Another oracle about the past fasting (Zech 7:4-7:7)

“Then the word

Of Yahweh of hosts

Came to me.

‘Say to all the people

Of the land

As well as the priests.

‘When you fasted,

When you lamented,

In the fifth month

As well as the seventh month,

For these seventy years,

Was it for me

That you fasted?

When you eat.

When you drink,

Do you not eat

Only for yourselves?

Do you not drink

Only for yourselves?

Were not these the words

That Yahweh proclaimed

By the former prophets?

This was when

Jerusalem was inhabited

In prosperity.

Was this not when

The towns around it

Were inhabited?

Was this not when

The Negeb

With the Shephelah

Were inhabited?’”

Yahweh sent another oracle to Zechariah about the fasting and lamenting that they had done for the past 70 years during the 5th and 7th months because of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 587 BCE and the murder of their governor.  Zechariah was to ask the people of the land and the priests why they had fasted.  Why did they not eat or drink?  Did they do if for themselves or for Yahweh?  Yahweh had warned them, via the prophets, when Jerusalem was prosperous and inhabited.  The towns around Jerusalem, as well as desert Negeb and the low land Shephelah were inhabited at that time also.

Judah will last forever (Joel 3:20-3:21)

“But Judah shall be inhabited

Forever.

Jerusalem shall be inhabited

To all generations.

I will avenge

Their blood.

I will not clear the guilty.

Yahweh dwells in Zion.”

Yahweh, via Joel, proclaimed that Judah and Jerusalem would be inhabited forever, for generations to come. Yahweh was going to avenge the blood of those who had died, since he was not going to clear the guilty ones. Yahweh would dwell in Zion. Thus, ends the prophecy of Joel.

Gog’s plan of attack (Ezek 38:11-38:12)

“‘You will say!

‘I will go up

Against the land

Of unwalled villages.

I will fall upon

The quiet people

Who live in safety.

All of them live

Without walls.

They have no bars.

They have no gates.’

You want

To seize spoil.

You want

To carry off plunder.

You want to assail

The waste places

That are now inhabited.

You want to assail

The people

Who were gathered

From the nations.

You want to assail,

Those who are acquiring cattle.

You want to assail

Those with goods,

Who live

At the center

Of the earth.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel said that Gog would say to himself that he would go up against this land of unwalled villages. He was going to attack these quiet safe people. They lived without walls with no bars or gates. Gog wanted to seize the spoils and plunder this former wasted land that was now inhabited. These people had been gathered from the various nations. Now they were acquiring cattle with other goods as well. They lived at the center of the earth. Where was the center of earth? Of course, it was Jerusalem. Everyone thinks that where they live is the center of the world.

The new fertile land (Ezek 36:34-36:36)

“The land

That was desolate

Shall be tilled.

Instead of being

The desolation

That it was

In the sight of all

Who passed by.

Now they will say.

‘This land

That was desolate

Has become

Like the garden of Eden.

The wasted towns,

The desolate towns,

The ruined towns,

Are now inhabited.

They are fortified.’

‘Then the nations

That are left

All around you

Shall know

That I,

Yahweh,

Have rebuilt

The ruined places.

I have replanted

That which was desolate.

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.

I will do it.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that the desolate land would be tilled. Everyone passing by would notice the difference. The former desolation would be gone. Now they will say that this land is like the Garden of Eden, as in Genesis, chapter 3. All those wasted, desolate, and ruined Israelite towns would be inhabited and fortified. All the nations and countries around Israel would know that Yahweh had rebuilt and replanted these various ruined and desolate places. What Yahweh had spoken about, he would actually do.

The restoration in Israel (Ezek 36:9-36:12)

“See now,

I am for you.

I will turn to you.

You shall be tilled.

You shall be sown.

I will multiply

Your population,

The whole house

Of Israel,

All of it.

The towns

Shall be inhabited.

The waste places

Rebuilt.

I will multiply

Human beings,

As well as animals

Among you.

They shall increase.

They shall be fruitful.

I will cause you

To be inhabited,

As in your former times.

I will do more good

To you

Than ever before.

Then you will know

That I am Yahweh.

I will lead people

Upon you,

My people Israel.

They shall possess you.

You shall be

Their inheritance.

No longer shall you

Bereave their children.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, told the mountains of Israel that he was for them. He was going to turn their land into a place that was tilled and sown with crops. He was going to multiply the population of the whole house of Israel. The towns would be inhabited and the ruined places rebuilt. Humans and animals would multiply, as the land would be occupied again. Yahweh was going to do more good than ever before. They would know that he was Yahweh, their God. There would be new leaders in this inherited land, so that they would no longer mourn for their lost children. His land and his people would be reunited again.

The desolation of Mount Seir (Ezek 35:7-35:9)

“I will make

Mount Seir

A waste.

I will make it

A desolation.

I will cut off

From it

All who come,

All who go.

I will fill

Its mountains

With the slain.

On your hills,

In your valleys,

In all your water streams,

Those killed

With the sword

Shall fall.

I will make you

A perpetual desolation.

Your cities

Shall never be inhabited.

Then you will know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that he was going to make Mount Seir a wasteland and a desolation. He was going to cut it off from all other countries, so that no one would be able to come or go into it. He was going to fill its mountains with all their fallen dead bodies, whether in the hills, in the valleys, or in the water streams. Mount Seir was going to become a perpetual desolation. Its cities would never be inhabited again. However, they would finally know that Yahweh was God.

The enemies of Jerusalem (Bar 4:30-4:35)

“Take courage!

O Jerusalem!

The one who named you

Will comfort you.

Wretched will be

Those who mistreated you!

They rejoiced at your fall.

Wretched will be

The cities

That your children

Served as slaves!

Wretched will be

The city

That received your offspring!

She rejoiced

At your fall.

She was glad

For your ruin.

Now she will be grieved

At her own desolation.

I will take away her pride

In her great population.

Her insolence

Will be turned to grief.

Fire will come upon her

from the Everlasting One

For many days.

For a long time,

She will be inhabited

By demons.”

Now there is a turn, as this author speaks directly to Jerusalem instead of Jerusalem herself complaining. Jerusalem was encouraged to be courageous. She would be comforted. However, those who mistreated her and rejoiced at her fall will be miserable. The cities where the children of Jerusalem served as slaves would be miserable also. The city of Babylon, that received the children of Jerusalem, rejoiced and was glad at the downfall and ruin of Jerusalem. Now they will be grieved at their own desolation. The pride of those people and their insolence will be turned to grief. The Everlasting One, not Yahweh, will bring fire upon it for many days. For a long time it will be inhabited by demons.