The Five Scrolls

Then there are the five scrolls that includes the poetic love story the Song of Solomon, or the Song of Songs from the 6th century BCE.  The Book of Ruth was about the story of Ruth, a Moabite foreigner who came to Israel, from the 9th to the 6th century BCE.  Lamentations has usually been ascribed to Jeremiah the prophet from the 6th century BCE.  Ecclesiastes is like a book of wisdom proverbs from the 4th century BCE.  The story of Esther is about a Jewish lady who becomes a Persian queen also from the 4th century BCE.

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The three major later prophets

The later prophets are what we normally think of as prophets.  They stood out against authority and asked people to reform their ways to that of Yahweh, their God.  They were writing prophets, as opposed to the early prophets who did not write, but were written about.  These later prophets are normally divided into the three major prophets and the twelve Minor Prophets.  There were three famous major writing prophets whose works are very long.  Isaiah lived in the 8th century BCE, but his work was not finished until around the 6th century BCE.  On the other hand, Jeremiah and Ezekiel were 6th century BCE prophetic writers around the time of the Babylonian Exile.

The bad situation will come to ruin (Mic 3:9-3:12)

“Hear this!

You rulers

Of the house of Jacob!

You chiefs

Of the house of Israel!

You abhor justice!

You pervert all equity!

You build Zion

With blood!

You build Jerusalem

With wrong!

Its rulers give judgment

For a bribe!

Its priests teach

For a price!

Its prophets give oracles

For money!

Yet they lean

Upon Yahweh.

They say.

‘Surely Yahweh is

With us.

No harm shall come

Upon us.’

Therefore,

Because of you,

Zion shall be plowed

As a field.

Jerusalem shall become

A heap of ruins.

The mountain of the house

Shall become a wooded height.”

Yahweh, via Micah, called out the rulers in northern Israel and southern Judah.  These rulers and chiefs had abhorred justice and perverted equity in Jerusalem and on Mount Zion.  Everything was done for money.  The rulers wanted a bribe for their judgment.  The priests had a price for their teaching.  The prophets only gave an oracle when money was supplied to them.  However, they all felt that Yahweh was on their side, so that he would protect them from any harm.  However, the response was quite different.  Mount Zion was going to be plowed like a field, while Jerusalem would become a heap of ruins.  The Temple mountain would become a pile of wood.  This specific prophecy of Micah was explicitly cited in Jeremiah, chapter 26, at the trial of Jeremiah.

Oracle of Yahweh (Ob 1:1-1:1)

“Thus says Yahweh

Concerning Edom.

We have heard a report

From Yahweh.

A messenger has been sent

Among my nations.

‘Rise up!

Let us rise against it

For battle.’”

The Israelites had a long history with Edom because they believed that Esau, the twin brother of Jacob, had founded this country.  The Book of Genesis listed the kings of Edom in chapter 36.  The country of Edom was south of the Dead Sea, south of Moab and south of Judah.  It eventually stopped being a country with most of the people drifting into southern Judah.  Many of the prophets had spoken against the Edomites, including Jeremiah, chapter 49, Isaiah, chapter 34, Ezekiel, chapter 25, Amos, chapter 1, and Joel, chapter 3.  This was a report from Yahweh, since he had sent his messengers to the various countries.  They were to rise up and get ready for the battle.

Take a prostituting wife (Hos 1:2-1:2)

“When Yahweh

First spoke

Through Hosea,

Yahweh said to Hosea.

‘Go!

Take for yourself

A wife of prostitution!

Have children

Of prostitution!

The land commits

Great prostitution

By forsaking Yahweh.’”

The command of Yahweh to Hosea is a little strange at first sight. Yahweh God wants Hosea to take a wife, which is not odd. However, she should be a prostitute or whore. He should have children with this prostitute. Thus, the life of Hosea the prophet became symbolic in itself. The reason for the emphasis on prostitution was that the land of Israel had prostituted itself by giving up on Yahweh. The great theme of the infidelity of the Israelites was lived out by Hosea in a real symbolic way. The later prophets of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel would mention this infidelity of Israel also.

The Babylonian god Bel (Dan 14:3-14:4)

“Now the Babylonians

Had an idol

Called Bel.

Every day,

They provided for it

Twelve bushels

Of choice flour,

Forty sheep,

Six measures

Of wine.

The king revered it.

He went every day

To worship it.

But Daniel worshiped

His own God.”

This god Bel was Bel Marduk, the great god of the Babylonians, mentioned by Jeremiah and Isaiah. Every day, the people provided this idol 12 bushels of choice flour, 40 sheep, and 6 measures or about 50 gallons of wine. The king Cyrus revered Bel, as he worshipped this god on a daily basis. Bel may have been popular in Persia also. However, Daniel worshipped his own God, but there is no indication where he did this.

The two elder judges (Dan 13:5-13:6)

“That year,

Two elders

From the people

Were appointed

As judges.

Concerning them,

The Lord had said.

‘Wickedness came forth

From Babylon,

From elders,

Who were judges.

They were supposed

To govern the people.’

These men

Were frequently

At Joakim’s house.

All who had a case

To be tried

Came to them.”

That year, the Jewish or Israelite people chose or appointed these two elders to be their judges. However, there was a saying of the Lord, probably referring to something from Jeremiah, chapter 25, that seemed to indicate that these two men were wicked judges because they were not governing the people correctly. These two elders were often at Joakim’s house, because they held their trials there. They would judge the Israelite exiles with their various disputes.