The extreme conditions bless God (Dan 3:49-3:51)

“Bless the Lord!

Ice!

Cold!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!   

Bless the Lord!

Frosts!

Snows!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!   

Bless the Lord!

Lightning!

Clouds!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!” 

This hymn continued with a blessing of the Lord from the ice, the cold, the frosts, the snows, the lightning, and the clouds. God controlled them, so that they should praise and exalt him forever.

Day and night bless God (Dan 3:47-3:48)

“Bless the Lord!

Nights!

Days!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!   

Bless the Lord!

Light!

Darkness!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!” 

Both the night and the day, the light and darkness blessed the Lord. They sang praises to him and exalted him forever. God controlled the day of light and the night of darkness.

Ebed-melech the Ethiopian (Jer 38:7-38:9)

“Ebed-melech

The Ethiopian,

A eunuch,

In the king’s house,

Heard

That they had put Jeremiah

Into the cistern.

The king happened

To be sitting

At the Benjamin Gate.

Ebed-melech left

The king’s house.

He spoke to the king.

‘My lord king!

These men have acted

Wickedly in all

That they did

To the prophet Jeremiah.

They have cast him

Into the cistern

To die there of hunger.

There is no bread

Left in the city.’”

Ebed-melech was an Ethiopian or Cushite eunuch in King Zedekiah’s house. Eunuchs normally controlled the harem for the king. Thus he was a foreign confidant of the king. When he heard about what happened to Jeremiah, he went to the king who was sitting at the Benjamin Gate on the north side of Jerusalem. He told the king that these officials had acted wickedly by casting the prophet Jeremiah into a well to starve him to death. He was not aware that the king had given his okay to these royal officials. Ebed-melech was afraid that Jeremiah would starve to death, since there was so little bread in the city of Jerusalem.

 

Buy the field in Anathoth (Jer 32:6-32:8)

“Jeremiah said.

‘The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

Hanamel,

Son of your uncle Shallum,

Is going to come to you.

He will say.

‘Buy my field

That is at Anathoth!

The right of redemption

By purchase is yours.’

Then my cousin Hanamel

Came to me

In the court of the guard,

In accordance

With the word of Yahweh.

He said to me.

‘Buy my field

That is at Anathoth

In the land of Benjamin!

The right of possession

Is yours.

The right of redemption

Is yours.

Buy it for yourself.’

Then I knew

That this was

The word of Yahweh.”

Clearly Jeremiah, while still in the royal prison, has an oracle of Yahweh come to him. His cousin Hanamel, the son of his uncle Shallum, was going to sell him some land in Anathoth, in the land of Benjamin. Jeremiah was from Anathoth, but it would have been now controlled by the invading Chaldeans and Babylonians. Shallum was the same name as King Jehoahaz who died in 609 BCE, 20 years earlier, but is probably not the same person. This land was probably Levite land that could not be sold to non- Levites. Since this was a family transaction, the right of redemption and purchase was allowed. Then Jeremiah’s cousin Hanamel showed up at the royal prison asking Jeremiah to buy his field at Anathoth. Then Jeremiah was sure that this was the word of God.

The role of the king of Assyria (Isa 10:5-10:7)

“O Assyria!

The rod of my anger!

The club in their hands

Is my fury!

Against a godless nation,

I send him.

Against the people of my wrath,

I command him

To take spoil.

I command him

To seize plunder.

I command him

To tread them down

Like the mire of the streets.

This is not what he intends.

He did not have this in mind.

But in his heart,

He wanted to destroy.

He wanted to cut off

Not a few nations.”

It seems like Yahweh is sending the king of Assyria as his rod and club to work out God’s plans. Thus, King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) of Assyria wanted to deport people, so that they would not lead a revolt against him. This Assyrian king was to be the stick of Yahweh’s anger to make the northern Israelites like sludge in the streets. He would take the plunder and the spoils of the people of Yahweh, the northern Israelites. The Assyrian king controlled a great part of the Middle East from the Tigris River, including Babylon, during this time of Isaiah. However, the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III did not intend to do the will of Yahweh. He really wanted to destroy and cut up many nations with his deportation and plunder policies.

The heat (Sir 43:21-43:22)

“The Lord consumes

The mountains.

He burns up

The wilderness.

He withers

The tender grass

Like fire.

A mist quickly

Heals all things.

The falling dew

Gives refreshment

From the heat.”

On the opposite end, the Lord sends heat that burns up the mountains, the wilderness, and the tender grass, almost like a fire. However, the Lord sends a mist or falling dew that gives refreshment from this heat. This middle eastern area was well accustomed to extreme heat. Clearly this is a theocratic sense of the weather and the environment, as God controlled everything.

The wonders of weather (Sir 43:13-43:17)

“By the Lord’s command,

He sends the driving snow.

He speeds the lightning

Of his judgment.

Therefore the storehouses

Are opened.

The clouds fly out

Like birds.

In his majesty,

He gives the clouds

Their strength.

The hailstones

Are broken in pieces.

The voice of his thunder

Rebukes the earth.

When he appears,

The mountains shake.

At his will,

The south wind blows.”

Sirach, like many of the ancient people, including the Israelites, believed that God completely controlled the weather. In fact, we still have some farming communities that pray to God for rain. Today’s TV weather forecast would be that God is sending us rain and a cool temperature, with nothing about a cold front. God’s command sent snow and lightning. The storehouses in the clouds would be opened up by the Lord to let rain, snow, and hailstones fall to earth like birds tumbling out of the sky. Thus precipitation from the sky was like the thunderous voice of God that shock up the mountains. The Lord was also responsible for the south mild winds also.