Letter To The Jews / Chapter 28

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28: Micah And The King Of Israel

Now, other prophets also indicate the timing of YHWH's anointed one. In Micah, YHWH speaks of the last days, and how the mountain of YHWH's house would be firmly established, and how law would go forth from Zion.

The prophet then speaks to Zion as if a woman in distress, and seized with pain like a woman in labor. He explains the things she is to go through, starting with the loss of her king and her exile to Babylon, before she truly gives birth:

“Now why are you crying out? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished? For birth pangs have seized you like a woman giving birth. Be in pain, and labor to bring forth, daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor. For now you will go forth out of the city and reside in the field, and go to Babylon. There you will be rescued. There YHWH will redeem you from the hand of your enemies.” 1

Then the prophet describes what would happen to Zion after her return from Babylon. “Now many nations are gathered against you, saying: ‘She will be defiled, and our eyes will look upon Zion.’” But YHWH would raise up Zion herself to defeat them. “Arise, and thresh, daughter of Zion; for I will make your horn iron, and make your hooves copper, and you will pulverize many people.” 2

This would fit the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, who defiled the Temple; and then the time of the Maccabees, who defeated the Greeks and created a separate Jewish kingdom. It would also fit YHWH’s description of his servant Israel as a “spiked threshing sledge.”

But this success would not last, for the prophet continues: “Now you will cut yourself,3 daughter of troops. A siege is laid against us. They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek.” 4

This would fit the description of the siege of Jerusalem by Roman general Pompey. Israel lost its independence, and Judea became a province under Roman rule.

A bundle of rods symbolized the Roman magistrate’s power and jurisdiction, sometimes with an ax, indicating that the magistrate’s judicial powers included capital punishment. That the judge of Israel is struck with a rod upon the cheek perhaps symbolizes its loss of power in this regard.

This would also relate to an earlier prophecy, given by Jacob: “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the lawmaker’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and for him is the hope of peoples.” 5

That Zion would cut herself at this time, could be an allusion to her defeat partly at her own hands. The groups who resisted Roman rule, including the Zealots and the Sicarii, used increasingly violent methods to achieve their aims. The Sicarii would even conceal daggers in their cloaks, and attack Roman sympathizers.

The prophet Micah next focuses on the birth of the king of Israel: “And you Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you will come out for me the one to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from everlasting, from the days of eternity.” 6

This is the same language used by the prophet Habakkuk, when he says: “Are you not from everlasting, YHWH my God, my Holy One?” 7 And we recall that Isaiah spoke of a son who would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 8

Regarding this king, Micah continues: “Therefore he will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has given birth; and the rest of his brothers will return to the sons of Israel.” 9

And so Micah indicates that this king would be born in the time when the Romans were rulers of the land, but that the king would somehow give up the people of Israel for a time.

This would fit with what Isaiah said about YHWH’s despised servant, who would be abhorred by the nation to the point where he would be crushed, and who would feel that his mission had failed, but who would then become a “light of Gentiles” while Zion felt abandoned.

Their king does not abandon Zion forever, but only “until the time when she who is to give birth has given birth.” After that, the king's “brothers” will “return to the sons of Israel.”

Now, in the form of a riddle, YHWH asks through Isaiah: ”Before she went into labor, she gave birth. Before birth pains came upon her, she delivered a son. Who has heard a thing like this? Who has seen such things? Will a land be brought to birth in one day, or a nation be born in one moment of time? For as soon as Zion went into labor, she gave birth to her sons.” 10

Nations are rarely brought into existence in one day, yet here YHWH says this is what happens to a land and nation related to Zion; and he causes it to happen, for he continues: “Will I bring it to the moment of birth and then not bring the birth, says YHWH? Would I bring to birth and then shut up the womb, says your God? Rejoice with Jerusalem, and exult in her, all who love her. Rejoice greatly with her, all of the ones mourning over her.” 11

This is the time the king no longer gives them up; and only then do we see powerful shepherding on behalf of Israel. Micah continues: “And he stands and shepherds in the strength of YHWH, and in the majesty of the name of YHWH his God, and they will dwell because now he will be great to the ends of the earth.”12

And so we see that this king of Israel must have been born before Zion gives birth, and only shepherds on their behalf once his greatness reaches “to the ends of the earth.”

This sounds very similar to the story of Joseph, who was rejected by his brothers and so gave them up, in a sense, until his greatness reached to the Gentiles, and then he became YHWH’s means of salvation for Israel in later days.

1 Micah 4:9,10. 2 Micah 4:11,13. 3 Compare Deuteronomy 14:1 in Hebrew. 4 Micah 4:14 (5:1). 5 Genesis 49:10. 6 Micah 5:1 (5:2). 7 Habakkuk 1:12. 8 Isaiah 9:6. 9 Micah 5:2 (5:3). 10 Isaiah 66:7,8. 11 Isaiah 66:9,10. 12 Micah 5:3 (5:4).

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