Micah and the messianic promise

Prophet Micha

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Micah, last of the 8th century B.C. prophets, was a contemporary of Isaiah of Jerusalem. His perspective was rural, not urban, however. He hailed from Moresheth, a town southwest of Jerusalem near the Philistine border. He may have been a village elder. His public ministry was shorter than that of First Isaiah, from approximately 727-700 B.C., but it spanned the major events Isaiah witnessed, including the fall of the northern kingdom and Assyrian attack of Judah. Jerusalem was spared in 701, but 46 fortified cities were conquered, and more than 200,000 people deported.

Micah had prophesied that harsh judgment would befall the leaders, priests, professional prophets, and other residents of Judah. It was punishment for social injustice and lack of the moral integrity demanded by the covenant. But there was hope: A remnant would survive and be lifted above their enemies. Jerusalem would be restored. The messianic promise of a Davidic king from Bethlehem would be fulfilled. Thus the famous passage from Chapter 5 quoted by Matthew in reference to the magi, followed by the verse Christians interpret as prophesying the virgin birth.

But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah
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.
Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne… (1-2, NAB)


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