Micah 6:1-8

Micah 6:1-8
Fourth Sunday after Epiphany A


HearI, II what the LordIII says:

Notes on verse 1a

I “hear” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
II {untranslated} = na. This particle is used for requests or for urging. It can be we pray, now, I ask you, oh. This is the same “na” in “hosanna.”
III “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.

    Rise,IV plead your caseV before the mountains,VI
    and let the hillsVII hear your voice.VIII

Notes on verse 1b

IV “rise” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
V “plead…case” = rib. This is properly to toss or grapple. It is used figuratively to mean wrangling and so for arguments, complaints, or disputes. It is used in a legal setting for pleading or defending a case.
VI “mountains” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
VII “hills” = gibah. From the same as Geba (Geba or Gibeah; hillock); from the same as gabia (cup, bowl, flower; root might mean being convex). This is hill or little hill.
VIII “voice” = qol. This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on.

Hear, you mountains, the caseIX of the Lord,X
    and you enduringXI foundationsXII of the earth,XIII

Notes on verse 2a

IX “case” = rib. Related to “plead…case” in v1. From rib (see note V above). This is strife or dispute – whether a personal one or one in a court of law.
X “Lord” = YHVH. Related to “Lord” in v1. From the same as YHVH (see note III above). It has the same meaning as “Lord,” but with a different vowel pointing.
XI “enduring” = ethan. 13x in OT. Root might mean to continue. This is mighty, strong, ever-flowing, enduring, or permanence.
XII “foundations” = mosadah. 11x in OT. From mosad (foundation); from yasad (to establish, appoint, instruct; to set in a literal or figurative sense; also, to sit down together and so to consult or take counsel). This is a foundation.
XIII “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.

for the LordXIV has a case against his people,XV
    and he will contendXVI with Israel.XVII

Notes on verse 2b

XIV “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v2. See note X above.
XV “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
XVI “contend” = yakach. This is to decide, be right, argue, or convince. It can also be to decide, convict, reason together, or reprove.
XVII “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.

“O my people, what have I doneXVIII to you?
    In what have I weariedXIX you? AnswerXX me!

Notes on verse 3

XVIII “done” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
XIX “wearied” = laah. 19x in OT. This is to be weary or exhausted, parched, faint, or tired. It could also mean to be impatient, or have a hard time. Figuratively, this could refer to being grieved or disgusted. This is the root verb that Leah comes from.
XX “answer” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.

For I brought you upXXI from the landXXII of EgyptXXIII

Notes on verse 4a

XXI “brought…up” = alah. This is to go up, approach, ascend, be high, be a priority; to arise in a literal or figurative sense.
XXII “land” = erets. Same as “land” in v2. See note XIII above.
XXIII “Egypt” = Mitsrayim. Perhaps from matsor (besieged or fortified place, bulwark, entrenchment; something hemmed in; a siege or distress or fastness); from tsur (to confine, besiege, to cramp). This is Egypt.

    and redeemedXXIV you from the houseXXV of slavery,XXVI

Notes on verse 4b

XXIV “redeemed” = padah. This is to sever, which is to say to ransom. To secure someone’s release (by paying their debt to free them from slavery) and thus redeem, rescue, deliver, preserve. Can also be the redemption price.
XXV “house” = bayit. Probably from banah (to build, make, set up, obtain children; to build literally or figuratively). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
XXVI “slavery” = ebed. From abad (to work, serve, compel; any kind of work; used causatively, can mean to enslave or keep in bondage). This is a servant, slave, or bondservant.

and I sentXXVII beforeXXVIII you Moses,XXIX
    Aaron,XXX and Miriam.XXXI

Notes on verse 4c

XXVII “sent” = shalach. This is to send out, away, send for, forsake. It can also mean to divorce or set a slave free.
XXVIII “before” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
XXIX “Moses” = Mosheh. From mashah (to pull out in a literal or figurative sense, to draw out) OR from Egyptian mes or mesu (child, son i.e. child of…). This is Moses – the one drawn out from the water, which is to say, rescued. If derived from the Egyptian, his name would share a root with Rameses and Thutmose.
XXX “Aaron” = Aharon. Derivation uncertain. May mean “bearer of martyrs” OR be related to Ancient Egyptian ꜥḥꜣ rw (warrior lion) OR elevated, exalted, high mountain. This is Aaron. See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Aaron
XXXI “Miriam” = Miryam. 15x in OT. From marah (to be contentious, rebellious, bitter, provoking, disobedient; to be or make bitter or unpleasant; figuratively, to rebel or resist; causatively to provoke). This is Miriam.

O my people, rememberXXXII nowXXXIII what KingXXXIV BalakXXXV of MoabXXXVI devised,XXXVII

Notes on verse 5a

XXXII “remember” = zakar. This is to remember, to mark something so that it can be recalled, to be mindful of, to mention.
XXXIII “now” = na. Same as {untranslated} in v1. See note II above.
XXXIV “King” = melek. From malak (to be or become king or queen, to rise to the throne, to be crowned; by implication, to take counsel). This is king or royal.
XXXV “Balak” = Balaq. From balaq (to lay waste, devastate, annihilate). This is Balak – devastator.
XXXVI “Moab” = Moab. May be from ab (father, ancestor, grandfather; father in a literal or figurative sense). This is Moab or Moabite. Name could mean “from her father” in reference to the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters. The name could also mean, more pleasantly, “seed of a father” or “desirable land.” See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moab
XXXVII “devised” = yaats. This is to advise, counsel, consult, decide, plan, purpose, or determine. It can also have a negative sense of conspire or devise.

    what BalaamXXXVIII sonXXXIX of BeorXL answered him,
and what happened from ShittimXLI to Gilgal,XLII

Notes on verse 5b

XXXVIII “Balaam” = Bil’am. Related to “people” in v2. Probably from bal (not, none, nothing, a failure); {from balah (to grow old, wear out, waste away, consume, spend)} + am (see note XV above). This is Balaam – perhaps, not of the people, which is to say a foreigner.
XXXIX “son” = ben. Related to “house” in v4. From banah (see note XXV above). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
XL “Beor” = Beor. 10x in OT. From baar (burn, consume, heat, remove; to consume by a fire or through eating; can also mean being brutish or wasting). This is Beor – a lamp or burning.
XLI “Shittim” = Shittim. 5x in OT. From the same as shittah (acacia); from the same as shotet (whip, goad); from shot (whip – literal or figurative); from shut (to push, wander around, row, travel). This is Shittim. It means “acacias” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Shittim.html
XLII “Gilgal” = Gilgal. From galgal (wheel, wagon, whirl, whirlwind; something that rolls); from galal (to roll, roll away, wallow, commit, remove; rolling in a literal or figurative sense). This is Gilgal – perhaps circle of stones.

    that you may knowXLIII the saving actsXLIV of the Lord.”XLV

Notes on verse 5c

XLIII “know” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.
XLIV “saving acts” = tsedaqah. From the same as tsedeq (rightness, righteousness, vindication. It is everything that is just or ethical. That which is right in a natural, moral, or legal sense. It also includes just weights (i.e. true weights). Figuratively, this is justice, righteousness, equity – even prosperity). This is righteousness, justice, righteous acts, and moral virtue.
XLV “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note III above.

“With what shall I come beforeXLVI the LordXLVII
    and bowXLVIII myself before GodXLIX on high?L

Notes on verse 6a

XLVI “come before” = qadam. Perhaps from qedem (front, formerly, before, east, eternal, everlasting, antiquity). This is to come in front or be in front and so meet, anticipate, confront, receive, or rise. It sometimes means to meet for help.
XLVII “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note III above.
XLVIII “bow” = kaphaph. 5x in OT. This is to bend, bow, or curve.  It is used for bowed down (as in oppressed), a bulrush bowing, and bowing before God.
XLIX “God” = Elohim. Related to “Israel” in v2. See note XVII above.
L “high” = marom. From rum (to be high, rise, exalted, become proud, display, offer, present, set apart, extol; to rise in a literal or figurative sense). This can be height, high place, or lofty. It can be either exalted or haughty/proud. It can refer to dignity or to heaven.

Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,LI
    with calvesLII a yearLIII old?LIV

Notes on verse 6b

LI “burnt offerings” = olah. Related to “brought…up” in v4. From alah (see note XXI above). This is a step, stairs, or some kind of ascent. It is also used for whole burnt offerings, being the offering in which the whole things is burned and rises as smoke. Burnt offerings were the least common of the offerings: most were eaten, shared with the priest and the one bringing the offering.
LII “calves” = egel. May be from the same as agol (round, circular – root meaning revolve). This is a male calf as one that frisks about. Often used for one that is almost grown up. This is also the word used for the molten calf in Ex 32.
LIII “year” = shanah. From shana (to change, alter). This is a year, age, old. It can also mean yearly.
LIV “old” = ben. Same as “son” in v5. See note XXXIX above.

Will the LordLV be pleasedLVI with thousandsLVII of rams,LVIII

Notes on verse 7a

LV “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note III above.
LVI “pleased” = ratsah. This is to be pleased with, delight, take pleasure in, or accept with favor. It can mean to approve or consent regarding something. It can also be used specifically of satisfying debts or being pardoned.
LVII “thousands” = eleph. Perhaps from the same as eleph (herd, cattle); from alaph (to learn, speak, associate with). This is thousand.
LVIII “rams” = ayil. From the same as ul (mighty, strength, body, belly; root may mean to twist and that implies strength and power). This is strength so it is used to indicate things that are strong or powerful: political chiefs, rams, posts, trees, oaks.

    with ten thousandsLIX of riversLX of oil?LXI

Notes on verse 7b

LIX “ten thousands” = rebabah. 16x in OT. From rabab (being many or much, abounding, increasing, multiplying; cast together and so the sense of increasing, generally in number). This is abundance, a myriad. It can be an indefinite large amount or mean ten thousand or a million.
LX “rivers” = nachar. From nachal (to gain as a possession, divide for inheritance; to occupy for any reason). This is a brook, wadi, flood, river, stream. It can also refer to the valley in which there is a river during the rainy season. This word is also used for a mineshaft.
LXI “oil” = shemen. From shamen (to shine, which implies being oily, growing fat). This is fat, oil, grease, olive oil – often with perfume. Used figuratively for fertile, lavish, rich.

Shall I giveLXII my firstbornLXIII for my transgression,LXIV

Notes on verse 7c

LXII “give” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
LXIII “firstborn” = bekor. From bakar (to bear fruit, be firstborn, firstling, that which opens the womb, give the birthright to). This is firstborn or chief.
LXIV “transgression” = pesha. From pasha (to rebel, offend, quarrel; making a break from proper authority so can also refer to an apostate). This is transgression, rebellion, or sin. It could be a revolt on a national scale or an individual moral one.

    the fruitLXV of my bodyLXVI for the sinLXVII of my soul?”LXVIII

Notes on verse 7d

LXV “fruit” = peri. From parah (to bear fruit, grow, be fruitful, increase; bearing fruit in a literal or figurative sense). This is fruit or reward.
LXVI “body” = beten. Root may mean to be hollow. This is the belly or womb. It can also refer to a body more broadly.
LXVII “sin” = chatta’ah. From chata’ (to miss or go wrong and so to sin, bear the blame; it can also include the sense of forfeiting or lacking). This is sin itself as well as punishment for sin. It is sometimes used specifically to refer to sin that is habitual.
LXVIII “soul” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.

He has toldLXIX you, O mortal,LXX what is good,LXXI
    and what does the LordLXXII requireLXXIII of you

Notes on verse 8a

LXIX “told” = nagad. This is to declare, make conspicuous, stand in front, manifest, predict, explain.
LXX “mortal” = adam. Perhaps from adam (to be red, make ruddy); related to adamah (ground, dirt, earth). This is man, humankind, also Adam’s name. It refers to a human individual or humanity.
LXXI “good” = tob. From tob (to be pleasing, to be good). This is good, beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, bountiful, at ease. This word is used for goodness as a concept, a good thing, a good person. This can refer to prosperity and welfare as well as joy, kindness, sweetness, and graciousness. So, this is ethically good, but also enjoyably good.
LXXII “Lord” = YHVH. Same as “Lord” in v1. See note III above.
LXXIII “require” = darash. This is seek, ask, inquire, care for. Generally it means following in pursuit or following as part of a search, which implies seeking or asking. Also used specially to mean worship.

but to do justiceLXXIV and to loveLXXV kindnessLXXVI
    and to walkLXXVII humblyLXXVIII with your God?

Notes on verse 8b

LXXIV “justice” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
LXXV “love” = ahabah. From ahab (love or affection); from aheb (to love, beloved, friend; to have affection for sexually or otherwise). This is love as a noun.
LXXVI “kindness” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.
LXXVII “walk” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
LXXVIII “humbly” = tsana. 2x in OT. This is modestly or humbly. It can also mean to humiliate.

Image credit: “John the Baptist” by LUMO Project.

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