Isaiah and Micah on Jerusalem’s Inviolability

Isaiah and Micah were contemporaries, both prophesying in the late 8th and early 7th centuries, during the reigns of Jotham, Achaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (cf. Isa 1:1, Micah 1:1). Interestingly, these two seem to have had quite different attitudes to Jerusalem: Isaiah pretty clearly viewed its inviolability as guaranteed by the LORD himself, while Micah was not so sanguine.

Isaiah is studded with promises that the LORD will not forsake Jerusalem (cf. John Hayes, “The Tradition of Zion’s Inviolability,” Journal of Biblical Literature (Dec 1, 1963), 419-26), but here’s a representative example: “Look upon Zion, the city of our solemnities: thine eyes shall see Jerusalem a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken” (Isa 33:20). And of course, Isaiah knew of the extraordinary deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrian siege in 701 BC (Isa 1:7-8, Isa 36-37), an event which might well have confirmed his conviction that the LORD’s commitment to Zion was absolute.

His fellow prophet Micah, however, seems not to have had such confidence: “Hear this, I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. The heads thereof judge for reward, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? none evil can come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of the forest” (Micah 3:9-12). There are striking anticipations here of Jeremiah’s tirade against the presumption of Jerusalem (cf. Jer 7:1-15), a parallel that wasn’t lost on the elders of Jerusalem who pleaded on behalf of Jeremiah in the city’s final days (cf. Jer 26:17-18).

This entry was posted in Bible, Inviolability, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Jerusalem, Micah, Prophets and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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