Judgment of all the countries (Joel 3:2-3:3)

“I will gather

All the nations.

I will bring them down

To the valley of Jehoshaphat.

I will enter

Into judgment

With them there.

On account of my people,

On account of my heritage,

Israel,

Because they have scattered them

Among the nations.

They have divided

My land.

They have cast lots

For my people.

They have traded boys

For prostitutes.

They have sold girls

For wine.

They have drunk it down.”

Yahweh, via Joel, said that he was going to gather all the countries of the world together in the valley of Jehoshaphat. That would have to be a big place. Actually, they were dealing with the known world of the near East at that time. Jehoshaphat means the valley of decision or the Lord judges. This was probably some place close to Jerusalem, perhaps the Kidron valley. Yahweh was going to judge these countries on what they had done to his people, his heritage, Israel. They had scattered the Israelites among the various countries. They had divided the land of Israel. They had gambled over his people, trading boys for prostitutes and selling girls for wine to get drunk on. Yahweh was going to lay down his judgment on them.

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Yahweh gives up (Jer 12:7-12:9)

“I have forsaken my house.

I have abandoned my heritage.

I have given the beloved of my heart

Into the hands of her enemies.

My heritage has become to me

Like a lion in the forest.

She has lifted up her voice

Against me.

Therefore I hate her.

Is the hyena greedy

For my heritage?

Are the birds of prey

All around her?

Go!

Assemble all the wild animals!

Bring them to devour her!”

Yahweh has given up on his house and abandoned his heritage. He has handed over his most beloved people into the hands of their enemies. His heritage had become like a lion in the forest that had lifted up its voice against him. Now Yahweh hates her. The greedy hyena is waiting for Yahweh’s heritage. The birds of prey are all around her. Yahweh wanted all the wild animals to gather and devour his people. This is an allusion to the neighboring countries and of course the Babylonians, who will come and devour Judah. It seems like Yahweh has given up on his people.

The ingratitude of their ancestors (Jer 2:5-2:8)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘What wrong did your ancestors

Find in me?

They went far from me.

They went after worthless things.

They became worthless themselves.

They did not say.

‘Where is Yahweh?

He brought us up

From the land of Egypt.

He led us in the wilderness.

He led us in a land of deserts.

He led us in a land of pits.

He led us in a land of drought.

He led us in a land of deep darkness.

He led us in a land that no one passes through.

He led us in a land where no man dwells.’

I brought you into a plentiful land.

I brought you to eat its fruits.

I brought you to eat its good things.

But when you entered,

You defiled my land.

You made my heritage an abomination.

The priests did not say.

‘Where is Yahweh?’

Those who handle the law

Did not know me.

The rulers transgressed against me.

The prophets prophesied by Baal.

They went after things that do not profit.”

Jeremiah has Yahweh complain about their ancestors. Why did they go far from Yahweh, going after worthless things, so that they themselves became worthless? They seem to have forgotten that Yahweh led them out of Egypt through the desert wilderness with its pits, drought, and darkness. Very few people were able to make it through the lifeless wilderness. He brought them into a wonderful plentiful land that had many fruits to eat. However, as soon as they entered the land, they defiled it and made his heritage an abomination. The priests did not know Yahweh and follow his laws. The rulers transgressed the laws of Yahweh. The prophets used prophecies by the pagan gods of Baal. They all went after unprofitable and unproductive things.

The weapons of the new Jerusalem (Isa 54:16-54:17)

“‘See!

It is I!

I have created the smith

Who blows the fire of coals.

He produces a weapon

Fit for its purpose.

I have also created the ravager

To destroy.

No weapon that is fashioned

Against you

Shall prosper.

You shall confute every tongue

That rises against you in judgment.

This is the heritage of the servants of Yahweh

Their vindication is from me.’

So says Yahweh.”

Second Isaiah has Yahweh explain his position about the arms and protection of Jerusalem. Yahweh has created the blacksmiths who stand before the blast furnaces creating these weapons of destruction. He has also created the people who oppose them. No weapon will be successful against the Israelites. They will also have to fight off verbal aggression that would arise against them. These servants of Yahweh are his heritage, so that he will vindicate them.

A home for wisdom (Sir 24:8-24:12)

“Then the Creator of all things

Gave me a command.

My Creator chose the place for my tent.

He said.

‘Make your dwelling in Jacob.

In Israel

Receive your inheritance.’

Before the ages,

In the beginning,

He created me.

For all the ages,

I shall not cease to be.

In the holy tent

I ministered before him.

I was established in Zion.

Thus in the beloved city,

He gave me a resting place.

In Jerusalem

Was my domain.

I took root in an honored people.

They are the portion of the Lord,

His heritage.”

Continuing with wisdom speaking, Sirach has her find a new home in the land of Jacob and Israel, even more specifically at Zion in Jerusalem. The Creator God commands wisdom where to put her tent. Wisdom was definitely created, but before time began. She too would have an eternal existence that never ended. In this holy tent at Zion, she ministered to God as if she were a Levitical priest. Beloved Jerusalem was her resting place. She was rooted in this honored people of Israel, the Lord’s portion, and his heritage.

Hymn of praise to gracious Yahweh (Ps 111:4-111:10)

Het                                                                         

“Yahweh is gracious and merciful.

Tet      

He provides food for those who fear him.

Yod     

He is ever mindful of his covenant.

Kaph  

He has shown his people the power of his works.

Lamed

He gave them the heritage of the nations.

Mem   

The works of his hands are truth and justice.

Nun    

All his precepts are trustworthy.

Samek

They are established forever and ever.

Ain     

They are to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.

Phe     

He sent redemption to his people.

Cade   

He has commanded his covenant forever.

Qoph  

Holy and awesome is his name!

Resh   

The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom.

Shin   

All those who practice it have a good understanding.

Tav     

His praise endures forever!”

This short psalm ends by telling Yahweh that he is gracious and merciful. He provides food for those who fear him.  He is ever mindful of his covenant with Israel. He has shown them the power of his works as they are his heritage. His works are true and just. All his precepts are trustworthy as they last forever. They are to be followed with faithfulness and uprightness. He has saved or rescued his people. He has commanded them to follow his covenant forever because he is holy and awesome. This fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom, which is a key element of wisdom literature. Those who follow him will understand this. His praise will last forever.

The persecution of the Israelites (Ps 106:40-106:43)

“Then the anger of Yahweh was kindled against his people.

He abhorred his heritage.

He gave them into the hand of the nations.

Thus those who hated them ruled over them.

Their enemies oppressed them.

They were brought into subjection under their power.

Many times he delivered them.

But they were rebellious in their purposes.

They were brought low through their iniquity.”

Yahweh was angry with his people. He abhorred his heritage. Thus he gave them over to other nations. They were ruled by people who hated them. They were oppressed by their enemies. They were subject to the power of other people. Yahweh had saved them a number of times. However, they were always rebelling against Yahweh. Then once again they would be brought low because of their iniquity and evil ways.