The Book of Micah
We ended our last study picturing God treading on the high places of the earth. We now come to Micah 1:5–7:
MICAH 1:5–7 (NASB95)
All this is for the rebellion of Jacob and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the rebellion of Jacob? Is it not Samaria? What is the high place of Judah? Is it not Jerusalem? For I will make Samaria a heap of ruins in the open country, planting places for a vineyard. I will pour her stones down into the valley and will lay bare her foundations. All of her idols will be smashed, all of her earnings will be burned with fire and all of her images I will make desolate, for she collected them from a harlot’s earnings, and to the earnings of a harlot they will return.
Micah often used “Jacob” as a title for all Israel, though he also used it to describe the Northern Kingdom, as he does in this verse. He uses it to refer to the patriarch Jacob later in Micah chapter seven. Jacob’s name was changed by God to “Israel” after Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed in Genesis 32:28. Micah uses the name Jacob to recall the rebelliousness that marked the patriarch for most of his early life and now applies it to his descendants as well.
Jerusalem and Samaria
Israel’s capital, Samaria, stood on top of a mountain, but God said He would make it a “heap of ruins” in a field; that is, He would both destroy and humiliate it. Rather than being a cosmopolitan area, God would erase the city and turn it into a field. He would “pour her stones”—her buildings and structures—into the valley below and lay bare their foundations. The fulfillment of all this destruction came with the Assyrian overthrow of Samaria in 722 B.C.
Even today, the foundations of Samaria’s buildings lie exposed. The very highest place in Samaria is the Acropolis, and if you look down the steep embankment from it, you will see all kinds of pillars and stones that had formerly been hewn out and used in their buildings. They have been rolled down deep into the valley—a very literal fulfillment of, “I will pour her stones down into the valley.”
Israel had made a covenant with the Lord. Through His prophets, God often spoke of this relationship as a marriage covenant. He was the husband, and Israel was His bride, as Isaiah 54:5 says. Therefore, when Israel engaged in idolatry, worshiping false gods, God considered it spiritual “adultery.” Israel had “prostituted” herself with foreign nations and their false gods according to Jeremiah 3:1, which is why Micah says that Samaria had collected the wages of a prostitute. Yet, all her wealth would be carried off by another prostitute, another idol-worshiping nation.
The prophet places the blame on the capital cities—Jerusalem and Samaria—and therefore, by association, the religious leaders responsible for the spiritual welfare of the people. Jerusalem was the place where they were to worship God. Were they worshiping Him there? Well, yes, they would certainly go to the Temple, but they also were going to the high places where idolatry and the grossest forms of immorality took place. God says that it is for these things He is going to judge these two great cities.
Therefore, when Israel engaged in idolatry, worshiping false gods, God considered it spiritual “adultery.”
God would smash Samaria’s “idols.” He would burn the luxurious adornments that the prostitutes offered as temple gifts in the coming Assyrian firestorm that would accompany Samaria’s overthrow. Wages paid to temple prostitutes were in turn given by them to the temple as “temple gifts.” Apparently, this practice had permeated Samaria. All the pagan “images” that the people had made would perish. The Israelites had committed adultery with temple prostitutes, but the invading Assyrians would destroy the gifts that the Israelites had brought into their temples.