The oracles in the book of Micah are be structured in three cycles, each of which begin with the command to “Hear” (1:2-2:13; 3:1-5:15; 6:1-7:20). Each cycle begins with oracles of judgment and concludes with oracles of hope.
The superscription (1:1) identifies the prophet, his time period and the basic content of the prophecy: a word of Yhwh concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Micah’s name means “who is like Yhwh,” and Micah will close the book by raising that question: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?” (7:18).
Cycle 1 (1:2-2:13) is made up of five oracles (1:2-7; 1:8-16; 2:1-5; 2:6-11; 2:12-13).
The first oracle (1:2-7) is a covenant lawsuit. Initially the oracle reads like an eschatological judgment against all the nations in which Yhwh descends to earth from his temple in a great theophany. But as the oracle goes on it is apparent that this is a covenant lawsuit against Judah and Samaria. Its near fulfillment likely took place in the Assyrian invasion in which Samaria fell and in which Jerusalem was besieged. The nations should not be complacent, however, for this initial day of Yhwh does prefigure the ultimate day of Yhwh against all nations that this oracle initially seemed to be about.
The second oracle (1:8-16) is a lament from Micah about this judgment, which will reach to the very gate of Jerusalem. This lament opens with a quotation from David’s lament over Saul, “Tell it not in Gath” (1:10; cf. 2 Sa 1:20), and it concludes with an allusion to the cave of Adullam, where David had to flee for his life (1:15). In the center of this poem is the statement “because disaster has come down from Yhwh to the gate of Jerusalem” (1:12). The poem is structured as a chiasm with parallel word plays throughout. Even though the wordplays do not translate over to English, the fact of lamentation over disaster comes through.
The third oracle (2:1-5) is a “woe” oracle in which Micah identifies Israel’s sins. He speaks against those who “devise wickedness and work evil on their beds!” (2:1, emphasis added). They are plotting to steal the fields and houses of their countrymen, depriving them of the inheritance God had given to his people. In response, Yhwh says “behold, against this family I am devising evil”(2:3, esv mg., emphasis added). Just as the wicked in Israel were taking land from their countrymen, so Yhwh would take the land away from them: “To the faithless one, He apportions our fields” (2:4, lsb). That is, the Assyrians will take the land from Israel.
The fourth oracle (2:6-11) begins with the response of the people: “‘Do not preach’—thus they preach—‘one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us’” (2:6). Micah concludes the oracle by observing that the people desire prophets who lie to them and promise prosperity. In between, Micah reiterates their sin. They have violated the second great commandment by not loving their neighbors as themselves. They have “risen up” to steal from their fellow Israelites and to drive them from their land (2:8-9), and God will now tell them to “Arise and go” into exile (2:10).
The final oracle of the first cycle (2:12-13) promises restoration. Israel in exile will be gathered back into the fold. Yhwh himself is the good Shepherd who will go before them and restore them to the promised land.
Cycle 2 (3:1-5:15) is made up of nine oracles (3:1-4; 3:5-8; 3:9-12; 4:1-5; 4:6-8; 4:9-10; 4:11-13; 5:1-9; 5:10-15).
The first oracle (3:1-4) addresses the leaders of Israel. Instead of administering justice in Israel they have cannibalized the people. But when these leaders cry out (because they come under judgment) Yhwh will not answer them.
The second oracle (3:5-8) address the prophets of Israel. Yhwh speaks against mercenary prophets who will declare “Peace” to those who give them food but declare war to those who give them nothing. These prophets are not declaring Yhwh’s word, and therefore Yhwh will reveal nothing to them. Instead, they will be shamed because he will not answer them. By contrast Micah is empowered by the Spirit of Yhwh to speak justice, and this meant that he would tell Israel of its sin.
The third oracle (3:9-12) speaks again to the rulers of Israel, with those in Jerusalem being the special focus. It reiterates the condemnations of the previous two oracles. The political leaders build Jerusalem through violent oppression. The priests and prophets are mercenary. These leaders sin with impunity because of the presence of the temple in Jerusalem: “Is not Yhwh in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us” (3:11). Micah disabuses them of this false hope. Their sin will lead to the destruction of Jerusalem. It will become like a plowed field. It will become a heap of ruins. The mountain of the house (note the absence of the name Yhwh) will become overgrown. Micah may be the first prophet to predict the destruction of the temple and to oppose the false hope that a sinning people put in it. This might seem to be a reversal of the Davidic covenant’s promises, but the next oracle will reveal that this is not so.
The fourth oracle (4:1-5) looks forward to a reversal of the temple’s destruction. It is again “the mountain of the house of Yhwh” (4:1; cf. 4:2). Jerusalem will then be the exalted city in all the earth. The nations will come to Jerusalem not to conquer and destroy it but to learn of Yhwh and his law. In that day, not only Israel but the nations will walk in God’s ways. Yhwh himself will rule over the nations, and true peace and prosperity will become a reality. In the closing verse of the oracle, Micah returns to the present and affirms that even though the nations at present follow their gods, he and the remnant with him will follow Yhwh and his ways.
The fifth oracle (4:6-8) returns to that future day, but this time it emphasizes the return of the remnant to Jerusalem. There Yhwh will reign over them, and the kingship that seemed to have departed from Jerusalem will be restored. Though the Davidic covenant is not explicitly mentioned, its fulfillment is implied. Implied also the fact that the eschatological King from Zion will be both Yhwh and a son of David.
The next three oracles are marked by an initial “now” (עַתָּה). The sixth oracle (4:9-10) looks to the day when Israel will deprived of her king and sent into the Babylonian exile. Yet from there Yhwh will redeem them.
The seventh oracle (4:11-13) describes the nations gathered against Zion. This likely includes Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem and Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest, but the triumph over Israel is eschatological and so the eschatological gathering of the nations against Israel is also in view. In the end Yhwh will use Israel to judge the nations, and he will rule them.
The eighth oracle (5:1-9) opens with Jerusalem besieged and its ruler humiliated. This verse describes either Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem or Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest (likely the former, given 5:5-6). In that context, Yhwh speaks of a ruler who will come from Bethlehem on his behalf. In the meantime, Yhwh will give his people over to exile, but after this ruler is born, he will bring his people back from exile and will shepherd them. He will be their security because he will reign not only over Israel but “to the ends of the earth” (5:4). Verses 5-6 then return to the issue of the Assyrian invasion. The one who will come in the future, after the exile, will bring peace and deliverance to Israel from the Assyrian. This might explain “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of old” (5:2, nasb, marginal reading partially adopted). Even before the incarnation, the Messiah was going forth on behalf of his people. The oracle closes with a reflection on the effect of the remnant among the peoples. They will bring both blessing and judgment (5:7-9).
The ninth oracle (5:10-15) looks to the eschatological period. Initially this seems like an oracle of judgment on Israel, but as it continues, it is apparent that Yhwh is purging Israel. God is removing not only their sins but also all of the things they trusted in instead of God. Also included is judgment on the nations who “did not obey” (esv) / “listen” (lsb)—as God summoned them to in 1:1.
Cycle 3 (6:1-7:20) is made up of four oracles (6:1-8; 6:9-16; 7:1-7; 7:7-20). Note that 7:7 is a janus verse which ends the penultimate oracle and begins the final oracle.
The third cycle begins with a summons to hear, and the first oracle (6:1-8) that they are to hear is a covenant lawsuit. Yhwh calls the mountains and hills as witnesses to this lawsuit, and he summons the people to answer these questions: “What have I done to you? How have I wearied you? He then gives an example that demonstrates that he has done good to Israel. He redeemed Israel from slavery and Egypt, he defended them against Balak when he hired Balaam to curse them, and he brought them safely into the promised land. The people respond, not with an answer to Yhwh’s question but with a question of their own: “With what shall I come before Yhwh?” They then raise a series of options beginning with a burnt offering, expanding to thousands of rams and tens of thousands rivers of oil, and culminating with the sacrifice of their firstborn. They are in effect charging God with being unreasonably hard to please. Yhwh responds by getting at the heart of their failure: He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does Yhwh require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8).
In the second oracle (6:9-16) Yhwh recounts just how Israel was failing to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. They were cheating people with false scales and weights. They were violent. They spoke lies. And they walked in the ways of Omri and Ahab. This may refer to more social injustice (consider Ahab’s theft of Naboth’s vineyard), but it also may include idolatry. As a result, Israel will come under the covenant curses (compare Mic 6:13-15 with Dt 28:30-31, 38-41).
The third oracle (7:1-7) is a woe oracle in which Micah laments the entire absence of the godly from Israel. There is no one godly to turn to, so Micah turns to Yhwh. In verse 7 Micah expresses hope that God will hear him and bring salvation, and the final oracle (7:7-20) Micah recounts this salvation. He acknowledges his own sin and his liability to Yhwh’s indignation. But he looks forward to when Yhwh “pleads my cause.” The enemy will be brought down and destroyed, Jerusalem will be rebuilt, and the remnant will return. Yhwh will shepherd his people, and the nations “shall lick dust like the serpent”—they will come under the same punishment as Satan (since they are the seed of the serpent). But the remnant will rejoice in God’s mercy. Their claim is not one of righteousness but that God pardons them. This is the answer to the question found in Micah’s name: Who is like Yhwh? Micah’s answer to this question is rooted in Yhwh’s revelation of himself to Moses in Exodus 34:6-7. This commitment to mercy is rooted in God’s covenant promises to Abraham and the promise in Genesis 3:15.
 For the structure, I largely followed Waltke, A Commentary on Micah, 3-15; cf. NIDOTTE, 4:937. Others who follow a similar structure include McConville, “Miach,” DOTPr, 547-49; Rooker, The World and the Word, 455; Barker, NAC, 33-34; Timmer, TOTC, 91. For the demarcation of individual oracles, I followed Waltke, Bell, TMOTB, 417, and Barker, NAC, 34, who are similar, though not in exact agreement.
 See Bell, TMOTB, 421-27.
 Barker, NAC, 68; Dempster, THOTC, 93; cf. Hoyt, EEC, 656.
 Following Hoyt, EEC, 691, who sees the reference to the temple mount being overgrown, rather than Waltke, A Commentary on Micah, 183, who sees the temple mount becoming a pagan shrine.
 McConville, DOTPr, 548.
 Note also that the preceding oracles refer to the Babylonian conquest and captivity; succeeding oracles refer the Assyrian invasion.
 Barker, NAC, 92-93 (who lists the following as passages referring to an eschatological gathering of the nations against Israel: Isa 29:5–8; Ezek 38–39; Joel 3:1–3, 12–17; Zech 12:1–9; 14:1–5, 12–15; Rev 16:12–21); Hoyt, EEC, 717.
 Barker notes that the striking of the judge on the cheek does not refer to the striking of Christ (Mt 27:30; Mk 14:19; Jn 19:3), despite the Messianic nature of the following verses, because this striking takes place in the context of a siege of Jerusalem. Barker, NAC, 95-96.
 Timmer argues that “of old” could refer to the establishment of the Davidic covenant (Gen. 49:8–12; Ps. 89:19; Amos 9:11; Neh. 12:46). Timmer, TOTC, 178. Barker also notes, “a Hebrew expression equivalent to “from of old” here (miqqedem) occurs in 7:20 (mîmê qedem, “in days long ago”), and that one almost identical to “from ancient times” here (mîmê ʿôlām) occurs in 7:14 (kîmê ʿôlām, “as in days long ago”).” Barker, NAC, 98. The phrase in 7:14 is probably looking back to the time of David and Solomon while 7:20 is looking back to the Abrahamic covenant. Barker also notes that the going forth is said to be from Bethlehem. These facts point toward the “goings forth from long ago” being a referenced to the promised going forth at the time of the incarnation. This fits the context well, but against it is the plural “goings forth.” An alternative proposal views the goings forth as being from eternity. Keil and Delitzsch propose that this refers to the eternal origin of the Son combined with his going forth as the angel of Yhwh from the patriarchal times. This is how they account for the plural. KD 10:324-25. Against this view is that it seems to mix the eternal origin of this one and his temporal goings forth. A third alternative is that there is the going forth from Bethlehem is paralleled by “goings forth” (from God) from eternity. Perhaps the plural can be accounted for by the fact that this procession from the Father is eternal. Thought it may be argued that this view does not fit the context well, chapter 4 has already combined the idea of Yhwh reigning from Zion with the restoration of the Davidic kingship. Micah’s contemporary, Isaiah, prophesied of God with us, and a careful reading of Isaiah should lead to the conclusion that the ultimate Davidic king is Yhwh. Thus, for a text to highlight both the Davidic humanity and deity of the future ruler is not out of place.
This is direct speech from Yhwh, so the fact that this saying may not have been fully understood by Micah or his readers does not mean that God was not revealing these truths, which would become clearer later, at this time. Further, I don’t think that this passage itself proves eternal generation, but it may entail it once that doctrine is understood from elsewhere in the canon.
The interpretation that I adopted is basically 1 combined with an adaption of 2. While I think view 3 is plausible, I settled on the view I did because it fit best with the usage and context of Micah.
 Verse 5 refers to “what happened from Shittim to Gilgal.” Barker notes, “Shittim was Israel’s last encampment east of the Jordan River (Josh 3:1); Gilgal was their first stop west of the Jordan (Josh 4:19).” Barker, NAC, 111.
 Compare this to 1 Johnn 2:1, where Christ is the believer’s Advocate with the Father.