The first curse against their greed (Hab 2:6-2:8)

“Shall not everyone

Taunt such people,

With mocking riddles?

Let them say about them!

‘Woe to you!

You heap up

What is not your own!’

How long will you

Load yourselves

With goods

Taken in pledge?

Will not your own creditors

Suddenly rise up?

Those who make you tremble

Will wake up.

Then you will be booty

For them.

Because you have plundered

Many nations,

All that survive of the peoples

Shall plunder you.

Human bloodshed,

With the violence

To the earth,

Is in the cities,

As well as to all

Who live in them.”

Habakkuk has a series of taunts against the Chaldeans because of their behavior.  These 5 woes or curses were delivered in mocking riddles.  First of all, they have stored up things that were not their own.  How long would they continue to take things as pledges for the future?  Those creditors would rise up against them, and make them tremble and shake.  Then, they would become the booty of the people whom they plundered.  They have plundered so many countries, that the surviving countries would plunder them.  There was so much violence and bloodshed in the cities where people lived.  Does that sound familiar?

No permanent break with the Israelites (Isa 50:1-50:1)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Where is your mother’s bill of divorce?

Have I put her away?

Which of my creditors has you?

Have I sold you? No!

Because of your sins,

You were not sold.

For your transgressions,

Your mother was not put away.’”

Second Isaiah has Yahweh tell his people he has not divorced their mothers or put them away. He has not sold them to creditors. They have sinned and committed transgressions, but they have not been put away or sold.

The day of destruction of Yahweh (Isa 24:1-24:3)

“Now Yahweh is about

To lay waste the earth.

He will make it desolate.

He will twist its surface.

He will scatter its inhabitants.

It shall be,

As with the people,

So with the priest.

It shall be,

As with the slave,

So with his master.

It shall be,

As with the maid,

So with her mistress.

It shall be,

As with the buyer,

So with the seller.

It shall be,

As with the lender,

So with the borrower.

It shall be

As with the creditor,

So with the debtor.

The earth shall be utterly laid waste

It shall be utterly despoiled.

Yahweh has spoken this word.”

These next few chapters are sometimes referred to as the Isaiah Apocalypse. This section, like the other sections, is a hodgepodge of oracles and ideas, but these oracles are about the judgment at the end of the world. On this apocalyptic judgment day, much like the flood of Noah, destruction was to come upon the whole world, like in later eschatological works. The twisted earth was to be made desolate. All the inhabitants on earth would be wiped out, whether it is regular people, priests, slaves, masters, maids, mistresses, buyers, sellers, lenders, borrowers, debtors, or creditors. No one would be saved. The earth would be utterly ruined, because Yahweh has spoken.

The curses against David (Ps 109:8-109:15)

“May his days be few!

May another seize his position!

May his children be orphans!

May his wife be a widow!

May his children wander about!

May his children beg!

May they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit!

May the creditor seize all that he has!

May strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!

May there be no one to do him a kindness!

May there be no one to pity his orphaned children!

May his posterity be cut off!

May his name be blotted out in the second generation!

May the iniquity of his father be remembered before Yahweh!

May the sin of his mother not be blotted out!

May they be before Yahweh continually!

May his memory be cut off from the earth!”

The enemies of David issued a whole series of curses against him. They wanted his days to be few with an early death, so that his children would be orphans and his wife a widow. They wanted someone to take over his position or the crown. They wanted his children to wander about begging. They wanted them driven out of their ruined home. Creditors should seize all his things. Strangers should plunder his fields. No one should show him kindness. No one should worry about his orphaned children. His name should be wiped out in the 2nd generation. People should remember the iniquity and sin of his father and mother. There was to be no memory of him on earth. All of this should be brought to Yahweh so that he might punish David. Obviously, these curses did not come true for David.

The widow and the ever flowing oil (2 Kings 4:1-4:7)

“The wife of a member of the company of prophets cried to Elisha. ‘Your servant my husband is dead. You know that your servant feared Yahweh, but a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves.’ Elisha said to her. ‘What shall I do for you? Tell me. What do you have in the house?’ She answered. ‘Your servant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil.’ He said. ‘Go outside. Borrow vessels of all your neighbors. Empty these vessels and not just a few. Then go in. Shut the door behind you and your children. Start pouring into all these vessels. When each one is full, set it aside.’ So she left him. She shut the door behind her and her children. They kept bringing vessels to her. She kept pouring. When the vessels were full, she said to her son. ‘Bring me another vessel.’ But he said to her. ‘There are no more.’ Then the oil stopped flowing. She came and told the man of God. He said. ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your children can live on the rest.’”

Elisha was not a lone wolf prophet. He always seemed to be with a group of prophets. As you can see from this story, miss use of credit was a problem some 2,500 years ago. The taking of children as slaves for bad debts was not unknown. Elisha seems to have this rude personality, since he says, what can I do for you? He tells her that she should get all the vessels she can borrow from her friends. She then began to fill up every vessel with the oil from the one jar of oil that she had. Of course, the oil from the one jar never ran out. When they were all full, she went back to Elisha. He told her to sell the oil, pay off her debts, and live on the rest. This never ending supply of the oil jar is like the jug of oil of Elijah in 1 Kings, chapter 17.

Religious and moral laws (Ex 22:18-22:28)

“You shall not permit a female sorcerer to live.”

Here is another list of laws.  Some are anti-female.  There is nothing about male sorcerers only death for female sorcerers.

“Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death.”

We also have some bestiality here with the death penalty.

“Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than Yahweh alone, shall be devoted to destruction.”

We have idolatry here, as any other god worship except Yahweh merits destruction.

“You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.  You shall not abuse any widow or orphan.  If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry.  My wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows, and your children orphans.”

Resident aliens, widows, and orphans have special rights. If you do anything against these folks, Yahweh will kill you with the sword, so that your wives shall become widows, and your children orphans.

“If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor.  You shall not exact interest from them.  If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down.  It may be your neighbor’s only clothing to use as cover.  In what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.”

If you lend money, you should not charge interest to the poor.  You should return clothing before sunset.  Yahweh will listen to the poor who cry out to him.

“You shall not revile God, or curse a leader of your people.”

Finally, listen to your leaders. Do not revile God, or curse a leader.