Jacob in Aram (Hos 12:12-12:12)

“Jacob fled

To the land of Aram.

There Israel served

For a wife.

He guarded sheep

For a wife.”

This incident about Jacob or Israel can be found in Genesis, chapter 29. Jacob went east and found his cousin Rachel, whom he wanted to marry. He was tricked into marring her sister Leah. However, he stayed on to take care of the sheep of his uncle Laban, so that he would have Rachel as his wife also.

Advertisements

Restoration of King Jehoiachin (Jer 52:31-52:34)

“King Evil-Merodach

Spoke kindly

To King Jehoiachin.

He gave him

A seat

Above the seats

Of the other kings

Who were with him

In Babylon.

So King Jehoiachin

Put aside

His prison clothes.

Every day of his life

He dined regularly

At the king’s table.

A regular daily allowance

Was given him

By the king of Babylon,

As long as he lived,

Up to the day of his death.”

This is exactly the same as in 2 Kings, chapter 25. King Jehoiachin got new clothes and ate with the new Babylonian King Evil-Merodach every day. He had a higher place at the table among the other kings there. He also had a daily allowance as long as he lived. So the old Judean king took his place with the other kings in Babylon. There was no mention of his uncle, King Zedekiah. Thus the 2nd book of Kings as well as Jeremiah end with everyone in exile, but at least 1 happy exiled king.

The coming punishment for the king and his family (Jer 36:30-36:31)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh                           

Concerning King Jehoiakim

Of Judah.

‘He shall have no one

To sit upon the throne

Of David.

His dead body

Shall be cast out

To the heat

By day

As well as the frost

By night.

I will punish him,

His offspring,

As well as his servants

For their iniquity.

I will bring

On them,

On the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

On the people of Judah,

All the disasters

With which I have threatened them.

But they would not hear.’”

Yahweh delivered his judgment against King Jehoiakim and his royal family. No one in his family will ever sit on the throne of David. Actually, at his death, his son Coniah, King Jehoiachin ruled for a couple of months before King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon put his uncle King Zedekiah on the throne in 598 BCE. King Jehoiakim’s dead body would lie out in the cold night and the hot day. The king, his children, and his servants would suffer for their iniquity. On top of that, Yahweh was going to bring disasters to the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. This will all happen because they had not listened to Yahweh.

The letter to the exiles (Jer 29:1-29:1)

“These are the words

Of the letter

That the prophet Jeremiah

Sent from Jerusalem

To the remaining elders

Among the exiles.

It was also sent to

The priests,

The prophets,

Including all the people

Whom King Nebuchadnezzar

Had taken into exile

From Jerusalem

To Babylon.

This was after King Jeconiah,

With the queen mother,

The court officials,

The leaders of Judah,

The leaders of Jerusalem,

The artisans.

With the smiths

Had departed from Jerusalem.”

Apparently Jeremiah wrote a letter to the elders from the first exile in 598 BCE. He sent this letter, like many of Yahweh’s oracles addressed to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, who went to Babylon during the first exile in 598 BCE. King Nebuchadnezzar had taken them from Jerusalem to Babylon. It is hard to tell whether this letter still exists in any form or when it was composed, but probably between 598-587 BCE. King Jeconiah or King Coniah or King Jeconiah of Judah had ruled for only a couple of months when King Nebuchadnezzar removed him in 598 BCE in favor of his uncle King Zedekiah or King Mattaniah (598-587 BCE). At that time, King Jeconiah’s mother, the wife of King Jehoiakim or King Eliakim (609-598 BCE), as well as the court officials and leaders of Judah and Jerusalem went into exile. With them also went the main artisans and iron workers of Jerusalem. Thus the remnant in Jerusalem was like a puppet government for King Nebuchadnezzar. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapter 36, not chapter 29 as here.

Zerubbabel (Sir 49:11-49:11)

“How shall

We magnify Zerubbabel?

He was

Like a signet ring        

On the right hand.”

Zerubbabel was the governor of Judah appointed by the Persian King Darius I, thus ending the Babylonian captivity, sometime between 538-520 BCE. He was the grandson of one of the last kings of Judah, King Jehoiachin. In this new role, he was actually an official governor in the Persian state for the area of Judah, but he was born and raised in Babylon. He along with Jeshua began to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. There is some confusion with the name of Sheshbazzar, who either was his uncle or another name for him. Some hold that Sheshbazzar was appointed by King Cyrus as the governor of Judah in 538 BCE. Then King Darius I named Zerubbabel. Both are mentioned in the Book of Ezra, chapter 2. Zerubbabel was also mentioned by the Minor Prophets, Haggai and Zechariah. Finally, there is the idea of the signet ring. Does it apply to temporal power or the restored power of Yahweh? Interesting enough, Sirach does not mention Ezra at all among his famous men.

The righteous Jacob (Wis 10:9-10:12)

“Wisdom rescued from troubles

Those who served her.

When a righteous man fled

From his brother’s wrath,

She guided him on straight paths.

She showed him the kingdom of God.

She gave him knowledge of holy things.

She prospered him in his labors.

She increased the fruit of his toil.

When his oppressors were covetous,

She stood by him.

She made him rich.

She protected him from his enemies.

She kept him safe

From those who lay in wait for him.

In his arduous contest

She gave him the victory.

Thus he might learn

That godliness is more powerful

Than anything else.”

Wisdom also helped the righteous Jacob as we have a condensed version of the story of Jacob in Genesis, chapters 25-32. Of course, the unnamed Jacob is called a just man (δίκαιον) who served wisdom (σοφία). He fled from his brother’s anger after he had tricked Esau out of his birthright. Jacob had dreams that told him about the kingdom of God (βασιλείαν Θεοῦ) and the heavenly angels. Jacob went to live with Laban, the brother of his mother, or his uncle. He then married his 2 first cousins, Rachel and Leah, while he worked for his uncle. He then became rich before he got into a fight with his uncle Laban. For some reason, Jacob was considered righteous as opposed to Esau and Laban in their various disputes.

Mordecai and Esther (Esth 2:5-2:7)

“Now there was a Jew in Susa the capital, whose name was Mordecai, son of Jair, son of Shimei, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin. The family of Kish had been carried away from Jerusalem, among the captives carried away with King Jeconiah of Judah, whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had captured. Mordecai had brought up Hadassah, that is Esther, his cousin. She did not have a father or mother. She was the daughter of his uncle, Aminadab. Esther was fair and beautiful in appearance. When her parents died, he brought her up to womanhood as his own daughter.”

Mordecai was a Benjaminite, the same as King Saul, and thus part of Judah. His family was brought into captivity by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon with the sitting king of Judah in 587 BCE. Things turned better for the captured Jews under the Persian kings, especially after King Cyrus in 539 BCE. This is about 50 years after that. Anyway, Mordecai’s uncle Aminadab and his wife had died, so that he took care of their young daughter Esther, who was his first cousin. He was either her foster father or adopted father, but really was a first cousin, since their father’s were brothers. Once again, there are slight differences between the Hebrew and Greek text. Aminadab was not mentioned in the Hebrew text, only in the Greek text. Also the Jewish name of Esther is only found in the Hebrew text as Hadassah, but not in the Greek text.