and Jerusalem shall become heaps; not only the city of David, built on Mount Zion, should be demolished, but the other part of the city called Jerusalem should be thrown down, and its walls and houses lie in heaps, like heaps of stones in the midst of a ploughed field:
and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest; Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built; hence called here, by the Targum, the mountain of the house of the sanctuary; the temple upon it should be destroyed, and not one, tone left upon another; and the place on which it stood be covered with grass and trees, with briers and thorns, as a forest is, all which have been exactly fulfilled. The Jews say (i) of Turnus Rufus before mentioned, that he both ploughed up the city of Jerusalem, and the temple, the ground on which they stood; and Jerom (k) affirms the temple was ploughed up by Titus Annius Ruffus; which, as it literally fulfilled this prophecy, denotes the utter destruction of them; for, as it was usual with the ancients to mark out with a plough the ground on which a city was designed to be built; so they drew one over the spot where any had stood, which was become desolate, and to signify that the city was no more to be rebuilt and inhabited: thus Seneca (l), Horace (m), and other writers, express the utter destruction of a city by such phrases.
(i) T. Hieros. Taaniot. fol. 69. 2. Juchasin, fol. 36. 2. & Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 28. 1.((k) Comment. in Zechariah 8.19. (l) "Aratrum vetustis urbibus inducere", Seneca de Clementia, l. 1. c. 26. (m) "------Imprimeretque muris Hostile aratrum exercitus insolens". Hor. Carmin. l. 1. Ode 36.
INTRODUCTION TO Micah 4
This chapter contains some gracious promises concerning the glory and happiness of the church of Christ in the last days; as of its stability, exaltation, and increase, and of the spread of the Gospel from it, Micah 4:1; and of the peace and security of it, and constant profession and exercise of religion in it, Micah 4:3; and of the deliverance of it from affliction and distress, and the ample and everlasting kingdom of Christ in it, Micah 4:6; and then follow some prophecies more particularly respecting the Jews; as that, though they should be in distress, and be carried captive into Babylon, they should be delivered from thence, Micah 4:9; and, though many people should be gathered against them, yet should not be able to prevail over them, but their attempts would issue in their own destruction, Micah 4:11.
and it shall be exalted above the hills: by "hills" may be meant petty kingdoms, inferior to greater monarchies; or religious states, not of Christ's constitution; and the "exaltation" of the church above them denotes her power over them, to enjoy the one, and crush the other: it may respect the glory of the church, both as to things temporal and spiritual; for now will the kingdoms under the whole heaven be given to the saints of the most High; civil government will come into their hands, the kings and princes of the earth being now members of Gospel churches; so that the church will be in a glorious and exalted state, having riches, power, and authority, a large extent everywhere, and a multitude of members, and those of the highest class and rank, as well as of the meaner and lower sort; and all of them possessed largely of the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, and enjoying the Gospel and Gospel ordinances in their power and purity:
and the people shall flow unto it: in great abundance, in large numbers, in company like the flowing streams of a river; and may denote not only their numbers, but their swiftness and readiness to join themselves with the church of God, to hear the word, and partake of the ordinances, and of all the privileges of the house of the Lord. It may be rendered, "they shall look unto it", as the word is translated in Psalm 34:6; and so the Targum here,
"and the kingdoms shall look (or turn their faces) to serve upon it;''
and this sense is preferred by many learned Jewish writers (n); and the meaning may be, that multitudes, seeing the glory of the church, and the many desirable things in it, shall look to it with a look of love and affection, and with a wishful look, greatly desiring to be admitted into it. In Isaiah 2:2; it is said, "and all nations shall flow unto it": not the people of the Jews only, now converted; or a single and, on only, or some out of that; but all the nations of the world, at least great numbers out of all, by far the greatest in them; such an increase will there be of the churches in the latter day.
(n) R. Saadiah, Abu Walid, R. Tanchuma apud Pocock in loc.
and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; the teacher is the King Messiah, as Kimchi observes; the great Prophet of his people, the teacher sent from God; and will in the last days teach men by his Spirit and word, in a very plentiful manner, and with great success:
for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem; these, according to Kimchi, are the words of the prophet, and not of the people, that encourage one another to go up to the house of the Lord; but the sense is much the same; for they contain a reason why the people of different nations would encourage one another to go to the house of the Lord, that they might learn his ways, and walk in his statutes, because here the word of the Lord is preached; the word which comes from God, and is concerning him, his love and grace to men; the word of peace and righteousness, of life and salvation, by Jesus Christ: and each of the doctrines of grace intended by the "law" or "doctrine" of the Lord; the doctrines of God's everlasting love, of election in Christ, and redemption by him; of justification by his righteousness, pardon by his blood, and satisfaction by his atonement; as well as of regeneration by the Spirit of God, and of perseverance in grace: in these, and others, now shall all the Lord's people be taught more clearly, distinctly, and comfortably; all shall know him, from the least to the greatest; and not only their light and knowledge, under such a teacher and such will be very great, but their practice will be answerable to it; as they will be instructed in all the ways of the Lord, and in the methods of his grace, so they will walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless; See Gill on Isaiah 2:3.
and they shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more; which as yet has never been fulfilled; but will be the case when Christ's kingdom appears in its glory, and the kingdoms of this world become his, and all the enemies of the church are destroyed; See Gill on Isaiah 2:4. These words are by the Jews (o) applied to the days of the Messiah.
(o) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 63. 1.
"under the fruit of his vine, and under, the fruit of his fig tree.''
It was usual for persons in the eastern countries to sit under vines and fig trees to read, meditate, pray, or converse together, where they grow very large, as were their vines; and even with us they are frequently raised and carried over supporters, so as to be sat under; and of fig trees, we frequently read in Jewish writings of their being very large, and of their going up to them, and praying on the top of them; and of sitting under them, and studying in the law there. So one of the Rabbins says (p), he went up into his mustard tree, as one goes up to the top of a fig tree; and it is said (q), he that prays on the top of an olive tree, or on the top of a fig tree must come down, and pray below; and again (r), R. Jacob and his companions were fasting, studying in the law, under a certain fig tree; and sometimes they speak of all these together, of sitting under olives, and under vines, and under fig trees, and studying in the words of the law (s); see John 1:48. This is to be understood, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi explain it, of all men; not of the Israelites only, but of all nations, since there will be no more war any where; hence it follows:
and none shall make them afraid; the enemies of God's people will be no more, neither Turk nor pope, eastern or western antichrist, beast or, false prophet; wherefore, in those days of the Messiah, Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely, even all the spiritual Israel of God, Jews and Gentiles; there shall be none to hurt in the holy mountain of the Lord, or any violence and oppression, wasting and destruction, anywhere; see Jeremiah 23:5;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it; who speaks nothing but truth, and who is able and faithful to perform what he has spoken; and therefore all this may be depended on.
(p) T. Hieros. Peah, c. 7. fol. 20. 2.((q) T. Hieros. Beracot, c. 2. fol. 5. 1.((r) Ib. Colossians 3. (s) Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 16. 4.
"they shall go to destruction because of their idolatry;''
with which he says the Targum agrees, which is,
"all nations shall go according to the idols they have worshipped;''
or, as the king of Spain's Bible,
"they shall be guilty or condemned because they have worshipped idols:''
and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever; both in the mean while, and when those happy times shall come, and so through all generations as long as the world stands. This is the language of those that know the Lord, believe in him, and sincerely serve him; who determine in the strength of divine grace to continue in their profession of faith of him, in his worship and service, in his ways, truths, and ordinances, whatever others, do; and indeed are the more animated to it, when they observe how constant and steadfast idolaters, Pagans, Papists, and Mahometans, are in their false worship, both in the profession and practice of it. The Targum is,
"we will trust in the Word of the Lord our God for ever and ever;''
in Christ the essential Word; and so the phrase is expressive of faith, and a profession of faith in him; and of constant attendance upon his word and ordinances.
and I will gather her that is driven out; out of the land of Israel, and scattered among the nations of the world; even driven out by the Lord himself, because of their transgressions against him; see Jeremiah 16:15;
and her that I have afflicted; with various calamities, with famine and sword, with captivity and poverty; the Targum adds,
"for the sins of my people;''
the Israelites for their idolatry, and the Jews for the rejection of the Messiah, and other sins.
and her that was cast afar off a strong nation; Kimchi thinks this refers to the ten tribes that were carried far off into Media and other parts, 2 Kings 17:6; who shall now be a mighty and numerous people; and especially shall be strong in a spiritual sense in the Lord, and in the power of his might, in Christ and his grace, and in the faith of him; see Isaiah 60:22;
and the Lord shall reign over them in Mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever; that is, Christ, who is Jehovah our righteousness, shall reign over the converted Jews and Israelites in the church of God, often signified by Mount Zion; where they shall be assembled, and shall acknowledge him as their King, and be subject to his word and ordinances, and never more depart from him; nor will his government over them ever cease more, Luke 1:32. This shows that this prophecy refers not to the that times of the Gospel; for then the Jews would not have him to reign over them; but to times yet to come, the last days of the Gospel dispensation.
"O Christ of Israel:''
the church indeed is the "flock": the people of God are often compared to sheep for their harmlessness and innocence, and the church to a flock of them, which is Christ's flock he feeds like a shepherd; the flock of slaughter, a little one, consisting of persons separated from the world, and under his peculiar care; and he is the tower of this flock, in allusion to a shepherd's cottage, called a tower, as a cottage in a vineyard is in Isaiah 5:2; where the shepherds watch, and into which they bring the sick and lame, and take care of them; Christ is a high tower, where his people are safe out of the reach of their enemies; and a strong one, being the mighty God and mighty Saviour, who has all power and strength to defend his church and people, and may be well called their tower: and
the strong hold of the daughter of Zion; "the daughter of Zion" is the church, particularly the church of the converted Jews; Christ is the strong hold of it, into which, as prisoners of hope, they will be directed to turn, Zechariah 9:12; a strong refuge he is to flee unto from the avenger of blood, the justice of God; from the curses of the law; from the storm of divine wrath; from the temptations of Satan, and from the persecutions of men; a strong hold is he to dwell in, and where the saints dwell safely, pleasantly, at ease and peace, and very comfortably, and in great plenty; a strong hold for shelter from every enemy:
unto thee shall it come; not the kingdom, as follows, which our version leads to, and is the sense of Aben Ezra; for there is a considerable accent on the word "come", which makes a large stop; and that it refers, as Jarchi observes, to "her that halteth", &c. "it" or "she" that halteth shall come, being assembled and gathered, or converted by the grace of God unto the Messiah; as to her, or their tower and strong hold, where all blessings of grace, and the supplies of it, and all salvation and safety, are to be had and enjoyed. The promise respects the Jews coming to Christ upon their conversion, even such who have been the halt, the maimed, the lame, and the blind:
even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem; or rather, "and the first dominion shall come, the kingdom to the daughter of Jerusalem": meaning, not the first notice of the Messiah's kingdom, given by John the Baptist, Christ, and his apostles, to the Jews, in the first times of the Gospel; or the preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom first to them; but rather he who has the first or principal dominion, and to whom the kingdom belongs, he shall come to the daughter of Zion, as in Zechariah 9:9; though it rather respects here his coming to them at the time of their conversion, when they shall come to him, Romans 11:26; and when the first, chief, and principal kingdom in the world, and which is preferable to all others, will come unto, and be placed among them, as in Micah 4:7; and when it shall be, as some interpret it, as at the beginning, in the days of David and Solomon, and much more abundantly.
(t) De locis Hebr. fol. 89. E. (u) T. Hieros. Kiddushin, fol. 63. 1. T. Ban. Kiddushin, fol. 55. 1. Misn. Shekalim, c. 7. sect. 4.
"now why art thou joined to the people?''
and so Jarchi,
"thou hast no need to seek friends and lovers, the kings of Egypt and Assyria, for help.''
And which sense of the word as approved by Gussetius (x).
Is there no king in thee? is thy counsellor perished? he it so that they were; as was the case when Zedekiah was taken and carried captive, and his princes, nobles, and counsellors killed; yet God, their King and Counsellor, was with them, to keep and preserve them, counsel, instruct, and comfort them, and at last to deliver and save them; and the King Messiah would be raised up, and sent unto them in due time, who is the Wonderful Counsellor Isaiah had prophesied of:
for pangs have taken thee as a worn an in travail; which is often expressive of great sufferings and sorrows; and yet, as the pangs of a woman in travail do not continue always, but have an end, so would theirs, and therefore there was no reason for despair; and as, when she brings forth her issue, her sorrow is turned into joy, this would be their case.
(w) "quid vociferabis vociferationem", Pagninus, Montanus. So Vatablus, Drusius. (x) Ebr. Comment. p. 789.
like a woman in travail,.... Bear thy troubles and calamities, sufferings and sorrows, patiently, and expect deliverance from them, as a woman in such circumstances does: or, as some render it in the future, "thou shalt be in pain", &c. (y); and so is a prediction of their distress and captivity, which is expressed in plainer terms in the following clauses:
for now shalt thou go forth out of the city; the city of Jerusalem; either by flight, in a private and secret manner, as Zedekiah and his princes, and part of his army did; or by force, being taken and led out by the enemy:
and thou shalt dwell in the field; being turned out of their houses, they were obliged to lodge in the fields, while they were collected together, and in a body marched as captives to Babylon; and while on the road lay in the open fields, and not in houses, who had been used to dwell in a city, and in their panelled houses; but now even their city itself was ploughed like a field, as before predicted:
and thou shalt go even to Babylon; to the city of Babylon, as their king did, and many of them also; and others of them into various parts of that kingdom: this is a clear prophecy of the Babylonish captivity, which came to pass upwards of a hundred years after this:
there shalt thou be delivered; after seventy years captivity, by the hand of Cyrus; who taking the city of Babylon, and making himself master of the whole empire, delivered the Jews from their bondage, and gave them liberty to return to their own land:
there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies; the Chaldeans: and this was typical of the deliverance and redemption of all the Lord's people from the hand of all their spiritual enemies; from Satan and the world, law, death, and hell; by the blood of the great Redeemer, and near kinsman of his people, the Lord Jesus Christ.
(y) "dolebis ac suspirabis", so some in Vatablus.
that say, let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion; either defiled with sin; so the Targum,
"that say, when will she sin, and our eye shall behold the fall of Zion?''
as the effect of her sin: or, as others, "let her play the hypocrite" (a); and be condemned as such: or rather, be defiled with slaughter and bloodshed, that they might be delighted with so pleasing a sight, and their eyes might feed with pleasure on an object so agreeable to their wishes.
(z) Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 62. 1.((a) "hypocrita fuit", Tigurine version; velut hypocrita damnatur", Tarnovius; "hypocrisi contaminabitur, Cocceius.
for he shall gather them as sheaves into the floor; as, when the harvest is ripe, it is cut down, and bound up in sheaves, and brought home, and these are laid in order upon the floor to be threshed; so, when the nations of the earth are fully ripe for ruin, God will put, or order to be put; in the sickle, and cut them down, and bind them in bundles, and lay them on his threshingfloor of wrath and vengeance, and utterly destroy them contrary to their views and expectations.