THE BOOK OF MICAH

This book consists of a collection of speeches, proclamations of punishment and of salvation, attributed to the prophet Micah. Following its superscription (1:1), the book has two major sections, each with two parts. The organization of the material is thematic, moving from judgment to salvation in both major sections. In the first section (Mi 15), chaps. 13 consist almost entirely of prophecies of punishment, and chaps. 45 of prophecies of salvation. The second section (chaps. 67) also moves from prophecies of punishment (6:17:6) to confidence in God’s salvation (7:720).

Micah was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah. The book’s superscription (1:1) places his prophetic activity during the reigns of three kings of Judah: Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. It identifies him as a resident of Moresheth, a village in the Judean foothills. The solitary reference to Micah outside the book (Jer 26:1718) places him in the reign of Hezekiah and reports that he went from his small town to proclaim the word of the Lord in the capital, and asserts that his announcements of judgment against Jerusalem moved the king and the people to repentance. Unlike Isaiah, who was a native of the holy city, Micah was an outsider from the countryside and must have been a controversial figure. He would have been unpopular with the leaders whom he condemned (3:14) and the wealthy whom he criticized (2:15). He was quick to separate himself from priests and other prophets, whom he considered to be corrupt (3:58).

Just how much of the Book of Micah can be traced to the eighth-century prophet is uncertain. Tradition considers all of the words to be the recorded speeches of Micah, and some contemporary commentators agree. On the other hand, some modern scholars have thought of Micah as exclusively a prophet of doom, and therefore attributed as few as three of the seven chapters to him. The style, content, theological viewpoint, and historical perspective of some of the material reflect not the period of the Assyrian threat to Judah in the eighth century but the Babylonian exile in the sixth century B.C. and later. This is particularly evident in chap. 7, but also at other points in the book. The composition of this book, like most other prophetic texts, involved a complex editorial process. This is apparent from the fact that the stirring prophecy of peace and justice in 4:15 is virtually identical to Is 2:25.

Like Is 139, the Book of Micah is focused on Jerusalem, Zion, and the Judean leadership. The Micah who speaks in this prophetic book knows the tradition that Zion is the Lord’s chosen place, but he is critical of the popular view that this election ensures the city’s security (2:613; 3:912). Through the prophetic voice, the Lord announces the impending punishment of God’s people by means of military defeat and exile because of their failure to establish justice. After that punishment God will bring the people back to their land and establish perpetual peace. The will of God for human beings is that they do justice, love goodness, and walk humbly with God (6:68).

The Book of Micah is divided as follows:

  1. Oracles of Punishment (1:23:12)
  2. Oracles of Salvation (4:15:14)
  3. Announcement of Judgment (6:17:6)
  4. Confidence in God’s Future (7:720)

CHAPTER 1

1The word of the LORD which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

I. ORACLES OF PUNISHMENT

2Hear, O peoples, all of you,

give heed, O earth, and all that is in it!a

Let the Lord GOD be witness against you,

the Lord from his holy temple!*

3For see, the LORD goes out from his placeb

and descending, treads upon the heights of the earth.*

4The mountains melt under him

and the valleys split open,

Like wax before the fire,

like water poured down a slope.

5All this is for the crime of Jacob,

for the sins of the house of Israel.*

What is the crime of Jacob? Is it not Samaria?

And what is the sin of the house of Judah?

Is it not Jerusalem?

6So I will make Samaria a ruin in the field,

a place to plant vineyards;

I will throw its stones into the valley,

and lay bare its foundations.*

7All its carved figures shall be broken to pieces,c

all its wages shall be burned in the fire,

and all its idols I will destroy.

As the wages of a prostitute* it gathered them,

and to the wages of a prostitute they shall return.

8* For this I will lament and wail,

go barefoot and naked;

I will utter lamentation like the jackals,

mourning like the ostriches,d

9For her wound is incurable;

it has come even to Judah.

It has reached to the gate of my people,

even to Jerusalem.

10* Do not announce it in Gath,

do not weep at all;

In Beth-leaphrah

roll in the dust.e

11Pass by,

you who dwell in Shaphir!

The inhabitants of Zaanan

do not come forth from their city.

There is lamentation in Beth-ezel.

It will withdraw its support from you.

12The inhabitants of Maroth

hope for good,

But evil has come down from the LORD

to the gate of Jerusalem.

13Harness steeds to the chariots,

inhabitants of Lachish;

You are the beginning of sin

for daughter Zion,

For in you were found

the crimes of Israel.

14Therefore you must give back the dowry

to Moresheth-gath;

The houses of Achzib* are a dry stream bed

to the kings of Israel.

15Again I will bring the conqueror to you,

inhabitants of Mareshah;

The glory of Israel shall come

even to Adullam.

16Make yourself bald, cut off your hair,

for the children whom you cherish;

Make yourself bald as a vulture,

for they are taken from you into exile.*

* [1:2] The prophet summons all the peoples to hear the divine accusations against them. What follows in 1:23:12 is a series of prophecies of punishment addressed to the capital cities of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, Samaria and Jerusalem. The prophecies indict the leaders and main officials, including prophets. Because of the corruption and selfishness of their leaders, Samaria and Jerusalem will fall to their enemies.

* [1:3] The Lord comes in a theophany which has devastating effects on the natural world (1:4).

* [1:5] Although the summons (1:2) had been addressed to all people, the Lord speaks against Israel and Judah, identifying their crimes with the respective capital cities of Samaria and Jerusalem. Only Samaria, however, is scheduled for destruction in the announcement of punishment (vv. 67).

* [1:6] The punishment of Samaria will be a military disaster such as the one that actually came at the hands of the Assyrian army in 722/721 B.C.

* [1:7] The wages of a prostitute: as often in the prophets, prostitution is a metaphor for idolatry (Hos 13; 4:14). They shall return: i.e., Samaria’s idols shall come to nothing just as the wages of a prostitute are counted as nothing.

* [1:816] The prophet laments and wails, singing a funeral song or dirge over the city of Jerusalem. Finally (1:16) he calls upon the people of Jerusalem to join in the mourning.

* [1:1015] Not all of the cities and villages in this long list can be located with certainty. However, those which can be identified, including the prophet’s hometown, lie southwest of Jerusalem. In the Hebrew, wordplays on the names of these cities abound. The territory involved corresponds to that decimated by the Assyrian king Sennacherib in 701 B.C., during the reign of Hezekiah. Do not weep at all: some commentators and translators understand the Hebrew differently. They argue that the translation “in (unknown place name) weep!” fits the context better.

* [1:14] The houses of Achzib: there is a wordplay here. In the Hebrew, the word translated here as “dry stream bed” is ’achzab; this word is sometimes translated as “deception” or “disappointment.”

* [1:16] Shaving the head was a sign of mourning; cf. Is 3:24; Am 8:10.

a. [1:2] Dt 32:1; Is 1:2.

b. [1:34] Is 26:21; Na 1:5; Hb 3:10.

c. [1:7] Hos 9:1.

d. [1:8] Jb 30:29.

e. [1:10] 2 Sm 1:20.

CHAPTER 2

1* Ah! you plotters of iniquity,

who work out evil on your beds!

In the morning light you carry it out

for it lies within your power.

2* You covet fields, and seize them;

houses, and take them;

You cheat owners of their houses,

people of their inheritance.

3Therefore thus says the LORD:

Look, I am planning against this family an evil

from which you cannot free your necks;

Nor shall you walk with head held high,

for it will be an evil time.

4On that day you shall be mocked,

and there will be bitter lament:

“Our ruin is complete,

our fields are divided among our captors,

The fields of my people are measured out,

and no one can get them back!”*

5Thus you shall have no one

in the assembly of the LORD

to allot to you a share of land.

6* “Do not preach,” they preach,

“no one should preach of these things!

Shame will not overtake us.”

7How can it be said, house of Jacob,

“Is the LORD short of patience;

are these the Lord’s deeds?”

Do not my words promise good

to the one who walks in justice?

8But you rise up against my people as an enemy:

you have stripped off the garment from the peaceful,

From those who go their way in confidence,

as though it were spoils of war.

9The women of my people you drive out

from their pleasant houses;

From their children you take away

forever the honor I gave them.

10* “Get up! Leave,

this is no place to rest”;

Because of uncleanness that destroys

with terrible destruction.

11If one possessed of a lying spirita

speaks deceitfully, saying,

“I will preach to you wine and strong drink,”

that one would be the preacher for this people.

12* I will gather you, Jacob, each and every one,

I will assemble all the remnant of Israel;

I will group them like a flock in the fold,

like a herd in its pasture;

the noise of the people will resound.

13The one who makes a breach goes up before them;

they make a breach and pass through the gate;

Their king shall go through before them,

the LORD at their head.

* [2:15] The cry “Ah” (hoy) begins a typical prophetic speech that is usually continued, as here (vv. 12), by a description of the addressees in terms of their unrighteous activities. This description is an indictment which gives the reasons for punishment announced to a particular group of people (vv. 35). The prophet spells out the crimes; the Lord announces the punishment, which corresponds to the crime: those who take the land of others will have their own land taken.

Those who plot iniquity and have the power to do it are wealthy landowners. The evil which they do consists in coveting the fields and houses of others and taking them.

* [2:2] To covet the “house” and other property of the neighbor was a violation of the Decalogue (Ex 20:17; 34:24; Dt 5:21).

The Lord, as owner of the earth, allotted the land by tribes and families to the people of Israel (Jos 1319). Losing one’s inheritance diminished one’s place in the community and threatened the family’s economic viability and existence. According to Micah, those who used their power to expand their estates at the expense of weaker Israelites took more than land from them: they were tampering with the divine order.

* [2:4] Those who take land from the less powerful will in turn have their land taken away by invaders.

* [2:611] This unit is a disputation, an argument in which the prophet is debating with his opponents. The words of the opponents are given to us only as the prophet quotes them. The opponents accuse Micah of being a false prophet, and he reacts by accusing them of injustice and of preferring prophets and preachers who speak lies (v. 11).

* [2:10] The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.

* [2:1213] This announcement of salvation to the “remnant of Israel” stands out dramatically in the context, and is probably a later addition to the words of Micah, coming from the time of the Babylonian exile. The content of the promise and the images are similar to those found in Second Isaiah, the great poet of Israel’s salvation and restoration (see Is 40:11; 43:5).

a. [2:11] 1 Kgs 22:2223.

CHAPTER 3

1* And I said:

Hear, you leaders of Jacob,

rulers of the house of Israel!

Is it not your duty to know what is right,

2you who hate what is good, and love evil?

You who tear their skin from them,

and their flesh from their bones;a

3Who eat the flesh of my people,

flay their skin from them,

and break their bones;

Who chop them in pieces like flesh in a kettle,

like meat in a pot.

4When they cry to the LORD,

he will not answer them;

He will hide his face from them at that time,

because of the evil they have done.

5* Thus says the LORD regarding the prophets:

O you who lead my people astray,

When your teeth have something to bite

you announce peace,

But proclaim war against the one

who fails to put something in your mouth.b

6Therefore you shall have night, not vision,

darkness, not divination;

The sun shall go down upon the prophets,

and the day shall be dark for them.c

7Then the seers shall be put to shame,

and the diviners confounded;

They shall all cover their lips,

because there is no answer from God.

8But as for me, I am filled with power,

with the spirit of the LORD,

with justice and with might;

To declare to Jacob his crimes

and to Israel his sins.

9* Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob,

you rulers of the house of Israel!

You who abhor justice,

and pervert all that is right;

10Who build up Zion with bloodshed,

and Jerusalem with wickedness!

11Its leaders render judgment for a bribe,

the priests teach for pay,

the prophets divine for money,

While they rely on the LORD, saying,

“Is not the LORD in the midst of us?

No evil can come upon us!”d

12Therefore, because of you,

Zion shall be plowed like a field,

and Jerusalem reduced to rubble,

And the mount of the temple

to a forest ridge.e

* [3:14] This prophecy of punishment has an introductory call to hear (v. 1a-b) and two major parts, the indictment or reasons for punishment (vv. 1c3) and the announcement of judgment (v. 4). The prophet accuses the leaders and rulers of Israel of treating the people so badly that their actions are comparable to cannibalism. Those who, above all, should know and maintain justice are the most corrupt of all. In the time of trouble the Lord will withdraw (v. 4); that is, God will abandon the leaders to their fate and refuse to answer their prayers.

* [3:58] This prophecy of punishment concerns and is addressed to false prophets. The prophets in Jerusalem who mislead the people are corrupt because their word can be bought (v. 5). Therefore such prophets, seers, and diviners shall be disgraced, put to shame, left in the dark without vision or answer (vv. 67). But Micah is convinced that he is filled with power and the spirit of the Lord, which corresponds to justice and might (v. 8).

* [3:912] This is the most comprehensive of Micah’s prophecies of punishment concerning the leaders in Jerusalem. The indictment (vv. 911) includes all political and religious leaders. They combine corruption and greed with a false confidence that the Lord is on their side. But the announcement of judgment (v. 12) is not limited to the punishment of the leaders but includes Mount Zion where the Temple stands and the entire city, thus encompassing the entire population.

a. [3:2] Am 2:7.

b. [3:5] Ez 13:10.

c. [3:6] Jer 15:9; Am 8:9; Zec 13:3.

d. [3:11] Ez 22:27; Zep 3:3.

e. [3:12] Jer 26:18.

II. ORACLES OF SALVATION

CHAPTER 4

1* In days to come

the mount of the LORD’s house

Shall be established as the highest mountain;

it shall be raised above the hills,

And peoples shall stream to it:a

2Many nations shall come, and say,

“Come, let us climb the LORD’s mountain,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

That he may instruct us in his ways,

that we may walk in his paths.”

For from Zion shall go forth instruction,

and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

3He shall judge between many peoples

and set terms for strong and distant nations;

They shall beat their swords into plowshares,

and their spears into pruning hooks;

One nation shall not raise the sword against another,

nor shall they train for war again.

4They shall all sit under their own vines,

under their own fig trees, undisturbed;

for the LORD of hosts has spoken.b

5Though all the peoples walk,

each in the name of its god,

We will walk in the name of the LORD,

our God, forever and ever.

6* On that day—oracle of the LORD

I will gather the lame,

And I will assemble the outcasts,

and those whom I have afflicted.

7I will make of the lame a remnant,

and of the weak a strong nation;

The LORD shall be king over them on Mount Zion,

from now on and forever.c

8And you, O tower of the flock,*

hill of daughter Zion!

To you it shall come:

the former dominion shall be restored,

the reign of daughter Jerusalem.

9Now why do you cry out so?

Are you without a king?

Or has your adviser perished,

That you are seized with pains

like a woman in labor?

10* Writhe, go into labor,

O daughter Zion,

like a woman giving birth;

For now you shall leave the city

and camp in the fields;

To Babylon you shall go,

there you shall be rescued.

There the LORD shall redeem you

from the hand of your enemies.

11* And now many nations are gathered against you!

They say, “Let her be profaned,

let our eyes see Zion’s downfall!”

12But they do not know the thoughts of the LORD,

nor understand his plan:

He has gathered them

like sheaves to the threshing floor.

13Arise and thresh, O daughter Zion;

your horn I will make iron

And your hoofs I will make bronze,

that you may crush many peoples;

You shall devote their spoils to the LORD,*

their riches to the Lord of the whole earth.d

14Now grieve, O grieving daughter!*

“They have laid siege against us!”

With the rod they strike on the cheek

the ruler of Israel.

* [4:14] This magnificent prophecy of salvation is almost identical to Is 2:25, with the exception of its last verse. See also Jl 4:910, which transforms the promise into a call to war. It is not known if Micah or an editor of the book picked up the announcement from his contemporary Isaiah or if Isaiah borrowed it from Micah. Perhaps both Isaiah and Micah depended upon another, more ancient tradition. The ground of the prophetic hope voiced here is the justice and grace of the God who has chosen Israel. The basis for peace shall be a just order where all are obedient to the divine will. While the vision is a universal one, including all peoples and nations (vv. 34), its center and wellspring is the Temple of the Lord of Israel on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

* [4:68] An announcement of salvation proclaiming that the Lord will restore the lame and afflicted people of God as a nation on Mount Zion. Oracle of the LORD: a phrase used extensively in prophetic books to indicate divine speech.

* [4:8] Tower of the flock: in Hebrew migdal-eder, a place name in Gn 35:21.

* [4:10] Frequently the prophets personify the city of Jerusalem as a woman, and here as a woman in labor.

* [4:1113] The nations who have ridiculed Zion (v. 11) will be threshed like grain (v. 13).

* [4:13] Devote their spoils to the LORD: the fulfillment of the ancient ordinance of the holy war in which all plunder taken in the war was “put under the ban,” i.e., belonged to the Lord.

* [4:14] Grieve, O grieving daughter!: the Hebrew actually reflects the ancient Near Eastern mourning practice of afflicting oneself with cuts and gashes, as evidence of grief. A literal rendering would be “gash yourself, O woman who gashes.”

a. [4:13] Is 2:24.

b. [4:4] Hos 14:8; Am 9:14.

c. [4:7] Is 6:13; Dn 7:14; Zep 3:19; Lk 1:32.

d. [4:13] Is 41:15; Hos 10:11.

CHAPTER 5

1* But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathaha

least among the clans of Judah,

From you shall come forth for me

one who is to be ruler in Israel;

Whose origin is from of old,

from ancient times.

2Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time

when she who is to give birth has borne,*

Then the rest of his kindred shall return

to the children of Israel.b

3He shall take his place as shepherd

by the strength of the LORD,

by the majestic name of the LORD, his God;

And they shall dwell securely, for now his greatness

shall reach to the ends of the earth:

4he shall be peace.*

If Assyria invades our country

and treads upon our land,

We shall raise against it seven shepherds,

eight of royal standing;

5They shall tend the land of Assyria with the sword,

and the land of Nimrod* with the drawn sword;

They will deliver us from Assyria,

when it invades our land,

when it treads upon our borders.

6The remnant of Jacob shall be

in the midst of many peoples,

Like dew coming from the LORD,

like showers on the grass,

Which wait for no one,

delay for no human being.

7And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations,

in the midst of many peoples,

Like a lion among beasts of the forest,

like a young lion among flocks of sheep;

When it passes through it tramples;

it tears and no one can rescue.

8Your hand shall be lifted above your foes,

and all your enemies shall be cut down.

9* On that day—oracle of the LORD

I will destroy the horses from your midst

and ruin your chariots;

10I will destroy the cities of your land

and tear down all your fortresses.

11I will destroy the sorcery you practice,

and there shall no longer be soothsayers among you.

12I will destroy your carved figures

and the sacred stones* from your midst;

And you shall no longer worship

the works of your hands.c

13I will tear out the asherahs from your midst,

and destroy your cities.

14I will wreak vengeance in anger and wrath

upon the nations that have not listened.

* [5:16] Salvation will come through a “messiah,” an anointed ruler. The Book of Micah shares with Isaiah the expectation that God will deliver Israel through a king in the line of David. Bethlehem-Ephrathah is the home of the Davidic line.

* [5:2] These words are sometimes understood as a reference to Isaiah’s Emmanuel oracle, given some thirty years earlier (Is 7:14). The Gospel of Matthew reports that the chief priests and scribes cite this passage as the ancient promise of a messiah in the line of David to be born in Bethlehem (Mt 2:56).

* [5:4] Peace: he will not only symbolize but also bring about harmony and wholeness.

* [5:5] Nimrod: the legendary ancestor of the Mesopotamians; cf. Gn 10:1012.

* [5:913] The Lord will destroy all those features of the nation’s life that have stood between the people and their God. These false supports include horses, chariots, fortifications, and forbidden practices such as sorcery and idolatry.

* [5:1213] Sacred stones…asherahs: the Hebrew asherah is a sacred pole. All forms of idolatry (standing stones and sacred poles were part of forbidden cult practices) were violations of Israel’s covenant with the Lord.

a. [5:1] Ru 1:2; 1 Sm 17:12; Mt 2:6; Jn 7:42.

b. [5:23] Is 7:14; 11:12.

c. [5:12] Hos 3:4; 10:12.

III. ANNOUNCEMENT OF JUDGMENT

CHAPTER 6

1* Hear, then, what the LORD says:

Arise, plead your case before the mountains,

and let the hills hear your voice!a

2Hear, O mountains, the LORD’s case,

pay attention, O foundations of the earth!

For the LORD has a case against his people;

he enters into trial with Israel.

3My people, what have I done to you?

how have I wearied you? Answer me!b

4I brought you up from the land of Egypt,

from the place of slavery I ransomed you;

And I sent before you Moses,

Aaron, and Miriam.c

5* My people, remember what Moab’s King Balak planned,

and how Balaam, the son of Beor, answered him.

Recall the passage from Shittim to Gilgal,

that you may know the just deeds of the LORD.d

6* With what shall I come before the LORD,

and bow before God most high?

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,

with calves a year old?e

7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,

with myriad streams of oil?

* Shall I give my firstborn for my crime,

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

8* You have been told, O mortal, what is good,

and what the LORD requires of you:

Only to do justice and to love goodness,

and to walk humbly with your God.f

9* The LORD cries aloud to the city

(It is prudent to fear your name!):

Hear, O tribe and city assembly,

10Am I to bear criminal hoarding

and the accursed short ephah?*

11Shall I acquit crooked scales,

bags of false weights?

12You whose wealthy are full of violence,

whose inhabitants speak falsehood

with deceitful tongues in their mouths!

13I have begun to strike you

with devastation because of your sins.

14You shall eat, without being satisfied,

food that will leave you empty;

What you acquire, you cannot save;

what you do save, I will deliver up to the sword.g

15You shall sow, yet not reap,

tread out the olive, yet pour no oil,

crush the grapes, yet drink no wine.h

16You have kept the decrees of Omri,

and all the works of the house of Ahab,

and you have walked in their counsels;

Therefore I will deliver you up to ruin,

and your citizens to derision;

and you shall bear the reproach of the nations.

* [6:15] The Lord, through the prophet, initiates a legal case against the people. The initial calls (vv. 12) signal the beginning of a trial, and the proclamation that the Lord intends to enter into a legal dispute with Israel. One would expect accusations to follow such an introduction, but instead the Lord speaks in self-defense, reciting mighty acts done in behalf of Israel (vv. 35).

* [6:5] The Lord calls for the people to remember the saving events of the past, from the encounters with Balak and Balaam (Nm 22:23) during the wandering in the wilderness to the entrance into the promised land (“from Shittim to Gilgal,” Jos 35).

* [6:68] These verses continue the previous unit (6:15), the dialogue between the Lord and the people in the pattern of a trial. The Lord has initiated proceedings against them, and they ask how to re-establish the broken relationship with God (vv. 67), and are given an answer (v. 8). The form of the passage borrows from a priestly liturgical pattern. When worshipers came to the temple, they inquired of the priest concerning the appropriate offering or sacrifice, and the priest answered them (see Ps 15; 24; Is 1:1017; Am 5:2124).

* [6:7] The questions reach their climax with the possibility of child sacrifice, a practice known in antiquity (cf. 2 Kgs 16:3; 21:6).

* [6:8] To do justice refers to human behavior in relationship to others. To love goodness refers to the kind of love and concern which is at the heart of the covenant between the Lord and Israel; it is persistently faithful. To walk humbly with your God means to listen carefully to the revealed will of God.

* [6:916] The language of the trial resumes as the Lord accuses the people of their sins (vv. 912, 16a) and announces their punishment (vv. 1315, 16b). The city is Jerusalem, and those addressed are its inhabitants. Their wickedness includes cheating in business with false weights and measures, violence, lies, and following the practices of the Israelite kings Omri and Ahab (v. 16a), whose reigns came to symbolize a time of syncretistic worship. The punishment, which has already begun, will include a series of disasters. Finally, the Lord will destroy the city and see that its inhabitants are ridiculed (v. 16b).

* [6:10] Ephah: see note on Is 5:10.

a. [6:1] Is 6:2; Ob 1.

b. [6:3] Jer 2:5.

c. [6:4] Ex 15:20.

d. [6:5] Nm 22:23; Jos 35.

e. [6:67] Hos 6:6; 8:13; Am 5:21.

f. [6:8] Dt 26:16; Zec 7:9; Mt 23:23.

g. [6:14] Dt 28:38; Am 5:11; Hg 1:6.

h. [6:15] Hos 4:10.

CHAPTER 7

1Woe is me! I am like the one who gathers summer fruit,

when the vines have been gleaned;

There is no cluster to eat,

no early fig that I crave.

2The faithful have vanished from the earth,

no mortal is just!

They all lie in wait to shed blood,

each one ensnares the other.a

3Their hands succeed at evil;

the prince makes demands,

The judge is bought for a price,

the powerful speak as they please.b

4The best of them is like a brier,

the most honest like a thorn hedge.

The day announced by your sentinels!

Your punishment has come;

now is the time of your confusion.

5Put no faith in a friend,

do not trust a companion;

With her who lies in your embrace

watch what you say.c

6For the son belittles his father,

the daughter rises up against her mother,

The daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law,

and your enemies are members of your household.d

IV. CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S FUTURE

7But as for me, I will look to the LORD,

I will wait for God my savior;

my God will hear me!e

8* Do not rejoice over me, my enemy!*

though I have fallen, I will arise;

though I sit in darkness, the LORD is my light.

9I will endure the wrath of the LORD

because I have sinned against him,

Until he pleads my case,

and establishes my right.

He will bring me forth to the light;

I will see his righteousness.

10When my enemy sees this,

shame shall cover her:

She who said to me,

“Where is the LORD, your God?”

My eyes shall see her downfall;

now she will be trampled* underfoot,

like mud in the streets.

11* It is the day for building your walls;

on that day your boundaries shall be enlarged.

12It is the day when those from Assyria to Egypt

shall come to you,

And from Tyre even to the River,

from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain;f

13And the earth shall be a waste

because of its inhabitants,

as a result of their deeds.

14* Shepherd your people with your staff,

the flock of your heritage,

That lives apartg in a woodland,

in the midst of an orchard.

Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead,

as in the days of old;

15As in the days when you came from the land of Egypt,

show us wonderful signs.

16The nations will see and will be put to shame,

in spite of all their strength;

They will put their hands over their mouths;

their ears will become deaf.

17They will lick the dust like a snake,

like crawling things on the ground;

They will come quaking from their strongholds;

they will tremble in fear of you, the LORD, our God.

18* Who is a God like you, who removes guilt

and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance;

Who does not persist in anger forever,

but instead delights in mercy,h

19And will again have compassion on us,

treading underfoot our iniquities?

You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins;

20You will show faithfulness to Jacob,

and loyalty to Abraham,

As you have sworn to our ancestors

from days of old.i

* [7:820] The book concludes with a collection of confident prayers for deliverance, affirmations of faith, and announcements of salvation. Most of these verses bear the marks of use in worship, and probably arose in the exilic or postexilic periods.

* [7:810] An individual, possibly personified Jerusalem, expresses confidence that the Lord will deliver her from her enemy (cf. Ps 23).

* [7:10] She who said…she will be trampled: in the Old Testament, cities are often personified as women. Here, the prophet is speaking of the enemies’ cities.

* [7:1113] An announcement of salvation to Zion. The walls of Jerusalem will be rebuilt, its inhabitants who are now scattered from Assyria to Egypt shall return, but the other peoples will suffer for their evil deeds.

* [7:1417] A prayer that God will care for the people as in ancient days (v. 14) is answered (vv. 1517) when the Lord promises to do marvelous things. The nations shall be afraid and turn to the Lord.

* [7:1820] The final lines of the book contain a hymn of praise for the incomparable God, who pardons sin and delights in mercy. Thus the remnant, those left after the exile, is confident in God’s compassion and in the ancient promises sworn to the ancestors.

a. [7:2] Is 1:21; Hos 4:2.

b. [7:3] Is 1:23.

c. [7:5] Jer 9:3.

d. [7:6] Mt 10:3536.

e. [7:7] Is 8:17.

f. [7:12] Zec 14:16.

g. [7:14] Nm 23:9.

h. [7:18] Jer 10:6; Acts 10:43.

i. [7:20] Ps 105:6; Is 41:8; 63:16.