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A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Micah 4 and 5

Kuruvilla Thomas
Bangalore
Published on 17 December 2019




Micah 4 & 5 Timeline
Fig. 1


Introduction

This study treats Micah 4 & 5 as a "Functional Chiasmus" in order to arrive at a coherent reconfiguration of the text. Text that is arranged in the form of a functional chiasmus must be rearranged based on certain logical principles to be correctly interpreted. A functional chiasmus is a new concept; see definition here [1]. This study also contains an exegesis of the rearranged text. If you wish to skip the technicalities of a chiastic parse, you may read starting from Part 4 of the Discussion section, which has the reconfigured text.

The book of Micah lists Judah and Israel's sins and the corresponding punishments for the most part, but chapters 4 & 5 exclusively describe future events. We show that these two chapters form a simple Functional Chiasmus that can be reconfigured for a more coherent interpretation of the passage. The passage in Micah 5:2 ("But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small...") , quoted in Matthew 2:6, is a significant prophecy about the Messiah from the Old Testament, and through this parse, we can better show that this passage applies to Jesus.


Notes:
We will use the term "Judahite" to refer to the Israelites living in and around Jerusalem in the 1st century who primarily were of the tribe of Judah; We will try to avoid the term "Jew" to avoid the confusion it introduces.


Discussion

1. Presuppositions

We treat the passages in Micah that mainly describe the state of Judah & Israel at the time of Micah as lying outside the chiasmus which leaves us with Chapters 4 & 5.

We base our parse of Micah 4 & 5 on the assumption that it refers to 3 periods:

  1. The period starting from the Judahites defeat and captivity in Babylon through their return and ending at the birth of Christ (circa 600BC-1BC). Note that the end of this period approximately corresponds to that of the "Sixty-two weeks" of the "70 Weeks of Daniel" based on our parse of that passage [2].
  2. The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD). The Roman army began their siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD and completely destroyed the city and its people shortly thereafter.
  3. Christ's millennial reign on earth (circa 2000AD-3000AD).

2. Parsing the chiasmus

We will use the NIV Bible for this parse.

Parsing this chiasmus involves dividing portions of the text into three categories as above. We will call the period of the Judahites in Babylon to the birth of Christ Period 1, the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD Period 2 and Christ's millennial reign Period 3.


Categorizing Micah 4 and 5

Ch 4 Vs 1-8 belong to Period 3. A description of the glorious millennial reign of Christ.

Ch 4 Vs 9-13 belong to Period 1. Exile to Babylon, return and victory over enemies.

Ch 5 Vs 1 appears to belong to Period 2. The siege and sacking of Jerusalem.

Ch 5 Vs 2a belongs to Period 1. A prediction of the birth of Christ at the First Coming. (We will let the quote of this passage in Matthew 2:6 determine the extent of this subunit - hence the split of vs 2 into two parts.)

Ch 5 Vs 2b-15 belong to Period 3. More information on the millennial reign of Christ.


Original text

We color-code the chiastic units of the original text (NIV) below for easy visual identification using: red for Period 1, blue for Period 2 and green for Period 3.


Micah 4 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.
...
(Verses 2-6 omitted)
...
7 I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. 8 As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem.”

9 Why do you now cry aloud— have you no king? Has your ruler perished, that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor? 10 Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the Lord will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.
11 But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!” 12 But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor. 13 “Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hooves of bronze, and you will break to pieces many nations.” You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.


Micah 5 Marshal your troops now, city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod.
2a “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,
2b whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.
...
(Verses 4-12 omitted)
...
13 I will destroy your idols and your sacred stones from among you; you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands. 14 I will uproot from among you your Asherah poles when I demolish your cities. 15 I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me.”



3. Building the reconfigured text


From this parse, it appears that Micah 4 & 5 form a Functional chiasmus as below:

A1   Ch 4 Vs 1-8 Period 3. Millennial reign of Christ.
  B1   Ch 4 Vs 9-13 Period 1. Exile to Babylon, return and victory over enemies.
    X   Ch 5 Vs 1 Period 2. Siege and sacking of Jerusalem.
  B2   Ch 5 Vs 2a Period 1. Prediction of the First Coming of Christ.
A2   Ch 5 Vs 2b-15 Period 3. More on the millennial reign of Christ


We now reconstruct the phrases in the right order based on the chiastic structure above and based on the ordering rules of a functional chiasmus [1].

We lead with central pivot point 'X'. The corresponding subunits (For example; subunit A1 corresponds to A2) are placed contiguously to form units (For example, A1,A2 is a unit ) so that we get a list of such units.


The sequence selected for rearrangement is:

X  [A1,A2]  [B1,B2]        (1)

Translating (1) into verse numbers, we get:

Ch 5 Vs 1  [Ch 4 Vs 1-8,Ch 5 Vs 2b-15]   [Ch 4 Vs 9-13, Ch 5 Vs 2a]        (2)

We arrive at the reconfigured passage in the next section by rearranging the verses so they are in sequence (2).



4. Micah 4 & 5 Reconfigured

The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD).(Ch 5 Vs 1)

( We include Chapter 3:11,12 here though it falls outside the chiasmus to show that the start of the reconfigured chiasmus naturally continues from the previous chapter.)

Chapter 3:11 Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.”
12 Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.

Chapter 5 1 Marshal your troops now, city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod.


Christ's millennial reign on earth (circa 2000AD-3000AD ) (Ch 4 Vs 1-8,Ch 5 Vs 2b-15)
Chapter 4 1 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.
2 Many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3 He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 4 Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken. 5 All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.
6 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
“I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. 7 I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. 8 As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem.”


Chapter 5 2b whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.
4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.
5 And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses. We will raise against them seven shepherds, even eight commanders, 6 who will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with drawn sword. He will deliver us from the Assyrians when they invade our land and march across our borders.
7 The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or depend on man. 8 The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue. 9 Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed.
10 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
“I will destroy your horses from among you and demolish your chariots. 11 I will destroy the cities of your land and tear down all your strongholds. 12 I will destroy your witchcraft and you will no longer cast spells. 13 I will destroy your idols and your sacred stones from among you; you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands. 14 I will uproot from among you your Asherah poles when I demolish your cities. 15 I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me.”


Judahites captivity in Babylon to the birth of Christ (circa 600BC-1BC) (Ch 4 Vs 9-13, Ch 5 Vs 2a)
Chapter 4 9 Why do you now cry aloud— have you no king? Has your ruler perished, that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor? 10 Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the Lord will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.
11 But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!” 12 But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor. 13 “Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hooves of bronze, and you will break to pieces many nations.” You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.


Chapter 5 2a “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,



5. An exegesis of the reconfigured text.

The passage has been split into 3 sections as above for analysis.

5.1 The First Jewish–Roman War (circa 66AD–74AD).(Ch 5 Vs 1)

( We include Chapter 3:11,12 here though it falls outside the chiasmus to show that the start of the reconfigured chiasmus naturally continues from the previous chapter.)


Chapter 3:11 Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.”
12 Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.


Chapter 5 1 Marshal your troops now, city of troops, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod.

Micah chapters 1-3 list the sins of Judah - especially those of its leaders - that make it worthy of punishment. Verses 3:12 and 5:1 are a prophecy of the consequent siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70AD. At the time of the siege, Jerusalem was defended by bands of irregular troops (a "city of troops") who sometimes worked at odds with each other. Jerusalem was extirpated but the punishment of the leader or judge of Jerusalem is highlighted in verse 5:1. Paul, when he was struck on the mouth in front of the Sanhedrin, also predicts this punishment in Acts 23:3 - "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourself violate the law by commanding that I be struck!".

The Septuagint renders the last sentence as "They shall smite the tribes of Israel with a rod upon the cheek" which is a clearer reference to the slavery, suffering and death of the residents of Jerusalem in 70AD. The prophecies of verse 3:12 (..."Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble," ...) were fulfilled quite literally after the Roman attack.



5.2 Christ's millennial reign on earth (circa 2000AD-3000AD) (Ch 4 Vs 1-8, Ch 5 Vs 2b-15)

Chapter 4 1 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it.
2 Many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

During the reign of Christ, a temple will be established in the new Jerusalem, the capital of the reconstituted Israel; it will be a highly regarded source of Godly wisdom and law.



Chapter 4 3 He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 4 Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken.

Christ, likely through representatives, will act as a judge over international disputes and so, in effect, will rule the world. There will be no more need for wars or even preparation for war, because disputes are settled through Christ, and because he will have complete control over world affairs; this will be a period of true peace on earth.



Chapter 4 5 All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.

Even during this period there will be people outside Israel who choose to worship other gods.



Chapter 4 6 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
“I will gather the lame; I will assemble the exiles and those I have brought to grief. 7 I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever. 8 As for you, watchtower of the flock, stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to Daughter Jerusalem.”
Chapter 5 2b whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

True Christians from around the world will be grafted into the kingdom of Israel to form a mighty nation that rules the world. Israel will once again be ruled by a king appointed by God who will be of an ancient royal bloodline.



Chapter 5 3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son, and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.

The text "She who is in labor..." seems to be a reference to the woman in Rev. 12:1,2. As we have seen in our parse of Revelation 12 [3], the woman in heaven in labor is a sign of the beginning of Christ's millennial rule on earth, when a united, reconstituted Israel reigns supreme.



Chapter 5 4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.

Christ's appointed ruler will be directly controlled by him and the people of Israel will live in safety because their leader controls the earth.



Chapter 5 5 And he will be our peace when the Assyrians invade our land and march through our fortresses.
We will raise against them seven shepherds, even eight commanders, 6 who will rule the land of Assyria with the sword, the land of Nimrod with drawn sword.
He will deliver us from the Assyrians when they invade our land and march across our borders.

As we have seen from our analysis of Daniel and Revelation (Daniel 8 [4] for example), powerful Satanic bloodlines are essence of Assyria/"Land of Nimrod"/Babylon and this essence can be transferred to other empires like Greece and Rome through the movement of these bloodlines. So "Assyria" here refers to whichever country inherits the title at that time. The war mentioned here seems to occur early in Christ's reign; so after their defeat, the "Assyrians" of that time will be controlled from Israel through representatives. Note the single-unit chiastic structure of these two verses.



Chapter 5 7 The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or depend on man. 8 The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue. 9 Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed.

Some of the Israelites may be dispersed to other countries to help control and lead them.



Chapter 5 10 “In that day,” declares the Lord,
“I will destroy your horses from among you and demolish your chariots. 11 I will destroy the cities of your land and tear down all your strongholds. 12 I will destroy your witchcraft and you will no longer cast spells. 13 I will destroy your idols and your sacred stones from among you; you will no longer bow down to the work of your hands. 14 I will uproot from among you your Asherah poles when I demolish your cities. 15 I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me.”

The people of Israel will worship the true God instead of idols and demons. Christ will have complete control over Israel and a peaceful world,



5.3 Judahites captivity in Babylon to the birth of Christ (circa 600BC-1BC) (Ch 4 Vs 9-13, Ch 5 Vs 2a)

Chapter 4 9 Why do you now cry aloud— have you no king? Has your ruler perished, that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor? 10 Writhe in agony, Daughter Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field.
You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the Lord will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies.

Jerusalem was defeated and its people were taken to Babylon (c. 600BC) as slaves. After about 70 years, Babylon fell to the Persian King Cyrus who released the Judahites from captivity but the gradual return of the Judahites to their homeland was only completed around 444BC in the time of Nehemiah.



Chapter 4 11 But now many nations are gathered against you. They say, “Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!” 12 But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, that he has gathered them like sheaves to the threshing floor.

On their return to Jerusalem, the Judahites are frequently attacked and defeated for a long time by hostile neighbours like the Seleucid and Ptolemaic empires as we have seen from our reconfiguration of Daniel 11 [5]. Eventually, during the Maccabbean revolt, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the notorious Seleucid emperor who desecrated the temple in Jerusalem, was humiliatingly defeated by the Judahites. After this, several other attacks were successfully repulsed by the Judahites.



13 “Rise and thresh, Daughter Zion, for I will give you horns of iron; I will give you hooves of bronze, and you will break to pieces many nations.” You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the Lord, their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.

The Maccabbees eventually founded the semi-autonomous Hasmonean dynasty (140 BC-37BC) during which the Judahites became independent for a while, allowing them to expand into the neighbouring regions like Samaria, Galilee, Iturea, Perea, and Idumea. The residents of these conquered regions had to convert to Judaism if they wanted to stay. The word translated as "wealth" in this verse can also be translated as "substance". So the sense of this verse seems to be that the Judahites will "thresh" many nations and devote the resulting saved souls or "substance" to God.

The Judahites continued to be semi-autonomous during the succeeding Herodian Kingdom under which Christ was born. The last phrase "the Lord of all the earth" helps segue to the next verse in the parse about the coming Messiah.



Chapter 5 2a “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel,

In this reconstruction, this verse about the coming Messiah immediately follows the passage about the Judahites overcoming their enemies; which implies that the Messiah would have to come during or soon after the Hasmonean Dynasty and well before Jerusalem's fall in Period 2 (70AD). Jesus Christ was born c. 4BC.

This reconfigured text concludes with this critical prophecy about the ruler over Israel coming from Bethlehem Ephrathah, the City of David.




Conclusion

This paper is a chiastic reconstruction of the text which shows that the passage contains three interwoven prophetic passages. Once again, we see the destruction of Jerusalem feature prominently as the pivot of this chiasmus; this is an event that appears so often in functional chiasmi that we treat its presence as a validation of the parse. Also note that the entire book of Micah is arranged as a simple regular chiasmus (a regular chiasmus need not be rearranged). Chapters 1-3 and 6-7 are primarily about the time of the prophet while Chapters 4-5, which describe future events, form the central pivot point

The Judahites eventual conquest of their neighbours during the Hasmonean dynasty (Period 1 of this reconstruction) may be a type of Israel's eventual rule over the whole world during the millennial reign of Christ (Period 3). In the chiastic texts we have seen so far, any mention of Christ's reign on earth focussed on the start and end of the period, but here we have more details on the nature of Christ's millennial reign itself.



References

[1] A Definition of Functional Chiasmus
[2] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of "The 70 Weeks Of Daniel"
[3] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Revelation 12
[4] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Daniel 8
[5] A Chiastic Reconfiguration Of Daniel 10-12. Part 1: Daniel 11










Related pages

Daniel 9
Mark 13
Luke 21
Luke 17:22-37
Functional Chiasmus