The Babylonian king requests young Israelite students (Dan 1:3-1:4)

“Then the king commanded

His palace master,

Ashpenaz,

To bring

Some of the Israelites

Of the royal family

Or Of the nobility.

These should be

Young men

Without physical defect,

As well as handsome.

These should be

Versed in every branch

Of wisdom,

Endowed

With knowledge,

As well as insight.

These young men

Should be competent

To serve

In the king’s palace.

They were to be taught

The literature,

As well as the language,

Of the Chaldeans.”

King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to have some well-bred Israelites students. He had his palace chief, Ashpenaz, find these young men if they met certain conditions. These young men would have to be in good physical shape, as well as good looking. They had to be from the Israelite royal family or the Israelite nobility. Thus, these young men would not be run of the mill students. On top of that, they had to show some wisdom, knowledge, and insight. They were not going to waste their time on people who did not want to learn. Thus, they would be competent to serve in the king’s palace like a page. They also had to learn the Chaldean or Babylonian culture with its literature and language. This seemed like a good use of smart young men.

 

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The rebellion (Ezek 20:8-20:8)

“But they rebelled

Against me.

They would not listen

To me.

Not one of them

Cast away

The detestable things

That their eyes feasted on.

They did not forsake

The idols of Egypt.”

Yahweh said that they rebelled against him. They would not listen to him. They kept their good looking detestable things instead of getting rid of them. They even kept their Egyptian idols instead of giving them up. They kept to their wicked evil ways.

The rejected servant of Yahweh (Isa 53:1-53:3)

“Who has believed

What we have heard?

To whom has the arm of Yahweh

Been revealed?

He grew up

Like a young plant,

Like a root out of dry ground.

He had no form.

He had no majesty

That we should look at him.

There was nothing in his appearance

That we should desire him.

He was despised.

He was rejected by others.

He was a man of suffering.

He was acquainted with infirmity.

He was as one

From whom others hide their faces.

He was despised.

We held him of no account.”

Second Isaiah asks who believed us. Has the arm of Yahweh been revealed? This suffering servant grew up like a plant or a root from dry earth, not moist soil. This servant was not particularly good looking, not really desirable, and not majestic. In fact, he was despised and rejected by others. He seems to be suffering from some sickness or infirmity. People hid their faces from him as if he was a leper. Most people did not think much of him. Who then is this suffering servant? Is it Israel, Isaiah, or as some Christians project it to Jesus Christ?

Animal worship (Wis 15:18-15:19)

“Moreover,

The enemies of Israel worship

Even the most hateful animals.

Some are worse than all others,

When judged by their lack of intelligence.

Even as animals,

They are not so beautiful in appearance

That one would desire them.

But they have escaped

Both the praise of God

And his blessing.”

This is a stinging attack on animal worship. These animals are at least living. However, they are hateful animals with little intelligence, and not even good looking. No one would desire them. God (τοῦ Θεοῦ) would not praise or bless them.

Jewelry (Song 1:9-1:11)

Male lover

“My love!

I compare you

To a mare among Pharaoh’s chariots.

Your cheeks are comely

With ornaments.

Your neck is comely

With strings of jewels.

We will make you ornaments of gold,

Studded with silver.”

The male lover responded as if he were a rich man. He compared his female lover to a horse among the Egyptian Pharaoh’s chariot horses. I am not sure how well she took this comparison. Her cheeks and neck were good looking. She had some kind of ornaments on her cheeks with jewels around her neck. Maybe she had some sort of tattoo on her cheeks. However, this male lover was going to bring ornaments of gold studded with silver. Nothing was too good for her.