An oracle against Aram (Zech 9:1-9:2)

“An oracle.

The word of Yahweh is

Against the land of Hadrach.

It will rest upon Damascus.

The capital of Aram,

With Hamath

That borders on Damascus,

As do all the tribes of Israel,

Belong to Yahweh.”

This second part of this book of Zechariah is a series of oracles that presume something like the conquest of Alexander the Great in 333 BCE.  Apparently, Yahweh was on the side of the Greeks in their conquest.  Thus, Yahweh was against Aram, present day Syria, as well as the cities of Hadrach, Hamath, and Damascus, the capital of Aram.  All of these places belonged to Yahweh, just as all the tribes of Israel also belonged to Yahweh.

The food habits of the priests (Ezek 44:29-44:31)

“They shall eat

The grain offering,

The sin offering,

The guilt offering.

Every devoted thing

In Israel

Shall be theirs.

The first of all

The first fruits

Of all kinds

Shall belong

To the priests.

Every offering

Of all kinds,

From all your offerings,

Shall belong

To the priests.

You shall also give

To the priests

The first of your dough.

Thus,

A blessing may rest

On your house.

The priests shall not eat

Of anything,

Whether bird

Or animal,

That died of itself

Or was torn by animals.”

The Zadok Levitical priests had strict dietary habits that were very favorable to them. They were to eat all the various offerings that the people of Israel presented, the grain offerings, the sin offerings, the guilt offerings, or any devoted thing in Israel. They would also get the first fruits of all kinds, including the cooked dough. All these food items belonged to the priests. Giving them to the priests meant that your house would have a blessing. However, these priests were not allowed to eat any bird or animal that had died by itself or was mangled by another animal.

The dragon in the Nile River (Ezek 29:3-29:4)

“Speak!

Say!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I am against you!

Pharaoh!

King of Egypt!

The great dragon

Sprawling In the midst

Of its channels!

Saying!

‘My Nile is my own!

I made it for myself.’

I will put hooks

In your jaws.

I will make the fish

Of your channels

Stick to your scales.

I will draw you up

From your channels,

With all the fish

Of your channels

Sticking to your scales.’”

Ezekiel was told to speak against the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, who was described as a great dragon in the midst of the various Nile channels in the Delta area. This great dragon Pharaoh was proclaiming that the Nile River belonged to him. Yahweh said that he was going to put hooks into this dragon’s jaws. The various fish in the Nile channels in the Delta area would have their scales stick to these tributaries. In other words, they would die. These offshoots of the Nile River were an allusion to the various countries that had mercenary troops in Egypt.

The tattoo of Yahweh (Isa 44:5-44:5)

“This one will say.

‘I am Yahweh’s.’

Another will be called

By the name of Jacob.

Another will write on his hand.

‘Yahweh’s.’

Another will adopt

The name of Israel.”

Some people will say that they belong to Yahweh. Thus they could be the servants of Yahweh. Others will call themselves with the name of Jacob, which is actually common today. Still others will tattoo on their hand the name of Yahweh, which of course had no vowels. Tattooing was a common ancient practice among slave owners, so that people knew who the slave belonged to. Finally some people would adopt the name of Israel which is still a common practice.

Let’s get together (Song 7:10-7:13)

Female lover

“I am my beloved’s.

His desire is for me.

Come!

My beloved!

Let us go forth into the fields.

Let us lodge in the villages.

Let us go out early to the vineyards.

Let us see

Whether the vines have budded,

Whether the grape blossoms have opened,

Whether the pomegranates are in bloom.

There I will give you my love.

The mandrakes give forth fragrance.

Over our doors are all choice fruits.

There are new as well as old.

I have laid up for you.

O my beloved!”

This female lover responded that she belonged to her lover. She knew that he has a desire for her. She asked her lover to go into the fields and lodge in the villages. She wanted them to go out into the vineyards early in the day. She wanted to check whether the vines had budded, whether the grape blossoms were open, and whether the pomegranates were in bloom. She wanted to give her love to him there in vineyards where the mandrakes gave off their fragrance. There would be all kinds of choice fruits, both old and new. She had prepared them for him. She wanted her lover.

God will judge (Ps 82:6-82:8)

“I say.

‘You are gods.

You are children of the Most High.

All of you are gods.

Nevertheless,

You shall die like mortals.

You will fall like any prince.’

Arise!

O God!

Judge the earth!

All the nations belong to you!”

The temple prophet uses the words of God. He told the various other gods and world leaders that they were gods since they were children of the Most High God. However, they would all die like mortals and other earthly princes. Finally the psalm ends with the cry for God to arise and judge the earth since all nations belonged to God anyway.

God has the power (Ps 62:11-62:12)

“Once God has spoken.

Twice have I heard this.

That power belongs to God.

Yahweh!

Steadfast love belongs to you!

You repay to all

According to their work.”

This psalm ends with the stress on the power of God. There is a two part conversation with God. First David speaks and then he listens. David had learned that power belonged to God. Once again, there is an emphasis on the steadfast love of Yahweh. However, Yahweh is a fair God since he repays all according to their work with the concept of retribution.

The killing of the ten sons of Haman in Susa (Esth 9:5-9:15)

“The Jews struck down all their enemies with the sword, slaughtering and destroying them. They did as they pleased to those who hated them. In Susa the capital, the Jews killed and destroyed five hundred people. They killed Parshandatha, Dalphon, Aspatha, Poratha, Adalia, Aridatha, Parmashta, Arisai, Aridai, and Vaizatha, the ten sons of Haman son of Hammedatha, the enemy of the Jews. However they did not touch the plunder. That very day the number of those killed in Susa the capital was reported to the king. The king said to Queen Esther.

‘In the capital of Susa,

The Jews have killed five hundred men.

They have killed the ten sons of Haman.

What then have they done in the rest of the king’s provinces?

Now what is your petition?

It shall be granted you.

What further is your request?

It shall be fulfilled.’

Esther said.

‘If it pleases the king,

Let the Jews who are in Susa

Be allowed tomorrow also to do according to this day’s edict.

Let the ten sons of Haman be hanged on the gallows.’

Thus the king commanded this to be done. A decree was issued in Susa. The ten sons of Haman were hanged. The Jews who were in Susa gathered also on the fourteenth day of the month of Adar. They then killed three hundred persons in Susa. However, they did not touch the plunder.”

In the capital city of Susa, the Jews killed 500 of their enemies. This included the 10 sons of Haman. However, they took no plunder. In fact, Queen Esther and Mordecai were given everything that belonged to the house of Haman in the preceding chapter. However, when this was reported to the king, he asked Queen Esther if she had any other requests. She wanted the 10 dead sons of Haman to be hanged on the gallows like their father. She also requested one more day for the Jewish people to kill their enemies. The king, as usual, said okay. Thus the Jews hung the 10 sons of Haman and then killed another 300 people in Susa on the next day.