wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons; or twelve myriads; that is, twelve times ten thousand, or a hundred and twenty thousand; meaning not all the inhabitants of Nineveh; for then it would not have appeared to be so great a city; but infants only, as next described:
that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; do not know one from another; cannot distinguish between good and evil, right and wrong; are not come to years of maturity and discretion; and therefore there were room and reason for pity and sparing mercy; especially since they had not been guilty of actual transgressions, at least not very manifest; and yet must have perished with their parents had Nineveh been overthrown. The number of infants in this city is a proof of the greatness of it, though not so as to render the account incredible; for, admitting these to be a fifth part of its inhabitants, as they usually are of any place, as Bochart (e) observes, it makes the number of its inhabitants to be but six or seven hundred thousand; and as many there were in Seleucia and Thebes, as Pliny (f) relates of the one, and Tacitus (g) of the other:
and also much cattle; and these more valuable than goods, as animals are preferable to, and more useful than, vegetables; and yet these must have perished in the common calamity. Jarchi understands by these grown up persons, whose knowledge is like the beasts that know not their Creator. No answer being returned, it may be reasonably supposed Jonah, was convinced of his sin and folly; and, to show his repentance for it, penned this, narrative, which records his infirmities and weaknesses, for the good of the church, and the instruction of saints in succeeding ages.
(e) Phaleg. l. 4. c. 20. p. 253. (f) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 26. (g) Annal. l. 2. c. 60.
INTRODUCTION TO MICAH
This book is called, in the Hebrew copies, "Sepher Micah", the Book of Micah; in the Vulgate Latin version "the Prophecy of Micah"; and in the Syriac version "the Prophecy of the Prophet Micah". This prophet is not the same with Micaiah the son of Imiah, who lived in the times of Ahab and Jehoshaphat, 1 Kings 22:8; for, as Aben Ezra observes, there were many generations between them, at least many reigns of kings, as Jehoram, Ahaziah, Joash, Amaziah, and Uzziah, all which made up a hundred and thirty years; their names indeed seem to be the same, since he that is called Micaiah, 1 Kings 22:8; is called Micah, 2 Chronicles 18:14; and this our prophet is named Micaiah in Jeremiah 26:18; which is with some of the same signification with Michael. So Abarbinel interprets, it, "who [is] as God"; see Micah 7:18; which Hillerus (a) confutes, and renders it, "the contrition, attrition, attenuation, and depauperation, of the Lord"; deriving it from Kwm, which signifies to be depressed, humbled, weakened, and impoverished, as others do; which name, some think, was given him by his parents, because of their low estate, their meanness and poverty; but of them we have no account: however, this is much more probable than the reason Cornelius a Lapide gives of his name, that he was so called because he prophesied of Christ, who was poor, and that he should be born in a poor country village. As for his country, and the place of his birth, and the time in which he lived, they may be gathered from Micah 1:1; by which it will appear that he was not of the tribe of Ephraim, as Pseudo-Epiphanius (b) says but of the tribe of Judah; whose kings' reigns in which he prophesies are only made mention of; though his prophecies concerned both Israel and Judah, and he reproves both for their sins, and foretells their various captivities; and, for the comfort of God's people, says many things concerning the Messiah, his incarnation the place of his birth, which no prophet so clearly points at as he, the execution of his offices, prophetic, priestly, and kingly; the blessings of grace that came by him, pardon of sin, atonement, &c. and the happiness and glory of his church in the latter day. The authority of this book is confirmed both by the elders of Judah in the times of Jeremiah, who quote a passage out of it; Micah 3:12; which they improve in favour of that prophet, Jeremiah 26:17; and by the chief priests and Scribes in the time of Herod, who refer that prince to a prophecy in this book for the place of the Messiah's birth, Micah 5:2; see Matthew 2:4. He is thought to have prophesied thirty or forty years, Bishop Usher (c) places him in the year of the world 3291 A.M., and 713 B.C.; but, according to Mr. Whiston (d), he prophesied 750 B.C., and so Mr. Bedford (e), and three after the building of the city of Rome; and he foretells the captivity of the ten tribes thirty years, and the coming of Sennacherib forty years, before they came to pass; but when and where he died, and was buried, no certain proof can be given. Pseudo-Epiphanius, confounding him with Micaiah in Ahab's time, says (f) he was killed by his son Joram, who cast him down from a precipice, and was buried at Morathi, his native place, near the burying ground of Enakeim, and his grave was well known to that day. And, according to Jerom (g), the grave of this our prophet was at Morasthi, and in his time turned into a church or temple. Sozomen (h) reports, that, in the times of Theodosius the elder, the body of Micah was found by Zebennus bishop of Eleutheropolis at Berathsalia, a mile and a quarter from the city, near which was the grave of Micah, called by the common people the faithful monument, and in their country language Nephsameemana.
(a) Onomast. Sacr. p. 14, 466, 494, 542. (b) De Prophet. Vit. & Inter. c. 13. (c) Annales Vet. Test. A. M. 3291. (d) Chronological Tables, cent. 8. (e) Scripture Chronology, p. 662. (f) De Prophet. Vit. & Inter. c. 13. (g) Epitaph. Paulae, tom. 1. operum, fol. 60. A. B. (h) Histor. Eccles. l. 7. c. 29.
INTRODUCTION TO Micah 1
This chapter treats of the judgments of God on Israel and Judah for their idolatry. It begins with the title of the whole book in which is given an account of the prophet, the time of his prophesying, and of the persons against whom he prophesied, Micah 1:1; next a preface to this chapter, requiring attention to what was about to be delivered, urged from the consideration of the awful appearance of God, which is represented as very grand and terrible, Micah 1:2; the cause of all which wrath that appeared in him was the transgression of Jacob; particularly their idolatry, as appears by the special mention of their idols and graven images in the account of their destruction, Micah 1:5; which destruction is exaggerated by the prophet's lamentation for it, Micah 1:8; and by the mourning of the inhabitants of the several places that should be involved in it, which are particularly mentioned, Micah 1:10.
in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah; by which it appears that he was contemporary with Isaiah, Hoses, and Amos, though they began to prophesy somewhat sooner than he, even in the days of Uzziah; very probably he conversed with these prophets, especially Isaiah, with whom he agrees in many things; his style is like his, and sometimes uses the same phrases: he, being of the tribe of Judah, only mentions the kings of that nation most known to him; though he prophesied against Israel, and in the days of Zachariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea:
which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem; in the vision of prophecy; Samaria was the metropolis of the ten tribes of Israel, and is put for them all; as Jerusalem was of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and is put for them Samaria is mentioned first, because it was the head of the greatest body of people; and as it was the first in transgression, it was the first in punishment.
(i) Juchashin, fol. 12. 1.((k) Prolog. in Mic. (l) Epitaph. Paulae, ut supra. (tom. 1. operum, fol. 60. A. B.)
hearken, O earth, and all that therein is; or, "its fulness" (o); the land of Israel and Judah, the whole land of promise, and all the inhabitants of it; for to them are the following words directed:
and let the Lord God be witness against you; or, "in you" (p); the Word of the Lord, as the Targum; let him who is the omniscient God, and knows all hearts, thoughts, words, and actions, let him bear witness in your consciences, that what I am about to say is truth, and comes from him; is not my own word, but his; and if you disregard it, and repent not, let him be a witness against you, and for me, that I have prophesied in his name; that I have faithfully delivered his message, and warned you of your danger, and reproved you for your sins, and have kept back nothing I have been charged and entrusted with: and now, you are summoned into open court, and at the tribunal of the great God of heaven and earth; let him be a witness against you of the many sins you have been guilty of, and attend while the indictment is read, the charge exhibited, and the proof given by
the Lord from his holy temple, from heaven, the habitation of his holiness; whose voice speaking from thence should be hearkened to; who from thence beholds all the actions of men, and from whence his wrath is revealed against their sins, and he gives visible tokens of his displeasure; and especially when he seems to come forth from thence in some remarkable instances of his power and providence, as follows:
(m) "populi omnes ipsi", Montanus, Drusius, Piscator, Tarnovius. (n) So Burkius. (o) "et plenitude ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius, Cocceius, Burkius. (p) "in vobis", Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Cocceius.
"it cannot be understood of place properly taken, according to Isaiah 40:12; for God is the place of the world, not the world his place; hence our wise men so expound the text, he cometh forth out of the measure of mercy, and goes into the measure of justice;''
or property of it. Some understand this of his leaving the temple at Jerusalem, and giving it up into the hands of the Chaldeans; but the former sense is best:
and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth; which are his footstool; Samaria and Jerusalem, built on mountains, and all other high towers and fortified places, together with men of high looks and haughty countenances, who exalt themselves like mountains, and swell with pride: these the Lord can easily subdue and humble, bring low and tread down like the mire of the street; perhaps there may be an allusion to the high places where idols were worshipped; and which were the cause of the Lord's wrath and vengeance, and of his coming forth, in this unusual way, in his providences.
(q) Kabala Denudata, par. 1. p. 408.
and the valleys shall be cleft: have chasms made in them by the melting of the mountains, or by the flow of water from the hills: these may design the lower sort of people, who shall have their share in this calamity; the inhabitants of the valleys and country villages; who, though mean and low, shall be lower still, and lose that little substance, that liberty and those privileges, they had; as valleys may be cleft, and open, and sink into the lower parts of the earth; so it is signified that these people should be in a more depressed state and condition:
as wax before the fire; melts, and cannot stand the force of it; so the mountains should melt at the presence of the Lord; and kingdoms and states, and the greatest and mightiest of men in them, would not be able to stand before the fierceness of his wrath; see Psalm 68:2;
and as the waters that are poured down a steep place; that run with great swiftness, force, and rapidity, and there is no stopping them; so should the judgments of God come down upon the lower sort of people, the inhabitants of the valleys; neither high nor low would escape the indignation of the Lord, or be able to stand against it, or stand up under it.
what is the transgression of Jacob? what notorious crime has he been guilty of? or what is the iniquity the two tribes are charged with, that is the cause of so much severity? the answer is,
is it not Samaria? the wickedness of Samaria, the calf of Samaria? as in Hosea 7:1; that is, the worship of the calf of Samaria; is not that idolatry the transgression of Jacob, or which the ten tribes have given into? it is; and a just reason for all this wrath to come upon them: or, "who is the transgression of Jacob?" (r) who is the spring and source of it; the cause, author, and encourager of it? are they not the kings that have reigned in Samaria from the times of Omri, with their nobles, princes, and great men, who, by their edicts, influence, and example, have encouraged the worship of the golden calves? they are the original root and motive of it, and to them it must be ascribed; they caused the people to sin: or, as the Targum,
"where have they of the house of Jacob sinned? is it not in Samaria?''
verily it is, and from thence, the metropolis of the nation, the sin has spread itself all over it:
and what are the high places of Judah? or, "who are they?" (s) who have been the makers of them? who have set them up, and encouraged idolatrous worship at them?
are they not Jerusalem? are they not the king, the princes, and priests, that dwell at Jerusalem? certainly they are; such as Ahaz, and others, in whose times this prophet lived; see 2 Kings 16:4; or, as the Targum,
"where did they of the house of Judah commit sin? was it not in Jerusalem?''
truly it was, and even in the temple; here Ahaz built an altar like that at Damascus, and sacrificed on it, and spoiled the temple, and several of the vessels in it, 2 Kings 16:10.
(r) "quis est praevaricatio Jacobi?" De Dieu; so Pagninus, Burkius; "quis defectio Jacobi?" Cocceius; "quis scelus Jacobi?" Drusius. (s) "quis est excelsa Judae?" Montanus, Drusius, De Dieu; "quis cesla Judae?" Cocceius; "quis fuit causa excelsorum Jehudae?" Burkius; so Kimchi.
"I will make Samaria as a heap of stones in a field, when a vineyard is planted;''
see Isaiah 5:2; for the city, being destroyed, cannot be compared to the plants of a vineyard set in good order, beautiful and thriving; but, as to heaps of stones in a field, so to such in a vineyard; or to hillocks raised up there for the plants of vines; and if the comparison is to plants themselves, it must be to withered ones, that are good for nothing. The note of similitude as is not in the text; and the words may be read without it, "I will make Samaria an heap of the field, plantings of a vineyard" (t); that is, it shall be ploughed up, and made a heap of; turned into a field, and vines planted on it; for which its situation was very proper, being on a hill where vines used to be planted, and so should no more be inhabited as a city:
and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley; the stones of the buildings and walls of the city, which, being on a hill, when pulled down, rolled into the valley; and with as much swiftness and force as waters run down a steep place, as in Micah 1:4; where the same word is used as here:
and I will discover the foundations thereof; which should be fused up, and left bare; not one stone should be upon another; so that there should be no traces and footsteps of the city remaining, and it should be difficult to know the place where it stood. This is expressive of the total desolation and utter destruction of it: this was not accomplished by Shalmaneser when he took it; for though he carried captive the inhabitants thereof, he put others in their room; but this was entirely fulfilled, not by Jonathan Maccabeus, though he is said (u) to besiege it, and level it with the ground; but by John Hyrcanus; and the account of the destruction of it by him, as given by Josephus (w), exactly answers to this prophecy, and, to Hosea 13:16; where its desolation is also predicted; he says that Hyrcanus, having besieged it a year, took it; and, not content with this only, he utterly destroyed it, making brooks to run through it; and by digging it up, so that it fell into holes and caverns, insomuch that there were no signs nor traces of the city left. It was indeed afterwards rebuilt by Gabinius the Roman proconsul of Syria, and restored by Augustus Caesar to Herod, who adorned and fortified it, and called it by the name of Sebaste, in honour of Augustus (x); though Benjamin of Tudela pretends that Ahab's palace might be discerned there in his time, or the place known where it was, which is not likely; excepting this, his account is probable.
"From Luz (he says (y)) is one day's journey to Sebaste, which is Samaria; and still there may be perceived there the palace of Ahab king of Israel; and it is a fortified city on a very high hill, and in it are fountains; and is a land of brooks of water, and gardens, orchards, vineyards, and olive yards;''
but, since his time, it is become more ruinous. Mr. Maundrell, who some years ago was upon the spot, gives a fuller account of it;
"this great city (he says (z)) is now wholly converted into gardens; and all the tokens that remain, to testify that there has ever been such a place, are only on the north side, a large square piazza, encompassed with pillars; and, on the east, some poor remains of a great church, said to be built by the Empress Helena, over the place where St. John Baptist was both imprisoned and beheaded.''
So say others (a),
"the remains of Sebaste, or the ancient Samaria, though long ago laid in ruinous heaps, and a great part of it turned into ploughed land and garden ground, do still retain some monuments of its ancient grandeur, and of those noble edifices in it, with which King Herod caused it to be adorned;''
and then mention the large square piazza on the north, and the church on the east. It was twelve miles from Dothaim, and as many from Merran, and four from Atharoth, according to Eusebius (b); and was, as Josephus (c) says, a day's journey from Jerusalem. Sichem, called by the Turks Naplus, is now the metropolis of the country of Samaria; Samaria, or Sebaste, being utterly destroyed, as says Petrus a Valle (d), a traveller in those parts.
(t) "in acervum agri, in plantationem, vel plantationes vinae", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Cocceius; as Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Burkius. (u) Paschale Chronicon, p. 181. apud Reland. Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. l. 3. p. 980. (w) Antiqu. l. 13. c. 10. sect. 3.((x) Ibid. l. 14. c. 5. sect. 3. &. l. 15. c. 7. sect. 3. & c. 8. sect. 5. (y) Itinerarium, p. 38. (z) Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 59. Ed. 7. (a) Universal History, vol. 2. p. 439. (b) In voc. Dothaim, &c. (c) Antiqu. l. 15. c. 8. sect. 5. (d) Epist. 14. Morino apud Antiqu. Eccles. Oriental. p. 166.
and all the hires thereof shall be burnt with fire; this the Targum also interprets of idols; such as escaped the plunder of the soldiers should be burnt with fire: Kimchi, by "hires", understands the beautiful garments, and other ornaments, with which they adorned their idols, which were gifts unto them; and they committing spiritual adultery with them, these are compared to the hire of a harlot: or it may design their fine houses, and the furniture of them, all their substance and riches, which they looked upon as obtained by entering into alliances with idolatrous nations, and as the hire and reward of their idolatry; all these should be consumed by fire when the city was taken:
and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate; such as were not broke to pieces, nor burnt, should be thrown down, and trampled upon, and made no account of, or carried away with other spoil. The Targum interprets it of the houses or temples of their idols, which should be demolished. By this and the preceding clause it appears, that, besides the golden calf, there were other idols worshipped in Samaria. In the times of Ahab was the image of Baal, with others, for which he built an altar and a temple in Samaria, and a grove, 1 Kings 16:31; and at the time it was taken by Shalmaneser there were idols in it, as appears from Isaiah 10:10; and there were still more after a colony of the Babylonians and others were introduced into it; the names of which were Succothbenoth, Nergal, Ashima, Nibhaz, Tartak, Adrammelech, and Anammelech. The first of these is thought, by Selden (e) to be Venus; and the two last, both by him and Braunius (f), to be the same with Mo, having the signification of a king in them, as that word signifies, and children being burnt unto them: they are all difficult to be understood. The account the Jews (g) give of them is, that "Succothbenoth" were images of a hen and chickens; "Nergal", a cock; "Ashima", a goat without hair; "Nibhaz", or "Nibchan", as sometimes read, a dog; and "Tartak", an ass; "Adrammelech", a mule, or a peacock; and "Anammelech", a horse, or a pheasant. And it was not unusual for some of these creatures to be worshipped by the Heathens, as a cock by the Syrians, and others; a goat by the Mendesians; and the dog Anubis, perhaps the same with Nibhaz, by the Egyptians (h). And though the inhabitants of Samaria might be better instructed, after Manasseh and other Jews came to reside among them in later times, still they retained idolatrous practices; and, even in the times of our Lord, they were ignorant of the true object of religious worship, John 4:22; and they are charged by the Jewish writers (i) with worshipping the image of a dove on Mount Gerizim, and also such strange gods, the teraphim, which Jacob hid under the oak at Sichem; however, let their idols be what they will they worshipped, they are now utterly destroyed, according to this prophecy;
for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot; as all the riches of Samaria and its inhabitants were gathered together as the reward of their idolatry, as they imagined, so they should return to idolaters, the Assyrians; to Nineveh, called the well favoured harlot, Nahum 3:4; the metropolis of the Assyrian empire; and to the house or temple of those that worshipped idols, as the Targum; with which they should adorn their idols, or use them in idolatrous worship: or the sense in general is, that as their riches were ill gotten, as the hire of a harlot, and which never prospers, so theirs should come to nothing; as it came, so it should go: according to our proverb, "lightly come, lightly go". The allusion seems to be to harlots prostituting themselves in the temples of idols, which was common among the Heathens, as at Comana and Corinth, as Strabo (k) relates; and particularly among the Babylonians and Assyrians, which may be here referred to: for Herodotus (l) says, it was a law with the Babylonians that every woman of that country should once in her life sit in the temple of Venus, and lie with a strange man: here women used to sit with a crown upon their heads: nor might they return home until some stranger threw money into their laps, and took them out of the temple, and lay with them; and he that cast it must say, I implore the goddess Mylitta for thee; the name by which the Assyrians call Venus; nor was it lawful to reject the price or the money, be it what it would, for it was converted to holy uses, and Strabo (m) affirms much the same. So the Phoenician women used to prostitute themselves in the temples of their idols, and dedicate there the hire of their bodies to their gods, thinking thereby to appease their deities, and obtain good things for themselves (n).
(e) De Dis Syris Syntagm. 2. c. 7. p. 309. (f) Selecta Sacra, l. 4. c. 8. sect. 117. p. 465. (g) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 63. 2. Vid. etiam T. Hieros. Avoda Zara, fol. 42. 3, 4. (h) Vid. Godwin's Moses and Aaron, l. 4. c. 7. (i) Maimon. in Misn. Beracot, c. 8. sect. 11. & Bartenora in ib. c. 7. sect. 1. & in Nidda, c. 4. sect. 1. Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 15. 2.((k) Geograph. l. 12. p. 385. (l) Clio, sive l. 1. c. 199. (m) Ibid. l. 16. p. 513. (n) Athanasius contra Gentes, p. 21.
"for this they shall wail and howl, and go naked among the spoilers;''
I will make a wailing like the dragons; as in their fight with elephants, at which time they make a hideous noise (n); and whose hissings have been very terrible to large bodies of men. Aelianus (o) speaks of a dragon in India, which, when it perceived Alexander's army near at hand, gave such a prodigious hiss and blast, that it greatly frightened and disturbed the whole army: and he relates (p) of another, that was in a valley near Mount Pellenaeus, in the isle of Chios, whose hissing was very terrible to the inhabitants of that place; and Bochart (q) conjectures that this their hissing is here referred to; and who observes of the whale, that it has its name from a word in the Hebrew tongue, which signifies to lament; and which word is here used, and is frequently used of large fishes, as whales, sea calves, dolphins, &c. which make a great noise and bellowing, as the sea calf; particularly the balaena, which is one kind of a whale, and makes such a large and continued noise, as to be heard at the distance of two miles, as Rondeletius (r) says; and dolphins are said to make a moan and groaning like human creatures, as Pliny (s) and Solinus (t) report: and Peter Gillius relates, from his own experience, that lodging one night in a vessel, in which many dolphins were taken, there were such weeping and mourning, that he could not sleep for them; he thought they deplored their condition with mourning, lamentation, and a large flow of tears, as men do, and therefore could not help pitying their case; and, while the fisherman was asleep, took that which was next him, that seemed to mourn most, and cast it into the sea; but this was of no avail, for the rest increased their mourning more and more, and seemed plainly to desire the like deliverance; so that all the night he was in the midst of the most bitter moaning: wherefore Bochart, who quotes these instances, elsewhere (u) thinks that the prophet compares his mourning with the mourning of these creatures, rather than with the hissing of dragons. Some (w) think crocodiles are here meant; and of them it is reported (x), that when they have eaten the body of a creature, which they do first, and come to the head, they weep over it with tears; hence the proverb of crocodiles tears, for hypocritical ones; but it cannot well be thought, surely, that the prophet would compare his mourning to that of such a creature. The learned Pocock thinks it more reasonable that the "jackals" are meant, called by the Arabians "ebn awi", rather than dragons; a creature of a size between a fox and a wolf, or a dog and a fox, which makes a dreadful howling in the night; by which travellers, unacquainted with it, would think a company of women or children were howling, and goes before the lion as his provider;
and mourning as the owls; or "daughters of the owl" (y); which is a night bird, and makes a very frightful noise, especially the screech owl. The Targum interprets it of the ostrich (z); and it may be meant either of the mourning it makes when its young are about to be taken away, and it exposes itself to danger on their account, and perishes in the attempt. Aelianus (a) reports that they are taken by sharp iron spikes fixed about their nest, when they are returning to their young, after having been in quest of food for them; and, though they see the shining iron, yet such is their vehement desire after their young, that they spread their wings like sails, and with great swiftness and noise rush into the nest, where they are transfixed with the spikes, and die: and not only Vatablus observes, that these creatures have a very mournful voice; but Bochart (b) has shown, from the Arabic writers, that they frequently cry and howl; and from John de Laet, who affirms that those in the parts about Brazil cry so loud as to be heard half a mile; and indeed they have their name from crying and howling. The Targum renders it by a word which signifies pleasant; and so Onkelos on Leviticus 11:16, by an antiphrasis, because its voice is so very unpleasant. Or, since the words may be rendered, "the daughters of the ostrich" (c), it may be understood of the mourning of its young, when left by her, when they make a hideous noise and miserable moan, as some observe (d).
(n) Aelian. de Animal. l. 6. c. 22. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 8. c. 11. (o) Ib. l. 15. c. 21. (p) Ib. l. 16. c. 39. (q) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 3. c. 14. col. 437. (r) Apud Bochart. ib. par. 1. l. 1. c. 7. Colossians 47. (s) Nat. Hist. l. 9. c. 9. (t) Polyhistor. c. 22. (u) Ut supra, (Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 3. c. 14.) Colossians 48. (w) Ludolphus apud Burkium in loc. (x) Vid. Frantzii Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 1. c. 26. sect. 2.((y) "ut filiae ululae", Piscator, Burkius; "instar filiarum. ululae", Cocceius. So Montanus. (z) So the Vulgate Latin, Munster, Pagninus, Drusius, Bochartus, and others. (a) De Animal. l. 14. c. 7. (b) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 14. col. c. 228. (c) "Filiarum struthionis", Pagninus; "juvenes struthiones", Tigurine version. (d) Vid. Frantz. Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 2. c. 2. p. 339, 342.
for it is come unto Judah; the calamity has reached the land of Judah; it stopped not with Israel or the ten tribes, but spread itself into the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin; for the Assyrian army, having taken Samaria, and carried Israel captive, in a short time, about seven or eight years, invaded Judea, and took the fenced cities of Judah in Hezekiah's time, in which Micah prophesied;
he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem; Sennacherib, king of Assyria, having taken the fenced cities, came up to the very gates of Jerusalem, and besieged it, where the courts of judicature were kept, and the people resorted to, to have justice done them; and Micah, being of the tribe of Judah, calls them his people, and was the more affected with their distress.
(e) "desperata est plaga ejus", V. L. "plagae ejus", Montanus, Drusius.
weep ye not at all; that is, before the Philistines, or such like enemies, lest they should laugh and scoff at you; though they had reason to weep, and did and ought to weep in secret; yet, as much as in them lay, it would be right to forbear it openly, because of the insults and reproach of the enemy. The learned Reland (f) suspects that it should be read, "weep not in Acco": which was another city in Palestine, to the north from the enemy, as Gath was to the south; and observes, that there is a like play on words (g) in the words, as in the places after mentioned. Acco is the same with Ptolemais, Acts 21:7; See Gill on Acts 21:7. It had this name from Ptolemy Lagus king of Egypt, who enlarged it, and called it after his own name; but Mr, Maundrell (h) observes,
"now, since it hath been in the possession of the Turks, it has, according to the example of many other cities in Turkey, cast off its Greek, and recovered some semblance of its old Hebrew name again, being called Acca, or Acra. As to its situation (he says) it enjoys all possible advantages, both of sea and land; on its north and east sides it is compassed with a spacious and fertile plain; on the west it is washed by the Mediterranean sea; and on the south by a large bay, extending from the city as far as Mount Carmel;''
in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust; as mourners used to do, sit in the dust, or cover their heads with it, or wallow in it; this is allowed to be done privately, in houses or in towns distinct from the Philistines, as Aphrah or Ophrah was, which was in the tribe of Benjamin, Joshua 18:23; called here "Aphrah", to make it better agree with "Aphar", dust, to which the allusion is: and it may be rendered, "in the house of dust roll thyself in the dust"; having respect to the condition houses would be in at this time, mere heaps of dust and rubbish, so that they would find enough easily to roll themselves in. Here is a double reading; the "Keri", or marginal reading, which the Masora directs to, and we follow, is, "roll thyself": but the "Cetib", or writing, is, "I have rolled myself" (i); and so are the words of the prophet, who before says he wailed and howled, and went stripped and naked; here he says, as a further token of his sorrow, that he rolled himself in dust, and as an example for Israel to do the like. This place was a village in the times of Jerom (k) and was called Effrem; it was five miles from Bethel to the east.
(f) Palestina Illustrata, tom. 2. p. 534, 535. (g) . (h) Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 54. (i) "volutavi me", De Dieu. (k) De locis Hebr. fol. 88. H.
having thy shame naked; their city dismantled, their houses plundered, and they stripped of their garments, and the shame of their nakedness discovered; which must be the more distressing to beautiful persons, that have dressed neatly, and lived in handsome well built houses, and elegantly furnished, and now all the reverse;
the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Bethezel; or house of Azel, where the posterity of Azel, of the tribe of Benjamin, dwelt. Hillerus (p) suspects it to be the same with Mozah, Joshua 18:26; so called from Moza, the great grandfather of Azel, 1 Chronicles 8:37. Capellus takes it to be the same with Azal in Zechariah 14:5. This place being taken and plundered by the enemy occasioned great mourning among the inhabitants: and it seems to have been taken first, before Zaanan; perhaps the same with Zenan, Joshua 15:37; and is here read "Sennan" by Aquila; the inhabitants of which did not "come forth", in which there is an allusion to its name (q), either to help them in their distress, or to condole them; they being in fear of the enemy themselves, and in arms in their own defence, expecting it would be their turn next, and that they should share the same fate with them. Some think that under the name of Bethezel is meant Bethel; and of Zaanan, Zion; and that the sense is, that when Bethel, Samaria, and the ten tribes, were in distress, they of Zion and Judea did not come to give them any relief; and when they were carried captive did not mourn with them, were not affected with their case, nor troubled themselves about them;
he shall receive of him his standing: either the enemy, as R. Joseph Kimchi, shall receive of the inhabitants of Zaanan his standing; that is, he shall make them dearly pay for stopping him, for making him stand and stay so long before their city before he could take it; for all his loss of time, men, and money, in besieging it; by demolishing their city, plundering their houses, and carrying them captive; who remained he put to death by the sword. Aben Ezra interprets the word "receive" of doctrine or learning, as in Proverbs 4:2; and renders it, "he shall learn"; either Bethezel, or rather Zaanan, shall learn, by the case of Bethezel, and other neighbouring places, what would be his own case, whether he should stand or fall.
(l) Ad vocem (m) Dictionary, in the word "Saphir". (n) Onomast. Sacr. p. 925. (o) "habitans pulchre", Montanus; "habiatrix elegantis loci", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (p) Ibid. p. 516, 951. (q) from Vid. V. L. vers.
but evil came down from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem; meaning the Assyrian army under Sennacherib, which came into the land of Judea by the order, direction, and providence of God, like an overflowing flood; which spread itself over the land, and reached to the very gates of Jerusalem, which was besieged by it, and threatened with destruction: or "because evil came down", &c. that is, "because" of that, the inhabitants of Maroth grieved, or were in pain, as a woman in travail.
(r) "quamvis". (s) "certe doluit propter bonum", Vatablus; "siquidem doluit", Pagninus, Montanus; "quia doluit propter bonum", Burkius. (t) Onomast. p. 87, 951.
she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion; lying upon the borders of the ten tribes, as Lachish did, it was the first of the cities of Judah that gave into the idolatry of Jeroboam, the worshipping of the calves; and from thence it spread itself to Zion and Jerusalem; and, being a ringleader in this sin, should be punished for it: though some think this refers to their conspiracy with the citizens of Jerusalem against King Amaziah, and the murder of him in this place, now punished for it, 2 Kings 14:18;
for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee; not only their idolatry, but all other sins, with which it abounded; it was a very wicked place, and therefore no wonder it was given up to destruction. The Targum is,
"for the transgressors of Israel were found in thee.''
(u) "ad equos velocissimos", Pagninus; "equo veloci", Montanus; "angariis sc. equis", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (w) "Dromadibus", Vatablus. So Elias. (x) "Mulis", so some in Piscator; "ad mulum celerem", Burkius. (y) Origin. l. 12. c. 1. p. 102. (z) T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 5. 1.((a) See Harris's Voyages and Travels, vol. 1. p. 469. (b) Hierozoic. par. 1. l. 2. c. 4. Colossians 87. (c) De Animal. l. 16. c. 9. (d) Iliad. 24. l. 324. (e) Eliac. prior, sive l. 5. p. 302. So Suetonius in Vit. Jul. Caesar. c. 31. "mulis ad vehiculum junctis". (f) There is a likeness in sound between and (g) De locis Hebr. fol. 92. M.
the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel; a city of Judah, Joshua 15:44; or of Asher, Joshua 19:29; the same with Chezib, Genesis 38:5; and called Ecdippa by Josephus (h), Pliny (i), and Ptolemy (k). The Jewish writers commonly call it Cezib, of which they (l) say many things about that, and the land unto it, being subject to tithes, the laws of the seventh year, and the like. Maimonides and Bartenora say (m) it is the name of a place which divided between the land of Israel, which they possessed who came out of Babylon, and that land which they enjoyed who came out of Egypt; but the Jews are not agreed about the situation of it. One of their writers (n) places it to the northeast of the land of Israel; but another (o) observes, and proves from one that resided in those parts some time, and diligently inquired into and made his observation on places, that Cezib, and also Aco and Amana, frequently mentioned with it, were all on the western sea of the land of Israel, that is, the Mediterranean sea; in which he was right, without all doubt: the place is now called Zib by contraction, of which Mr. Maundrell (p) gives this account;
"having travelled about one hour in the plain of Acra, we passed by an old town called Zib, situate on an ascent close by the seaside; this may probably be the old Achzib, mentioned Joshua 19:29; called afterwards Ecdippa; for St. Jerom (q) places Achzib nine miles distant from Ptolemais (or Aco), towards Tyre, to which account we found the situation of Zib exactly agreeing.''
Now the houses or families that dwelt in this place, or the idols' temples there, as some, and the idolatry exercised therein, should be a lie unto, or disappoint the expectations of, the kings of Israel; which, according to Kimchi, is put for Judah, who placed confidence in them, and had dependence on them: there is an elegant play on words between Achzib and a "lie" (r). The Targum is,
"thou shall send gifts to the heirs of Gath; the houses of Achzib shall be delivered to the people, because of the sins of the kings of Israel, who worshipped idols in them.''
(h) Antiqu. l. 5. c. 1. sect. 22. De Bello Jud. l. 1. c. 13. sect. 4. (i) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 19. (k) Geograph, l. 5. c. 15. (l) T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 36. 2. T. Bab. Gittin, foi. 7. 2. Misn. Demai, c. 1. sect. 3.((m) In Misn. Demai, c. 1. sect. 3.((n) Bartenora in Misn. Sheviith, c. 6. 1. & Challa, c. 4. sect. 8. (o) Yom Tob in Sheviith, c. 6. 1. e Caphtor Uperah, c. 11. (p) Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 33. Ed. 7. (q) De locis Hebr. fol. 88. I.((r) &
he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel; another city in the tribe of Judah, a royal one, Joshua 15:35; said by Jerom to be in his time no small village, and to be about ten miles from Eleutheropolis; called the "glory of Israel", having been a royal city in Joshua's time, Joshua 12:15; and a fenced city in the times of Rehoboam, 2 Chronicles 11:7; and Eusebius says it was a large town; and Jerom says it was not a small one in his time; though some think Jerusalem is meant, the metropolis of the nation, Israel being put for Judah, as in Micah 1:14; and to be read, "he that is the enemy and heir shall come to Adullam, yea, to the glory of Israel" (t); even to Jerusalem, the most glorious city in all the tribes; though others are of opinion that this is the character of the enemy or heir that should come thither, called so by way of contradiction, as coming to the reproach and disgrace of Israel; or, ironically, whom Israel before gloried in, when they had recourse to him for help. The margin of our Bible reads, "the glory of Israel shall come to Adullam"; that is, the great men, the princes and heads of the people, shall flee to the cave of Adullam (u), to hide them from the enemy, where David was hid from Saul; see 1 Samuel 22:1. Burkius (w), a very late commentator, takes Adullam for an appellative, and with Hillerus (x) renders it, "the perpetuity of the yoke"; and the whole thus, "at the perpetuity of the yoke, the glory of Israel shall come"; that is, when all things shall seem to tend to this, that the yoke once laid on Israel by the Gentiles shall become perpetual, without any hope of deliverance, then shall come the Deliverer, that is, Jesus, the Glory of Israel; and, adds he, God forbid we should think of any other subject here; and so he interprets the "heir" in the preceding clause of the Messiah; and which is a sense far from being despicable.
(s) & (t) So Piscator, Juuius, Drusius. (u) "Ad Adullam veniet gloria Israelis", Cocceius. (w) He published Annotations on the twelve minor Prophets at Heilbronn, 1753, which he calls a Gnomon, written in imitation of Bengelius's Gnomon of the New Testament, whose son-in-law it seems he is, and by whom his work is prefaced. (x) Onomast. Sacr. p. 739.