Micah 3


In this chapter the prophet inveighs with great boldness and

spirit against the princes and prophets of Judah; and foretells

the destruction of Jerusalem as the consequence of their

iniquity, 1-12.

The last verse was fulfilled to a certain extent by

Nebuchadnezzar; but most fully and literally by the Romans

under Titus. See Josephus.


Verse 1. Hear-O heads of Jacob] The metaphor of the flock is

still carried on. The chiefs of Jacob, and the princes of Israel,

instead of taking care of the flocks, defending them, and finding

them pasture, oppressed them in various ways. They are like

wolves, who tear the skin of the sheep, and the flesh off

their bones. This applies to all unjust and oppressive rulers.

Suetonius tells us, in his Life of Tiberius, that when the

governors of provinces wrote to the emperor, entreating him to

increase the tributes, he wrote back: "It is the property of a

good shepherd to shear his sheep, not to skin them." Praesidibus

onerandas tributo provincias suadentibus rescripsit: BONI PASTORIS

esse TONDERE pecus, non DEGLUBERE. This is a maxim which many

rulers of the earth do not seem to understand.

Verse 4. Then shall they cry] When calamity comes upon these

oppressors, they shall cry for deliverance: but they shall not be

heard; because, in their unjust exactions upon the people, they

went on ruthlessly, and would not hear the cry of the oppressed.

Verse 5. That bite with their teeth] That eat to the full; that

are well provided for, and as long as they are so, prophesy smooth

things, and cry, Peace! i.e., Ye shall have nothing but peace and

prosperity. Whereas the true prophet, "who putteth not into their

mouths," who makes no provision for their evil propensities, "they

prepare war against him." kiddeshu alaiu

milchamah, "They sanctify a war against him." They call on all

to help them to put down a man who is speaking evil of the Lord's

people; and predicting the destruction of his temple, and Israel

his inheritance.

Verse 6. Night shall be unto you] Ye shall have no spiritual

light, nor will God give you any revelation of his will.

The sun shall go down over the prophets] They prospered for a

while, causing the people to err; but they shall also be carried

into captivity, and then the sun of their prosperity shall go down

for ever, and the very day that gives light and comfort to others,

shall be darkness and calamity to them.

Verse 7. Shall the seers be ashamed] For the false visions of

comfort and prosperity which they pretended to see.

And the diviners confounded] Who pretended to foretell future

prosperity; for they themselves are now thralled in that very

captivity which the true prophets foretold, and which the false

prophets said should not happen.

Verse 8. But-I am full of power] Here is the character of the

true prophet. He is filled, all his soul is occupied with power,

coach, with heavenly energy; by the Spirit of the Lord, the

fountain of all truth and might; and of judgment, which enables

him to make a proper discernment between the precious and the

vile; and of might, geburah, prevalent power, against

which vice shall not be able to prevail, and before which iniquity

shall not be able to stand: but all shall fall together, and be


Verse 9. Hear this] An appeal similar to that in Mic 3:1.

Verse 10. They build up Zion with blood] They might cry out

loudly against that butchery practised by Pekah, king of Israel,

and Pul coadjutor of Rezie, against the Jews. See on Mic 2:9. But

these were by no means clear themselves; for if they strengthened

the city, or decorated the temple, it was by the produce of their

exactions and oppressions of the people.

I do not know a text more applicable than this to slave-dealers;

or to any who have made their fortunes by such wrongs as affect

the life of man; especially the former, who by the gains of this

diabolic traffic have built houses, &c.; for, following up the

prophet's metaphor, the timbers, &c., are the bones of the

hapless Africans; and the mortar, the blood of the defenceless

progeny of Ham. What an account must all those who have any hand

in or profit from this detestable, degrading, and inhuman traffic,

give to Him who will shortly judge the quick and dead!

Verse 11. The heads thereof judge for reward] This does not

apply to the regular law officers, who have their proper salaries

for giving up their whole time and attention to the conscientious

discharge of the duties of their office; but to those who take a

reward, who take BRIBES, for the perversion of justice; who will

decide in favour of those from whom they get the greatest reward.

The prophets-divine for money] These are evidently the false

prophets; for none, professing to be sent by God, used any kind of


Yet will they lean upon the Lord] They will prescribe fasts and

public thanksgivings, while not one sin is repented of or

forsaken, and not one public grievance is redressed.

Is not the Lord among us?] Here is his temple, here are his

ordinances, and here are his people. Will he leave these? Yes,

he will abandon the whole, because all are polluted.

Verse 12. Therefore shall Zion-be ploughed as a field] It shall

undergo a variety of reverses and sackages, till at last there

shall not be one stone left on the top of another, that shall not

be pulled down; and then a plough shall be drawn along the site of

the walls, to signify an irreparable and endless destruction. Of

this ancient custom Horace speaks, Odar. lib. i., Od. 16, ver. 18.

Altis urbibus ultimae

Stetere causae cur perirent

Funditus, imprimeretque muris

Hostile aratrum exercitus insolens

"From hence proud cities date their utter falls;

When, insolent in ruin, o'er their walls

The wrathful soldier drags the hostile plough,

That haughty mark of total overthrow."


Thus did the Romans treat Jerusalem when it was taken by Titus.

Turnus Rufus, or as he is called by St. Jerome, Titus Arinius

Rufus, or Terentius Rufus, according to Josephus, caused a plough

to be drawn over all the courts of the temple to signify that it

should never be rebuilt, and the place only serve for agricultural

purposes. See Clarke on Mt 24:2. Thus

Jerusalem became heaps, an indiscriminate mass of ruins and

rubbish; and the mountain of the house, Mount Moriah, on which the

temple stood, became so much neglected after the total destruction

of the temple, that it soon resembled the high places of the

forest. What is said here may apply also, as before hinted, to the

ruin of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar in the last year of the reign

of Zedekiah, the last king of the Jews.

As the Masoretes, in their division of the Bible, reckon the

twelve minor prophets but as one book, they mark this verse,

(Mic 3:12,) the MIDDLE

verse of these prophets.

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