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God Challenges Israel


Hear what the L ord says:

Rise, plead your case before the mountains,

and let the hills hear your voice.


Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the L ord,

and you enduring foundations of the earth;

for the L ord has a controversy with his people,

and he will contend with Israel.



“O my people, what have I done to you?

In what have I wearied you? Answer me!


For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,

and redeemed you from the house of slavery;

and I sent before you Moses,

Aaron, and Miriam.


O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised,

what Balaam son of Beor answered him,

and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal,

that you may know the saving acts of the L ord.”


What God Requires


“With what shall I come before the L ord,

and bow myself before God on high?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?


Will the L ord be pleased with thousands of rams,

with ten thousands of rivers of oil?

Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,

the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”


He has told you, O mortal, what is good;

and what does the L ord require of you

but to do justice, and to love kindness,

and to walk humbly with your God?


Cheating and Violence to Be Punished


The voice of the L ord cries to the city

(it is sound wisdom to fear your name):

Hear, O tribe and assembly of the city!


Can I forget the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked,

and the scant measure that is accursed?


Can I tolerate wicked scales

and a bag of dishonest weights?


Your wealthy are full of violence;

your inhabitants speak lies,

with tongues of deceit in their mouths.


Therefore I have begun to strike you down,

making you desolate because of your sins.


You shall eat, but not be satisfied,

and there shall be a gnawing hunger within you;

you shall put away, but not save,

and what you save, I will hand over to the sword.


You shall sow, but not reap;

you shall tread olives, but not anoint yourselves with oil;

you shall tread grapes, but not drink wine.


For you have kept the statutes of Omri

and all the works of the house of Ahab,

and you have followed their counsels.

Therefore I will make you a desolation, and your inhabitants an object of hissing;

so you shall bear the scorn of my people.


The Prophet complains here that he and other teachers did but little, though their cry resounded and was heard by the whole people. He therefore says, that the voice of God cried; as though he had said that there was no excuse for ignorance, for God had indiscriminately exhorted them all to repentance. Now, since what was taught was common to them all, the Prophet deplores their perverseness, for very few were attentive; and the fable was sung, according to the proverb, to the deaf. We must then notice the word cry; the voice of God, he says, crieth. God did not whisper in the ear of one or two, but he designed his voice to be heard by all from the least to the greatest. The Prophets then did cry loud enough, but there were no ears to hear them.

We may take the word לעיר, laoir, in two ways. עיר, oir, means a city. But some derive it from עור, our, and render it as if it were written להעיר, laeoir. If ה, he is put in, it must be rendered, To rouse; and the letter ה, he, may be concealed under the point chamets; and this sense would be the most suitable, The voice of Jehovah cries to arouse or awaken; that is though the people are torpid, and as it were overpowered with sleep, for they indulged themselves in their sins; yet the voice of God ought to be sufficient to arouse them all: however sleepy they might have been, there was yet power enough in the doctrine of the Law, which the Prophet daily proclaimed. But still this voice, by which the whole people ought to have been awakened, was not heard!

The man of understanding, he says will see thy name The word תושיה, tushie, means properly understanding, as it is clear from many other passages; but the Prophet means that there was a very small number who were teachable; and he calls them men of understanding. At the same time, he indirectly reproves the sottishness of the people, though they all boasted that they were wise, and boasted also that they were the learners of the Law. The Prophet shows here by implication, that understanding was a rare thing among that people; for few hearkened to the voice of God. And thus we see what his object was; for he wished to touch the Jews to the quick, that they might acknowledge that they were without mind and understanding, because they had hardened themselves against God, so that his voice did not reach their hearts. He therefore shows that they were all besides themselves; for had they any right understanding, they would have hearkened to God speaking to them, as they were his disciples. What indeed could have been more strange, nay more inhuman, than for men to reject the doctrine of their salvation, and to turn aside from hearing even God himself? Thus the madness of the people was reproved; for though the voice of God sounded in the ears of them all, it was not yet listened to.

If one prefers reading, In the city, then no doubt the Prophet means, that the voice of God was proclaimed through all the cities: for to confine it, as some interpreters do, to Jerusalem, or to Samaria, appears frigid. We must then understand a change of number, and take city for any large concourse of people; as though he had said, that there was no city in which God did not cry and yet that there were ears no where.

It afterwards follows, Shall see thy name. Some render it, Shall fear, 171171     And so Newcome renders it, and there are a few copies in favor of this reading, in which יראי is found: but a fact of this kind is not sufficient to make a change, except there will be other reasons. And then in the next line there is a change made, without the authority of one MS. Indeed these two lines are rendered as though the Archbishop had another text; and indeed it is another: his version is this, —
   And there is a sound wisdom with them that fear his name:
Hear, O ye tribes, him that testifieth.

   This version is partly derived from the Septuagint; which could not have been wholly followed, as it differs so widely from the Hebrew, and hardly presents any meaning. There is far more correspondence in the passage, as it is rendered in our version, and by Calvin, and also by Henderson; and the Hebrew is closely followed. Drusius and others agree with Calvin, that תושיה, which is rendered often “sound wisdom,” is to be taken here as concrete, signifying a wise man. מטה is evidently the rod of correction, and is used in this sense in Isaiah 10:5, 24; and it is more consistent with the whole passage to consider יעדה as a future, construed, as in the present tense, with an affix, from עד, to testify, than from יעד to appoint, — “Hear ye the rod,” the chastening rod, “and who testifies of it.” Newcome viewed it as being this verb; but he takes no notice of its affix ה, which refers to the rod, by which chastisement is signified. — Ed.
as though it was from ירא, ira; but it comes on the contrary from ראה, rae; and rules of grammar will not allow it to be viewed otherwise. And the Prophet speaks in a striking manner, when he says, that the intelligent man seeth the name of God. For whence proceeded the contempt of wicked men, so that they disregarded the voice of God, except from this — that his majesty had no effect on them; that is, they did not acknowledge that they had to do with God? For if they really understood what I have said, — that God spoke to them, his majesty would have immediately come to view, it would have arrested all their thoughts. God then would have constrained even the most heedless to fear him, had it not been, that they imagined the voice which sounded in their ears was that of man. Significantly then does the Prophet say, that it was the act of singular prudence to see the name of God, that is to understand from whom the doctrine proceeded. For as soon as we hearken to God, his majesty, as I have said, must so penetrate all our thoughts, as to humble us before him, and to constrain us to do him homage. The contempt then of spiritual doctrine, and also the perverseness of ungodly men, proceed from this, — that they see not the name of God, that they understand not that it is his name.

He afterwards adds, Hear ye the rod, and him who proclaims it to you By rod he means threatening; as though he said, — “Your arrogance in mocking God shall not go unpunished, as though his voice were an empty sound: there is then no reason for you to deceive yourselves with the hope of impunity; for God will avenge the contempt of his word.” Now the Prophet’s design was, to denounce an approaching vengeance on those who came not willingly to God, and received not his word with genuine docility of mind. Whenever, then, men despise the voice of God, as though it proceeded only from a mortal being, on such Micah denounces an impending vengeance; for the contempt of his word is a thing intolerable to God. This is the reason why he immediately adds, after having complained of the contempt of his word, that vengeance was not afar off; Hear ye then the rod, and who declares or testifies concerning it

This last clause ought to be especially noticed; for the ungodly are not terrified when God declares that he will be an avenger, because they think not that they must give an account of their life, or they look only on mortal man, “Ah! who speaks? Is he indeed our God? Is he armed with celestial power? Do we not see a mortal man and one like ourselves?” We daily see that the ungodly do thus cast away every fear, and willfully harden themselves against God’s judgments. It is not then without reason that the Prophet bids the Jews seriously to consider who testifies of the rod; as though he said, — “I indeed confess that I am a mortal man, but remember who has sent me; for I go not forth as a private individual, nor have I presumptuously intruded into this office; but I am armed with God’s command; nay, God himself speaks through my mouth. If then ye despise me, the Lord is present, who will vindicate his own commands for he will not suffer himself to be despised in his servants though they may be contemptible according to the flesh, he will yet have the reverence which it deserves to be paid to his word.” We now perceive the real meaning of the Prophet. It now follows —

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