Micah

Micah spoke out against the oppression of the people by both spiritual and secular leaders.

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A Sense of Justice

From those sayings of his which have survived, we can draw a few conclusions about Micah's self‑understanding and his relation to his fellow countrymen. The outline of his profile is the sharpest where he confronts his opponents:

"But as for me, I am filled with authority, justice, and courage to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin." (3:8)

What a testimony to fearless self‑assurance! Nothing in the other prophets comes close to it! One might, of course, suspect that this statement expresses the strained self‑glorification of a person obsessed with power (something which would not be very pious!).

But we are warned against such a misinterpretation by the commentary‑like gloss which states that he possesses these gifts only along with "the Spirit of the Lord," i.e., by virtue of the special divine authority which completely fills him. At the center of his gifts (between the gifts of "authority' and "courage') stands, according to his own statement, justice (that is, his sense of justice).

He does not have to say explicitly that here he is referring to the will of God. He underlines "justice" because he really is not dominated by the desires and whims of personal ambition, nor by pressures from members of his own party, nor by threats of his opponents. His full authority, his courage and sense of self‑assurance in taking a stand despite opposition, is derived from nothing else than the fact that he leaves no room within himself for anything except that sense of justice which completely fills him. This justice empowers him to reveal to Israel the unvarnished fact of its own injustice and lawlessness...

Micah’s Opponents

Micah opposes two groups. First, he opposes other prophets (3:5), and that means people who are his colleagues. They aim their word, Micah says, not in accordance with justice but with their own advantage...Whoever raises his voice as a prophet on behalf of justice will find, in a world of injustice, public opponents. The second group against which Micah speaks, therefore, are the responsible officials in Jerusalem, persons whom headdresses (3:1,9) as "leaders" and "rulers"…

Why does Micah attack these spiritual and secular authorities? Certainly not out of some abstract sort of fanaticism for justice. Why then? He addresses: (1) the prophets "because they lead my people astray" (3:5); (2) the political leaders in Jerusalem "because they eat the flesh of my people" (3:3); and (3) the officials at Moresheth because they "drive the women of my people out of the homes they love" (2:9). He addresses them all in general, "because they rise against my people like an enemy" (2:8). In all these passages it is clear that what motivates Micah is concern for his oppressed kinsmen...

A Profile of His Message

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Hans Walter Wolff

Hans Walter Wolff (1911-1993) was a German Protestant theologian. From 1967 to 1978 he was Professor of Old Testament at the Ruprecht-Karls University Heidelberg.