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Micah 7:11-12

11. In the day that thy walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree be far removed.

11. Dies ad aedificandum parietes tuos; dies iste procul abiget edictum.

12. In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.

12. Die isto etiam ad te veniet ab Assur, et urbibus munitionis, et a munitione etiam ad fluvium, et ad mare a mari, et a monte ad montem.

 

Micah pursues the subject on which he had previously spoken, — that though the Church thought itself for a time to be wholly lost, yet God would become its deliverer. He says first, that the day was near, in which they were to build the wall. The word גדר, gidar, means either a mound or a wall; so it ought to be distinguished from a wall, that is, a strong fortress. He then intimates that the time would come, when God would gather his Church, and preserve it, as though it were defended on every side by walls. For we know that the scattering of the Church is compared to the pulling down of walls or fences: as when a person pulls down the fence of a field or a vineyard, or breaks down all enclosures; so when the Church is exposed as a prey to all, she is said to be like an open field or a vineyard, which is without any fence. Now, on the other hand, the Prophet says here, that the time would come, when the faithful shall again build walls, by which they may be protected from the assaults and plunder of enemies, A day then to build thy walls

Then he adds, This day shall drive afar off the edict; some render it tribute; but the word properly means an edict, and this best suits the passage; for the Prophet’s meaning is, that the people would not, as before, be subject to the tyranny of Babylon. For after the subversion of Jerusalem, the Babylonians, no doubt, triumphed very unfeelingly over the miserable people, and uttered dreadful threatening. The Prophet, therefore, under the name of edict, includes that cruel and tyrannical dominion which the Babylonians for a time exercised. We know what God denounces on the Jews by Ezekiel,

‘Ye would not keep my good laws;
I will therefore give you laws which are not good,
which ye shall be constrained to keep;
and yet ye shall not live in them,’
(Ezekiel 20:25.)

Those laws which were not good were the edicts of which the Prophet now speaks. That day then shall drive far away the edict, that the Jews might not dread the laws of their enemies. For the Babylonians no doubt forbade, under the severest punishment, any one from building even a single house in the place where Jerusalem formerly was; for they wished that place to remain desolate, that the people might know that they had no hope of restoration. That day then shall put afar off; or drive to a distance, the edict; for liberty shall be given to the Jews to build their city; and then they shall not tremblingly expect every hour, until new edicts come forth, denouncing grievous punishments on whomsoever that would dare to encourage his brethren to build the temple of God.

Some draw the Prophet’s words to another meaning: they first think that he speaks only of the spiritual kingdom of Christ, and then they take רחק, rechek, in the sense of extending or propagating, and consider this to be the Gospel which Christ, by the command of the Father, promulgated through the whole world. It is indeed true that David uses the word decree in Psalm 2, while speaking of the preaching of the Gospel; and it is also true, that the promulgation of that decree is promised in Psalm 110, ‘The rod of his power will Jehovah send forth from Zion.’ But this passage ought not to be thus violently perverted; for the Prophet no doubt means, that the Jews would be freed from all dread of tyranny when God restored them to liberty; and רחק, rechek, does not mean to extend or propagate, but to drive far away. That day then shall drive away the decree, so that the faithful shall be no more subject to tyrannical commands. We now perceive the true meaning of the Prophet.

The faithful doubtless prayed in their adversities, and depended on such prophecies as we find in Psalm 102,

‘The day is now come to show mercy to Zion, and to build its walls; for thy servants pity her stones.’

Nor did the faithful pray thus presumptuously, but taking confidence, as though God had dictated a form of prayer by his own mouth, they dealt with God according to his promise, “O Lord, thou hast promised the rebuilding of the city, and the time has been prefixed by Jeremiah and by other Prophets: since then the time is now completed, grant that the temple and the holy city may again be built.”

Some render the words, “In the day in which thou shalt build (or God shall build) thy walls — in that day shall be removed afar off the decree.” But I doubt not but that the Prophet promises here distinctly to the faithful both the restoration of the city and a civil freedom; for the sentence is in two parts: the Prophet intimates first, that the time was now near when the faithful would build their own walls, that they might not be exposed to the will of their enemies, — and then he adds, that they would be freed from the dread of tyranny; for God, as it is said by Isaiah, would break the yoke of the burden, and the scepter of the oppressor, (Isaiah 9:4;) and it is altogether the same kind of sentence.

He afterwards adds, In that day also to thee shall they come from Asshur. There is some obscurity in the words; hence interpreters have regarded different words as being understood: but to me the meaning of the Prophet appears not doubtful. In that day, he says, to thee shall they come from Asshur, and cities of the fortress and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain; but some think הר, er, to be a proper name, and render the last clause, “And from mount Hor:” and we know that Aaron was buried on this mount. But the Prophet, no doubt, alludes here to some other place; and to render it mount Hor is a strained version. I doubt not, therefore, but that the Prophet repeats a common name, as though he said, “From mountains to mountains.”

Let us now see what the Prophet means. With regard to the passage, as I have said, there is no ambiguity, provided we bear in mind the main subject. Now the Prophet had this in view, — That Jerusalem, when restored by God, would be in such honor along all nations that there would be flowing to her from all parts. He then says, that the state of the city would be very splendid, so that people from all quarters would come to it: and therefore the copulative vau is to be taken twice for even for the sake of emphasis, In that day, even to thee, and then, even to the river; for it was not believed that Jerusalem would have any dignity, after it had been entirely destroyed, together with the temple. It is no wonder then that the Prophet so distinctly confirms here what was by no means probable, at least according to the common sentiments of men, — that Jerusalem would attract to itself all nations, even those far away. Come, then, shall they, (for the verb יבוא, ibua, in the singular number must be taken indefinitely as having a plural meaning,) Come, then, shall they from Asshur even to thee. But the Assyrians had previously destroyed every land, overturned the kingdom of Israel, and almost blotted out its name; and they had also laid waste the kingdom of Judah; a small portion only remained. They came afterwards, we know, with the Chaldeans, after the seat of empire was translated to Babylon, and destroyed Nineveh. Therefore, by naming the Assyrians, he no doubt, taking a part for the whole, included the Babylonians. Come, then, shall they from Asshur, and then, from the cities of the fortress, that is, from every fortress. For they who take צור, tsur, for Tyre are mistaken; for מצור, metsur 192192     It is somewhat singular that Newcome renders the first “fenced” and the second “Egypt:” but Henderson renders both “Egypt.” It is not the common name for Egypt, which is מצרים; the places referred to, 2 Kings 19:24, and Isaiah 19:6, do not justify this application. The word “day” in three instances is here without a preposition: it may therefore be regarded as the nominative absolute, or the verb, is nigh, or approaches, as Jerome proposes, is understood. I would give this version of the two verses, —
   11. The day for building thy walls!
That day! Removed far shall be the decree:

   12. That day! Even to thee shall they come,
From Assyria and cities of fortress,
And from the fortress even to the river,
And
from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain,
or, word for word,
And from the fortress even to the river and the sea,
From the sea and the mountain of the mountain.

   The last expression seems to mean, “every mountain.” — Ed.
is mentioned twice, and it means citadels and strongholds. And then, even to the river, that is, to utmost borders of Euphrates; for many take Euphrates, by way of excellence, to be meant by the word river; as it is often the case in Scripture; though it might be not less fitly interpreted of any or every river, as though the Prophet had said, that there would be no obstacle to stop their course who would hasten to Jerusalem. Even to the river then, and from sea to sea, that is, they shall come in troops from remote countries, being led by the celebrity of the holy city; for when it shall be rebuilt by God’s command, it shall acquire new and unusual honor, so that all people from every part shall assemble there. And then, from mountain to mountain, that is, from regions far asunder. This is the sum of the whole.

The Prophet then promises what all men deemed as fabulous, — that the dignity of the city Jerusalem should be so great after the return of the Jews from exile, that it would become, as it were, the metropolis of the world. One thing must be added: They who confine this passage to Christ seem not indeed to be without a plausible reason; for there follows immediately a threatening as to the desolation of the land; and there seems to be some inconsistency, except we consider the Prophet here as comparing the Church collected from all nations with the ancient people. But these things will harmonize well together if we consider, that the Prophet denounces vengeance on the unbelieving who then lived, and that he yet declares that God will be merciful to his chosen people. But the restriction which they maintain is too rigid; for we know that it was usual with the Prophets to extend the favor of God from the return of the ancient people to the coming of Christ. Whenever, then, the Prophets make known God’s favor in the deliverance of his people, they make a transition to Christ, but included also the whole intermediate time. And this mode the Prophet now pursues, and it ought to be borne in mind by us. Let us go on —


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