Bad behavior (Am 5:10-5:13)

“They hate him

Who reproves

At the gate.

They abhor him

Who speaks the truth.

Therefore,

You trample

On the poor.

You take from them,

Levies of grain.

You have built houses

Of hewn stone.

But you shall not live

In them.

You have planted

Pleasant vineyards.

But you shall not drink

Their wine.

I know how many are

Your transgressions.

I know how great are

Your sins.

You afflict the righteous.

You take a bribe.

You turn aside

The needy

At the gate.

Therefore,

The prudent will keep silent

In such a time.

It is an evil time.”

Next, Amos listed all the bad behavior that the northern Israelites were involved with. They did not like any reprimanding at the city judgment gate. They did not like anyone who told the truth. They trampled the poor people, as they took away their grain. They had built beautiful stone houses, but they were not going to live in them. They had planted wonderful vineyards, but they would not drink the wine from them. Amos and Yahweh knew all about their various transgressions and how great their sins were. They took bribes, mistreated the righteous, and turned away the needy at the gate. The prudent people kept silent during this evil time.

The appointed Levitical ministerial tasks (Ezek 44:13-44:14)

“They shall not

Come near to me.

They shall not

Serve me

As a priest.

They shall not

Come near to

Any of my sacred offerings,

The things

That are most sacred.

But they shall

Bear their shame.

They shall

Bear the consequences

Of the abominations

That they have committed.

Yet I will appoint them

To keep charge

Of the temple,

To do all its chores.

They shall do

All that is to be done

In it.”

The idol worshiping Levites would be appointed to various menial tasks, so that they would be like Temple servants, rather than ministers. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, listed all the things that they could not do. They could not come near to Yahweh to serve him as a priest. They would not be allowed near any of the sacred holy offerings. They had to bear their shame. They had to suffer the consequences of their abominable actions. However, Yahweh was not going to destroy them. They were to be in charge of all the Temple chores, everything that had to be done around the Temple. They were to become second-class Levite priests or Temple servants.

The allies of Gog (Ezek 38:5-38:6)

“Persia,

Cush,

Put,

Are with them.

All of them

Have shields

With helmets.

Gomer

With all its troops

Are with them.

Beth-togarmah,

From the remotest parts

Of the north,

Are with them,

With all its troops.

Many people

Are with you.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, listed the allies of Gog. Ezekiel seemed to remind Gog who was on his side. Persia was an ally. Cush or Ethiopia was also on his side. Put or Libya was also with him. Of course, they all had their shields and helmets. Also with Gog were the people of Gomer, who was the biblical son of Japheth, the son of Noah, with his army. Beth-togarmah, the horse traders with Tyre from chapter 27, from the remote north, was also with Gog. Once again, these northern countries had lots of people in their armies.

Baruch reads the scroll to the royal officials (Jer 36:14-36:16)

“Then all the officials

Sent Jehudi,

The son of Nethaniah,

The son of Shelemiah,

The son of Cushi,

To say to Baruch.

‘Bring the scroll

That you read

In the hearing

Of the people.

Come!’

So Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

Took the scroll

In his hand.

He came to them.

They said to him.

‘Sit down!

Read it to us!’

So Baruch read it to them.

When they heard

All the words,

They turned to one another

In alarm.

They said to Baruch.

‘We certainly must report

All these words

To the king.’”

These royal officials sent a man named Jehudi to get Baruch. Jehudi has three generations of ancestors listed, instead of the usual one or two. Jehudi may mean Jew. Perhaps his great grandfather was an Ethiopian or Cushite, so that his family may have converted to Judaism, giving him this name. Anyway, this man was sent to get Baruch to come before the royal officials with his scroll so that they could hear the exact words of this scroll for themselves. When Baruch came with his scroll, they asked him to sit down like a distinguished teacher. He then read the words of the scroll that he had written under the dictation of Jeremiah. These officials seemed alarmed. They told Baruch that they were going to report the words from the scroll to the king directly. There was nothing secret about this, since Baruch had publically proclaimed these words a little earlier.

Priests (Sir 7:29-7:31)

“With all your soul

Fear the Lord!

Revere his priests!

With all your might,

Love your Maker!

Do not neglect his ministers!

Fear the Lord!

Honor the priest!

Give him his portion,

As you have been commanded.

Give him

The first fruits,

The guilt offering,

The gift of the shoulders,

The sacrifice of sanctification,

The first fruits of the holy things.”

Once again, Sirach is absolute in his demands about the Israelite Levitical priests.   Listening to them was like listening to God. Obviously, you were to fear the Lord and love your Maker. You also were to revere God’s priests. Thus you should not neglect God’s ministers. They should have their portion as commanded by the law. In case there was any confusion, he specifically listed what the priests were to get, the first fruits, the guilt offerings, the shoulders, the sanctification sacrifice, and the first fruits of the holy things. I am not sure about the shoulders, but the others were common in the Torah.

The curse for David’s enemies (Ps 69:22-69:29)

“Let their own table be a trap for them!

Let their own table be a snare for their allies!

Let their eyes be darkened,

So that they cannot see!

Make their loins tremble continually!

Pour out your indignation upon them!

Let our burning anger overtake them!

May their camp be desolation!

Let no one live in their tents!

They persecute those

Whom you have struck down.

They persecute those

Whom you have wounded.

They attack still more.

Add guilt to their guilt!

May they have no acquittal from you!

Let them be blotted out of the book of the living!

Let them not be enrolled among the righteous!

But I am lowly.

I am in pain.

Let your salvation!

O God!

Protect me high!”

These are a series of curses or wishes against the enemies of David. His enemies’ tables should be a trap or snare to them and their friends. He wanted them to lose their sight and to tremble all the time. God’s indignation and anger should be upon them. Their camp should be desolate so that they could not live in their tents. They had persecuted and attacked those who had been wounded. Their guilt pilled on guilt. They should not be acquitted. They should be blotted out of the book of the living. They should not be listed among the righteous. They should die. Then there is the cry of David to protect him and bring him salvation.

The good works of Job (Job 29:11-29:17)

“When the ear heard it,

It commended me.

When the eye saw,

It approved.

I delivered the poor who cried.

I helped the orphan who had no helper.

The blessing of the wretched came upon me.

I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.

I put on righteousness.

It clothed me.

My justice was like a robe and a turban.

I was eyes to the blind.

I was feet to the lame.

I was a father to the needy.

I championed the cause of the stranger.

I broke the fangs of the unrighteous.

I made them drop their prey from their teeth.”

Job becomes self-righteous as he listed off all his good works. Both ears and eyes approved what he had done. He answered the cry of the poor and the orphan. He blessed the wretched. He brought joy to the widows. He dressed as if he were righteous with a robe and a turban. He was the eyes for the blind and the feet for the lame. He was the father to the needy. He championed the causes of strangers. He made the unrighteous drop their prey. What a great guy! He was almost perfect in all that he did for others.