Once again, Joseph was warned in a dream (χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ’ ὄναρ), without the explicit mention of the angel of the Lord. Joseph found out that the son of King Herod (ἀντὶ τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ Ἡρῴδου), Archelaus, (23 BCE-16 CE) was now in charge in Judea (ἀκούσας δὲ ὅτι Ἀρχέλαος βασιλεύει τῆς Ἰουδαίας). He was afraid to go back there (ἐφοβήθη ἐκεῖ ἀπελθεῖν) to Judea, since maybe King Herod’s son would be after his child just like his father. Actually, Herod Archelaus only lasted about 10 years before the Romans took the title away from him in 6 CE. Thus, Joseph decided to withdraw to the district of Galilee (ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας), without explicitly being told to do so. Galilee was a rocky terrain region in northern Israel. Originally, it was part of the tribal regions of Naphtali, Dan, and Asher, but later it was part of the northern kingdom of Israel, with a Phoenician presence and influence. In the Roman times, Galilee was clearly separate from Judea. Many of the events in the life of Jesus would take place there, even though Herod Antipas, the other son of King Herod, ruled Galilee from 4 BCE-39 CE.
Zechariah broke the 2nd staff named unity to indicate that the family ties between northern Israel and southern Judah were broken. Perhaps, this was the final break between the northern Israelites or Samaritans and the southern Judeans of Judah. Sometime in the 4th century BCE, the northern Samaritans built a temple at Mount Gerizim that opposed worship in southern Jerusalem.
The title of this work indicates that this is an oracle about Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrians, who had destroyed northern Israel, Samaria, in 723 BCE. Nineveh, on the outskirts of modern day Mosul, Iraq, on the Tigris River, was itself destroyed around 612 BCE. Nineveh was the same city that Jonah was sent to preach against. He, however, was successful in that the leaders and inhabitants of Nineveh repented. Thus, Yahweh did not destroy it then. This oracle was once again the word of Yahweh. This book also talked about a vision that Nahum had. There is no mention of his father, but there is a mention of the place that he is from, Elkosh, a village in Galilee or southwest Judah.
Yahweh, via Micah, called out the rulers in northern Israel and southern Judah. These rulers and chiefs had abhorred justice and perverted equity in Jerusalem and on Mount Zion. Everything was done for money. The rulers wanted a bribe for their judgment. The priests had a price for their teaching. The prophets only gave an oracle when money was supplied to them. However, they all felt that Yahweh was on their side, so that he would protect them from any harm. However, the response was quite different. Mount Zion was going to be plowed like a field, while Jerusalem would become a heap of ruins. The Temple mountain would become a pile of wood. This specific prophecy of Micah was explicitly cited in Jeremiah, chapter 26, at the trial of Jeremiah.
Micah seemed to talk about a restoration, when nothing has happened yet. Perhaps, this is a later addition. Nevertheless, Yahweh wanted to gather all the people of Jacob with the survivors from northern Israel. They were going to be one flock of sheep. They would break out of their holding area when someone would lead them out through the gate. This would be their new king, Yahweh.
The king of Samaria, the northern king of Israel, would perish like a twig floating on water. The idol high places at Beth-aven, near Bethel, would be destroyed. These idol worship places were the real sin of Israel. Thorns and thistles would grow on these false idol altars. The people and these altars would cry to have the mountains and the hills fall on them and cover them up. There would be great destruction in northern Israel, especially around the various idol worship altars and shrines.
Ephraim was singled out, since it was where the capital of northern Israel was. Their glory would simply fly away like a bird. There would be no more births, pregnancies, or even conceptions in Ephraim. If they would bring up children, they would mourn for them, until no one was left. Yahweh was going to leave Ephraim. They would be cursed and on their own. Thus, this young palm tree in a lovely meadow would cease to grow. Ephraim would lead out its children for slaughter. What should you give the people of Ephraim? Yahweh, in very descriptive language, was going to give them miscarrying wombs and dry breasts. No more children for Ephraim.
The final swipe in this chapter is against southern Judah also. Northern Israel had forgotten its creator maker. They had built palaces that they thought would survive. Meanwhile, southern Judah also built a number of fortified cities. Yahweh, via Hosea, reminded them that he could devour their cities and strongholds. They should have relied on Yahweh and not their own construction.
Yahweh, via Hosea, was upset about the idolatry in northern Israel, Samaria. They had their own kings, who killed each other to be kings. Thus, these kings did not come from Yahweh. They set up their own officials and princes, without consulting Yahweh. Most important of all, they made idols made of silver and gold that led to their own destruction. The golden calf of Samaria was to be rejected. Yahweh was burning with anger against them, since they were incapable of being innocent. Local Israelite artisans made these idols, not God. Therefore, the Samarian calf would be broken into pieces.