Against Samaria (Mic 1:5-1:7)

“All this is for

The transgression

Of Jacob.

This is for

The sins

Of the house of Israel.

What is the transgression

Of Jacob?

Is it not Samaria?

What is the high place

Of Judah?

Is it not Jerusalem?

Therefore,

I will make Samaria

A heap in the open country.

I will make it

A place for planting vineyards.

I will pour down

Her stones

Into the valley.

I will uncover

Her foundations.

All her images

Shall be beaten to pieces.

All her wages

Shall be burned with fire.

I will lay waste

To all her idols.

She gathered them

As the wages of a prostitute.

They shall again be used

As the wages of a prostitute.”

Yahweh was coming because of the transgressions of Jacob, the sins of the house of northern Israel at the very place of Samaria.  The high place of Judah was Jerusalem.  Thus, Yahweh, was going to make Samaria like a heap in an open field or a place for vineyards.  He was going to take all their stones and throw them in the valley, as he would uncover their foundations.  All the idol images would be smashed to pieces, so that all their idols gods would be destroyed.  The wages of the temple prostitutes would be burned.  Whatever wages they had gained would be used against them.

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The destruction of Damascus (Isa 17:1-17:3)

“‘See!

Damascus will cease to be a city.

It will become a heap of ruins.

Her towns will be deserted forever.

They will be places for flocks.

These animals will lie down.

No one will make them afraid.

The fortress will disappear

From Ephraim.

The kingdom will disappear

From Damascus.

The remnant of Syria

Will be

Like the glory

Of the children of Israel.’

Thus says Yahweh of hosts.”

This is another oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah. Damascus will cease to be a city, plain and simple, as it will become a heap of ruins deserted forever. This did not happen. Damascus would become a place for grazing animals to lay down where no one would bother them. Then we have an implied reprimand for the northern Israelites, as Yahweh says that Ephraim, with the capital city of Samaria, would lose its fortress. The northern Israelites were aligned with Syria or Aram against Judah. The Aramean kingdom would disappear from Damascus, which did happen. The remnant of Syria would give glory to the children of Israel. Thus we have this divine diatribe against Damascus in Syria.

The hymn of praise (Sir 39:16-39:21)

“All the works of the Lord

Are very good.

Whatever he commands

Will be done

At the appointed time.

No one can say.

‘What is this?’

‘Why is that?’

At the appointed time,

All such questions

Will be answered.

At his word,

The waters stood in a heap.

The reservoirs of water

Stop in a heap

At the word of his mouth.

At his commands,

His every purpose is fulfilled.

None can limit his saving power.

The works of all

Are before him.

Nothing can be hidden

From his eyes.

From the beginning

To the end of time,

He can see everything.

Nothing is too marvelous for him.

No one can say.

‘What is this?’

‘Why is that?’

Everything has been created

For its own purpose.”

Sirach begins this hymn of praise to the Lord by saying that all his works are very good. The Lord commands everything in his own time. No one should question him with what is this or why is it that way. All the questions will be answered at the appropriate time. He made the waters and the reservoirs of water stand in a heap. No one can limit his saving power since all his commands get followed. He sees everything, since nothing can be hidden from him, since the beginning of time to the end of time. Nothing is too marvelous for him. Therefore no one should question the Lord because everything has a purpose.