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.

God’s creative uniqueness (Sir 33:7-33:13)

“Why is one day

More important than another?

All the daylight in the year

Is from the sun.

By the Lord’s wisdom

They were distinguished.

He appointed

The different seasons.

He appointed

The different festivals.

He exalted some days

He hallowed some days.

He made some days ordinary.

All human beings come

From the ground.

Humankind was created

Out of the dust.

In the fullness of his knowledge

The Lord distinguished them.

He appointed their different ways.

He blessed some.

He exalted some.

He made some holy.

He brought them

Near to himself.

He cursed some.

He brought some low.

He turned them out of their place.

Like clay

In the hand of the potter,

To be molded as he pleases,

We are all in the hands

Of our maker

To be given

Whatever he decides.”

Sirach asks the question why some days are more important than others. After all, the sun shines every day, so what is the difference? Sirach’s response is that the Lord’s wisdom distinguishes between ordinary days and the different seasons. The Lord, not humans, have made holy days and festival days. Using the chapter one story of Genesis, chapter 1, he mentions that all humans come from dust, yet some are better than others. Some were blessed and lifted up. Some were holy and close to God. On the other hand, some were cursed. They are all like clay in the great potter’s hands. He molds them however he pleases and whatever way he decides. This is a very deterministic view of humans since everything is controlled by God.

The power of God (Ps 74:12-74:17)

“Yet God!

My King is from of old.

He is working salvation in the earth.

You divided the sea by your might.

You broke the heads of the dragons in the waters.

You crushed the heads of Leviathan.

You gave him as food

For the creatures of the wilderness.

You cut openings for springs and torrents.

You dried up ever-flowing streams.

Yours is the day.

Yours also is the night.

You have established the luminaries.

You have established the sun.

You have fixed all the bounds of the earth.

You have made summer and winter.”

This is a prayer to God about his creative power. God had been an old fashioned king for a long time. He brought salvation to the earth. He divided the seas to produce the earth. He had to defeat the sea monsters, particularly the mythical Leviathan, the great beast that was so important in Job, chapter 41. However, God was able to defeat Leviathan and feed his body to the wild animals. God definitely controlled the water ways, big and small. He was in charge of day and night as well as all the heavenly lights, including the sun. He set up the boundaries of the earth. He had control of the seasons of the year with its various climate changes of summer and winter. God was the powerful creator of heaven and earth as well as the water and the land.

The prayer of Judith for the future (Jdt 9:4-9:6)

“O God, my God,

Hear me also, a widow!

You have done these things,

Those things that went before

And those things that followed.

You have designed the things that are now.

You have designed those things that are to come.

What you had in your mind has happened.

The things that you decided on presented themselves.

Here we are!

All your ways are prepared in advance.

Your judgment is with foreknowledge.”

Now Judith is asking for the God of her ancestors to help her, a poor widow. She trusts in the providence of God. He has controlled the past. He has designed things for the future. Whatever is in the mind of God will be done. So now here we are. What are we to do? God has prepared all in advance since he has foreknowledge of all that is to come to pass.