Worksheet on Micah 6:6-8

This passage contains an expression that is very similar to the passage that we studied in Amos (5:21-24). Also similar to the passage in Amos, this passage is presented as a lawsuit (in Hebrew riv) against Israel for their sins. The passage 6:6-8 probably existed originally as a separate oracle, but it has been combined with 6:1-5 in its canonical form, so we should look at the larger context for the overall lawsuit presented by the prophet.


Historical background:

  • Who was Micah? Where was he from? To whom did he present his prophecies?
  • What else do we know about the prophet Micah? Was he a professional prophet? Is his a hozeh ("visionary") or a ro'eh ("seer") or some other type of prophet? Did he want to be called a nabi' "prophet"?
  • In what general time period did Micah prophecy? What were the kingdoms of Judah and Israel like at this time? How did this situation change in Judah once the northern kingdom of Israel was finally defeated for good in 722?

    Limits and setting of the Passage:

  • Do you agree with the limits of the passage (vv. 6-8)? Why or why not?
  • What happens in 6:1-5? How are these verses related to 6:6-8?
  • How does this passage function in the overall book of Micah? Remember that like Amos, these prophecies were originally presented as separate oracles and then reworked into the "canonical" form that we find in the written book of Micah. This situation is especially true with 6:1-8 where we seem to have what were originally two separate oracles that are reworked into one prophecy in this passage.

    Some comments about the passage (not found in your textbook):
  • Verse 6: "with what shall I come before the LORD": this refers to coming before Yahweh in a ceremonial procession or in some type of gift given as part of worship. This verse thus directly addresses what kings of offerings are acceptable to present to God.
  • Verse 6b: this is an example of a "normal" gift that a rich person might give-- i.e., a calf would cost a lot of money, so not everyone could give this type of gift
  • Verse 7: all of these are examples of what I would call "extreme gifts." The purpose is to say that no matter how much one might give-- whether it be an infinite amount of money or even your own child-- God requires something more than gifts.
  • Verse 8: The phrase "what is good" reminds me of Gen 4:7 where God tells Cain, "If you do well [good], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must [or one could translate 'are able to'] master it."
  • Verse 8: "kindness": as Newsome mentions the Hebrew word here is hesed. This word normally refers to the "love" that someone shows another person when they are not obligated to do so. That is, when God shows "kindness" and "love" to humans this is often called hesed-- God is not required to show these favor upon humans. Thus, the phrase "love kindness" conveys the idea that a person values kindnesses which are shown to others when you are not obligated to do so and when they are not ulterior motives.
  • Verse 8: "walk with God": what are other places in the Hebrew Scriptures that other people are described as "walking with God." How does these other instances help us understand this passage?

    Question about the value of worship:

  • Like we asked with Amos, what does this passage have to say about the value of worship? Micah goes step further than Amos and presents exactly what God does require of humans-- how does this requirement relate to worship?

    Applications for today:

  • Micah 2:1 states that the wicked acts of the people are preformed even in broad daylight and "as the morning dawns." One commentator noted that this conveyed the idea that these acts were preformed at the gate when people went out to work. The situation is similar to the repossession of farms due to low pork prices-- the banks repossess the land and even give notice in the newspapers. Is this one of the evils that Micah is talking about? Another way of asking the question is to consider whether social justice requires us to subsidize other people. I think the situation is very complicated, but yet just recently our Gov. Ventura said that he will push policies so that the state no longer "bails out" people who have encountered misfortune due to decisions that have made themselves or due to situations that they had some control over. What does a book like Micah tell us when we hear these types of words from Gov. Ventura?
  • If people do not practice social justice such as Micah encourages, are they necessary evil and necessarily condemned? Note: I asked this same question with Amos as well, but it applies for Micah too.
  • How would you suggest that we be "involved" in the book of Micah? By "involvement" I mean seeing ourselves as taking part in the action today. Is this a legitimate question? If so, does a historical reconstruction of Micah's day and the social setting have anything to do with our "involvement" in the texts?