (the golden rule). The first occurrence of mišp̱âṭ in the O.T. is in Genesis 18:19, in which the LORD speaks of His choice of Abraham, “For I have chosen him, so that he may instruct his children and his household after him, that they may keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice; so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what he has promised him.” A few verses later Abraham asks of God, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Genesis 18:25. Abraham seems to have had an inspired sense of the application of mišp̱âṭ.
Lament sâp̱ad (Micah 1:8)
Lament, sâp̱ad occurs 32 times in the O.T. mostly within the context of mourning for someone who has died. This mourning may include weeping, scattering ashes, and in the case of Micah, walking barefoot with the outer clothes removed. A few of the first occurrences of saphad in the O.T. are cited as examples. In Genesis 23:2. Abraham mourned and wept after the death of his wife Sarah. Saphad occurs again in Genesis 50:10, where it is stated, the sons of Jacob “lamented with a great and sorrowful mourning. He (Joseph) grieved for his father seven days.” When the prophet Samuel died, “all Israel gathered together and mourned for him.” 1 Samuel 25:1; “and all Israel had lamented him, and buried him in Ramah, his hometown.” 1 Samuel 28:3. Following the deaths of Saul, his son Jonathan, and many others on Mount Gilboa while fighting against the Philistines, “David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. They mourned, wept and fasted until evening for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the LORD’s people and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword.” 2 Samuel 1:11-12. Other occurrences in the O.T. of saphad are 2 Samuel 3:31, 11:26; 1 Kings 13:29-30; 14:13, 18; Ecclesiastes 3:4; 12:5; Isaiah 32:12; Jeremiah 4:8; 16:4, 5, 6; 22:18 (2x); 25:33; 34:5; 49:3; Ezekiel 24:16, 23; Joel 1:13; Micah 1:8; Zechariah 7:5; 12:10 (2x) and 12:12.
The most significant occurrence of saphad is in Zechariah. The prophet states that God will, “pour the spirit of grace and supplication on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so they will look on me, the one whom they have pierced. They will mourn for him, as one mourns for an only son, and will grieve bitterly for him, as one bitterly grieving over a firstborn child. 11 On that day there will be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.12 Then the land will mourn, every family by itself.” Zechariah 12:10-12a. God’s covenant people will in a far future day, look on the LORD, (Yahweh), the one they had pierced and mourn for Him. This is a reference both to the first advent of the Messiah and to the days just before the second advent. Just before the second coming of the Messiah to rescue the faithful remnant, described in Micah 2:12-13, the people will realize their national sin of rejecting the Messiah and having Him put to death (pierced). The confession of this national sin is recorded in Isaiah chapter 53:1-9. In this confession, among other things they will state, “He was pierced through for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities.” Isaiah 53:5 (NASB). Following their repentance and plea for the Messiah to return, He will come back, rescue them from their enemies who surround them and lead them in a victorious march back to Zion.7
In the New Testament a very significant occurrence of “mourning” regarding the Messiah is stated in Matthew 24:30, “Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Also in Revelation 1:7, “mourning and pierced” occurs referring to the Messiah. “Look! He is coming with the clouds; and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of him. Yes, this is what will be! Amen.”
Law, tôrâ (Micah 4:2)
This extremely important word is derived from the Hebrew word yârâ. Torah (or tôrâ) has the basic meaning of law, teaching, instruction, direction, set of regulations and precepts. In its widest usage, it refers to the books of the law, the Pentateuch and to the entire extant of God’s decrees and instructions. In a narrower sense it can refer to the commandments and instructions God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai and even more specifically to the ten commandments (of which some scholars call the ten words). In the context of Micah 4:2, tôrâ refers to the teaching and instruction that the Messiah will give from Mount Zion during the days of the Messianic kingdom. There is much debate and discussion among Biblical scholars as to the application of the law to Christians. For further reading on the “law” see R. A. Cole, “Law in the Old Testament” and C. M. Horne, “Law in the New Testament, ZPEB, Volume 3, pages 883-896. See also J. A. Motyer, Biblical Concept of Law, BEDOT, pages 674-676. Mark F. Rooker, The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century, B & H Academic, 2010.
Loyal love, ḥeseḏ (Micah 7:18) See also “faithfulness”
God’s loyal steadfast love (ḥeseḏ) is one of the most significant and theologically important truths of the Scriptures. God is extremely patient towards those with whom He has chosen to enter into a covenant agreement. To these, His covenant people He shows continual mercy and kindness showering them with His love and forgiveness even when they have been unfaithful and disobedient to Him. Micah completed his prophetic writings with a grand statement of God’s loyal love, Micah 7:18-20. At the giving of the ten commandments to Moses, God declared that He shows steadfast love to His people, Exodus 20:6 and also when Moses made new tablets for the inscription of these commandments, Exodus 34:6-7. Throughout the long wilderness journey towards the land God promised them, this promise of loyal love was reaffirmed, Numbers 14:18-19; Deuteronomy 5:10; 7:9 and 12. It was affirmed again when God made a covenant with David, 2 Samuel 7:15 and stated many times thereafter, (selected verses):1 Kings 8:23; 1 Chronicles 16:34, 41; 17:13; 2 Chronicles 5:13; Ezra 3:11; Nehemiah 1:5; 9:32; Psalm 25:6; 36:5, 7; 51:1; 63:3; 69:13, 16; 98:3; 100:5; 103:11, 17; 106:45; Isaiah 16:5; 54:8, 10; 55:3; 63:7; Jeremiah 9:24; 31:3; Daniel 9:24 and Joel 2:13. By this faithful, steadfast and loyal love, God keeps His covenant promises to His people and ensures that there will be a faithful remnant in all generations that will worship and be obedient to Him. God not only shows this love to His people but expects them to show this same kind of love to each other, Micah 6:8.
Name, šêm (shêm) (Micah 4:5 (2x); 5:4; 6:9)
In Micah 4:5 the importance of the word name, šêm (shêm) is illustrated by comparison. The peoples will walk (obey, follow, be devoted to) the name of their god (implied false god), however, the covenant people of Yahweh will walk in the name of the LORD our God (YHWH, ’elôhîym) forever and ever. The name of YHWH, ’elôhîym is significant in that it implies that which no other being can claim, He alone is God and there are in no other like Him, Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; Isaiah 44:8; 45:5, 14, 21, 22; 46:9; Joel 2:27. Also God’s covenant people are to worship only Him and no other, Exodus 20:3-5; 23; 34:14; Deuteronomy 5:7; and 6:14.
The “name” of God also signifies several aspects or characteristics of God. For example, His, (1) Presence: He exists. God replied, when Moses asked what His name was, “I AM WHO I AM” Exodus 3:14, implying that He actually but profoundly exists, “I AM.” (2) Personality: He not only exists but exists as a personal being. He reveals that He thinks, acts and reacts, speaks, responds, and a host of other characteristics of a personal being. (3) Permanence: He not only exists but has always existed and will always exist, as Moses wrote in Psalm 90, “From everlasting to everlasting You are God.” Psalm 90:2. (4) Perfection: Everything about Him is perfect. Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 19:7; Isaiah 25:1; Matthew 5:48. (5) Position: God is the most supreme, sovereign, exalted, glorified, being that exists or that will ever exist. He is the “Most High,” (a few examples in the NASB): Genesis 14: 18, 19, 20, 22; Numbers 24:16; Psalm 97:9; Daniel 5:21; Luke 1:32. He is ruler of all creation,2 Kings 19:15; 2 Chronicles 20:6; Psalm 47:7; 95:3; Isaiah 37:16; Jeremiah 10:10; Daniel 5:21. (6) Power: God is omnipotent. He does as He pleases and no person or anything can oppose Him. Psalm 115:3; Exodus 32:11; 2 Chronicles 20:6; Jeremiah 32:17; Daniel 2:20. (7) Performance: God is creator of the heavens and the earth and controls all He has created. Genesis 1:1; Psalm 148:5; Isaiah 40:26; 42:5; 43:7; 45:8, 12, 18; Amos 4:13; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Revelation 4:11; 5:13; 10:6.
Micah 4:5 states just one of many of the “names” for God revealed in the Scriptures. Micah calls God, “the LORD our God” (YHWH, ’elôhîym). YHWH (Yahweh) occurring over 6500 times in the O.T. is the self-existent One, eternally present, who is entirely independent of any other being. YHWH is the personal and covenant name for God to the people of Israel. In Micah the name YHWH occurs in 1:1, 2, 3, 12; 2:3, 5, 7, 13; 3:4, 5, 8, 11 (twice); 4:1, 2 (twice), 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12, 13; 5:4 (twice), 7, 10; 6:1, 2 (twice), 5, 6, 7, 8, 9; 7:7, 8, 9, 10 and 17. One of the most significant occurrences of YHWH is in Exodus 3:13-15, where the LORD explained to Moses that His name was simply, I AM WHO I AM, and that “This is my name forever and this is my memorial (name) for all generations.” Another significant occurrence is in Psalm 110:1 in which David by inspiration proclaimed, “The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”” The word LORD in this verse is YHWH and the word Lord is ’ăḏônây, occurring over 430 times in the O.T. The name ’ăḏônây has the meaning of Lord over all and Lord of all the earth. A few significant occurrences of ’ăḏônây include Joshua 3:11; Psalm 110:5-7; Isaiah 40:10; 51:22; 56:8; and 61:1.
YHWH is also paired with many other names or titles which are descriptive of the characteristics and actions of God including:
YHWH iyr’eh (Jireh), “The LORD will provide” Genesis. 22:14.
YHWH nisiy (Nissi), “The LORD is my Banner” Exodus 17:15.
YHWH qâḏaš (Qadash), “The LORD your Sanctifier” Exodus 31:13.
YHWH ’elôhîym iyśrâ’êl (Elohim Israel), “The LORD, the God of Israel” Judges 5:3; Isaiah 17:6.
YHWH šâlôm (Shalom), “The LORD is Peace” Judges 6:25.
YHWH ṣâḇâ’ (tsbadah), “The LORD of Hosts” 1 Samuel 1:3; Isaiah 6:3; 13:4; 54:5; Amos 4:13, Micah 4:4.
YHWH râ‘â (ra’ah), “The LORD is my Shepherd” Psalm 23:1.
YHWH ṣeḏeq (tsedeq), “The LORD our Righteousness” Jeremiah 23:6.
YHWH šâm, (Shammah), “The LORD is there” Ezekiel 48:35
The name ’elôhîym (Elohim, God) occurring over 2600 times in the O.T. has the meaning of Creator, judge, strong One, and supreme God. It occurs in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” See also referring to His creative activity, Isaiah 45:18. A few other significant verses include Psalm 50:6; Psalm 68 (many verses), Isaiah 30:18; 54:5, and Jeremiah 32:27. There are a few occurrences of ’elôhîym with the shortened EL paired with other descriptive titles. These include (1) El šaḏay (Shaddai); (God Almighty), see for example, Genesis 17:1 and 28:3; (2) El ‘elyôn, God Most High, Genesis 14:19; (3) El râ’â (ra’ah) God who sees, Genesis 16:13 and (4) El ‘ôlâm, Everlasting God, Genesis 21:33.
In the New Testament, the name, “Lord God,” or “Lord your God” comprises the Greek κύριος kyrios (Lord) and θεός theos (God), See Matthew 4:7 and 4:10. Other titles for God in the N.T. include δεσπότης despotēs, translated as “Master” or “Lord,” Luke 2:29; and πατήρ patēr, translated as “Father,” Matthew 7:11. See online resource, https://bible.org/article/names-god (This link was valid at the time of writing of this study).
God jealously guards the integrity of His name, as David famously revealed in the 23rd Psalm, “He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:3b. Another psalmist wrote, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.” Psalm 79:9. The righteousness of His covenant people is intertwined with the glory and integrity of God’s name. In an immensely important theological passage written by the prophet Ezekiel, God’s revelation of the heart of the new covenant is declared. In Ezekiel 36:22-36, God states that a future generation of His covenant people will be restored to their land physically and cleansed and restored to righteous fellowship with Him spiritually for the sake of His holy name. What He has promised regarding the righteousness of His people, He will accomplish, not for their name’s sake but only to sanctify His glorious name with the result that all nations will know of His mighty acts and that an innumerable host of those who have been redeemed will be in a righteous relationship with Him forever.
Names have significance as Micah demonstrated in 1:10-16 in his wordplays of the names of the towns that would be conquered by the Assyrians. Names that have been given by parents to their children also were highly significant in the ancient culture of the Near East. For example, Abraham’s name means ‘father of a multitude of nations” Genesis 17:5. Jacob was given his name because of the circumstances of his birth during which he grabbed the heel of his brother Esau, Genesis 25:26; but his name was changed to Israel
Genesis 32:28; 35:10, meaning that he struggled with God. The name “Israel” itself has the meaning of “God prevails.” The prophet Isaiah carried through his life the meaning of his name, “the Lord is salvation,” which also serves as a major theme of Isaiah’s prophetic writings. Micah’s name meaning, “who is like the Lord?” may have urged him to ask in Micah 7:18, “who is a God like you?”
Nations, gôy (Micah 4:2, 3(3x), 7, 11; 5:8, 15; 7:16)
With the meaning of peoples, nations, gentiles, and heathen, gôy occurs over 550 times in the O.T. The context of Micah 4:2 is a prophecy of the last days during the millennial rule of the Messiah. Other references to nations and peoples (gôy) during the days of the establishment and duration of the messianic kingdom in the writing prophets are indicated below. These are not exhaustive references and they do not necessarily include the Messiah’s warfare against the nations at His second coming. Isaiah 2:2, 4; 11:10, 12; 25:3, 7; 26:2, 15; 42:1; 49:22; 52:10; 54:3; 55:5; 60:3, 5, 11, 12, 16; 61:6, 9, 11; 62:2; 66:12, 18, 19, 20; Jeremiah 3:17; 16:19; 31:7, 10; 33:9; Ezekiel 20:41; 28:25; 34:28, 29; 36:14, 15, 36; 37:22, 28; 38:16; 39:7,21, 27; Joel 2:19; Amos 9:12; Micah 4:2, 3; 5:15; 7:16; Zephaniah 2:11; Haggai 2:7; Zechariah 2:11; 8:23; 9:10; 14:16, 18, 19; Malachi 1:11, 14 and 3:12.
Nimrod, nimrôḏ (Micah 5:6)
Nimrod was Noah’s great grandson and according to Genesis 10:8, 9 and 1 Chronicles 1:10 was known as a “mighty hunter (warrior)” Micah in 5:6 states that Assyria was the “land of Nimrod” likely indicating that Nimrod was the founder of this nation and its predecessors Akkad and Babel in Shinar.
Peace, šâlôm (Micah 3:5; 5:5)
The Hebrew word šâlôm is translated in the English versions by many different words indicating several meanings depending on the context of each occurrence. The basic meaning is peace (freedom from enmity) and wholeness or completeness in relationship to one’s neighbor and with God. Other meanings of šâlôm include peaceable, prosperity, safety, welfare and has become a common word for greeting. Perhaps the most significant occurrence of šâlôm in the O.T. is “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 NKJV. A significant verse for the believer is, “You will keep in perfect peace, those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3.
One of Micah’s chief concerns was the impropriety of the false prophets who spoke words of peace to appease the wicked leaders of Judah. These leaders were led to believe that their evil actions would have no consequences on the peace of Judah. False prophets failed the test of a true prophet which concerns prophesying of peace, as a later writer reveals, “The prophet who prophesied about peace, when the word of the prophet comes true, then it can be determined that the LORD has truly sent that prophet.” Jeremiah 28:9. These false prophets preached peace when there was no peace. See Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11; 14:13-14; Ezekiel 13:10 and 16.
The significant phrase “covenant of peace” Isaiah 54:10; Ezekiel 24:25 and 37:26 refers to the “new covenant” (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-28) in which God takes the initiative to redeem and cleanse the hearts of those who trust in His Son. The Son, who is the suffering Servant, (Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11 and 52:13-53:12), is declared to be a covenant to the people, Isaiah 42:6 and 49:8. The Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ is the means through which the redeemed people of God righteously participate and fulfill the everlasting covenants (Abrahamic, Davidic and New) God has made with His people. The promised Son is entitled “Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6, who will one day sit on the Davidic throne governing a kingdom of “peace,” Isaiah 9:7. A spiritual benefit of the “covenant of peace” (new covenant) in the New Testament is described as “peace with God” which comes through faith in Jesus Christ which justifies the believer, Romans 5:1. Thus saving faith in the promised Servant who is the Son, the Messiah and who is the covenant to the people is the only means through which anyone can participate in the “covenant of peace.”
Peoples, ‘am (Micah 1:2, 9; 2:4, 8, 9, 11; 3:3, 5; 4:1, 3, 5, 13; 5:7, 8; 6:2, 3, 5, 16; 7:14)
The very common Hebrew word ‘am occurs over 1860 times in the O.T. and has the meaning of people, nation, tribe, kindred and kinsman. In the context of Micah 5:7 ‘am refers to peoples and nations of the world. However, in Isaiah 11:11 and 16 the phrase “remnant of his people” occurs to identify these persons as God’s covenant people. This is in sharp contrast to the peoples of the world, Micah 5:7, 8 among whom God’s covenant people will live until gathered by their Messiah to reside in His earthly kingdom when He returns, (a few selected verses): Isaiah 11:12, Jeremiah 23:3; 29:14; 31:10; Ezekiel 20:41; 28:25; 37:21 and 39:27.
Power, ḵôaḥ (Micah 3:8)
The word ḵôaḥ occurs 126 times in the O.T. and is most often translated as “strength” or “power” denoting capacity to perform or strength to endure. In the writing prophets, ḵôaḥ refers to the strength or power of God in Isaiah 40:26; 50:2; Jeremiah 10:12; 27:5; 32;17; 51:15; and Nahum 1:3. It refers to the strength of the returning Messiah in Isaiah 63:1. Most other occurrences of ḵôaḥ in the writing prophets refer to either the power God gives to humans or to their own strength not related to God’s intervention. Perhaps the most known verse in the O.T. in which ḵôaḥ occurs is Zechariah 4:6, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts.”
Preach, preach, prophesy, nâṭap̱ (Micah 2:6 (3x); 2:11 (2x))
The Hebrew word nâṭap̱ means to ooze, to fall in drops; and to speak by inspiration. It is used to describe rain pouring down, Psalm 68:8; as liquid dripping from hands, Song of Solomon 5:5; or figuratively as mountains that drip with sweet wine, Joel 3:18 and Amos 9:13. It often occurs to describe speaking such as words dripping from someone’s mouth, Job 29:22; Proverbs 5:3; Song of Solomon 4:11 and 5:13. It also occurs in the prophetic writings with the meaning of to speak out or preach or prophesy, Ezekiel 20:46; 21:2; and Amos 7:16. It occurs in Micah 2:6 (3x): translated as preach (2x) and prophesy and in Micah 2:11 (2x) translated as prophesy and prophet.
Prophets, nâḇîy’ (Micah 3.5, 6, 11)
The following very brief discussion is only an introduction to the prophets. For an excellent essay, see A.A. MacRae, Prophets and Prophecy, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, 1975, Volume 4, pages 875-903. See page 879 of this publication for a chart of the Hebrew prophets and the historical setting of their prophetic ministries.
Prophets were spokesmen for God who declared His words with His authority. The first occurrence of the word “prophet” in the O.T. is in Genesis 20:7 where God states that Abraham is a prophet and He will answer Abraham’s prayer. However the function of a prophet is revealed in later Scriptures such as Exodus 7:1-2 in which God selects Aaron to be the spokesman for Moses who will be as God to Pharaoh. See also Exodus 4:14-16. Thus a prophet is one who is selected to speak on behalf of God. Prophets often received the words God wanted them to speak in a dream or vision, Numbers 12:6 and Hosea 12:10; and usually at night, Daniel 2:19. The written words of Isaiah, who is called a prophet, are called a vision, 2 Chronicles 32:32. Sometimes those who prophesized did so on just one or two recorded occasions, such as king Saul, 1 Samuel 10:9-11 and 19:23-24 but on another occasion, Saul did not receive a dream from God and he had to consult the Urim and the prophets, but God did not answer him, 1 Samuel 28:6.
Moses was Israel’s national leader and God’s spokesman was declared to be a prophet, Deuteronomy 34:10, while Samuel was a prophet who was recognized as Israel’s national leader (judge), 1 Samuel 7:15-17. Some earlier prophets were active in confronting false prophets face to face, such as Elijah on Mount Carmel, 1 Kings chapter 18, while others such as Elisha, confronted armies, 2 Kings 6:11:11-23. Some had to confront a king regarding the king’s personal sinfulness, such as Nathan and David, 2 Samuel chapter 12, or the king’s failures, such as Isaiah and Hezekiah, Isaiah chapter 39. Isaiah also had to bring a message to sinful king Ahaz of which the king rejected, Isaiah chapter 7. A few prophets had long careers, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Micah, while at least one, who is unnamed had a singular task, 1 Kings chapter 13.
Micah, like other significant prophets, boldly confronted the wickedness and social injustice of the leadership of his society. The main concern of these prophets was to restore God’s people to their covenant relationship with their Creator. The sad history of the Hebrew prophets reveals that the people of God forcefully rejected the message of the prophets God had sent them, and many were put to death, Nehemiah 9:26. Prophets met with much hardship in their lives, Isaiah 20:3; Jeremiah 38:1-13; Ezekiel 24:15-18; and Daniel chapter 6. Yet, they faithfully proclaimed the words of LORD, not seeking fortune or fame but were consumed with righteous zeal for their Covenant God.
Unlike the early and latter prophets, who were God’s true spokesmen, there were many false prophets who spoke only to appease their audience and to gain a financial reward. They spoke from their own thoughts without a vision from God, Micah boldly confronted them, Micah 3:5-8; as did others, see Jeremiah 14:13-14; chapter 23; 27:15; Ezekiel 13:9; 22:28; and Zechariah 13:2-6. The scourge of the false prophets manifested itself primarily in their message that peace was to be upon the people thus deceiving them to think that they could continue in their wickedness and rebellion. Yet the opposite was true and God’s loyal prophets spoke of God’s impending judgment.
Redeem, g̱â’al (Micah 4:10)
This major theological term over 100 times in the O.T. having the meaning of deliver, ransom, redeem, avenge and the act of a kinsmen in redeeming persons or property of a relative that had been sold for debts owing. The Book of Ruth is the story of a rescue of Ruth from poverty and shame as a widow without any resources of her own. Her rescuer, (kinsman redeemer), was her relative, who was a wealthy landowner, named Boaz, who married Ruth and from this union came a famous descendant, King David. Ruth was David’s great-grandmother. Theologically, Jesus Christ became our divine kinsmen-redeemer, g̱â’al, rescuing all who believe in Him from eternal punishment. The Hebrew word g̱â’al is translated often as redeem, redeemed, redeemer, and avenger (as well as a few other terms). Although only occurring in Micah in 4:10, g̱â’al, (redeem/redeemer/redemption) is a major theological term in the O.T.
Redeemed, p̱âḏâ (Micah 6:4)
This significant Hebrew word has the meaning of to accomplish the transfer of ownership through the payment of a price, as well as the meaning of deliver, preserve, ransom, release, reserve, rescue, and sever. It is comparative with words such as g̱â’al, occurring as a parallel word in the same verse as p̱âḏâ, in Jeremiah 31:11 and Hosea 13:14. See “redeem” in comments for Micah 4:10. It also is similar to ḵôp̱er, see Exodus 21:30. It also occurs as a parallel word with nâṣal, in Jeremiah 15:21. See “rescued” in comments for Micah 4:10. As well, it occurs as a parallel word with mâlaṭ, in Job 6:23. See TWOT article 1734 for a detailed description of its Biblical usage and for other comparative words.
Remnant še’êrîyt (Micah 2:12; 4:7; 5:7, 8; 7:18)
This Hebrew word is very significant in Messianic studies of the O.T. It most often has the meaning of a surviving residue of people. In some instances this word is translated as “rest.” In some occurrences in the O.T. the Hebrew word še’êrîyt, refers to a remnant of people and in many occurrences it is the remnant of the house of Israel. Of those occurrences regarding the remnant of the house of Israel, many refer to the preserved people of the time in which the prophets wrote. In the New Testament the Apostle Paul made reference to the remnant existing in his day, Romans 11:1-5. The first indication in the Scriptures of God’s preservation of a remnant occurs in 1 Kings 19:18. Many occurrences of še’êrîyt refer to the future remnant of the people of Israel who will be gathered from the nations to populate the messianic kingdom to be established by the returning Messiah. Selected significant occurrences of še’êrîyt, referring to the remnant of the house of Israel include, 2 Kings 19:31; Isaiah 37:32; Jeremiah 23:3; Micah 2:12; 4:7; 5:7, 8; 7:18; Zephaniah 2:9; 3:13; Zechariah 8:6, 11, and 12. A similar word referring to the remnant is the Hebrew še’âr. Selected significant occurrences of še’âr referring to the future remnant of the house of Israel include, Isaiah 10:20, 21 (twice), 22; Isaiah 11:11, 16; and 28:5. Major passages that refer to the future blessings of the remnant include Isaiah 10:20-23; 41:1-20; and 65:8:16.
Rescued, nâṣal (Micah 4:10: rescued; 5:6: deliver; 5:8: rescue)
The theologically important word nâṣal occurs over 200 times in the Hebrew O.T. It has the meaning of both physical and spiritual saving or deliverance. It literally means to “snatch away” and is often translated in the various English Versions as deliver and rescue. It occurs in Psalm 7:1 as “rescue” in the physical sense from enemies and as “deliver” in Psalm 39:8 in the spiritual sense of being saved from transgressions. See other spiritual saving references in Psalm 51:14 and 79:9. The three occurrences of nâṣal in Micah 4:10, 5:6 and 5:8 are all references to physical rescuing.
Righteous acts, ṣeḏâqâ (Micah 6:5; 7:9)
The Hebrew word ṣeḏâqâ has the meaning of justice and righteousness. In Micah 6:5, specified past events that God’s people are to remember, are described as “righteous acts of the LORD.” This word also occurs in Micah 7:9 translated in the DASV and many other English versions as “righteousness.” However the ESV in Micah 7:9 translates this word as “vindication.”
Rod, šêḇet ̣ (Micah 5:1; 7:14)
The Hebrew word šêḇet, occurring 190 times in the O.T., has the meaning of tribe, rod, scepter and staff. Selected significant occurrences prior to the writing prophets with a messianic emphasis include Genesis 49:10 (scepter); 2 Samuel 7:14 (rod); Psalm 2:9 (rod); Psalm 45:6 (scepter). This word also is translated many times as tribes, example: Genesis 49:28 (tribes) of Israel. In the writing prophets, significant occurrences with a messianic emphasis include Isaiah 11:4 (rod); tribes regathered: Ezekiel 37:19 and tribes in the messianic kingdom: Ezekiel 45:8; 47:13, 21, 22; 48:1, 19, 23, 29, and 31.
Rod, maṭe (Micah 6:9)
The Hebrew word maṭe has the meaning of a branch, rod, scepter, staff, stick and is often translated as tribe. In the context of Micah 6:9 maṭe is an expression of God’s judgment upon His rebellious people. It has an important theological meaning in Psalm 110:1-2; “The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”2 The LORD will stretch out your mighty ruling scepter from Zion. Rule in the midst of your enemies.” In these verses, Yahweh is instructing ’âḏôn, (David’s Lord, who is the Messiah, Jesus Christ). Yahweh instructs the second person of the Trinity in Psalm 110:2 to rule with His mighty scepter in the midst of His enemies. The New Testament applies these words directly to Jesus Christ, Matthew 22:41-46; Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44 and Acts2:29-36. Other Hebrew words that are closely resemble maṭe in meaning are, for example, šêḇeṭ; [190 occurrences in the O.T.] and maqêl [18 occurrences in the O.T.].
Sins: Hebrew, ḥǎṭ·ṭāʾṯ (Micah 1:5, 13; 3:8; 6:7, 13)
“Sins” ḥǎṭ·ṭāʾṯ has a similar meaning to the word transgressions. ḥǎṭ·ṭāʾṯ which is the primary word for sin in the O.T. has the meaning of missing the mark and often refers to habitual offences. An illustration of sins as “missing” in the English text is in Job 5:24. The KJV has “and shalt not sin” compared with the NIV “and find nothing missing.” Micah in 1:5 may have intended to point to the differences between the meanings of transgressions and sins or may have used them as poetic parallels corresponding with the mentioning of Jacob and Israel. One should avoid the strict literalist viewpoint that Jacob “transgressed” and Israel “sinned” for both were culpable. Also any study of a single Hebrew word such as ḥǎṭ·ṭāʾṯ, should be complemented with the study of Hebrew words that have similar meanings in order to see the complete teaching of “sin” and “sins” in the O.T.
This singular study of ḥǎṭ·ṭāʾṯ is intended as a sampling of a few significant occurrences of this word in the O.T. It is not intended as a complete study and should be undertaken along with a study of the other words for sin in the O.T. An exhaustive concordance and a corresponding dictionary with Strong’s numbers will assist in determining these words. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament is also suggested as a guide to the meaning of these words in their context.
The first occurrence of ḥǎṭ·ṭāʾṯ in the Scriptures is in Genesis 4:7; where God warned Cain, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do well, sin is couching at the door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Later in Genesis God told Abraham regarding Sodom and Gomorrah that “their sin is so grievous,” Genesis 18:20. Moses, in response to the people of Israel and Aaron making the golden calf, told them, “You have committed a great sin; and now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” Exodus 32:30. When pleading with God to forgive the people, Moses said, “please forgive their sin, but if not, then blot me out of your book that you have written.” Exodus 32:32. Sometimes there is the warning that God will not forgive sins, as Joshua warned those who were rebellious and served other gods, “You cannot serve the LORD; for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God and he will not forgive your rebellion or your sins.” Joshua 24:19. See also 1 Kings 14:16. There is also a pleading for God not to forgive sins, Jeremiah 18:23.
In His great mercy and faithfulness to His covenants with His people, God promises to forgive sins. Within the provision of the Mosaic Covenant there is forgiveness for certain sins, see for example Leviticus 4:20, 26, 35; 19:22; and Numbers 15:25. The Hebrew word ḥǎṭ·ṭāʾṯ also has the meaning of “sin offering” and is the main word used for the sin offering throughout Leviticus and Numbers. The later prophets also proclaimed that God would forgive sins, see Isaiah 43:25; 44:22 and Jeremiah 31:34. But God requires repentance. God responded to the prayer of Solomon during the dedication of the first temple, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14. Often there is a plea to God to forgive sins as confession of sins is made to Him, Nehemiah 1:5-11; Psalm 25:7, 18; 32:5; 79:9; and Daniel 9:18-20. The prophet Micah make a passionate plea to God for Him to forgive the sins of God’s people, Micah 7:18-19.
Often in the O.T. the words “transgressions” p̄ěʹ·šǎʿ and “sins” ḥǎṭ·ṭāʾṯ are paired in one verse to emphasize the author’s intention. See Exodus 34:7; Leviticus 16:16; Joshua 24:19; Job 13:23; Psalm 25:7; 32:5; 51:3; 59:3; Isaiah 43:25; 44:22; 58:1; 59:12; Ezekiel 21:24; 33:10; Daniel 9:24; Amos 5:12; Micah 1:5, 13; 3:8 and 6:7. In the English text see Romans 5:14 (NKJV).
Soul, nep̱eš (Micah 6:7; and not translated in the DASV in 7:1, 3)
Occurring over 750 times in the Hebrew O.T., nep̱eš has several meanings. It is translated as being, breath, creature, life mind person, soul and many other English words. Its basic meaning is a creature that has life through the function of breathing. Its first occurrences in the Hebrew O.T. are in the first chapter of Genesis where it is translated in the DASV as “creature” in 1:21; as “creatures” in 1:24 and as “life” in 1:30.
Spirit of the LORD, Spirit: rûaḥ, LORD, yhwh, (Micah 2:7; 3:8)
This significant title for God, rûaḥ, yhwh, refers to God’s holy divine nature which empowers believers to accomplish His will. See notes for Micah 2:7. This title occurs 24 times in the English versions of the O.T.: Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14; 1 Samuel 10:6; 16:13, 14; 2 Samuel 23:2; 1 Kings 18:12; 22:24; 2 Kings 2:16; 2 Chronicles 18:23; 20:14; Isaiah 11:2; 40:13; 61:1; 63:14; Ezekiel 11:5; 37:1; Micah 2:7 and 3:8. In Isaiah 61:1 the word “Lord” is the Hebrew ’ăḏônây. The English title, “Spirit of the Lord” also occurs 4 times in the N.T.: Luke 4:18; Acts 5:9; 8:39 and 2 Corinthians 3:17. In the Greek the word “Spirit: is πνεῦμα (pneuma), (S4151) and the word Lord is κύριος (kyrios), (S2962).
Strength, g̱eḇûrâ (3:8: strength; 7:16: might)
Occurring 61 times in the O.T. g̱eḇûrâ is most often translated as might, power and strength. It often refers to the might of God as an attribute and could be understood as a name depicting God. Occurrences of g̱eḇûrâ describing God’s might or mighty deeds are in Deuteronomy 3:24; 1 Chronicles 29:11, 12; 2 Chronicles 20:6; Job 12:13; 26:14; Psalm 20:6; 21:13; 54:1; 65:6; 66:7; 71:16, 18; 80:2; 89:13; 106:2, 8; 145:4, 11, 12; 150:2; Isaiah 33:13; 63:15; Jeremiah 10:6 and 16:21. Other occurrences of g̱eḇûrâ include references to the strength given to the “Branch” (Messiah), Isaiah 11:2, to the strength given to God’s servants, such as Micah, Micah 3:8; and the strength of the kings of Judah such as David, 1 Chronicles 29:28-30. Several other occurrences refer to the physical strength of individuals, nations or animals. The first occurrence in the O.T. is in Exodus 32:18 which refers to “victory” in a scene of the rebellion of the children of Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai after Aaron had fashioned a golden calf as an idol.
The word g̱eḇûrâ is related to g̱ibbôr which is part of the name for the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6, “Mighty God.” King David used g̱ibbôr to describe God as “mighty” in Psalm 24:8.
Temple Mount, (Micah 3:12)
The words “Temple Mount” in the DASV are translated as “mountain of the temple” in the NASB and NKJV; as “mountain of the house” in the KJV and ESV; as “temple’s mountain” in the CSB and as “temple hill” in the NIV. These words translate the Hebrew har “mountain” and ḇayit “house.” The NASB and NKJV have a marginal note for the word “temple” indicating that the literal rendering is “house.” The word ḇayit occurs several times in the book of Micah. (1) It refers to a physical “house” twice in 2:2. (2) It refers to a lineage as house of (Israel, Jacob, Achzib, Ahab), seven times, 1:5, 14; 2:7; 3:1, 9 (twice); and 6:16. (3) It refers to the temple of the Lord as the Lord’s “house” three times, 3:12; 4:1 and 2. (4) It refers as a metaphor to the land Egypt as a “house of bondage” in 6:4.
The word “mount” is a short form for “mountain” referring to Mount Zion. The temple, the “house of the Lord” was built on Mount Moriah, “Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David, at the place that David had prepared on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” 2 Chronicles 3:1. This mountain was the place where Abraham was sent to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, Genesis 22:2. It is most often called “Mount Zion” which is holy to God, Psalm 2:6, 48:1; Joel 2:1, 3:17; Obadiah 1:17 and Zechariah 8:3. Because this mountain and its temple was the place of God’s presence, Isaiah 8:18; and would abide forever, Psalm 125:1, many of God’s covenant people thought they commit any social injustice with impunity, Micah 3:11. However, God would not endure their wickedness and told them through Micah that their beloved temple (house) and its mountain location would become a “heap of ruins” and be “plowed like a field,” Micah 3:12 (cf. Jeremiah 26:18). Jeremiah described this desolation in Lamentations 5:18. But God would remember His covenant with His people and in a far future day, He will restore His “house” on His holy mountain, Isaiah 2:1-4; 24:3 and Micah 4:1-8.
Threshing floor, g̱ôren (Micah 4:12)
This Hebrew word has the literal meaning of a place to thresh grain. It is any open area where grain is threshed including the floor of a barn. It is translated as “threshing floor” in the O.T. with the most significant occurrences being in 2 Samuel 24:16, 18, 21, 24; 1 Chronicles 21:15, 18, 21, 22 and 28 describing the events of the purchase of the threshing floor of Araunah – his Jebusite name, (also Ornan – his Hebrew name) the Jebusite by King David which later became the area of Mount Zion. See comment in notes for Micah 4:12. A related word is ’iḏar occurring only in Daniel 2:35. The Hebrew word g̱ôren is translated in the writing prophets as “threshing floor” in Isaiah 21:10; Jeremiah 51:33; Hosea 9:1, 2; 13:3; Joel 2:24 and Micah 4:12.
Transgression Hebrew, p̄ěʹ·šǎʿ (Micah 1:5 (2x); 1:13; 3:8; 6:7; 7:18)
“Transgression,” p̄ěʹ·šǎʿ has the meaning of willful revolting and rebelling against God and His word. In Micah 1:5, the NASB translates this word as “rebellion.” Selected significant occurrences of this word in the O.T. are, Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 5:10; 25:7; 32:1, 5; 51:1, 3; 65:3; 89:32; 103:12; Proverbs 19:11; 29:6, 22; Isaiah 24:20; 43:25; 44:22; 53:5, 8; 58:1; 59:12, 20; Lamentations 1:5; Ezekiel 18:22, 28, 30, 31; 37:23; Amos 2:4, 6; and in 5 verses in Micah: 1:5 (2x); 1:13; 3:8; 6:7 and 7:18. In the English text in the N.T. in the NKJV, see Romans 4:15; 5:14; Galatians 3:19; and Hebrews 9:15. See specifically, Amos 2:4-8, which is a parallel passage to Micah 1:5, depicting the transgressions of Judah and Israel. The suffering of the Messiah is mentioned in connection with “transgressions” in Isaiah 53:5, 8: “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that bought us peace, and by his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 (ESV). “By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” Isaiah 53:8 (ESV).
Uncleanness, ṭâmê’ (Micah 2:10)
In the NASB/DASV, this word occurs only in Micah 2:10, having the meaning of ritual or religious impurity. It is a similar word to ṭum’â, and both words have the general meaning of defiled, unclean, ritually or morally. The prophets used these words interchangeably translated usually as “defiled,” “unclean” and “uncleanness.” They described the social or moral defilement of the people as if being ritually unclean, thus being abhorrent to God. See for example Haggai 2:13-14. The prophets also described themselves in this sense. In Isaiah 6:5, the prophet declared himself to be a man of “unclean” lips, and Isaiah said he also lives in the midst of a people of “unclean” lips. Both words translated “unclean” in Isaiah 6:5 is the Hebrew ṭâmê’
Vengeance, nâqâm (Micah 5:15)
The Hebrew word nâqâm has the meaning to avenge, revenge and vengeance. When the action of vengeance is by God it is entirely and perfectly in agreement with His holiness and justice. Vengeance is an action that belongs to God, Deuteronomy 32:35. However see Judges 16:28 where Samson prayed for revenge on his enemies, a prayer that God answered. O.T. occurrences of nâqâm: Leviticus 26:25; Deuteronomy 32:35, 41, 43; Judges 16:28; Psalm 58:10: Proverbs 6:34; Isaiah 34:8; 35:4; 47:3; 59:17; 61:2; 63:4; Ezekiel 15:12, 15; 24:8 and Micah 5:15.
Wail, yalal (Micah 1:8)
Wail (yalal) occurs 30 times in the O.T. often in the context of mourning for the death of inhabitants and also for the loss of finances and harvests of a nation. It has the meaning of loud shrill laments accompanied by weeping. This word occurs only in the later prophets, Isaiah to Zechariah. The first occurrence of yalal is in Isaiah 13:6. The prophet calls upon the people of Babylon to wail, “for the day of the LORD is near. It will come as destruction from the Almighty.” Many occurrences in Isaiah are also for the nations to wail for their certain destruction, in 14:31 to Philistia, in 15:2-3 and 16:7 to Moab, in 23:1 to Tyre, in 23:6 to Tarshish, in 23:14 to the ships of Tarshish. Later in Isaiah, the prophet turns his attention to the wailing of the covenant people of God. In 52:5 the rulers of Zion, wail and in 65:14-15 the people who have rebelled against God will wail for He will slay them.
The word wail (yalal) occurs often in Jeremiah. In Jeremiah 4:18, “lament” and “wail” both occur. For other occurrences in Jeremiah see 25:34; 47:2; 48:20, 31, 39; 49:3; 51:8. Ezekiel is told by God to “Cry out and wail, son of man; for it is against my people, it is against all the princes of Israel. They are delivered over to the sword along with my people. Therefore beat your thigh.” Ezekiel 21:12. Wail occurs in Ezekiel 30:2 regarding the coming judgment upon Egypt and other nations. Those in Ephraim (Israel), who have deserted God to rely on other nations will wail when they face God’s judgment, Hosea 7:14. The judgment of God in bringing a strong nation to destroy the land of Judah because of the sinfulness of its people will cause the inhabitants to wail, Joel 1:5. 11, 13. See comments on Micah 1:8-9 for the wailing of the people described in Amos 8:3. Those in the market section in Jerusalem will wail because of the cutting off of business when God destroys the land, Zephaniah 1:11. The final occurrence of yalal in the O.T. is in Zechariah 11:2. See comment for Micah 1:8-9.
Wicked, râšâ‘ (Micah 6:10)
The Hebrew word râšâ‘ occurring in Micah 6:10, describes those who act wickedly and are condemned by God and is in direct opposition to the prophet’s admonishment in Micah 6:8, “He has showed you, O man what is good. What does the LORD require of you? To do justice, to love faithfulness and to walk humbly with your God.” The wicked are those who evilly act in ways that reject God’s commands to be obey His word. They are rebellious to God’s desire for His image bearers to be righteous and just in all dealings with each other which is one of the main themes of the writings of the prophet Micah. In the Minor Prophets the word râšâ‘ occurs in Micah 6:10; Habakkuk 1:4, 13; 3:13; Zephaniah 1:3; Malachi 3:18 and 4:3. A related word, translated as “wickedness” Hebrew reša‘ also occurs in Micah 6:10, which describes the actions of those who are wicked.
Wisdom, tûšiyâ (Micah 6:9)
The Hebrew word tûšiyâ in the context of Micah 6:9 has the meaning of applying what is known about God (to fear His name) in a wise manner that results in a right relationship with God. In Proverbs 3:21 it is translated as “sound wisdom/judgment.” Proverbs 2:6-7 provides an excellent description using two Hebrew words for wisdom, “6 For the LORD gives wisdom, out of his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He reserves sound wisdom for the upright, he is a shield to those who walk with integrity; 8 he guards the paths of the just and preserves the way of those faithful to him.” In Proverbs 2:7 the word “wisdom” is tûšiyâ, and in 2:6 “wisdom is the Hebrew ḥâḵemâ which is the word for wisdom in the well-known verse, Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” The word tûšiyâ is applied to the LORD in Isaiah 28:29, “This also comes from the LORD of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in wisdom.” In the O.T. tûšiyâ occurs in Job 5:12; 6:13; 11:6; 12:16; 26:3; Proverbs 2:7; 3:21; 8:14; 18:1; Isaiah 28:29 and Micah 6:9.
Notes for Selected Topics
- Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah, Ariel Ministries, 2004, page 331.