Micah 3:5
(5) That bite with their teeth.--The concluding statement that the false prophets declare war against those who do not put into their mouth indicates the meaning of the former expression, namely, "they say peace to those who feed and bribe them." The Hebrew word, nashak, which is rendered "bite," is strictly applied to serpents, to "an adder in the path," and is therefore especially appropriate to the false and lying nature of the prophets.

Verses 5-8. ? § 2. Sins of the false prophets who led the people astray. Verse 5. - Concerning the prophets (Micah 2:11). These are the lying prophets of whom Jeremiah complains (Lamentations 2:14). That bite with their teeth, and cry, Peace. Very many commentators take the phrase, "bite with the teeth," to mean "eat," so that the clause signifies that the prophets when bribed with food predict peace and happiness to people. The antithesis of the following clause seems to require this explanation, which is further supported by the Chaldee. But it is quite unprecedented to find the word translated "bite" (nashakh) in the sense of "eat," or as it is taken here, "to have something to eat;" wherever it occurs it means "to bite like a serpent," to wound (see Genesis 49:17; Numbers 21:8, 9; Amos 5:19; Amos 9:3). The parallelism of the succeeding member does not compel us to put a forced interpretation upon the word. These venal seers do vital harm, inflict gravest injury, when they proclaim peace where there is no peace; by such false comfort they are really infusing poison and death. He that putteth not into their mouths. If any one does not bribe them, and so stop their evil mouths. They even prepare war against him. The Hebrew expression is, "they consecrate" or "sanctify war." There may be allusion to the religious rites accompanying a declaration of war (Jeremiah 6:4; Joel 3:9); but Micah seems to mean that, if the customary bribes are withheld, these prophets announce war and calamity as inevitable; they proclaim them in God's name, as speaking with his sanction and under his Inspiration (comp. Jeremiah 23:16, etc.; Ezekiel 13:19; see note on Zephaniah 1:7).

3:1-8 Men cannot expect to do ill, and fare well; but to find that done to them which they did to others. How seldom do wholesome truths reach the ears of those in high stations or in authority! Those who deceive others are preparing confusion for their own faces. The prophet had ardent love to God and to the souls of men; deep concern for his glory and their salvation, and zeal against sin. The difficulties he met with did not drive him from his work. He had this strength; not from and of himself, but he was full of power by the Spirit of the Lord. Those who act honestly, may act boldly. And those who come to hear the word of God, must be willing to be told of their faults, must take it kindly, and be thankful.Thus saith the Lord, concerning the prophets that make my people err,.... The false prophets, as the Targum; and as the description given of them shows; who, instead of directing the people in the right way, as by their office and characters as prophets they should have done, they led them into mistakes about matters of religion and civil government, and out of the way of their duty to God and men, and exposed them to great danger and distress; and this was the more aggravating, as they were the Lord's people by name and profession, whom they caused to err from his ways and worship, which brought his displeasure upon them:

that bite with their teeth, and cry, peace; prophesy smooth things, promise all kind of prosperity and plenty, and bite their lips, and keep in those distresses and calamities which they could not but see coming upon the people; or, while they are prophesying good things, they gnash their teeth against the prophets of the Lord, and bitterly inveigh against them for threatening with war, destruction, and captivity; or, by flattering the people with their lips, they bite them, devour their substance, and are the cause of their hurt and ruin; or rather, so long as the people fed them well, and they had a sufficiency to bite and live upon, they foretold happy days unto them, So the Targum,

"he that feeds them with a feast of flesh, they prophesy peace to him;''

which sense is confirmed by what follows,

and he that putteth not into their mouth, they even declare war against him; who do not give them what they ask, or do not feed them according to their desire, do not keep a good table for them, and cram and pamper them, but neglect them, and do not provide well for them; these they threaten with one calamity or another that shall befall them; and endeavour to set their neighbours against them, and even the government itself, and do them all the mischief they can by defamation and slander.

Micah 3:4
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