The response of Susanna (Dan 13:22-13:23)

“Susanna groaned.

She said.

‘I am completely trapped.

If I do this,

It will mean death for me.

If I do not do this,

I cannot escape

Your hands.

I choose not to do it.

I will fall

Into your hands,

Rather than to sin

In the sight of the Lord.’”

Susanna groaned, as she felt trapped. If she committed adultery with these two elder judges, she would be killed. If she did not, she would fall into their hands. They would control her life and judge her. The choice was hers. She decided not to have sex with these two old judges. Instead, she was not going to sin in the sight of God. She would rather be judged by humans than God. Of course, this is the great moral tale. Stand up for your beliefs.

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The adultery of the two sisters with their idols (Ezek 23:37-23:39)

“They have committed

Adultery.

Blood is

On their hands.

With their idols,

They have committed

Adultery.

They have even offered up

To them

For food

The children

Whom they had borne

To me.

Moreover

This they have done

To me.

They have defiled

My sanctuary

On the same day.

They have profaned

My Sabbath.

When they had slaughtered

Their children

For their idols,

On the same day,

They came

Into my sanctuary

To profane it.

This is what they did

In my house.”

Yahweh explains to Ezekiel about the adulterous behavior of these two sisters, particularly Jerusalem. They had turned to idol images instead of Yahweh. Thus they have committed adultery. Blood was on their hands because of their idol worship. They had even offered up Israelite children for food for these idols. Not only did they sacrifice their own children, but on the same day they defiled the sanctuary of the Temple and profaned the Sabbath. They had slaughtered their own children for their idols. What kind of adulterous behavior was this?

Comparisons to other evil people (Jer 23:13-23:14)

“In the prophets of Samaria,

I saw a disgusting thing.

They prophesied by Baal.

They led my people Israel astray.

But in the prophets of Jerusalem,

I have seen a more shocking thing.

They commit adultery.

They walk in lies.

They strengthen

The hands of evildoers.

Thus no one turns from wickedness.

All of them have become

Like Sodom to me.

Its inhabitants are

Like Gomorrah.”

Yahweh makes a comparison between the evil prophets of Jerusalem with the false prophets of Samaria as well as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. There is no doubt that the false prophets of Samaria worshipped and prophesized by Baal. Thus they led the Israelites astray by these disgusting practices. However, the prophets of Jerusalem have done a more shocking thing. They committed adultery and walked in lies. Thus they strengthened the hands of the evil doers. Thus, no one turned away from wickedness. They became like the famous sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, in Genesis, chapter 19.

How could God pardon them? (Jer 5:7-5:9)

“How can I pardon you?

Your children have forsaken me.

They have sworn by those

Who are not gods.

When I fed them to the full,

They committed adultery.

They trooped to the houses of prostitutes.

They were well-fed lusty stallions.

Each was neighing for his neighbor’s wife.

Shall I not punish them for these things?

Shall I not bring retribution

On a nation such as this?’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh wanted to know from Jeremiah how he could pardon the people of Jerusalem. Their children had given up on Yahweh. They were swearing to things that were not gods at all. Even after he had fed them to the full, they went and committed adultery. They ran off to the houses of prostitution with their full bellies, like lusty stallions. They were always seeking their neighbor’s wife, like a horse neighing after them. Should they not be punished for such things? This nation deserves retribution.

The failure of Judah (Jer 3:7-3:10)

“I thought.

‘After she has done all this

She will return to me.’

But she did not return.

Her false sister Judah saw it.

She saw

That for all the adulteries

Of that faithless one,

Israel.

I had sent her away

With a decree of divorce.

Yet her false sister Judah did not fear.

But she too went

To play the whore.

Because she took her whoredom so lightly,

She polluted the land.

She committed adultery

With a stone.

She committed adultery

With a tree.

Yet for all this

Her false sister Judah

Did not return to me

With her whole heart,

But only in pretense.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah, but this time it was about Judah, not the northern Israelite tribes. Yahweh had expected the northern tribes to return to him. However, the southern tribe of Judah saw what happened and did the same as her northern sisters. Judah had no fear, even though Yahweh had divorced northern Israel. Then Judah, the false sister, played the whore. She polluted the land as she turned to worshiping the stones and trees during the reigns of the preceding kings of Judah, King Manasseh (687-642 BCE) and King Amon (642-640 BCE) the father and grandfather of King Josiah. Thus they committed adultery with these false worship services. Judah only pretended to return to Yahweh. Thus Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah.

The female adulterer (Sir 23:22-23:27)

“So it is with a woman

Who leaves her husband.

She presents him

With an heir

By another man.

First of all,

She has disobeyed

The law of the Most High.

Second,

She has committed an offense

Against her husband.

Third,

Through her fornication

She has committed adultery.

She has brought forth children

By another man.

She herself will be brought

Before the assembly.

Her punishment will extent

To her children.

Her children will not take root.

Her branches will not bear fruit.

She will leave behind

An accursed memory.

Her disgrace will never

Be blotted out.

Those who survive her

Will recognize

That nothing is better

Than the fear of the Lord.

Nothing is sweeter

Than to heed

The commandments of the Lord.”

There seems to be a worse punishment for the female adulterer. She has left her husband and had a child with another man. It is not clear that if she did not have a child, whether she would be punished. She has done 3 things wrong. She disobeyed the law of the Most High God. She has offended her husband. She has committed adultery. Instead of seizing her in the streets, like the male adulterer, she is brought before the assembly for a humiliating action of some sort. Her children will be punished. They apparently will not have heirs. She will leave behind a cursed memory that will never be blotted out. Everyone should recognize that there is nothing better than the fear of the Lord. There is nothing sweeter than to follow the commandments of the Lord.

Evil consequences of the worship of false idols (Wis 14:22-14:26)

“Then it was not enough for them to err

About the knowledge of God,

But they lived in great strife due to ignorance.

They called such great evils peace.

Whether they killed children in their initiations,

Or celebrated secret mysteries,

Or held frenzied revels with strange customs,

They no longer keep

Either their lives pure

Or their marriages pure.

But they either treacherously killed one another,

Or grieved one another by adultery.

All was a raging riot

Of blood,

Of murder,

Of theft,

Of deceit,

Of corruption,

Of faithlessness,

Of tumult,

Of perjury.

There was confusion over what was good.

There was forgetfulness of favors.

There was pollution of souls.

There was sex perversion.

There was disorder in marriage.

There was adultery.

There was debauchery.”

What happens to those who worship false idols? They were ignorant of God (περὶ τὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ γνῶσιν). However, they lived in great strife and called it peace. They killed their children in strange initiation ceremonies. They celebrated secret mysteries (μυστήρια) with strange customs. Their lives and marriages were no longer pure. They killed each other. They committed adultery among themselves. They ended up in a riot of blood and murder. There was theft, deceit, corruption, faithfulness, tumult, perjury, sexual perversion, adultery, and debauchery. They did not know what was good.   They forgot favors. They defiled their souls.