Israel grew rich with many altars (Hos 10:1-10:1)

“Israel is

A luxuriant vine

That yields its fruit.

The more his fruit

Increased,

The more altars

He built.

As his country improved,

He improved

His pillars.”

Israel was very successful after its entry into Canaan. They had great vineyards with abundant fruit. However, as their wealth increased, the Israelites built more altars to the various Canaanite gods. As the country improved, they set up more sacred pillars for foreign gods. Thus, the more that they enjoyed the wealth of the land, the more that they sinned in seeking false gods.

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Against the Ammonites (Ezek 25:1-25:2)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Set your face

Toward the Ammonites,

Prophesy against them.’”

Now there are a series of oracles against the various countries around Israel and Judah. As usual, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. He was to set his face against the Ammonites and prophesy against them. Who are the Ammonites? In the biblical sense, they are the descendants of Ammon, the son of Lot from the incest incident with his daughter in Genesis, chapter 19. They seem to have been east of the Jordan and north of Moab, but south of Assyria. The country of Ammon existed from about the 10th century to the 4th century BCE in what would have been the Gad territory as outlined in Joshua, chapter 13. Today it is part of the country of Jordan. Jeremiah, chapter 49, had also spoken out against them. They along with the Moabites were the constant enemies of Judah and Israel. At some point, they became part of the Assyrian empire and eventually ceased to exist. They certainly were related to Canaan and spoke a Semitic language.

The symbolic history of Jerusalem (Ezek 16:1-16:3)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Make known

To Jerusalem

Her abominations!

Say!

Thus says Yahweh God

To Jerusalem.

Your origin,

Your birth

Were in the land

Of the Canaanites.

Your father was

An Amorite.

Your mother was

A Hittite.’”

Once again, Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. This time, it was about the origins and symbolic history of Jerusalem. The context was a berating of Jerusalem and her abominations. Unlike most stories of Israel that talk about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or the Egyptian experience under Moses, this history of Jerusalem starts with the Canaanites. This has led many to believe that there may be some validity to this history. Of course, this is specifically aimed at the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They were Canaanites whose mother was a Hittite with their father an Amorite. The Amorites were an ancient Syrian tribe with a Semitic language that also lived in Canaan from about 1700 BCE. From a biblical perspective based on Genesis, chapter 10, they were the descendants of Canaan and Ham. Amorite and Canaanite were interchangeable. They were definitely there before the Moses-Joshua experience. The Hittites were another Canaanite group that seemed to be friendly in many of the Genesis stories.

The lack of knowledge (Bar 3:20-3:23)

“Later generations

Have seen

The light of day.

They have lived

Upon this earth.

But they have

Not learned

The way to knowledge.

They have not

Understood her paths.

They have not

Laid hold of her.

Their descendants

Have strayed far

From her way.

She has not been heard of

In Canaan.

She has not been seen

In Teman.

The descendants of Hagar

Seek for understanding

On the earth.

The merchants of Merran,

With the merchants of Teman

Have not learned

The way to wisdom.

The story-tellers,

The seekers for understanding

Have not given thought

To her paths.”

The people living today on this earth have not learned the way to knowledge. They have not understood the various paths to get there. They are unable to grab knowledge. Their descendants have wandered far off the beaten path towards knowledge. Thus they cannot hear or see of knowledge in Canaan or Teman. Canaan was the old name for the land of Israel, while Teman was a city in Edom, south of Israel that was well known for its wisdom. The descendants of Hagar, the concubine of Abraham, or the Ishmaelites, were also seeking understanding. However, the merchants of Midian or Merran with the merchants of Teman in Edom have not learned the various paths to wisdom. The story-tellers and even those seeking understanding have not learned the way or path to wisdom. In fact, they have given little thought to this question.

The deserted land (Isa 17:9-17:9)

“On that day,

Their strong cities will be

Like the deserted places of the Hivites,

Like the deserted places of the Amorites.

They deserted them

Because of the children of Israel.

Now there will be desolation.”

On this day of destruction, the strong cities of the north would be deserted like the former places of the Hivites and the Amorites. The Hivites were one of the northern tribes that lived in Canaan, supposedly the Semitic descendants of Ham, the son of Noah. The Amorites were southern Canaanites, before Judah took over. However, the Amorites were more spread out into Mesopotamia and into Syria. Within the biblical literature Amorites and Canaanites are sometimes interchangeable. Anyway, after the takeover of Canaan at the time of Joshua, their cities were deserted because the children of Israel left them in ruins. The same thing was now going to happen to the northern Israelites.

Joseph (Sir 49:15-49:15)

“Nor was anyone born

Like Joseph,

The leader of his brothers,

The support of the people.

Even his bones

Were cared for.”

Sirach gives Joseph only one verse, as he seems to have an odd spot here. The story of Joseph and his activity in Egypt can be found in 13 chapters of Genesis, 37-50. Although abandoned by his brothers, he turns out to be their leader and the support of his people. He wanted his bones returned to Canaan, but they were buried in an Egyptian tomb until Moses took them in Exodus, chapter 13. They were finally buried at Shechem in Joshua, chapter 24. Two of his sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, make up part of the 12 territorial tribes since Levi did not get any territory.

Yahweh and the Promised Land (Ps 136:16-135:22)

“Yahweh led his people through the wilderness.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He struck down great kings.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He killed famous kings.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He killed Sihon,

King of the Amorites.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He killed Og,

King of Bashan.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He gave their land as a heritage.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He gave it as a heritage to Israel his servant,

His steadfast love endures forever.”

Once again, the congregational refrain, “His steadfast love endures forever” is repeated after every verse. This is once again a repetition of the previous psalm, Psalm 135, about the trip to the Promised Land. In order to take the Promised Land, they had to defeat a number of nations and countries. Yahweh helped them to strike down these fellow humans because his steadfast love endures forever. They and Yahweh killed many kings. The two most prominent as found in Numbers, chapter 21, was King Sihon of the Amorites and King Og of Bashan, on the borders of Canaan. They also killed the kings and people in Canaan as found in Joshua, chapters 5-12. Thus Yahweh gave Israel the land of Canaan as a heritage because of his enduring steadfast love.