MICAH, the sixth in literary order of the "minor prophets" of the Old Testament, is not to be confused with the 9th century Micaiah (I Kings xxii. ; the gloss in verse 28b, quoting Micah i. 2, and absent from the Greek version, shows that such con fusion occurred at an early date). Micah was a younger con temporary of Isaiah, living in the closing decades of the 8th cen tury, though, unlike Isaiah, he belonged to the country, not to the city. He is called "the Morashtite" as being a native of More sheth-Gath (i.I4), i.e., a daughter-village of Gath, in the "Sheph elah," a district in which his interest is manifest (i. The editorial title of the book of Micah declares that Micah prophesied "in the days of Jotham (739'734), Ahaz (733-721) and Hezekiah (72o-693), kings of Judah." Nothing in the book itself can claim to belong to the reign of Jotham, but the prophecy against Samaria (i.5-8) may have been uttered originally before the fall of Samaria in 722, i.e., in the reign of Ahaz. In its present form, however, it has been incorporated in a prophecy against Judah, belonging most probably, to the years shortly before 701, when a new Palestinian rising provoked Sennacherib's campaign. This prophetic activity of Micah under Hezekiah is confirmed by the direct statement of Jer. xxvi. 17 seq., where Mic. iii. 12 is quoted ("Zion shall be plowed as a field," etc.). The verse quoted forms the climax of Mic. i.-iii., from which chapters only any certain conclusions as to the prophetic message of the historic Micah can be drawn ; the remaining sections of the present book (iv.-v., vi.-vii.) consist, in whole or in greater part, of writings belonging to a later period.
The subject-matter of i.-iii. consists of a declaration of divine judgment against Israel, a warning to other nations (i.2). This takes the form of a theophany (i.3,4) and issues in the destruc tion of the northern and southern capitals (i.5), in which the evil to be punished is concentrated, and in the destruction of idols. The prophet wears the garb of a mourner, and loudly laments the fate that befalls Judah as well as Samaria, in a "dirge" that de scribes the destruction of the country-side, with many plays on names (LI o-i6). The moral evils denounced are the rapacity of "land-grabbers" and the eviction of former owners 1), the injustice of rulers and the falsity of prophets (iii.r-8), whose selfish interests dictate their conduct (iii.9-12). Their false con fidence in the protection of Yahweh can have but one issue—the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple.
Our only evidence as to the reception of Micah's message by his contemporaries is that afforded by Jer. xxvi. 17 seq., both directly, in the recorded effect on Hezekiah and the people ; and indirectly, in the fact that the impression created was remem bered a century afterwards. Micah resembles Amos, both in his country origin, and in his general character, which expresses itself in strong emphasis on the ethical side of religion. As the last of the four great prophets of the 8th century he undoubtedly con tributed to that religious and ethical reformation whose literary monument is the Book of Deuteronomy.
The remainder of the book bearing the name of Micah falls into two main divisions, viz., iv., v. and vi., vii. Each differs from the first division (i.-iii.) in a marked degree. The second consists mainly of prophecies of restoration including eschatological (iv.r seq.) and Messianic (v. 2 seq.) hopes. The third is formed of three or four apparently unrelated passages, on the spirituality of true worship (vi. 1-8), social immorality and its doom (vi. 9-16; vii. 1-6), and Israel's future recovery from present adversity through Divine grace (vii.7-2o). It is improbable that much, if any, of these chapters can be ascribed to Micah himself, not only because their contents are so different from his undoubted work (i.-iii.), for which he was subsequently remembered (Jer. xxvi. 18), but because they presuppose the historic outlook of the Exile, or a later age (e.g., iv. 6 seq.; vii. 7 seq.). It is neither psychologically nor historically impossible for a prophet of judg ment to be also a prophet of comfort; but the internal evidence of composite and (in whole or part) later authorship must out weigh the traditional attachment of these passages to a ms. con taining the work of Micah. It is noteworthy that the triple divi sion of the book of Micah (i.-iii.; iv., v.; vi., vii.) corresponds with that of the book of Isaiah (i.-xxxix. ; xl.-lv. ; lvi.-lxvi.) in the character of the three divisions (judgment ; coming restoration; prayer for help in adversity) respectively, and in the fact that the first alone gives us pre-exilic writing in the actual words of the prophet to whom the whole book is ascribed. In both cases, it need hardly be said, the great literary and spiritual value of the later passages ought in no way to suffer prejudice from critical conditions as to their date and authorship. Amongst these pas sages there are two that call for special notice. The first is the prophecy that the little clan of Ephrathah, which includes Beth lehem, the birthplace of David, is destined to be the source from which comes the future Davidic prince who shall "shepherd" the Messianic kingdom (v. 2, 4; the intervening verse is a gloss, con necting this "Messiah" with a Messianic interpretation of Is. vii. 14). The second is the summary of the fundamental principles of prophetic religion—justice, mercy, and humility (vi. 6-8).
BIBLIOGRAPHY.—The German commentaries of Nowack (1897, 1904), Wellhausen (1898), Marti (1904), Sellin (1922) ; the French commentary of van Hoonacker (1908) ; the English commentaries of Cheyne (Cambridge Bible, 1882) ; G. A. Smith (1896, 1927) ; J. M. P. Smith (International Critical Commentary 1912) ; H. Wheeler Robinson (in Peake's Commentary, 1919) ; G. W. Wade (Westminster Commentary, 1925) ; T. H. Robinson (in Clarendon Bible, 0. T., vol. III. 1926). (H. W. R.)