Against Ammon (Am 1:13-1:15)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions,

Of the Ammonites,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they ripped open

Pregnant women

In the Gilead.

They wanted to enlarge

Their territory.

So,

I will kindle a fire

Against the wall of Rabbah.

Fire shall devour

Its strongholds,

With shouting

On the day of battle.

There will be a storm

On the day of the whirlwind.

Their king

Shall go into exile,

He with his officials together.’

Says Yahweh.”

Ammon was east of the Jordan River, between the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee in the old Gad territory. According to Genesis, chapter 19, the Ammonites were the descendants of Lot through the incest he had with his daughter. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, and Edom. He used the same numeric formula of 3 and 4, as found in Proverbs, chapter 30. These Ammonites had killed pregnant women in the Gilead, the Israelite territory on the east side of the Jordan River, because they wanted to take over that territory. Thus, Yahweh was going to send fire down on Rabbah, the capital city that is today the capital of Jordan, Amman. This fire would destroy all their fortresses, like a storm or whirlwind. The king and all its officials would go into exile.

Reproach against false worshippers in the Temple (Jer 11:15-11:17)

“What right has my beloved

In my house?

She has done vile deeds.

Can vows

Avert your doom?

Can sacrificial flesh

Avert your doom?

Can you then exult?

Yahweh once called you,

‘A green olive tree,

Fair with goodly fruit.’

But with the roar of a great tempest,

He will set fire to it.

Its branches will be consumed.

Yahweh of hosts

Planted you.

He has pronounced evil

Against you.

Because the evil

That the house of Israel has done,

That the house of Judah has done,

Has provoked me to anger.

Because you have been making offerings

To Baal.”

What are the rights of Yahweh’s beloved in his house, the Temple? This is especially so, since they have done such vile deeds. Can their vows and their meat sacrifices avert their coming doom? Israel was once a good fruitful fair green olive tree. However, with the blast of a storm, Yahweh would consume them with fire and destroy them. Yahweh planted them, but now he has pronounced evil against them. They, both the house of Judah and the house of Israel, have done evil provoking Yahweh to anger with their offerings to Baal.

The justice of the rulers (Isa 32:1-32:4)

“See!

A king will reign in righteousness.

Princes will rule with justice.

Each will be

Like a hiding place from the wind,

Like a covert from the tempest,

Like streams of water

In a dry place,

Like the shade of a great rock

In a weary land.

Then the eyes of those who have sight

Will not be closed.

The ears of those who have hearing

Will listen.

The minds of the rash

Will have good judgment.

The tongues of the stammerers

Will speak readily.

They will speak distinctly.”

Isaiah maintains that there will be new age when justice will prevail. The righteous kings and the good princes will rule with justice. Thus they will be helpful to others because they will be like a hiding place from the wind, like a covering in a storm, like streams of water in a dry place, and like shade in a hot weary land. The seeing will see and the hearing will hear. Minds will make good judgments. People who stammer will speak readily and distinctly. This would be some kind of utopian time when justice and fairness for all existed in an enlightened society.

The great sea thunder to come (Isa 17:12-17:14)

“O the thunder of many people!

They thunder

Like the thundering of the sea!

O the roar of nations!

They roar

Like the roaring of mighty waters!

The nations roar

Like the roaring of many waters.

But he will rebuke them.

They will flee far away.

They will be chased

Like chaff on the mountains

Before the wind.

They will be chased

Like whirling dust

Before the storm.

At evening time,

Behold terror!

Before morning,

They are no more.

This is the fate

Of those who despoil us.

This is the lot

Of those who plunder us.”

Here Isaiah warns of a coming thundering water deluge. Many people will come like thunder. They will roar like roaring mighty waters of the sea. However, Yahweh will rebuke them. They will flee like chaff in front of a mountain wind or like whirling dust before a storm. At night, they will say that terror is coming. But by morning, they will be gone. They will be no more since those who wanted to plunder and destroy them will disappear. This could be an allusion to the Assyrians attempt to capture Jerusalem around 701 BCE as told in 2 Kings, chapters 18-19.

Some proverbs (Sir 40:12-40:17)

“All bribery

Will be blotted out.

All injustice

Will be blotted out.

But good faith

Will last forever.

The wealth of the unjust

Will dry up like a river.

The wealth of the unjust

Will crash like a loud clap

Of thunder in a storm.

A generous person

Has cause to rejoice.

Lawbreakers

Will utterly fail.

The children of the ungodly

Put out few branches.

They are unhealthy roots

On sheer rock.

The reeds by any water

Or river bank

Are plucked up

Before any grass.

Kindness is

Like a garden of blessings.

Almsgiving endures forever.”

Sirach utters some proverbs or sayings about injustice and life. Bribery and injustice will be blotted out, but good faith will last forever. The wealth of the unjust will disappear like a dried up river or thunder in a storm, here today, but gone tomorrow. Generous people should rejoice, while the lawbreakers will fail. The children of the ungodly will have few branches because their unhealthy roots are on solid rocks so they will have no yield. They are like reeds near water that is plucked before the grass. Kindness, on the other hand, grows into a garden of blessings. Then too almsgiving endures forever.

The law (Sir 33:1-33:3)

“No evil will befall

The person

Who fears the Lord.

But in trials,

They will be rescued

Again and again.

The wise

Will not hate the law.

But the hypocritical one

Is like a boat in a storm.

The sensible person

Will trust in the law.

For such a one

The law is as dependable

As a divine oracle.”

Sirach notes that if you fear the Lord, no evil will happen to you. If there are trials, you will be rescued any number of times. The wise people do not hate the law. However, the hypocritical ones are like a boat in a storm. You cannot tell what will happen. The sensible person trusts in the law because it is dependable like a divine oracle.

You cannot hide from the Lord (Sir 16:17-16:23)

“Do not say.

‘I am hidden from the Lord.

Who from on high

Has me in mind?

Among so many people,

I am unknown.

What am I

In a boundless creation?

Look!

At his visitation,

Heaven trembles,

The highest heaven trembles.

The abyss trembles.

The earth trembles.

The very mountains quiver.

The foundations of the earth shake,

When he looks upon them.

No human mind can grasp this.

Who can comprehend his ways?

Like a tempest

That no one can see,

So most of his works are concealed.

Who will announce

His acts of justice?

Who will await them?

His decree is far off.’

Such are the thoughts

Of one devoid of understanding.

A senseless person

Thinks foolishly.

A misguided person

Thinks foolishly.”

Sirach warns those who say that God is too busy to worry about them. They think that that they can hide from the Lord because there are so many people in this great boundless created world. After all the heavens, the seas, and the earth tremble and quake when the Lord comes. The mountains and the foundations of the earth shake when he sees them. No human mind can comprehend the ways of the Lord because most of his works are concealed to us. The Lord is like a storm that we never see coming. Who is going to announce his judgments because his decrees seem so far away? These are the thoughts of the foolish misguided people who think that God does not care about them.