Some sheep were ruining their food and drink (Ezek 34:18-34:19)

“Is it not enough

For you

To feed

On the good pasture?

Must you tread down

With your feet

The rest of your pasture?

When you drink

Of clear water,

Must you foul

The rest

With your feet?

Must my sheep eat

What you have trodden

With your feet?

Must they drink

What you have fouled

With your feet?”

Some of the sheep were messing up the food supply for the other sheep. They had these wonderful pastures with plenty of food and drink. However, some of these sheep were walking all over the place keeping the grass from growing. They were also walking in the water holes, so that they became polluted. Pollution has always been a problem. In other words, Yahweh, via Ezekiel was complaining that some sheep were messing up the good clean drinking water and the lush green pastures by stomping all over them. Among the sheep of Israel, some were causing problems by fouling things up. The emphasis on their feet was an indication that the actions of these bad Israelite sheep were making it difficult for the good Israelite sheep to sustain their lives with good food and pure water.

Allegories (Ezek 20:49-20:49)

“Then I said.

‘Ah Lord God!

They are saying

Of me.

‘Is he not

A maker

Of allegories?’”

Ezekiel either finished this chapter or started a new chapter by complaining to the Lord God that people were making fun of him. They thought that he was making up these allegories or riddles.

The enemies of Jerusalem (Bar 4:30-4:35)

“Take courage!

O Jerusalem!

The one who named you

Will comfort you.

Wretched will be

Those who mistreated you!

They rejoiced at your fall.

Wretched will be

The cities

That your children

Served as slaves!

Wretched will be

The city

That received your offspring!

She rejoiced

At your fall.

She was glad

For your ruin.

Now she will be grieved

At her own desolation.

I will take away her pride

In her great population.

Her insolence

Will be turned to grief.

Fire will come upon her

from the Everlasting One

For many days.

For a long time,

She will be inhabited

By demons.”

Now there is a turn, as this author speaks directly to Jerusalem instead of Jerusalem herself complaining. Jerusalem was encouraged to be courageous. She would be comforted. However, those who mistreated her and rejoiced at her fall will be miserable. The cities where the children of Jerusalem served as slaves would be miserable also. The city of Babylon, that received the children of Jerusalem, rejoiced and was glad at the downfall and ruin of Jerusalem. Now they will be grieved at their own desolation. The pride of those people and their insolence will be turned to grief. The Everlasting One, not Yahweh, will bring fire upon it for many days. For a long time it will be inhabited by demons.

They will be ashamed (Jer 13:25-13:27)

“Says Yahweh.

‘This is your lot.

This is the portion

I have measured out to you.

Because you have forgotten me.

You trusted in lies.

I myself will lift up your skirts

Over your face.

Your shame will be seen.

I have seen your abominations.

I have seen your adulteries.

I have seen your neighing.

I have seen your shameless prostitution

On the hills of the countryside.

Woe to you!

O Jerusalem!

How long will it be

Before you are made clean?’”

Yahweh was really upset, as Jeremiah indicates. Yahweh has chosen their lot and measured the size of it. They had forgotten Yahweh, but trusted in lies. Thus Yahweh was going to violate them by lifting up their skirts over their face, so that everyone could see the shame of their nakedness. Yahweh had seen enough of their abominations that included adultery, complaining, and senseless prostitution on the hills in the countryside. Thus Yahweh issued his curse on them. He had no idea how long it would take to make them clean.

Divine justice (Sir 35:13-35:21)

“The Lord is the one

Who repays.

He will repay you sevenfold.

Do not offer him a bribe!

He will not accept it.

Do not rely

On a dishonest sacrifice!

The Lord is the judge.

There is no partiality

With him.

He will not show partiality

To the poor.

He will listen to the prayer

Of one who is wronged.

He will not ignore

The supplication of the orphan.

He will not ignore

The widow

When she pours out her complains.

Do not the tears of the widow

Run down her cheek?

She cries out against those

Who have caused her to fall.

The one whose service

Is pleasing to the Lord

Will be accepted.

His prayer will reach

To the clouds.

The prayer of the humble

Pierces the clouds.

It will not rest

Until it reaches its goal.

It will not desist

Until the Most High responds.

He does justice

For the righteous.

He executes judgment.”

Sirach reminds us that the Lord repays us justly. No bribe or dishonest sacrifice will change his mind. The Lord is a judge without partiality. He listens to the prayer of those who have been wronged. He does not ignore orphans and especially crying widows who are complaining. He does accept the pleasing service of those whose prayers will go up to heaven. The prayers of the humble will pierce the clouds. They will not rest until they reach the Most High God who will respond with a righteous just judgment.

The wine drinker (Prov 23:29-23:35)

“Who has woe?

Who has sorrow?

Who has strife?

Who has complaining?

Who has wounds without cause?

Who has redness of eyes?

The answer is

Those who linger late over wine,

Those who keep trying mixed wine.

Do not look at wine when it is red.

Do not look at it when it sparkles in the cup.

Do not look at it when it goes down smoothly.

At the last it bites like a serpent.

It stings like an adder.

Your eyes will see strange things.

Your mind will utter perverse things.

You will be like

One who lies down in the midst of the sea.

You will be like

One who lies on the top of a mast.

You will say.

‘They struck me.

But I was not hurt.

They beat me.

But I did not feel it.

When shall I awake?

I will seek another drink.’”

This is a stinging rebuke against drunkenness. What are some of the characteristics of a drunkard or an alcoholic? They are full of woe and sorrow. They are always in arguments complaining. They have wounds on their body that they do not know where they came from. Of course, they have redness in their eyes. There is a lure to excessive wine drinking. They stay up late drinking and talking. This red wine sparkles in the cup and goes down so smoothly. However, this wine has a bite like a snake or viper adder. That is when you hallucinate. You see strange things and image even stranger things. You think that you are in the middle of the sea or at the top of a ship’s mast. You complain that you got hit, but it didn’t hurt.   People beat you, but you do not feel it. All you think about when you wake up is when I will get my next drink. These are the true symptoms of an alcoholic. You need to get help.

Yahweh asks Job about his arguments (Job 40:1-40:2)

“Yahweh said to Job.

‘Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty Shaddai?

Anyone who argues with God must respond.’”

Yahweh now asked Job to respond. He had been complaining about what was just and right. He now has the chance to present his arguments to the almighty Shaddai.