Micah 3:1
And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and you princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
III.

(1) Hear, I pray you.—In the second division of his prophecy Micah protests against the evil influences exercised upon the people in high places. The princes, the prophets, and the priests, to whom their interests were confided, were guilty of wrong, oppression, and robbery.

Ye princes.—Rather, judges, magistrates; but a different word is used from that which was given to the chiefs in the old days “when the judges ruled.”

Micah 3:1-4. Hear, O heads of Jacob, &c. — That the justice of God, in bringing upon them the punishments which he had threatened, might more evidently appear, the prophet here shows that there was no rank of them free from very grievous crimes; that even those, who ought to have excelled others in piety and virtue, were the first in offences. We find Ezekiel making the same complaint, Ezekiel 22:6, &c. Is it not for you to know judgment — Ought not you to understand and conform to the just laws of your God? You princes, magistrates, and ruling officers, ought of all men to know and do right. And, as it is your province to judge and punish those who break human laws, this ought to make you reflect that God will certainly execute judgment on the breakers of his laws. If you make any reflection, you must needs be sensible, that punishment must await you for your crimes. Who hate the good — Ye who hate, not only to do good, but the good which is done, and those that do it; and love the evil — Choose and delight in both evil works and evil workers; who pluck off their skin from off them — Who use the people, whom you govern, as cruelly as the shepherd would use his flock, who, instead of shearing the fleece, would pluck the skin and flesh from off their bones. Who eat the flesh of my people, &c. — Who devour the goods and livelihood of your brethren. And break their bones, &c. — An allusion to lions, bears, or wolves, which devour the flesh, and break the bones of the defenceless lambs. And chop them in pieces as for the pot, &c. — All these are metaphorical expressions, to signify the oppressions of the people by their heads, or great men; and how they, by one means or other, deprived them of their substance, and divided it among themselves. Then shall they — Namely, the heads of the people and princes spoken of above; cry unto the Lord — When these miseries come upon them; but he will not hear them, he will even hide, &c. — As they have showed no pity to others, he will have no pity on them. 3:1-8 Men cannot expect to do ill, and fare well; but to find that done to them which they did to others. How seldom do wholesome truths reach the ears of those in high stations or in authority! Those who deceive others are preparing confusion for their own faces. The prophet had ardent love to God and to the souls of men; deep concern for his glory and their salvation, and zeal against sin. The difficulties he met with did not drive him from his work. He had this strength; not from and of himself, but he was full of power by the Spirit of the Lord. Those who act honestly, may act boldly. And those who come to hear the word of God, must be willing to be told of their faults, must take it kindly, and be thankful.And I said - God's love for us is the great incitement, constrainer, vivifier of His creature's love. Micah had just spoken of God's love of Israel; how He would gather them into one fold under One Shepherd, guard them, lead them, remove all difficulties before them, be Himself their Head and enable them to follow Him. He turns then to them. These are God's doings; this, God has in store for you hereafter. Even when mercy itself shall require chastisement, He doth not cast off forever. The desolation is but the forerunner of future mercy. What then do ye? The prophet appeals to them, class by class. There was one general corruption of every order of men, through whom Judah could be preserved, princes Micah 3:1-4, prophets Micah 3:5-7, priests Micah 3:11. The salt had lost its savor; wherewith could it be seasoned? whereby could the decaying mass of the people be kept from entire corruption?

Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel - He arraigns them by the same name, under which He had first promised mercy. He had first promised mercy to all Jacob and the remnant of Israel. So now he upraids the "heads of Jacob, and the princes of the house of Israel," lest they should deceive themselves. At the same time he recalls them to the deeds of their father. Judah had succeeded to the birthright, forfeited by Reuben, Simeon and Levi; and in Judah all the promises of the Messiah were laid up. But he was not like the three great patriarchs, the father of the faithful (Abraham), or the meek Isaac, or the much-tried Jacob. The name then had not the reminiscences, or force of appeal, contained in the titles, seed of Abraham, or Isaac, or Israel.

Is it not for you to know judgment? - It is a great increase of guilt, when persons neglect or pervert what it is their special duty and office to guard; as when teachers corrupt doctrine, or preachers give in to a low standard of morals, or judges pervert judgment. The "princes" here spoken or are so named from judging, "deciding" causes. They are the same its the "rulers," whom Isaiah at the same time upbraids, as being, from their sins, rulers of Sodom , whose hands were full of blood Isaiah 1:15. They who do not right, in time cease, in great measure, to know it. As God withdraws His grace, the mind is darkened and can no longer see it. So it is said of Eli's sons, they were sons of Belial, they knew not the Lord 1 Samuel 2:12; and, Into a malicious soul Wisdom shall not enter, nor dwell in a body that is subject unto sin (Wisd. 1:4). Such , "attain not to know the judgments of God which are a great deep: and the depth of His justice the evil mind findeth not." But if men will not "know judgment" by doing it, they shall by suffering it.

CHAPTER 3

Mic 3:1-12. The Sins of the Princes, Prophets, and Priests: The Consequent Desolation of Zion.

1. princes—magistrates or judges.

Is it not for you?—Is it not your special function (Jer 5:4, 5)?

judgment—justice. Ye sit in judgment on others; surely then ye ought to know the judgment for injustice which awaits yourselves (Ro 2:1).Micah reproveth the cruelty of the princes, Micah 3:1-4, and the falsehood of the prophets, Micah 3:5-7. His zeal in showing the sins of the princes, priests, and prophets, and their illgrounded security, Micah 3:8-12.

And I said: in further discharge of his prophetic office, and his direction from the Lord, the prophet proceeds to preach.

Hear; attend diligently, and give good ear. I pray you: being to address to governors, he entreats their attention, as we have the Hebrew particle here rendered, which might have been rendered now, and so the Gallic version doth render it, and the particle signifieth both.

O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; you that are by birth heads of the families, and by office princes and rulers in Israel and Jacob, i.e. in the kingdom both of the ten tribes, and more particularly the two tribes, as appears from the last verse of this chapter.

Is it not for you? are you not bound by office? do not men expect? doth not God require? doth not the public weal engage you to be well skilled in the laws of God?

To know judgment; understand, approve, conform to and rule by equity, and the just laws of your God. You, princes, magistrates, and ruling officers, ought to know and do judgment and justice; you of all men should know and do right.

And I said, hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel,.... This seems to be a new sermon or discourse, delivered at another time and to another people than the preceding for, as that chiefly concerns the ten tribes, this the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and was spoken to them in the times of Hezekiah, as appears from Jeremiah 26:18; for though Jacob and Israel generally design the ten tribes, yet here the other two, as is manifest from the above cited place, and also from Micah 3:9; and not only heads of families, but such as were the highest posts under the government, the sanhedrim of the nation, judges, rulers, and nobles, are here addressed; and who had a great share in national guilt, being ringleaders in sin, who ought to have set good examples to others; and these are not to be spared because of their grandeur and dignity, but to faithfully reproved for their vices, and which they should diligently attend unto; though they are to be addressed in a respectful and honourable manner, and be entreated to hearken to the word of the Lord by his prophet; all which was carefully observed by Micah; and it was with pleasure he could reflect upon his plain, faithful, and affectionate reproof of those great men:

is it not for you to know judgment? what is just and right to be done by men, and what sentence is to be passed in courts of judicature, in cases brought before them and not only to know, in a speculative way, what is equitable, but to practise it themselves, and see that it is done by others; and when they duly considered this, they would be able to see and own that what the prophet from the Lord would now charge them with, or denounce upon them, was according to truth and justice.

And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know {a} judgment?

(a) That thing which is just and lawful, both to govern my people properly, and also to clear your own conscience.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1–4. Chiefly a description of the savage behaviour of the ruling class

1. O heads of Jacob] The prophet addresses the official class of all Israel, especially the judges, who appear from Jeremiah 21:11-12 to have been (in Judah at any rate) chiefly members of the royal family (a numerous body in Judah as well as in Egypt).Verse 1-ch. 5:15. - Part II. DENUNCIATION OF THE CRIMES OF THE GRANDEES, FOLLOWED BY A PROMISE OF THE GLORIFICATION OF ZION, THE BIRTH OF MESSIAH, AND THE HIGHEST EXALTATION OF THE PEOPLE. Verses 1-4. - § 1. Sins of the rulers, and their punishment. Verse 1. - The prophet denounces the sins of the rulers, false prophets, and priests; and begins with the injustice and oppression practised by the great men. And I said. The new address is thus introduced as being analogous to the denunciations in the preceding chapter, which were interrupted by the promise of deliverance, to which there is no reference here. O heads of Jacob; synonymous with princes of the house of Israel (comp. ver. 8; Micah 1:5). Micah addresses the heads of families and the officials to whom the administration of justice appertained. These magistrates and judges seem to have been chiefly members of the royal family, at any rate in Judah; see Jeremiah 21:11, 12 (Cheyne). Septuagint, οἱ κατάλοιποι οἴκου Ἰσραήλ, "ye remnant of the house of Israel." Is it not for you to know judgment? Ye, of all men, ought to know what is just and fair, and to practise it (compare the opening of the Book of Wisdom). This threat is carried out still further in Amos 6:8-11. Amos 6:8. "The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by Himself, is the saying of Jehovah, the God of hosts: I abhor the pride of Jacob, and his palaces I hate; and give up the city, and the fulness thereof. Amos 6:9. And it will come to pass, if then men are left in a house, they shall die. Amos 6:10. And when his cousin lifts him up, and he that burieth him, to carry out the bones out of the house, and saith to the one in the hindermost corner of the house, Is there still any one with thee? and he says, Not one; then will he say, Hush; for the name of Jehovah is not to be invoked. Amos 6:11. For, behold, Jehovah commandeth, and men smite the great house to ruins, and the small house into shivers." In order to show the secure debauchees the terrible severity of the judgments of God, the Lord announces to His people with a solemn oath the rejection of the nation which is so confident in its own power (cf. Amos 6:13). The oath runs here as in Amos 4:2, with this exception, that instead of בּקדשׁו we have בּנפשׁו in the same sense; for the nephesh of Jehovah, His inmost being or self, is His holiness. מתאב, with the guttural softened, for מתעב. The participle describes the abhorrence as a continued lasting feeling, and not a merely passing emotion. גּאון יעקב, the loftiness or pride of Jacob, i.e., everything of which Jacob is proud, the true and imaginary greatness and pride of Israel, which included the palaces of the voluptuous great men, for which reason they are placed in parallelism with גאון יע. This glory of Israel Jehovah abhors, and He will destroy it by giving up the city (Samaria), and all that fills it (houses and men), to the enemies to be destroyed. גאון יע, to give up to the enemy, as in Deuteronomy 32:30 and Obadiah 1:14; not to surround, to which וּמלאהּ is unsuitable. The words not only threaten surrounding, or siege, but also conquest, and (Amos 6:11) the destruction of the city. And then, even if there are ten in one house, they will all perish. אנשׁים: people, men. Ten in one house is a large number, which the prophet assumes as the number, to give the stronger emphasis to the thought that not one will escape from death. This thought is still further explained in Amos 6:10. A relative comes into the house to bury his deceased blood-relation. The suffix to נשׂאו refers to the idea involved in מתוּ, a dead man. Dōd, literally the father's brother, here any near relation whose duty it was to see to the burial of the dead. מסרף for משׂרף, the burner, i.e., the burier of the dead. The Israelites were indeed accustomed to bury their dead, and not to burn the corpses. The description of the burier as mesârēph (a burner) therefore supposes the occurrence of such a multitude of deaths that it is impossible to bury the dead, whose corpses are obliged to be burned, for the purpose of preventing the air from being polluted by the decomposition of the corpses. Of course the burning did not take place at the house, as Hitzig erroneously infers from להוציא עצמים; for עצמים denotes the corpse here, as in Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32, and 2 Kings 13:21, and not the different bones of the dead which remained without decomposition or burning. The burier now asks the last living person in the house, who has gone to the very back of the house in order to save his life, whether there is any one still with him, any one still living in the house beside himself, and receives the answer, אפס (Adv.), "Nothing more;" whereupon he says to him, has, "Be still," answering to our Hush! because he is afraid that, if he goes on speaking, he may invoke the name of God, or pray for the mercy of God; and he explains his words by adding, "The name of Jehovah must not be mentioned." It is not Amos who adds this explanation, but the relation. Nor does it contain "the words of one who despairs of any better future, and whose mind is oppressed by the weight of the existing evils, as if he said, Prayers would be of no use, for we too must die" (Lievl., Ros.). לא להזכּיר, "it is not to (may not) be mentioned," would be unsuitable as an utterance of despair. It rather indicates the fear lest, by the invocation of the name of God, the eye of God should be drawn towards this last remaining one, and he also should fall a victim to the judgment of death. This judgment the Lord accomplishes not merely by a pestilence which breaks out during the siege, and rages all around (there is no ground for any such limitation of the words), but also by sword and plague during the siege and conquest of the town. For the reason assigned for the threat in Amos 6:11 points to the latter. כּי links the words to the main thought in Amos 6:11, or even Amos 6:10: "When the Lord delivers up the city and all that fills it, they will all perish; for, behold, He commands, orders the enemy (the nation in Amos 6:14), and it will smite in pieces the houses, great and small." The singular הבּית is used with indefinite generality: every house, great and small (cf. Amos 3:15).
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