Judgment against the wicked (Mal 3:5-3:5)

“‘Then I will draw near

To you

For judgment.

I will be swift

To bear witness

Against the sorcerers,

Against the adulterers,

Against those who swear falsely,

Against those who oppress

The hired workers

In their wages,

Against those who oppress

The widow

With the orphan,

Against those who thrust aside

The alien,

Against those who

Do not fear me.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh was going to deliver his judgment against various wicked people.  He was gong to bear a swift witness against them.  Then he specifically mentioned them, the sorcerers, the adulterers, and the liars.  He also would bear judgment against those who oppressed their hired workers, the widows, and the orphans.  He also would bear witness against those people who did not treat aliens correctly or did not fear Yahweh.  There was no ambiguity in what he was talking about.

The two elder judges (Dan 13:5-13:6)

“That year,

Two elders

From the people

Were appointed

As judges.

Concerning them,

The Lord had said.

‘Wickedness came forth

From Babylon,

From elders,

Who were judges.

They were supposed

To govern the people.’

These men

Were frequently

At Joakim’s house.

All who had a case

To be tried

Came to them.”

That year, the Jewish or Israelite people chose or appointed these two elders to be their judges. However, there was a saying of the Lord, probably referring to something from Jeremiah, chapter 25, that seemed to indicate that these two men were wicked judges because they were not governing the people correctly. These two elders were often at Joakim’s house, because they held their trials there. They would judge the Israelite exiles with their various disputes.

The future of Jerusalem depends on the Sabbath observance (Jer 17:26-17:27)

“The people shall come

From the towns of Judah,

From the places around Jerusalem,

From the land of Benjamin,

From the Shephelah,

From the hill country,

From the Negeb.

They will bring

Burnt offerings,

Sacrifices,

Grain offerings,

Frankincense,

Thank offerings

To the house of Yahweh.

But if you do not listen to me,

To keep the Sabbath day holy,

To carry no burden

Through the gates of Jerusalem

On the Sabbath day,

Then I will kindle a fire

In its gates.

It shall devour

The palaces of Jerusalem.

It shall not be quenched.’”

Thus the future of Jerusalem rested on whether they observed the Sabbath correctly. Many people would come from the towns in Judah and the places around Jerusalem. However, there would also be people from Benjamin that is just north of Jerusalem, as well as the people from the area around Shephelah, west of Jerusalem, the hill country, north of Jerusalem, and Negeb, the desert area south of Judah. All these people would bring many gifts and sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem. These gifts included the many kinds of sacrifice offerings like the burnt offerings, the grain offerings, and the thank offerings, with various sacrificial animals and frankincense. The opposite is true if they did not keep the Sabbath, they would suffer destruction. Yahweh was going to start a unstoppable fire that would devour the gates and the palaces of Jerusalem. The choice was theirs, Sabbath observances and good things, or no Sabbath observances and a big fire.

The wise Qoheleth (Eccl 1:15-1:18)

“‘What is crooked cannot be made straight.

What is lacking cannot be counted.’

I said to myself.

‘I have acquired great wisdom.            

My wisdom surpasses all

Who were over Jerusalem before me.

My mind has had great experience of wisdom.

My mind has had great experience of knowledge.

I applied my mind to know wisdom.

I applied my mind to know madness.

I applied my mind to know folly.

I perceived that this also is but a chasing after wind.

In much wisdom

Is much vexation.

Those who increases knowledge

Increase sorrow.’”

This book once again has the first person singular of Qoheleth speaking. He points out, quite correctly, that the crooked cannot be made straight. However, you can come close. On the other hand, there is no doubt that you cannot count something that is not there. Then Qoheleth gets quite personal. He explains that he has great wisdom and knowledge, greater than anyone whoever was in Jerusalem before him. He knows the difference between wisdom, madness, and folly. In a kind of reversal of the Proverbs, he seems to imply that that with all this wisdom, he is still like chasing after the wind. More problems and vexation come with wisdom. There is an increase in sorrow that comes with more knowledge. Wisdom is not the be all and end all like in Proverbs.

The wicked (Prov 24:23-24:26)

“These also are sayings of the wise.

Partiality in judging is not good.

He who says to the wicked,

‘You are innocent’

Will be cursed by their people.

They will be abhorred by the nations.

But those who rebuke the wicked

Will have delight.

They will have a good blessing come upon them.

Whoever gives an honest answer,

Gives a kiss on the lips.”

Apparently this is another small collection of wise sayings that was not associated with the preceding collection. This section seems to be aimed at judges and how they judge people since they should not be partial. In particular, they should not let the wicked go free. They will be cursed by their own people. Furthermore, in an international outlook, other nations will also abhor them. However, if they judge correctly against the wicked ones, they will delight in this life with blessings coming to them. An honest answer is like giving a kiss on the lips.

Be careful (Prov 22:5-22:8)

“Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse.

The cautious will keep far from them.

Train children in the right way.

Then when they are old,

They will not stray.

The rich rule over the poor.

The borrower is the slave of the lender.

Whoever sows injustice

Will reap calamity,

The rod of anger will fail.”

The way of the perverse is full of thorns and snares, so keep away from them. If you train children correctly, they will not stray when they are old. The rich will rule over the poor. The borrower becomes the slave of the lender. If you sow injustice, you will harvest calamity. Beatings in anger will fail.

Evil doers (Prov 21:5-21:8)

“The plans of the diligent

Lead surely to abundance.

But everyone who is hasty

Comes only to want.

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue

Is a fleeting vapor

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue

Is a snare for death.

The violence of the wicked

Will sweep them away.

They refuse to do what is just.

The way of the guilty is crooked.

But the conduct of the pure is right.”

Diligent plans will lead to abundance, but hasty plans will only come up wanting. If you get money by a lying tongue it will be like a fleeting breath that leads to a death trap. The very violence of the wicked will sweep them away, since they refuse to do what is just. The guilty go on a crooked path, but the pure conduct their way correctly.