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Micah


Micah is author of the sixth minor prophetic book in the Hebrew Bible and Christian Old Testament. He lived during the reigns of the Judah kings, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (c. 738-690 BC), so was a contemporary of Hosea, Amos, and Isaiah. One of his prophecies (Jeremiah 26:18) is directly assigned to the reign of Hezekiah and was probably delivered before the great Passover that reformed Judah. Little information is known of Micah's life; he was probably a native of Judah, living in the village of Moresheth near Gath, and at intervals dependent on the Philistines. Although a simple villager, his prophecies were about social righteousness, defending the cause of the poverty-stricken masses like Amos, the herdsman. Micah foretold like his contemporaries the fall of the northern kingdom, the taking of Samaria (Micah 1:5-7), and warned of the future desolation of Judah (Micah 1:9-16). His oracles have special reference to Judah, but he envisions all of Israel.

The first three chapters of the Book of Micah are concerned with the condemnation of Israel, particularly the secular leaders who ignored God's laws. This is followed with the promise, in chapters 4 and 5, of consolation, victory, and an ingathering of the tribes; the final section, chapters 6 and 7, is a mixture of condemnation and consolation, preceded by a truncated historical recital, thus suggesting a derivation from secular covenant forms.

The prophet, a native of the Southern Kingdom, was probably referring to the political events that occurred during the reign of King Hezekiah. Like his contemporaries Micah emphasized that God had chosen a descendant of David to bring salvation to the people. His verse "what does God require of you, but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" was understood by the rabbis to be a summary of the Commandments. A.G.H.


Sources:

Unger, Merrill F., Unger's Bible Dictionary, Chicago, Moody Press, 1966, pp. 726-727
Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, pp. 639-640