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Micah 5:2-15

A King Will Come and a Remnant Will Prosper

5:2 (5:1) As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, 1 

seemingly insignificant 2  among the clans of Judah –

from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, 3 

one whose origins 4  are in the distant past. 5 

5:3 So the Lord 6  will hand the people of Israel 7  over to their enemies 8 

until the time when the woman in labor 9  gives birth. 10 

Then the rest of the king’s 11  countrymen will return

to be reunited with the people of Israel. 12 

5:4 He will assume his post 13  and shepherd the people 14  by the Lord’s strength,

by the sovereign authority of the Lord his God. 15 

They will live securely, 16  for at that time he will be honored 17 

even in the distant regions of 18  the earth.

5:5 He will give us peace. 19 

Should the Assyrians try to invade our land

and attempt to set foot in our fortresses, 20 

we will send 21  against them seven 22  shepherd-rulers, 23 

make that eight commanders. 24 

5:6 They will rule 25  the land of Assyria with the sword,

the land of Nimrod 26  with a drawn sword. 27 

Our king 28  will rescue us from the Assyrians

should they attempt to invade our land

and try to set foot in our territory.

5:7 Those survivors from 29  Jacob will live 30 

in the midst of many nations. 31 

They will be like the dew the Lord sends,

like the rain on the grass,

that does not hope for men to come

or wait around for humans to arrive. 32 

5:8 Those survivors from Jacob will live among the nations,

in the midst of many peoples.

They will be like a lion among the animals of the forest,

like a young lion among the flocks of sheep,

which attacks when it passes through;

it rips its prey 33  and there is no one to stop it. 34 

5:9 Lift your hand triumphantly against your adversaries; 35 

may all your enemies be destroyed! 36 

The Lord Will Purify His People

5:10 “In that day,” says the Lord,

“I will destroy 37  your horses from your midst,

and smash your chariots.

5:11 I will destroy the cities of your land,

and tear down all your fortresses.

5:12 I will remove the sorcery 38  that you practice, 39 

and you will no longer have omen readers living among you. 40 

5:13 I will remove your idols and sacred pillars from your midst;

you will no longer worship what your own hands made.

5:14 I will uproot your images of Asherah 41  from your midst,

and destroy your idols. 42 

5:15 I will angrily seek vengeance

on the nations that do not obey me.” 43 

1 sn Ephrathah is either an alternate name for Bethlehem or the name of the district in which Bethlehem was located. See Ruth 4:11.

map For location of Bethlehem see Map5 B1; Map7 E2; Map8 E2; Map10 B4.

2 tn Heb “being small.” Some omit לִהְיוֹת (lihyot, “being”) because it fits awkwardly and appears again in the next line.

3 tn Heb “from you for me one will go out to be a ruler over Israel.”

4 tn Heb “his goings out.” The term may refer to the ruler’s origins (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT) or to his activities.

5 tn Heb “from the past, from the days of antiquity.” Elsewhere both phrases refer to the early periods in the history of the world or of the nation of Israel. For מִקֶּדֶם (miqqedem, “from the past”) see Neh 12:46; Pss 74:12; 77:11; Isa 45:21; 46:10. For מִימֵי עוֹלָם (mimeyolam, “from the days of antiquity”) see Isa 63:9, 11; Amos 9:11; Mic 7:14; Mal 3:4. In Neh 12:46 and Amos 9:11 the Davidic era is in view.

sn In riddle-like fashion this verse alludes to David, as the references to Bethlehem and to his ancient origins/activities indicate. The passage anticipates the second coming of the great king to usher in a new era of national glory for Israel. Other prophets are more direct and name this coming ideal ruler “David” (Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hos 3:5). Of course, this prophecy of “David’s” second coming is actually fulfilled through his descendant, the Messiah, who will rule in the spirit and power of his famous ancestor and bring to realization the Davidic royal ideal in an even greater way than the historical David (see Isa 11:1, 10; Jer 33:15).

6 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

7 tn Heb “them”; the referent (the people of Israel) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

8 tn The words “to their enemies” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

9 sn The woman in labor. Personified, suffering Jerusalem is the referent. See 4:9-10.

10 sn Gives birth. The point of the figurative language is that Jerusalem finally finds relief from her suffering. See 4:10.

11 tn Heb “his”; the referent (the king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

12 tn Heb “to the sons of Israel.” The words “be reunited with” are supplied in the translation for clarity.

sn The rest of the king’s brothers are the coming king’s fellow Judahites, while the sons of Israel are the northern tribes. The verse pictures the reunification of the nation under the Davidic king. See Isa 11:12-13; Jer 31:2-6, 15-20; Ezek 37; Hos 1:11; 3:5.

13 tn Heb “stand up”; NAB “stand firm”; NASB “will arise.”

14 tn The words “the people” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

15 tn Heb “by the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.”

16 tn The words “in peace” are supplied in the translation for clarification. Perhaps וְיָשָׁבוּ (vÿyashavu, “and they will live”) should be emended to וְשָׁבוּ (vÿshavu, “and they will return”).

17 tn Heb “be great.”

18 tn Or “to the ends of.”

19 tn Heb “and this one will be peace”; ASV “and this man shall be our peace” (cf. Eph 2:14).

20 tc Some prefer to read “in our land,” emending the text to בְּאַדְמָתֵנוּ (bÿadmatenu).

21 tn Heb “raise up.”

22 sn The numbers seven and eight here symbolize completeness and emphasize that Israel will have more than enough military leadership and strength to withstand the Assyrian advance.

23 tn Heb “shepherds.”

24 tn Heb “and eight leaders of men.”

25 tn Or perhaps “break”; or “defeat.”

26 sn According to Gen 10:8-12, Nimrod, who was famous as a warrior and hunter, founded Assyria.

27 tc The MT reads “in her gates,” but the text should be emended to בַּפְּתִיחָה (baptikhah, “with a drawn sword”).

28 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the coming king) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

29 tn Heb “the remnant of” (also in v. 8).

30 tn Heb “will be.”

31 tn This could mean “(scattered) among the nations” (cf. CEV, NLT) or “surrounded by many nations” (cf. NRSV).

32 tn Heb “that does not hope for man, and does not wait for the sons of men.”

sn Men wait eagerly for the dew and the rain, not vice versa. Just as the dew and rain are subject to the Lord, not men, so the remnant of Israel will succeed by the supernatural power of God and not need the support of other nations. There may even be a military metaphor here. Israel will overwhelm their enemies, just as the dew completely covers the grass (see 2 Sam 17:12). This interpretation would be consistent with the image of v. 7.

33 tn The words “its prey” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

34 tn Heb “and there is no deliverer.”

35 tn Heb “let your hand be lifted against your adversaries.”

36 tn Heb “be cut off.”

37 tn Heb “cut off” (also in the following verse).

38 tn Heb “magic charms” (so NCV, TEV); NIV, NLT “witchcraft”; NAB “the means of divination.” The precise meaning of this Hebrew word is uncertain, but note its use in Isa 47:9, 12.

39 tn Heb “from your hands.”

40 tn Heb “and you will not have omen-readers.”

41 tn Or “Asherah poles.”

sn Asherah was a leading deity of the Canaanite pantheon, wife/sister of El and goddess of fertility. She was commonly worshiped at shrines in or near groves of evergreen trees, or, failing that, at places marked by wooden poles. These were to be burned or cut down (Deut 12:3; 16:21; Judg 6:25, 28, 30; 2 Kgs 18:4). The Lord states that he will destroy these images, something the Israelites themselves should have done but failed to do.

42 tn The MT reads “your cities,” but many emend the text to צִרֶיךָ (tsirekha, “your images”) or עֲצַבֶּיךָ (’atsbbekha, “your idols”).

43 tn Heb “I will accomplish in anger and in rage, vengeance on the nations who do not listen.”

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