“‘I will rebuke
It will not destroy
Of your soil.
In the field
Shall not be barren.’
Says Yahweh of hosts.”
Yahweh, via Malachi, said that he was going to hold back the locusts from them. These locusts would not destroy the products that they planted. In fact, their vineyards would not be barren, but fruitful.
“Your mother was
Like a vine
In a vineyard,
By the water.
She was fruitful.
She was full of branches
From abundant water.
Her strongest stem
A ruler’s scepter.
It towered aloft
Among the thick boughs.
It stood out
In its height
With the mass
Of its branches.”
Yahweh, via Ezekiel has another allegory about a vine. This vine was like their mother, large and fruitful. The reference here is to Judah as the mother of the people. This vine had been taken from a normal vineyard and planted near a large water supply. It had long stems so that one became a ruler’s scepter. It was tall with thick branches as it stood out because of its height and massive branches.
“‘Then I myself
Will gather the remnant
Of my flock
Out of all the lands
Where I have driven them.
I will bring them back
To their fold.
They shall be fruitful.
They shall multiply.
I will raise up
Shepherds over them.
They will shepherd them.
They shall not fear any longer.
They shall not be dismayed.
None shall be missing.’
At some future time, Yahweh will gather the remnant of his flock from all the countries that they were driven into. He is going to bring them back into the fold where they will be fruitful and multiply. Moreover, he will then put good shepherd leaders over them. They will no longer fear or be dismayed. No one will be missing. Thus the future good times would have good leaders.
“I will pour water
On the thirsty land.
I will pour streams
On the dry ground.
I will pour my Spirit
Upon your descendants.
My blessing will be
On your offspring.
They shall spring up
Like a green tamarisk,
Like willows by flowing streams.”
Yahweh continues in the first person singular to bless Israel. He was going to pour water on the thirsty land with streams of water on the dry ground so that it would be fruitful. He was going to pour out his Spirit on the descendents of Israel. His blessing would be on all the offspring of Israel. They would spring up like green tamarisk bushes or like willows along a flowing stream. There was nothing but good things ahead for the Israelites because of Yahweh’s blessing.
A song of ascents
“Happy is everyone who fears Yahweh!
Happy are those who walk in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands.
You shall be happy.
It shall go well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
Within your house.
Your children will be like olive shoots
Around your table.
Thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears Yahweh.”
Psalm 128 is another in this series of pilgrimage songs or psalms on the ascent to Jerusalem. If you fear Yahweh, you will be happy. This is a universal saying about the importance of fearing God. Everyone who fears Yahweh and walks in his ways will be happy. They shall eat the fruits of their labors. It will go well with them. Their wives will be like fruitful vines in their house. Their children will be like olive shoots around their tables. Truly, the man who fears Yahweh will be blessed.
“When they are diminished,
When they are brought low,
Through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,
He pours contempt upon the princes.
He makes them wander in trackless wastes.
However he raises up the needy out of distress.
He makes their families like flocks.
The upright see it.
They are glad.
All the wickedness keeps its mouth shut.
Let those who are wise,
Give heed to these things.
Consider the steadfast love of Yahweh.”
This psalm ends with something that looks like it was added on. All of a sudden there are princes that are brought low and diminished with oppression, trouble, and sorrow. Yahweh had contempt for the princes wandering in some waste land. On the other hand, he raised up the needy or the poor out of their distress. He made them fruitful like flocks of birds. The upright, those with a right heart, were glad because wickedness never came out of their mouth. The wise person paid attention to these things. They always remembered the steadfast love of Yahweh.
“He turns rivers into a desert.
He turns springs of water into thirsty ground.
He turns fruitful land into a salty waste.
He did this because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.
He turns the desert into pools of water.
He turns parched land into springs of water.
There he lets the hungry live.
They establish a town to live in.
They sow fields.
They plant vineyards.
They get a fruitful yield.
By his blessing
They multiply greatly.
He does not let their cattle decrease.”
Yahweh could make rivers into deserts and dry up the land. In fact, he turned fruitful land into a salty waste because of the wickedness of its people. On the other hand, he could turn bad land into good land. He could turn a desert into water and parched land into springs of water. See how important water was. He could let the hungry live and establish their own towns. There they could sow fields and plant vineyards so that they would have a fruitful yield. When Yahweh blesses them they multiply greatly, even their cattle.
“Then Israel came to Egypt.
Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham.
Yahweh made his people very fruitful.
He made them stronger than their foes.
He turned their hearts to hate his people.
Thus they dealt cunningly with his servants.”
Once again, this is a condensed version of the story in Genesis, chapters 46-47. Israel or Jacob came to Ham, because Ham supposedly settled in Egypt, at the request of Joseph, who had an important position in the Egyptian government. Then the sons of Jacob or the Israelites, as they came to be called, were very fruitful in Egypt. They grew stronger but the hearts of the Egyptians turned to hate them. They began to treat them cunningly. They became a treath to the immigrant Israelites since the Egyptians considered them as outsiders.