The return of the Chaldeans (Jer 37:8-37:10)

“‘The Chaldeans

Shall return.

They shall fight

Against this city.

They shall take it.

They shall burn it

With fire.’

Thus says Yahweh.

‘Do not deceive yourselves!

Saying.

‘The Chaldeans will surely

Go away from us.’

They will not go away.

Even if you defeated

The whole army of Chaldeans

Who are fighting

Against you,

The remaining wounded men,

In their tents,

Would rise up.

They would burn this city

With fire.’”

Jeremiah reminded his two visitors that the Babylonian Chaldeans would return to fight against Jerusalem. In fact, they were going to capture the city and burn it. They should not be deceived, thinking that the Chaldeans have left for good. Even if they defeated the whole Chaldean army, the remaining wounded men would still be able to burn the city down.

The death of King Sennacherib of Assyria (Isa 37:36-37:38)

“Then King Sennacherib of Assyria left.

He went home.

He lived at Nineveh.

While he was worshiping

In the house of his god Nisroch,

His sons

Adrammelech with Sharezer killed him

With a sword.

They escaped

Into the land of Ararat.

Sennacherib’s son,

Esarhaddon,

Succeeded him.”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. As far we know, King Sennacherib died in 681 BCE. Thus it might not have been contemporaneous with his sojourn in Judah. In fact, the text does not indicate that. He was killed by 2 of his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer, but a third son Esarhaddon took over. The god Nisroch was an eagle headed human figure that was a favorite of the Assyrians in Nineveh. Nineveh was on the Tigris River about 250 miles north of Babylon, near the modern day city of Mosul. Esarhaddon was the youngest son of the king’s second wife and ruled from 681-669 BCE, after he defeated his brothers who had killed their father.

The death of 185,000 Assyrians (Isa 37:36-37:36)

“Then the angel of Yahweh set out.

He struck down one hundred eighty-five thousand

In the camp of the Assyrians.

When morning dawned,

They were all dead bodies.”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19, except that missing here is “that very day.” Wow! This is an amazing number, even greater than the Egyptian plagues. The angel of Yahweh, at the time of the Exodus, killed the first born children of Egypt. Here the angel of Yahweh killed Assyrian warriors. 185,000 is a lot of people to die in one night. Herodotus the Greek historian noted that the Assyrians were defeated at the Egyptian borders when mice ate their bowstrings. Mice could have brought a plague, but to kill everyone of the 185,000 in one night seems a bit much.

Yahweh comes (Isa 28:20-28:22)

“The bed is too short

To stretch oneself on it.

The covering is too narrow

To wrap oneself in it.

Yahweh will rise up

As on Mount Perazim.

He will rage

As in the valley of Gibeon.

To do his deed!

Strange is his deed!

To work his work!

Alien is his work!

Now therefore do not scoff!

Your bonds will be made stronger.

I have heard a decree of destruction

From Yahweh God of hosts

Upon the whole land.”

Isaiah explains that your beds will be too short and the covers on your beds too narrow to cover you. This would indicate that he was referring to taller people like giants who could not get a comfortable bed. Yahweh was going to rise in anger as he had done at Mount Perazim and Gibeon. Perazim was a place between Jerusalem and Hebron where King David defeated the Philistines in 2 Samuel, chapter 5 and 1 Chronicles, chapter 14. There it was called Baal-Perazim. Gibeon was a place north of Jerusalem where Joshua defeated 5 kings in Joshua, chapter 10. Yahweh’s work was going to happen, even if an alien had to do it. They were not to be scoffers. Yahweh, God of hosts, had issued a decree of destruction for the whole land.

The future defeat of Egypt (Isa 19:16-19:17)

“On that day,

The Egyptians will be

Like women.

They will tremble with fear

Before the hand

That Yahweh of hosts

Raises against them.

The land of Judah

Will become a terror

To the Egyptians.

Everyone to whom it is mentioned

Will fear

Because of the plan

That Yahweh of hosts

Is planning against them.”

Once again, Yahweh, via Isaiah, talks about a specific future day, ‘on that day,’ when the Egyptians will be defeated. They would be afraid like women, trembling and fearing the hand of Yahweh. Judah would become a name to be feared in Egypt, where everyone there would fear Yahweh. However, the only great defeat of Egypt did not come until the time of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, some 400 years after the time of Isaiah, but not under the name of Judah.

Samuel (Sir 46:13-46:20)

“Samuel was beloved by his Lord.

He was a prophet of the Lord.

He established the kingdom.

He anointed rulers over his people.

By the law of the Lord

He judged the congregation.

The Lord watched over Jacob.

By his faithfulness,

He proved to be a prophet.

By his words,

He became known as a trustworthy seer.

He called upon the Lord,

The Mighty One,

When his enemies

Pressed him on every side.

He offered in sacrifice

A sucking lamb.

Then the Lord thundered from heaven.

He made his voice heard

With a mighty sound.

He subdued the leaders of the enemy

In Tyre.

He subdued all the rulers of the Philistines.

Before the time of his eternal sleep,

Samuel bore witness before the Lord.

Samuel bore witness before his anointed.

‘No property,

Not so much as a pair of shoes,

Have I taken from anyone!’

No one accused him.

Even after he had fallen asleep,

He prophesied.

He made known to the king his death.

He lifted up his voice from the ground.

In prophecy,

He wanted to blot out

The wickedness of the people.”

Next Sirach praises Samuel, the prophet who was a judge and founder of the monarchy. There is a Hebrew biblical book called Samuel that was later divided into 2 parts. He was a beloved trustworthy faithful prophet. He called upon the Lord when the enemies surrounded him. He offered a sacrifice of a lamb. He defeated the enemies at Tyre and the Philistines. Samuel anointed 2 kings, Saul and David. He never took any property from anyone, not even a pair of shoes. Even after his death, prophecies from the grave came to the king. He continually wanted to blot out the wickedness of his people.

Wickedness (Wis 17:11-17:14)

“Wickedness is a cowardly thing.

It is condemned

By its own testimony.

Distressed by conscience,

It has always exaggerated the difficulties.

Fear is nothing but a giving up of the helps

That come from reason.

Fear gives up hope.

It is defeated

By this inward weakness.

It prefers ignorance of what causes the torment.

Throughout the night,

That was really powerless,

Which came upon them

From the recesses of powerless Hades.

They all slept the same sleep.”

Wickedness (πονηρία) is cowardly. Its own witness (μαρτυρεῖ) condemns it. Wickedness always exaggerates difficulties so that it fears (φόβος) everything that comes from reason (λογισμοῦ). The wicked give up hope. They are defeated by their own inner weakness. They prefer ignorance of what causes problems. They are powerless throughout the night, like a powerless hell or Hades (ἀδυνάτου ᾅδου). However, everyone sleeps the same sleep, no matter what.