Introduction from the NIV Study Bible | Go to Micah
Little is known about the prophet Micah beyond what can be learned from the book itself and from Jer 26:18. Micah was from the town of Moresheth (1:1), probably Moresheth Gath (1:14) in southern Judah. The prophecy attests to Micah’s deep sensitivity to the social ills of his day, especially as they affected the small towns and villages of his homeland.
Micah prophesied sometime between 750 and 686 b.c. during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (1:1; Jer 26:18). He was therefore a contemporary of Isaiah (see Isa 1:1) and Hosea (see Hos 1:1). Micah predicted the fall of Samaria (1:6), which took place in 722–721. This would place his early ministry in the reigns of Jotham (750–732) and Ahaz (735–715). (The reigns of Jotham and Ahaz overlapped.) Micah’s message reflects social conditions prior to the religious reforms under Hezekiah (715–686). Micah’s ministry most likely fell within the period 735–700.
If Micah himself wrote out his messages, the date for the earliest written form of his work would be c. 700. If one of his disciples arranged his messages in their present form, the date would be the early seventh century b.c. If a later editor collected and arranged his messages, the date would still need to be early enough in the seventh century to allow time for his prophecy of Jerusalem’s fall (3:12) to become familiar enough to be quoted in Jer 26:18 c. 608.
The background of the book is the same as that found in the earlier portions of Isaiah, though Micah does not exhibit the same knowledge of Jerusalem’s political life as Isaiah does. Perhaps this is because he, like Amos, was from a village in Judah. The relevant Biblical texts covering this period (see Date above) are 2Ki 15:32—20:21; 2Ch 27–32; Isa 7; 20; 36–39.
Several significant historical events occurred during this period:
- In 734–732 b.c. Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria led a military campaign against Aram (Syria), Philistia and parts of Israel and Judah. Ashkelon and Gaza were defeated. Judah, Ammon, Edom and Moab paid tribute to the Assyrian king, but Israel did not fare as well. According to 2Ki 15:29 the northern kingdom lost most of its territory, including all of Gilead and much of Galilee. Damascus fell in 732 and was annexed to the Assyrian empire.
- In 722–721 Samaria fell, and the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria.
- In 712 King Sargon II of Assyria captured Ashdod (see Isa 20:1 and note).
- In 701 Judah joined a revolt against Assyria and was overrun by King Sennacherib and his army, though Jerusalem was spared.
- Structure. The book’s collection of short prophetic messages is organized in a pattern of three cycles of judgment and salvation/deliverance oracles (see Outline below).
- Forms. The book contains at least seven different literary forms. These are identified in the notes on the individual units.
- Style. Micah’s style is similar to that of Isaiah. Both prophets use vigorous language and many figures of speech (see, e.g., Mic 1:4–5,7; 2:4,6,11; 3:2–3; 4:3–4,12–13; 5:1); both show great tenderness in threatening punishment and in promising justice. Micah makes frequent use of plays on words, 1:10–15 (see NIV text notes there) being the classic example.
Theme and Message
As the Outline shows, Micah’s message alternates between oracles of doom and oracles of hope—in terms of Ro 11:22, between God’s “sternness” and his “kindness.” The theme is divine judgment and deliverance. Micah also stresses that God hates idolatry, injustice, rebellion and empty ritualism (see 3:8 and note), but delights in pardoning the penitent (see 7:18–19 and notes). Finally, the prophet declares that Zion will have greater glory in the future than ever before (see, e.g., 4:1–2 and note on 4:1–5). The Davidic kingdom, though it will seem to come to an end, will reach greater heights through the coming Messianic deliverer (see note on 5:1–4). Key passages include 1:2; 3:8–12; 5:1–4; 6:2,6–8; 7:18–20.
- Title (1:1)
- First Cycle: Judgment and Restoration of Israel and Judah (1:2—2:13)
- Second Cycle: Indictment of Judah’s Leaders, but Future Hope for God’s People (chs. 3–5)
- Indictment of Judah’s Leaders (ch. 3)
- Future Hope for God’s People (chs. 4–5)
- The coming kingdom (4:1–5)
- Restoration of a remnant and Zion (4:6–8)
- From distress to deliverance (4:9–10)
- From siege to victory (4:11–13)
- From helpless ruler to ideal king (5:1–4)
- The ideal king delivers his people (5:5–6)
- The remnant among the nations (5:7–9)
- Obliteration of military might and pagan worship (5:10–15)
- Third Cycle: God’s Charges against His People and the Ultimate Triumph of His Kingdom (chs. 6–7)
- God’s Charges against His People (6:1—7:7)
- The Ultimate Triumph of God’s Kingdom (7:8–20)
© Zondervan. From the Zondervan NIV Study Bible. Used with Permission.
Published Wednesday, January 15, 2014