“And you, O tower of the flock”
While there would have been shepherds and flocks of sheep over all the land of Israel, many would have found shelter by merely finding and securing a cave, a box canyon walled in on three sides, or an enclosed area built with branches and rocks. If wandering took the flock on a predictable path, more secure shelters that stood the test of time and weather would be part of the tribal knowledge of each shepherd.
But Micah speaks of the ‘tower of the flock” which is much different from what we normally think of. In scripture, “tower of the flock” is known as Migdal Eder. We first hear of this place in Genesis 35:21 when Rachel died giving birth to Benjamin. After burying her, Jacob “spread his tent beyond Migdal Eder.” For Israel this place has special significance.
The photo on this page, of course, is only a relatively modern ruin of a typical watch tower built to protect people encamped round about from robbers. If you Google images you will find pictures of much older ruins thought to have been a tower of the flock. It has been suggested because of Migdal Eder’s proximity to both Bethlehem and Jerusalem, that a tower such as this would have provided additional protection for the sheep that were destined for sacrifice in the Temple since they needed to be without blemish.
The writer of Micah knows of the deportation and exile of Jews to Babylon after the conquest of Judah in 598 BCE. He speaks of Israel as having no king, no leadership. She has enemies all around her. But the LORD has other plans and Micah looks forward to that day when the LORD will rescue and redeem Israel from her captors.
We too live in a time when our country and our world are divided and without peace. Most of us, though, have a place of retreat where we find a secure place if only for a moment from all the things that bring us fear. From this place of safety, we believe in the hope of a different future. Perhaps it is the season that is coming, that despite all the decorations around us, it is not here yet, but we wait in anticipation remembering that Christ will come again. That baby that Micah looked forward to … perhaps this year, we will not celebrate his birth, but his return.