Micah V

              8 For this I will lament and wail; I will go stripped and naked; I will make lamentation like the jackals, and mourning like the ostriches.                   9 For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, to Jerusalem. 

Micah laments the destruction of Samaria with prolonged high-pitched cries of grief while walking around unclothed. The custom of the day was to wear sackcloth (cf. Gen. 37:34; 1 Kings 21:27; Joel 1:8) and head covering (cf. 2 Sam. 15:30) to signify mourning.[1] The prophets drastic measures of lamenting may be indicative of an impending removal from the land.[2] There is no reversing the offenses Samaria has carried out and, by way of association, Jerusalem will suffer as well.[3]

               10 Tell it not in Gath; weep not at all; in Beth-le-aphrah roll yourselves in the dust.

Micah uses double entendres to amplify his message regarding Samaria. In the first clause, the Hebrew word for “tell” sounds very similar to the word used for Gath. Similarly, the second clause could be translated “do not tell in Acco,” a city in the same vicinity of Gath.[4] Either way, Gath was a Philistine city that would rejoice over any calamity that beset Jerusalem. Hence, the prophet enjoins the Israelites to protect the dignity of their nation from foreigners by not weeping (cf. 2 Sam. 1:20).[5]

               11 Pass on your way, inhabitants of Shaphir, in nakedness and shame, the inhabitants of Zaanan do not come out; the lamentation of Beth-ezel shall take away from you its standing place.                                       12 For the inhabitants of Maroth wait anxiously for good, because disaster has come down from the LORD to the gate of Jerusalem.

          Shaphir means “beautiful” or “pleasant” yet the townspeople were about to be shamed. Zanaan means “come out,” just the same, its citizenry would not be able to depart. Beth-ezel translates “standing place,” despite that the city would no longer serve as a buffer between Jerusalem and its enemies. Maroth is “bitter” and bound to suffer the same discipline God has in store for all of these cities. Micah message in the word play, these cities were going to experience the exact opposite of their epithets.[6]

                13 Harness the steeds to the chariots, inhabitants of Lachish; it was the beginning of sin to the daughter of Zion, for in you were found the transgressions of Israel.                                                                14 Therefore you shall give parting gifts to Moresheth-gath; the houses of Achzib shall be a deceitful thing to the kings of Israel.

According to this verse, Judah’s idolatry had its genesis in Lachish. Lachish was a city near the border of Israel, the northern kingdom. Jeroboam’s, king of Israel, worship of false gods infected the town. The idolatry was viral and made its way into the Jerusalem, the heart of Judah.[7]

The name Moresheth is similar to the word for “betrothed.” Parting gifts were customary for brides (cf. 1 kings 9:16). The intended message is that Moresheth would be parting from Judah, just “as a bride parts from her family.”[8]

Achzib (“deception”) is used to of a dry streambed, insinuating that Achzib would cease to exist.[9]

               15 I will again bring a conqueror to you, inhabitants of Mareshah; the glory of Israel shall come to Adullam.                                             16 Make yourselves bald and cut off your hair, for the children of your delight; make yourselves as bald as the eagle, for they shall go from you into exile.

Marshah was synonymous with “conqueror.” Ironically, the city would soon be conquered. Once again, Micah availed himself of double entendre to make his message more poignant. In all, verses 10-16 bring to bear images of David’s escape to the cave of Adullam during his flight from Saul (cf. 1 Sam. 22:1). The people of these cities will be forced to flee just as David was.

            [1] cf. is an abbreviation of compare, confer

            [2] W. Brian Aucker and Dennis R. Magary, ESV Study Bible, ed. Lane T. Dennis et al. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 1697.

            [3] Thomas Edward McComiskey, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel – Minor Prophets, 12 vols., ed. Frank E. Gaebelein et al. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1985), 7:406.

           [4] Ibid., 7:407.

           [5] A.R. Fausett, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, 3 vols., (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973), 2:588.

            [6] McComiskey, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 7:407-408.

[7] Fausett, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, 2:589.

            [8] McComiskey, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 7:408.

            [9] Ibid.