Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops; They have laid siege against us; With a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek. (Mic. 5:1 NASB)

Before we get to Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), we must stop and hear this oracle against Jerusalem (vs.1). If you were a Hebrew reader of Micah’s prophecy, the moment you heard “Now” (Heb. attâ), you might have gotten another ‘lump in your throat.’ That word had been used previously to introduce prophetic glimpses of situations Judah wouldn’t have exactly looked forward to (4:9, 11), and this one wouldn’t be the desire of the nation either. First, the call, “Now muster yourselves in troops, daughter of troops,” wasn’t an inspirational, pre-battle call-to-assembly. It is likely an ironic call to futile preparations. The Hebrew verb in that expression can connote either ‘slashing’ or ‘gathering.’ In the case of the former, some translations have opted for ‘You have slashed yourself in grief’ (HCSB). But most opt for the latter – a call to marshal the troops. Interestingly, when you look at how the word for “troops” is used, it most commonly refers to ‘bands’ or ‘raiders,’ and so the irony may be something like this – Israel is besieged by an army and all they can muster is the comparative equivalent of a band of raiders. 

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