“Then Yahweh showed me
The high priest,
Before the angel of Yahweh,
At his right hand
To accuse him.”
This 4th vision was about Joshua the high priest in Jerusalem. Joshua was with the angel of Yahweh and his adversary, Satan. This Satan stood at the right hand of the good angel. He was going to accuse Joshua of wrong doing.
“Then I said.
‘What are these?
The angel who talked with me
Said to me.
`I will show you
What they are.’
Then the man
Who was standing
Among the myrtle trees
‘They are those
Whom Yahweh has sent
To patrol the earth.’
Then they spoke
To the angel of Yahweh,
Who was standing
Among the myrtle trees.
‘We have patrolled
The whole earth
Remains at peace.’”
Zechariah had the same question, what was this all about? The angel of Yahweh told Zechariah that he would explain what was going on. Actually, the man standing among the myrtle trees did most of the talking. He said that these horses with their riders were patrolling the earth, like a worldwide police force that Yahweh had sent out. Then this man from the myrtle tree area spoke directly to the angel of Yahweh. He reported that they had patrolled the whole earth and there was peace everywhere. Apparently, during the early reign of the Persian King Darius I, there were very few disturbances.
“Then the angel of Yahweh set out.
He struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand
In the camp of the Assyrians.
When morning dawned,
They were all dead bodies.”
Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19, except that missing here is “that very day.” Wow! This is an amazing number, even greater than the Egyptian plagues. The angel of Yahweh, at the time of the Exodus, killed the first born children of Egypt. Here the angel of Yahweh killed Assyrian warriors. 185,000 is a lot of people to die in one night. Herodotus the Greek historian noted that the Assyrians were defeated at the Egyptian borders when mice ate their bowstrings. Mice could have brought a plague, but to kill everyone of the 185,000 in one night seems a bit much.
“Let them be put to shame!
Let them be put to dishonor!
All who seek after my life,
Let them be turned back!
Let them be confounded!
All who devise evil against me,
Let them be like chaff before the wind!
Let the angel of Yahweh drive them on!
Let their way be dark!
Let their way be slippery!
Let the angel of Yahweh pursue them!”
David wanted all those who were after his life and devising evil against him be put to shame, dishonored, turned back, and confounded. He wanted them to be chaff in the wind. He wanted the angel of Yahweh to drive them into darkness on a slippery slope. He wanted the angel of Yahweh to pursue them. He wanted bad things to happen to his enemies. He wanted Yahweh or his angel to seek vengeance for him.
“Then the angel of Yahweh commanded Gad to tell King David that he should go up and erect an altar to Yahweh on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. So King David went up following Gad’s instructions, which he had spoken in the name of Yahweh. Ornan turned and saw the angel. While his four sons, who were with him, hid themselves, Ornan continued to thresh the wheat. As King David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw King David. He went out from the threshing floor. He did obeisance to King David with his face to the ground. King David said to Ornan. ‘Give me the site of the threshing floor that I may build on it an altar to Yahweh. Give it to me at its full price, so that the plague may be averted from the people.’ Then Ornan said to King David. ‘Take it. Let my lord the king do what seems good to him. See, I present the oxen for burnt offerings, the threshing sledges for the wood, and the wheat for a cereal offering. I give it all.’ But King David said to Ornan. ‘No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for Yahweh what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings which cost me nothing.’ Thus King David paid Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the site.”
This biblical chronicler continues to follow 2 Samuel, chapter 24, always with a little nuance. The prophet Gad went to King David to tell him to build an altar to Yahweh at the threshing floor of Ornan. Thus King David did what Yahweh had commanded through Gad. He went to see Ornan who was a Jebusite, and not a Hebrew, the same as in 2 Samuel, but with a different name, Araunah. However, this was the place that the angel of Yahweh stopped sending the plague that saved Jerusalem. Ornan showed deference to King David since he had seen an angel before King David had arrived. In this episode, Ornan was with his 4 sons in the threshing area. He did not ask why the king had come to him, as in 2 Samuel. King David wanted to buy the threshing floor and erect an altar there per the instructions of the prophet Gad. Ornan said that he had some animals for a sacrifice plus wood to start a fire. King David would not accept his gifts. He wanted to buy the floor and everything for 600 shekels of gold. Instead of the mere 50 silver shekels in 2 Samuel, here it is the massive amount of 600 shekels of gold or about $45,000 dollars.
“Yahweh sent a pestilence on Israel. Seventy thousand persons fell in Israel. God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it. But when he was about to destroy it, Yahweh took note and relented concerning the calamity. He said to the destroying angel. ‘Enough! Stay your hand.’ The angel of Yahweh was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. King David looked up and saw the angel of Yahweh standing between earth and heaven. In his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. Then King David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces. King David said to God.
‘Was it not I who gave the command to count the people?
It is I who have sinned and done very wickedly.
But these sheep, what have they done?
Let your hand, I pray you, O Yahweh, my God,
Be against me and against my father’s house.
But do not let your people be plagued.’”
Once again this biblical chronicler follows 2 Samuel, chapter 24. Yahweh sent a pestilence that killed 70,000 in Israel. However there is no mention of the geographical scope from Dan to Beer-sheba as in 2 Samuel. This was a quick violent disease. However, when the angel of Yahweh reached Jerusalem, Yahweh changed his mind and said that enough was enough. He had made his point. Somehow the angel of Yahweh was at the threshing floor of Ornan who was a Jebusite, the first inhabitants of Jerusalem. Here, he is called Ornan while in 2 Samuel he was called Araunah, close enough I guess. King David said that he was personally responsible, so let everything be on him and not the rest of the people. He pleaded before Yahweh to save the people and let him alone be punished.
“There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. His wife was barren, having borne no children. The angel of Yahweh appeared to the woman and said to her. ‘Although you are barren, having borne no children, you shall conceive and bear a son. Now be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, and eat anything unclean. You shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.’ Then the woman came and told her husband. ‘A man of God came to me. His appearance was like that of an angel of God, most awe-inspiring. I did not ask him where he came from. He did not tell me his name. But he said to me. ‘You shall conceive and bear a son. Drink no wine or strong drink. Eat nothing unclean. The boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth to the day of his death.’”
Samson is a real folk hero, almost a super-hero. Zorah was a town on the Judah/Dan border, about 15 miles west of Jerusalem. Manoah was from the southern tribe of Dan, who had a barren wife. This story has some of the attributes of the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis. The angel of Yahweh tells this unnamed wife of Manoah that she will conceive a son even though she is barren. She gets some good pre-natal advice from this angel to not drink wine or strong drink, nor eat anything unclean. In a strange comment, this boy will be a Nazirite from birth, so that no one should cut his hair. However, according to Numbers, chapter 6, the Nazirite person takes a vow to do this. This boy will deliver Israel from the Philistines. In this case, he will be a life time Nazirite. She went and told her husband about this awe-inspiring person who did not give his name and where he was from. She just repeated what he told her.