Wakeup call to Jerusalem (Isa 51:17-51:20)

“Rouse yourself!

Rouse yourself!

Stand up!

O Jerusalem!

You have drunk

At the hand of Yahweh

The cup of his wrath.

You have drunk to the dregs

The bowl of staggering.

There is no one to guide her

Among all the children

She has borne.

There is no one to take her

By the hand

Among all the children

She has brought up.

These two things have befallen you.

Who will grieve with you

In this devastation with destruction?

Who will grieve with you

In this famine?

Who will grieve with you

Because of the sword?

Who will comfort you?

Your children have fainted.

They lie at the head of every street

Like an antelope in a net.

They are full of the wrath of Yahweh.

They are full of the rebuke of your God.”

Second Isaiah has a wakeup call for Jerusalem. They had suffered enough, since they were drunk from the cup of Yahweh’s wrath. They drank so much wrath that they were staggering around. No one was guiding them. No one was taking them by the hand, among all the children of Israel. They had been struck by more than two things, devastation, destruction, famine, and the sword. Who would comfort them? Their children have fainted on the streets, like they were antelopes caught in nets. They were filled with Yahweh’s anger and rebuke. They were in bad shape.

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The death of all (Isa 13:14-13:16)

“Like a hunted gazelle,

Like sheep

With no one to gather them,

All will turn

To their own people.

All will flee

To their own lands.

Whoever is found

Will be thrust through.

Whoever is caught,

Will fall by the sword.

Their infants

Will be dashed to pieces,

Before their eyes.

Their houses will be plundered.

Their wives will be ravished.”

Now Isaiah has the death of all, no questions asked. Humans will be like hunted deer or sheep with no one guiding them. People will return to their own people and lands. However, whoever is caught would by killed by the sword. Their infants would be smashed. Their houses would be robbed and their wives raped. This is not a pretty picture.

Ship’s wooden idols and providence (Wis 14:1-14:5)

“Again,

One preparing to sail,

About to voyage over raging waves,

Calls upon a piece of wood

More fragile than the ship that carries him.

It was desire for gain

That planned that vessel.

Wisdom was the artisan who built it.

But it is your providence,

O Father!

That steers its course.

Because you have given it a path in the sea,

A safe way through the waves.

You show that you can save it from every danger.

Thus even a person who lacks skill

May put to sea.

It is your will

That works of your wisdom

Should not be without effect.

Therefore people trust their lives

Even to the smallest piece of wood.

They pass through the billows

On a raft

So that they come safely to land.”

Apparently there was a custom to put a wooden idol on the front or the prow of the ship to protect them. Even today we see some sort of decoration on the front of ships. Obviously, this decorative idol was less firm than the whole ship. However, this author points out that it was the wisdom (σοφίᾳ) of the carpenter and the desire for gain that built the ships. God was the providence (πρόνοια) and father (πάτερ) of all who steered their course through the waves of the sea. Once again, this is a Greek philosophical and biblical concept about providence guiding the world. Thus even those who lacked skill were still protected by divine wisdom (τῆς σοφίας). People put trust in the tiniest piece of wood to guide them through rough patches on the sea.