The destruction of Israel (Am 7:8-7:9)

“Yahweh said to me.

‘Amos!

What do you see?’

I said.

‘A plumb line.’

Then Yahweh said.

‘See!

I am setting

A plumb line

In the midst

Of my people Israel.

I will never again

Pass by them.

The high places

Of Isaac

Shall be made desolate.

The sanctuaries of Israel

Shall be laid waste.

I will rise against

The house of Jeroboam

With the sword.’”

This time, Amos had no response to this vision about the plumb line. Yahweh asked Amos what he saw. Amos responded that it was a plumb line. Then Yahweh told him that he was going to place it in the middle of the people of Israel. He was not going to pass by them again. The high places and the sanctuaries of Israel would be laid waste and become desolate. Yahweh was going to rise up against the house of King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE), meaning his son, King Zachariah, who did not last a year in 743 BCE.

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The punishment for the idol loving Levite ministers (Ezek 44:10-44:12)

“‘But the Levites,

Who went far from me,

Going astray

From me

After their idols,

When Israel went astray,

Shall bear

Their punishment.

They shall be ministers

In my sanctuary,

Having oversight

At the gates

Of the temple.

They shall serve

In the temple.

They shall slaughter

The burnt offerings.

They shall slaughter

The sacrifices

For the people.

They shall attend

On them.

They shall serve them.

Because they ministered

To them

Before their idols,

They made

The house of Israel

Stumble into iniquity.

Therefore,

I have sworn concerning them.

They shall bear their punishment.’

Says Yahweh God!”

In a diatribe against the Levitical priests who had served idols in the high places, Yahweh was upset. However, his punishment was merely lowly menial tasks in the Temple, not a drastic death sentence. These Levites had sinned because they had led Israel astray with their idol worshipping. They made Israel stumble into iniquity. Thus, they were to be punished. They would only have oversight at the gates to the Temple, not in the sanctuary. They also would slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices. They would continue to minister to Yahweh and his people, but only in the more pedestrian roles. This seems like a mild form of punishment for idol worship and leading the Israelites astray.

Oholah (Samaria) and Oholibah (Jerusalem) (Ezek 23:4-23:4)

“The word of Yahweh
Came to me.
‘Son of man!
There were two women.
They were
The daughters
Of one mother.
They played the whore
In Egypt.
They played the whore
In their youth.
Their breasts
Were caressed there.
Their virgin bosoms
Were fondled.’”
Once again, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. This oracle was about two women, the daughters of the same mother. Both of them played the whore in Egypt when they were young. In particular, their young virgin breasts or bosoms were fondled and caressed. Ezekiel and Yahweh loved the theme of the whoring woman to get a point across. Here there was a particular emphasis on the breasts of these two young women.

Death at the idol worship sites (Ezek 6:13-6:14)

“You shall know

That I am Yahweh.

Their slain

Shall lie

Among their idols,

Around their altars.

On every high hill,

On all the mountain tops,

Under every green tree,

Under every leafy oak,

Wherever they offered

Pleasing odor

To all their idols,

I will stretch out

My hand

Against them.

I will make

The land desolate.

I will make

The land waste

Throughout all their settlements,

From the wilderness

To Riblah.

Then they will know

That I am Yahweh.”

These false worshippers would know that Yahweh was in charge. All these worshippers would die and lie with their idols, around their altars, on every high hill, on all the mountain tops, under every green tree, and under every leafy oak. This is the first mention of the green trees and leafy oaks, instead of the vague high places. Wherever they offered the pleasing odor to their idols, Yahweh was going to stretch out his hand against them. He was going to make their land desolate and a waste, no matter where they lived, from the wilderness in the south to Riblah in the north on the Syrian border. They would all come to know that Yahweh was in charge. He was Yahweh.

The end of false worship (Jer 48:35-48:35)

“Says Yahweh.

‘I will bring

To an end,

In Moab,

Those who offer sacrifices

At a high place.

They make offerings

To their gods.’”

Yahweh was going to end false worship in Moab by eliminating those people who made sacrifices at the high places there. These were the people who were making offerings to their false gods in Moab.

 

The judgment of God (Wis 6:4-6:8)

“Because as servants of his kingdom,

You did not rule rightly.

You did not keep the law.

You did not walk

According to the purpose of God.

He will come upon you terribly.

He will come upon you swiftly.

Because severe judgment falls

On those in high places.

The lowliest may be pardoned in mercy.

But the mighty will be mightily tested.

The Lord of all

Will not stand in awe of any one.

He will not show deference to greatness.

Because he himself made

Both small and great.

He takes thought for all alike.

But a strict inquiry is in store for the mighty.”

Severe judgment will come upon those who are in high places that did not rule rightly. They did not keep the law (νόμον) or walk according to God’s purposes (κατὰ τὴν βουλὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐπορεύθητε). God will come upon them terribly and swiftly. God might pardon the lowly with mercy, but the mighty are tested mightily. The Lord of all will not be awed by anyone. He does not show deference, whether they are small or great. He does a strict inquiry into all, especially the mighty ones.

The hills (Ps 121:1-121:2)

A song of ascents

“I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where will my help come?

My help comes from Yahweh,

Who made heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121 is another short psalm in this series of ascent songs or hymns on the way to Jerusalem. This psalmist looked to the hills. Where was his help going to come from? He simply replied that it would be Yahweh, who made heaven and earth, that would come to his aid. Do these hills refer to the Mount Zion or the hills where the Baals, the local gods in high places, were worshipped?