1* Ah! you plotters of iniquity,
who work out evil on your beds!
In the morning light you carry it out
for it lies within your power.
2* You covet fields, and seize them;
houses, and take them;
You cheat owners of their houses,
people of their inheritance.
3Therefore thus says the LORD:
Look, I am planning against this family an evil
from which you cannot free your necks;
Nor shall you walk with head held high,
for it will be an evil time.
4On that day you shall be mocked,
and there will be bitter lament:
“Our ruin is complete,
our fields are divided among our captors,
The fields of my people are measured out,
and no one can get them back!”*
5Thus you shall have no one
in the assembly of the LORD
to allot to you a share of land.
6* “Do not preach,” they preach,
“no one should preach of these things!
Shame will not overtake us.”
7How can it be said, house of Jacob,
“Is the LORD short of patience;
are these the Lord’s deeds?”
Do not my words promise good
to the one who walks in justice?
8But you rise up against my people as an enemy:
you have stripped off the garment from the peaceful,
From those who go their way in confidence,
as though it were spoils of war.
9The women of my people you drive out
from their pleasant houses;
From their children you take away
forever the honor I gave them.
10* “Get up! Leave,
this is no place to rest”;
Because of uncleanness that destroys
with terrible destruction.
11If one possessed of a lying spirita
speaks deceitfully, saying,
“I will preach to you wine and strong drink,”
that one would be the preacher for this people.
12* I will gather you, Jacob, each and every one,
I will assemble all the remnant of Israel;
I will group them like a flock in the fold,
like a herd in its pasture;
the noise of the people will resound.
13The one who makes a breach goes up before them;
they make a breach and pass through the gate;
Their king shall go through before them,
the LORD at their head.
* [2:1–5] The cry “Ah” (hoy) begins a typical prophetic speech that is usually continued, as here (vv. 1–2), by a description of the addressees in terms of their unrighteous activities. This description is an indictment which gives the reasons for punishment announced to a particular group of people (vv. 3–5). The prophet spells out the crimes; the Lord announces the punishment, which corresponds to the crime: those who take the land of others will have their own land taken.
Those who plot iniquity and have the power to do it are wealthy landowners. The evil which they do consists in coveting the fields and houses of others and taking them.
The Lord, as owner of the earth, allotted the land by tribes and families to the people of Israel (Jos 13–19). Losing one’s inheritance diminished one’s place in the community and threatened the family’s economic viability and existence. According to Micah, those who used their power to expand their estates at the expense of weaker Israelites took more than land from them: they were tampering with the divine order.
* [2:4] Those who take land from the less powerful will in turn have their land taken away by invaders.
* [2:6–11] This unit is a disputation, an argument in which the prophet is debating with his opponents. The words of the opponents are given to us only as the prophet quotes them. The opponents accuse Micah of being a false prophet, and he reacts by accusing them of injustice and of preferring prophets and preachers who speak lies (v. 11).
* [2:10] The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
* [2:12–13] This announcement of salvation to the “remnant of Israel” stands out dramatically in the context, and is probably a later addition to the words of Micah, coming from the time of the Babylonian exile. The content of the promise and the images are similar to those found in Second Isaiah, the great poet of Israel’s salvation and restoration (see Is 40:11; 43:5).