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Micah 1:8-9

8. Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.

8. Super hoc plangam et ululabo; incedam spoliatus et nudus; faciam planctum tanquam draconum, et luctum tanquam filiarum struthionis: 6767     All the verbs in this verse are in the Septuagint in the third person, κοψεται—”she will mourn,” etc. The whole is applied to Samaria. The Hebrew will admit of this sense, if the verbs be considered to be, as they may be, in Hiphil, the omission of the ו is not uncommon. Then the rendering of the two verses will be the following:—
   8. I will therefore make her to moan and howl,
I will cause her to go stripped and naked;
I will make her to moan like the whales,
And to wail like the ostriches:

   9. For grievous will be her stroke;
Yea it
will come even to Judah,
Reaching to the gate of my people
to Jerusalem.

   תגים, rendered “dragons” in our common version, and by Calvin, and by many others, is rendered “foxes” by Newcome, “wolves” by Henderson, but by Bochart, “whales,” or those species called “dolphins;” and Professor Lee, in his Notes on Job 41:1, seems to be of the same opinion. The mournful groans of the dolphins, when taken, are said to be extremely distressing; their doleful moanings, too, in the night, when at liberty, have been testified by historians. — בכית יענה, “owls” in our version, is rendered both by Calvin and Newcome, “daughters of the ostrich,” and by Henderson, “ostriches.” The Septuagint has θυγατερων σειρηνων — “the daughters of sea-monsters:” στρουθοκαμηλων — “camel-sparrows — ostriches,” is the rendering of Aquila and Symmachus. The literal expression is, “the daughters of the ostrich,” meaning evidently the females. Dr. Shaw, as quoted by Newcome, says, “During the lonesome part of the night, they often make a very doleful and hideous noise. I have often heard them groan, as if they were in the greatest of agonies; an action beautifully alluded to by the Prophet Micah.” — Ed.

9. For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.

9. Quia acerbae sunt plagae ejus (est mutatio numeri;) quia venit usque ad Jehudam; accessit ad portam populi mei, ad Jerusalem.


The Prophet here assumes the character of a mourner, that he might more deeply impress the Israelites; for we have seen that they were almost insensible in their torpidity. It was therefore necessary that they should be brought to view the scene itself, that, seeing their destruction before their eyes they might be touched both with grief and fear. Lamentations of this kind are everywhere to be met with in the Prophets, and they ought to be carefully noticed; for we hence gather how great was the torpor of men, inasmuch as it was necessary to awaken them, by this form of speech, in order to convince them that they had to do with God: they would have otherwise continued to flatter themselves with delusions. Though indeed the Prophet here addresses the Israelites, we ought yet to apply this to ourselves; for we are not much unlike the ancient people: for however God may terrify us with dreadful threatening, we still remain quiet in our filth. It is therefore needful that we should be severely treated, for we are almost void of feeling.

But the Prophets sometimes assumed mourning, and sometimes they were touched with real grief: for when they spoke of aliens and also of the enemies of the Church, they introduce these lamentations. When a mention is made of Babylon or of Egypt, they sometimes say, Behold, I will mourn, and my bowels shall be as a timbrel. The Prophets did not then really grieve; but, as I have said, they transferred to themselves the sorrows of others, and ever with this object, that they might persuade men that God’s threatenings were not vain, and that God did not trifle with men when he declared that he was angry with them. But when the discourse was respecting the Church and the faithful, then the Prophets did not put on grief. The representation here is then to be taken in such a way as that we may understand that the Prophet was in real mourning, when he saw that a dreadful ruin was impending over the whole kingdom of Israel. For though they had perfidiously departed from the Law, they were yet a part of the holy race, they were the children of Abraham, whom God had received into favor. The Prophet, therefore, could not refrain from mourning unfeignedly for them. And the Prophet does here these two things, — he shows the fraternal love which he entertained for the children of Israel, as they were his kindred, and a part of the chosen people, — and he also discharges his own duty; for this lamentation was, as it were, the mirror in which he sets before them the vengeance of God towards men so extremely torpid. He therefore exhibits to them this representation, that they might perceive that God was by no means trifling with men, when he thus denounced punishment on the wicked and such as were apostates.

Moreover, he speaks not of a common lamentation, but says, I will wail and howl, and then, I will go spoiled The word אנושה, shulal, some take as meaning one out of his mind or insane, as though he said, “I shall be now as one not possessed of a sound mind.” But as this metaphor is rather unnatural, I prefer the sense of being spoiled; for it was the custom with mourners, as it is well known, to tear and to throw away their garments from them. I will then go spoiled and naked; and also, I will make wailing, not like that of men, but like the wailing of dragons: I will mourn, he says, as the ostriches are wont to do. In short, the Prophet by these forms of speech intimates, that the coming evil would by no means be of an ordinary kind: for if he adopted the usual manner of men, he could not have set forth the dreadfulness of God’s vengeance that was impending.

He afterwards subjoins, that the wounds vault be grievous; but he speaks as of what was present, Grievous, he says, are the wounds Grievous means properly full of grief; others render it desperate or incurable, but it is a meaning which suits not this place; for אנושה, anushe, means what we express in French by douloureuse. The wounds, then, are full of grief: for it came, (something is understood; it may suitably be referred to the enemy, or, what is more approved, to the slaughter) — It came then, that is, the slaughter, 6868     Or rather the stroke before mentioned; for the true reading is no doubt מכתה, her wound or her stroke, in the singular. Though there are but two MSS. which have this reading, yet the previous participle noun, אנושה, being singular, and the following verbs or participles being in the same number, favor this supposition. The corresponding word in the Septuagint is also in the singular number — ἡ πληγη ἀυτης, her stroke, stripe or scourge. — Ed. to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem itself. He says first, to Judah, speaking of the land; and then he confines it to the cities; for when the gates are closed up against enemies, they are forced to stop. But the Prophet says, that the cities would be no hindrance to the enemies to approach the very gates and even the chief city of Judah, that is, Jerusalem; and this, we know, was fulfilled. It is the same then as though he said that the whole kingdom of Israel would be so laid waste, that their enemies would not he content with victory, but would proceed farther and besiege the holy city: and this Sennacherib did. For after having subverted the kingdom of Israel, as though it was not enough to draw the ten tribes into exile, he resolved to take possession of the kingdom of Judah; and Jerusalem, as Isaiah says, was left as a tent. We hence see that the threatening of the Prophet Micah were not in vain. It now follows —

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