Micah 6:1-8 exegetical assignment part 1

Introduction

The passage of Scripture I have chosen to exegete is Micah 6:1-8. This passage has some unique and unusual elements to it.  A dramatic covenant – lawsuit[1] where God takes the unusual step of throwing himself before the judge in regards to failing Israel. The inclusion of Miriam must be noted and examined, for apart from within the Torah and two genealogies in Chronicles; Miriam is not mentioned elsewhere within Scripture. There is an interesting phraseology which when examined throws an interesting twist to what appears to be an obvious meaning to the passage and finishes with an odd and singularly use of the phrase “O’man”

Context

Micah means “Who is like Yah?”[2] He ministered between 742 – 686 B.C,[3] under the kingship of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah[4] and was a contemporary of Isaiah and possibly Amos.[5] He lived in a time where selfish materialism drove a religious complacency that led to the disintegration of communitive social values. Micah was a man of the land and identified with the plight of rural people who were losing their family / national inheritances and livelihoods so that the rich could extend their estates.[6]

There is an obvious literary jerkiness within the book which is thought to be from Micah’s editing his independent prophecies into book form. There are a number of structural ways in which the book can be divided. One is Gleason’s method of division into five sections[7].

And Waltke, who sees it as three divisions. 1-2, 3-5 and 6-7 and picks up on the key command to Hear moving from doom to hope.[8] His breakdown makes the most sense as I will show that while Micah 6:1-8 is a complete unit; it forms the introduction into verse 6:9 and into chapter seven.

There is a distinctive three point parallel verse structural system which is broken by an interesting inclusive parallel two point sentence in verse five, which we will examine later in greater detail[9]

1)    Arise, plead, and hear. 2) Repeats verse 1.

3) What have I done, how have I, answer me. 4) Brought you up, redeemed you and set before you (3)… Moses, Aaron, Miriam. (3)

5) Balaam, Balak, Shittim to Gilgal.

6) What, how and come. 7) Rams, oil, firstborn.

8a) Showed you, requirement, what is good, 8b) Justice, love kindness, walk humbly.

While it is agreed among scholars that 6:1-16 is distinctly divided into two sections there is some debate as to where the division starts.  One view is that the dramatic court scene where Israel is summoned to testify as to how God has failed them; finishes at 6:5[10] and the second view is that the first division includes Israel’s response to the summons in verses 6-8.[11]

Waltke notes that there is a third way to divide this passage in that verses 6-8 take the form of an entrance liturgy when entering into the temple sanctuary and therefore it is still a continuation of 1-5.[12] He disagrees with critics who think chapters 1-3 is written by Micah and the rest written throughout the exilic and post exilic periods.[13]

Allen[14] also agrees that Micah spoke and wrote this book in the pre-exilic period; a position I hold to with the tension that there could be evidence to suggest an exilic / post exilic editorial influence.

For Wood claims that to truly understand Micah and particularly this passage it is best understood as part of an ongoing dramatic stage show.[15] She proposes a post exilic editorial content, drawing upon Greek mythological influences within the court scene, where the gods come down to save or punish people.[16]

Watson counters that by the time of Jeremiah and Ezekiel’s ministry this literary genre was common, noting that its form also appeared in Job, Gen 31 and Judges 6. He continues to show that there had been a tri level judicial system in place for at least a century before, which was initiated by Jehoshaphat.

The first level was the eldership community rule at the city gates. The second level was a priestly level and the final level of that of the kingly rule / judge. He then suggests the setting for this passage is within the Priestly court, situated in Jerusalem, significantly noting that it heard cases of false witness; which is the courtly theme of this passage.[17]

While discounting Woods dismissal of Micah prophesying and writing chapters 6 & 7, it is plausible there was a later editorial process which adapted the prophecy / book within a Greek influenced culture. Indeed her interpretive processes give much insight into understanding the characters and script within the passage.[18]

Part 2 continued here


[1] Ronald T Hyman,. “QUESTIONS AND RESPONSE IN MICAH 6:6-8.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 33, no. 3 (July 2005): 157-165. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed September 29, 2010). Pg. 158

[2] Bruce K Waltke, “Micah”in The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical Expository Commentary. (ed), T.E. McComiskey, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009. Pg. 593

[3] “Ibid” pg.591

[4] Leslie C. Allen,. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, the books of Joel, Obadiah. Jonah and Micah. U.S.A: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976 pg.240 pg. 239

[5] D Guthrie and J. A. Motyer, New Bible Commentary Third Edition, ed., 752-761. Leicester England: Intervarsity Press 1970. See Introduction to Isaiah and Amos on pages 588 & 726.

[6] Leslie C. Allen,. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, the books of Joel, Obadiah. Jonah and Micah. U.S.A: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976 pg.240

[7] D Guthrie and J. A. Motyer, New Bible Commentary Third Edition, ed., 752-761. Leicester England: Intervarsity Press 1970. 752

[8] Bruce K Waltke, “Micah”in The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical Expository Commentary. (ed), T.E. McComiskey, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009. pg. 594

[9] Balam and Balak form the first verse of parallelism and Shittim to Gilgal form the second. There is an interesting word play going on here. For while they together form a parallel story, each unit contains a parallel structure within its self.

[10] Bruce K Waltke, “Micah”in The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical Expository Commentary. (ed), T.E. McComiskey, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009. pg. 594

[11] Elizabeth. Achtemeier, New International Biblical Commentary, Minor Prophets 1. Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc 1996. Pg. 349.

[12] Bruce K Waltke, “Micah”in The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical Expository Commentary. (ed), T.E. McComiskey, Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009 pg. 726

[13] “Ibid” pg.593

[14] Leslie C. Allen,. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, the books of Joel, Obadiah. Jonah and Micah. U.S.A: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1976 pg.249

[15] Joyce Rilett Wood, 2000. “Speech and Action in Micah’s Prophecy.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 62, no. 4: 645. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed September 29, 2010).650

[16] “Ibid” pg.651

[17] Watson, Paul L. 1963. “Form criticism and an exegesis of Micah 6:1-8.” Restoration Quarterly 7, no. 1-2: 61-72. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed October 1, 2010) pg. 64

[18] Joyce Rilett Wood, 2000. “Speech and Action in Micah’s Prophecy.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 62, no. 4: 645. Religion and Philosophy Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed September 29, 2010).pg. 646

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
This entry was posted in assignments, Micah and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Micah 6:1-8 exegetical assignment part 1

  1. Pingback: Micah 6:1-8 exegetical assignment part 2 | Trinitarian Dance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s