The book of Micah begins with a horrific description of the devastation soon to come to the northern kingdom of Israel. God has been moved to act because of Israel's sins. God would not take such violent action if there were not a good reason for it. This passage is written as if God were making a case before all the people on earth that the destruction of Samaria is justified (v. 2). For those who may be wondering why God would so cruelly punish God's own people, the book wants to make clear from the beginning that God had just cause. It is not that God has been unfaithful or takes pleasure in acts of destruction. The people deserve their fate, and cleansing judgment is needed.
This is probably the earliest prophetic oracle from Micah since it must come before the calamity that it predicts--the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C.E. The rest of the book is directed to the southern kingdom of Judah, which remained in existence for more than another century. It is important to note (in v. 5) the link between the fall of Israel and the threat to Judah. Judah will face the same horrible end because they, too, have sinned and deserve punishment.
2 Hear, you peoples, all of you;
listen, O earth, and all that is in it;
and let the Lord God be a witness against you,
the Lord from his holy temple.
3 For lo, the Lord is coming out of his place,
and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.
4 Then the mountains will melt under him
and the valleys will burst open,
like wax near the fire,
like waters poured down a steep place.
5 All this is for the transgression of Jacob
and for the sins of the house of Israel.
What is the transgression of Jacob?
Is it not Samaria?
And what is the high place* of Judah?
Is it not Jerusalem?
6 Therefore I will make Samaria a heap in the open country,
a place for planting vineyards.
I will pour down her stones into the valley,
and uncover her foundations.
7 All her images shall be beaten to pieces,
all her wages shall be burned with fire,
and all her idols I will lay waste;
for as the wages of a prostitute she gathered them,
and as the wages of a prostitute they shall again be used.
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
10 February 2011