The second broken staff of union (Zech 11:14-11:14)

“Then I broke

My second staff,

Union.

This annulled

The family ties

Between Judah and Israel.”

Zechariah broke the 2nd staff named unity to indicate that the family ties between northern Israel and southern Judah were broken.  Perhaps, this was the final break between the northern Israelites or Samaritans and the southern Judeans of Judah.  Sometime in the 4th century BCE, the northern Samaritans built a temple at Mount Gerizim that opposed worship in southern Jerusalem.

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The lost crop (Hos 8:7-8:7)

“They sow the wind.

But they shall reap

The whirlwind.

The standing grain

Has no heads.

It shall yield

No meal.

If it were to yield

Anything,

Foreigners

Would devour it.”

The northern Israelites were in a unique position. They would sow with the wind, but it suddenly would become a whirlwind. The planted grain would never mature in the field, since there would be no heads of grain. Therefore, there would be no harvesting of the grain for meals. Even if it yielded any grain, foreigners, and not them, would devour it, because of the invasion of the Assyrians.

Judah should watch out also (Hos 4:15-4:15)

“Though you play the prostitute,

O Israel!

Do not let Judah

Become guilty!

Do not enter

Into Gilgal!

Do not go up

To Beth-aven!

Do not swear!

‘As Yahweh lives.’”

Yahweh, via Hosea, told northern Israel that she had become a prostitute. Now he warned that the southern Judah kingdom should not become guilty. They should not go to Gilgal, that was just east of Jericho. Neither should they go to Beth-aven or Bethel, the place of worship of the northern Israelites. They should not swear by Yahweh.

 

The prostitution of Israel (Hos 4:10-4:12)

“They shall eat,

But not be satisfied.

They shall play the prostitute,

But not multiply.

They have forsaken

Yahweh

To cherish prostitution.

Wine,

With new wine,

Takes away

Understanding.

My people consult

A piece of wood.

Their divining rod

Gives them oracles.

A spirit of prostitution

Has led them astray.

They have left

Their God

To play the prostitute.”

These northern Israelites would eat, but not be satisfied or full. They played the prostitute. They did not increase or multiply. They have cherished prostitution rather than Yahweh. All kinds of wine, new and old, take away understanding. Thus, the Israelite people consult with pieces of wood, the wooden idol gods. Their oracles or sayings come from their magical divining rods or sticks. This concept of prostitution has led them astray. They have left God to be prostitutes to other gods. Obviously, this was an allusion to the prostitution fertility rites and the fact that they were turning to other wooden idol gods, rather than being faithful to Yahweh.

Against Damascus (Jer 49:23-49:27)

“Concerning Damascus.

‘Hamath is confounded.

Arpad is confounded.

They have heard bad news.

They melt in fear.

They are troubled

Like the sea

That cannot be quiet.

Damascus has become feeble.

She turned to flee.

Panic seized her.

Anguish has taken hold of her.

Sorrows have taken hold of her,

As a woman in labor.

How the famous city is forsaken!

The joyful town!

Therefore her young men

Shall fall

In her squares.

All her soldiers

Shall be destroyed,

On that day.’

Says Yahweh of hosts!

‘I will kindle a fire

At the wall of Damascus.

It shall devour

The strongholds of Ben-hadad.’”

Damascus had been under the control of the Assyrians since around 740 BCE, before the fall of the northern Israelites to Assyria in 724 BCE. Now the Babylonians were taking over for the Assyrians. The two other cities mentioned with Damascus, were Hamath and Arpad. Hamath was in upper Syria with Arpad nearly a 100 miles further north. These northern towns were upset and troubled over the news about southern Damascus. They felt like they were on troubled waters and could not be quiet. Damascus itself was weak and in panic. This former joyful town saw people fleeing with panic. Once again they had become weak like women in labor. Their young men were dying in the squares since the soldiers had been killed. The soldiers also died. There was a huge fire that destroyed the walls and royal buildings of Ben-hadad. King Ben-hadad was a 9th century BCE king of Damascus who had some battles with King Asa of Judah and King Omri of Israel, in 1 Kings, chapter 20. However, there were 2 other kings with the same name, so that it clearly referred to the royal palaces or fortresses in Damascus. Once again there is no mention of a restoration for Damascus.

The coming terror against Ammon (Jer 49:4-49:5)

“‘Why do you boast

In your strength?

Your strength is ebbing.

O faithless daughter!

You trusted

In your treasures.

Saying,

‘Who will attack me?’

Says Yahweh

God of hosts.

‘I am going to bring terror

Upon you

From your neighbors.

You will be scattered,

Each headlong,

With no one

To gather the fugitives.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, was clear. The Ammonites were going to suffer in terror. Why had they boasted about their strength, when they were actually losing strength. They had trusted in their treasures, thinking that no one would be able to attack them. Yahweh had other plans for them, although he also called them faithless daughters as if they were like the northern Israelites. They were going to be attacked by their neighbors, scattered headlong against each other. There would be no one left to gather all those who were fleeing Ammon.

Future restoration (Jer 33:6-33:9)

“I going to bring

Recovery

With healing.

I will heal them.

I will reveal to them

Abundance of prosperity

With security.

I will restore

The fortunes of Judah,

The fortunes of Israel.

I will rebuild them

As they were at first.

I will cleanse them

From all the guilt

Of their sin

Against me.

I will forgive

All the guilt

Of their sin

With their rebellion

Against me.

This city shall be to me

A name of joy,

A praise,

As well as a glory

Before all the nations

Of the earth.

They shall hear

Of all the good

That I do for them.

They shall fear.

They shall tremble

Because of all the good,

As well as all the prosperity

I provide for it.”

Yahweh was going to heal Israel and Judah. He was going to help the city of Jerusalem to recover. They would have an abundance of prosperity and security in Jerusalem. Both the fortunes of the towns in Judah and among the northern Israelites would be rebuilt for them like it used to be. Yahweh was going to cleanse them from the guilt of all their sins against him. He was going to forgive their rebellion against him. Jerusalem would become a name of joy, praise, and glory for the whole world to see. Everyone would know about Jerusalem and the good that Yahweh had done for them. In fact, they would tremble and fear at all the good prosperity that he had provided for them. There were great days ahead.