The terror in Moab (Jer 48:43-48:46)

“‘Terror!

Pit!

Trap!

They are before you!

O inhabitants of Moab!’

Says Yahweh.

‘Everyone

Who flees from the terror

Shall fall into the pit.

Everyone who climbs

Out of the pit

Shall be caught in the trap.

I will bring these things

Upon Moab,

In the year of their punishment.’

Says Yahweh.

In the shadow of Heshbon,

Fugitives stop exhausted.

A fire has gone out

From Heshbon,

A flame from

The house of Sihon.

It has destroyed

The forehead of Moab,

The scalp of the people

Of tumult.

Woe to you!

O Moab!

The people of Chemosh

Have perished.

Your sons

Have been taken captive.

Your daughters

Have been taken into captivity.”

There would be terror to hit Moab, like the terror of the apocalypse judgment day of Isaiah, chapter 24. Terror was all around with pits and snares to catch people. If they fled, they would fall into a pit. Even if they crawled out of the pit, they would be caught in a trap. There was no escape. They tried to flee to Heshbon, the capital of Ammon, the country north of Moab. However, they were surprised to learn that Heshbon was also on fire. This was the capital city of King Sihon, or house of Sihon, dating back to the days of Joshua, chapter 21. The Moabites would have problems with their foreheads and scalps. They would be cursed, and then perish. The people with their god Chemosh would lose their sons and daughters to captivity.

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Yahweh as a stumbling stone (Isa 8:11-8:15)

“Yahweh spoke thus to me.

His hand was strong upon me.

He warned me

Not to walk

In the way of this people.

He said.

‘Do not call conspiracy

All that this people call conspiracy!

Do not fear

What they fear!

Do not be in dread!

You shall regard as holy

Yahweh of hosts!

Let him be your fear!

Let him be your dread!

He will become a sanctuary.

He will become a stone

That one strikes against.

For both houses of Israel,

He will become a rock

That one stumbles over.

He will become a trap.

He will become a snare

For the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Many among them shall stumble.

They shall fall.

They shall be broken.

They shall be snared.

They shall be taken.’”

Once again, we have an oracle from Yahweh directly to Isaiah. This time Yahweh also puts his hand on him with a warning not to fall into conspiracy theories. Does that sound familiar? Isaiah was not to fear what most people feared and dreaded. Only Yahweh, the Lord of hosts, is holy. He is the only one that you should fear and dread. Yahweh can, however, become either a sanctuary or a stumbling block. Both houses of Israel, north and south, find that Yahweh is a stumbling block, a trap and a snare. Many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem will stumble and fall. They will be taken and broken, as they will get caught in this trap or snare.

Vengeance (Sir 27:28-27:29)

“Mockery issues

From the proud.

Abuse issues

From the proud.

But vengeance

Lies in wait

For them

Like a lion.

Whoever rejoices

In the fall of the godly

Will be caught in a snare.

Pain will consume them

Before their death.”

The proud mock and abuse people. However, Sirach reminds us that vengeance, like that of a lion, is not far off. Anyone who is happy about the fall of the godly righteous person will be caught in a trap that will lead to a lot of pain before they die.

Betraying secrets (Sir 27:16-27:21)

“Whoever betrays secrets

Destroys confidence.

He will never find

A congenial friend.

Love your friend.

Keep faith with him.

But if you betray his secrets,

Do not follow after him.

As a person destroys

His enemy,

So you have destroyed

The friendship of your neighbor.

As you allow a bird to escape

From your hand,

So you have let your neighbor go.

You will not catch him again.

Do not go after him.

He is too far off.

He has escaped

Like a gazelle from a snare.

A wound may be bandaged.

There is reconciliation after abuse.

But whoever has betrayed secrets

Is without hope.”

Sirach is very harsh against those who betray secrets. When you betray a secret you destroy any confidence that another person has in you. You can never be their friend again. If you love your friend, you will not betray his secrets. Once you betray him, do not follow after him. Your friendship is destroyed. You have let the bird out of your hand that will never return. So too, your friendly neighbor is gone for good. He is like a gazelle that has escaped from a trap. You will never get him back. Then Sirach indicated how strong he felt about this. He said that it was easier to have a wound bandaged, and abusive behavior forgiven than making up after betraying a secret. There was no hope for the betrayer. Wow! Be careful when someone tells you a secret.

Watch out for women (Eccl 7:26-7:29)

“I found that the woman,

Who is a trap,

Is more bitter than death.

Her heart is snares.

Her hear is nets.

Her hands are fetters.

‘One who pleases God escapes her.

But the sinner is taken by her.’

See!

This is what I found,

Says Qoheleth,

Adding one thing to another

To find the sum.

My mind has sought this repeatedly,

But I have not found it.

‘One man among a thousand

I found.

But a woman among all these

I have not found.’

See!

This alone I found.

God made human beings straightforward.

However they have devised many schemes.”

In this anti-feminine diatribe, Qoheleth believed that women were a trap, more bitter than death. Female hearts were like a snare and a net, while their hands were like chains. If you were pleasing to God, you escaped from this woman. However, the sinner could be taken by her. Qoheleth could find only one good man among 1,000, but he could not find even one good person among the women. He had found out that God made humans straight forward, but humans just devised many schemes.

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.

The curse for David’s enemies (Ps 69:22-69:29)

“Let their own table be a trap for them!

Let their own table be a snare for their allies!

Let their eyes be darkened,

So that they cannot see!

Make their loins tremble continually!

Pour out your indignation upon them!

Let our burning anger overtake them!

May their camp be desolation!

Let no one live in their tents!

They persecute those

Whom you have struck down.

They persecute those

Whom you have wounded.

They attack still more.

Add guilt to their guilt!

May they have no acquittal from you!

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living!

Let them not be enrolled among the righteous!

But I am lowly.

I am in pain.

Let your salvation!

O God!

Protect me high!”

These are a series of curses or wishes against the enemies of David. His enemies’ tables should be a trap or snare to them and their friends. He wanted them to lose their sight and to tremble all the time. God’s indignation and anger should be upon them. Their camp should be desolate so that they could not live in their tents. They had persecuted and attacked those who had been wounded. Their guilt pilled on guilt. They should not be acquitted. They should be blotted out of the book of the living. They should not be listed among the righteous. They should die. Then there is the cry of David to protect him and bring him salvation.