The siege of Nineveh (Nah 3:12-3:14)

“You also will be drunken.

You will go into hiding.

You will seek

A refuge

From the enemy.

All your fortresses are

Like fig trees

With first-ripe figs.

If shaken,

They fall

Into the mouth

Of the eater.

Look at your troops!

They are women

In your midst.

The gates

Of your land

Are wide open

To your foes.

Fire has devoured

The bars of your gates.

Draw water

For the siege!

Strengthen your forts!

Trample the clay!

Tread the mortar!

Take hold

Of the brick mold!”

So too, the people of Nineveh would be drunk and go into hiding, as they would seek to get away from their enemies.  All their strong fortresses would be like ripe fig trees.  If they would be touched or shaken, these strongholds would fall like ripe fruit right into the mouths of their enemies.  Women had become their troops.  The gates of the city were wide open to their enemies because fire had consumed the bars on their gates.  They had to get water during the siege.  They would have to strengthen their fortresses with clay, mortar, and bricks.

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False worship (Isa 65:3-65:5)

“A people provoke me

To my face continually.

They sacrifice in gardens.

They offer incense on bricks.

They sit inside tombs.

They spend the night in secret places.

They eat swine’s flesh.

They have broth of abominable things

In their vessels.

They say.

‘Keep to yourself.

Do not come near me.

I am too holy for you.’

These are a smoke

In my nostrils.

They are a fire

That burns all the day.”

These Israelites were practicing false worship right in front of Yahweh, instead of the true Yahweh worship. They were sacrificing in the gardens in some sort of a nature cult. They burned incense on bricks that was both a pagan and Israelite practice. Sitting inside tombs was an attempt to consult with the dead. If they spent the night in a secret place they were trying to conjure up a vision. Obviously eating pork was forbidden to the Israelites. Others drank some kind of terrible abominable broth. Some even wanted to keep Yahweh away because they were already part of some unknown rite or cult that made them holy. They were like smoke in Yahweh’s nose. They were like a continually burning fire. They really bothered Yahweh with their false worship practices.

The vengeance of Yahweh against Israel (Isa 9:8-9:12)

“Yahweh has sent a word

Against Jacob.

It fell on Israel.

All the people knew it.

Ephraim with the inhabitants of Samaria

In pride with arrogance of heart,

They said.

‘The bricks have fallen.

But we will build

With dressed stones.

The sycamores have been cut down.

But we will put cedars in their place.’

Thus Yahweh raised adversaries

Against them.

He stirred up their enemies.

The Syrians were on the east.

The Philistines were on the west.

They devoured Israel

With an open mouth.

For all this,

His anger has not turned away.

His hand is still stretched out.”

This poem shows how Israel in the north is being devastated by the Philistines on the west coast and Syrians to the northeast. Yahweh sent his word of vengeance on them via these invaders. The people of Samaria and the whole territory of Ephraim knew it was coming. Nevertheless their pride and their arrogance told them not to worry. Although bricks of ordinary houses were falling and sycamores were chopped down, they contended that they would rebuild with fine stones and fine cedar wood in place of them, so that the new houses would be more like palaces. Yahweh, the Lord, stirred up their enemies so that they devoured the northern territory of Israel. Yahweh had stretched out his hand against them and he continued to do so up to the present time. This refrain will be repeated twice more in the next few sections. The various 8th century BCE disputes between Judah and Israel, as well as between Israel with the Syrians can be found in 2 Kings, chapters 14-17, and 2 Chronicles, chapters 25-28.