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in Micah 7:6 we read:

אֹיְבֵי אִישׁ, אַנְשֵׁי בֵיתוֹ

loosely translated as: the enemies of a man, the peoples of his house

Why would this be so? What is the context here?

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Michah is describing how evil his society become: "The godly man is perished out of the earth...they all lie in wait for blood...the best of them is a brier...for the son dishoroureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother...a man's enemies are the men of his own house" (JPS). Does this answer your question or are you looking for something else? –  Amichai Nov 25 '12 at 4:33
    
@Amichai I am trying to understand why this specific example is used (one which I don't believe is found elsewhere in the old testament). Even in an evil society you wouldn't expect a person's own family to be his enemies. –  guest Nov 25 '12 at 10:19
    
To me this seems like a perfectly reasonable hyperbole. –  Amichai Nov 26 '12 at 0:22

1 Answer 1

In context, the phrase seems to be the culmination of a series of illustrations of the depravity surrounding the prophet:

The best of them is like a brier,
    the most upright of them a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen, of your punishment, has come;
    now their confusion is at hand.
Put no trust in a neighbor;
    have no confidence in a friend;
guard the doors of your mouth
    from her who lies in your arms;
for the son treats the father with contempt,
    the daughter rises up against her mother,
the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
    a man's enemies are the men of his own house.

—Micah 7:4-6 (ESV)

Some translations render this as "his own servants" or otherwise indicate that it isn't referring to blood relatives. That might be a good translation, but the previous lines indicate that close relatives, even spouses, are under suspicion of doing harm. We see similar warnings elsewhere:

Let everyone beware of his neighbor,
    and put no trust in any brother,
for every brother is a deceiver,
    and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer.

—Jeremiah 9:4 (ESV)

And:

Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
    who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

—Psalm 41:9 (ESV)


A number of passages in the Hebrew scripture draw a disjoint between trusting people and trusting God. For instance:

Thus says the LORD:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
    and makes flesh his strength,
    whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
    and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salt land.

—Jeremiah 17:5-6 (ESV)

The next stanza echoes Psalm 1, which compares a person who trusts in the Lord to a tree planted beside a stream. Jeremiah continues by saying that even our own hearts can deceive us. By implication, the only person we can trust is God; we are, in a sense, our own enemy. The call to trust God (and Him alone) is pervasive in the Bible.

Conclusion

Micah speaks within a long tradition of warning Israel against its sins. While it might seem that as God's chosen people, an individual could trust that if they followed the rest of their culture, God would approve their actions. But Micah warns that trusting your neighbor and following their example can be dangerous since even the best can be a metaphorical snare.

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This constellation of texts gets some attention in this article: D.J. Reimer, "Interpersonal Forgiveness and the Hebrew Prophets", in Prophecy and the Prophets in Ancient Israel..., ed. by J. Day (T & T Clark Int'l, 2010), pp. 81-97. FWIW! –  Davïd 12 hours ago

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