Micah – Chapter 5

The Seven Shepherds and Eight Princes

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Now Micah addresses the city of Bethlehem, from which King David came. Bethlehem was fit to be among the least important cities in Judah, but instead it will be the birthplace of the Messiah. (This does NOT mean that the Messiah must be born in Bethlehem; it means that he will be descended from David, who was born in Bethlehem.) The Messiah’s identity was determined from before Creation (see Rashi). G-d will allow Israel to fall into the hands of their enemies before the Messiah reveals himself and the kingdom of Judah will be reunited with the “lost” Tribes. The Messiah will return them from exile and be their king.

At that time, there will be permanent peace. If Assyria (or, presumably, some other hostile power) should invade, they would be rebuffed by the “seven shepherds and eight princes.” (These are: Adam, Seth, Methuselah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Samuel, Saul, Jesse, Hezekiah – or Zedekiah – Elijah, Amos, Zephaniah and the Messiah himself. Whew! See Talmud Succah 52b.)

The evil people of Israel will be destroyed; the righteous who remain will be like dew from G-d and like rain on the crops. They will be to other nations like a lion is to a flock of sheep – they’ll defer to them. Their enemies will be destroyed and Israel will have no further need of weapons. The peace will be so great that they won’t even need walls around their cities. Sorcery and idolatry will be a thing of the past and G-d will spend His anger on those who refused to listen to Him.

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