No children for Ephraim (Hos 9:11-9:14)

“Ephraim’s glory

Shall fly away,

Like a bird.

There will be

No birth,

No pregnancy,

No conception!

Even if they bring up children,

I will bereave them

Until no one is left.

Woe to them indeed!

I will depart from them!

Once I saw Ephraim

As a young palm

Planted in a lovely meadow.

But now Ephraim

Must lead out

His children for slaughter.

Give them!

O Yahweh!

What will you give them?

Give them

A miscarrying womb,

With dry breasts.”

Ephraim was singled out, since it was where the capital of northern Israel was. Their glory would simply fly away like a bird. There would be no more births, pregnancies, or even conceptions in Ephraim. If they would bring up children, they would mourn for them, until no one was left. Yahweh was going to leave Ephraim. They would be cursed and on their own. Thus, this young palm tree in a lovely meadow would cease to grow. Ephraim would lead out its children for slaughter. What should you give the people of Ephraim? Yahweh, in very descriptive language, was going to give them miscarrying wombs and dry breasts. No more children for Ephraim.

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The lost hunted one (Lam 3:52-3:54)

Cade

“My enemies,

Without cause,

Have hunted me

Like a bird.

They flung me

Alive

Into a pit.

They hurled stones

On me.

Water closed

Over my head.

I said.

‘I am lost.’”

This personal story continues. The author’s enemies have hunted him down like a bird, even though there was no reason to do so. They have flung him alive into a pit and threw stones over him. Then water closed over his head in this pit. He finally said that he was lost with no way out. This is reminiscent of Jeremiah in the cistern well under King Zedekiah in Jeremiah, chapter 38. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Cade in this acrostic poem.

Yahweh protects Mount Zion (Isa 31:4-31:5)

“Thus Yahweh said to me.

‘As a lion

Or a young lion

Growls over its prey,

They are not terrified

By the shouting,

When a band of shepherds

Is called out against it.

They are not daunted at their noise.

Thus Yahweh of hosts

Will come down To fight

Upon Mount Zion,

Upon its hill.

Like birds hovering overhead,

So Yahweh of hosts

Will protect Jerusalem.

He will deliver it.

He will spare it.

He will rescue it.’”

Yahweh, via Isaiah, issues an oracle about protecting Mount Zion, Jerusalem. Just like growling lions standing over their prey are not scared by the shouting noise of the shepherds, so too Yahweh will come down to the holy hill of Mount Zion in Jerusalem. He will be like a bird hovering overhead. He will protect, deliver, spare, and rescue Jerusalem. There is no question about that.

The agreement with the prostitute (Prov 7:21-7:23)

“With much seductive speech

She persuades him.

With her smooth talk

She compels him.

Right away he follows her.

He goes like

An ox goes to the slaughter.

He bounds like

A stag toward the trap.

He goes until

An arrow pierces its entrails.

He is like

A bird rushing into a snare.

He does not know

That it will cost him his life.”

Her seductive speech and smooth talk persuades and compels him. The simpleton follows her like an ox going to slaughter. He is like a male deer bounding towards a trap. He would keep going until arrows would pierce him. He was like a bird rushing into a trap. He was completely unaware that this action would cost him his life.

Do not use your property as collateral (Prov 6:1-6:5)

“My child!

If you have given your pledge to your neighbor,

If you have bound yourself to another,

You are snared by the utterance of your lips.

You are caught by the words of your mouth.

Do this!

My child!

Save yourself!

You have come into your neighbor’s power.

Go!

Hurry!

Plead with your neighbor!

Give your eyes no sleep.

Give your eyelids no slumber.

Save yourself

Like a gazelle from the hunter!

Save yourself

Like a bird from the hand of the fowler!”

This paternal advice continues with a strange admonition. It seems that there was an ancient custom of pledging your house to help a neighbor. However, here the father warns his children against doing this. If you have already pledged to help, then you are stuck with your own words. However, then it is time to negotiate a resolution with your neighbor since you are under his power. Plead with him until you get this resolved. Do not get any sleep until this is straightened out. You have to save yourself because you are being hunted like a hunter after an animal or a bird that is already caught in a trap.

Confidence in Yahweh (Ps 11:1-11:3)

To the choirmaster leader, of David.

‘In Yahweh I take refuge.

How can you say to me?

‘Flee like a bird to the mountains!

Look!

The wicked bend the bow!

They have fitted their arrows to the string,

They shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.

If the foundations are destroyed,

What can the righteous do?’”

Once again in Psalm 11, the theme of confidence dominates. The opening remarks are only to the choirmaster leader as this is a generic psalm of David. David or the psalmist takes refuge in Yahweh. Are you really safe if you fly to a mountain like a bird? The faithful ones are often compared to birds. Mountains were considered a safe place. However, the problem was more immediate as the wicked ones had their bow and arrows ready to shoot at them. They could shoot in the dark. What can the righteous ones do?