Micah, meaning "who is like Yahweh", was a prophet who prophesied from approximately 737–696 BC in Judah and is the author of the Book of Micah. He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea and is considered one of the twelve minor prophets of the Tanakh (Old Testament). Micah was from Moresheth-Gath, in southwest Judah. He prophesied during the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah. Micah’s messages were directed chiefly toward Jerusalem. He prophesied the future destruction of Jerusalem and Samaria, the destruction and then future restoration of the Judean state, and he rebuked the people of Judah for dishonesty and idolatry. His prophecy that the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem is cited in the Gospel of Matthew.
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 was from Moresheth, also called Moresheth-Gath, a small town in southwest Judah. Micah lived in a rural area, but often rebuked the corruption of city life in Israel and Judah.
Micah prophesied during the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah. Jotham, the son of Uzziah, was king of Judah from 742–735 BC. Jotham was succeeded by his son Ahaz, who reigned over Judah from 735–715 BC. Then Ahaz’s son Hezekiah ruled from 715–696 BC. Micah was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea. Jeremiah, who prophesied about thirty years after Micah, recognized Micah as a prophet from Moresheth who prophesied during the reign of Hezekiah.
His messages were directed mainly towards Jerusalem, and were a mixture of denunciations and prophecies. In his early prophecies, he predicted the destruction of both Samaria and Jerusalem for their respective sins. The people of Samaria were rebuked for worshipping idols which were bought with the income earned by prostitutes. Micah was the first prophet to predict the downfall of Jerusalem. According to him, the city was doomed because its beautification was financed by dishonest business practices, which impoverished the city’s citizens. He also called to account the prophets of his day, whom he accused of accepting money for their oracles. Micah also anticipated the destruction of the Judean state and promised its restoration more glorious than before. He prophesied an era of universal peace over which the Governor will rule from Jerusalem. Micah also declared that when the glory of Zion and Jacob is restored that the LORD will force the Gentiles to abandon idolatry. Micah also rebuked Israel because of dishonesty in the marketplace and corruption in government. He warned the people, on behalf of God, of pending destruction if ways and hearts were not changed. He told them what the LORD requires of them
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
— Micah 6:8
Israel’s response to Micah’s charges and threats consisted of three parts: an admission of guilt, a warning of adversaries that Israel will rely on the LORD for deliverance and forgiveness, and a prayer for forgiveness and deliverance. Another prophecy given by Micah details the future destruction of Jerusalem and the plowing of Zion (a part of Jerusalem). This passage (Micah 3:11-12), is stated again in Jeremiah 26:18, Micah’s only prophecy repeated in the Old Testament. Since then Jerusalem has been destroyed three times, the first one being the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, about 150 years after Micah gave this prophecy.