Against Israel (Am 2:6-2:8)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Israel,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they sell

The righteous

For silver.

They sell the needy

For a pair of sandals.

They trample

The head of the poor

Into the dust

Of the earth.

They push the afflicted

Out of the way.

A father

With his son

Goes into the same girl.

So,

My holy name

Is profaned.

They lay themselves down

Beside every altar,

On garments

Taken in pledge.

In the house

Of their god,

They drink

The wine

Bought with fines

They imposed.”

Finally, Yahweh issued a diatribe against Israel itself. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language or literary form as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Judah. He also used the same non-forgiving numeric formula of 3 and 4, as in Proverbs, chapter 30. The Israelites were, also involved in the slave trade, as they sold the righteous ones for silver. At the same time, they sold the needy for a pair of shoes or sandals. They trampled the heads of the poor into the dust of the earth. Both father and son would have sex with the same temple female prostitute. They profaned the holy name of Yahweh, as they laid down at any altar, with garments that they had taken as interest down payments. They drank wine in the houses of their gods bought with the fines that they had imposed on the poor people. They had committed serious crimes.

The problem of Ephraim (Hos 4:17-4:19)

“Ephraim is joined

To idols.

Let him alone!

When their drinking

Is ended,

They indulge

In sexual orgies.

They love lewdness

More than their glory.

A wind has wrapped them

In its wings.

They shall be ashamed,

Because of their altars.”

The people of the Ephraim territory in the northern kingdom of Israel were stuck to their idols. Hosea wanted them to leave these idols alone. When they were not drinking heavily, they were involved with sexual orgies. They loved their lewd lifestyle more than the glory of righteousness. A wind had gotten ahold of them. They would be ashamed because of their many idol altars.

Daniel was the companion of King Cyrus (Dan 14:2-14:2)

“Daniel was

A companion

Of the king.

He was the most honored

Of all his friends.”

Daniel was certainly in Babylon. How he was involved with the Persian Cyrus before he took over Babylon is not clear. Thus, this might be after the Persians had taken over Babylon. Certainly, Daniel was considered a companion and an honored friend of the king. Daniel was once again like Joseph in Egypt.

The terrible king (Dan 11:21-11:21)

“In his place,

Shall arise

A contemptible person.

Royal majesty

Had not been conferred on him.

He shall come in

Without warning.

He shall obtain

The kingdom

Through intrigue.”

Now we have the real villain, probably a contemporary of the writer of this Book of Daniel, King Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164 BCE), who took over from his brother, King Seleucus IV. He was the one mentioned earlier in thus work, about the famous little horn in chapter 7, in the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. Gabriel, the angel, described him as a contemptible person, claiming that the royal majesty was not conferred on him. King Antiochus IV was involved in some kind of intrigue that kept the son of King Seleucus from being king. However, he was the younger brother of the king and his father had been king, so that he some legal standing.

The insurrection in the south (Dan 11:14-11:14)

“In those times,

Many shall rise

Against the king of the south.

The lawless

Among your own people

Shall lift themselves up

In order to fulfil the vision.

But they shall fail.”

There was an Egyptian insurrection against the child king Ptolemy V (204-181 BCE), since he was only 5 years old when he took over as king. The various regents controlled his activities. Somehow, some of the Judeans of Palestine got involved with this, as they took sides on the battle between the kings of the north and the south, Egypt and Syria. However, they failed.

The present battle and the future (Dan 10:13-10:14)

“The prince

Of the kingdom

Of Persia

Opposed me

For twenty-one days.

Then,

Michael,

One of the chief princes,

Came to help me.

I left him there

With the prince

Of the kingdom

Of Persia.

I have come

To help you understand

What is to happen

To your people

At the end of the days.

There is a further vision

For those days.”

Somehow or other this man or angel Gabriel got involved in a conflict with the King of Persia for 21 days. However, the good angel Michael, one of the chief princes or archangels, came to help him against this prince of Persia. This man or angel Gabriel then came to help Daniel understand what was going to happen to his people in the future, at the end of days.

The warning from Yahweh (Ezek 8:12-8:13)

“Then Yahweh said to me.

‘Son of man!

Have you seen

What the elders

Of the house

Of Israel

Are doing

In the dark?

Each was in

His room of pictures.

They say.

‘Yahweh does not see us.

Yahweh has forsaken

The land.’

He said also to me.

‘You will see

Still greater abominations

That they are committing.’”

Yahweh warned Ezekiel, the son of man. Yahweh wanted to remind him of what he had just seen. The elders of Israel were worshipping false idols in the dark. Each of them had their own personal gods with their own little hidden rooms. These elders thought that Yahweh did not see what was going on, since Yahweh had left the land of Israel in the first captivity. Yahweh warned Ezekiel that he would see even greater abominations that the people of Israel were involved with.

Females touching these idol gods (Bar 6:29-6:30)

“Sacrifices to these idol gods

May even be touched

By women

In their period

Or at childbirth.

Since you know

By these things

That they are not gods,

Do not fear them!

How can they

Be called gods?

Women serve meals

For these gods

Of silver,

Of gold,

Of wood.”

This author points out his anti-feminism by saying that these cannot be true gods if women are involved with them. The sacrifices to these gods were being touched by women, even those in their period or childbirth, which was considered to be unclean from the Hebrew perspective. After all, only men were able to be priests at the Temple in Jerusalem of the true God. These are not true gods because women would serve meals for these gods of silver, gold, and wood. How can you call them gods? Do not be afraid of them!

The change in habits (Lam 5:13-5:14)

“Young men

Are compelled

To grind

At the mill.

Boys stagger

Under loads of wood.

The old men

Have left

The city gate.

The young men

Have left

Their music.”

The lives of the people left in Jerusalem have changed. The young men are now grinding at the mill, while the young boys stagger under the heavy loads of wood. The old men have left their discussions at the city gate, while the young men no longer are involved with music.

The defeat of Moab (Jer 48:1-48:2)

“Concerning Moab.

Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

‘Woe for Nebo!

It is laid waste!

Kiriathaim is put

To shame!

It is taken!

The fortress is put

To shame!

It is broken down.

The renown of Moab

Is no more.

In Heshbon,

They planned evil

Against her.

‘Come!

Let us cut her off

From being a nation!’

You also!

O Madmen!

Shall be brought

To silence.

The sword shall

Pursue you.”

Strangely enough, this is a very long chapter on Moab, the country directly east of the Dead Sea on the other side of the Jordan River. Isaiah also had 2 chapters on Moab, chapters 15 and 16. The Moabites and Israelites had been involved in many quarrels and battles, since they had a strange biblical relationship. The Moabite kingdom lasted from around the 13th century BCE to around the 4th century BCE, where today it is the country of Jordan. The Moabites were the descendants of Lot’s incest with his oldest daughter in Genesis, chapter 19. Thus the Moabites had an on again, off again, relationship with the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. In the Book of Ruth, chapter 4, the Moabites were friendly, as Ruth, a Moabite, had a son named Obed, who turned out to be the grandfather of King David via his son Jesse.   For a while, Moab was part of the Kingdom of Israel, until they revolted. Mount Nebo, the place where Moses died, had been laid waste. The powerful fortress and famous Kiriathaim was put to shame. It is not clear whether this is the same city as Kir, mentioned in Isaiah, chapter 15. Heshbon was a city in Ammon, north of Moab, where the madmen were looking to plan evil against the Moabites. In the Septuagint Greek translation, this is chapter 31, not chapter 48 as here.