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Micah and Jeremiah
In many cases the God’s preachers in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah used parallel materials. Sometimes they may have worked with the traditions of other preachers, and at other times two or more preachers may have worked from the same traditions. An example in the case of Micah is the powerful imagery in the beginning of Micah 4 which sounds like Isaiah 2—in this case these preachers are contemporaries. Also intriguing is the contrary use of the same imagery in Joel (though when and where and why Joel preached remains a mystery, see chronological orientation).
The material immediately preceding the Micah’s oracle noted above has connection with the Jeremiah who preached much later in the last days of Jerusalem. The similarities are noted by some of Jeremiah’s defenders, who refer to the teaching which now appears in the last verse of Micah 3. The example of Micah plays an important part in Jeremiah’s troubles narrated in chapter 26.
Read Micah 3. In 3:1-3 who is the preacher criticizing and why? Are you surprised by the poetic imagery in 3:4, why and/or why not?
What is the basis of the critique of the prophets in 3:5-7? What is different about Micah’s own message in 3:8-12?
Making note of the explicit connections between Micah 3:12 and Jeremiah’s message in 26:18 offers good reason to reflect on the larger similarities.* The themes introduced across Micah bear striking resemblance to repeated themes in the book of Jeremiah. For example, when Micah refers to the Lord not answering those who call out to him in 3:3, it suggests Jeremiah’s notorious repeated references to not praying for the people (7:16; 11:14; 14:11). Or, again when Micah speaks out against the prophets who preach “peace” (3:5) it invites comparison to Jeremiah’s oft stated condemnation of the false prophets who speak peace when there is no peace (6:13-15; 8:8-12 [esp. v. 11]; ; 16:5; 29:7). In what ways does a later prophet like Jeremiah reflect upon and redeploy the classic message of an old-time preacher like Micah?
* For the impulse of some of these observations I am indebted to a lecture Bill Doolittle presented on Micah in my prophets course in fall 2009.
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