The watchful eye of Yahweh (Jer 31:28-31:28)

“‘Just as I have watched

Over them

To pluck up,

To break down,

To overthrow,

To destroy,

To bring evil,

So I will watch

Over them

To build

And to plant.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh in this oracle says that he watches over the Israelites. Just as he plucked them up, broke them down, overthrew them, destroyed them, and brought evil to them, so too he would watch over them as he builds them up and plants them again. There is a glimpse of hope here.

Advertisements

The Creator (Isa 40:21-40:24)

“Have you not known?

Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you

From the beginning?

Have you not understood

From the foundations of the earth?

It is he

Who sits above the circle of the earth.

Its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.

He stretches out the heavens

Like a curtain.

He spreads them

Like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught.

He makes the rulers of the earth

As nothing.

Scarcely are they planted,

Scarcely sown,

Scarcely has their stem taken root in the earth,

When he blows upon them,

They wither.

The tempest carries them off

Like stubble.”

Second Isaiah continues to use the questioning style to make his point. He seems to call attention to the ignorance of the people. Do they not understand that God created them? God sits on top of the dome over the earth in the heavens, As Second Isaiah was expressing the cosmology of his day. God has stretched out the heavens like a curtain or a tent. All humans are like grasshoppers since he has such a lofty view. He controls the earthly princes and rulers. As soon as someone plants something and it begins to take roots, he blows on it and it withers. Then he sends a tempest storm to carry it off as stubble. Clearly God is in control as the creator of this world and the things in it.

The response of Yahweh (Isa 37:26-37:27)

“Have you not heard

That I determined it long ago?

I planned from days of old,

What now I bring to pass.

You should make fortified cities.

You should crash into heaps of ruins,

While their inhabitants,

Shorn of strength,

Are dismayed as well as confounded.

They have become

Like plants of the field,

Like tender grass,

Like grass on the housetops,

Blighted before it is grown.”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. Yahweh reminded King Sennacherib that he had allowed him to capture fortified cities, create ruins, and confuse and confound people. These people have become like plants in the field, tender grass or grass thatched houses.

Drying up of the Nile River (Isa 19:5-19:10)

“The waters of the Nile

Will be dried up.

The river

Will be parched.

It will be dry.

Its canals will become foul.

The branches of Egypt’s Nile

Will diminish.

They will dry up.

Reeds will rot away.

Rushes will rot away.

There will be bare places

By the Nile,

On the brink of the Nile.

All that is sown

By the Nile

Will dry up.

It will be driven away.

It will be no more.

The fishermen will mourn.

All who cast hooks

In the Nile

Will lament.

Those who spread nets

On the water

Will languish.

The workers in flax

Will be in despair.

The carders,

Those at the loom,

Will grow pale.

The weavers

Will be dismayed.

All who work for wages

Will be grieved.”

Next this oracle takes on a river, the Nile River. The waters will dry up with dire consequences to follow. The Nile River canals and branches will be foul smelling like dry wells. All the reeds, rushes, and plants along the river will dry up and rot away also. The fishermen will have a problem, since their hooks and nets will not catch anything. The flax and cotton looms will be useless. The weavers will be distraught. In fact, anyone who works for any kind of wages will be upset since the Nile River was so important for all kinds of commerce in Egypt.

Lot (Wis 10:6-10:8)

“Wisdom rescued a righteous man

When the ungodly were perishing.

He escaped the fire

That descended on the Five Cities.

Evidence of their wickedness still remains.

It is a continually smoking wasteland.

Plants bear fruit that does not ripen.

A pillar of salt is standing

As a monument to an unbelieving soul.

Because they passed wisdom by,

They not only were hindered

From recognizing the good,

But also left for mankind

A reminder of their folly.

Thus their failures could never go unnoticed.”

Next we have the story of Lot and the town of Sodom, without mentioning his name, as found in Genesis, chapter 19. Once again, it is wisdom that rescues Lot, who is described as a righteous man (δίκαιον) among ungodly men (ἀσεβῶν), from the destruction of the 5 cities (Πενταπόλεως). Only 3 cities are mentioned in the Genesis story, Sodom, Gomorrah, and Zoar, but their names are not here. However, the Genesis story says that the cities of the valley were destroyed. This became a smoking wasteland so that plants did not ripen in this valley, probably someplace near the Dead Sea. Then there is famous story of the unbelieving wife of Lot who turned into a pillar of salt. So you can see that these stories in this abbreviated history had a big impact on the people. They were not only foolish people, but this smoking valley and salt monument remained as a reminder of their failures. They had passed on wisdom (σοφίαν) and did not recognize the good.

The good wife works hard (Prov 31:16-31:19)

Zain

“She considers a field.

She buys it.

With the fruit of her hands,

She plants a vineyard.

Het

She girds herself with strength.

She makes her arms strong.

Tet

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

Yod

She puts her hands to the distaff.

Her hands hold the spindle.”

The good wife does not sit around all day and gossip. She goes out and buys fields, just like men do. She plants a vineyard, just like other workers. She has strength with strong arms. She buys and sells merchandise like her husband. She stays up late figuring things out. She even knows how to handle the spindle. She is like a super woman. She even has contact with others in business doings. Thus she is not a stay at home wife, but really a business partner.

Yahweh controls the growth of plants (Ps 104:14-104:16)

“You cause the grass to grow for the cattle.

You cause the plants for people to use.

Mortals may bring forth food from the earth.

They will make wine to gladden the human heart.

They will have oil to make the face shine.

They will make bread to strengthen the human heart.

The trees of Yahweh are watered abundantly.

He planted the cedars of Lebanon.”

Yahweh makes the grass to grow for cattle. He causes plants to grow for humans. Thus mortals can bring food from the earth to eat. They can also make wine to gladden their hearts. They can make oil to a shine on their faces. They also make bread to strengthen their hearts. Finally, the cedar trees of Lebanon were planted by Yahweh so that buildings could be made from their lumber.