Avraham ben Yaakov
MICAH CHAPTER 5
Chapter 5 Verse 1 begins a Parshah Sethumah that continues until the end of verse 5. This very important section speaks of Mashiah and the defeat of Gog and Magog at the end of days. It is thus a continuation of the previous prophecy (Micah 4:8-14) which spoke about the restoration of the Davidic kingship and the war of Gog and Magog.
V 1: The prophet addresses Bethlehem , (also called Ephrath, Gen. 48:7) - the family home of King David (I Samuel 17:58), from whose progeny there will emerge God's anointed Mashiah. RaDaK (ad loc., uncensored version) cites the Christian interpretation of this verse as a reference to their founder, said to have been born in Bethlehem . RaDaK shows that this interpretation is untenable since (1) he was never "ruler in Israel" as Mashiah will be - rather, the people ruled over him since they had him executed, Sanhedrin 43a; (2) the claim that "from ancient time, from days of old" to which Mashiah's "goings out" are traced refers to God is impossible because God is beyond time. Targum Yonasan renders "and his goings out from ancient time from days of old" as: "his [Mashiah's] name was declared from ancient time, from days of old" - i.e. from the beginning of creation it was foreordained that Mashiah will come at the end of days.
V 2: "Therefore He will give them up until the time when she who travails has brought forth." :God will give them into the hands of their enemies until the time when Zion travails and gives birth to her children" (Rashi). Micah 4:9 also characterizes the pangs of redemption as birth pangs. Since a woman gives birth after NINE MONTHS of pregnancy, the Rabbis learned from this verse that "The son of David will not come until the kingdom of wicked Rome has spread over the entire world for NINE MONTHS" and then "the remnant of his brothers" - i.e. the brothers of Mashiah, Judah and Benjamin (RaDaK), will return to the Children of Israel - i.e. they will be reconciled with the Ten Tribes" (Yoma 10a).
V 3: This verse prophecies the strength and glory of Mashiah that will be manifested through the power of God, and the return of the exiles to the Land of Israel .
Vv 4-5: "And THIS will be peace", i.e. this will be genuine peace as opposed to the sham that has gone by the name of "peace" until now. If enemies try to enter the Land, we shall raise against them "seven shepherds and eight princes of men". The rabbis stated that the "seven shepherds" are David in the center with Adam, Seth and Methuselah to his right and Abraham, Jacob and Moses to his left. The "eight princes of men" are Jesse, Saul, Samuel, Amos, Zephaniah, Tzedekiah, Mashiah and Elijah (Succah 52b). Rashi on our present verse states: "I do not know from where they learned this". "Mashiah will save us by destroying the land of Ashur and Babylon with their princes and rulers so that no more enemies shall go out of those lands to enter within our boundaries" (RaDaK).
V 6 is a Parshah Pethuhah in itself. This verse is the beginning of the selection from Micah (5:6-6:8) that is read as the Haftara to Parshas Balak in the Book of Numbers. Balak's request to Bilaam to curse Israel is referred to in Micah Ch 6 v 5.
"And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples like dew from HaShem." The "many peoples" are those who will gather against Jerusalem with Gog and Magog. (Metzudas David, RaDaK). "Israel will be among them like dew from HaShem, for the dew comes from God from heaven, and one who hopes in Him will not put his trust in any man to bring it to him but he will put his hope in HaShem alone since it is He Who causes the dew and rain to fall on the earth. So too in the salvation from the war of Gog and Magog, Israel will not hope in anyone except God, for He is their savior and there is no other savior besides Him, because they will be a small number of people while the nations gathered against them will be very many - who will be able to save them except Him? His salvation will come down to them in the same way that dew comes down upon the ground. and afterwards it will be 'like showers on the grass': just as the showers are more abundant than the dew, so God's goodness to Israel will continue growing" (RaDaK).
Vv 7-8 are another Parshah Pethuhah prophesying how in the war of Gog and Magog when the nations will come against Jerusalem , Israel will stand up to them like the lion, king of the animals, and like a young lion among flocks of sheep (RaDaK). "Your hand shall be lifted up against Your adversaries, and Your enemies shall be cut off" (v 8) - "The five fingers of God's right hand are all for the sake of redemption. He will use His whole hand to destroy the children of Esau, who are His adversaries, and to cut off the children of Ishmael, who are His enemies, as it says, Your HAND shall be lifted up against Your adversaries." (Yalkut Shimoni).
Vv 9-14 make up a Parshah Pethuah prophesying how the defeat of the forces of Gog and Magog will come about not through horses and chariots (alluding to help from "allies" like Egypt, Rashi) but through the power of God alone. God will "cut off the cities of your land and destroy all your fortresses" (v 10) because there will no longer be any need for fortified cities. After the coming of Messiah all the forms of witchcraft, divination and idolatry that used to be practiced will become defunct.
Chapter 6 opens with a new Parshah Pethuhah (vv 1-8) followed by a Parshah Sethumah (vv 9-16). These are two sections of one prophesy which returns to the theme of God's "argument" against Israel over their ingratitude for His past kindness and mercy. The first section (vv 1-8) evokes God's kindness and forgiving attitude to Israel at the time of their entry into the Land of Israel , explaining that what He wants from the people is not multitudes of animal sacrifices but that man should practice justice and kindness and go modestly with God. The second section (vv 9-16) berates Israel for practicing the very opposite of this through their dishonesty in business and the oppression practiced by the wealthy, and he warns that God will punish them.
Chapter 6 v 1: "Arise, contend before the mountains and let the hills hear your voice!" The "mountains" are the patriarchs, the "hills" the matriarchs (Rashi).
Vv 2-5 express God's complaint against Israel , pointing to His historical kindnesses to them, for which they have shown nothing but ingratitude. The argument that Israel should have shown more gratitude after God's kindnesses to them is familiar from various passages in Hosea (e.g. ch 3; 7:13 etc.)
V 5: "O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab devised and what Bilaam son of Be'or answered him." Balak wanted Bilaam to divine the moment of God's anger in order to take advantage of it to curse Israel , but Bilaam answered, "How shall I denounce when God has not denounced?" (Numbers 23:8). In other words, God showed complete forbearance to Israel in the wilderness and did not show anger despite their backslidings, bringing them from Shittim (despite their sin there with Pe'or god of the Moabites) to Gilgal, their first encampment after their successful entry into the Land of Israel .
V 6-7: The prophet - speaking in the name of all Israel - asks what is the appropriate way to show gratitude to God for his kindnesses: surely not through abundant animal sacrifices (external rituals that do not cause people to improve their actual behavior).
V 8: God has already told man what is good and what He wants from him: to practice Justice and Kindness and "to walk modestly with God" (=loving God with all one's heart and soul, which is a matter entrusted to man's heart, RaDaK).
Vv 9ff: The prophet calls out to the sinful city rebuking the people for practicing the very opposite of what God asks, exploiting others and acquiring wealth through selling short and other forms of deception and malpractice. They will be punished for this behavior, yet the prophet knows that they will not heed his warnings, "for the statutes of Omri are kept" - they will continue to follow the practices instituted by the kings of Shomron, leading to inevitable doom.
MAY GOD TURN OUR HEARTS TO HIM AND RESTORE US TO OUR LAND AND BUILD HIS TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM QUICKLY IN OUR TIMES. AMEN.
* * * The sections in Micah 5:6-14 and 6:1-8 are read as the Haftara of Parshas Balak, Numbers 22:2-25:9 * * *
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By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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