The distressed city of Nineveh (Nah 2:6-2:9)

“The river gates

Are opened.

The palace trembles.

It is decreed

That the city

Be exiled.

Its slave women were

Led away,

Moaning

Like doves,

Beating their breasts.

Nineveh is

Like a pool

Whose waters

Run away.

‘Halt!

Halt!’

They cry.

But no one turns back.

Plunder the silver!

Plunder the gold!

There is no end

Of treasure.

There is an abundance

Of every precious thing.

Devastation!

Desolation!

Destruction!

Hearts faint!

Knees tremble!

All loins quake!

All faces grow pale!”

Nahum painted this picture of chaos in Nineveh.  He said that the river gates were opened, so that the palace and the people in it were trembling.  The people of this city were going to go into exile.  The slave women were led away, moaning like doves and beating their breasts.  The whole city of Nineveh had become like an overflowing pool.  People were saying stop, but no one was listening.  No one turned back as they keep on fleeing.  Meanwhile, there was a great plunder of their treasures of gold, silver, and the other abundant precious things.  Everywhere there was devastation, desolation, and destruction in this great city.  Hearts were fainting, while kneels were trembling.  Their faces grew pale as their loins shook.

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The glittering sword (Ezek 21:15-21:17)

“‘Therefore hearts melt!

Many stumble!

At all their gates,

I have set the point

Of the sword.

Ah!

It is made

For flashing.

It is polished

For slaughter.

Attack to the right!

Engage to the left!

Attack wherever

Your edge is directed!

I too will strike

Hand to hand.

I will satisfy

My fury.’

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, concluded this little hymn to the sword. Hearts would melt. Many would stumble. Everywhere there would be the flashing of swords. Especially at the gates, there would be polished silver swords that led to slaughter and death, all around, to the right and the left, front and back. Swords would be pointed in all directions. Yahweh would also strike where he pleased in order to satisfy his anger.

No promise land (Ezek 20:15-20:16)

“Moreover

I swore to them

In the wilderness

That I would not

Bring them

Into the land

That I had given them.

That is a land flowing

With milk and honey,

The most glorious of all lands.

Because they rejected

My ordinances.

They did observe

My statutes.

They profaned

My Sabbath.

Their heart went

After their idols.”

Yahweh swore to them in the wilderness that he was not going to bring them into the land that he had given them, that land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. They had rejected his ordinances. They did not observe his statutes. They profaned the Sabbath. Their hearts went after their former idols. Things did not look good for these wilderness wanderers.

The strange creatures in the foreign temples (Bar 6:20-6:23)

“The idols are just

Like a beam

In the temple.

It is said

That their hearts

Are eaten away,

When crawling creatures

From the earth

Devour them,

Along with their robes.

They do not notice

When their faces

Have been blackened

By the smoke

Of the temple.

Bats,

Swallows,

Birds,

As well as cats

Alight on their bodies

As well as their heads.

From this

You will know

That they are not gods.

So do not fear them!”

This author elaborates about the conditions that idols have in the foreign temples. They are just like wooden beams in the temple. Their hearts are being eaten away by crawling creatures that devour them along with their precious robes. These false idols do not even notice when their faces become blackened by the smoke in the temple. There are all kinds of creatures all over them. Bats, cats, swallows, and other birds have landed on their heads and bodies. Thus they should know that these are not really gods. Thus, there is nothing to fear from them.

The joy is gone (Lam 5:15-5:16)

“The joy

Of our hearts

Has ceased.

Our dancing

Has been turned

To mourning.

The crown

Has fallen

From our head.

Cursed be us!

We have sinned!”

Happiness has left the people of Jerusalem. The joy of their hearts is now gone. They have stopped dancing. They now turn to mourning. The crown of Jerusalem has fallen. They are now cursed because they were sinners.

The basket of good figs (Jer 24:4-24:7)

“Then the word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

Like these good figs,

So I will regard as good

The exiles from Judah.

I have sent them away

From this place

To the land of the Chaldeans.

I will set my eyes

Upon them for good.

I will bring them back

To this land.

I will build them up.

I will not tear them down.

I will plant them.

I will not pluck them up.

I will give them a heart

To know

That I am Yahweh.

They shall be my people.

I will be their God.

They shall return to me

With their whole heart.’”

Yahweh, the God of Israel, explained to Jeremiah that the basket of good figs referred to those who had gone into exile in 598 BCE, not those who had remained in Judah. The Babylonians or the Chaldeans had taken them. Yahweh was going to bring these good people back from their exile. He was again going to plant them in this land, since he was not going to tear them down. Their hearts would know Yahweh. Thus they would be his people and he would be their God. They would return to Yahweh with their whole hearts.