The final days (Joel 1:15-1:15)

“O!

What a day!

The day of Yahweh

Is near!

Destruction

Comes

From the Almighty One!”

The final days or the great day of Yahweh was near. Destruction from the almighty one, El Shaddai, is a play on words since the Hebrew word for destruction is similar to the Hebrew name for the almighty one.

The sounds from above (Ezek 1:24-1:25)

“When they moved,

I heard the sound

Of their wings.

It was

Like the sound

Of mighty waters.

It was

Like the thunder

Of the Almighty.

It was

Like a sound of tumult.

It was

Like the sound of an army.

When they stopped,

They let down

Their wings.

There came

A voice

From above the dome

Over their heads.

When they stopped,

They let down

Their wings.”

What sounds did Ezekiel hear? He heard the sounds of the wings of these creatures as they moved. This sound was like the sound of mighty waters, like the thunder of the Almighty God, El Shaddai, not that of Yahweh. This sound was like the sound of a great commotion or an army on the move. However, when they stopped moving their wings, a voice came from above the dome over their heads. Then the same phrase was repeated again. When they stopped, they let down their wings.

The names of God (Ps 91:1-91:2)

“You live in the shelter of the Most High.

You abide in the shadow of the Almighty.

You will say to Yahweh.

‘My refuge and my fortress.

My God,

In whom I trust.’”

Psalm 91 has no title, unlike many of the other psalms. This psalm starts with 4 different names for God, which is unusual since normally only 2 or 3 names are used, God or Yahweh. First we live in the shelter of the Most High God that is El Elyon in Hebrew and gphyistos in Greek, the highest one. Next we abide in the shadow of the Almighty God that is El Shaddai in Hebrew and the more familiar Greek pantokrator, creator of all. Normally when the Israelites speak to God they call him with the more familiar Yahweh that is the proper name for the God of Israel, more commonly the Hebrew epigram YHW. He seems to be an Israelite warrior God who gets angry a lot. He could not be depicted with any statues or idols. Later Jewish prayer life changed the pronunciation of Yahweh with the word Adonai in its place. The common translation of Yahweh into Greek was kurios, or Lord. Thus many bibles use this term “Lord” for Yahweh. So what did he say to Yahweh? Yahweh is his refuge and fortress. However, then we have the 4th term for God, Elohim in Hebrew and Theos in Greek. Using Theos in Greek put God at the same level as other gods, but clearly Adonai or Yahweh was the monotheistic God in the later writings. Obviously this psalmist trusted in God.

The sons of Jacob return with Benjamin (Gen 43:1-43:14)

“Now the famine was severe in the land.   When they had eaten up the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, ‘Go again, and buy us a little more food.’  But Judah said to him, ‘The man solemnly warned us, saying, `You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’  If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food.  But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, `You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’  Israel said, ‘Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?’  They replied, ‘The man questioned us carefully about ourselves and our kindred, saying, `Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ What we told him was in answer to these questions.  Could we in any way know that he would say, `Bring your brother down?’  Then Judah said to his father Israel, ‘Send the boy with me, and let us be on our way, so that we may live and not die, you and we and also our little ones.  I myself will be surety for him.  You can hold me accountable for him.  If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.  If we had not delayed, we would now have returned twice.’”

When they ran out of bread, Jacob wanted to send his sons back to Egypt. The brothers said that they would not go without Benjamin.  Jacob asked them why they said anything about another brother.  The brothers responded that he wanted to know all about them.  Judah asked to have Benjamin go with them otherwise they would all die of starvation.  If they had not delayed they could have gone to Egypt a couple of times.

“Then their father Israel said to them, ‘If it must be so, then do this.  Take some of the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry them down as a present to the man, a little balm and a little honey, gum, resin, pistachio nuts, and almonds.  Take double the money with you.  Carry back with you the money that was returned in the top of your sacks.  Perhaps it was an oversight.  Take your brother also, and be on your way again to the man. May God Almighty, El Shaddai, grant you mercy before the man, so that he may send back your other brother and Benjamin. As for me, If I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.’”

Finally, Jacob said okay, but he told them to bring extra gifts to this guy, ‘the man’  and double the amount of money, including the money that was in their sacks,  Then he asks the blessing of almighty God (El-Shaddai) before ‘the man,’ so that he might get back both of his sons, Simeon and Benjamin.