Compassion (Zech 12:10-12:10)

“I will pour out

A spirit of compassion,

A spirit of supplication

On the house of David,

On the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Thus,

When they look on the one

Whom they have pierced,

They shall mourn for him,

Like for an only child.

They shall weep bitterly

Over him,

Like one weeps

Over a first-born.”

The house of David and the people of Jerusalem would have a spirit of compassion and supplication that came from Yahweh.  When they killed anyone with the sword, they would mourn for them, as if they were their own first born only child.  Unlike most warriors, Yahweh’s people would have compassion and mourn for their dead enemies.

Divine appeal (Mic 7:18-7:20)

“Who is a God

Like you?

You pardon iniquity.

You pass over

The transgressions

Of the remnant

Of your possessions.

He does not retain

His anger forever,

Because he delights

In showing clemency.

He will again have compassion

Upon us.

He will tread

Our iniquities

Under foot.

You will cast all our sins

Into the depths of the sea.

You will show faithfulness

To Jacob.

You will show

Unswerving loyalty

To Abraham,

As you have sworn

To our ancestors,

From the days of old.”

This Book of Micah ends with this psalm of praise to Yahweh, while asking for his mercy.  There is no other God like Yahweh, who has pardoned iniquity.  He has let go of the transgressions of his people.  His anger was short lived, because he delighted in granting clemency, since he had compassion for them.  He has stamped on and thrown out all their sins.  He has shown faithfulness and loyalty to Jacob and Abraham, just as he did to all their ancestors in the good old days.  Notice the change from the descriptive “he” to the more intimate “you”.

Death and Sheol (Hos 13:14-13:14)

“Shall I ransom them

From the power

Of Sheol?

Shall I redeem them

From Death?

O Death!

Where are your plagues?

O Sheol!

Where is your destruction?

Compassion is hidden

From my eyes.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, wanted to know if he should ransom Israel from the power of Sheol, the shadowy afterlife experience. Should Yahweh redeem them from death. Then, he like Paul later in his description of death in I Corinthians, chapter 15, wondered where was the sting or the power of death. Where were the plagues and destruction of Death and Sheol? Yahweh would not have compassion on them, because it was hidden from his eyes.

The return from exile (Hos 11:10-11:11)

“They shall go after Yahweh.

He will roar

Like a lion.

When he roars,

His children

Shall come trembling

From the west.

They shall come trembling

Like birds

From Egypt.

They shall come trembling

Like doves

From the land of Assyria.

‘I will return them

To their homes.’

Says Yahweh.”

The compassion of Yahweh will lead the Israelites to return to Israel and Ephraim. Yahweh would roar like a lion. When his children, the Israelites, heard this roar, they would come trembling back to Israel. They would come from the west, like birds from Egypt. They would also return like trembling doves from Assyria. Yahweh said that he would return them to their homes.

The difficult day of your birth (Ezek 16:4-16:5)

“As for your birth,

On the day

You were born

Your navel cord

Was not cut.

You were not washed

With water

To cleanse you.

You were not rubbed

With salt.

You were not wrapped

In clothes.

No eye pitied you.

No one did

Any of these things

For you

Out of compassion

For you.

But you were

Thrown out

In the open field.

You were abhorred

On the day

You were born.”

Apparently when Jerusalem was born, she did not have the usual amenities of child birth. The following things seemed to have happened at child birth at that time. Obviously, the navel cord, which would normally have been cut, was not done so. There was no washing of the child, nor the rubbing with salt as a protective element, nor being wrapped in clothing. No one pitied Jerusalem or had compassion for this city. She was simply thrown out into the open field to fend for herself.  She was abhorred from the day of her birth. She had a difficult first day.

The restoration of fortunes (Jer 30:18-30:21)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘I going to restore the fortunes

Of the tents of Jacob.

I have compassion

On their dwellings.

The city shall be rebuilt

Upon its mound.

The citadel shall set on

Its rightful site.

Out of them shall come

Songs of thanksgiving,

With the sound of merrymakers.

I will multiply them.

They shall not be few.

I will make them honored.

They shall not be disdained.

Their children shall be as of old.

Their congregation

Shall be established before me.

I will punish all

Who oppress them.

Their prince

Shall be one of their own.

Their ruler

Shall come from their own midst.

I will make him draw near.

They shall approach me.

Who would otherwise dare

To approach me?’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that he will restore the fortunes of the Israelites, the tents of Jacob. He was going to have compassion on their buildings and their cities. Thus, they would rebuild over the original rubble, which was the custom at that time. Then they would be able to come with songs of thanksgiving and voices of merrymakers. The Israelites would flourish. They would become numerous and honored, not disdained. Their children would be like in the good old days. Their congregation would hold Yahweh as special. Thus, anyone who oppressed them, Yahweh would punish. They would have their own princes and rulers from their own groups, not outsiders or foreigners telling them what to do. They would be near and approach Yahweh. Let the good times roll!

After the pestilence (Jer 21:7-21:7)

“Says Yahweh.

‘Afterward,

I will give King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

With his servants,

As well as the people in this city,

Those who survived

The pestilence,

The sword,

The famine,

Into the hands

Of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon.

They will be given

Into the hands

Of their enemies,

Into the hands

Of those who seek their lives.

He shall strike them down

With the edge of the sword.

He shall not pity them.

He shall not spare them.

He shall not have compassion.’”

Jeremiah has Yahweh speak to them with this oracle. If the king and his servants, as well as the people of Jerusalem survived the pestilence, the famine, and the sword, then they would be given into the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar and their enemies. They would be stricken down with the edge of a sword. There would be no pity, no sparing them, and no compassion.

The vicious request of Jeremiah (Jer 18:21-18:23)

“Therefore give their children

Over to famine!

Hurl them out

To the power of the sword!

Let their wives become childless!

Let their wives become widowed!

May their men meet death

By pestilence!

May their youths be slain

By the sword in battle!

May a cry be heard

From their houses,

When you bring the marauder

Suddenly upon them.

They have dug a pit

To catch me.

They laid snares

For my feet.

Yet you!

Yahweh!

Know all their plotting

To kill me.

Do not forgive their iniquity!

Do not blot out their sin

From your sight!

Let them be tripped up before you!

Deal with them

While you are angry!”

Jeremiah does not hold back his contempt for his adversaries. He is vicious in this lament to Yahweh. First, he wanted their children to die whether by famine or by the sword. He wanted their wives to be childless and widows. He hoped that they might die from a pestilence. He wanted their young men killed in battle. He wanted a marauder to suddenly attack them. They had plotted to catch him and kill him in a pit, as they laid snares for his feet. He told Yahweh not to forgive their iniquity, not to blot out their sins. They should be tripped up. He wanted Yahweh to deal with them while he was angry, so that they would receive a worse sentence. There was no sense of Jeremiah’s mercy or compassion here. He wanted his enemies completely destroyed.

The judgment on the neighbors (Jer 12:14-12:17)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning all my evil neighbors

Who touch the heritage

That I have given

My people Israel to inherit.

‘I am about to pluck them up

From their land.

I will pluck up

The house of Judah

from among them.

After I have plucked them up,

I will again have compassion on them.

I will bring them again

To their heritage,

To their land.

Then if they will diligently learn

The ways of my people,

To swear by my name,

‘As Yahweh lives!’

As they taught my people

To swear by Baal,

Then they shall be built up

In the midst of my people.

But if any nation will not listen,

Then I will completely uproot it.

I will destroy it.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh gave a warning to the evil neighbors of Judah. They were not to touch the inherited land of the Israelite people, despite his anger at them. He was going to pluck up the people of Judah from their land. However, he was going to later have compassion on them, since he was going to bring all of them back to their land and their heritage. This would happen after they had learned the ways of Yahweh, just as they learned the evil ways of Baal. They had to swear by the living God, Yahweh. They would be built up among his people. However, if any nation did not listen, then Yahweh would then uproot and destroy them also. This clearly was an oracle of Yahweh, via Jeremiah, that showed his compassion for Judah, despite everything.