Micah in the Bible Condemned Sins Against the Poor and Foretold the Travels of Bahá’u’lláh
The Book of Micah starts with a naming of the kings of Micah’s ministry, thus identifying the years the prophet Micah in the Bible was active.
The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—the vision he saw concerning Samaria and JerusalemMicah 1:1
These kings reigned from the 730s to the 690s BCE. If that period is accurate, Micah witnessed the conquest of Israel in 722 and the devastation of rural Judah wrought by Sennacherib’s invasion in 701.
The prophet Micah in the Bible lived in Moresheth-Gath, a tiny village in the Judean foothills twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem. His familiarity with public affairs and institutional abuses suggests that he may have traveled in elite circles and had access to the royal court in Jerusalem. However, his rural roots gave him intimate knowledge of the suffering of the peasantry and rural poor. Micah has been called “the prophet of the poor” because of his defense of those who had fallen from independent farming into sharecropping or debt slavery after being cheated out of their land by rich landowners and then denied justice by corrupt judges. For example, he wrote:
Woe to those who plan iniquity,Micah 2:1‒2
to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning’s light they carry it out
because it is in their power to do it.
They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them.
They defraud people of their homes,
they rob them of their inheritance.
Micah in the Bible –– Micah 6:8
Micah described his mission in no uncertain terms when he said:
But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sinMicah 3:8
His book portrays a resolute man who was fueled by faith and patience who could cut through the religious hypocrisies of his time to teach the essence of spirituality:
And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.Micah 6:8
Condemnation of the Sins of Israel
Micah anguished over the sins of the Israelites and gave his famous warning of the watchman:
The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day God visits you has come, the day your watchmen sound the alarm. Now is the time of your confusion.Micah 7:4
The alert for the watchmen was later echoed by Jesus:
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.Matthew 24:42
Micah’s condemnation of the rulers and leaders was graphic. He harshly castigated them for the degenerate state of Israelite society and its religion. His denunciation could not have been more stinging.
Both hands are skilled in doing evil;Micah 7:3
the ruler demands gifts,
the judge accepts bribes,
the powerful dictate what they desire—
they all conspire together.
But at this point of despair Micah reiterated his steadfastness:
But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.Micah 7:7
Forseeing the Travels of Bahá’u’lláh
Now comes a shift where Micah states that even though he has fallen, he will rise, and the Lord will be his light. The Lord will bring him out of darkness into the light where he can see the righteousness of the Lord. Micah then gives a concise prophecy in four verses that seems to describe travels in exile of Bahá’u’lláh, the prophet-founder of the Bahá’í Faith, and how He would spiritually nourish mankind:
In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.
Notwithstanding the land shall be desolate because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their doings.
Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old.
According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things.Micah 7:12‒15, KVJ, emphasis added
Micah in the Bible — Comments of Adib Taherzadeh
A biblical scholar of renown, Adib Taherzadeh, believed that these four verses succinctly foretold the coming of Bahá’u’lláh and gave his insight into them:
Some three thousand years before, Micah, the prophet of Israel, had foretold the appearance of the Lord in these words:
In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from the fortified cities, and from the fortress even to the river, and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain.Micah 7:12
How strikingly accurate was the fulfillment of this prophecy! Bahá’u’lláh came from Assyria; Constantinople and ‘Akká are both fortified cities––the latter a fortress; He voyaged upon the Black Sea and the Mediterranean and journeyed from the mountains of Kurdistán to Mount Carmel.1
Micah said that in that day he will come from Assyria. Bahá’u’lláh was banished from Teheran to Baghdad, the first of the four cities of His forty years of exile. Baghdad is located on the Euphrates River in the lands of ancient Assyria. This first phase of exile, Baghdad, lasted ten years, from early winter 1853 to the spring of 1863. Early in his banishment to Baghdad, Bahá’u’lláh retreated for two years to Sar-Galú, a mountain in Kurdistan. He first lived in poverty and obscurity in a cave, but He was soon recognized for His prodigious insight into Islamic theology and became esteemed by the local people. Towards the end of His life, Bahá’u’lláh visited Mount Carmel, where He designated the future location for the Shrine of the Báb and revealed the Tablet of Carmel, which laid the foundation for the Administrative Order of the Bahá’í Faith. He traveled from Sar-Galú in Kurdistan to Mount Carmel, from mountain to mountain.
The terms of banishment in each city were progressively more constricted and difficult and the locations more remote. The second banishment of Bahá’u’lláh was from Baghdad to Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey, in 1863 and lasted four months. Istanbul is located on the Bosporus Straights between the Aegean and Black Seas. A series of defensive stone walls built by Constantine the Great had been revamped and enlarged over the centuries to become one of the most complex and elaborate fortifications ever built. The route by which Bahá’u’lláh was taken from Baghdad to Constantinople was first by land and then on the Black Sea from the port of Samsun, Turkey, to the port of Constantinople. Adrianople (now Edirne) in European Turkey was the third city of exile from late 1863 to 1868. Reaching the fourth and final place of exile, the fortified prison city of Akka, necessitated a voyage by steamboat on the Mediterranean Sea. Bahá’u’lláh went from sea to sea, from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, to reach the fortified cities of Constantinople and Akka.2
The land of Palestine was indeed desolate after centuries of corrupt governance by the Ottoman Empire and by the indiscriminate pasturage of goats. Akka was a penal city housing the most hardened criminals. Its prison fortress was massive and forbidding. Bahá’u’lláh’s enemies hoped that He would not survive long there. Indeed, the air was so foul that it was said that a bird who flew over Akka would die. However, it did not go unnoticed that the currents in Akka Bay started to change direction after Bahá’u’lláh arrived, which greatly improved the air quality. Either the timing was coincidental for changes of the currents, or the spiritual power of Bahá’u’lláh was involved.
The phrase from the fortress even to the river could refer to the Na’mayn River, two forks of which flowed as canals on each side of a beautiful island garden that Bahá’u’lláh called “our Green Island”.
Bahá’u’lláh followed the injunction “Feed thy people with thy rod.” A biblical rod is a symbol of power. Moses had a wooden rod which tradition says he used to release water from a rock in the wilderness to quench the peoples’ thirst. Another meaning of water can be spiritual sustenance, which would make Moses’s wooden rod a symbol of His teaching the Israelites. The iron rod was expected to be used by the Jewish Messiah in a militaristic manner, but Jesus referred to the sword (presumably of iron) as His mouth. The rod of Bahá’u’lláh was His pen, which he used for teaching humanity:
We school you with the rod of wisdom and laws, like unto the father who educateth his son, and this for naught but the protection of your own selves and the elevation of your stations.The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, no. 45, 36.
The days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt are a parallel between the forty years of Moses teaching His people in the wilderness and the forty years of the ministry of Bahá’u’lláh, which lasted from 1853 to 1892.
And lastly, God would show unto him marvellous things. Undoubtedly not everything Bahá’u’lláh was shown could be shared with a humanity that was not ready. However, over one hundred volumes of His writings have been preserved, volumes that cover innumerable aspects of our world.
Micah in the Bible — Comments of William Sears
The famous biblical scholar William Sears wrote a book, The Half-Inch Prophecy, about Micah 7:12–15. The title was inspired by these four verses measuring only one-half an inch in Sears’s Bible. He finished his investigation of Micah 7:12–15 by summarizing:
Bahá’u’lláh’s wondrous travels had culminated in a glorious triumph, and the half-inch prophecy had been fulfilled to the last requirement.
- He came from “Assyria”.
- He came from the “fortified cities”.
- He came from the “fortress to the river”.
- He came from “sea to sea”.
- He came from “mountain to mountain”.3
Micah in the Bible is an amazing example of how a Hebrew prophet addressed the ills of his time and also prophesied the travels to various exiles of Bahá’u’lláh twenty-five hundred years later.
1 Adib Taherzadeh, The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh: Adrianople 1863–68, vol. 2, 2, emphasis added.
2 The citadel in Akka was built during the Ottoman period over the ruins of a twelfth century Crusader fortress. It was used at various times as a government building, army barracks, and arms warehouse, and was last used as a prison under the British Mandate during the Arab revolts of the 1930s.
3 William Sears, The Half-Inch Prophecy, 82–83.
Note: The above article is an excerpt from a chapter in Eileen Maddocks’s book, The Coming of the Glory—Vol 2, which will be published in the summer of 2021. Volume 2 covers the preexilic Hebrew prophets from Amos to Jeremiah, and presents their ministries within the context of Israelite history.