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A Commentary on Micah Paperback – July 31, 2008
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Haddon W. Robinson - Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary "If you are planning to preach or teach Micah, then by all means buy this commentary! It will be money well spent!" Tremper Longman III - Westmont College "No one knows the prophecy of Micah more thoroughly than Bruce Waltke. No one is more deeply ingrained in the secondary literature that discusses and debates this prophet. No one is better positioned to be a helpful guide to the correct interpretation and application of this marvelous book. It's rare when a commentary is helpful to scholars, clergy, and laypeople alike, but Waltke has accomplished this masterfully." J. I. Packer - Regent College "This commentary offers scrupulously full and thorough exegesis, leading to meticulous canonical exposition of God's ongoing ways in judgment and mercy as he calls his people to radical repentance and robust hope. Here is biblical theology of a very high order indeed."
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My illustrations and summaries will focus on his translation, exegesis and exposition for Micah 3:1-4. My executive summary is simply this: If you know Hebrew and are technically oriented, this is your commentary. If you don't know Hebrew and are oriented towards application that preaches well...this ain't it baby. However, he does give some application ideas in his expositional segments.
The details on my executive summary:
1) Each segment has an outline title (overall he has three cycles for the whole book). He has a subtitle for Micah 3:1-12 and then a title for the subsegment 3:1-4. All of the titles are purely exegetical. For example he titles 3:1-4 (Shepherds turned Cannibals).
After providing his own translation of the passage, he turns to extensive word by word or phrase by phrase exegesis. For verse one, which has 11 words (some compounds) in the original Hebrew text, Waltke gives almost four full pages of technical data on the Hebrew text. He includes comments about what bits and phrases are considered original and who opposes those ideas and why he agrees or disagrees. For a scholarly paper on Micah, it is a goldmine. Only pastors who are well versed in Hebrew grammar will understand everything Waltke says in this commentary. For example in his expository comments on Micah 6:8 Waltke refers to a complex myriad of factors including subsets of Hebrew that I've never heard of. He cites parsing of words moving from Hebrew parsing to the LXX (Greek) and sometimes cites Latin. Yet everything is transliterated. So if you are like me, (not good at Hebrew transliteration), you have to have a Hebrew text open with some software enabled (I use BibleWorks 7.0) to really track Waltke.
If you want to look intently at the options for a word or phrase, this commentary will not let you down. But make sure you have some time on your hands. It's no quick read.
His short summaries of Hebrew grammatical analysis are impossible to understand unless you remember your Hebrew grammar) but helpful grammatical notes are packed into each paragraph. Not only does he explain each particle, but he goes on to explain how the LXX translated it, giving the Greek text (transliterated also). He is well-versed in Aramaic, Hebrew, Latin, Greek and probably other languages (at least he cites or refers to other obscure languages often).
After 8 full pages of exegesis on Micah 3:1-4, he then begins his exposition section. He gives 4 full pages of exposition on top of the exegesis. For pastors, this is the section to zoom in on. Sometimes Waltke weaves helpful application nuggets into his exposition. On this section he speculates that Micah is probably addressing gifted and privileged magistrates who are congregated in the Temple Courts in Jerusalem during an annual festival. He ties the judgment proclamation to law principles scattered throughout several books in the Torah. He cites parallel or related concepts throughout the major prophets like Isaiah. Into these references he sometimes cites direct applications. For example for his Isaiah connection he cites the good being called bad and bad being called good quote from Isa 5:20. He bemoans the Supreme Court of the USA allowing abortion of babies and also allowing blasphemy and smut to foul society. The link from judges in Israel to judges in America is an apt application. It gives some food for thought in preparing a good sermon and his references are helpful and worth using for sermon prep thought or even in an actual sermon.
I found that the NIVAC on Hosea/Amos/Micah offers explanations of the original text that read well, concepts for bridging into our lives that are well written AND a host of application thoughts and connecting ideas with scripture references. I think that Gary Smith's work in that NIVAC edition is a great match to this work by Waltke.
In essence, the more technically minded you are, the more you will like Waltke's commentary. However, preacher beware. It will be difficult to develop life transforming applications with just Waltke's work. Get Gary Smith's or Elizabeth Achtemeier for more application development and I think you will connect more effectively with the 'average' person in the pew.
My Hebrew instructor absolutely loves this commentary. I suppose he would give it a six star if that were possible. So really the only weakness is the application lack...which can be found in other tools. I recommend you add this volume to your library. Go ahead and stretch yourself!
It's not very often that you get learned and deep discussion on the meaning of Hebrew with reference even to Arabic etymologies, or analysis of the text on the basis of the daughter versions of the Greek Old Testament (e.g., Coptic). Yet, with Waltke you get these incredible insights, married well with a prophetic word for the church today--stuff that really, really preaches.While the sermonic is not highlighted, it is nonetheless present in very tightly packed, dense commentary.