Micah 1 – Samaria and Judah & Alexander’s Empire: A Conqueror for the Ages

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0 Hellenistic art
The Nike of Samothrace is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Hellenistic art.

During Persian domination, Alexander was considered as an incarnation of the expected Messiah.

Alexander loved peacocks. He apparently saw these beautiful birds in Asia and decided to bring them to his homeland. Their feathers became the symbol of Alexander’s power, but centuries later it was adopted as the symbol of the highest bishop of the Catholic Church.

The Midianites and Amalekites were great in number (“lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude” (Jud 7:7). Gideon, with only 300 men defeated them, but You were with him (Jud 7).

It’s understood how pagans could believe Alexander the Great was a god, especially since how quickly he built his empire.  But he was not a god.

As the below article says, Alexander had great soldiers, so…

Micah 1
Samaria and Judah

1 The word of the LORD that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

1 Gath
Gath, a Philistine City.
Searching for Samson and Goliath
Long regarded in the Hebrew Bible as the “bad guys” of the ancient world, the Philistines are emerging as a complex civilization with Hellenistic roots.

In fact, the Philistines arrived from ancient Greece about 1200 BCE, and gained control of the major seaports of Ashkelon and Ashdod, as well as the Gaza strip.

The ancient city of Gath stood on the far frontier of the coastal-bound Philistine empire and adjacent to the Israelites, who occupied the inland hills. Gath had been inhabited since prehistoric times and the conquering Philistines were all too happy to take up residence in a ready-made encampment.

“Micah” – means “Who is like the LORD?”

“Morasthite” – means “of Moreshethe.”

“Samaria and Jerusalem” – the capitals of Israel and Judah respectively.  The judgment predicted by Micah involved these nations and not just their capital cities.

2 Hear, all ye people; hearken, O earth, and all that therein is: and let the Lord GOD be witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.

“People…earth” – All nations – an announcement that the day of the Lord is at hand, when God will call the nations to account.  In view of that day Micah speaks in his prophecy of the impending judgments on Israel and Judah.

3 For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.

4 And the mountains shall be molten under him, and the valleys shall be cleft, as wax before the fire, and as the waters that are poured down a steep place.

5 For the transgression of Jacob is all this, and for the sins of the house of Israel. What is the transgression of Jacob? is it not Samaria? and what are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem?

6 Therefore I will make Samaria as an heap of the field, and as plantings of a vineyard: and I will pour down the stones thereof into the valley, and I will discover the foundations thereof.

1:6-7 – this prophecy was fulfilled during Miah’s lifetime when Assyria destroyed Samaria in 722-721 B.C.

“Into the valley” – Samaria was built on a hill.

7 And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.

2 Map of Lachish

“Harlot” – prostitution is often an Old Testament symbol for idolatry or spiritual unfaithfulness.

“Hire” –  the wealth that Samaria had gained from her idolatry will be taken by the Assyrians and placed in their own temples to be used again in the worship of idols.

8 Therefore I will wail and howl, I will go stripped and naked: I will make a wailing like the dragons, and mourning as the owls.

“Therefore” – because of the coming destruction of Samaria.

“Stript” – a sign of mourning.  It is possible that Micah actually walked stripped and barefoot through Jerusalem.

“Naked” – clothed only in a loincloth.

9 For her wound is incurable; for it is come unto Judah; he is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.

3 A famous segment
A famous segment of the Assyrian wall reliefs.
The invading army besieges Lachish, using scaling and ramming tactics.

Auxiliary spear men scale the walls with weapons in hand, covered by archers firing from behind high wicker shields. In front of the walls, in full view, prisoners are impaled on stakes.

Judah was a prime target for invading armies from the northwest (Assyria) and south (Egypt). To defend themselves, Judean cities built substantial walls.

10 Declare ye it not at Gath, weep ye not at all: in the house of Aphrah roll thyself in the dust.

“Declare it not at Gath” – these words introduce a funeral lament over Judah.  Micah did not want the pagan people in Gath to gloat over the downfall of God’s people.

11 Pass ye away, thou inhabitant of Saphir, having thy shame naked: the inhabitant of Zaanan came not forth in the mourning of Beth-ezel; he shall receive of you his standing.

12 For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the LORD unto the gate of Jerusalem.

“Came down” – Micah foresees the future so clearly that to him it seems as though it has already come.

13 O thou inhabitant of Lachish, bind the chariot to the swift beast: she is the beginning of the sin to the daughter of Zion: for the transgressions of Israel were found in thee.

“Lachish…swift beast” – “Lachish” sound like the Hebrew for “swift beast,” a wordplay.  Lachish was one of the largest towns in Judah.  Later, Sennacherib was so proud of capturing it that he decorated his palace at Nineveh with a relief picturing his exploits.

14 Therefore shalt thou give presents to Moresheth-gath: the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel.

4 The walls of Lachish as they appear today
The walls of Lachish as they appear today

“Presents” – or “parting gifts.”  Jerusalem must give up Moresheth-gath, as a father gives a “dowry” to his daughter when she marries.

15 Yet will I bring an heir unto thee, O inhabitant of Mareshah: he shall come unto Adullam the glory of Israel.

16 Make thee bald, and poll thee for thy delicate children; enlarge thy baldness as the eagle; for they are gone into captivity from thee.

Israel was taken into exile by the Assyrians in 722-721 B.C., and Judah by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.  Like Amos, Micah predicted exile before deportation actually  occurred by the Assyrians.  This, no doubt, made his message more difficult to believe.

Alexander’s Empire:
A Conqueror for the Ages

5 Alexanders Empire
Alexander’s Empire is a map highlighting just what is says … the land that Alexander the Great conquered during his seventeen year reign as the King of Macedon. The map has a total of 42 countries with six continents.

The empire that Alexander the Great forged was not long lasting, but his heroic deeds were legendary. When Julius Caesar was a young man, wrote the Greek author Plutarch, he read an account of the exploits of Alexander that reduced him to tears.

“Do you think I have not just cause to weep,” Caesar said, “when I consider that Alexander at my age had conquered so many nations, and I have all this time done nothing that is memorable?

Unlike Alexander, who won great victories long before he died at the age of 33, Caesar did not conquer Gaul and cross the Rubicon to become dictator of Rome until he was past 50.

But the desire to emulate Alexander and achieve lasting fame and glory drove Caesar and other ambitious Romans to expand their empire until it embraced the entire Mediterranean world and much of Europe.

6 The Rubicon
The Rubicon is a shallow river in northeastern Italy, about 50 miles long, running from the Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic Sea through the southern Emilia-Romagna region, between the towns of Rimini and Cesena.

The Latin word rubico comes from the adjective “rubeus”, meaning “red”. The river was so named because its waters are colored red by mud deposits. It was key to protecting Rome from civil war.

The Roman Empire was not built in a few years the way Alexander’s empire was, but it was larger and longer lasting, bequeathing to the modern world languages, laws, and traditions such as citizenship, fostered in the city-states of ancient Greece and Italy, and other Mediterranean lands.

The great city state of  Carthage, on the North African coast, founded colonies around  the western Mediterranean and vied with Rome for imperial supremacy, until it was crushed by its rival and reduced to rubble.

That conquest allowed Julius Caesar and his successors to lay claim to the legacy of Alexander and build one of the greatest empires of all time.

The stage was set for Alexander’s conquests when Greeks defeated the invading Persians in the 5th century B.C., then ended up fighting ruinously among themselves, leaving an opening for the Macedonians to their north.

Athens, which led the struggle against Persia, used its naval power afterward to dominate other Greek city-states and demand tribute. Some Greeks resisted Athenian imperialism and backed its adversary Sparta.

Sparta, located on the Peloponnesus, a peninsula at the southern tip of Greece, was not a democracy like Athens.  It was a highly regimented society led by two kings, who alternated as commanders of the army and shared political power with an aristocratic council of elders and an assembly of citizens.

Like their Athenian counterparts, however, Sparta’s citizens were free men. Women and slaves were not eligible for citizenship in the Greek world, and citizen-soldiers fought hard to uphold their rights.

Sparta used its military might to subdue surrounding communities and make the inhabitants Helots (serfs who toiled for Spartans), while Athenians acquired many slaves.

The struggle between Athens and Sparta, known as the Peloponnesian War, dragged on for decades. Sparta and its ally’s secured victory in 404 B.C. by making concessions to their former Persia enemies, who helped equip them to deter the Athenian navy.

7 The Rubicon isnt much of a river
The Rubicon isn’t much of a river, but it meant a great deal to Julius Caesar. After all, the Roman Senate had forbidden any of its generals in foreign provinces from crossing those waters and bringing their forces into Rome. To do so would be to commit treason.

But General Caesar was already at odds with the Senate. In 49 B.C., he crossed the Rubicon – and went on to rule the Empire. These days, “crossing the Rubicon” means passing a point of no return.

Democracy withered in Athens during that long war, and many city-states on both sides of the conflict were left weak and unstable.

Their decline created a vacuum that was filled by the dynamic King Philip II of Macedonia, who subdued Greece around 340 B.C.  He bequeathed that world and its culture to his son Alexander, who was tutored by the great Greek philosopher Aristotle.

According to Plutarch, Alexander kept a copy of Homer’s Iliad annotated by Aristotle

“With his dagger under his pillow, declaring that he esteemed it a perfect portable treasure of all military virtue and knowledge.”

The precocious Alexander was already a seasoned commander in the Macedonian army when he became king at the age of 20 in 336 B.C. following his father’s assassination. Greeks who wanted to be citizens, not subjects, saw this as an opportunity to break free and rebelled.

The young monarch crushed that uprising by storming the defiant city of Thebes, north of Athens, slaughtering thousands of its inhabitants and enslaving the rest. Greeks then bowed to his authority, and some enlisted to fight for him, but the core of his army was Macedonian and fiercely loyal.

In 334 B.C., Alexander set out to conquer the Persian Empire, which was no longer as formidable as it once was, but remained a behemoth, far larger and more populous than Alexander’s kingdom.

8 The Rubicon has been one of the worlds most famous rivers
The Rubicon has been one of the world’s most famous rivers ever since Julius Caesar crossed it with his army in 49 BC and triggered a Roman civil war.
But despite its prominent place in history, no one is actually sure where the river is, with three waterways each suggested as a possible candidate for the ancient Rubicon.

His army numbered only about 40,000 men, but it was a versatile force including hard-charging cavalry on whom he relied mightily, light infantry armed with bows or javelins, and heavily armed foot soldiers that wielded spears and formed a phalanx, advancing relentlessly behind raised shields.

Alexander deployed his troops with great skill and earned their devotion by leading them in battle and suffering several wounds.

His Persian opponents, by contrast, were often conscripts or mercenaries who lacked the dedication and determination of his own men.

Crossing the Bosporus into Asia Minor, Alexander visited Troy—the fabled city where his Homeric hero Achilles won glory—before routing a Persian force consisting largely of Greek mercenaries.

He showed those soldiers of fortune no mercy but posed as the liberator of Greek cities in Asia Minor that had rebelled against Persia in the past and now hoped for freedom. When they opened their gates to Alexander, they were exchanging one imperial master for another, but many people preferred to be under his rule than Persian domination.

Intent on stopping Alexander before he advanced down the Mediterranean coast, the Persian emperor Darius III led an army to the Gulf of Issus in 333 because but suffered a humiliating defeat, retreating so hastily that he left behind his retinue, including members of his family, who were seized as hostages.

Refusing to make peace unless Darius yielded to him as emperor, Alexander moved south along the sea toward Egypt, vowing to “defeat the Persian fleet on land” by seizing any ports that opposing ships might use to contest his advance.

One port that refused to yield to him was Tyre, a Phoenician city on the c:oast of Lebanon from which colonists had set out across the Mediterranean to North Africa and founded Carthage. Alexander laid siege to Tyre for seven months before capturing the city. 

9 Sparta was a prominent city state
Sparta was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece. It is best known for its unique social system, which focused on military training and male nudity to the exclusion of all other pursuits.

Sparta is often noted for its cultural contrasts with Athens, its chief rival during Hellenistic times. Sparta was hostile to Athenian civilization, rejecting all Athens’ cultural norms.

He met with a warmer reception in Egypt, where he was hailed for delivering the country from Persian rule  and honored as a god-king like the pharaohs of old – veneration he considered his due.

Having secured the Mediterranean coast, Alexander advanced east into Mesopotamian, where Darius awaited him on the plain of Gaugamela in 331 B.C. with replenished forces that far outnumbered their Macedonian foes.

Once more, however, Alexander demonstrated that a small army acting in concert was superior to a sprawling one that lacked cohesion.  When a gap opened in the Persian ranks, he and his Companions – elite cavalry men who were like brothers to him – dashed into the breach, splitting the opposing army in two.  Defeated and disgraced, Darius died at the hands of a Persian assassin a year later.

By adding the vast Persian realm to his kingdom on the Balkan peninsula, Alexander forged a Eurasian empire of unprecedented scope. Yet this was not enough for him. One Greek lesson he failed to heed was the danger of hubris, striving arrogantly for more than any man was meant to achieve.

After subduing Bactria in what is now Afghanistan and wedding Roxana, the daughter of a Bactrian chief, he invaded India in 327 B.C. and crossed the Indus River, the farthest frontier of the old Persian Empire.

10 The Helots
The Helots were a subjugated population group that formed the main population of Laconia and Messenia (areas ruled by Sparta). Their exact status was already disputed in antiquity: according to Critias, they were “slaves to the utmost”,whereas according to Pollux, they occupied a status “between free men and slaves”.

Tied to the land, they worked in agriculture as a majority and economically supported the Spartan citizens. They were ritually mistreated, humiliated and even slaughtered: every autumn, during the Crypteia, they could be killed by a Spartan citizen without fear of repercussion.

But when monsoon rains arrived and mired them in mud, his weary troops grew feverish and mutinous. In 325 B.C., he turned back, bringing his last major campaign to an ignominious end.

Alexander’s genius was military, not political or diplomatic. In the few years remaining to him before his death in 323 B.C., he made fitful efforts to organize his huge empire. He admired his former Persian foes for their imperial accomplishments and hired Persian bodyguards, officers, and officials.

He also added Persian princesses to his list of wives, after Roxana, and wed dozens of his commanders to Persian noblewomen. Many Macedonians felt he placed too much trust in people they still viewed as enemies, and Greeks consented only reluctantly to his demand that he be recognized as divine like some Near Eastern monarchs.”

“If Alexander wishes to be a god,” Spartans observed skeptically, “let him be a god.” 

…let’s take a look at his troops.

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