But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity (yom olam). ‭‭Micah‬ ‭5:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

What are the "days of eternity" (yom olam) in Micah asserting about the ruler?


4 Answers 4


To understand the verse in question it helps to understand the military context:

ESV Micah 5:

1a Now muster your troops, O daughterb of troops; siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. 2c But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little [insignificant] to be among the clans [armies] of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.

Footnotes: a 1 Ch 4:14 in Hebrew b 1 That is, city c 2 Ch 5:1 in Hebrew

So the prophet is saying that from the city of David, Bethlehem, the house of bread, which was nothing but a few women and children, the promised ruler of Israel would arise.

But then he says "whose coming forth..." which is apparently taken by the ESV to refer to his birth in Bethlehem. However, (and I'm no Hebrew guru) the word is plural and is rendered in other translations as "whose comings forth" (IE: given the context, "sorties" or "military campaigns").

Now, if I'm correct concerning this then this would be, I believe in a notional sense, similar to this:

[Rom 4:17 KJV] 17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, [even] God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.

But most important, I believe is the concern in the original question that perhaps the form of one usage of OLAM might tell us the meaning of a similar use. However, that isn't necessarily the case. Context is always the key factor.

The NET Bible renders Micah 5:2 like this:

NET Bible Micah 5:2 As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah--from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past.

That's about all I think we can load OLAM with in actual usage.

And if his military campaigns from OLAM then we must not imagine that his first battle was in eternity past. Surely there was no war on day one!

The point is that the exploits of the Messiah have been in the scriptures from long ago and in God's mind longer than that. To that agree all the scriptures.

Notice this similar verbiage from the mouth of Gideon:

[Jdg 6:14-16 NLT] (14) Then the LORD turned to him and said, "Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!" (15) "But Lord," Gideon replied, "how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!" (16) The LORD said to him, "I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man."

I should also point out that interpreting Micah 5:2 as saying that Jesus IS the "ancient of days" clashes with Daniel where the Messiah ascends and appears before God who is referred to as "the Ancient of Days":

[Dan 7:13-14 KJV] 13 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, [one] like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion [is] an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.

  • That’s interesting, I’ll have to ruminate on that a little longer. For now I find it interesting that you separate yom olam when I think they are read together. I wonder if in Daniel attiyq yom is intentional to show its speaking of the Father. Also if you’ve read any of my other posts I ascribe to the two powers in heaven concept of the ancient Hebrew so I don’t see an issue with two sharing the same title due to echâd and not yachid. I’m still curious about what you meant when you quoted revelations, the beast and the earth dwellers that I interpret to be the antichrist spirit and daimons. Jan 12, 2019 at 12:24
  • 1
    Note that the passage doesn't say "and he shall be the ancient of days" but rather "his goings forth are from of old". So if we interpret this as saying that Jesus's campaigns are from everlasting then his enemies likewise must be from everlasting else Jesus is simply being quixotic, fighting windmills.
    – Ruminator
    Jan 12, 2019 at 12:30
  • 1
    Sorry, yes. I cite that verse to show that Jesus was "notionally slain" before the foundation of the world. [Eph 3:9 ESV] 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, and [Jer 1:5 ESV] 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations."
    – Ruminator
    Jan 12, 2019 at 12:37
  • 2
    I also subscribe to the Jewish view of the two powers (at least as much of is as I understand from Dr. Michael Heiser: logos.com/product/41694/… However, as I expressed to him, this does not lead to the Trinity which is a very explicit formulation/creed that is entirely unscriptural.
    – Ruminator
    Jan 12, 2019 at 12:59
  • 2
    As to the creed, it contains some 40 assertions and yet not one assertion is made in scripture. Try it for yourself. Go through each assertion and see if you can find that assertion being made by Paul, Jesus, etc. You won't find any of the assertions except the most mundane (IE: that there is one God): ccel.org/creeds/athanasian.creed.html
    – Ruminator
    Jan 12, 2019 at 13:24

Autodidact asked: ‘What are ‘the days of eternity’ (yom olam) in Micah [5:1 (BHS)] asserting about the ruler?


We’ve understand better the meaning of the term עלם/עולם (OLM/OULM [two variants commonly used in TaNaKh]) translated ‘eternity’ by NASB, along with a number of translations.

First of all, the basic meaning of עלם (OLM) is not ‘to be eternal’, but ‘to be indistinct, indefinite’, and, in reference to time, ‘and unsighted time’.

A homologous (in a semantic way) term in Akkadian (ancient Babylonian) was DA’AMU, ‘to became dark’ (Chicago Assyrian Dictionary [= CAD] III:1). From this term – probably – was derived, through a number of linguistical steps, the English verb ‘to dim’ (referring to ‘something hard to see at’).

Granted, also ‘eternity’ (NASB et al.) – from men’s viewpoint – could be included into the well established concept of ‘indistinctness’, because we humans cannot understand, or, simply imagine, fully, what can indicates a time without a start and/or an end. Nevertheless, there are other situations of ‘indistinctness’ that are not linked with ‘eternity’, necessarily.

For an example, we know – from the Bible account – that the earth had surely a start** (ראשׁית) inside the creation time-frame (Genesis 1:1). Still, Psalm 78:69 applies עלם (OLM) to the ‘earth’.

Also the physical ‘hills’ on the earth had a start, when God did perform the separation between waters and soil (Genesis 1:9). Still, Deuteronomy 33:15 applies עלם (OLM) to the ‘hills’ (very interestingly, this passage has the same two sequential terms used in Micah 5:1 - BHS [קדם > עלם]).

Again, was a ancient Israelite slave able to serve his master ‘eternally’? Exodus 21:6 says he may do עלם (OLM).

These examples would be sufficient to understand that the best translation of עלם(OLM) is one which revolves themselves around the concept of ‘indefinite, indistinct time’. Granted, sometimes עלם (OLM) is linked with ‘eternity’ (or alike), but other times not, as we have seen.


Returning to Micah 5:1 (BHS), Septuagint (LXX) translated the Hebrew term עלם (OLM) with αιωνος, that – strangely enough – has the same meaning of עלם (for one example, the αιωνος [‘era’, ‘epoch’] mentioned in Matthew 24:3 & 28:20 had a start and – according Jesus Christ – will have an end, also).

Probably, from עלם (OLM) derived a number of words that were utilized in the past, but, we also are using some of these derivative words.

For example, Latin language had (the ‘>’ simbol indicates samples of passages of this term in other languages): - olim, ‘that time’, ‘time ago’ > Anglosaxon hwilum, ‘formerly, times ago’ > Old English whilom > Contemporary English while (as in the expressions like ‘long while ago’, or, ‘it takes a while to read’).

  • velum, ‘a veil’ (that is ‘something that hide’) > English veil.

English: - gloom, that retains all the letters of עלם (OLM) [according John Parkhurst, ‘A Hebrew and English Lexicon’].

Icelandic: - hilma, ‘to hide’.

In view of the information above presented the ‘ruler’ cited by Micah had a time start. We may understand so on the basis of the MT verbal used there יצא (‘to go out’, ‘to go forth’, ‘to spring up’, et cetera), that implies, necessarily, an action that starts on a given time point. So, the Micah’s ‘ruler’ must possess a beginning. Then, in this case, the bynomial link between קדם and עלם point to a translation different from the concept of ‘eternity’. In other words, the origin of the Micah’s ‘ruler’ was ‘lost in the mists of time’, from the viewpoint of a common human.

These clues well refer – from the viewpoint of christian Bible commentators – to the Messiah Jesus Christ.

Then, the translators are justified to translate as a derivative of ‘to be eternal’ only if the Bible context permits so.


As regards Mac’s Musings assertions about the claimed lack of ‘precision’ of Hebrew language (regarding abstract concepts), I think Ruminator was right when he seemed to doubt about that.

Mac’s Musings said: “Hebrew does not have any abstract nouns for a start. As stated above, Hebrew is excellent (and precise) for spiritual ideas and action but not abstract thought.”

It seems a hasty conclusion, because to assert so we should have a corpus of Hebrew texts at least of a size alike the ancient Greek texts have. Unfortunately, the amount of Hebrew texts (at our disposal, today) is a risible fraction compared to the huge amount of ancient Greek texts.

But, even supposing the two corpora of texts (ancient Hebrew vs ancient Greek) were alike (in amount of texts), we have to ask ourselves, ‘what an abstract noun is, really’? And, ‘did ancient Hebrew language possess abstract nouns?’

Cambridge Dictionary (online): “A noun that refers to a thing that does not exist as a material object”.

This being the case, we may easily test the Mac’s Musings claim with the following couple of reference-book’s definitions of ‘abstract noun’:

Collins Dictionary (online): “A noun that refers to an abstract concept, as for example ‘kindness’”.

Just a moment. Ask ourselves: ‘Has the Bible Hebrew language a specific term for ‘kindness’’?. Surely it has. It is חסד, and it mentioned on hundreds of occurrences in TaNaKh.

MacMillan Dictionary (online): “A common noun that refers to a quality, idea, or feeling rather than to a person or a physical object. For example ‘thought’, ‘problem’, ‘law’, and ‘opportunity’ are all abstract nouns.”

Oops! Sorry, but the TaNaKh do possess them all:

‘thought’ = חשׁב (as in Gen 6:5); ‘problem’ = חוד (as in Pro 1:6); ‘law’ = תורה (as in hundreds of occurrences in TaNaKh). Today, it is worlwide used the term ‘Torah’. ‘opportunity’ = תאנה (as in Judges 14:4).

So, avoiding to expand this argument to other topics, like Hebrew subjective and non-subjective tenses, along with the 3D structure of prepositions, and so on, we may conclude that ‘Biblical’ Hebrew has abstract nouns, because also that people (ancient Israelites) – like all people - needed to think and to speak/write through abstractions, in certain cases).

I hope these information will help.

  • Deuteronomy 33:15 applies עלם(OLM) to the unending future of the hills and a different term for the ancient beginnings of the mountains. In Micah, עלם(OLM) is applied to the origin of his going forth. The repetition of OLM is best understood by the picturesque phrase "to the horizon, and again). It speaks of unendingness and the direction intended is found in context. Jan 9, 2022 at 17:45

Based on the other answers being seemingly over complex for what should be a readily available solution/answer.

Is Micah 5:2 identifying the Messiah as “the Ancient of Days”?

No, for the reasons found in the context of the passage.

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity (yom olam). ‭‭Micah‬ ‭5:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The Jews misunderstood many things of the new age Jesus ushered in. But they had one thing sure in their hearts -

Where is the One having been born King of the Jews?... And having assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he was inquiring of them where the Christ was to be born. 5And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus has it been written through the prophet: 6‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come forth One leading, who will shepherd My people Israel.’ Matt 2:2-6

The Jews knew;

  • where the One was coming from.
  • the One would have a beginning, an 'origin', a birth - just like a normal person.
  • the One would be a descendant of David and Abraham - a human offspring.
  • they were expecting someone arranged by God, but would not be God!
  • the One was prophesied from the beginning - not existing from the beginning.
  • the origins were not of the birth, but of the plan, the promise, the prophecy of the birth - even Moses knew this. Gen 3:15
  • he would have brothers, kinsmen V3 (does God have brothers?)
  • he will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God v4

"days of eternity" is simply a reference to the timeline of the plan God had laid out. The Jews/Israelites whole history was one of salvation - always looking forward to the big day when this special King would solve all their problems.

Their wait would be a little longer - but at least he was here now, shame they didn't believe him!

  • Please show proof of bulletpoint 4 Aug 8, 2021 at 12:18
  • I did - He cannot be God if he has a God - as noted in the text! That is the only rational possibility.
    – Steve
    Aug 8, 2021 at 12:22
  • That’s your opinion. Too many texts speak of God’s God in the OT. Isaiah 48 v13 speaks of God the creator. Then “Draw near to me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there.” And now the Lord God has sent me, and his Spirit.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭48:16‬ in verse 16 it says God and God’s spirit sent Him. V17 says that He is Israel’s redeemer, The Lord God. You have NO leg to stand on. Throw your Bible out if you refuse to accept that which is written in it. Aug 8, 2021 at 12:59
  • @nihil no it's your opinion that matters most here. Jesus was crystal clear praying to the Father. "that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent." Believe him or create confusion and mystery with your conjecture, subterfuge by calling scripture to affirm your hypothesis. I know you can't help it, soon you will be released from the dogma.
    – Steve
    Sep 6, 2022 at 0:59
  • I concur, my opinion matters most here because I consider the whole context, of the whole Scripture and I don’t start with the NT like you do, nor do I bring extraBiblical dogma to the text. You are correct. Well said Sep 6, 2022 at 3:04

The Ancient of Days is a figure from the Book of Daniel.

“As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. (Dan. 7:9)

To answer the question, first we need to look at the date of the two books. If the Book of Daniel was written first, then the answer could be yes. But if Micah was written first, then it unlikely that this is what the prophet had in mind. Whether God had it in mind is beyond the scope of the question.

I hold to the view of those scholars who date the Book of Daniel to the time of the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd c. bce. But even if Daniel was written during the Babylonian Exile, Micah is earlier.

The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Mo′resheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezeki′ah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samar′ia and Jerusalem. (Micah 1:1)

By all accounts the above-named kings lived prior to the Babylonian Exile. So we may safely say that Micah's prophecy is earlier than Daniel's.

Beyond that we have the problem that Micah refers to "a ruler in Israel," while Daniel refers to a Supernatural "son of man" coming with the clouds of heaven. Christians easily connect the two, but I have to insist that the prophets themselves probably did not. The question is about what Micah was thinking, not about what was in the God's mind in the realm of Eternity.

If the question were reversed we might get a different answer. In other words, Daniel could conceivably be referring to the ruler that Micah predicts. However, I think it is very unlikely that Micah, speaking several generations prior to Daniel, would refer to a person mentioned in Daniel's prophecy. Therefore, the answer must be 'No.'

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