The role of the remnant of Jacob (Mic 5:7-5:9)

“Then the remnant of Jacob,

Surrounded by many people,

Shall be

Like dew from Yahweh,

Like showers on the grass.

They do not depend

Upon people,

Nor wait for any mortal.

The remnant of Jacob,

Among the nations,

Surrounded by many people,

Shall be

Like a lion

Among the beasts of the forest,

Like a young lion

Among the flocks of sheep.

When it goes through,

It treads down.

It tears in pieces.

No one would deliver them.

Your hand shall be lifted up

Over your adversaries.

All your enemies

Shall be cut off.”

The remnant of Jacob, those in captivity, would be both a blessing and a curse to those around them.  They would be surrounded by many people from different countries.  However, they would be independent of other people, since they would be like the gentle dew from Yahweh or quiet rain showers on the grass.  However, they could also be like a lion among the beasts of the forest or a lion attacking a flock of sheep.  If they were attacking sheep, they would tread on them and tear them to pieces.  They would surely act like lions against their enemies.  Thus, the remnant of Jacob could be a force for goodness or an attacking lion.

The dark day of Yahweh (Am 5:18-5:20)

“Woe to you!

You who desire

The day of Yahweh!

Why do you want

The day of Yahweh?

It is darkness,

Not light.

It is like

As if someone fled

From a lion,

But a bear met him.

It is like

Someone went into the house.

They then rested

Their hand

Against the wall.

Then a serpent bit him.

Is not

The day of Yahweh

Darkness,

Not light?

It is gloom

With no brightness in it.”

The day of Yahweh meant many different things to the ancient Israelites. For some, it was a favorable intervention of Yahweh. For others, as here, it was a day of Yahweh’s anger. After the exile, it was considered a day of hope that the anger of Yahweh would turn on Israel’s oppressors. Then this day of Yahweh became a day of judgment, as a triumph for the righteous. Finally, there were cosmic signs that would accompany this day of Yahweh. Here, Amos wanted to know why anyone would want the day of Yahweh to come, because it was a time of darkness, not light. In fact, he wanted to curse them for wishing the day of Yahweh to come. This day of Yahweh was more like a person fleeing from a lion, only to run into a bear. It was like going into a house, and then resting your arm on the wall, only to be bit by a snake. For Amos, the day of Yahweh was a time of darkness, not light, a time of gloom and not brightness.

The rescue of Samaria (Am 3:12-3:12)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘As the shepherd

Rescues

From the mouth

Of the lion

Two legs,

Or a piece of an ear,

So,

Shall the people of Israel

Who live in Samaria

Be rescued,

With the corner

Of a couch

Or with part of a bed.’”

Amos has a cute little saying of Yahweh that compares him to a shepherd. A shepherd would pick up the pieces after a lion has devoured a sheep. So too, Yahweh would do the same for Samaria. As the shepherd took a couple of legs and an ear or a sheep, so Yahweh would save the corner of a couch or a part of a bed of the people in Samaria.

The return from exile (Hos 11:10-11:11)

“They shall go after Yahweh.

He will roar

Like a lion.

When he roars,

His children

Shall come trembling

From the west.

They shall come trembling

Like birds

From Egypt.

They shall come trembling

Like doves

From the land of Assyria.

‘I will return them

To their homes.’

Says Yahweh.”

The compassion of Yahweh will lead the Israelites to return to Israel and Ephraim. Yahweh would roar like a lion. When his children, the Israelites, heard this roar, they would come trembling back to Israel. They would come from the west, like birds from Egypt. They would also return like trembling doves from Assyria. Yahweh said that he would return them to their homes.

The false alliance with Assyria (Hos 5:13-5:14)

“Ephraim saw

His sickness.

Judah saw

His wound.

Then Ephraim

Went to Assyria.

He sent

To the great king.

But he is not able

To cure you.

He was not able

To heal your wound.

I will be

Like a lion

To Ephraim.

I will be

Like a young lion

To the house of Judah.

I myself

Will tear.

I will go away.

I will carry off.

None shall rescue.”

Ephraim and Judah saw that they were not in a good place, since they were sick and wounded. King Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria had taken over the northern half of Israel. Then the king of Israel, King Pekah (737-732 BCE) made an alliance with the king of Aram, the area around Damascus, or southern Syria. However, this did not help. Therefore, Yahweh was going to be a lion against Ephraim, and a young lion against Judah. Meanwhile, Yahweh was going to tear himself away. He was not going to rescue them.

The first beast (Dan 7:4-7:4)

“The first beast was

Like a lion.

It had eagles’ wings.

Then,

As I watched,

Its wings were

Plucked off.

It was lifted up

From the ground.

It was made

To stand on two feet,

Like a human.

A human mind

Was given to it.”

At first glance, this first beast might be just like a lion. However, Daniel described it as a lion with eagle wings that were plucked off. Somehow, it was lifted from the ground and stood on 2 feet. Then a human mind was inserted into this beast. So, we end up with a two-legged lion with plucked eagle feather wings and a human mind. That really sounds like a monstrosity. This lion-like monster may be a reference to Babylon.

Lamentation over the Pharaoh of Egypt (Ezek 32:1-32:2)

“In the twelfth year,

In the twelfth month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Raise a lamentation

Over Pharaoh,

King of Egypt!

Say to him!

‘You consider yourself

A lion

Among the nations.

But you are

Like a dragon

In the seas.

You trash about

In your streams.

You trouble the water

With your feet.

You foul

Your streams.’”

Once again there is another oracle of Yahweh to Ezekiel, the son of man, with a specific date, the 1st day of the 12th month of the 12th year of King Zedekiah, 585 BCE. Yahweh wanted Ezekiel to present a lamentation over the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. In fact, Ezekiel was to speak to him with these exact words that Yahweh was giving him. How he was going to do this is not clear. Although the king of Egypt considered himself a lion among nations, he was rather a sea monster dragon in the water, trashing around with his feet in small streams, polluting the water. In other words, the Pharaoh was not as important as he thought that he was.