The spiritual worship (Dan 3:16-3:17)

“Yet with a contrite heart,

With a humble spirit,

May we be accepted,

As though it were

With burnt offerings

Of rams,

Of bulls,

With tens of thousands

Of fat lambs!

Such may our sacrifice be

In your sight,

Today!

May we unreservedly

Follow you!

No shame

Will come

To those

Who trust in you!”

Thus, Azariah pointed out that their religion must become more spiritual than cultic, without a Temple to offer sacrifices. With a contrite heart and humble spirit, Azariah asked that his attitude might take the place of the cultic burnt offerings of rams, bulls, and lambs. He wanted his attitude to be the equivalent of ritual sacrifices. He did not want shame to come to those who trusted in God and followed his commandments. This is a clear movement away from the ritual temple worship.

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Eat and drink well (Ezek 39:18-39:20)

“‘You shall eat

The flesh

Of the mighty!

You shall drink

The blood

Of the princes

Of the earth!

You shall eat

Rams,

Lambs,

Goats,

Bulls,

All of them fatlings

Of Bashan.

You shall eat fat

Until you are filled.

You shall drink blood

Until you are drunk.

I am preparing

This sacrificial feast

For you.

You shall be filled

At my table

With horses,

With charioteers,

With warriors,

With all kinds of soldiers.’

Says Yahweh God.”

What were they going to do at this great festival? Yahweh God said that they were going to eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the earthly princes in some symbolic way. However, they were also going to have some real food with rams, lambs, goats, and bulls from the great grazing land on the east side of the Jordan River in Bashan. They were going to eat until they were full and drink until they were drunk. Gluttony and drunkenness was not a problem since Yahweh was preparing this sacrificial feast for them. With them at the table would be horses, charioteers, warriors, and all kinds of soldiers. However, I don’t know why.

The sacking of Babylon (Jer 50:26-50:27)

“Come against her

From every quarter!

Open her granaries!

Pile her up

Like heaps of grain!

Destroy her utterly!

Let nothing be left of her!

Kill all her bulls!

Let them go down

To the slaughter!

Woe to them!

Their day has come!

The time

Of their punishment!”

There was to be a complete destruction in Babylon. They were to come from every side. They were to open up the Babylonian granaries. Let them be piled up like heaps of grain. Nothing should be left of the Babylonians. They were to slaughter all the Babylonian bulls. The day of punishment would come upon the Babylonians.

The sword of Yahweh on Edom (Isa 34:5-34:7)

“When my sword has drunk

Its fill in the heavens,

It will descend upon Edom.

My sword will descend

Upon the people I have doomed.

Yahweh has a sword.

It is sated with blood,

With the blood of lambs,

With the blood of goats.

It is gorged with fat,

With the fat of the kidneys of rams.

Yahweh has a sacrifice in Bozrah.

There was a great slaughter

In the land of Edom.

Wild oxen shall fall with them.

Young steers shall fall with them.

Mighty bulls shall fall with them.

Their land shall be soaked with blood.

Their soil made rich with fat.”

Isaiah has Yahweh talk about his sword that was going to descend on the country of Edom, southeast of Judah, where the twin brother of Jacob, Esau, had settled as in Genesis, chapter 36. Yahweh’s heavenly sword would fall upon the doomed country of Edom. This sword would be full of blood from goats and rams as well as fat from their kidneys. There was going to be a great sacrificial slaughter in Bozrah, the capital city of Edom. There was going to be such a sacrifice of oxen, steers, and bulls that the land would be soaked with blood and fat so that the soil would become rich.

Futile sacrificial offerings (Isa 1:11-1:13)

“‘What to me

Is the multitude of your sacrifices?’

Says Yahweh.

‘I have had enough

Of burnt offerings

Of rams.

I have had enough

Of burnt offerings

Of the fat of fed beasts.

I do not delight

In the blood of bulls.

I do not delight

In the blood of lambs.

I do not delight

In the blood of goats.

When you come

To appear before me,

Who asked this

From your hand?

Trample my courts no more.

Bringing offerings is futile.

Incense is an abomination to me.’”

In a total rejection of the priestly Levitical Israelite line that stressed the importance and necessity of sacrificial offerings, Yahweh, via Isaiah, seems to call all of the Temple sacrifices useless. Why were there multitudes of sacrifices? Yahweh, the Lord, had had enough of priestly burnt offerings of rams, fatten animals, blood, bulls, lambs, and goats. Who asked you to bring all these animals? Why, of course it was God’s law, the Torah, especially the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. It was a common theme as late as the wisdom literature. Here is an opposite strain of thought. Yahweh did not want his courts trampled, but that was what the law called for. This is a strong condemnation of incense, which was praised throughout all the other biblical writings because of its sweet smell. What a stunning reversal against the Torah!

Manual work versus wisdom (Sir 38:24-38:26)

“The wisdom of the scribe

Depends on the opportunity

Of leisure.

Only the one who has little business

Can become wise.

How can one become wise

Who handles the plow?

How can one become wise

Who glories in the shaft of a goad?

How can one become wise

Who drives oxen?

How can one become wise

Who is occupied with their work?

How can one become wise

Whose talk is about bulls?

He sets his heart on plowing furrows.

He is careful about fodder

For the heifers.”

Sirach recognizes that you cannot be a wise writer if you do not have leisure time. If you are doing business deals, you do not have time for wisdom. Most people were too busy with getting their oxen moving a plow, in the good old days before John Deere tractors. If you are occupied with your work in the fields, and taking care of bulls and heifers, how would you have any leisure time to be wise?

Praise Yahweh (Ps 69:30-69:33)

“I will praise the name of God with a song!

I will magnify him with thanksgiving!

This will please Yahweh

More than an ox.

This will please Yahweh

More than a bull with horns and hoofs.

Let the oppressed see it!

Let them be glad!

You who seek God,

Let your hearts revive!

Yahweh hears the needy.

Yahweh does not despise his own that are in bonds.”

David was going to praise the name of God with a song. He felt that his song would magnify this thanksgiving praise. This will please Yahweh more than the sacrifices of oxen and bulls. This might be a post-exilic composition. Those who were oppressed should see the glory of God. They should be happy so that their hearts would be revived. Yahweh hears the cries of the needy and does not despise them.