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Micah 5:3

3. Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.

3. Propterea 143143     לכן, Grotius renders it certè — surely: but nevertheless, as proposed by Scott, is the most suitable particle here. Dathius gives this paraphrase — Verum quidem est — True indeed it is. — Ed. dabit eos (hoc est, ponet eos, vel, relinquet) usque ad tempus quo parturiens pariet; et revertentur ad filios Israel residuum fratrum ejus.

 

The Prophet here again so moderates his words, that the Jews might understand, that they were to endure many evils before God relieved their miseries. He wished then here to prepare the minds of the godly to bear evils, that they might not despair in great troubles, nor be depressed by extreme fear. He then states these two things, — that the people, as they deserved, would be heavily afflicted, — and then that God, notwithstanding such severe punishment, would be mindful of his covenant, so as to gather at length some remnants and not to suffer his people to be wholly destroyed. He therefore promises a middle course between a prosperous state and destruction. The people, says the Prophet, shall not continue entire. — How so? For God will cut off the kingdom and the city; and yet he will afford relief to the miserable: When they shall think that they are given up to entire ruin, he will stretch forth his hand to them. This is the sum of the whole.

He then says that they shall be delivered up, that is, forsaken by God, until she who is in travail bringeth forth 144144     Until the time the begetting shall beget, (יולדה ילדה)
And the remnant of his brethren shall be converted
Together with the children of Israel.

   Newcome gives this explanation of the verse, — “The sense is: God will not fully vindicate and exalt his people, till the Virgin-mother shall have brought forth her Son; and till Judah and Israel, and all the true sons of Abraham among their brethren, the Gentiles, be converted to Christianity.” — Ed.
There are those who apply this to the blessed virgin; as though Micah had said that the Jews were to look forward to the time when the Virgin would bring forth Christ: but all may easily see that this is a forced interpretation. The Prophet, I have no doubt, in using this similitude, compares the body of the people to a woman with child. The similitude of a woman in travail is variously applied. The wicked, when they promise to themselves impunity, are suddenly and violently laid hold on: thus their destruction is like the travail of a woman with child. But the meaning of this passage is different; for the Prophet says that the Jews would be like pregnant women, for this reason, — that though they would have to endure the greatest sorrows, there yet would follow a joyful and happy issue. And Christ himself employs this example for the same purpose,

‘A woman,’ he says, ‘has sorrow when she brings forth, but immediately rejoices when she sees a man born into the world,’ (John 16:21.)

So Micah says in this place, that the chosen people would have a happy deliverance from their miseries, for they would bring forth. There shall indeed be the most grievous sorrows, but their issue will be joy, that is, when they shall know that they and their salvation had been the objects of God’s care, when they shall understand that their chastisements had been useful to them. Until then she who is in travail bringeth forth, God, he says, will forsake them

There are then two clauses in this verse; — the first is, that the Jews were for a time to be forsaken, as though they were no longer under the power and protection of God; — the other is that God would be always their guardian, for a bringing forth would follow their sorrows. The following passage in Isaiah is of an opposite character;

‘We have been in sorrow, we have been in travail,
and we brought forth wind,’ (Isaiah 26:18.)

The faithful complain there that they had been oppressed with the severest troubles, and had come to the birth, but that they brought forth nothing but wind, that is, that they had been deceived by vain expectation, for the issue did not prove to be what they had hoped. But the Lord promises here by Micah something better, and that is, that the end of all their evils would be the happy restoration of the people, as when a woman receives a compensation for all her sorrows when she sees that a child is born.

And he confirms this sentence by another, when he says, To the children of Israel shall return, or be converted, the residue of his brethren 145145     By this arrangement of the sentence, Calvin evidently meant, that “his,” before “brethren,” refers to “Israel.” In the original, the latter clause is before the former, but in Hebrew, as well as in other languages, the antecedent sometimes comes after its pronoun. — Ed. The Prophet then intimates that it could not be otherwise but that God would not only scatter, but tread under foot his people, so that their calamity would threaten an unavoidable destruction. This is one thing; but in the meantime he promises that there would be some saved. But he speaks of a remnant, as we have observed elsewhere, lest hypocrites should think that they could escape unpunished, while they trifled with God. The Prophet then shows that there would come such a calamity as would nearly extinguish the people, but that some would be preserved through God’s mercy and that beyond ordinary expectation. 146146     Most commentators differ from Calvin in their view of this verse, regarding it as a distinct prophecy of the Savior’s birth. There are difficulties on both sides: but taking the whole context, especially the following verse, we can hardly resist the conclusion, that Christ, born of a Virgin, is the subject. Indeed, the whole of this chapter, notwithstanding the reference to the Assyrian, is not capable of a satisfactory explanation, without applying what is said to Christ and his Church. Some things, no doubt, in the history of the Jews, may be alluded to, or incidentally mentioned; but the full accomplishment must be looked for in the new dispensation. And it is a splendid prophecy, in words often derived from customs and incidents among the Jews, of the birth of the Savior, and the character and extent, and blessedness of his kingdom, and the destruction of his enemies.
   Newcome and Adam Clarke propose to divide the chapter after the first line in verse 5, thinking that a new subject is there introduced: but evidently the same subject, the Gospel dispensation, is continued to the end of the chapter. The Assyrian, the especial enemy of the ancient Church, designates the enemies of the Christian Church in all ages.

   “As Sennacherib’s invasion,” says Scott, “was not repelled by the ruler or chieftains of Israel: nor did the Jews ever invade or waste the Assyrian dominions; it seems evident, that these expressions must be understood as mystically intending other enemies and persecutors of the Church, who should be of the same spirit with Sennacherib and the Assyrians.” Henry, who is much more learned critic and much profounder divine than what is commonly thought, agrees with Scott, and many others, in the interpretation of this chapter. — Ed.
We now perceive the intention of the Prophet. It now follows —


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