Prayer for Yahweh’s protection (Mic 7:14-7:15)

“Shepherd your people

With your staff.

Shepherd the flock

That belongs to you.

They live alone

In a forest,

In the midst

Of a garden land.

Let them feed

In Bashan,

In Gilead,

As in the days of old.

As in the days

When you came out

Of the land of Egypt,

Show us

Marvelous things.”

Micah wanted Yahweh to use his shepherd’s staff to protect his people that belonged to him.  However, they were now living in a forest that was in the middle of some wonderful garden land.  They wanted to feed on the plains of Bashan and Gilead, like in the good old days, when they first came out of Egypt.  They wanted to see all these wonderful things, as they began their restoration after the exile.

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The cedar tree goes down into Sheol (Ezek 31:15-31:15)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘On the day

It went down

To Sheol,

I closed the deep

Over it.

I covered it.

I restrained

Its rivers.

It mighty waters

Were checked.

I clothed Lebanon

In gloom

For it.

All the trees

Of the field

Fainted

Because of it.’”

Once again, carrying on the theme that Yahweh was in control of all the trees, Yahweh closed the deep abyss that had given water to this great cedar tree. Yahweh covered over and restrained the deep abyss streams that were now held in check. The cedar tree, like other humans, had gone to Sheol, the shadowy underworld afterlife place. Thus, Lebanon was in gloom and mourning for the lost personified tree. Also, all the other trees of the forest fainted because of this happening.

The mythical tall cedar in Lebanon (Ezek 31:3-31:5)

“Consider a cedar

Of Lebanon!

It has fair branches.

It has forest shade.

It has great height.

Its top is

Among the clouds.

The waters nourished it.

The deep made it

Grow tall.

Its rivers flow

Around the place

It was planted,

Sending forth

Its streams

To all the trees

of the forest.

So it towered high

Above all the trees

Of the forest.

Its boughs grew large.

Its branches were long

From abundant water

In its shoots.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, compared Egypt to a tall cedar tree in Lebanon. This majestic tree had fair branches in a forest shade. It was extremely tall so that its top reached into the clouds. Ezekiel seems to be referring to an ancient Babylonian myth about the deep abyss or a dragon from the watery chaos that made trees grow tall. Thus they would enter the heaven of the gods in the clouds. The nourishing water from this deep abyss made this cedar tree grow tall. Streams from this water abyss flowed all around the place where this tree was planted. Even the other trees in the forest were able to grow because of this water. Nevertheless, this high cedar tree towered over all the other trees in the forest, because it had large long branches, due to the abundance of water in its shoots.

Yahweh gives up (Jer 12:7-12:9)

“I have forsaken my house.

I have abandoned my heritage.

I have given the beloved of my heart

Into the hands of her enemies.

My heritage has become to me

Like a lion in the forest.

She has lifted up her voice

Against me.

Therefore I hate her.

Is the hyena greedy

For my heritage?

Are the birds of prey

All around her?

Go!

Assemble all the wild animals!

Bring them to devour her!”

Yahweh has given up on his house and abandoned his heritage. He has handed over his most beloved people into the hands of their enemies. His heritage had become like a lion in the forest that had lifted up its voice against him. Now Yahweh hates her. The greedy hyena is waiting for Yahweh’s heritage. The birds of prey are all around her. Yahweh wanted all the wild animals to gather and devour his people. This is an allusion to the neighboring countries and of course the Babylonians, who will come and devour Judah. It seems like Yahweh has given up on his people.

The peaceful saving Spirit of Yahweh (Isa 32:15-32:20)

“A Spirit from on high is

Poured out on us.

The wilderness becomes a fruitful field.

The fruitful field is deemed a forest.

Then justice will dwell in the wilderness.

Righteousness will abide in the fruitful field.

The effect of righteousness will be peace.

The result of righteousness is quietness.

The result of righteousness is trust forever.

My people will abide

In a peaceful habitation,

In secure dwellings,

In quiet resting places.

The forest will disappear.

The city will be utterly laid low.

Happy will you be

Who sow beside every stream.

You will let the ox range freely.

You will let the donkey range freely.”

Into this desolate situation, Isaiah inserts a ray of hope. The Spirit of Yahweh will descend on his people. The wilderness will become a fruitful field, almost like a forest. Justice shall dwell in the wilderness, while righteousness will be in the fruitful fields. This righteousness will bring peace, quiet, and everlasting trust. You will live peacefully in secure houses with quiet resting places. The city and the forest will disappear. You will lead a happy life sowing along streams and letting your ox and donkeys graze freely. This will be the ideal time of peaceful farmers.

The response of Yahweh (Isa 10:33-10:34)

“Look!                                                                                         

The Sovereign!

Yahweh of hosts W

ill lop the boughs

With terrifying power.

The tallest trees

Will be cut down.

The lofty will be brought low.

He will hack down

The thickets of the forest

With an axe.

Lebanon

With its majestic trees

Will fall.”

Isaiah says that Yahweh with his armies will cut the tree branches with his terrible power. He will chop down the tallest trees, meaning the Assyrians. These proud invaders will be brought low. Yahweh will use an axe on the tall Lebanon cedar trees, as he cuts them down in this forest. They, the Assyrians, will all fall.

Apple tree (Song 2:3-2:5)

Female lover

“As an apple tree

Among the trees of the wood,

So is my beloved

Among young men.

With great delight

I sat in his shadow.

His fruit was sweet to my taste.

He brought me

To the banqueting house.

His intention toward me

Was love.

Sustain me with raisins.

Refresh me with apples.

I am faint with love.”

The female lover compares her lover to an apple tree in a forest. Thus she can sit in his shadow as this shady apple tree stands out among the other young men. His fruit was sweet and tasty. He brought her to the banquet hall with his love intentions. He sustained her with raisins. He refreshed her with apples. There could be sexual connotations here, but certainly the setting is romantic love. She is love sick, fainting with love. Clearly, she has fallen in love with this handsome young man who is like an apple tree.