Bad times (Hag 1:5-1:6)

“Now therefore thus

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Consider how you have fared.

You have sown much,

But you have harvested little.

You eat,

But you never have enough.

You drink,

But you never have your fill.

You clothe yourselves,

But no one is warm.

You who earn wages,

Earn wages to put them

Into a bag with holes.’”

Yahweh, via Haggai, indicated that they were suffering bad times.  They had sown much, but only harvested a little.  They never had enough food.  When they drank, they were never full.  When they put clothes on, it did not keep them warm.  When they earned wages, it went into a bag with holes in it, so that they did not get to keep their own wages.  Things were not going well.

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No more just people (Mic 7:1-7:2)

“Woe is me!

I have become

Like one

After the summer fruit

Has been gathered.

I have become

Like one

After the vintage

Has been gleaned.

There is no cluster to eat.

There is no first-ripe fig

For which I hunger.

The faithful have disappeared

From the land.

There is no one left

Who is upright.

They all lie in wait

For blood.

They hunt each other

With nets.”

Micah started this lament with a woeful thought about himself.  He was lonely, because the late summer fruits had been harvested.  All the vineyards had been picked and gleaned.  There was nothing left to eat.  It did not make any difference, because Micah had no appetite for fig clusters or anything.  All the faithful people had disappeared from the land.  There was not even one good upright person left.  They were all waiting to steal from each other.  They were hungry for the blood of others, so that they were hunting each other with nets.

No foreigners would eat or drink in Jerusalem (Isa 62:8-62:9)

“Yahweh has sworn

By his right hand,

By his mighty arm.

‘I will not again give your grain

To be food for your enemies.

Foreigners shall not drink the wine

For which you have labored.

But those who garner it

Shall eat it.

They shall praise Yahweh.

Those who garner it

Shall drink it

In my holy courts.’”

Yahweh now contends that no foreigners will eat or drink from the labor of those in Jerusalem. Yahweh has sworn by his mighty right hand that the grain harvested there will stay there, not be given to enemies. These foreign enemies will not drink the wine that was developed in Jerusalem. Instead the locals will gather the grapes and drink the wine in the holy courts at Jerusalem.

The preparations for the invasion (Jdt 4:4-4:8)

“The Israelites sent word to every district of Samaria, especially to Kona, Beth-horon, Belmain, Jericho, Choba, Aesora, and the valley of Salem. They immediately seized all the high hilltops. They fortified the villages on them. They stored up food in preparation for war, since their fields had recently been harvested. The high priest Joakim, who was in Jerusalem at the time, wrote to the people of Bethulia and Betomesthaim, which faces Esdraelon opposite the plain near Dothan. He ordered them to seize the mountain passes, since by them Judea could be invaded. It would be easy to stop any who tried to enter, for the approach was narrow, only wide enough for two at a time to pass. So the Israelites did as they had been ordered by the high priest Joakim and the senate of the whole people of Israel, in session at Jerusalem.”

The Israelites were aware that Holofernes was coming. They warned the people of Samaria. However, Judah was always separate from Samaria and Holofernes was already there in northern Israel. There were a series of towns in Benjamin named, some of which are difficult to locate except for Beth-horon and Jericho. The valley of Salem may refer to the area around Jerusalem since that might have been ancient name, Jeru-Salem. They took all the high places and fortified them. They stored up food since the harvest had just taken place. The 2 towns of Bethulia and Betomesthaim are difficult to find. They must have been near Dothan, which as far as any identification is possible, was north of Shechem in Manasseh territory. Their high priest Joakim is also hard to identify, since the only priest with that name was after the exile in Nehemiah, chapter 12. This would put it 200 years after King Nebuchadnezzar. There also was no Senate in Jerusalem until the 2nd century BCE. Thus the story has a lot of problematic areas when it comes to specifics about places, peoples, and events in any sort of timeframe.