Micah – Chapter 1

Jackals, Owls, Ostriches and Eagles

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Micah the Morashti lived during the reigns of Yosam, Achaz and Chizkiyahu in Judah. (Micah is mentioned in Jeremiah chapter 26.) G-d spoke to him about the fate of Samaria and Israel, the northern kingdom of the Ten Tribes.

“Everybody listen up! G-d is warning you that He is going to come down here and walk all over you! Mountains and valleys will melt and split because of the sins of Israel. Who caused these sins? Samaria! And who caused the sins of Judah? Jerusalem!” (Samaria and Jerusalem were the capitals of the two Jewish nations. Micah was saying that the rulers were responsible for the behavior of their people.) Micah continues, “G-d will make Samaria into a mound; He will lay it bare. All of their idols will be destroyed and the wealth associated with them will be plundered by invaders.” Israel is considered “married” to G-d and idolatry is compared to adultery. Accordingly, Micah compares the idols’ gold and silver to a prostitute’s wages.

Micah says that because of the dire fate, he will mourn, wailing like a jackal or an owl (or perhaps an ostrich). The punishment striking Israel will extend into Judah, reaching as far as Jerusalem. (We see this prophecy fulfilled in II Kings 18-19.) Don’t tell them this in the city of Gath because the Philistines who live there will gloat over Israel’s downfall. The houses of Afra will be demolished, the people of Shafir shuttled into captivity, and the people of Zaanan will not escape. The people did evil and hoped to go unpunished, but G-d brought punishment to their doorstep.

Micah tells the people of Lachish to hitch the horses and flee because idolatry in Judah started there. They taught others to worship idols, so they will have to turn to the Philistines for aid. Conquerors are coming; you’ll pull your hair out until you’re bald like an eagle because of the exile.

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