Oracle against Tyre (Isa 23:1-23:1)

“The oracle concerning Tyre.

Wail!

O ships of Tarshish!

Your fortress is destroyed.

When they came in

From Cyprus

They learned of it.”

Tyre was a Phoenician costal island city that still exists in southern Lebanon. Known for its maritime trade and purple dye, it was actually in the Israelite territory of Asher. The ships of Tarshish are mentioned 24 times in the biblical books, most notably when speaking about the wealth of King Solomon, in 1 Kings, chapter 10. Tarnish must have been someplace where there was a lot of metal, such as silver, probably some distance away, since speculation continues as to its exact location. The fortress or the houses of Tyre would be destroyed. Apparently these Phoenician sailors from Tyre were coming back from the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea, when they learned about this destruction.

Abraham (Sir 44:19-44:21)

“Abraham was the great father

Of a multitude of nations.

No one has been found

Like him in glory.

He kept the law

Of the Most High.

He entered into

A covenant with him.

He certified the covenant

In his flesh.

When he was tested,

He was found faithful.

Therefore the Lord assured him

With an oath.

The nations would be blessed

Through his offspring.

He would make them

As numerous as

The dust of the earth.

He would exalt his posterity

Like the stars.

He would give them

An inheritance

From sea to sea,

From the Euphrates River

To the ends of the earth.”

It is obvious why Abraham should show up as one of the famous holy men as indicated in the stories of Genesis, chapters 12-25. Abraham was considered to be the father of many nations, not just Israel. His glory was beyond anyone else. He kept the law of the Most High God, although it was not written anywhere. There is no mention of Yahweh. However Abraham entered into a covenant with the Most High God that was sealed with his flesh, the circumcision of the foreskin of his penis. Then there was his test about obeying God, when he was asked to kill his son. Abraham proved faithful to God. Thus the Lord, or Yahweh, assured him with an oath that he would have many blessed descendants as numerous as the dust on the earth. He also promised them an inheritance of the land from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea to the ends of the earth. Wow! This was a big chunk of land.

The seas (Sir 43:23-43:26)

“By the Lord’s plan,

He stilled the great deep sea.

He planted islands in it.

Those who sail the sea

Tell of its dangers.

We marvel at

What we hear.

In the sea

Are strange creatures.

In the sea

Are marvelous works.

There are

All kinds of living things.

There are

Huge sea-monsters.

Because of him,

Each of his messengers succeeds.

By his word

All things hold together.”

Next Sirach explains how the Lord controls and stills the seas. The Lord planted the islands in these seas. Many sailors tell of their dangerous adventures on the high seas, mostly on the Mediterranean Sea. Within these waters, there are many strange and marvelous creatures. Among the many living things in the sea are the sea monsters, in particular Leviathan that played a major role in biblical stories, particularly in the book of Job, chapter 41. All these things stay together because of the power of the Lord.

Thanksgiving for past victories (Ps 108:7-108:9)

“God has promised in his sanctuary.

‘With exultation

I will divide up Shechem.

I will portion out the Vale of Succoth.

Gilead is mine.

Manasseh is mine.

Ephraim is my helmet.

Judah is my scepter.

Moab is my washbasin.

On Edom

I hurl my shoe.

Over Philistia

I shout in triumph.’”

This section is a repeat almost word for word of the same victories mentioned in Psalm 60. God directly promised or spoke in his sanctuary to David. This is one of the few times that this phraseology is used, assuming that the sanctuary of the Temple was completed. This probably was a prophet speaking in the name of God, but there is no specific indication here. He rattled off a series of Israelite victories. Shechem was a former Canaanite city that was now divided up and part of the territory of Manasseh. Succoth was conquered during the time of the Judges. Gilead was on the eastern side of the Jordan River where the tribes of Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh lived. Only 3 Israelite tribes are mentioned here, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Judah. Judah would become the favorite when the split between the north and the south took place as the north became known as Israel. Moab was a mere washbasin on the east side of the Dead Sea. Edom was in the north. The phrase “hurl a shoe” seemed obsolete until some Iraqi journalist hurled his shoe at President George W. Bush to show his contempt. Philistines were on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Thus this is a list of the various victorious Israelite battles.

Yahweh gave us the holy land (Ps 80:8-80:13)

“You brought a vine out of Egypt.

You drove out the nations.

You planted it.

You cleared the ground for it.

It took deep root.

It filled the land.

The mountains were covered with its shade.

The mighty cedars were covered with its branches.

It sent out its branches to the sea.

It sent out its shoots to the River.

Why then have you broken down its walls?

Thus all who pass along the way pluck its fruit.

The boar from the forest ravages it.

All that move in the field feed on it.”

This is a great parable about the vine and Israel that was so familiar to all. The vine was taken from Egypt. Then the ground was prepared for it and planted. Thus nations were cleared out to let the vine grow as it took deep root. This vine spread all over the land as it covered the mountains and the trees. Its branches went from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River. However, then its walls were broken down. Now anyone can come along and pluck its fruit. All the wild animals and any animals come to feed on it. Israel was being ravaged by all sets of animals and people.

The past victories (Ps 60:6-60:8)

“God promised in his sanctuary.

‘With exultation

I will divide up Shechem.

I will portion out the Vale of Succoth.

Gilead is mine!

Manasseh is mine!

Ephraim is my helmet!

Judah is my scepter!

Moab is my washbasin!

On Edom I hurl my shoe!

Over Philistia I shout in triumph.’”

The prayer was answered. God directly promised or spoke. This is one of the few times that this phraseology is used. It also assumes the sanctuary of the Temple is completed. This probably was a prophet speaking in the name of God, but there is no specific indication here. He listed off the Israelite victories. Shechem was a former Canaanite city that was now divided up and part of the territory of Manasseh. Succoth was conquered during the time of the Judges. Gilead was on the eastern side of the Jordan River where the tribes of Gad and half tribe of Manasseh lived. Only 3 Israelite tribes are mentions, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Judah. Judah would become the favorite with the split between the north and the south, when the north became known as Israel. Moab was a mere washbasin, the east side of the Dead Sea. Edom was in the north. The phrase “hurl a shoe” seemed obsolete until some Iraqis journalist hurled his shoe at President George W. Bush to show his contempt. Philistines were on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Thus this is a victorious Israel, so why are they complaining?