Vv 1-2: The prophet laments that he was chosen to prophesy in a generation in which no Tzaddikim are left. The "summer fruits" have been "gathered in" - the righteous have left the world. Micah outlived the other members of the "quartet" of prophets of his time -- Hosea, Amos and Isaiah. He found himself left without companions in a degenerate age when everyone was scheming against everyone else.

V 3: The prophet continues his reproof against the people over their moral degeneracy. The leaders demand bribes; the judges are interested not in justice but in pay-offs while the great and powerful - who should have enforced justice - abuse the victims of corruption and injustice, thereby thickening and strengthening the cords of sin (Metzudas David).

Vv 4-5: The best of the people are prickly as thorns. It is impossible to trust in anyone.

V 6: This verse is cited in Sotah 49b as typifying people's behavior BE-IKVASA D'MESHIHA, in the "footsteps" or threshold of Mashiah".

Vv 7-8: In spite of seeing only negativity all around him, the prophet affirms that he will hope in God, confident that the redemption will come. He tells Israel 's enemy not to rejoice, for in spite of Israel 's fall, she will yet rise up. RaDaK states that this prophecy is addressed to wicked Rome, under whose rule Israel had been in exile for over a thousand years (by RaDaK's time), and who rejoices over her plight thinking her hope is lost. "Yet even though I sit in darkness, God is light to me."

Verses 9-13 make up a Parshah Pethuhah prophesying the future redemption that will come when Israel 's suffering for her sins is complete. The scales will then be turned against her enemies, who taunted her during the exile but who will be covered with shame in the end.

"There shall be a day when they shall come to you from Ashur." (v 12). The prophet says that while the nations mocked Israel saying that her hoped-for day of redemption would never come, that day is in fact guarded and treasured by God as the day on which their enemies will come to destroy them (Rashi). RaDaK explains that the locations given in v 12 all border on the Land of Israel , "which was [and is] surrounded by evil neighbors who did everything in their power to harm Israel ". On the other hand, Targum Yonasan interprets this verse as prophesying the ingathering of the exiles of Israel from Assyria and all the other lands of their dispersal. Targum renders "from MAZOR" as "from great HORMINI", which is usually identified with Armenia yet which is given in Targum on Jeremiah 51:27 as the Aramaic translation of ASHKENAZ= Germany (see RaDaK on Micah 7:12).

V 13: "And the land shall be desolate because of those that dwell in it, for the fruit of their doings." - "This refers to the lands of the nations, who harmed Israel " (RaDaK).

Verses 14-20 constitute a Parshah Pethuhah beginning with Micah's prayer to God to guide Israel as a shepherd leading his flock, with the people dwelling in their ancestral pastures throughout Greater Israel just as in the days of their earlier glory.

V 15: "As in the days of your coming out of the land of Egypt I will show you wonders." Here God Himself answers the prophet, promising that the future redemption will be attended my miracles and wonders as striking as those of the Exodus from Egypt .

Vv 16-17: These wonders will be witnessed by the nations who will gather against Jerusalem with Gog and Magog, and they will be ashamed of all the might with which they thought to conquer Jerusalem (RaDaK).

Vv 18-20: The prophet returns to praising God over the good destined for Israel . "Who is a God like You, Who pardons iniquity." According to the strict line of Justice we are not worthy of all that goodness since we are full of sin - but "Who is like God, who forgives sin!"

These three closing verses of Micah invoke God's Thirteen Attributes of Mercy, which were revealed to Moses at Sinai. While the Thirteen Attributes as revealed to Moses (Exodus 34:6-7) are considered kabbalistically as their "outer vessels", the attributes as invoked by Micah allude to the flow of inner blessing that is drawn down to the lower worlds through these vessels (Zohar, Idra Rabba, Naso 130b). The Thirteen Attributes as invoked by Micah and the corresponding Attributes revealed by Moses are as follows:

Micah 18-20: (1) Who is a God like You (2) who pardons iniquity and (3) forgives the transgression (4) of the remnant of his heritage? (5) He does not maintain his anger for ever, (6) because He delights in mercy. (7) He will again have compassion upon us; (8) He will suppress our iniquities. (9) And you will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (10) You will show truth to Jacob, (11) love to Abraham, (12) as you have sworn to our fathers (13) from days of old.

Exodus 34:6-7: [HaShem HaShem] (1) mighty, (2) merciful (3) and gracious, (4) long- (5) suffering (6) and abundant in love (7) and truth, (8) keeping kindness (9) to thousands, (10) forgiving iniquity (11)and transgression (12) and sin (13) but who will by no means clear the guilty.



By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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