August 14, 2016

Holy Prophet Micah the Morasthite

Holy Prophet Micah (Feast Day - August 14)

Micah, one of the so-called Twelve Minor Prophets, was of the tribe of Judah and from the village of Morasth (Moresheth-Gath, in southwest Judah) for which he is called the "Morasthite." He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos, Hosea and the Judean kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Micah was active in Judah from before the fall of Samaria in 722 BC and experienced the devastation brought by Sennacherib’s invasion of Judah in 701 BC. He prophesied from approximately 737–696 BC.

Micah rebuked the vices of his people and rebuked the false prophets who prophesied "of wine and of strong drink" (Micah 2:11). He foretold the destruction of Samaria. He also foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, which will come because their leaders accept bribes, the priests teach for lucre and its prophets tell fortunes for money. "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field and Jerusalem shall become as heaps" (Micah 3:12). The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, about 150 years after Micah gave this prophecy. But, of all his prophecies, the most important prophecy is that of the Messiah, especially the place of His birth. He mentioned Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah, "Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2).

It is not known exactly whether Micah was slain by the Jews or whether he died a peaceful death. The apocryphal Lives of the Prophets states he was thrown from a cliff and buried in the land of the giants. Jeremiah, who prophesied about thirty years after Micah, recognized Micah as a prophet from Morasth who prophesied during the reign of Hezekiah. "Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah and spoke to all the people of Judah saying, 'Thus said the Lord of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field and Jerusalem shall become heaps and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.' Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? Did he not fear the Lord and besought the Lord and the Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls" (Jeremiah 26:18-19). However, it is known that he was buried in his village and his relics were found, together with the relics of the Prophet Habakkuk, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Great according to a mysterious revelation, which Bishop Zevin of Eleutheropolis received. Sozomen writes in his Ecclesiastical History (Bk. 7, Ch. 29):

"Nor was the Church of this era distinguished only by these illustrious examples of piety; for the relics of the proto-prophets, Habakkuk, and a little while after, Micah, were brought to light about this time. As I understand, God made known the place where both these bodies were deposited by a divine vision in a dream to Zebennus (Zevin), who was then acting as bishop of the Church of Eleutheropolis. The relics of Habakkuk were found at Cela, a city formerly called Ceila. The tomb of Micah was discovered at a distance of ten stadia from Cela, at a place called Berathsatia. This tomb was ignorantly styled by the people of the country, 'the tomb of the faithful;' or, in their native language, Nephsameemana. These events, which occurred during the reign of Theodosius, were sufficient for the good repute of the Christian religion."

Menologion of Basil II, Jan. 5. This depicts Micah being thrown off a cliff to his martyric death and buried in the land of the giants. This story comes from the apocryphal Lives of the Prophets.


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Micah, God's prophet, with the Spirit of God burns,
Salvation speaks and punishment prophesies:
"Hear, you leaders of the house of Jacob" [Micah 3:1],
When fire erupts, the chaff is not saved.

You hate readily and evil, evil you relish,
God's people, you heartlessly fleece,
The prophets of old and the law you have abandoned,
To God you do not harken, to the fortune-tellers you harken!

But misfortune, pain and weeping will come,
To cry out to heaven, in vain and too late,
For the Assyrians, Samaria will be the threshing floor
For the rabid Chaldeans, Jerusalem, the threshing floor.

"And you Bethelem Ephratha small" [Micah 5:1],
To me, you are the dearest, even though you are the least
From you, the Leader whom we need, will come forth
His coming, from the depths of heaven,
Out of burning love, He will come willingly
With His mighty staff, His flock He will tend.

"His greatness [authority] shall reach to the ends of the earth" [Micah 5:3].
The earth, with the heavens, to Him with mercy shall sing
And peace will reign, He, that peace will be,
By Himself, He will glorify the human race.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
In the Spirit thou didst foresee the Church of Christ, as a lofty mountain, O inspired Prophet Micah. As thou hast foretold, those who have found salvation therein, are walking in the paths of the Lord, ever praising thy glorious memory.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Illumined by the light of the Holy Spirit, thou didst foretell Christ's condescension, whereby we who honour thee, are redeemed from corruption, O God-inspired Prophet Micah.