This Week’s Haftarah

 

Balaq — בלק

Micah 5:6–6:8; (English 5:7–6:8)

Do Justice, Love Kindness, and Walk Humbly with Your God

General Overview

The prophecy of Micah consists of three clearly defined sermons, each repeating the theme of the other in different language and imagery. This haftarah comes at the end of one of those judgment–blessing cycles so common to Micah’s writing. Indeed, “threatening and promise, judgment and mercy, alternate in these three addresses.”[1] Here, in Haftarat Balaq, we enter into a section of mercy and encouragement with an important exhortation at the end.

The encouragement begins in 5:7 by speaking about a remnant that is scattered among the nations and performing certain important ministries for the Lord. Second, the prophet foresees a time during that dispersion when God will cleanse Israel of their idolatry, while at the same time executing judgment against the nations that inflicted Israel with misery.

Then, at the beginning of chapter 6, there is a sudden transition back to God’s indictment against Israel where He makes a plea to Israel to defend herself against His indictment — if they could. Finally, in 6:6–8 God changes His judgmental tone with the nation and describes what they would have to do to set things right for their covenant unfaithfulness.

[1] Hobart E. Freeman, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets, 215.

Connection to the Parasha

Verse 5 of Micah chapter 6 makes a direct connection to the corresponding Torah portion, Parashat Balaq. Here, the prophet implores his listeners to remember both the council of Balaq and the response that the prophet Balaam gave to him. In essence, Balaq hired Balaam with the intention of having the noted prophet place a curse on Israel. Instead, however, Balaq — as much as he may have wanted to do so, could do nothing but to bless God’s people. Micah cites this story in order to encourage the people of Israel. Despite the stiff sentence of tribulation levied upon the people, God will, in the end, carry out His promised blessings for them and to them.