Your sister’s cup (Ezek 23:31-23:34)

“‘You have gone

The way

Of your sister.

Therefore,

I will give her cup

Into your hand.’

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘You shall drink

Your sister’s cup!

It is deep!

It is wide!

You shall be scorned!

You shall be derided!

It holds so much!

You will be filled

With drunkenness!

You will be filled

With sorrow!

It is a cup of horror!

It is a cup of desolation!

It is the cup

Of your sister

Samaria!

You shall drink it!

You shall drain it out!

You shall gnaw its sherds!

You shall

Tear out your breasts!

I have spoken.’

Says Yahweh God.”

This seems to be a poem or oracle about a cup of wrath. Jerusalem has gone the way of her sister Samaria. Thus she will be given her sister’s cup, the Samarian cup. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that Jerusalem would drink her sister’s deep and wide cup. Thus she was going to be scorned and derided. Jerusalem would drink from this large cup. She would be filled with drunkenness and sorrow because this was a cup of horror and desolation. Jerusalem was to drain this big cup by drinking from it. She would then gnaw and eat the glass pottery sherd pieces of this cup. Finally, she would tear out her breasts. This is what Yahweh, God, had spoken. This did not sound like a good experience.

The survivors (Ezek 7:16-7:18)

“If any survivors escape,

They will be found

On the mountains,

Like doves

Of the valleys.

All of them

Will be moaning

Over their iniquity.

All hands

Shall grow feeble.

All knees

Shall turn to water.

They shall put on

Sackcloth.

Horror

Shall cover them.

Shame shall be

On all faces.

Baldness shall be

On all their heads.”

Instead of being taken captive, these survivors escaped and headed to the hills. They could be found in the mountains, like droves of valley doves. They would all be moaning over their iniquity. However, their hands would grow feeble, while their knees would turn to jelly or water. They would put on sackcloth, as if in mourning. Horror would cover them. Shame would be all over their faces. They would have shaved bald heads. These survivors would not be a happy lot, even if they were alive.

Lamentations over broken Moab (Jer 48:38-48:39)

“‘On all the housetops

Of Moab,

In the squares,

There is nothing

But lamentation.

I have broken Moab

Like a vessel

That no one wants.’

Says Yahweh.

How it is broken!

How they wail!

How Moab

Has turned his back

In shame!

So Moab has become

A derision,

A horror,

To all his neighbors.”

There is nothing but lamentations in Moab, whether on the housetops or in the town squares. Yahweh has broken Moab like a broken jar. The Moabites have turned their backs in shame. They have become a derision and horror to all their neighbors.

Breaking the covenant agreement (Jer 34:17-34:18)

“Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh!

‘You have not obeyed me

By granting a release

To your neighbors,

As well as to your friends.

I am going to

Grant a release to you,

A release to the sword,

A release to pestilence,

A release to famine.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will make you a horror

To all the kingdoms

Of the earth.

Those who transgressed

My covenant,

Those who did not

Keep the terms

Of the covenant

That they made before me,

I will make them

Like the calf

When they cut it in two.

As they passed

Between its parts.’”

The people of Jerusalem had not obeyed Yahweh about freeing up their Hebrew slaves. Now Yahweh was going to free them to the sword, pestilence, and famine, the common formula of Jeremiah for destruction. They would become a horror for all the countries in the world. They had broken their covenant with Yahweh. They had not kept the terms of the covenant agreement, since they had re-enslaved the freed Hebrew slaves in Jerusalem. The ancient practice of cutting or sacrificing an animal into two pieces was a way of ratifying an agreement, as can be seen in Genesis, chapter 15. Then the two people would walk between the two pieces of the calf to indicate that if they broke the agreement, they too would be killed. Thus these disobedient ones who broke the covenant were subject to death, just as the calf had been killed and cut up.

Bad things coming to those in Jerusalem (Jer 29:17-29:20)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I am going to let loose on them

The sword,

Famine,

As well as pestilence.

I will make them

Like rotten figs

That are so bad

That they cannot be eaten.

I will pursue them

With the sword,

Famine,

As well as pestilence.

I will make them a horror

To all the kingdoms of the earth.

They will be an object of

Cursing,

Horror,

As well as hissing.

They will be a reproach

Among all the nations

Where I have driven them.

They did not heed my words.’

Says Yahweh.

‘When I persistently sent to you

My servants,

The prophets.

But they would not listen.’

Says Yahweh.

‘But now!

All you exiles!

Whom I sent away

From Jerusalem

To Babylon!

Hear the word of Yahweh!”

Yahweh was not going to let the people who had been left in Jerusalem off the hook. They were to suffer the fate of the sword, famine, or pestilence. They would become like rotten figs that could not be eaten, so that they would be a horror. This is almost word for word what was said in chapter 24, where Yahweh talked about the officials and people who stayed in Jerusalem and Judah, instead of going into exile. They would be cursed, horrible, and hissed wherever they went. They would suffer from the sword, famine, and pestilence because they had not listened to the words of Yahweh. Now Jeremiah warned the exiles themselves to listen to the word of Yahweh.

The four destroyers (Jer 15:3-15:4)

“‘I will appoint over them

Four kinds of destroyers.’

Says Yahweh.

‘The sword is to kill.

The dogs are to drag away.

The birds of the air are to devour.

The animals of the earth are to destroy.

I will make them a horror

To all the kingdoms of the earth,

Because of what King Manasseh,

Son of King Hezekiah of Judah,

Did in Jerusalem.’”

Yahweh once again spoke about 4 different ways that he would destroy the people. While the sword was the only common one from the preceding verses, famine, pestilence, and captivity have given way to dogs, birds, and animals. The sword would kill. The dogs would drag them away. The birds of the air would devour them, while the other earth animals would destroy them. They would become a horror to the all countries on earth. This was all done because of what King Manasseh (687-642 BCE), the son of King Hezekiah (716-687 BCE) had done in Judah and Jerusalem. However, this captivity was nearly a century later in 587 BCE. Why did Yahweh wait so long? The son of King Manasseh was the good king Josiah (640-609 BCE) who led a religious reform. All this is based on 2 Kings, chapters 21-23.

The vision of the attack against Babylon (Isa 21:2-21:5)

“A stern vision

Is told to me.

The betrayer betrays.

The destroyer destroys.

Go up!

O Elam!

Lay siege!

O Media!

All the sighing

She has caused

I bring to an end.

Therefore my loins are

Filled with anguish.

Pangs have seized me,

Like the pangs of a woman in labor.

I am bowed down,

So that I cannot hear.

I am dismayed

So that I cannot see.

My mind reels.

Horror has appalled me.

The twilight I longed for

Has been turned for me

Into trembling.

They prepare the table.

They spread the rugs.

They eat.

They drink.

Rise up!

Commanders!

Oil the shield!”

Isaiah has this stern vision from Yahweh. The betrayer and the destroyer act out together. Elam and Medes, the Persians and the Medes were about to attack Babylon. Since the Israelites were in Babylon, they were afraid but hopeful, like a woman experiencing labor before the birth of a child. Isaiah, in the first person singular, was not quite able to hear or see what was going on. He knew that horror was about to happen. Instead of a happy twilight there was trembling. However, they continued as normal, eating and drinking at tables with rugs. Nevertheless, the cry came to the commanders to rise up and get ready. They had to oil the straps on their shields as they prepared to do battle.