The strength of God (Lk 1:51-1:51)

“God

Has shown strength

With his arm.

He has scattered

The proud thinking

In their hearts.”

 

Ἐποίησεν κράτος ἐν βραχίονι αὐτοῦ, διεσκόρπισεν ὑπερηφάνους διανοίᾳ καρδίας αὐτῶν·

 

This canticle of Mary was modeled on that of Hannah in 1 Samuel, chapter 2:3-4, that praised Yahweh for her son, Samuel the prophet.  Hannah said that the mighty and the rich would stumble but the low and the poor would succeed.  Here Luke indicated that Mary said that God had shown strength with his arm (Ἐποίησεν κράτος ἐν βραχίονι αὐτοῦ).  Thus, he has scattered the proud thinking in their hearts (διεσκόρπισεν ὑπερηφάνους διανοίᾳ καρδίας αὐτῶν).  The power of God would scatter the proud people.

Ezekiel lies on his right side for Judah (Ezek 4:6-4:8)

“When you have

Completed these things,

You shall lie down

A second time,

But on your right side.

You shall bear

The punishment

Of the house of Judah.

I assign you

Forty days,

One day for each year.

You shall set your face

Toward the siege of Jerusalem.

With your arm bared,

You shall prophesy

Against the city.

See!

I am putting cords

On you.

Thus you cannot turn

From one side

To the other,

Until you have completed

The days of your siege.”

When Ezekiel had finished the 390 days laying on his left side for the punishment of Israel, he was ordered to lie down a second time, but this time on his right side. He was going to bear a punishment for the house of Judah. However, this was only for 40 days, representing the famous 40 years in the wilderness from Egypt to the Promise Land. However, during this time, he was to face toward the siege of Jerusalem. In fact, he was to bear his arm and prophesy against the city of Jerusalem. To make sure that Ezekiel would do this and not move, Ezekiel had cords put on him, so that he could not switch sides. I am not sure how this worked. He was to do this until he had completed the two assignments for a total of 430 days.

Judgment on the cities of Moab (Jer 48:21-48:25)

“‘Judgment has come

Upon the tableland,

Upon

Holon,

Jahzah,

Mephaath,

Dibon,

Nebo,

Beth-diblathaim,

Kiriathaim,

Beth-gamul,

Beth-meon,

Kerioth,

Bozrah,

And all the towns

Of the land

Of Moab,

Far and near.

The horn of Moab

Is cut off.

His arm is broken.’

Says Yahweh.”

Now Yahweh, via Jeremiah, issues his judgment against the Moab cities and towns. Interesting enough, the only other time two of these cities are named was in the book of Joshua, chapter 21,when they were assigned to the Levites living in the Reuben territory. Out of the four Levite towns mentioned there, two are mentioned here, Jahaz and Mephaath. In chapter 13 of Joshua, other cities were mentioned, Dibon, the capital city, Kiriathaim, and Beth-meon. Nebo was a Babylonian god, but could also be a place in Moab. Bozrah was in the southern part of Moab, while Beth-gamul was in eastern Moab. It is difficult to pin point the exact locations of Holon, Beth-diblathaim, and Kerioth. Actually this oracle proclaims that all the towns of Moab have been destroyed, since the horn of Moab and his arm have been broken and cut off. The towns are named explicitly here.

The call of Cyrus to fight against the Babylonians (Isa 48:14-48:16)

“Assemble!

All of you!

Hear!

Who among them has declared these things?

Yahweh loves him.

He shall perform his purpose on Babylon.

His arm shall be against the Chaldeans.

I!

Even I have spoken!

I called him!

I have brought him!

He will prosper in his way.

Draw near to me!

Hear this!

From the beginning,

I have not spoken in secret.

From the time it came to be,

I have been there.            

‘Yahweh God has sent me.

He has sent his Spirit.’”

Second Isaiah reveals the new things to happen. Once again, everyone had to assemble and listen to what Yahweh had to say. Thus Yahweh declared that he loved Cyrus who was about to attack Babylon and use his arm against these Chaldeans. Yahweh clearly says that he has called him, but Cyrus will prosper in his own way. Yahweh wanted the Israelites to know that he had not spoken in secret, since he has always existed. Apparently Cyrus, without explicitly mentioning him by name, responded saying that Yahweh had sent his Spirit to him.

The power of Yahweh (Isa 30:30-30:30)

“Yahweh will cause

His majestic voice

To be heard.

The descending blow of his arm

Would be seen

In furious anger.

It would be seen

With a flame of devouring fire.

It would be seen

With a cloudburst.

It would be seen

With a tempest.

It would be seen

With hailstones.”

Isaiah says that the majestic voice of Yahweh will be heard. Not only could that happen, but the blows of his arm would be seen in his anger, with devouring fires, cloudbursts, storms, and hailstones, as Yahweh expressed his anger via these climate abnormalities.

The words of the king of Assyria (Isa 10:13-10:14)

“The king says.

‘By the strength of my hand

I have done it.

By my wisdom,

I have understanding.

I have removed

The boundaries of peoples.

I have plundered

Their treasures.

Like a bull,

I have brought down

Those who sat on thrones.

My hand has found,

Like a nest,

The wealth of the peoples.

As one gather eggs

That have been forsaken,

So I have gathered all the earth.

There was none

That moved a wing,

Or opened its mouth,

Or chirped.’”

Isaiah says that King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) then proclaimed that he had removed the boundaries between the various countries. They were all subservient to him. He had plundered their treasures like a bull and removed their leaders from their thrones. He did this with the strength of his arm and his understanding of wisdom. He found a wealthy nest wherever he went. Thus he picked up the lost eggs, as he gathered people from all over the earth. Nobody objected. No one moved a wing or opened their mouths. There was no chirping about what he was doing.

The power of God (Wis 11:21-11:26)

“It is always in your power

To show great strength.

Who can withstand the might of your arm?

Because the whole world is before you

Like a speck that tips the scales.

It is like a drop of morning dew

That falls upon the ground.

But you are merciful to all.

You can do all things.

You overlook people’s sins.

Thus they may repent.

You love all things that exist.

You detest none of the things

That you have made.

You would not have made anything

If you had hated it.

How would anything have endured,

If you had not willed it?

How would anything not called forth by you

Have been preserved?

You spare all things.

They are yours. O Lord!

You love the living!”

This is like a great prayer to God, who has power and strength. No one is able to withstand the might of his arm. The whole world (ὅλος ὁ κόσμος) is like a speck or a drop of morning dew before him. This is reminiscent of the folk spiritual song He’s got the Whole World in his Hands. God is also merciful to all. He overlooks people’s sins so that man can repent (ἀνθρώπων εἰς μετάνοιαν). He loves (ἀγαπᾷς) all things, but he detests none since he made everything. If God hated anything, it would not endure. If he did not will it, it would not happen. He has preserved all things, since all belongs to the Lord who loves all (πάντων) living things.