Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Micah 4 - the violence of the ban

So many thoughts converge in this rather intense period of reading closely. Just what is this total destruction, this 'ban', Hebrew חרם, mentioned before, the last word of Malachi, the substance of Joshua which we haven't got to yet?

Here in Micah we come across a surprising strike on the cheek of the judge of Israel, and this in the context of the exile to Babylon (Babel, confusion). In the extended metaphor of the life of Israel, the exile is the destruction of the promises to Abraham. There can be no return. One has the promise and one has rejected it. As our lecturer on Jeremiah said tonight, there is no immunity in the temple or the royal promise if the covenant is broken. How is salvation possible then? The striking of the judge (4:14 in the Hebrew, 5:1 in English Bibles) precedes the famous - 'And thou Bethlehem' passage - how appropriate, a taste of Christmas. Perhaps that's why the NT cites Micah in this way. I will smite the shepherd...

There is a desert, wilderness journey, but there is also the reality of exile that is fully redeemed. It's a double-double salvation. (In the grand metaphor... don't forget the political obedience - cheerful, sunny days, helping others less fortunate, and accurate news reports, not oranges compared with apples.)

Micah is not poetry, but if I show the syllable count before and after the atenach, you can check that I got a carriage return in the right place, and you can see how utterly unbalanced some verses are and what it does to the meaning. Don't forget the music.

Does Yahweh admit to hurting here? And why does the tone change so suddenly in verse 8? What does it mean to be a primal parable? (Parable and rule are the same word משׁל). Micah uses it 3 times, the third in the very next verse, the ruler, the one who is parable (I am the vine), that comes forth from Bethlehem. And is himself put to the ban...
Micah 4
וְהָיָ֣ה ׀ בְּאַחֲרִ֣ית הַיָּמִ֗ים יִ֠הְיֶה הַ֣ר בֵּית־יְהוָ֤ה נָכוֹן֙ בְּרֹ֣אשׁ הֶהָרִ֔ים וְנִשָּׂ֥א ה֖וּא מִגְּבָע֑וֹת
וְנָהֲר֥וּ עָלָ֖יו עַמִּֽים
1 And it will be, in the latter days, the hill of the house of Yahweh will be established as the first of the hills, and it will be itself lifted up among the hillocks,
and peoples will crowd upon it.
30
8
וְֽהָלְכ֞וּ גּוֹיִ֣ם רַבִּ֗ים וְאָֽמְרוּ֙ לְכ֣וּ ׀ וְנַעֲלֶ֣ה אֶל־הַר־יְהוָ֗ה וְאֶל־בֵּית֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יַעֲקֹ֔ב וְיוֹרֵ֙נוּ֙ מִדְּרָכָ֔יו וְנֵלְכָ֖ה בְּאֹֽרְחֹתָ֑יו
כִּ֤י מִצִּיּוֹן֙ תֵּצֵ֣א תוֹרָ֔ה וּדְבַר־יְהוָ֖ה מִירוּשָׁלִָֽם
2 And many nations will come and say, Come, let us go up to the hill of Yahweh and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will instruct us from his ways and we will walk in his paths,
for from Zion will go forth instruction, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem.
43
16
וְשָׁפַ֗ט בֵּ֚ין עַמִּ֣ים רַבִּ֔ים וְהוֹכִ֛יחַ לְגוֹיִ֥ם עֲצֻמִ֖ים עַד־רָח֑וֹק
וְכִתְּת֨וּ חַרְבֹתֵיהֶ֜ם לְאִתִּ֗ים וַחֲנִיתֹֽתֵיהֶם֙ לְמַזְמֵר֔וֹת לֹֽא־יִשְׂא֞וּ גּ֤וֹי אֶל־גּוֹי֙ חֶ֔רֶב וְלֹא־יִלְמְד֥וּן ע֖וֹד מִלְחָמָֽה
3 And he will judge between many peoples, and referee the numerous nations, even remote.
And they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation nor will they teach war any more.
21
39
וְיָשְׁב֗וּ אִ֣ישׁ תַּ֧חַת גַּפְנ֛וֹ וְתַ֥חַת תְּאֵנָת֖וֹ וְאֵ֣ין מַחֲרִ֑יד
כִּי־פִ֛י יְהוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת דִּבֵּֽר
4 And everyone will settle under their vine and under their fig tree, and no one will make you apprehensive,
for the mouth of Yahweh of hosts has spoken.
20
9
כִּ֚י כָּל־הָ֣עַמִּ֔ים יֵלְכ֕וּ אִ֖ישׁ בְּשֵׁ֣ם אֱלֹהָ֑יו
וַאֲנַ֗חְנוּ נֵלֵ֛ךְ בְּשֵׁם־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ לְעוֹלָ֥ם וָעֶֽד פ
5 For all the peoples will walk each in the name of its God,
but we ourselves will walk in the name of Yahweh our God, forever and ever.
13
20
בַּיּ֨וֹם הַה֜וּא נְאֻם־יְהוָ֗ה אֹֽסְפָה֙ הַצֹּ֣לֵעָ֔ה וְהַנִּדָּחָ֖ה אֲקַבֵּ֑צָה
וַאֲשֶׁ֖ר הֲרֵעֹֽתִי
6 In that day, an oracle of Yahweh, I will gather the one that is halt and the one that is banished I will collect,
and whoever I have hurt.
23
7
וְשַׂמְתִּ֤י אֶת־הַצֹּֽלֵעָה֙ לִשְׁאֵרִ֔ית וְהַנַּהֲלָאָ֖ה לְג֣וֹי עָצ֑וּם
וּמָלַ֨ךְ יְהוָ֤ה עֲלֵיהֶם֙ בְּהַ֣ר צִיּ֔וֹן מֵעַתָּ֖ה וְעַד־עוֹלָֽם פ
7 And I will set up the one that was halt as residue, and the one that was removed far off as a numerous nation.
And Yahweh will reign over them on the hill of Zion from now and unto everlasting.
22
20
וְאַתָּ֣ה מִגְדַּל־עֵ֗דֶר עֹ֛פֶל בַּת־צִיּ֖וֹן עָדֶ֣יךָ תֵּאתֶ֑ה
וּבָאָ֗ה הַמֶּמְשָׁלָה֙ הָרִ֣אשֹׁנָ֔ה מַמְלֶ֖כֶת לְבַ֥ת־יְרוּשָׁלִָֽם
8 But you, a tower of the troop, inflated daughter of Zion, to you will arrive,
and will come the primal parable, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem.
17
20
עַתָּ֕ה לָ֥מָּה תָרִ֖יעִי רֵ֑עַ
הֲמֶ֣לֶךְ אֵֽין־בָּ֗ךְ אִֽם־יוֹעֲצֵךְ֙ אָבָ֔ד כִּֽי־הֶחֱזִיקֵ֥ךְ חִ֖יל כַּיּוֹלֵדָֽה
9 Now why do you raise a shout of injury?
Is there no king in you? As if your counselor has perished?Because you are courageous, writhing as if giving birth?
9
20
ח֧וּלִי וָגֹ֛חִי בַּת־צִיּ֖וֹן כַּיּֽוֹלֵדָ֑ה
כִּֽי־עַתָּה֩ תֵצְאִ֨י מִקִּרְיָ֜ה וְשָׁכַ֣נְתְּ בַּשָּׂדֶ֗ה וּבָ֤את עַד־בָּבֶל֙ שָׁ֣ם תִּנָּצֵ֔לִי שָׁ֚ם יִגְאָלֵ֣ךְ יְהוָ֔ה מִכַּ֖ף אֹיְבָֽיִךְ
10 Writhe and burst, daughter of Zion, as if giving birth.
For now, you will go forth from the town, and you will dwell in the field, and you will come to Babel. There you will be delivered. There Yahweh will redeem you from the slap of your enemies.
12
35
וְעַתָּ֛ה נֶאֶסְפ֥וּ עָלַ֖יִךְ גּוֹיִ֣ם רַבִּ֑ים
הָאֹמְרִ֣ים תֶּחֱנָ֔ף וְתַ֥חַז בְּצִיּ֖וֹן עֵינֵֽינוּ
11 And now many nations are gathered over you,
those saying, Let her be polluted, and let our eyes gaze on Zion.
13
15
וְהֵ֗מָּה לֹ֤א יָֽדְעוּ֙ מַחְשְׁב֣וֹת יְהוָ֔ה וְלֹ֥א הֵבִ֖ינוּ עֲצָת֑וֹ
כִּ֥י קִבְּצָ֖ם כֶּעָמִ֥יר גֹּֽרְנָה
12 But they not they do know the devices of Yahweh, nor do they understand his counsel,
for he has collected them as bales headed for the threshing-floor.
19
8
ק֧וּמִי וָד֣וֹשִׁי בַת־צִיּ֗וֹן כִּֽי־קַרְנֵ֞ךְ אָשִׂ֤ים בַּרְזֶל֙ וּפַרְסֹתַ֙יִךְ֙ אָשִׂ֣ים נְחוּשָׁ֔ה וַהֲדִקּ֖וֹת עַמִּ֣ים רַבִּ֑ים
וְהַחֲרַמְתִּ֤י לַֽיהוָה֙ בִּצְעָ֔ם וְחֵילָ֖ם לַאֲד֥וֹן כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ
13 Arise and pound, daughter of Zion, for your horn I define as iron, and your hoofs I define as brass.
And you will stamp out many peoples, and I will put to the ban for Yahweh their extortion, their ability, to the Lord of all the earth.
33
19
עַתָּה֙ תִּתְגֹּדְדִ֣י בַת־גְּד֔וּד מָצ֖וֹר שָׂ֣ם עָלֵ֑ינוּ
בַּשֵּׁ֙בֶט֙ יַכּ֣וּ עַֽל־הַלְּחִ֔י אֵ֖ת שֹׁפֵ֥ט יִשְׂרָאֵֽל ס
14 Now you will collaborate, daughter of collaboration. Siege he has set up over us.
With sceptre, they will strike on the cheek the judge of Israel.
14
15


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