1During the time that Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, the LORD gave this message to Micah, who was from the town of Moresheth. The LORD revealed to Micah all these things about Samaria and Jerusalem.
A Lament for Samaria and Jerusalem
2Hear this, all you nations;
listen to this, all who live on earth!
The Sovereign LORD will testify against you.
Listen! He speaks from his heavenly temple.
3The LORD is coming from his holy place;
he will come down and walk on the tops of the mountains.
4Then the mountains will melt under him
like wax in a fire;
they will pour down into the valleys
like water pouring down a hill.
5All this will happen because the people of Israel have sinned and rebelled against God. Who is to blame for Israel's rebellion? Samaria, the capital city itself! Who is guilty of idolatry in Judah? Jerusalem itself! 6So the LORD says, “I will make Samaria a pile of ruins in the open country, a place for planting grapevines. I will pour the rubble of the city down into the valley, and will lay bare the city's foundations. 7All its precious idols will be smashed to pieces, everything given to its temple prostitutes will be destroyed by fire, and all its images will become a desolate heap. Samaria acquired these things for its fertility rites, and now her enemies will carry them off for temple prostitutes elsewhere.”
8Then Micah said, “Because of this I will mourn and lament. To show my sorrow, I will walk about barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and wail like an ostrich. 9Samaria's wounds cannot be healed, and Judah is about to suffer in the same way; destruction has reached the gates of Jerusalem itself, where my people live.”
The Enemy Approaches Jerusalem
10Don't tell our enemies in Gath about our defeat; don't let them see you weeping. People of Beth Leaphrah, show your despair by rolling in the dust! 11You people of Shaphir, go into exile, naked and ashamed. Those who live in Zaanan dare not come out of their city. When you hear the people of Bethezel mourn, you will know that there is no refuge there. 12The people of Maroth wait anxiously for relief, because the LORD has brought disaster close to Jerusalem. 13You that live in Lachish, hitch the horses to the chariots. You imitated the sins of Israel and so caused Jerusalem to sin. 14And now, people of Judah, say goodbye to the town of Moresheth Gath. The kings of Israel will get no help from the town of Achzib.
15People of Mareshah, the LORD will hand you over to an enemy, who is going to capture your town. The leaders of Israel will go and hide in the cave at Adullam. 16People of Judah, cut off your hair in mourning for the children you love. Make yourselves as bald as vultures, because your children will be taken away from you into exile.
The Fate of Those who Oppress the Poor
1How terrible it will be for those who lie awake and plan evil! When morning comes, as soon as they have the chance, they do the evil they planned. 2When they want fields, they seize them; when they want houses, they take them. No one's family or property is safe.
3And so the LORD says, “I am planning to bring disaster on you, and you will not be able to escape it. You are going to find yourselves in trouble, and then you will not walk so proudly any more. 4When that time comes, people will use your story as an example of disaster, and they will sing this song of despair about your experience:
We are completely ruined!
The LORD has taken our land away
And given it to those who took us captive.”
5So then, when the time comes for the land to be given back to the LORD's people, there will be no share for any of you.
6The people preach at me and say, “Don't preach at us. Don't preach about all that. God is not going to disgrace us. 7Do you think the people of Israel are under a curse? Has the LORD lost his patience? Would he really do such things? Doesn't he speak kindly to those who do right?”
8The LORD replies, “You attack my people like enemies. Men return from battle, thinking they are safe at home, but there you are, waiting to steal the coats off their backs. 9You drive the women of my people out of the homes they love, and you have robbed their children of my blessings for ever. 10Get up and go; there is no safety here any more. Your sins have doomed this place to destruction.
11“These people want the kind of prophet who goes about full of lies and deceit and says, ‘I prophesy that wine and liquor will flow for you.’
12“But I will gather you together, all you people of Israel that are left. I will bring you together like sheep returning to the fold. Like a pasture full of sheep, your land will once again be filled with many people.”
13God will open the way for them and lead them out of exile. They will break out of the city gates and go free. Their king, the LORD himself, will lead them out.
Micah Denounces Israel's Leaders
1Listen, you rulers of Israel! You are supposed to be concerned about justice, 2yet you hate what is good and you love what is evil. You skin my people alive and tear the flesh off their bones. 3You eat my people up. You strip off their skin, break their bones, and chop them up like meat for the pot. 4The time is coming when you will cry out to the LORD, but he will not answer you. He will not listen to your prayers, for you have done evil.
5My people are deceived by prophets who promise peace to those who pay them, but threaten war for those who don't. To these prophets the LORD says, 6“Prophets, your day is almost over; the sun is going down on you. Because you mislead my people, you will have no more prophetic visions, and you will not be able to predict anything.” 7Those who predict the future will be disgraced by their failure. They will all be humiliated because God does not answer them.
8But as for me, the LORD fills me with his Spirit and power, and gives me a sense of justice and the courage to tell the people of Israel what their sins are. 9Listen to me, you rulers of Israel, you that hate justice and turn right into wrong. 10You are building God's city, Jerusalem, on a foundation of murder and injustice. 11The city's rulers govern for bribes, the priests interpret the Law for pay, the prophets give their revelations for money — and they all claim that the LORD is with them. “No harm will come to us,” they say. “The LORD is with us.”
12And so, because of you, Zion will be ploughed like a field, Jerusalem will become a pile of ruins, and the Temple hill will become a forest.
5Each nation worships and obeys its own god, but we will worship and obey the LORD our God for ever and ever.
Israel will Return from Exile
6“The time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will gather together the people I punished, those who have suffered in exile. 7They are crippled and far from home, but I will make a new beginning with those who are left, and they will become a great nation. I will rule over them on Mount Zion from that time on and for ever.”
8And you, Jerusalem, where God, like a shepherd, watches over his people, will once again be the capital of the kingdom that was yours. 9Why do you cry out so loudly? Why are you suffering like a woman in labour? Is it because you have no king, and your counsellors are dead? 10Twist and groan, people of Jerusalem, like a woman giving birth, for now you will have to leave the city and live in the open country. You will have to go to Babylon, but there the LORD will save you from your enemies. 11Many nations have gathered to attack you. They say, “Jerusalem must be destroyed! We will see this city in ruins!” 12But these nations do not know what is in the LORD's mind. They do not realize that they have been gathered together to be punished in the same way that corn is brought in to be threshed.
13The LORD says, “People of Jerusalem, go and punish your enemies! I will make you as strong as a bull with iron horns and bronze hoofs. You will crush many nations, and the wealth they got by violence you will present to me, the Lord of the whole world.”
1People of Jerusalem, gather your forces! We are besieged! They are attacking the leader of Israel!