Drunken Moab (Jer 48:26-48:27)

“Make him drunk!

Because he magnified himself

Against Yahweh.

Let Moab wallow

In his vomit.

He too shall become

A laughing stock.

Israel was

A laughing stock

For you.

He was not caught

Among thieves.

Whenever you spoke of him

You shook your head.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, wanted Moab to get drunk since Moab had made himself a big shot, magnifying himself against Yahweh. Now he would wallow in his vomit and become a laughing stock for others, because he had made Israel a laughing stock. This was an allusion to the fact that Moab was in Reuben territory that was always in dispute. Although Moab was not a thief, he did make fun of Israel. Thus when Israel spoke, they simply shook their heads.

Remembering the first captivity (Jer 27:19-27:20)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts

Concerning the pillars,

The sea,

The stands,

With the rest of the vessels

That are left in this city,

That King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Did not take away,

When he took into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon

King Jeconiah,

The son of King Jehoiakim,

Of Judah,

With all the nobles

Of Judah

As well as Jerusalem.”

Yahweh talked about the other holy vessels still in Jerusalem, including the Temple pillars, the sea structure outside the Temple, the various lamp stands in the Temple, as well as the other sacred vessels in the Temple. These were all left behind when the first captivity took place in 598 BCE, when King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE) was put on the throne by King Nebuchadnezzar. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jehoiachin (598 BCE) was only on the throne for a few months before he was taken into exile. His father, King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE) had been favored by the Egyptians. King Zedekiah was the brother of King Jehoiakim and the uncle of King Jeconiah. In other words, there was a dispute between Egypt and Babylon and the kings of Judah changed on who was in charge, Egypt or Babylon. Clearly Jeremiah and Yahweh favored Babylon.

Fratricide (Wis 10:3-10:3)

“But when an unrighteous man

Departed from her

In his anger,

He perished.

Because in rage

He killed his brother.”

Once again, based on Genesis, chapter 4, we have a reference to the dispute between Cain and Abel, without their names being used. Throughout this chapter of Wisdom, no specific names are used. In this Genesis story, Cain was the first born of Adam and Eve. This unrighteous Cain got angry because his sacrifice was not accepted, while his brother’s was accepted. Cain in a rage killed his younger brother, Abel. There is no clarity on why Cain was so unrighteous and departed from this female wisdom. However, he surely killed his brother, so that the first human murder was fratricide (ἀδελφοκτόνοις). Actually, most murders are not done by strangers.

Humans as passing shadows (Eccl 6:10-6:12)

“Whatever has come to be

Has already been named.

It is known what human beings are.

They are not able to dispute

With those who are stronger.

The more words,

The more vanity,

So how is one better?

Who knows what is good for mortals?

They live the few days

Of their vain life

That passes like a shadow.

Who can tell them

What will be after them

Under the sun?”

Death is the final stage of man. Qoheleth says that we know the human condition. Humans do not dispute with stronger humans. They use words. How can one be better with just words since they are useless and vain? Who even knows what is good for mortals. Then in his usual despairing attitude, Qoheleth maintains that our few days on earth are just passing away like shadows, here today and gone tomorrow. If there is no sunshine, there is no shadow. Darkness comes and the shadow disappears. Who can tell what is going to happen after you have left your place in the sun and your shadows?

The wise man (Prov 29:8-29:11)

“Scoffers set a city aflame.

But the wise turn away wrath.

If the wise go to law with fools,

There is ranting.

There is ridicule without relief.

The bloodthirsty hate the blameless.

They seek the life of the upright.

A fool gives full vent to his anger.

But the wise quietly hold it back.”

The scoffers or the cynics will set a city in flames with their comments. The wise, on the other hand, will turn away or stay away from anger. If there is a dispute about the law, the wise will win out because the fools will be ranting away and ridiculed non-stop. The bloodthirsty evil men hate the blameless since they seek the life of the upright ones. Fools give vent to their anger but the wise ones hold back quietly.

The mighty Bashan Mountains (Ps 68:15-68:16)

“O mighty mountain!

Mountain of Bashan!

O many-peaked mountain!

Mountain of Bashan!

O many-peaked mountain!

Why do you look with envy

At the mount that God desired for his abode?

Yahweh will reside there forever.”

The mighty Bashan Mountains, east of the Sea of Galilee, today are called the Golan Heights, the border between Israel and Syria. These peaked mountains were a place of dispute in the biblical times, and even today. These mountains looked with envy on the mountain that Yahweh chose to abide, which would be Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Thus we have the personification of mountains.