An enlarged Sheol (Isa 5:14-5:17)

“Therefore Sheol

Has enlarged its appetite.

It has opened its mouth

Beyond measure.

The nobility of Jerusalem

Go down to Sheol.

Her multitudes

Go down to Sheol.

Her throng

Go down to Sheol.

All who exult in her

Go down to Sheol.

People are bowed down.

Everyone is brought low.

The eyes of the haughty

Are humbled.

But Yahweh of hosts

Is exalted

By justice.

The Holy God

Shows himself holy

By righteousness.

Then the lambs shall graze

As in their pasture.

Fatlings shall feed

Among the ruins.

Kids shall feed

Among the ruins.”

Because there were so many evil people, Sheol, the shadowy afterlife underworld, had to get bigger to hold all these people. After all, the nobility of Jerusalem would go down to Sheol. Along with them, the multitude and the throngs of people would also go down to Sheol. Everyone will be brought low, as the eyes of the haughty or proud will be humbled. However, Yahweh, the Lord, will be exalted by justice since he will show his righteous holiness. As for Jerusalem, the lambs, the fatlings, and the kid animals will graze as if they were in a pasture among those ruins of Jerusalem. This is a desolate picture.

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Against human pride (Isa 2:12-2:17)

“Yahweh of hosts has a day.

He is against all that is proud.

He is against all this is lofty.

He is against all that is lifted up.

He is against all that is high.

He is against all the cedars of Lebanon.

He is against all that is lofty.

He is against all that is lifted up.

He is against all the oaks of Bashan.

He is against all the high mountains.

He is against all the lofty hills.

He is against every high tower.

He is against every fortified wall.

He is against all the ships of Tarshish.

He is against all the beautiful crafts.

The haughtiness of people

Shall be humbled.

The pride of everyone

Shall be brought low.

Yahweh alone

Will be exalted

On that day.”

Once again, there will come a day when Yahweh, the Lord, alone will be exalted as in the preceding section. Here Isaiah points out that Yahweh is against the prideful people. In fact, he turns out to be against practically anything that is tall, lofty, or lifted up. He is against the tall cedars of northern Lebanon and the tall oaks of eastern Bashan. Of course, Yahweh was against all the tall places, like high mountains, lofty hills, high towers, and fortified walls. He also was against the ships of Tarshish, the fleet that brought gold and metals to the coastal cities. Yahweh was also against beautiful craft work and haughty people. Everyone would be brought low when Yahweh alone would be exalted on that day to come.

Friends (Sir 6:5-6:13)

“Peasant speech multiplies friends.

A gracious tongue multiplies courtesies.

Let those who are friendly with you be many.

But let your advisers be one in a thousand.

When you gain friends,

Gain him through testing.

Do not trust them hastily.

There are friends,

Who are such,

When it suits them.

But they will not stand by you

In time of trouble.

There are friends

Who changes into enemies.

They disclose a quarrel to your disgrace.

There are friends

Who sit at your table.

But they will not stand by you

In time of trouble.

When you are prosperous,

They become your second self.

They lord it over your servants.

But if you are brought low,

They will turn against you.

They will hide themselves from you.

Keep away from your enemies.

Be on guard with your friends.”

Sirach has a warning about friends. They come and go. Pleasant speech and a gracious tongue will get you many friends. However, your advisors should be few, 1 in 1,000. Test people who are becoming your friends. Some will be friends when it suits them. They will not stand by you when there is trouble. Some will change into enemies. Even some who eat at your table will not stay with you when problems arise. Some like to be your friends when you are prosperous. They lord it over your servants. However, if you are brought low, they will hide themselves from you. Sirach’s final advice was to stay away from your enemies, but be on guard with your friends.

Upside down world (Eccl 10:4-10:7)

“If the anger of the ruler

Rises against you,

Do not leave your post.

Calmness will undo great offenses.

There is an evil

That I have seen

Under the sun.

It proceeded from the ruler.

Folly is set in many high places.

The rich sit in a low place.

I have seen

Slaves on horseback.

I have seen

Princes walking on foot

Like slaves.”

Even if the ruler is mad at you, do not leave your post. Calmness will set in so that the king will no longer be angry at you. One of the great evils that Qoheleth has seen is foolish rulers. They made the rich sit in low places. In fact, he has seen slaves riding on horses. At the same time, he has seen princes walking on foot as if they were slaves in this Topsy-Turvy world.

The house of death (Prov 7:24-7:27)

“Now!

My children!

Listen to me!

Be attentive to the words of my mouth!

Do not let your hearts turn aside to her ways.

Do not stray into her paths.

Many are those she has laid low.

Numerous are her victims.

Her house is the way to Sheol.

You will be going down to the chambers of death.”

This chapter ends with the death of the simpleton. Once again, there is the parental warning to pay attention to his words. They should not turn away from his warnings. They were not to listen to the smooth and seductive words of the prostitute. The adulteress had laid low many. They were to stay the path and not stray into her paths. Her house was the way to hell, Sheol, the dark underworld of death. Going into that house would lead to death. It is not clear how she actually killed them. This is a very strong warning against adultery and prostitution with the punishment as death.

The cry to Yahweh (Ps 142:5-142:6)

“I cry to you!

Yahweh!

I say.

‘You are my refuge.

You are my portion

In the land of the living.’

Give heed to my cry!

I am brought very low!”

The response of David to his loneliness is to cry to Yahweh. He said that Yahweh was his refuge and portion in the land of the living. He wanted Yahweh to pay attention to his cry because he had been brought low.

Yahweh helped the weak (Ps 107:39-107:43)

“When they are diminished,

When they are brought low,

Through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,

He pours contempt upon the princes.

He makes them wander in trackless wastes.

However he raises up the needy out of distress.

He makes their families like flocks.

The upright see it.

They are glad.

All the wickedness keeps its mouth shut.

Let those who are wise,

Give heed to these things.

Let them

Consider the steadfast love of Yahweh.”

This psalm ends with something that looks like it was added on. All of a sudden there are princes that are brought low and diminished with oppression, trouble, and sorrow. Yahweh had contempt for the princes wandering in some waste land. On the other hand, he raised up the needy or the poor out of their distress. He made them fruitful like flocks of birds. The upright, those with a right heart, were glad because wickedness never came out of their mouth. The wise person paid attention to these things. They always remembered the steadfast love of Yahweh.