on Micah 1 :5
What is the transgression of Jacob? - Is it not something extremely grievous? Is it not that of Samaria? Samaria and Jerusalem, the chief cities, are infected with idolatry. Each has its high places, and its idol worship, in opposition to the worship of the true God. That there was idolatry practiced by the elders of Israel, even in the temple of Jehovah, see Ezekiel 8:1, etc. As the royal cities in both kingdoms gave the example of gross idolatry, no wonder that it spread through the whole land, both of Israel and Judah.
on Micah 1 :5
For the transgression of Jacob is all this - Not for any change of purpose in God; nor, again, as the effect of man's lust of conquest. None could have any power against God's people, unless it had been given him by God. Those mighty monarchies of old existed but as God's instruments, especially toward His own people. God said at this time of Assyria Isaiah 10:5, Asshur rod of Mine anger, and the staff in his hand is Mine indignation; and Isaiah 37:26, Now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defensed cities into ruinous heaps. Each scourge of God chastised just those nations, which God willed him to chasten; but the especial object for which each was raised up was his mission against that people, in whom God most showed His mercies and His judgments Isaiah 10:6. I will send him against an ungodly nation and against the people of My wrath will I give him a charge.
Jacob and Israel, in this place, comprise alike the ten tribes and the two. They still bare the name of their father, who, wrestling with the Angel, became a prince with God, whom they forgat. The name of Jacob then, as of Christian now, stamped as deserters, those who did not the deeds of their father. "What, (rather who) is the transgression of Jacob?" Who is its cause? In whom does it lie? Is it not Samaria? The metropolis must, in its own nature, be the source of good or evil to the land. It is the heart whose pulses beat throughout the whole system. As the seat of power, the residence of justice or injustice, the place of counsel, the concentration of wealth, which all the most influential of the land visit for their several occasions, its manners penetrate in a degree the utmost corners of the land. Corrupted, it becomes a focus of corruption. The blood passes through it, not to be purified, but to be diseased. Samaria, being founded on apostasy, owing its being to rebellion against God, the home of that policy which set up a rival system of worship to His forbidden by Him, became a fountain of evil, whence the stream of ungodliness overflowed the land. It became the impersonation of the people's sin, "the heart and the head of the body of sin."
And what - Literally, who (מי) always relates to a personal object, and apparent exceptions may be reduced to this. So Ae. Kim. Tanch. Pococke.
Are the high places of Judah? are they not Jerusalem? - Jerusalem God had formed to be a center of unity in holiness; the tribes of the Lord were to go up there to the testimony of Israel; there was the unceasing worship of God, the morning and evening sacrifice; the Feasts, the memorials of past miraculous mercies, the foreshadowings of redemption. But there too Satan placed his throne. Ahaz brought thither that most hateful idolatry, the burning children to Moloch in the valley of the son of Hinnom 2 Chronicles 28:3. There 2 Chronicles 28:24, he made him altars in every corner of Jerusalem. Thence, he extended the idolatry to all Judah 2 Chronicles 28:25. And in every several city of Judah he made high places to burn incense unto other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers. Hezekiah, in his reformation, with all Israel 2 Chronicles 31:1, went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces and bowed down the statues of Asherah, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, as much as out of Ephraim and Manasseh. Nay, by a perverse interchange, Ahaz took the Brazen Altar, consecrated to God, for his own divinations, and assigned to the worship of God the altar copied from the idol-altar at Damascus, whose fashion pleased his taste 2 Kings 16:10-16.
Since God and mammon cannot be served together, Jerusalem was become one great idol-temple, in which Judah brought its sin into the very face of God and of His worship. The Holy City had itself become sin, and the fountain of unholiness. The one temple of God was the single protest against the idolatries which encompased and besieged it; the incense went up to God, morning and evening, from it; from every head of every street of the city Ezekiel 16:31; 2 Chronicles 28:24, and (since Ahaz had brought in the worship of Baalim 2 Chronicles 28:2, and the rites of idolatry continued the same,) from the roofs of all their houses Jeremiah 32:29, went up the incense to Baal; a worship which, denying the Unity, denied the Being of God.
on Micah 1 :5
1:5 Jacob - The sons of Jacob, the ten tribes. What - Or, who is the spring, and cause of that overflowing transgression? Of Jacob - The kingdom of the ten tribes, the head of which was Samaria, where the kings had their residence, where they worshiped idols, and set an example to the rest of the Israelitish kingdom. And what - Or, who is the cause of the high places, and the idolatry there practised? Jerusalem - Which was the chief city of that kingdom, and had the same influence over Judah, as Samaria had on the ten tribes.