Micah

MICAH (mī'ka, Heb. mîkkâh). Short form of the name Micaiah (or Michael), meaning “Who is like God?”) The name is applied to six individuals in the OT:

1. An Ephraimite mentioned in Judg.17.1-Judg.17.13-Judg.18.1-Judg.18.31. See explanation below.

2. A Reubenite listed in 1Chr.5.5.

3. A grandson of Jonathan (1Chr.8.34; 1Chr.9.40).

4. A Levite (1Chr.23.20).

5. The father of Abdon, one sent by Josiah to the prophetess Huldah (2Chr.34.20); called “Acbor son of Micaiah” in 2Kgs.22.12.

6. The canonical prophet Micah from Moresheth (Mic.1.1; Jer.26.18).

Of these men, only no. 1, the Ephraimite, calls for special comment. The sixth, Micah the prophet, is unknown to us apart from the book that bears his name (See Book of Micah).

Micah, the name of the Ephraimite, may indeed be a shortened form of Michael, as names compounded with El, “God,” are more common in the early times before the monarchy. The record of Micah is a sad tale of apostasy in the days of the judges. It forms a kind of appendix to the history of the twelve judges (Judg.1.1-Judg.1.36-Judg.16.1-Judg.16.31), a place that it occupies along with the narrative of the Benjamite war (Judg.19.1-Judg.19.30-Judg.21.1-Judg.21.25) and, in old Hebrew lists, the Book of Ruth, which was at one time appended to Judges and, like the two other accounts, concerns Bethlehem-Judah.

Micah had stolen some money from his mother but confessed and restored it. She declared she had already dedicated it for an idol for her son and proceeded to use two hundred shekels of it (a little over five pounds) to make such an image. Micah set up a private sanctuary and ordained one of his sons as priest. Later he ordained a wandering Levite of Bethlehem-Judah. His idolatry, though far from the Mosaic prescriptions, was in the name of the Lord, and he evidently felt that a Levite would win greater sanctity for his idol shrine.

This incident is linked with the Danite migration. The tribe of Dan first inherited in southern Palestine. Feeling restricted, they later moved to the far north where they appear later (Josh.19.47; 1Kgs.12.29). On the way, their spies noticed Micah’s sanctuary and later the Danite army pillaged Micah’s shrine, abducted his priest, and set up the sanctuary for their own—all this while the tabernacle was in Shiloh. The name of Micah’s priest was Jonathan, a descendant of Moses (called Manasseh in most versions in Judg.18.30 by courtesy of the Jewish scribes to protect the reputation of Moses).——RLH


MICA mī’ cə, an important group of rockforming minerals characterized by perfect basal cleavage with the production of thin sheets or flakes which are both flexible and elastic. All micas are based on the same sheet-like atomic structure. The principal members of the group are muscovite (hydrated potassium, aluminum silicate) and biotite (hydrated potassium, magnesium, iron, aluminum silicate). Both muscovite, which is generally white to pale silvery-gray in color, and biotite, which is brown to black, are common constituents of granites and metamorphic rocks. They occur in many rocks of the Aqaba Granite Complex which makes up the bed rock on either side of the Red Sea. Muscovite, which is fairly resistant to weathering, also occurs commonly in sedimentary rocks. It shines brightly in sunlight (Latin micare—to gleam or shine) and small flakes would glisten in both desert sands and granite. In some veins cutting granites there are mica flakes up to many feet across.


MICAH mī’ ka (מִיכָ֥ה, מִיכָ֥א, contractions of מִיכָיָ֑הוּ, who is like Yahu/Yahweh, LXXA Μιυά, LXXB Μιχαίας). 1. An Ephraimite (Judg 17, 18) who stole 1100 pieces of silver from his mother. She pronounced a curse on him, but relented and used 200 pieces of the silver to make a graven and molten image for a shrine. This shrine also contained an ephod and teraphim. One of his sons was made priest of this shrine. He, however, was replaced by Jonathan, a grandson of Moses, a Levite of Bethlehem-Judah who served as a hireling priest. When five Danites in search of a new home for their tribe obtained a favorable oracle from him, they returned with 600 armed men and offered Jonathan employment as priest in their new tribal territory about Laish (Dan). They took with them Micah’s ephod, teraphim and the graven image. Micah was helpless to prevent this action. He pursued after them, but was warned that interference would cost him his goods and his life. His graven image became a shrine in the city of Dan.

2. A descendant of Reuben who was ancestor of an exile carried away by Tiglath-pileser (1 Chron 5:5).

3. A son of Mephibosheth (Meriba’al) (1 Chron 8:34, 35; 9:40, 41) called Mica (KJV Meicha) in 2 Samuel 9:12.

4. Son of Zichri (1 Chron 9:15), also called son of Zabdi in Nehemiah 11:17. In Nehemiah 12:35 he is called Micaiah, son of Zakkur.

5. A Levite during the latter part of David’s reign (1 Chron 23:20; 24:24, 25).

6. A signer of Ezra’s covenant (Neh 10:11).

7. The father of Abdon, one of Josiah’s messengers to Huldah (2 Chron 34:20), also called Micaiah (2 Kings 22:12).

8. Micah, the prophet, see following article. See also Micaiah.

Bibliography

J. W. Myers, Judges (IB, II) (1953), 799-807.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A variant of the name Micah, and probably like it a contracted form of MICAIAH (which see). In the King James Version it is sometimes spelled "Micha."

(1) A son of Merib-baal or Mephibosheth (2Sa 9:12, the King James Version "Micha"). In 1Ch 8:34, he is called "Micah."

(2) The son of Zichri (1Ch 9:15). In Ne 11:17 (the King James Version "Micha"), he is designated "the son of Zabdi," and in Ne 12:35, his name appears as "Micaiah (the King James Version "Michaiah"), the son of Zaccur."

(3) One of the signatories of the Covenant (Ne 10:11, the King James Version "Micha").

John A. Less


(mikhah, contracted from mikhayahu, "who is like Yah?"; Codex Vaticanus, Meichaias; Codex Alexandrinus, Micha; sometimes in the nodetitle spelled Michah):

(1) The chief character of an episode given as an appendix to the Book of Judges (Jud 17; 18). Micah, a dweller in Mt. Ephraim, was the founder and owner of a small private sanctuary with accessories for worship (17:1-5), for which he hired as priest a Judean Levite (17:7-13). Five men sent in quest of new territory by the Danites, who had failed to secure a settlement upon their own tribal allotment, visited Micah’s shrine, and obtained from his priest an oracle favoring their quest (Jud 18:1-6). They then went on until they reached the town of Laish in the extreme North, and deeming it suitable for the purpose, they returned to report to their fellow-tribesmen. These at once dispatched thither 600 armed men, accompanied by their families (Jud 18:7-12). Passing Micah’s abode, they appropriated his idols and his priest, and when their owner pursued, he was insulted and threatened (Jud 18:13-26). They took Laish, destroyed it with its inhabitants and rebuilt it under the name of Dan. There they established the stolen images, and appointed Micah’s Levite, Jonathan, a grandson of Moses (the King James Version "Manasseh"), priest of the new sanctuary, which was long famous in Israel (Jud 18:27-31).

The purpose of the narrative is evidently to set forth the origin of the Danite shrine and priesthood. A few peculiarities in the story have led some critics--e.g., Moore, "Judges," in ICC and "Judges" in SBOT; Budde, Richter--to regard it as composite. Wellhausen, however, considers that the peculiarities are editorial and have been introduced for the purpose of smoothing or explaining the ancient record. Most authorities are agreed that the story is nearly contemporary with the events which it narrates, and that it is of the highest value for the study of the history of Israelite worship.

See also JUDGES; DAN; PRIESTHOOD.

(2) A Reubenite, whose descendant Beerah was carried into exile by Tiglath-pileser (1Ch 5:5).

(3) A son of Merib-baal (1Ch 8:34 f; 9:40 f).

See Mica, (1).

(4) A Kohathite Levite (1Ch 23:20; 24:24 f).

(5) The father of Abdon, one of Josiah’s messengers to the prophetess Huldah (2Ch 34:20). In the parallel passage (2Ki 22:12), the reading is "Achbor the son of Micaiah," the King James Version "Michaiah."

(6) A Simeonite mentioned in the Book of Judith (Judith 6:15).

(7) The prophet, called, in Jer 26:18 (Hebrew), "Micaiah the Morashtite." See special article.

(8) The son of Imlah.

See nodetitle, (7).

John A. Less


(mikhah; Meichaias; an abbreviation for Micaiah (Jer 26:18), and this again of the longer form of the word in 2Ch 17:7; compare 1Ki 22:8):

1. Name and Person:

The name signifies "who is like Yah?"; compare Michael, equal to "who is like El?" (i.e. God). As this name occurs not infrequently, he is called the "Morashtite," i.e. born in Moresheth. He calls his native city, in Mic 1:14, Moresheth-gath, because it was situated near the Philistine city of Gath. According to Jerome and Eusebius, this place was situated not far eastward from Eleutheropolis. The prophet is not to be confounded with Micah ben Imla, in 1Ki 22:8, an older prophet of the Northern Kingdom.

2. Time of Micah:

According to Jer 26:18, Micah lived and prophesied in the reign of Hezekiah; according to Mic 1:1, he labored also under Jotham and Ahaz. This superscription has, it must be said, great similarity to Isa 1:1 and is probably of a later date. Yet the contents of his first discourse confirm the fact that he prophesied, not only before the destruction of Samaria, but also before the reformation of Hezekiah (compare Mic 1:5). Accordingly, Micah 1 is probably a discourse spoken already under Ahaz, and Micah 2-5 under Hezekiah. No mention is any longer made of Samaria in chapters 2 to 5. This city has already been destroyed; at any rate, is being besieged. Accordingly, these discourses were pronounced after the year 722 BC, but earlier than 701 BC, as the reformation of Hezekiah had not yet been entirely completed. It is impossible to date exactly these discourses, for this reason, that all the separate sentences and addresses were afterward united into one well-edited collection, probably by Micah himself. The attacks that have been made by different critics on the authenticity of Micah 4 and 5 have but a poor foundation. It is a more difficult task to explain the dismal picture of the conditions of affairs as described in Micah 6 and 7 as originating in the reign of Hezekiah. For this reason, scholars have thought of ascribing them to the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz. But better reasons speak for placing them in the degenerate reign of Manasseh. There is no reason for claiming that Micah no longer prophesied in the times of this king. It is true that a number of critics declare that Micah did not write these chapters, especially the so-called psalm in 7:7-20, which, it is claimed, clearly presupposes the destruction of Jerusalem (7:11)! But it is a fact that Micah did really and distinctly predict this destruction and the exile that followed this event in 3:12; and accordingly he could in this concluding hymn very easily have looked even beyond this period.

Micah is, then, a younger contemporary of Isaiah, and, like the latter, he prophesied in Judah, perhaps also in Jerusalem. To the writings of this great prophet his book bears a close resemblance both in form and in contents, although he did not, as was the case with Isaiah, come into personal contact with the kings and make his influence felt in political affairs.

3. Relation to Isaiah:

The statement in Mic 4:1 ff is found almost literally in Isa 2:2 ff. Opinions differ as to who is to be credited with the original, Isaiah or Micah. In the latter, the passage seems to suit better into the connection, while in Isa 2 it begins the discourse abruptly, as though the prophet had taken it from some other source. However, Mic 4:4 f is certainly a sentence added by Micah, who, accordingly, was not the first to formulate the prophecy itself. It is possible that both prophets took it from some older prophet. But it is also conceivable that Isaiah is the author. In this case, he placed this sentence at the head of his briefer utterances when he composed his larger group of addresses in Micah 2--4, for the purpose of expressing the high purposes which God has in mind in His judgments.

4. Contents of the Prophecies:


5. Form of the Prophecies:

The form of the prophecies of Micah, notwithstanding their close connection with those of his great contemporary, has nevertheless its unique features. There is a pronounced formal similarity between Mic 1:10 ff and Isa 10:28 ff. Still more than is the case in Isaiah, Micah makes use of the names of certain places. Witty references, which we can understand only in part, are not lacking in this connection; e.g. Lachish, the "city of horses," is made the object of a play on words. (Recently in the ruins of this city a large wall has been unearthed.) The style of Micah is vigorous and vivid. He loved antitheses. It is a peculiarity of his style that he indulges in dramatic interruptions and answers; e.g. 2:5,12; 3:1; 6:6-8; 7:14 f. He also loves historical references; as e.g. 1:13,15; 5:5; 6:4 f,6,16; 7:20. He makes frequent use of the image of the shepherd, 2:12; 3:2 f; 4:6; 5:3 ff; 7:14. The fact that these peculiarities appear in all parts of his little book is an argument in favor of its being from one author. He is superior to Isaiah in his tendency to idyllic details, and especially in a deeper personal sympathy, which generally finds expression in an elegiac strain. His lyrical style readily takes the form of a prayer or of a psalm (compare Mic 7).

LITERATURE.

C. P. Caspari; Ueber Micha den Morasthiten, 1851; T.K. Cheyne, Micah with Notes and Introduction, 1882; V. Ryssel, Untersuchungen uber Textoeatalt und Echtheit des Buches Micha, 1887. See the commentaries on the 12 minor prophets by Hitzig, Ewald, C. F. Keil, P. Kleinert, W. Nowack, C. v. Orelli, K. Marti; Paul Haupt, The nodetitle, 1910; Pusey, The Minor Prophets, 1860.

C. von Orelli