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?

  • 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
    Commented Nov 25, 2012 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
    Commented Nov 25, 2012 at 10:19
  • To me this seems like a perfectly reasonable hyperbole.
    – Amichai
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 0:22

2 Answers 2


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)


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.


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.


This appears to be an allusion to:

[Exo 32:25-29 NLT] (25) Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies. (26) So he stood at the entrance to the camp and shouted, "All of you who are on the LORD's side, come here and join me." And all the Levites gathered around him. (27) Moses told them, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Each of you, take your swords and go back and forth from one end of the camp to the other. Kill everyone--even your brothers, friends, and neighbors." (28) The Levites obeyed Moses' command, and about 3,000 people died that day. (29) Then Moses told the Levites, "Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORD, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers. Today you have earned a blessing."

In the momentary absence of Moses (which was a type of Christ's hiatus as he went to "receive a kingdom") the Israelites are transformed from the LORD's flock into a wild, idolatrous fools. The picture is Moses arriving on the scene and discovering a frat party or a rave. So Moses gathers the faithful to slaughter the vile mob. In return God gives them a blessing. Jesus is predicting that when he returns with his saints in 70ad in flaming fire to take vengeance on the Jews who rejected him, the saints who turn on their brethren and kill them will be blessed.

[Luk 19:11-19 NLT] (11) The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because he was nearing Jerusalem, he told them a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. (12) He said, "A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. (13) Before he left, he called together ten of his servants and divided among them ten pounds of silver, saying, 'Invest this for me while I am gone.' (14) But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, 'We do not want him to be our king.' (15) "After he was crowned king, he returned and called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what their profits were. (16) The first servant reported, 'Master, I invested your money and made ten times the original amount!' (17) "'Well done!' the king exclaimed. 'You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.' (18) "The next servant reported, 'Master, I invested your money and made five times the original amount.' (19) "'Well done!' the king said. 'You will be governor over five cities.'

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