The rescue of Samaria (Am 3:12-3:12)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘As the shepherd

Rescues

From the mouth

Of the lion

Two legs,

Or a piece of an ear,

So,

Shall the people of Israel

Who live in Samaria

Be rescued,

With the corner

Of a couch

Or with part of a bed.’”

Amos has a cute little saying of Yahweh that compares him to a shepherd. A shepherd would pick up the pieces after a lion has devoured a sheep. So too, Yahweh would do the same for Samaria. As the shepherd took a couple of legs and an ear or a sheep, so Yahweh would save the corner of a couch or a part of a bed of the people in Samaria.

The punishment (Lam 4:6-4:6)

Vav

“The chastisement

Of my people

Has been greater

Than the punishment

Of Sodom.

It was overthrown

In a moment,

Even though

No hand

Was laid on it.”

This author compares the punishment of Jerusalem to that of the city of Sodom in Genesis, chapter 19, which seemed to resonate in the Israelite imagination. In fact, the punishment to the people of Jerusalem during this siege was worse than that of Sodom, because this punishment was lingering and not quick. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Vav in this acrostic poem.

The soldiers of Babylon stop fighting (Jer 51:30-51:33)

“The warriors of Babylon

Have given up fighting.

They remain

In their strongholds.

Their strength has failed.

They have become women.

Her buildings are on fire.

Her bars are broken.

One runner runs

To meet another.

One messenger runs

To meet another.

They tell

The king of Babylon

That his city is taken

From end to end.

The fords have been seized.

The marshes have been burned

With fire.

The soldiers are in panic.

Thus says Yahweh of hosts,

The God of Israel.

‘Daughter Babylon is

Like a threshing floor

At the time

When it is trodden.

Yet a little while

The time of her harvest

Will come.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, notes that the Babylonian warriors have stopped fighting. They stay in their fortresses. Their strength has left them so that they are like women. Their buildings are on fire. The bars to their gates are broken. Messengers are running to meet other messengers on their way to tell the king that the city is lost from end to end. The fords or the shallow parts of the river areas have been seized, while the wet marshes have been set on fire. All the soldiers are in a state of panic. Thus the God of Israel compares Babylon to a barren threshing floor that is waiting for a harvest that will never come.

The covenant about future kings and Levites (Jer 33:19-33:22)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah.

Thus says Yahweh.

‘If any of you could break

My covenant with the day,

If any of you could break

My covenant with the night,

So that day and night

Would not come

At their appointed time,

Only then could

My covenant

With my servant David

Be broken.

Thus he would not

Have a son

To reign on his throne.

My covenant is

With my ministers,

The Levites.

Just as the host of heaven

Cannot be numbered,

Just as the sands of the sea

Cannot be measured,

So I will increase

The offspring

Of my servant David.

I will increase

The Levites

Who minister to me.’”

Once again this is an oracle of Yahweh to Jeremiah. Yahweh seems to say that if you can make day and night not appear at the correct time, then he would break his covenant with David. Otherwise, David would have a son to reign on his throne. It was very clear that no one could become king without a Davidic background. He also includes the Levite ministers, when he compares the numerous heavenly hosts and the immeasurable sands of the sea that cannot be measured or counted. Thus there would be offspring of David and Levites to minister to him.

The older people at the banquet (Sir 32:3-32:6)

“Speak!

You who are older!

It is your right!

But speak

With accurate knowledge!

Do not interrupt the music!

Where there is entertainment,

Do not pour out talk!

Do not display

Your cleverness

At the wrong time!

A ruby seal

In a setting of gold

Is a concert of music

At a banquet of wine.

A seal of emerald

In a rich setting of gold

Is the melody of music

With good wine.”

Sirach has some advice for the old folks at a wine banquet. If they are older, they should speak because it is their right. However, they should have accurate knowledge. These old folks should not talk if there is entertainment, so that they do not display their cleverness at the wrong time. Sirach compares the role of music and wine at a banquet to a ruby seal in gold and an emerald set in gold. Once again, jewelry was a comparison to the happy good times of music and drink.

The idle ones (Sir 22:1-22:2)

“The idler is

Like a filthy stone.

Every one hisses

At his disgrace.

The idler is

Like the filth of dunghills.

Any one that picks it up

Will shake it off his hand.”

Sirach compares the idle lazy person to a filthy stone, like used toilet paper. Everyone hisses at his disgrace in not doing any work. The idler is like the filthy excrement of the dunghills. He is like the highly offensive term “a piece of shit.” Anyone that picks it up, immediately shakes it off. This is strong criticism of those idle people who do not work.

The uniqueness of the female lover (Song 6:8-6:10)

Male lover

“There are sixty queens.

There are eighty concubines.

There are maidens without number.

My dove!

My perfect one is the only one.

She is the darling of her mother.

She is flawless to her that bore her.

The maidens saw her.

They called her happy.

The queens saw her.

The concubines also saw her.

They praised her.

‘Who is this that looks forth like the dawn?

Who is as fair as the moon?

Who is as bright as the sun?

Who is as awesome as an army with banners?’”

Now this male lover or prince compares his lover to 60 queens, 80 concubines, and numerous maidens. Is this the king speaking about his various female companions or the prince speaking about them? His lover is considered better than all of them, since she is the perfect one. She was the flawless darling of her mother. Everyone, the queens, the concubines, and the maidens, seems to praise her. They are all looking forward to her as if she was like the dawn of a new day. She was like the moon and the sun combined. She was going to come with an awesome army of banners.