The poor crops (Hag 2:16-2:17)

“‘How did you fare?

When one came

To a heap

Of twenty measures,

There were but ten.

When one came

To the wine vat

To draw fifty measures,

There were but twenty.

I struck you!

I struck all the products

Of your toil

With blight,

With mildew,

With hail!

Yet you did not return

To me!’

Says Yahweh.”

Haggai has this oracle of Yahweh about their poor crops.  When they were expecting 20 measures of a crop, they only got 10 measures.  When they were expecting 50 measures for the wine vat, they only got 20.  Thus, even when they had some crops in the fields, they were below expectations.  Yahweh had struck them and all their products.  Despite their hard labor, their crops were hit with blight, mildew, and hail.  Why did this happen?  They had not returned to Yahweh, pure and simple.

The hard life (Lam 5:5-5:6)

“With a yoke

On our necks,

We are hard driven.

We are weary.

We are given

No rest.

We have made a pact

With Egypt.

We have made a pact

With Assyria

To get bread enough.”

Once again in the first person plural, they complain about yoke on their necks as in Jeremiah, chapter 28. They are tired because they are forced into hard labor without much rest. They had to make a pact with Egypt and Assyria to get enough bread to eat. Actually, Assyria had already disappeared.

Humble work (Sir 7:15-7:17)

“Do not hate hard labor.

Do not hate farm work.

These were created by the Most High.

Do not enroll in the ranks of sinners.

Remember that retribution does not delay.

Humble yourself to the utmost.

The punishment of the ungodly is fire and worms.”

These Sirach recommendations continue. You should not dislike hard labor or farm work since they were created by the Most High God. Do not hang out with sinners because retribution will not be delayed. Humble yourself. The punishment for the ungodly is both fire and worms.