Useless work (Hag 1:9-1:9)

“‘You have looked

For much,

But it came to little.

When you brought it home,

I blew it away.

Why?’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Because my house

Lies in ruins,

While all of you

Hurry off

To your own houses’”

They had looked for many things, but they could only find a few little things.  When they finally brought them home, Yahweh blew them away.  Even though Yahweh’s house was in ruins, they hurried off to build their own homes.  Yahweh wanted them to pay more attention to the house of Yahweh.

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The coming battles in Israel (Ezek 7:14-7:15)

“They have blown

The horn.

They have made

Everything ready.

But no one goes

To battle.

My wrath is

Upon all their multitude.

The sword is

Outside.

Pestilence is within.

Famine is within.

Those in the field

Die by the sword.

Those in the city

Have famine

With pestilence

Devour them.”

This picks up on a theme of the last chapter about how people die, repeating the three ways to die. The Israelites blew the horn to get ready for the battle, but no one showed up. Thus Yahweh’s wrath was on everybody. Those outside the city in the fields would die by the sword. However, those in the city would die from a pestilence or a famine that would devour them.

The reaction of the people to the actions of Simon (Sir 50:16-50:19)

“Then the sons of Aaron shouted.

They blew their trumpets

Of hammered metal.

They sounded a mighty fanfare,

As a reminder before

The Most High.

Then all the people together

Quickly fell to the ground

On their faces.

They worshiped their Lord,

The Almighty,

The God Most High.

Then the singers praised him

With their voices

In sweet full-toned melody.

The people

Of the Lord Most High

offered their prayers

Before the merciful one,

Until the order of worship of the Lord

Was ended.

Thus they completed Simon’s ritual.”

Next the sons of Aaron shouted. Then they blew their hammered metal trumpets with a great fanfare before the Most High God. The people in the assembly then quickly fell with their faces down to the ground, as they worshipped the Lord Almighty, the Most High God. The singers chimed in with their sweet melodic voices, as the people offered their prayers to the Most High merciful God, until this worship service to the Lord was ended.

The earth around us (Eccl 1:4-1:7)

“A generation goes.

A generation comes.

But the earth remains forever.

The sun rises.

The sun goes down.

The sun hastens to the place

Where it rises.

The wind blows to the south.

The wind goes around to the north.

Round and round goes the wind.

On its circuits

The wind returns.

All streams run to the sea.

But the sea is not full.

They continue to flow

To the place where the streams flow.

There they continue to flow.”

This is a stunning appreciation of creation. Generations of humans come and go, but the earth remains forever in a static flat world concept. The sun rises and sets every day. There was no thought that the earth was moving around a static sun. The wind blew in from the north to south and then around and around again. The wind, as we know, blows in various directions. The streams do run to the sea, and not vice versa. However, the seas never seem to fill up because there is osmosis. No matter what, the streams continue to flow to where they want to go, usually downhill because of gravity. Thus this poetic expression of creation uses the scientific assumptions of its day, not those of the later scientific age.

Tobias heals his father Tobit (Tob 11:9-11:14)

“Then Anna ran to her son. She threw her arms around him.

‘Now that I have seen you,

My child,

I am ready to die.’

She wept. Then Tobit got up. He came stumbling out through the courtyard door. Tobias went up to him, with the gall of the fish in his hand. Holding him firmly, he blew into eyes, saying.

‘Take courage, father!’

With this he applied the medicine to his eyes. It made them smart. Next, with both his hands he peeled off the white films from the corners of his eyes. Then Tobit saw his son. He threw his arms around him.

‘I see you, my son,

The light of my eyes!’”

Tobias’ mother ran to her son and threw her arms around him. She wept and said that she could die now because she had finally seen him. Tobit tried to go to greet him, but he stumbled. Then Tobias went to greet him with the fish gall in his hand. He held his father tightly as he blew into his eyes and applied the fish gall medicine that smarted. Then the white films from the corners of his eyes were peeled off. Tobit could see his son, the light of his life. The healing of the eyes had taken place just as Raphael had said it would.