The future glory of Israel despite its past (Isa 49:7-49:7)

“Thus says Yahweh!

The Redeemer of Israel!

His Holy One!

He says to one deeply despised,

One abhorred by the nations,

The slave of rulers.

‘Kings shall see.

Kings shall stand up.

Princes shall prostrate themselves.

They will do this

Because of Yahweh.

He is faithful.

The Holy One of Israel

Has chosen you.’”

Second Isaiah continues to use a variety of names for Yahweh, the Lord, like the Redeemer and the Holy One of Israel. Yahweh was trying to reassure Israel that despite being deeply despised by other countries, abhorred by many nations, and the slaves of rulers, there would be a turnabout. Kings would see them and stand up for them. Princes would bow down before them. They are going to do this because Yahweh, the faithful holy one, has chosen them.

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Yahweh is incomparable to the weak false idols (Isa 46:5-46:7)

“To whom will you liken me?

Can you make me equal?

Can you compare me?

Do you think that we are all alike?

Those who lavish gold

From the purse,

They hire a goldsmith

To make it into a god.

Those who weigh out silver

On the scales,

They hire a silversmith,

To make it into a god.

Then they fall down.

They worship it.

They lift it to their shoulders.

They carry it.

They set it in its place.

It stands there.

It cannot move

From its place.

If one cries to it,

It does not answer.

It does not save anyone

From trouble.”

Second Isaiah continues with this theme of the useless idols and how incomparable they are to Yahweh. Once again, Yahweh defends himself. How can you say that these false idols and Yahweh are the same? How could you even make a comparison? Then Yahweh repeated his thought about the uselessness of human made idols, even though they are made of lavish gold and silver. After the goldsmith or silversmith has made their idols, they would bow down and worship before it, knowing that they had just made it. Then they would carefully carry the idol on their shoulders to set it in a place where it could not move. If anyone went to cry before this idol, it could not answer or save that person from their troubles.

The failure of the Babylonian gods (Isa 46:1-46:2)

“Bel bows down.

Nebo stoops.

Their idols are on beasts.

Their idols are on cattle.

These things you carry

Are loaded

Like burdens on weary animals.

They stoop.

They bow down together.

They cannot save the burden.

But they themselves

Go into captivity.”

Second Isaiah talks about the failure of the Babylonian gods. Bel or Bel-Marduk was the chief god of the Babylonians. He was like the lord god. Nebo or Nabu was the son of Marduk, a Babylonian god that was a scribe or wise person. Both of them failed. They had to bow down and stoop before others. These gods had to be carried away on the backs of beasts and animals, since they were incapable of helping themselves as they went into captivity.

All nations will turn to Israel (Isa 45:14-45:14)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘The wealth of Egypt

With the merchandise of Ethiopia,

With the Sabeans,

Tall of stature,

Shall come over to you.

They will be yours.

They shall follow you.

They shall come over in chains.

They shall bow down to you.’”

Second Isaiah talks about everyone coming to Jerusalem. The wealth of the Egyptians and the Ethiopian merchandise would come to Israel. The Sabeans or the tall people of Sheba, the southern Arabs, lived in what is today Yemen. All these people will come to Israel in chains following the Israelites, where they will bow down to these Israelites.

The clever ones (Sir 19:23-19:30)

“There is cleverness

That is detestable.

There is a fool

Who merely lacks wisdom.

Better are the God-fearing

Who lacks understanding

Than the highly intelligent

Who transgresses the law.

There is cleverness

That is exact

But unjust.

There are people

Who abuse favors

To gain a verdict.

There is a villain

Bowed down in mourning.

But inwardly

He is full of deceit.

He hides his face.

He pretends not to hear.

But when no one notices,

He will take advantage of you.

Even if he lacks strength

It does not keep him from sinning.

He will nevertheless do evil

When he finds the opportunity.

A person is known

By his appearance.

A sensible person is known

When first met,

Face to face.

A person’s attire shows what he is.

His hearty laughter shows what he is.

The way he walks shows what he is.”

Sirach then attacks the clever ones with their cleverness, who are really detestable fools who lack wisdom. It is better to be a God fearing person without intelligence than an intelligent transgressor of the law. There are exacting clever people who are unjust. These clever people use the legal system to avoid a bad verdict. They pretend to bow down before you, but there is only deceit in their hearts. They pretend not to hear and not to care, until the right time comes along. Then they take advantage of you. Even if these clever fools are not strong, they will try to do as much evil as they can. They will find any opportunity to be wicked. Look at the appearances of people. See what clothes they are wearing. See how they laugh and walk. Thus you can spot these clever wicked fools.

The perverse simple fools (Prov 14:14-14:19)

“The perverse get what their ways deserve.

The good get what their deeds deserve.

The simple believes everything.

But the clever consider their steps.

The wise are cautious.

They turn away from evil.

But the fool throws off restraint.

The fool is careless.

One who is quick tempered

Acts foolishly.

The schemer is hated.

The simple are adorned with folly.

But the clever are crowned with knowledge.

The evil bow down before the good.

The wicked are at the gates of the righteous.”

Both the perverse and the good get what they deserve based on their ways and deeds. The simple believe everything, but the clever ones watch their steps. The wise clever ones are cautious. They turn away from evil. The foolish ones throw off restraint and are careless. As usual, it is better to be good and wise than a simple perverse fool. The quick tempered ones act foolishly. The schemers are hated. The simple ones are full of folly, but the clever ones are crowned with knowledge. The evil wicked ones bow down before the gates of the good and righteous ones.

Heavenly Yahweh above all gods (Ps 97:6-97:9)

“The heavens proclaim his righteousness.

All the peoples behold his glory.

All worshipers of images are put to shame.

They make their boast in worthless idols.

All gods bow down before him.

Zion hears.

Zion is glad.

The towns of Judah rejoice,

Because of your judgments.

O God!

Yahweh!

You are most high

Over all the earth.

You are exalted far above all gods.”

The heavens proclaim the righteousness of God. Everybody sees his glory. All the worshipers of false images and worthless idols are put to shame since their gods bow down before Yahweh. Mount Zion and all Judah are glad and rejoice. The judgments of Yahweh are most high over all the earth. Yahweh is exalted over the other gods. This seems like some kind of contest between the various gods where Yahweh is the clear winner.