The scattering (Ezek 22:14-22:16)

“Can your courage

Endure?

Can your hands

Remain strong,

In the days

When I shall deal

With you?

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.

I will do it.

I will scatter you

Among the nations.

I will disperse you

Throughout the countries.

I will purge

Your filthiness

Out of you.

I shall be profaned

Through you                         

In the sight

Of the nations.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh was going to scatter the people of Jerusalem into many other countries. He wanted to know if they had enough courage to endure this. Were their hands strong enough? He was going to deal with them. Yahweh was clear about what he was going to do. He was going to scatter and disperse them among the various nations and countries. He was going to purge the filthiness out of Jerusalem. Yahweh would be embarrassed that this scattering would take place in the sight of these other nations. They would all know that he was Yahweh, their God.

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The personal guilt (Lam 1:22-1:22)

Taw

“Let all their evil doing

Come before you!

Deal with them,

As you have dealt

With me,

Because of all my transgressions.

My groans are many.

My heart is faint.”

A final personal lament from Jerusalem brings this poem to an end. Jerusalem admitted that she had transgressed the law.   She spoke with many groans and a faint heart. However, she wanted all the evil doings of others to also come before Yahweh, so that he could deal with them as he had dealt with Jerusalem. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Taw, the last consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

Ishmael captured the people of Mizpah (Jer 41:10-41:10)

“Then Ishmael

Took captive

All the rest of the people

Who were in Mizpah.

This included

The king’s daughters

With all the people

Who were left at Mizpah.

Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Had committed them

To Governor Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam.

Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah,

Took them captive.

He set out to cross over

To the Ammonites.”

As Ishmael had killed so many people already, there were not too many people left in Mizpah. Thus Ishmael took the remaining people captive. Of special mention were the daughters of King Zedekiah. The Babylonians had killed the king’s sons, but the captain of the troops, Nebuzaradan, committed the daughters of the king to the care of the new governor, Gedaliah. Thus the remaining people and these young women set out as captives to go to Ammon, on the other side of the Jordan. Ishmael must have had some kind of deal with the king of the Ammonites, since King Baalis of Ammon was mentioned in the last chapter.

The vicious request of Jeremiah (Jer 18:21-18:23)

“Therefore give their children

Over to famine!

Hurl them out

To the power of the sword!

Let their wives become childless!

Let their wives become widowed!

May their men meet death

By pestilence!

May their youths be slain

By the sword in battle!

May a cry be heard

From their houses,

When you bring the marauder

Suddenly upon them.

They have dug a pit

To catch me.

They laid snares

For my feet.

Yet you!

Yahweh!

Know all their plotting

To kill me.

Do not forgive their iniquity!

Do not blot out their sin

From your sight!

Let them be tripped up before you!

Deal with them

While you are angry!”

Jeremiah does not hold back his contempt for his adversaries. He is vicious in this lament to Yahweh. First, he wanted their children to die whether by famine or by the sword. He wanted their wives to be childless and widows. He hoped that they might die from a pestilence. He wanted their young men killed in battle. He wanted a marauder to suddenly attack them. They had plotted to catch him and kill him in a pit, as they laid snares for his feet. He told Yahweh not to forgive their iniquity, not to blot out their sins. They should be tripped up. He wanted Yahweh to deal with them while he was angry, so that they would receive a worse sentence. There was no sense of Jeremiah’s mercy or compassion here. He wanted his enemies completely destroyed.

The bad rulers in Jerusalem (Isa 28:14-28:15)

“Therefore hear the word of Yahweh!

You scoffers!

You rule this people in Jerusalem!

Because you have said.

‘We have made

A covenant with death.

We have an agreement with Sheol.

When the overwhelming scourge

Passes through,

It will not come to us.

We have made lies our refuge.

We have taken shelter in falsehood.’”

Isaiah wanted the scoffers who ruled Jerusalem to listen to the word of Yahweh. However, these arrogant rulers who had given up on Yahweh responded that they had a covenant with death, perhaps with Egypt against Assyria. They had an agreement with Sheol, the underworld afterlife place. They would be safe because of their deal with death. They were going to rely on lies and falsehood as their refuge and shelter.

Conduct with others (Sir 13:8-13:11)

“Take care not to be led astray.

Do not be humiliated

When you are enjoying yourself.

When an influential person invites you,

Be reserved.

He will invite you more insistently.

Do not be forward,

Otherwise you may be rebuffed.

Do not stand aloof,

Otherwise you will be forgotten.

Do not try to treat him

As an equal.

Do not trust his lengthy conversations.

He will test you by prolonged talk.

While he smiles,

He will be examining you.”

Sirach has some advice on how you are to deal with other people. You should not be lead astray or humiliated while you are enjoying yourself. If an influential powerful person invites you over, you should be reserved. Thus he will be more insistent. Do not be pushy or you might be pushed back. Do not be aloof and standoffish or you might be forgotten. However, do not treat this person like an equal. Watch out for long conversations because while he is smiling, he is actually examining you.

David wanted to be taken out of prison (Ps 142:6-142:7)

“Save me from my persecutors!

They are too strong for me.

Bring me out of prison!

So that I may give thanks to your name.

The righteous will surround me.

You will deal bountifully with me.”

This psalm ends with a plea from David to save him from his persecutors. They were too strong for him. He could not deal with them himself. He wanted to be brought out of prison. There is no specific time mentioned in the stories of David where he was actually in a prison. This might be a metaphor since he feels like he cannot move. If he escaped he would give thanks to the name of Yahweh. He wanted to be surrounded by the righteous ones. He felt that Yahweh would deal with him mercifully and bountifully.