Forgetfulness and no harvest (Isa 17:10-17:11)

“You have forgotten

The God of your salvation.

You have not remembered

The rock of your refuge.

Though you plant pleasant plants,

The harvest will flee away.

Even though you set out slips

Of an alien god,

The harvest will flee away.

Although you make them grow

On the day that you plant them,

The harvest will flee away.

Even though you make them blossom

In the morning that you sow them,

The harvest will flee away.

In a day of grief,

In a day of incurable pain,

The harvest will flee away.”

Yahweh, via Isaiah, reminds the northern Israelites that they have forgotten about their saving God, the rock of their lives. Thus when they plant pleasant plants, they will not come to harvest them because they put in the seeds of foreign gods. They make them grow on the day that they planted them, but they will see them harvested. These flowers seem to blossom in the morning. However, in the day of grief and incurable pain there will be no harvest. In other words, their forgetfulness of God has led to this planting that will not have any good result.

Listen to the voice of Yahweh (Ps 81:8-81:10)

“Hear!

O my people!,

I will admonish you!

O Israel!

If you would but listen to me!

There shall be no strange god among you.

You shall not bow down to a foreign god.

I am Yahweh!

Your God!

I brought you up out of the land of Egypt.

Open your mouth wide!

Then I will fill it.”

Yahweh speaks, probably through the Temple prophet. He wanted to admonish his people, Israel. If only they would listen to him. Very clearly he says that there should not be any strange gods among them. They were not to bow down to foreign gods. He was Yahweh, their God. He brought them out of Egypt. He wanted them to open their mouths wide so that he could fill them.

The transgressions of the half tribe of Manasseh (1 Chr 5:25-5:26)

“But the half tribe of Manasseh transgressed against the God of their ancestors. They prostituted themselves to the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of King Pul of Assyria, the spirit of King Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. He carried them away, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day.”

The Assyrian captivity seems to be blamed on the half tribe of Manasseh only. They served the gods of the land they took over. However, they were so far from Jerusalem, it would not seem feasible that they would go to Jerusalem. They seem to have transgressed the same as the other people of Israel and the people of Judah. King Pul was a real character, also known as Tiglath-pileser III, the king of Babylon and Assyria who lived in the 8th century BCE, as the founder of the 2nd Assyrian Empire (745-727 BCE) so that King Tiglath-pileser III and King Pul are the same person. He had originally accepted money from King Menahem (743-738) of Israel as in 2 Kings, chapter 15. However, when the next few kings refused to pay, the king of Assyria invaded all the land. He carried the Israelites away to Assyria. He placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan. It is not clear whether this east area was taken before the west area of Israel in 721 under the new king of Assyria, King Sargon II (722-705 BCE). However, they both ended up in the same places Halah, Habor, Hara and the Gozan River in central Asia in the Mesopotamian area. Halah and Habor were mentioned in 2 Kings, chapter 17, but Hara has been added here and not found elsewhere in biblical literature.  This biblical author seems to indicate that the half-tribe of Manasseh never returned from the Exile.

The anger of Yahweh against Solomon (1 Kings 11:9-11:13)

“Yahweh was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from Yahweh, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. He had commanded him concerning this matter, that he should not follow other gods. But he did not observe what Yahweh commanded. Therefore Yahweh said to Solomon. ‘Since this has been your mind and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you. I will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However I will not tear away the entire kingdom. I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.’”

Notice that Yahweh is not angry with Solomon for having many wives and concubines. He is mad that Solomon is allowing false worship to other gods. Yahweh had appeared to him twice, which was a rare occasional special event. Quite often Yahweh used intermediaries. Solomon had not observed what Yahweh had commanded. He had followed other foreign gods. Once more Yahweh spoke to Solomon. He was going to take the kingdom away from him, but not in his lifetime. This would happen during the reign of his son. His son will be left with only tribe, for the sake of David and Jerusalem. This does not seem like a very harsh punishment. The punishment will be for his sons not him.