June 14, 2006

The sixth in the traditional listing by Chazal of the group of Prophets known as the “Trei-Asar,” the “Twelve”

Micha prophesied during the period of Yotam, Achaz and Yechizkiah, Kings of Yehudah, and his prophecies were directed at both the Kingdom of Yisrael, represented by Shomron, and the Kingdom of Yehudah, represented by its central city, Yerushalayim.

But first he turns to the whole world,
“Hear this, all of you nations,
Listen attentively, O earth, and all that is within it,
And let the L-rd G-d be witness against you,
The L-rd from His Holy Temple.”
“For behold, the L-rd comes forth out of His holy place,
And will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.”
(Micha 1:2-3)

For in the end, Israel will emerge triumphant!
But what concerns him most are the sins of Yisrael and Yehudah; one of the worst is abuse of power.
“Woe to them that devise iniquity and work evil upon their beds!
When the morning is light, they execute it,
Because it is in the power of their hand.
And they covet fields, and seize them;
And houses, and take them away;
Thus they oppress a man and his household,
Even a man and his heritage.”
(Micha 2:1-2)

Violence and religion are not seen as opposites,
“They build up Zion with blood,
And Jerusalem with iniquity.
Their leaders judge for reward,
And their priests teach for pay,
And their prophets divine for money;
Yet they will lean upon the L-rd, and say,
‘The L-rd is surely in our midst!
No evil will come upon us’ ”
(Micha 3:10-11)

But they will pay a terrible price,
“Therefore shall Zion because of you be plowed as a field,
And Jerusalem shall become heaps of rubble.
And the mountains of the Temple as the high places of a forest.”
(Micha 3:12)

But Micha has a wondrous vision of the future of Israel,
“But in the end of days it shall come to pass,
That the mountain of the L-rd’s House shall be established
As the top of the mountains,
And it shall be exalted above the hills;
And peoples shall flow unto it.”
“And many nations shall go and say,
‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of the L-rd,
And to the House of the G-d of Jacob;
And He will teach us His ways,
And we will walk in His paths;
For out of Zion shall go forth the Law,
And the word of the L-rd from Jerusalem.’ ”
“And He shall judge between many peoples,
And decide concerning mighty faraway nations;
And they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn skills of war anymore.”
“But they shall sit every man under his vine
And under his fig tree;
And none shall make them afraid;
For the mouth of the L-rd of Hosts has spoken.”
For let all peoples walk each one in the name of its god,
But we will walk in the Name of the L-rd our G-d forever and ever.”
(Micha 4:1-4)

HaShem proposes a debate between Himself and His People,
“Hear, O you mountains, the L-rd’s argument,
And you enduring rocks, the foundations of the earth;
For the L-rd has a disagreement with His People,
And He will debate with Israel.”
(Micha 6:2)

HaShem accuses His People of ingratitude for his many miracles and kindnesses,
“For I brought you out of the land of Egypt,
And redeemed you from the House of Bondage;
And I sent before you Moshe, Aharon and Miriam.
O My People, remember now what Balak King of Moav devised,
And what Bilaam the son of Beor answered him;
From Shitim until Gilgal,
That you may know the righteous acts of HaShem.”
(Micha 6:4-5)

The People of Israel plead ignorance as to the proper worship of G-d,
“With what shall I come before the L-rd,
And bow myself before G-d on high?
Shall I come before Him with burnt-offerings,
With calves a year old?”
(Micha 6:6)

And Micha, in the words of the Talmud, reduced the 613 Commands of the Torah to 3,
“It has been told you, O Man, what is good,
And what the L-rd requires of you:
Only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your G-d.”
(Micha 6:8)

On Rosh HaShanah, when at the Tashlich ceremony, Jews symbolically cast their sins into bodies of flowing water, they recite the words of Micha,
“Who is a G-d like You, Who pardons iniquity,
And forgives the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?
He retains not His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
He will again have compassion upon us;
He will subdue our iniquities.”
“And You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Yaakov, mercy to Avraham,
As You swore to our fathers from the days of old.”
(Micha 7:18-20)

According to the Rambam, Micha was a link in the Chain of “Mesorah,” and received the Tradition of Torah from Yeshayahu and his court.