The reluctant returning children to an overcrowded land (Isa 49:19-49:21)

“Surely your waste land

Will now be too crowded

For your inhabitants.

Your desolate places

Will surely now be too crowded

For your inhabitants.

Your devastated land

Will surely now be too crowded

For your inhabitants.

Those who swallowed you up

Will be far away.

The children born

In the time of your bereavement

Will yet say in your hearing?

‘The place is too crowded for me.

Make room for me to settle.’

Then you will say in your heart.

‘Who has borne me these?

I was bereaved.

I was barren.

I was exiled.

I was put away.

So who has reared these?

I was left all alone.

Where then have these come from?’”

Second Isaiah raises the question about overcrowding if all the exiles returned. There would be a special problem for those born in exile that had never lived in Israel. Why would they want to return there? The land was wasted, desolate, and devastated, why would anyone want to live in overcrowded conditions there? Their captives were gone. However, what would entice those who had spent their entire life elsewhere to move to a place that they had never known. There was nothing there to attract them. In fact, the mothers were upset at their children. They had spent their life bereaved, barren, alone, and exiled in a far away land. Who had reared these kids? Where did they come from? Why didn’t they want to go back to Israel? Was the influence of this new country too much for their own children?

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Perverse scoundrels (Prov 16:27-16:30)

“Scoundrels concoct evil.

Their speech is like a scorching fire.

A perverse person spreads strife.

A whisperer separates close friends.

The violent entice their neighbors.

They lead them in a way that is not good.

Whoever winks their eyes

Plans perverse things.

Whoever compresses their lips

Brings evil to pass.”

Scoundrels plan evil. Their speech is like a raging fire. These perverse people spread strife. The whispering ones separate close friends. The violent ones entice their neighbors in leading them in the wrong way. Whoever winks their eyes is planning perverse things. If they press their lips, they are working on evil things.

Watch your companions (Prov 1:10-1:19)

“My child!

If sinners entice you,

Do not consent!

If they say.

‘Come with us!

Let us lie in wait for blood!

Let us wantonly ambush the innocent!

Like Sheol,

Let us swallow them alive and whole!

Like those who go down to the Pit,

We shall find all kinds of costly things.

We shall fill our houses with booty.

Throw in your lot among us!

We will all have one purse.’

My child!

Do not walk in their way!

Keep your foot from their paths!

Their feet run to evil.

They hurry to shed blood.

For in vain is a net baited,

While the bird is looking on.

Yet they lie in wait,

To kill themselves.

They set an ambush

For their own lives.

Such is the end

Of all who are greedy for gain.

It takes away the life of its possessors.”

The main parental advice of these proverbs is to stay away from evil people. Do not let sinners entice you! Stay away from those who want to ambush innocent people in order to spill their blood. They seem to think that they can swallow people up like Sheol or the pit, the grave, does. This part appears to not sound enticing, but the kicker enticement was filling up your house with spoils and booty. They would all share together with one purse. Parents should warn their children not to walk in their paths or let their feet walk in their ways. These wicked ones hurry to shed blood. However, they set a net while the birds are watching so that their own ambush will kill them. This is the end for those who are greedy and want to kill others so that they would have their goods.

Judith dresses up to go to General Holofernes (Jdt 10:1-10:5)

“When Judith had stopped crying out to the God of Israel, as she had ended all these words, she rose from where she lay prostrate. She called her maid. She went down into the house where she lived on the Sabbath and on her festal days. She removed the sackcloth that she had been wearing. She took off her widow’s garments. She bathed her body with water. She anointed herself with precious ointment. She combed her hair and put on a tiara. She dressed herself in the festive attire that she used to wear while her husband Manasseh was living. She put sandals on her feet. She put on her anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings and all her other jewelry. Thus she made herself very beautiful, to entice the eyes of all the men who might see her. She gave her maid a skin of wine and a flask of oil. She filled a bag with roasted grain, dried fruit cakes, and fine bread. Then she wrapped up all her dishes. She then gave them to her maid to carry.”

This is a glimpse into what a beautiful woman of the 3rd to 1st century BCE did to look beautiful as the details are very specific. Judith got up from her prayer tent and went into her house. She took off her sackcloth and widow garments. It is interesting to note that there was special clothing just for widows, thus the custom of women in mourning wearing black. In Genesis, chapter 38, there is the story of Judah’s daughter-in-law Tamar who took off her widow garments and enticed her father-in-law as a prostitute to have sex with her that produced the lineage for Judah through the twin boys of Perez and Zerah. Judith bathed and anointed her body. It is interesting to note that despite the shortage of water, she was able to take a water bath. She combed her hair and put on a tiara, as if a princess or queen. She put on festive attire, with anklets, bracelets, rings, earrings, and other fine jewelry. She wanted to look enticing. Then she had her maid servant carry her food and dishes.