1* But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathaha
least among the clans of Judah,
From you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
Whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
2Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,*
Then the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.b
3He shall take his place as shepherd
by the strength of the LORD,
by the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
And they shall dwell securely, for now his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth:
4he shall be peace.*
If Assyria invades our country
and treads upon our land,
We shall raise against it seven shepherds,
eight of royal standing;
5They shall tend the land of Assyria with the sword,
and the land of Nimrod* with the drawn sword;
They will deliver us from Assyria,
when it invades our land,
when it treads upon our borders.
6The remnant of Jacob shall be
in the midst of many peoples,
Like dew coming from the LORD,
like showers on the grass,
Which wait for no one,
delay for no human being.
7And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations,
in the midst of many peoples,
Like a lion among beasts of the forest,
like a young lion among flocks of sheep;
When it passes through it tramples;
it tears and no one can rescue.
8Your hand shall be lifted above your foes,
and all your enemies shall be cut down.
9* On that day—oracle of the LORD—
I will destroy the horses from your midst
and ruin your chariots;
10I will destroy the cities of your land
and tear down all your fortresses.
11I will destroy the sorcery you practice,
and there shall no longer be soothsayers among you.
12I will destroy your carved figures
and the sacred stones* from your midst;
And you shall no longer worship
the works of your hands.c
13I will tear out the asherahs from your midst,
and destroy your cities.
14I will wreak vengeance in anger and wrath
upon the nations that have not listened.
* [5:1–6] Salvation will come through a “messiah,” an anointed ruler. The Book of Micah shares with Isaiah the expectation that God will deliver Israel through a king in the line of David. Bethlehem-Ephrathah is the home of the Davidic line.
* [5:2] These words are sometimes understood as a reference to Isaiah’s Emmanuel oracle, given some thirty years earlier (Is 7:14). The Gospel of Matthew reports that the chief priests and scribes cite this passage as the ancient promise of a messiah in the line of David to be born in Bethlehem (Mt 2:5–6).
* [5:4] Peace: he will not only symbolize but also bring about harmony and wholeness.
* [5:5] Nimrod: the legendary ancestor of the Mesopotamians; cf. Gn 10:10–12.
* [5:9–13] The Lord will destroy all those features of the nation’s life that have stood between the people and their God. These false supports include horses, chariots, fortifications, and forbidden practices such as sorcery and idolatry.
* [5:12–13] Sacred stones…asherahs: the Hebrew asherah is a sacred pole. All forms of idolatry (standing stones and sacred poles were part of forbidden cult practices) were violations of Israel’s covenant with the Lord.
a. [5:1] Ru 1:2; 1 Sm 17:12; Mt 2:6; Jn 7:42.