Land Robbers Will Lose their Land
1 Those who devise sinful plans are as good as dead,#tn Heb “Woe to those who plan sin.” The Hebrew term הוֹי (hoy, “woe”; “ah”) was a cry used in mourning the dead.
those who dream about doing evil as they lie in bed.#tn Heb “those who do evil upon their beds.”
As soon as morning dawns they carry out their plans,#tn Heb “at the light of morning they do it.”
because they have the power to do so.
2 They confiscate the fields they desire,
and seize the houses they want.#tn Heb “they desire fields and rob [them], and houses and take [them] away.”
They defraud people of their homes,#tn Heb “and they oppress a man and his home.”
and deprive people of the land they have inherited.#tn Heb “and a man and his inheritance.” The verb עָשַׁק (’ashaq, “to oppress”; “to wrong”) does double duty in the parallel structure and is understood by ellipsis in the second line.
3 Therefore the Lord says this: “Look, I am devising disaster for this nation!#tn Heb “clan” or “extended family.”
It will be like a yoke from which you cannot free your neck.#tn Heb “from which you will not remove your neck.” The words “It will be like a yoke” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
You will no longer#tn Or “you will not.” walk proudly,
for it will be a time of catastrophe.
4 In that day people will sing this taunt song to you –
they will mock you with this lament:#tc The form נִהְיָה (nihyah) should be omitted as dittographic (note the preceding וְנָהָה נְהִי vÿnahah nÿhiy).tn Heb “one will lament [with] a lamentation [and] say.”
‘We are completely destroyed;
they sell off#tn Or “exchange.” The LXX suggests a reading יִמַּד (yimmad) from מָדַד (madad, “to measure”). In this case one could translate, “the property of my people is measured out [i.e., for resale].” the property of my people.
How they remove it from me!#tn Heb “how one removes for me.” Apparently the preposition has the nuance “from” here (cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).
They assign our fields to the conqueror.’#tc The Hebrew term שׁוֹבֵב (shovev, “the one turning back”) elsewhere has the nuance “apostate” (cf. NASB) or “traitor” (cf. NIV). The translation assumes an emendation to שָׁבָה (shavah, “captor”).tn Heb “to the one turning back he assigns our fields.”
5 Therefore no one will assign you land in the Lord’s community.#tn Heb “therefore you will not have one who strings out a measuring line by lot in the assembly of the Lord.”sn No one will assign you land in the Lord’s community. When judgment passes and the people are restored to the land, those greedy ones who disregarded the ancient land allotments will not be allowed to participate in the future redistribution of the land.
6 ‘Don’t preach with such impassioned rhetoric,’ they say excitedly.#tn Heb “‘Do not foam at the mouth,’ they foam at the mouth.” The verb נָטַף (nataf) means “to drip.” When used of speech it probably has the nuance “to drivel, to foam at the mouth” (HALOT 694 s.v. נטף). The sinful people tell the Lord’s prophets not to “foam at the mouth,” which probably refers in a derogatory way to their impassioned style of delivery. But the Lord (who is probably still speaking here, see v. 3) sarcastically refers to their impassioned exhortation as “foaming at the mouth.”
‘These prophets should not preach of such things;
we will not be overtaken by humiliation.’#tc If one follows the MT as it stands, it would appear that the Lord here condemns the people for their “foaming at the mouth” and then announces that judgment is inevitable. The present translation assumes that this is a continuation of the quotation of what the people say. In this case the subject of “foam at the mouth” is the Lord’s prophets. In the second line יִסַּג (yissag, a Niphal imperfect from סוּג, sug, “to remove”) is emended to יַסִּגֵנוּ (yassigenu; a Hiphil imperfect from נָסַג/נָשַׂג, nasag/nasag, “to reach; to overtake”).tn Heb “they should not foam at the mouth concerning these things, humiliation will not be removed.”
7 Does the family#tn Heb “house” (so many English versions); CEV “descendants.’ of Jacob say,#tc The MT has אָמוּר (’amur), an otherwise unattested passive participle, which is better emended to אָמוֹר (’amor), an infinitive absolute functioning as a finite verb (see BDB 55 s.v. אָמַר).
‘The Lord’s patience#tn The Hebrew word רוּחַ (ruach) often means “Spirit” when used of the Lord, but here it seems to have an abstract sense, “patience.” See BDB 925 s.v. 3.d. can’t be exhausted –
he would never do such things’?#tn Heb “Has the patience of the Lord run short? Or are these his deeds?” The rhetorical questions expect the answer, “No, of course not.” The people contest the prophet’s claims that the Lord’s judgment is falling on the nation.
To be sure, my commands bring a reward
for those who obey them,#tn Heb “Do not my words accomplish good for the one who walks uprightly?” The rhetorical question expects the answer, “Of course they do!” The Lord begins his response to the claim of the house of Jacob that they are immune to judgment (see v. 7a). He points out that the godly are indeed rewarded, but then he goes on to show that those in the house of Jacob are not godly and can expect divine judgment, not blessing (vv. 8-11). Some emend “my words” to “his words.” In this case, v. 7b is a continuation of the immediately preceding quotation. The people, thinking they are godly, confidently ask, “Do not his [God’s] words accomplish good for the one who walks uprightly?”
8 but you rise up as an enemy against my people.#tc Heb “Recently my people rise up as an enemy.” The MT is problematic in light of v. 9, where “my people” are the object of oppression, not the perpetrators of it. The form וְאֶתְמוּל (vÿ’etmul, “and recently”) is probably the product of fusion and subsequent suppression of an (ע) ayin. The translation assumes an emendation to וְאַתֶּם עַל (vÿ’attem ’al, “and you against [my people]”). The second person plural pronoun fits well with the second plural verb forms of vv. 8b-10. If this emendation is accepted, then יְקוֹמֵם (yÿqomem, the imperfect of קוּם [qum]) should be emended to קָמִים (qamim; a participle from the same root).
You steal a robe from a friend,#tc Heb “From the front of a garment glory [or perhaps, “a robe”] you strip off,” but this makes little if any sense. The term מִמּוּל (mimmul, “from the front of”) is probably the product of dittography (note the preceding word, which ends in [ם] mem) and subsequent suppression of ע (ayin). The translation assumes an emendation to מֵעַל (me’al, “from upon”). The translation also assumes an emendation of שַׂלְמָה אֶדֶר (salmah ’eder, “a garment, glory [or robe]”) to שֹׁלְמִים אֲדֶרֶת (sholÿmim ’aderet, “[from] a friend the robe [you strip off]”). The MT’s אֶדֶר (’eder) is the result of misdivision (the article has erroneously been attached to the preceding word) and haplography (of the final tav, which also begins the following word).
from those who pass by peacefully as if returning from a war.#tc The passive participle שׁוּבֵי (shuvey) is unattested elsewhere and should be emended to a participle שָׁבִים (shavim).tn Heb “from those passing by peacefully, returnees from war.” Actual refugees, however, are probably not in view. The second line compares those who pass by peacefully with individuals returning from war. The battle is over and they do not expect their own countrymen to attack them.
9 You wrongly evict widows#tn Heb “women.” This may be a synecdoche of the whole (women) for the part (widows). among my people from their cherished homes.
You defraud their children#tn Heb “her little children” or “her infants”; ASV, NRSV “young children.” of their prized inheritance.#tn Heb “from their children you take my glory forever.” The yod (י) ending on הֲדָרִי (hadariy) is usually taken as a first person common singular suffix (“my glory”). But it may be the archaic genitive ending (“glory of”) in the construct expression “glory of perpetuity,” that is, “perpetual glory.” In either case, this probably refers to the dignity or honor the Lord bestowed on each Israelite family by giving them a share of his land to be inherited perpetually from one generation to another within each family. The term הָדָר (hadar) may refer to possessions that a person prizes (Lam 1:6).
10 But you are the ones who will be forced to leave!#tn Heb “Arise and go!” These imperatives are rhetorical. Those who wrongly drove widows and orphans from their homes and land inheritances will themselves be driven out of the land (cf. Isa 5:8-17). This is an example of poetic justice.
For this land is not secure!#tn Heb “for this is no resting place.” The Lord speaks to the oppressors.
Sin will thoroughly destroy it!#tn Heb “uncleanness will destroy, and destruction will be severe.”
11 If a lying windbag should come and say,#tn Heb “if a man, coming [as] wind and falsehood, should lie”; NASB “walking after wind and falsehood”; NIV “a liar and a deceiver.”
‘I’ll promise you blessings of wine and beer,’#tn Heb “I will foam at the mouth concerning wine and beer.”
he would be just the right preacher for these people!#tn Heb “he would be the foamer at the mouth for this people.”
The Lord Will Restore His People
12 I will certainly gather all of you, O Jacob,
I will certainly assemble those Israelites who remain.#tn Heb “the remnant of Israel.”
I will bring them together like sheep in a fold,#tc The MT reads בָּצְרָה (batsrah, “Bozrah”) but the form should be emended to בַּצִּרָה (batsirah, “into the fold”). See D. R. Hillers, Micah (Hermeneia), 38.
like a flock in the middle of a pasture;#tc The MT reads “its pasture,” but the final vav (ו) belongs with the following verb. See GKC 413 §127.i.
they will be so numerous that they will make a lot of noise.#tn Heb “and they will be noisy [or perhaps, “excited”] from men.” The subject of the third feminine plural verb תְּהִימֶנָה (tÿhimenah, “they will be noisy”) is probably the feminine singular צֹאן (tso’n, “flock”). (For another example of this collective singular noun with a feminine plural verb, see Gen 30:38.) In the construction מֵאָדָם (me’adam, “from men”) the preposition is probably causal. L. C. Allen translates “bleating in fear of men” (Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah [NICOT], 300), but it is possible to take the causal sense as “because of the large quantity of men.” In this case the sheep metaphor and the underlying reality are mixed.
13 The one who can break through barriers will lead them out#tn Heb “the one who breaks through goes up before them.” The verb form is understood as a perfect of certitude, emphasizing the certainty of this coming event.
they will break out, pass through the gate, and leave.#tn The three verb forms (a perfect and two preterites with vav [ו] consecutive) indicate certitude.sn The “fold” from which the sheep/people break out is probably a reference to their place of exile.
Their king will advance#tn The verb form (a preterite with vav [ו] consecutive) indicates certitude. before them,
The Lord himself will lead them.#tn Heb “the Lord [will be] at their head.”