Israel forgot Yahweh (Jer 18:13-18:17)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh.

‘Ask among the nations?

Who has heard the like of this?

The virgin Israel has done

A very horrible thing.

Does the snow of Lebanon

Leave the crags of Sirion?

Do the mountain waters run dry?

Do the cold flowing streams stop?

But my people have forgotten me.

They burn incense to a delusion.

They have stumbled in their ways,

On the ancient roads.

They have gone into bypaths.

They have not gone on the highway.

They are making their land a horror.

This is a thing to be hissed at forever.

Everyone who passes by it

Is horrified.

They shake their heads.

Like the east wind,

I will scatter them

Before the enemy.

I will show them my back.

I will not show them my face,

In the day of their calamity.’”

Yahweh wants to know why the Israelites have forgotten him. This virgin Israel has done a horrible thing. He asks whether the snow leaves the mountains of Lebanon at Mount Hermon. Sirion is another name for Mount Hermon. Do the mountain waters dry up? Do the cold streams disappear? Do these sources for the Jordan River stop? Of course not, yet Yahweh’s people have forgotten him. They have turned to offering incense to false delusionary idol gods. They were stumbling along. They have gone off the main highways into the side roads. Their land has become horrible. People shake their heads and hiss as they pass by. Thus Yahweh was going to be like a wind from the east and scatter them to their enemies. When the day of troubles would begin, he would show them his back and not his face.

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The suffering servant of Yahweh (Isa 50:5-50:6)

“I was not rebellious.

I did not turn backward.

I gave my back

To those who struck me.

I gave my cheeks

To those who pulled out my beard.

I hid not hide my face

From insult.

I did not hide my face

From spitting.”

Now Second Isaiah has this teaching servant become a suffering servant of Yahweh. He had not been rebellious nor turned his back on Yahweh. If anyone struck him, he turned his back to them. If anyone pulled on his beard, he did not turn away since he gave up his cheeks. If anyone insulted him by spitting on him, he did not turn his face to cover it. This suffering servant was very passive in the face of an attack.

Prayer of thanksgiving (Isa 38:16-38:20)

“O Lord!

By these things

People live.

In all these is

The life of my spirit.

Restore me to health!

Make me live!

Surely it was for my welfare

That I had great bitterness.

But you held back my life

From the pit of destruction.

You have cast all my sins

Behind your back.

Sheol cannot thank you.

Death cannot praise you.

Those who go down to the pit

Cannot hope for your faithfulness.

The living,

The living,

They thank you,

As I do this day.

The father makes known to the children

Your faithfulness.

Yahweh will save me.

We will sing to stringed instruments

All the days of our lives,

At the house of Yahweh.”

Second Isaiah has King Hezekiah happy that his ordeal is over. However, he recognized that these difficulties are part of life. Once restored to health and life, he realizes that these things happened for his own good, even if he was a little bitter. Yahweh had his back, so that he never met the pit of destruction. All his sins were forgotten. Sheol and death were not able to grab him because there he would not have been able to praise or give thanks to Yahweh. There they lose all hope and faithfulness. However, it is the living ones who give praise and thanksgiving to Yahweh, as he did this day. Children learn from their fathers about faithfulness, so too Yahweh has saved him. Thus he and his friends will sing with stringed instruments at the house of Yahweh all the days of their lives.

The foolish ones (Sir 21:14-21:17)

“The mind of a fool is

Like a broken jar.

It can hold no knowledge.

When an intelligent person

Hears a wise saying,

He praises it.

He adds to it.

When a fool hears it,

He laughs at it.

He throws it behind his back.

A fool’s chatter is

Like a burden on a journey.

But delight is found

In the speech of the intelligent.

The utterance of a sensible person

Is sought in the assembly.

They ponder his words in their minds.”

Sirach says that the mind of a fool is like a broken jar that cannot hold any knowledge in it. This was the common idea of the mind as an empty jar that knowledge fills up. When an intelligent person hears a wise saying, he or she praises it and adds to it. On the contrary, when the fool hears the same thing, he laughs at it, throwing it behind his back. The fool’s chatter on a long journey is burdensome, but the speech of an intelligent person is delightful. Thus in an assembly, the presentations of a sensible person is often sought after, so that others might ponder his words.