The cry for justice (Hab 1:2-1:4)

“O Yahweh!

How long

Shall I cry for help?

You will not listen.

I cry to you.

‘Violence!’

You will not save me.

Why do you make me

See wrongdoing?

Why do you make me

Look at trouble?

Destruction is before me.

Violence is before me.

Strife arises

Contention arises.

So,

The law becomes slack.

Justice never prevails.

The wicked surround

The righteous.

Therefore,

Judgment

Comes forth perverted!”

Habakkuk complained to Yahweh that there was no justice in the land.  He wanted to know how long he would have to cry to be heard by Yahweh, since Yahweh did not seem to listen to him.  Habakkuk has cried out about this violence, but there was no one to save him.  Why did he have to see so much wrongdoing and trouble?  There were all kinds of destruction and violence all around him, since his life was full of strife and contention.  The law had become slack, so that justice did not prevail.  The wicked were in fact surrounding the righteous, so that there were only perverted judgments, not true justice from Yahweh.

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Jonah’s proclamation (Jon 3:4-3:4)

“Jonah began

To go into the city,

Going a day’s walk.

He cried out.

‘Forty days more,

Then Nineveh

Shall be overthrown!’”

The text does not say how long it took Jonah to get there, but he was certainly in the city.  He walked one day into the center of the city and began to cry out that Nineveh would be overthrown in 40 days.  Forty days was a common biblical number, since Noah’s trip during the flood was 40 days, while the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert.

The time frame (Dan 12:6-12:7)

“One of them said

To the man

Clothed in linen,

Who was upstream.

‘How long shall it be

Until the end

Of these wonders?’

The man clothed in linen,

Who was upstream,

Raised his right hand.

Then he raised

His left hand

Toward heaven.

I heard him swear,

By the one who lives forever,

That it would be for a time,

Two times,

Then half a time.

When the shattering

Of the power

Of the holy people

Comes to an end,

All these things

Would be accomplished.”

One of these two new men spoke to the man in the linen clothing, who had been upstream for some time.  This man wanted to know how long it would be until the end of all these wonders.  Thus, the man with the linen clothing upstream raised his right and then his left hand to heaven.  He swore, by the God who lives forever, that it would 3 ½ times, 1 time, 2 times, and ½ time.  Does this mean 3 ½ years?  Perhaps, this is a reference to the time between the desecration of the Temple by King Antiochus IV and its restoration around 165 BCE.  There then would be the shattering of the power of the holy people, when all these things would be accomplished.

 

The holy angels speak (Dan 8:13-8:14)

“Then I heard

A holy one speaking.

Another holy one

Said to the one

That spoke.

‘For how long

Is this vision

Concerning

The regular burnt offering

Continue?

This transgression

Makes desolate

The sanctuary.

How long will

The sanctuary

With the host

Be trampled?’

He answered.

‘For two thousand three hundred

Evenings and mornings.

Then the sanctuary

Shall be restored

To its rightful state.’”

Here Daniel has a conversation between 2 holy ones, probably a reference to angels. One holy one or angel wanted to know how long the lack of the regular burnt offerings at the sanctuary would continue. The transgression of the sanctuary meant that the it and the people who worked there, the hosts, the priests, were trampled under. The response of the other angel was an exact time, 2,300 evenings and mornings, that turns out to be 1,150 days or about 3 ½ years. It was about 3 years that the sanctuary was defiled until 164 BCE.

 

The call to return to Israel (Jer 31:21-31:22)

“Set up road markers

For yourself!

Make yourself guideposts!

Consider well the highway!

Consider the road

By which you went.

Return!

O virgin Israel!

Return to these your cities!

How long will you waver?

O faithless daughter!

Yahweh has created

A new thing on the earth.

A woman encompasses a man.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, seems to invite the Israelites to return home. He wants them to set up road markers and guideposts. He wants them to remember the highway road that they took, when they went away. He cries out to virgin Israel to return. They were to return to their cities. Yet, he wonders how long they would wait. After all, they were his faithless daughters. Somehow Yahweh was going to create a new thing where women would have more responsibility with men, perhaps woo the man rather than the other way around.

The land in mourning (Jer 12:4-12:4)

“How long will

The land mourn?

How long will

The grass of every field wither?

Due to the wickedness of those

Who live in it,

The animals

Are swept away.

The birds

Are swept away.

Because people said.

‘He is blind to our ways.’”

Jeremiah wanted to know how long the land would mourn. How long would the grass wither in the fields? Due to the wickedness of these people, the animals and the birds of this land were to be swept away. These people thought that Yahweh was blind to their evil ways.

The response of Yahweh (Isa 6:11-6:13)

“Then I said.

‘How long?

O Lord!’

Yahweh said.

‘Until cities lie waste

Without inhabitants.

Until houses are

Without people.

Until the land is

Utterly desolate.

Until Yahweh sends

Everyone far away.

Until vast is

The emptiness

In the midst of the land.

Even if a tenth part remains in it,

It will be burned again.

It will be like a terebinth.

It will be like an oak

Whose stump remains standing

When it is felled.’

The holy seed is its stump.”

Isaiah wanted to know how long his prophetic work would have to be. Yahweh responded with an indication that the holy land would be destroyed. He would continue until the cities had nobody living in them, until there were houses abandoned, left empty. The land would be desolate. Everybody would be sent away, so that the land itself would be left bare. Probably a tenth of those would remain. Just like when an oak tree or a terebinth bush is burned, the stump still remained until someone came along to dig it up and chop it into pieces. Likewise, the holy seed of Israel is like a stump.