The defeat (Jer 46:5-46:6)

“‘Why do I see them terrified?

They have fallen back.

Their warriors are beaten down.

They have fled in haste.

They do look not back.

Terror is all around!’

Says Yahweh.

The swift cannot flee away.

The warrior cannot escape.

In the north,

By the Euphrates River,

They have stumbled.

They have fallen.”

How quickly things turn. Jeremiah explains what happens when defeat occurs. These strong warriors were terrified and fell back. They were beaten down and fled in haste, without looking back. Terror was all around them. Yahweh has issued this oracle for Jeremiah. The swift cannot go fast enough to escape. Finally, in the north, by the Euphrates River, they stumbled and fell.

Vanity of vanities (Eccl 1:2-1:3)

“‘Vanity of vanities!’

Says Qoheleth.

‘Vanity of vanities!

All is vanity!

What do people gain

From all the toil

At which they toil

Under the sun?’”

This book starts with a poem to vanity. This is the superlative Hebrew usage of hebel. What is the worst vanity? This hebel is vapor or something unsubstantial, futile or vain. This term “vanity” occurs over 38 times here in this biblical book that shows the futility of humans. Is everything vain and futile? What is the reward for hard work? If all you do is work hard under the sun, what is your reward. This is somewhat reminiscent of Job and his laments.