Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. gather thyself in troops--that is, thou shalt do so, to resist the
enemy. Lest the faithful should fall into carnal security because of the
previous promises, he reminds them of the calamities which are to
precede the prosperity.
daughter of troops--Jerusalem is so called on account of her numerous
he hath laid siege--the enemy hath.
they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the
cheek--the greatest of insults to an Oriental. Zedekiah, the judge
of Israel, was loaded with insults by the Chaldeans; so also the other
princes and judges
HENGSTENBERG thinks the expression, "the judge,"
marks a time when no king of the house of David reigned. The smiting on
the cheek of other judges of Israel was a type of the same indignity
offered to Him who nevertheless is the Judge, not only of Israel, but
also of the world, and who is "from everlasting"
Mt 26:67; 27:30).
2. Beth-lehem Ephratah--
or, Beth-lehem Judah; so called to distinguish it from Beth-lehem in
Zebulun. It is a few miles southwest of Jerusalem. Beth-lehem means
"the house of bread"; Ephratah means "fruitful": both names
referring to the fertility of the region.
though thou be little among--though thou be scarcely large enough to be reckoned among, &c. It
was insignificant in size and population; so that in
&c., it is not enumerated among the cities of Judah; nor in the list in
&c. Under Rehoboam it became a city:
"He built Beth-lehem."
seems to contradict Micah, "thou art not the least," But really
he, by an independent testimony of the Spirit, confirms the prophet,
Little in worldly importance, thou art not least (that is, far
from least, yea, the very greatest) among the thousands, of
princes of Judah, in the spiritual significance of being the birthplace
God chooses the little things of the world to eclipse in glory its
1Co 1:27, 28).
The low state of David's line when Messiah was born is also implied
thousands--Each tribe was divided into clans or
"thousands" (each thousand containing a thousand families: like our old
English division of counties into hundreds), which had their
several heads or "princes"; hence in
it is quoted "princes," substantially the same as in Micah, and
authoritatively explained in Matthew. It is not so much this thousand
that is preferred to the other thousands of Judah, but the Governor or
Chief Prince out of it, who is preferred to the governors of all the
other thousands. It is called a "town" (rather in the Greek,
though scarcely containing a thousand inhabitants, it is ranked among
the "thousands" or larger divisions of the tribe, because of its being
the cradle of David's line, and of the Divine Son of David. Moses
divided the people into thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, with
their respective "rulers"
unto me--unto God the Father
to fulfil all the Father's will and purpose from eternity. So the Son
(Ps 2:7; 40:7, 8;
and the Father confirms it
(Mt 3:17; 12:18,
God's glory is hereby made the ultimate end of redemption.
ruler--the "Shiloh," "Prince of peace," "on whose shoulders the
government is laid"
"He that ruleth over men must be just," the same Hebrew
word is employed; Messiah alone realizes David's ideal of a ruler. Also
"their governor shall proceed from the midst of them"; answering
closely to "out of thee shall come forth the ruler," here
goings forth . . . from everlasting--The plain antithesis of this
clause, to "come forth out of thee" (from Beth-lehem), shows that
the eternal generation of the Son is meant. The terms convey the
strongest assertion of infinite duration of which the Hebrew language is capable (compare
Pr 8:22, 23;
Messiah's generation as man coming forth unto God to do His will on
earth is from Beth-lehem; but as Son of God, His goings forth
are from everlasting. The promise of the Redeemer at first was
Then the Shemitic division of mankind is declared as the quarter in
which He was to be looked for
(Ge 9:26, 27);
then it grows clearer, defining the race and nation whence the
Deliverer should come, namely, the seed of Abraham, the Jews
then the particular tribe, Judah
then the family, that of David
(Ps 89:19, 20);
then the very town of His birth, here. And as His coming drew nigh, the
Lu 1:26-35; 2:1-7);
and then all the scattered rays of prophecy concentrate in Jesus, as
(Heb 1:1, 2).
3. "Therefore (because of His settled plan) will God
give up to their foes His people Israel, until," &c.
she which travaileth hath brought forth--namely, "the virgin" mother,
mentioned by Micah's contemporary,
Zion "in travail"
(Mic 4:9, 10)
answers to the virgin in travail of Messiah. Israel's
deliverance from her long travail-pains of sorrow will synchronize with
the appearance oś Messiah as her Redeemer
in the last days, as the Church's spiritual deliverance synchronized
with the virgin's giving birth to Him at His first advent. The ancient
Church's travail-like waiting for Messiah is represented by
the virgin's travail. Hence, both may be meant. It cannot
be restricted to the Virgin Mary: for Israel is still "given
up," though Messiah has been "brought forth" eighteen and a half
centuries ago. But the Church's throes are included, which are only to
be ended when Christ, having been preached for a witness to all
nations, shall at last appear as the Deliverer of Jacob, and when the
times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled, and Israel as a nation shall
be born in a day
Re 12:1, 2, 4;
the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel--(Compare
The remainder of the Israelites dispersed in foreign lands shall return
to join their countrymen in Canaan. The Hebrew for "unto" is,
literally, "upon," implying superaddition to those already
4. he shall stand--that is, persevere: implying the endurance of
His kingdom [CALVIN]. Rather, His sedulous care
and pastoral circumspection, as a shepherd stands erect to
survey and guard His flock on every side
feed--that is, rule: as the Greek word similarly in
Margin, means both "feed" and "rule"
(Isa 40:11; 49:10;
2Sa 5:2; 7:8).
in the majesty of the name of the Lord--possessing the majesty of all
Jehovah's revealed attributes ("name")
Php 2:6, 9;
his God--God is "His God" in a oneness of relation distinct from
the sense in which God is our God
they shall abide--the Israelites ("they," namely, the
returning remnant and the "children of Israel previously in Canaan)
shall dwell in permanent security and prosperity
unto the ends of the earth--
5. this man--in Hebrew simply "This." The One just mentioned; He
and He alone. Emphatical for Messiah (compare
the peace--the fountainhead of peace between God and man, between
Israel and Israel's justly offended God
Eph 2:14, 17;
and, as the consequence, the fountain of "peace on earth," where
heretofore all is strife
the Assyrian--Being Israel's most powerful foe at that time, Assyria
is made the representative of all the foes of Israel in all ages, who
shall receive their final destruction at Messiah's appearing
seven shepherds, and eight--"Seven" expresses perfection; "seven and
eight" is an idiom for a full and sufficient number
principal men--literally, "anointed (humble) men"
such as the apostles were. Their anointing, or consecration and
qualification to office, was by the Holy Spirit [CALVIN]
(1Jo 2:20, 27).
"Princes" also were anointed, and they are mentioned as under Messiah
English Version therefore gives the probable sense.
6. waste--literally, "eat up": following up the metaphor of "shepherds"
land of Nimrod--Babylon
or, including Assyria also, to which he extended his borders
in the entrances--the passes into Assyria
The Margin and JEROME, misled by a needless
attention to the parallelism, "with the sword," translate, "with her
own naked swords"; as in
the Hebrew is translated. But "in the entrances" of Assyria,
answers to, "within our borders." As the Assyrians invade our
borders, so shall their own borders or "entrances" be
he . . . he--Messiah shall deliver us, when the Assyrian shall
7. remnant of Jacob--already mentioned in
It in comparative smallness stands in antithesis to the "many people."
Though Israel be but a remnant amidst many nations after her
restoration, yet she shall exercise the same blessed influence in
quickening them spiritually that the small imperceptible dew exercises
in refreshing the grass
Ps 72:6; 110:3).
The influence of the Jews restored from Babylon in making many Gentile
proselytes is an earnest of a larger similar effect hereafter
from the Lord--Israel's restoration and the consequent conversion of
the Gentiles are solely of grace.
tarrieth not for man--entirely God's work, as independent of human
contrivance as the dew and rains that fertilize the soil.
8. as a lion--In
Israel's benignant influence on the nations is described; but here her
vengeance on the godless hosts who assail her
(Isa 66:15, 16, 19, 24;
Zec 12:3, 6, 8, 9; 14:17, 18).
Judah will be "as as lion," not in respect to its cruelty, but in its
power of striking terror into all opponents. Under the Maccabees, the
Jews acquired Idumea, Samaria, and parts of the territory of Ammon and
Moab [GROTIUS]. But this was only the earnest of
their future glory on their coming restoration.
9. Thine hand shall be lifted up--In
it is Jehovah's hand that is lifted up; here Israel's as
implies, just as "Zion" is addressed and directed to "beat in pieces
Isa 54:15, 17).
For Israel's foes are Jehovah's foes. When her hand is said to be
lifted up, it is Jehovah's hand that strikes the foe by her (compare
with Ex 14:8).
10. cut off thy horses . . . chariots--namely, those
used for the purposes of war. Israel had been forbidden the use of
cavalry, or to go to Egypt for horses
lest they should trust in worldly forces, rather than in God
Solomon had disregarded this command
(1Ki 10:26, 28).
Hereafter, saith God, I will remove these impediments to the free
course of My grace: horses, chariots, &c., on which ye trust. The
Church will never be safe, till she is stripped of all creature trusts,
and rests on Jehovah alone [CALVIN]. The universal
peace given by God shall cause warlike instruments to be needless. He
will cut them off from Israel
as she will cut them off from Babylon, the representative of the
(Jer 50:37; 51:21).
11. cut off . . . cities . . .
strongholds--such as are fortified for war. In that time of peace,
men shall live in unwalled villages
Jer 23:6; 49:31;
12. witchcrafts out of thine hand--that is, which thou now usest.
13. graven images . . . cut off--(Compare
Isa 2:8, 18-21; 30:22;
14. groves . . . cities--The "groves" are the idolatrous symbol of
"Cities" being parallel to "groves," must mean cities in or near which
such idolatrous groves existed. Compare "city of the house of Baal"
that is, a portion of the city sacred to Baal.
15. vengeance . . . such as they have not heard--or, as the
Hebrew order favors, "the nations that have not hearkened
to My warnings." So the Septuagint