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Micah 6:1-8

Context
The Lord Demands Justice, not Ritual

6:1 Listen to what the Lord says:

“Get up! Defend yourself 1  before the mountains! 2 

Present your case before the hills!” 3 

6:2 Hear the Lord’s accusation, you mountains,

you enduring foundations of the earth!

For the Lord has a case against his people;

he has a dispute with Israel! 4 

6:3 “My people, how have I wronged you? 5 

How have I wearied you? Answer me!

6:4 In fact, I brought you up from the land of Egypt,

I delivered you from that place of slavery.

I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to lead you. 6 

6:5 My people, recall how King Balak of Moab planned to harm you, 7 

how Balaam son of Beor responded to him.

Recall how you journeyed from Shittim to Gilgal,

so you might acknowledge that the Lord has treated you fairly.” 8 

6:6 With what should I 9  enter the Lord’s presence?

With what 10  should I bow before the sovereign God? 11 

Should I enter his presence with burnt offerings,

with year-old calves?

6:7 Will the Lord accept a thousand rams,

or ten thousand streams of olive oil?

Should I give him my firstborn child as payment for my rebellion,

my offspring – my own flesh and blood – for my sin? 12 

6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good,

and what the Lord really wants from you: 13 

He wants you to 14  promote 15  justice, to be faithful, 16 

and to live obediently before 17  your God.

1 tn Or “plead your case” (NASB, NIV, NRSV); NAB “present your plea”; NLT “state your case.”

sn Defend yourself. The Lord challenges Israel to defend itself against the charges he is bringing.

2 sn As in some ancient Near Eastern treaties, the mountains are personified as legal witnesses that will settle the dispute between God and Israel.

3 tn Heb “let the hills hear your voice.”

4 tn This verse briefly interrupts the Lord’s statement (see vv. 1, 3) as the prophet summons the mountains as witnesses. Because of this v. 2 has been placed in parentheses in the translation.

5 tn Heb “My people, what have I done to you?”

6 tn Heb “before you.”

7 tn Heb “remember what Balak…planned.”

8 tn Heb “From Shittim to Gilgal, in order to know the just acts of the Lord.” Something appears to be missing at the beginning of the line. The present translation supplies the words, “Recall how you went.” This apparently refers to how Israel crossed the Jordan River (see Josh 3:1; 4:19-24).

9 sn With what should I enter the Lord’s presence? The prophet speaks again, playing the role of an inquisitive worshiper who wants to know what God really desires from his followers.

10 tn The words “with what” do double duty in the parallelism and are supplied in the second line of the translation for clarification.

11 tn Or “the exalted God.”

12 tn Heb “the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul.” The Hebrew term נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) is often translated “soul,” but the word usually refers to the whole person; here “the sin of my soul” = “my sin.”

13 sn What the Lord really wants from you. Now the prophet switches roles and answers the hypothetical worshiper’s question. He makes it clear that the Lord desires proper attitudes more than ritual and sacrifice.

14 tn Heb “except.” This statement is actually linked with what precedes, “What does he want from you except….”

15 tn Heb “to do,” in the sense of “promote.”

16 tn Heb “to love faithfulness.”

17 tn Heb “to walk humbly [or perhaps, “carefully”] with.”



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