The cruel capture and death of the Pharaoh (Ezek 32:3-32:6)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I will throw my net

Over you

In an assembly

Of many people.

I will haul you up

In my dragnet.

I will throw you

On the ground.

I will fling you

On the open field.

I will cause

All the birds

Of the air

To settle on you.

I will let

The wild animals

Of the whole earth

Gorge themselves

With you.

I will strew

Your flesh

On the mountains.

I will fill the valleys

With your carcass.

I will drench

The land

With your flowing blood,

Up to the mountains.

The watercourses

Will be filled

With you.’”

Yahweh was very explicit about what he was going to do to the Pharaoh. He was going to throw his fishing net over him in front of many people. He was then going to drag this net to some open field. There he was going to fling him to the ground, so that the birds of the air and the wild animals would settle on him and gorge themselves. Yahweh was going to spread the Pharaoh’s flesh on the mountains and the valleys. Parts of his dead body and his flowing blood would drench the land in the streams and on the mountains.

The precious stones in the Garden of Eden (Ezek 28:13-28:13)

“You were in Eden,

The garden of God.

Every precious stone

Was your covering.

This included

Carnelian,

Chrysolite,

Moonstone,

Beryl,

Onyx,

Jasper,

Sapphire,

Turquoise,

Emerald.

They were worked

In gold

As your settings

With your engravings.

On the day

That you were created

They were prepared.”

Somehow, this king of Tyre was in the Garden of Eden, where it is called God’s garden, with precious stones, like the Jewish ephod. This seems to be a variant of the Garden of Eden story in Genesis, chapters 2-3. Instead of a wonderful garden, this king was covered with precious stones in this great garden. These precious stones included carnelian, chrysolite, moonstone, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emeralds. They were worked into gold as settings and engravings. These precious stones were there the day that he was created, so that this allusion to creation and God’s garden of Eden was explicit. Many assumed that this garden was in the north on some mountain.

The cherubim and the living creatures of the River Chebar (Ezek 10:14-10:15)

“Each one had four faces.

The first face was

That of the cherub.

The second face was

That a human being.

The third face was

That of a lion.

The fourth face was

That of an eagle.           

The cherubim rose up.

These were

The living creatures

That I saw

By the river Chebar.”

Each one of the cherubim had 4 faces like the living creatures at the River Chebar as in chapter 1.   There was no mention of sides or fronts here. Three of the faces were exactly the same, a human face, a face of a lion, and the face of an eagle. However, the fourth face was that of a cherub here, while in chapter 1, it was an ox. Here the comparison to the cherubim in Assyrian and Babylonian times is more explicit. Thus the connection between this section and chapter 1 is very specific, since Ezekiel mentions the River Chebar.

The marvelous Red Sea experience (Wis 19:6-19:9)

“The whole creation

In its nature

Was fashioned anew.

It complies with your commands.

Thus your children might be kept unharmed.

The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp.

Dry land emerged

Where water had stood before.

There was an unhindered way

Out of the Red Sea.

There was a grassy plain

Out of the raging waves.

Those protected by your hand

They passed through as one nation.

After gazing on marvelous wonders.

They ranged like horses.

They leaped like lambs.

They praised you.

O Lord!

You delivered them.”

Creation itself helped the righteous Israelites as they complied with the commands of God to help his children (σοὶ παῖδες). There was a cloud (παρεμβολὴν) over the camp. Dry land emerged from the Red Sea (ἐρυθρᾶς θαλάσσης) as in Exodus, chapter 13. Here there is an explicit mention of the Red Sea as they passed through a grassy plain in the middle of the raging waters. God’s hand (χειρί) protected them as they passed through the Red Sea together like horses and lambs. They praised the Lord (Κύριε) for their deliverance.

Personal prayer to Yahweh (Ps 142:1-142:3)

A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave, a prayer

“With my voice

I cry to Yahweh!

With my voice

I make supplication to Yahweh!

I pour out my complaint before him.

I tell my trouble before him.

When my spirit is faint,           

You know my way!”

Psalm 142 is a maskil or wisdom song of David, when he was in the cave. There is no explicit mention of an incident in the life of David where he was being persecuted in a cave. He may have been hiding out when he was trying to escape from King Saul. There is no doubt that it is a personal lament to Yahweh. David cries with his voice to Yahweh as he makes his supplications or complaints. He was telling Yahweh his troubles because his spirit was weak or faint. Yahweh knew David so that made him hopeful.

Protection from my enemies (Ps 17:7-17:12)

“From my adversaries

Who are at your right hand!

Guard me as the apple of your eye!

Hide me in the shadow of your wings!

Hide me from the wicked who despoil me!

Hide me from my deadly enemies who surround me!

They close their hearts to pity.

With their mouths

They speak arrogantly.

They track me down.

Now they surround me!

They want to cast me to the ground.

They are like a lion eager to tear.

They are like a young lion lurking in ambush.”

Now the psalmist is explicit. He wanted to be the apple of God’s eye. He wanted to be hidden in the shadow of his wings. He wanted protection from the wicked and deadly enemies who surrounded him. The enemies had no pity as they were arrogant. They had tracked him down and surrounded him. They were about to leap at him like a young lion lurking in an ambush.

The hymn to the all powerful God (Job 26:5-26:14)

“The shades below tremble.

The waters and their inhabitants tremble.

Sheol is naked before God.

Abaddon has no covering.

He stretches out Zaphon over the void.

He hangs the earth upon nothing.

He binds up the waters in his thick clouds.

The cloud is not torn open by them.

He covers the face of the full moon.

He spreads over it his cloud.

He has described a circle on the face of the waters.

He has described a circle at the boundary between light and darkness.

The pillars of heaven tremble.

They are astounded at his rebuke.

By his power he stilled the sea.

By his understanding he struck down Rahab.

By his wind the heavens were made fair.

His hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

These are indeed but the outskirts of his ways.

How small a whisper do we hear of him!

But the thunder of his power,

Who can understand?”

Then Job broke into a hymn about the all powerful God. Could this be from Bildad?   In very explicit colorful language, he describes the power of God over all things. This is the vision of earth, Sheol, and heaven. Sheol and Abaddon are similar, like a bottomless pit. Abaddon will become a person in the Christian book of Revelation. Here it is like another name for Sheol, so that even those below must recognize the power of God since they have no place to hide or cover up. Zaphon is the northern mountain area of the Canaanite gods, something like the Greek Mount Olympus. The earth was suspended over an abyss. The water in the clouds was still accepted today as the cause of rain. Only God could make it rain and break the clouds. He also had control of the moon creating eclipses. God was of course responsible for the boundary between water and earth as well as light and darkness. There were even pillars in heaven that were afraid of him. Perhaps these pillars are the mountains that seem to reach up into the heavens. Obviously he controlled the sea and the mythical sea monster Rahab. Rahab was also the name of the prostitute, who helped the troops of Joshua, chapter 2. God then pierced the fleeing serpent, perhaps a reference to Genesis, chapter 3. We mortals only catch a glimpse of his power like a whisper when he thunders. The idea that God spoke through thunder was prevalent. However, we cannot understand all this.

Eliphaz accuses Job of wrong doing (Job 22:1-22:7)

“Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered.

‘Can a mortal be of use to God?

Can even the wisest be of service to him?

Is it any pleasure to the Almighty Shaddai?

Even if you are righteous,

Is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?

Is it for your piety that he reproves you?

Does he enter into judgment with you?

Is not your wickedness great?

There is no end to your iniquities.

You have exacted pledges

From your family brothers

For no reason.

You have stripped the naked of their clothing.

You have given no water to the weary to drink.

You have withheld bread from the hungry.’”

Eliphaz reminded Job that God only punishes in a just fashion. How could he be of service to God? How could he bring pleasure to the almighty one, Shaddai? Even if he was blameless and righteous, what had he gained? However, Eliphaz said that Job’ wickedness was great. He had treated people unfairly. He then enumerated the evil things that Job had done. He exacted pledges from his family. He striped clothes to make people naked. He failed to give water and bread to the hungry and thirsty people. These were explicit things that Job had done wrong.

Job says that God is punishing him (Job 16:12-16:17)

“I was at ease.

God broke me in two.

God seized me by the neck.

God dashed me to pieces.

God set me up as his target.

God’s archers surround me.

God slashes open my kidneys.

God shows no mercy.

God pours out my gall on the ground.

God bursts upon me again and again.

God rushes at me like a warrior.

I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin.

I have laid my strength in the dust.

My face is red with weeping.

Deep darkness is on my eyelids.

Although there is no violence in my hands,

My prayer is pure.”

Job was very explicit. God was picking on him. God had broken him in two. God had seized him by the neck. God had broken him into pieces. Job had become a target having arrows coming at him. God had not shown him any mercy. God had slashed his kidneys and gall bladder. God had rushed at him like a warrior. As a result, Job said that he sewed his skin with sackcloth, a very course fabric worn next to the skin. His strength was in the dust. His face was red with crying tears. His eyes were darkened. Still there was no violence in Job’s hands. His prayer remained pure. Job is almost indignant that God is picking on him.

Thanksgiving for the punishment to King Antiochus IV (2 Macc 1:11-1:17)

‘Having been saved by God,

Out of grave dangers.

We thank him greatly

For taking our side against the king.

God drove out those who fought against the holy city.

When the leader reached Persia

With a force that seemed irresistible,

They were cut to pieces in the temple of Nanea

By a deception employed by the priests of Nanea.

On the pretext of intending to marry her,

Antiochus came to the place together with his friends,

To secure most of its treasures as a dowry.

When the priests of the temple of Nanea

Had set out the treasures,

Antiochus had come with a few men

Inside the wall of the sacred precinct,

They closed the temple as soon as he entered it.

Opening the secret door in the ceiling,

They threw stones.

They struck down the leader and his men,

They dismembered them.

They cut off their heads.

They threw them to the people outside.

Blessed in every way be our God,

Who has brought judgment

Upon those who have behaved impiously.”

They were thankful that God had taken King Antiochus IV in 164 BCE. He had brought great dangers to Jerusalem by his attack as in 1 Maccabees, chapter 1. He died about the same time of the writing of this letter, according to 1 Maccabees, chapter 5. However, there was no indication there on how he died, but this story in 2 Maccabees is very explicit. Here the king died at the hands of the Nanea priests, since Nanea was some kind of Syrian goddess. Perhaps King Antiochus IV was trying to take money from the temple. This story shows how the king suffered a brutal death with stones dropped on him and his men. Then they dismembered him, cutting off his head, and throwing him outside the temple.   All this they did because he had acted impiously. However, in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6, King Antiochus IV had repentance for what he had done. However, there is no mention of that here. Remember that this same King Antiochus IV had invaded Egypt also. He had received his just reward.