According to Micah, Yahweh begins to restore Zion by gathering the lame, outcasts, afflicted, all who has suffered the invasion of Assyria and been devastated by the nations.
Like a shepherd gathering His flock, Yahweh is going to gather the remnant. In Micah, as in other places in the OT, the “remnant” is literally “those who remain.” The word is used after the Lord has brought a devastating judgment on His people, and then He takes those who have survived, those who have been snatched from the burning, and begins to build a new people. This is of course what Jesus does later in His ministry. He gathers the lame and outcasts and afflicted to become His people.
This is what Yahweh has been doing since the beginning. He has always been gathering the lame and the outcasts and the afflicted to be His people. It starts with Jacob. Three times in this passage, Micah uses the name “Jacob” (4:2, 5:7-8), and the story he tells about the restoration of
Jacob limped back to the land after his exile, but he limped back a victor with God and man. Jacob’s limp was not a sign of his defeat but of his victory. So too with the remnant restored to Jerusalem after exile: They are afflicted, lame, outcasts, but the Lord will make them a “strong nation” as He reigns over them in Mount Zion forever.
This is not the only allusion to the Jacob story here. In 4:8 and again in 5:2, Micah addresses a particular place. The first, 4:8, is an address to “Daughter Zion” which is also identified as “Migdal-eder,” a phrase that means “tower of the flock.” This reminds Israel of Yahweh’s promise to be the shepherd to His people, replacing the false and oppressive shepherds, the cannibal kings that now rule
This explains the references to childbirth in the following verses (4:9-10). The image of a woman in labor is a common one to describe the return of exiles. Exile is pictured as labor, and the return is pictured as the birth that follows a long and painful labor. Sweeney again: “the traditions tend to portray the exiled and returning
There is multilayered imagery here:
But these pangs are in fact the pangs of childbirth, not the pangs of death. It feels like death.
And this means that the two addressees are in fact one and the same. Micah addresses Migdal-eder, the tower of the flock, where Jacob camped after the birth of a future kingly tribe. Then he addresses
That’s the force of the phrase in verse 2: “one of the young clans of
This ruler is going to be a victor over
The upshot of all this is that the assaults of
Yahweh’s plan is even more cunning than this. In the light of the New Testament, Micah’s prophecy is not just of a king who will defeat