A series of scholarly debates has risen about who this servant of Yahweh is in Isaiah, chapter 42:1. Is it the country and people of Israel or is it an individual prophetic person? Sometimes the reference is singular as here, but is that also symbolic? There are many chants or songs about the servant in Second Isaiah. This oracle has Yahweh speak directly about his servant, who he will uphold, since he is the chosen one. Yahweh’s soul delights in him. He puts his Spirit upon him. This servant of Yahweh will bring about justice for all the nations. At first take, this appears to be an individual that Yahweh really likes. Mathew made a clear choice about this servant of Yahweh. Jesus is the servant of God (Ἰδοὺ ὁ παῖς μου). God has chosen him (ὃν ᾑρέτισα). He is God’s beloved (ὁ ἀγαπητός μου). The soul of God has delighted in Jesus (ὃν εὐδόκησεν ἡ ψυχή μου). God would put his Spirit on Jesus (θήσω τὸ Πνεῦμά μου ἐπ’ αὐτόν). Jesus would proclaim a just judgment to the gentile nations (καὶ κρίσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀπαγγελεῖ). The text that Matthew used is not an exact copy of the Greek or Hebrew text, but close enough.
This oracle shows various strong trees as symbols of power. Lebanon with its great cedar trees would be devoured by fire. The glorious cypress trees would be ruined. The oak tree forests of Bashan would be cut down. The glory of the shepherds would be gone. The roaring lions in the brush tickets of the Jordan River would be destroyed. The powerful people better look out or they would become like these trees.
This was a vision of a time of perpetual peace that is often cited by pacifists, exactly the same as an oracle in Isaiah, chapter 2, word for word. Yahweh would arbitrate and judge all nations. Then there is the famous saying that they would beat their swords into plows. They would turn their spears into pruning hooks. No one would lift a sword against anyone else. People would forget how to wage war since no one would learn how to do it. This is the utopian theocratic peace that has Jerusalem rule the world through Yahweh. It has never happened and probably will not.
Once again there is another oracle of Yahweh to Ezekiel, the son of man, with a specific date, the 15th day of the 1st month of the 12th year of King Zedekiah, 586 BCE. Ezekiel was to wail over the many people from Egypt, who were being sent down to the pit, the world below, the shadowy afterlife. Egypt, with the daughters of other majestic nations, would also go down into the pit.
Once again there is another oracle of Yahweh to Ezekiel, the son of man, with a specific date, the 1st day of the 12th month of the 12th year of King Zedekiah, 585 BCE. Yahweh wanted Ezekiel to present a lamentation over the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. In fact, Ezekiel was to speak to him with these exact words that Yahweh was giving him. How he was going to do this is not clear. Although the king of Egypt considered himself a lion among nations, he was rather a sea monster dragon in the water, trashing around with his feet in small streams, polluting the water. In other words, the Pharaoh was not as important as he thought that he was.
The time for this oracle to Ezekiel, the son of man, was the 11th year of King Zedekiah, which would have been 587 BCE. The Greek translation has a mention of a month that would put it into 586 BCE. Tyre was a Phoenician costal island city that still exists in southern Lebanon, well known for its maritime trade. Actually, it would have been part of the old Israelite territory of Asher. Here, the people of Tyre seemed to have laughed at Jerusalem when the gates of that city fell. Instead of being an ally of Jerusalem, they turned against them. They took advantage of the bad situation in Jerusalem. Isaiah, also, had a long diatribe against both Tyre and Sidon in chapter 23.
Ezekiel then told them what Yahweh had said to him, as the word of Yahweh came to him. He told the house of Israel that Yahweh was going to profane his own sanctuary. This Temple had been the pride of their power, the delight of their eyes, and their heart’s desire. However, it would be gone. Their sons and daughters, who had been left behind, would die by the sword. This was not a happy oracle.
This seems to be a poem or oracle about a cup of wrath. Jerusalem has gone the way of her sister Samaria. Thus she will be given her sister’s cup, the Samarian cup. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that Jerusalem would drink her sister’s deep and wide cup. Thus she was going to be scorned and derided. Jerusalem would drink from this large cup. She would be filled with drunkenness and sorrow because this was a cup of horror and desolation. Jerusalem was to drain this big cup by drinking from it. She would then gnaw and eat the glass pottery sherd pieces of this cup. Finally, she would tear out her breasts. This is what Yahweh, God, had spoken. This did not sound like a good experience.
“The word of Yahweh
Came to me.
‘Son of man!
There were two women.
Of one mother.
They played the whore
They played the whore
In their youth.
Were caressed there.
Their virgin bosoms
Once again, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. This oracle was about two women, the daughters of the same mother. Both of them played the whore in Egypt when they were young. In particular, their young virgin breasts or bosoms were fondled and caressed. Ezekiel and Yahweh loved the theme of the whoring woman to get a point across. Here there was a particular emphasis on the breasts of these two young women.