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MICAH ():

1. Prophet; author of the sixth book in the collection known as "The Twelve Minor Prophets" (Mic. i. 1). The name of the prophet appears to be a shortened form of , "Micaiah" (= "Who is like Yhwh?"), and is so written in Jer. xxvi. 18 (comp. also Micah No. 2). The only data concerning Micah are those given in the superscription of the book bearing his name. He was a Morasthite; that is to say, a native of Moreshethgath (Mic. i. 14); and he prophesied in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—a period covering at the most fifty-nine years (756-697 B.C.). In the above-cited passage of Jeremiah, however, only the reign of Hezekiah is given as the period of Micah's activity.

Pseudo-Epiphanius ("Opera," ii. 245) makes Micah an Ephraimite. Confounding him with Micaiah, son of Imlah (I Kings xxii. 8 et seq.), he states that Micah, for his inauspicious prophecy, was killed by order of Ahab through being thrown from a precipice, and was buried at Morathi (Maroth?; Mic. i. 12), near the cemetery of Enakim (Ένακεὶμ Septuagint rendering of ; ib. i. 10). According to "Gelilot Ereẓ Yisrael" (quoted in "Seder ha-Dorot," i. 118, Warsaw, 1889), Micah was buried in Chesil, a town in southern Judah (Josh. xv. 30).

2. Biblical Data: A resident of Mount Ephraim who, having stolen 1,100 pieces of silver from his mother, restored them to her on hearing her curses at the theft. The mother had dedicated the silver to Yhwh; and she accordingly gave 200 pieces to a founder, who made a molten image which was placed in Micah's house. Micah thus established a house of idols with an ephod and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons to be his priest (Judges xvii. 1-5). In the course of time a young Levite named Jonathan, son of Gershon, happened to come to the house, and he was appointed by Micah as his priest (ib. xvii. 7-13). The image, together with the priest, was captured by the Danites, who set it up at Dan, where it continued to be an object of worship as long as the Tabernacle was at Shiloh (ib. xviii.; See Jonathan No. 1). In Judges xvii. 1, 4, the name "Micah" appears in the form .

S. M. Sel.—In Rabbinical Literature:

Micah is identified by the Rabbis with Sheba, son of Bichri, and with Nebat, the father of Jeroboam (Sanh. 101b). His name, derived by them from is interpreted as meaning "the crushed one," an appellation due to a miracle which happened to him. According to a haggadah, the Israelites, when unable to complete the tale of bricks required from them by the Egyptians, were compelled to put their children in the brickwork in place of the bricks that were lacking. Moses withdrew one child (Micah), already crushed, and revived him; but, as God had foretold, he grew up to be an idolater (Tan., Yelammedenu, Ki Tissa; comp. Rashi to Sanh. l.c.).

The Rabbis all agree that Micah was among those who crossed the Red Sea with Moses; but they differ with regard to his idol. According to Sanh. 103b and Tan., Yelammedenu (l.c.), Micah had the idol with him; but according to Ex. R. (xli. 1) he took with him only the silver of which the idol was afterward made. A passage in Pesaḥim (117a) seems to support the latter opinion. There is also a tradition that it was Micah who made the golden calf in the wilderness, and in the following manner: Moses, in order to bring Joseph's coffin to the surface of the Nile, wrote on a splinter (= "Come up, ox"; Joseph being compared to an ox; see Deut. xxxiii. 17) and threw it into the water. Micah found the splinter, and, later, when Aaron cast the gold into the fire (Ex. xxxii. 24), threw the splinter after it. As a result a calf came out (Tan., Yelammedenu, l.c.; see also Jew. Encyc. iii. 509a, s.v. Calf, Golden).

Mezuzah Case.(After Picart.)

Micah, though an idolater, was praised for his hospitality to travelers. Gareb, where his idol was set up, was three miles distant from Shiloh, where the Tabernacle stood; and the smoke of the two altars mingled on account of their proximity. The angels wished to throw down the idol; but God said to them, "Leave it alone; for Micah offers bread to travelers." Micah is even supposed to have a share in the future world (Sanh. 103b); it is for this reason that his name is twice written "Micaiah" (see Micah No. 2, Biblical Data), that is, with a part of the Tetragrammaton, like the names of the just (Num. R. x. 14).

S. S. M. Sel.—Critical View:

The narrative of Micah's idol, the historical basis of which is undoubted, was apparently written with the object of showing the origin of the temple of Dan (comp. I Kings xii. 29).At the same time it throws much light on the state of the Yhwh cult and of the Levites in the time of the Judges. The author expressly points out that Micah was a worshiper of Yhwh, for whose cult he had his private shrine with a regular priestly service. Although the laws of Yhwh forbade the erection of any shrine besides the one in the chosen place and the making of any image of Him (Ex. xx. 4 et passim; Deut. xii. 5 et seq.), Micah, evidently ignorant of the Law, not only set up engraved and molten images representing the divinity he worshiped, but added other idols, the teraphim for instance. The narrative further shows that the Levites, being deprived of a share in the land, had to wander from place to place, accepting the office of family priest in order to procure a livelihood.

The account itself presents many difficulties in regard to its construction. Besides several discrepancies, in the text there are absolute contradictions. Thus in Judges xvii. 7 the Levite is a young man who lived in the neighborhood of Micah, while in the following verse he is a wandering Levite. There is also a discrepancy between verses 19 and 27 of ch. xviii. and between verses 30 and 31 of the same chapter concerning the duration of the cult of the idol at Dan. According to Oort, Wellhausen, and Kuenen, the text has received many interpolations, with the object of throwing contempt upon the cult of Dan. On the other hand, Vatke ("Alttestamentliche Theologie," 1835, p. 268) and Berthau, followed by other critics, recognize two parallel narratives united by a redactor. While there is some disagreement as to the component parts of the two versions, Budde's division seems to be the most acceptable; he holds, namely, that the first narrative consists of Judges xvii. 1, 5, 8-11a, 12, beginning, 13; xviii. 1, part of 2, 3b, 4b-6, 8-10, part of 11, 12, part of 13, 14, 16, 18a, 19-29, 31; and that the intervening verses form the second narrative. Budde is of opinion that the first narrative belongs to E; but he does not find sufficient grounds for ascribing the second to J. Moore thinks that the first version belongs to J. In the second version (ib. xviii. 30) the cult at Dan is indicated as having lasted "till the day of the captivity of the land," which is supposed by Moore to refer to the deportation by Tiglath-pileser (734 B.C.).

Besides the above-mentioned discrepancies certain points remain unsettled by the critics. Ḳimḥi explains the discrepancy between verses 3 and 4 of Judges xvii. by suggesting that the 200 shekels were an additional artisan's fee, while the whole amount of the silver was used in the fabrication of the idol. Kuenen, however, thinks that the author intended to show that the mother broke her vow, and that Micah desired to throw contempt on the idol cult of Dan. Further, the critics do not explain precisely the name of Micah's residence, nor the phenomenon of a Levite descended from Judah. Wellhausen's opinion that the term means not a Levite, but one exercised in the cult of a divinity, is shown by the context to be an erroneous one. Halévy's theory is that the whole narrative belongs to one author, whose object was to show the origin of both temples, that of Beth-el and that of Dan, and who twice mentions Mount Ephraim, meaning thereby Beth-el (comp. Josh. xvi. 1). Thus Beth-el, having previously been the place of a private shrine which was subsequently transported to Dan, became, like Dan, the place of a public temple. The Judah from whom the Levite was descended (Judges xvii. 7) was not the patriarch, but the ancestor of a Levite family (comp. Neh. xii. 8; in Ezra ii. 40 may be an anagram of ). The residence of a Levite at Beth-lehem, which was not among the cities allotted to the Levites, shows that a temple of Yhwh with a Levitical service existed there (comp. Judges xix. 18). The author points out that the Levite was of the tribe of Levi, namely, a descendant of Moses, in whose name a suspended "nun" was interpolated by the Masorites out of respect for the lawgiver (see Jonathan No. 1). With regard to the apparent discrepancy between verses 30 and 31 of Judges xviii., the word in verse 30 was corrected to by Ḳimḥi, then by Hävernick, Hengstenberg, and Bleek, the passage thus reading "till the deportation of the Ark," referring to the capture of the Ark in the battle with the Philistines described in I Sam. iv. 4, 11. This renders possible a perfect agreement between the two verses.

Bibliography:
  • J. Halévy, in R. E. J. xxi. 207-217;
  • Moore, Judges, pp. 366 et seq.;
  • idem, Judges, notes to ch. xvii.-xviii., in Polychrome Bible, Eng. ed.
S. M. Sel.

3. Son of Merib-baal (I Chron. viii. 34, 35; ix. 40, 41) or Mephibosheth (II Sam. ix. 12; A. V. "Micah"; R. V. "Mica"), and grandson of Jonathan. 4. Head of the Uzziel branch of the Kohathite Levites in the time of David (I Chron. xxiii. 20; xxiv. 24, 25). 5. A Reubenite; ancestor of the prince of that tribe, Beerah, whom Tiglath-pileser carried into captivity (ib. v. 5-6). 6. Contemporary of Josiah, and father of Abdon, one of Josiah's messengers to Huldah (II Chron. xxxiv. 20). In the parallel account of II Kings xxii. 12 he is called "Micaiah," and his son's name is given as "Achbor." 7. A Levite of the family of Asaph whose descendants lived in Jerusalem (I Chron. ix. 15; Neh. xi. 17, 22). 8. A Simeonite; father of Ozias, one of the rulers of Bethulia (Judith vi. 15).

E. G. H. M. Sel.
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