The caretakers of the idol gods (Bar 6:26-6:28)

“Those who serve

These idol gods

Are ashamed.

If any of these gods

Fall to the ground,

They themselves

Must pick them up.

If anyone sets them upright,

These gods

Cannot move themselves.

If they are tipped over,

They cannot straighten themselves.

Gifts are placed

Before them

Just as before the dead.

The priests sell

The sacrifices

That are offered

To these gods.

They use the money themselves.

Their wives likewise

Preserve some of the meat

With salt.

But they give none of it

To the poor

Or the helpless.”

Next this author attacks those who take care of these idol gods. These caretakers were themselves ashamed. If any of these gods fell to the ground, they must pick them up. They have to set these gods upright since they cannot move themselves. If these idols are tipped over, they cannot up right themselves. In other words, there has to be someone around these false idol gods, because if anything happens to them, these caretakers have to straighten things out. Gifts are placed before these images, just like gifts for the dead. However, these caretaker priests often sell the sacrifices that were offered to these gods. Then they would use the money for themselves. Their wives likewise would preserve some of the meat with salt. However, they gave none of it to the poor or the helpless.

The devastation of the land of Ephraim (Isa 17:4-17:6)

“‘On that day,

The glory of Jacob

Will be brought low.

The fat of his flesh

Will grow lean.

It shall be

As when reapers

Gather standing grain.

Their arms harvest the ears.

It shall be

As when one gleans

The ears of grain

In the Valley of Rephaim.

Gleanings will be left in it,

As when an olive tree is beaten.

Two or three berries

On the top of the highest bough

Will be left.

Four or five on the branches

Of a fruit tree

Will be left.’

Says Yahweh

God of Israel.”

Here is another oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, but about Ephraim of northern Israel. This rebuke is against Jacob, not Damascus. There is a reference to the Valley of Rephaim, which is northwest of Jerusalem in the Ephraim territory. Thus this land of Ephraim will be devastated. The fat animals will grow lean. All that will be left are the gleanings of left over grain that the pickers left behind. The olive trees will only have a few berries that were too difficult to pick, since all the others would have been shaken out of the trees. There will only be a few branches on any trees. There will not be much left after this day of destruction in northern Israel.

The punishment of the wicked ones (Job 15:28-15:35)

“They will live in desolate cities.

They will live in houses that no one should inhabit.

They will live in houses destined to become heaps of ruins.

They will not be rich.

Their wealth will not endure.

They will not strike root in the earth.

They will not escape from darkness.

The flame will dry up their shoots.

Their blossoms will be swept away by the wind.

Let them not trust in emptiness by deceiving themselves.

Emptiness will be their recompense.

It will be paid in full before their time.

Their branch will not be green.

They will shake off their unripe grape on the vine.

They will cast off their blossoms,

Like the olive tree.

The company of the godless is barren.

Fire consumes the tents of bribery.

They conceive mischief.

They bring forth evil.

Their heart prepares deceit.”

The wicked ones are punished, just like Job has been punished. They will live in desolate cities, where the houses are not fit to be lived in. They will not be rich. What wealth they have will not endure. They will not be able to plant anything. They will not escape darkness. Their shoots will go up in flames. Their blossoms will be blown away. Emptiness is their reward. Their branches will not turn green. They will pick the grapes before they are ripe. Everyone will be barren in their family. Fire will consume their living tents. They conceive and bring forth evil and iniquity because they have deceitful hearts.