Beat your swords into plow tips
The world will admire Jerusalem1One of these days the LORD’s Temple
Will inspire people all over the world.
Its influence will rise higher than the mountains.
People will come and admire the Temple,
And feel happy to see it there.
2They’ll come from all over the world, saying,
“Let’s go to the mountain and visit the LORD.
Let’s go to the house of Jacob’s family
And hear what the LORD has to say.”
For there’s teaching in Jerusalem,
With words that come from the LORD.
3The LORD will settle arguments among nations
As international arbitrator and judge.
People will hammer their swords into plow tips
And their spears into long pruning hooks.
Countries won’t go to war anymore.
And they’ll never go to war again.
4They’ll mind their own business
And fear no other nation.
But they’ll sit in the shade of their vineyards
And in the shadows of their orchards of figs.
5Nations may worship the gods they prefer,
But we choose the LORD as our God,
Now and for the rest of time.
When the wounded come home to Jerusalem6The LORD says this:
When that day comes,
I’ll find the injured sheep of my flock,
I’ll call the deported back home,
Those who suffered through my stern punishment.
7Punishment was painful, but some will survive.
I’ll be the one who sees that they do.
And I’ll transform the deported survivors
Into a strong nation of their own.
The LORD will rule them from Jerusalem’s hill
From then and forever after.
8You, Jerusalem, will guard the people
From your tower on a hill above the flock.
The nation you once ruled, you’ll rule again.
And your kings will reign from your throne.
But now it’s time to go into exile9Why are you sobbing, Jerusalem.
Have you lost your king?
Have your top advisors been killed?
Is that why you scream
Like a woman giving birth?
10Grimace and groan and thrash in pain,
Like a woman in labor, my Daughter.
For now is the day your people must leave,
Exiled and deported to Babylon.
That’s not the end of your story.
The LORD will come to your rescue one day.
And he’ll free you from the captives who took you.
11But for now, nations prepare to attack you,
Saying, “Let’s see for ourselves
Jerusalem demolished, leveled, and dead.”
God has a painful plan for the invaders, too12But they don’t know what the LORD has in mind.
They wouldn’t understand if they did.
He has cut them like grain for the threshing floor
Where he’ll shake and rattle and beat them
Until they give up every kernel they hold.
13Rise and shine my daughter, Jerusalem.
You’re going to stampede over these enemies.
You’ll run them into the ground
With your horns of iron and hooves of bronze.
Wealth you collect from the battles you win
You’ll dedicate to the LORD of all people,
And use it in ways he’ll approve.
Many Jewish worshipers recite the last two lines of this verse when a worship leader takes the Bible scroll from the cabinet (the Torah from the ark), to read aloud to the people. Their version may sound more like this: “Instruction will come from Zion. The word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Zion is an endearing nickname for Jerusalem. Hebrew poetry is famous for repetition. What rhyming is to English poetry, parallelism is to Hebrew poetry. A second line might repeat the idea in the first line, contrast it, or expand on it.
“Plow tips” are metal shields that farmers put on the front of their wooden plow blades. It helps the blade drive through the dirt more easily and push rocks aside. Micah 4:2-4 is one of the Bible’s most famous word pictures of what life will be like in the future. Isaiah 2:2-4 says much the same, and scholars debate who wrote the description first. Micah’s version seems in better shape, some Hebrew-language specialists say, so they lean toward his version. Some say this passage describes a future that God creates at the end of human history, or some other time when he dramatically intervenes into human history. Others say it’s a future that people can create themselves if they can muster the common sense, compassion, and determination. Verses 2-4 are what Bible scholars call “eschatological.” That means the words refer to the end of life as we know it, Judgment Day, and the beginning of what comes next.
Farmers trimming tree branches often used poles with cutting blades at the tip. People called the curved blades pruning hooks.
Some scholars say this verse means that in Micah’s day people worshiped various gods, but in the future everyone on earth will worship the LORD. Others interpret it as it appears here. Flip a coin because Micah’s intent seems unclear. He seems to be talking about a revival of the Jewish nation after the coming destruction of the cities and deportation of their survivors. In which case, he’s at least recognizing that the rest of the world may respect Israel and yet stop short of becoming Jewish. But he could mean more than that, as well. Sometimes we read between the lines. Sometimes we guess.
Some scholars say Micah may have written this to encourage the people of Judah who were under attack by Assyrian forces led by Sennacherib in 701 BC. Assyrians had destroyed the northern Jewish nation of Israel about 20 years earlier. Judah, in the south, was the only surviving Jewish nation. Sennacherib destroyed most cities during that campaign. And he defeated Egyptians who tried to come to Judah’s rescue. Then he lay siege to Jerusalem when Hezekiah was king. But he and his army left suddenly. A Bible writer said an angel killed 185,000 of his soldiers (2 Kings 19:35). A Greek writer 250 years later, Herodotus, wrote that rats sent the army on the run—a rat infestation that killed some of the soldiers. Some speculate that the rats carried diseases—plagues such as bubonic, septicemic, pneumonic. Those three diseases—all from the same bacterium (yersinia pestis)—attack the immune system, blood, and lungs.
The Hebrew text doesn’t say how the Jewish people will use the wealth. But it says the wealth is “dedicated” or “devoted” to God. The Hebrew word is herem. By Micah’s time, this word had a long and well-established meaning among Jewish people. It means everything belongs to him. When Joshua and the Hebrews first invaded Canaan, they “devoted” all the enemy cities to God. They killed as a sacrifice everything in the cities: men, women, children, livestock. The soldiers took a vow to dedicate themselves to herem, the annihilation of the Canaanites. They didn’t keep any of the valuables for themselves. But in Micah’s passage, they do confiscate valuables, which they devote to the LORD. He doesn’t seem to need this in a realm of Spirit. But it sure comes in handy among the flesh and bone. Where would it go? Maybe to rebuild Jerusalem and the nation. Also, helpless people were one of God’s great concerns, according to Moses and other prophets (Deuteronomy 10:18; Isaiah 9:17; Malachi 3:5). In Micah’s day, the people at greatest risk and most easily exploited included widows, orphans, and immigrants. As it still is, today.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.