Micah 5:13
Your graven images also will I cut off, and your standing images out of the middle of you; and you shall no more worship the work of your hands.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
5:7-15 The remnant of Israel, converted to Christ in the primitive times, were among many nations as the drops of dew, and were made instruments in calling a large increase of spiritual worshippers. But to those who neglected or opposed this salvation, they would, as lions, cause terror, their doctrine condemning them. The Lord also declares that he would cause not only the reformation of the Jews, but the purification of the Christian church. In like manner shall we be assured of victory in our personal conflicts, as we simply depend upon the Lord our salvation, worship him, and serve him with diligence.I will cut off the cities of thy land - So God promised by Zechariah, "Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls; for I will be unto her a wall of fire round about" Zechariah 2:4-5. The Church shall not need the temptation of human defense; for God shall fence her in on every side. Great cities too, as the abode of luxury and sin, of power and pride, and, mostly, of cruelty, are chiefly denounced as the objects of God's anger. Babylon stands as the emblem of the whole city of the world or of the devil, as opposed to God. Rup.: "The first city was built by Cain; Abel and the other saints heed no continuing city" Hebrews 13:14 here. Cities then will include (Rup.) "all the tumults and evil passions and ambition and strife and bloodshed, which Cain brought in among men. Cities are collectively called and are Babylon, with whom, (as in the Revelations we hear a voice from heaven saying), "the kings of the earth committed fornication and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies" Revelation 18:3; and of which it is written, "And a mighty Angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city, Babylon, be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all." Revelation 18:21. "Great rest then is promised to holy Zion that is, the Church, when the cities or strongholds of the land (strongholds, as they are, of earthliness) shall be destroyed. For together with them are included all objects of desire in them, with the sight whereof the citizens of the kingdom of God, while pilgrims here, are tempted; whereof the wise man saith, Vanity of vanities, all is vanity."

The fulfillment reaches on to the Day of Judgment, when the Church shall finally receive glory from the Lord, and be "without spot and wrinkle" Ephesians 5:27. All looks on to that Day. The very largeness of the promise, which speaks, in its fullest sense, of the destruction of things, without which we can hardly do in this life, (as cities or things very useful to the needs of man, (as horses,) carries us on yet more to that Day when there will be no more need of any outward things; Rup.: "when the heavy body shall be changed, and shall have the swiftness of angels, and shall be transported whither it willeth, without chariots and horses; and all things which tempt the eye shall cease; and no evil shall enter; and there shall be no need of divining, amid the presence and full knowledge of God, and where the ever-present Face of God, who is Truth, shall shine on all, and nothing be uncertain or unknown; nor shall they need to form in their souls images of Him whom His own shall see as He Is; nor shall they esteem anything of self, or the work of their own hands; but God shall be All in all." In like way, the woe on those who obey not the truth, also looks on to the end. It too is final. There is nothing to soften it. Punishments in the course of life are medicinal. Here no mention is made of Mercy, but only of executing vengeance; and that, with wrath and fury; and that, such as they have not heard. For as eye hath not seen, nor heart conceived the good things laid up in store for those who love God, so neither the evil things prepared for those who, in act, shew that they hate Him.

13. graven images … cut off—(Compare Isa 2:8, 18-21; 30:22; Zec 13:2).

standing images—statues.

Thy graven images; which were for the matter of them made of wood or stone, smoothed, and fashioned to the images, which the blind idolater thought did well represent his god.

Standing images: statues erected in places chosen for the purpose, fixed that they move not, had this different name from their posture, the matter still the same.

Out of the midst of thee, O Israel, in the type, and, O Israel, antitype: this is verified among the Jews, who to this day hate images for Divine uses, and learnt this in their captivity; and it is verified in the church of Christ, which condemns all religious use of images.

Thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands: it was once the great sin of the Jews to worship and rely on idols; but when God shall by the Messiah redeem both his Israels, they shall no more sin thus, Hosea 14:3, for they shall know he is the only true God, and there is no Saviour beside him.

Thy graven images; which were for the matter of them made of wood or stone, smoothed, and fashioned to the images, which the blind idolater thought did well represent his god.

Standing images: statues erected in places chosen for the purpose, fixed that they move not, had this different name from their posture, the matter still the same.

Out of the midst of thee, O Israel, in the type, and, O Israel, antitype: this is verified among the Jews, who to this day hate images for Divine uses, and learnt this in their captivity; and it is verified in the church of Christ, which condemns all religious use of images.

Thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands: it was once the great sin of the Jews to worship and rely on idols; but when God shall by the Messiah redeem both his Israels, they shall no more sin thus, Hosea 14:3, for they shall know he is the only true God, and there is no Saviour beside him. Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee,.... The former were such as were made of wood or stone; the latter statues, such as were molten or cast, and made of gold, silver, or brass; Such as the Jews sometimes worshipped, and are now found in the apostate church of Rome; but will have no place in the Christian churches, or those so called, in the latter day. The Jews indeed have had no idols or idolatrous worship among them since the Babylonish captivity; and the prophet here speaks, not of what would be found among them, and removed at their conversion; but of what was in his time, or had been, or would be again, but should not be in future time, when they should turn to the Lord, and be like dew among the people; and so we are to understand some following passages. The Targum is,

"I will cut off the images of the people, and their statues:''

and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands; as not to fall down to idols and worship them, so neither to trust in carnal privileges, ceremonial rites, observances of the traditions of the elders, or any works of righteousness done by them, which they had been prone unto.

Thy graven images also will I cut off, and thy standing images out of the midst of thee; and thou shalt no more worship the work of thine hands.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. Thy graven images … thy standing images] The former, images of wood or metal; the latter, stone pillars consecrated to a divinity. Comp. Leviticus 26:1, ‘Ye shall make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a (sacred) pillar,’ Deuteronomy 16:22; Deuteronomy 27:15, Exodus 23:24. The denunciation of sacred ‘pillars’ and Ashérahs is however much more emphatic in the legislation of the Pentateuch than in Micah. The latter prophet mentions them rather as constituent parts of the corrupting civilisation imported from abroad. Isaiah (a contemporary of Micah’s) actually gives his sanction to the erection of ‘pillars’ to the true God (Isah 19:19); and Hosea (also a contemporary) merely mentions the want of sacred ‘pillars’ as among the misfortunes of the captivity, concurrently with the want of king and sacrifice (Hosea 3:4). This tolerant attitude of Isaiah and Micah is in perfect harmony with the Book of Genesis, which relates how Jacob set up and anointed the ‘pillar’ which marked out Bethel as a sanctuary. In fact, as long as ‘high places,’ or local sanctuaries, were tolerated, it was natural to tolerate ‘pillars’ with them, the ‘pillar’ being one of the traditional signs of a ‘high place.’ Isaiah lets the sanctuaries alone (though not, of course, the graven images, Isaiah 2:20, Isaiah 30:22), and with them the sacred ‘pillars;’ Micah begins to protest against both, but still gently, compared with the legislation of the Pentateuch (comp. on Micah 1:5).Verse 13. - Graven images, of stone or metal (Leviticus 26:1). Standing images; Septuagint, τὰς στηλάς σου, "thy columns;" Vulgate, statuas tuas These are stone images or pillars dedicated to false gods (1 Kings 14:23). A pillar to mark a place consecrated to the worship of the Lord was allowed (see Genesis 28:18; Genesis 31:13, 45; Isaiah 19:17). It was when this custom degenerated into idolatry that it was sternly denounced (Deuteronomy 16:22; Deuteronomy 27:15, etc.). The thought is still further expanded in Amos 9:2-6. Amos 9:2. "If they break through into hell, my hand will take them thence; and if they climb up to heaven, thence will I fetch them down. Amos 9:3. And if they hide themselves upon the top of Carmel, I will trace them, and fetch them thence; and if they conceal themselves from before mine eyes in the bottom of the sea, thence do I command the serpent, and it biteth them. Amos 9:4. And if they go into captivity before their enemies, I will command the sword thence, and it slayeth them; and I direct my eye upon them for evil, and not for good." The imperfects, with אם, are to be taken as futures. They do not assume what is impossible as merely hypothetical, in the sense of "if they should hide themselves;" but set forth what was no doubt in actual fact an impossible case, as though it were possible, in order to cut off every escape. For the cases mentioned in Amos 9:3 and Amos 9:4 might really occur. Hiding upon Carmel and going into captivity belong to the sphere of possibility and of actual occurrence. In order to individualize the thought, that escape from the punishing arm of the Almighty is impossible, the prophet opposes the most extreme spaces of the world to one another, starting from heaven and hell, as the loftiest height and deepest depth of the universe, in doing which he has in all probability Psalm 139:7-8 floating before his mind. He commences with the height, which a man cannot possibly climb, and the depth, to which he cannot descend, to show that escape is impossible. חתר, to break through, with ב, to make a hole into anything (Ezekiel 8:8; Ezekiel 12:5, Ezekiel 12:7). According to the Hebrew view, Sheol was deep in the interior of the earth. The head of Carmel is mentioned (see at Joshua 19:26). The reference is not to the many caves in this promontory, which afford shelter to fugitives; for they are not found upon the head of Carmel, but for the most part on the western side (see v. Raumer, Pal. p. 44). The emphasis lies rather upon the head, as a height overgrown with trees, which, even if not very high (about 1800 feet; see at 1 Kings 18:19), yet, in comparison with the sea over which it rises, might appear to be of a very considerable height; in addition to which, the situation of Carmel, on the extreme western border of the kingdom of Israel, might also be taken into consideration. "Whoever hides himself there, must assuredly know of no other place of security in the whole of the land besides. And if there is no longer any security there, there is nothing left but the sea." But even the deep sea-bottom will not shelter from the vengeance of God. God commands the serpent, or summons the serpent to bite him. Nâchâsh, here the water-serpent, called elsewhere livyāthān or tannı̄n (Isaiah 27:1), a sea-monster, which was popularly supposed to be extremely dangerous, but which cannot be more exactly defined. Even by going into captivity, they will not be protected from the sword. בּשּׁבי, not into captivity, but in statu captivitatis: even if they should be among those who were wandering into captivity, where men are generally sure of their lives (see Lamentations 1:5). For God has fixed His eye upon them, i.e., has taken them under His special superintendence (cf. Jeremiah 39:12); not, however, to shelter, to protect, and to bless, but לרעה, for evil, i.e., to punish them. "The people of the Lord remain, under all circumstances, the object of special attention. They are more richly blessed than the world, but they are also more severely punished" (Hengstenberg).
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