The fear of captivity (Ezek 32:9-32:10)

“I will trouble

The hearts

Of many people.

I will carry you

Captive

Among the nations,

Into the countries,

That you have not known.

I will make many people

Appalled at you.

Their kings

Shall shudder

Because of you.

I will brandish

My sword

Before them.

They shall tremble

Every moment,

For their lives,

Every one of them,

On the day

Of your downfall.”

Yahweh was going to trouble many people because he was going to carry them off as captives to various nations and countries that they did not know. Other people would be appalled at them. Their kings would shudder because of what was happening. Yahweh was going to show his sword. They would tremble all the time, all of them. They would be afraid for their lives on the day of Egypt’s downfall.

Go into exile with your baggage (Ezek 12:4-12:6)

“You shall bring out

Your baggage,

By day,

In their sight,

As baggage for exile.

You shall go out yourself

At evening,

In their sight,

As those do

Who go into exile.

Dig through the wall

In their sight.

Carry the baggage

Through it.

In their sight

You shall lift

The baggage

On your shoulder.

You shall carry it out

In the dark.

You shall cover

Your face.

Thus you may not see

The land.

I have made you

A sign

For the house of Israel.”

There is a great emphasis on the baggage during this symbolic exilic story, since it assumes that Ezekiel was still in Jerusalem. Everything was to be done in plain sight of everyone. Thus the baggage was prepared during the day so that everyone could see him getting ready to leave. However, Ezekiel was to leave in the evening, but in plain sight. He was to dig a hole in the wall, reminiscent of what King Zedekiah had done. He was to carry his baggage on his shoulder in the dark through the hole in the wall. He had to cover his face, so that he could not see the land he was leaving. Thus his action would become a sign for the house of Israel to see.

The rising waters of the Nile River (Jer 46:7-46:9)

“Who is this?

Who is rising like the Nile?

Who is like rivers

Whose waters surge?

Egypt rises

Like the Nile.

They are

Like rivers

Whose waters surge.

It said.

Let me rise!

Let me cover the earth!

Let me destroy cities!

Let me destroy their inhabitants!

Advance!

O horses!

Dash madly!

O chariots!

Let the warriors go forth!

Men of Ethiopia!

Men of Put

Who carry the shield!

Men of Lud,

Who draw the bow!”

The Egyptians had originally thought that they would have the waters of the Nile River, or their power, take over the Babylonians, but the reverse was true. They wanted to be like rivers surging forth. They wanted to destroy other cities and their inhabitants. They had horses and chariots to carry out their mission as they advanced. They had the people from Ethiopia and Somalia. They had the people of Put, the Libyans, and Lud, the Lydians, who had shields and were good at bows and arrows. However, all this great might was turned back by the Babylonians.

The cup of wrath (Jer 25:15-25:17)

“Thus Yahweh,

The God of Israel,

Said to me.

‘Take from my hand

This cup

Of the wine of wrath!

Make all the nations

To whom I send you,

Drink it!

They shall drink.

They shall stagger.

They shall go out of their minds

Because of the sword

That I am sending among them.’

So I took the cup

From Yahweh’s hand.

I made all the nations,

To whom Yahweh

Sent me,

Drink it.”

This is sort of an introduction to Jeremiah’s oracles against the various nations. However, there will be more to come later in this work. Yahweh wanted Jeremiah to take a cup of wine that was the cup of wrath from his hand. Yahweh then told Jeremiah to make all the countries that he would send him to, drink from this cup. After they drank from it, they would stagger and go out of their minds. He then would send a sword to them. Thus Jeremiah, as usual, did what Yahweh had asked him to do. He took the cup to the various countries that Yahweh sent him. Then he made them drink from this cup of wrath. This sounds like a difficult task to carry around this wine cup of wrath.

Observance of the Sabbath (Jer 17:21-17:23)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For the sake of your lives,

Take care

That you do not bear a burden

On the Sabbath day!

Do not bring it in

By the gates of Jerusalem!

Do not carry a burden

Out of your houses

On the Sabbath!

Do not do any work!

But keep the Sabbath day holy!

As I commanded your ancestors,

Yet they did not listen.

They did not incline their ear.

They stiffened their necks.

They would not hear.

They would not receive instruction.”

Here Jeremiah has Yahweh insist on the observance of the Sabbath that had not been followed by their ancestors. This insistence on the Sabbath observance was a strong post-exilic theme, not a pre-exilic emphasis. They were not to bear any burden on the Sabbath. Certainly, they should not bring anything in through the gates of Jerusalem. They should not even carry a heavy burden from their homes. In fact, they should not do any work on the Sabbath at all, but rather keep it holy. Yahweh had given this same commandment to their ancestors, but they never listened since they did not like instructions.

Prosperity (Isa 66:12-66:14)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘I will extend prosperity to her

Like a river.

The wealth of the nations shall be

Like an overflowing stream.

You shall nurse.

You shall be carried on her arm.

You shall be dandled on her knees.

As a mother comforts her child,

So I will comfort you.

You shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

You shall see.

Your heart shall rejoice.

Your bones shall flourish

Like the grass.

It shall be known

That the hand of Yahweh is

With his servants.

His indignation is

Against his enemies.’”

The prophet proclaims that Yahweh, in the first person singular, will bring prosperity to Jerusalem like an overflowing river. Yahweh will nurse and carry them in his arms. He will rock them on his knees, as Yahweh assumes the anthropomorphic feminine role of a nurturing mother. He will be like a comforting mother as he comforts Jerusalem. They will see and rejoice as their bodies flourish like wild grass. Yahweh’s hand is with his servants, but his indignation is against his enemies.

Leaving Babylon (Isa 52:11-52:12)

“Depart!

Depart!

Go out from there!

Touch no unclean thing!

Go out from the midst of it!

Purify yourselves!

You who carry

The vessels of Yahweh!

You shall not go out in haste.

You shall not go in flight.

Yahweh will go before you.

The God of Israel

Will be your rear guard.”

Second Isaiah wants the Israelites to depart from Babylon. However, they were not to touch any unclean things. They were to purify themselves, especially if they were going to carry the sacred vessels of Yahweh. They were not to leave in a hurry or flee Babylon. Yahweh would be before them, and at the same time, the God of Israel would be their rear guard.

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.

Yahweh will help the house of Jacob (Isa 46:3-46:4)

“Listen to me!

O house of Jacob!

The entire remnant

Of the house of Israel!

You have been borne by me

From your birth!

I carried you

From the womb!

Even to your old age

I am He!

Even when you turn gray

I will carry you!

I have made you!

I will bear you!

I will carry you!

I will save you!”

Second Isaiah has this beautiful Yahweh call to the house of Jacob and the remnant of the house of Israel. He wanted them to listen to him. He reminded them that he had taken care of them since their birth. He had carried them from the womb. Even to their old age, when their hair turns gray, he would be with them since he made them. He would bear them, carry them, and save them because they were special.

Yahweh the Redeemer (Isa 41:14-41:16)

“‘Do not fear!

You worm Jacob!

You insects of Israel!

I will help you!’

Says Yahweh.

Your Redeemer!

The Holy One of Israel!

‘Now I will make of you

A threshing sledge,

Sharp,

New,

Having teeth.

You shall thresh the mountains.

You shall crush them.

You shall make the hills

Like chaff.

You shall winnow them.

The wind shall carry them away.

The tempest shall scatter them.

You shall rejoice in Yahweh!

You shall glory in the Holy One of Israel!’”

Once again, Yahweh assumes the first person singular in Second Isaiah. He seems a little derogatory at first calling the Israelites the worm Jacob and the insect Israel. However, it is clear that he is here to help. He was going to be the Redeemer and the Holy One of Israel, no questions asked. He was going to make the Israelites strong, new, and sharp. They would be a teeth threshing sledge to beat up the crop. Instead of crops, they would go out and crush the mountains and the hills until they become like useless chaff. In other words they were to winnow or separate the grain from the chaff. Then they were to let the wind and the storms carry this chaff away and scatter it. They were to rejoice and glory in Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel.