“Then the older brother
To go in.
His father came out.
To plead with him.”
ὠργίσθη δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν εἰσελθεῖν· ὁ δὲ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ ἐξελθὼν παρεκάλει αὐτόν.
This long parable story about the 2 sons can only be found in Luke, not in any of the other gospel stories. Luke indicated that Jesus said that the older brother became angry (ὠργίσθη). He refused to go in to the celebration (δὲ καὶ οὐκ ἤθελεν εἰσελθεῖν). His father came out of the celebration (ὁ δὲ πατὴρ αὐτοῦ ἐξελθὼν). He began to plead with him (παρεκάλει αὐτόν). Now the conflict begins. This seemed like such a nice happy story about a sinner who repented and was taken back by his father. But now there was the other son who really did not want to go along with this plan. He had been a hard-working farmer, while his brother went away carousing and wasting money. Do you feel closer to the hard-working brother or the loose living brother?
“Hear what Yahweh says!
Plead your case
Before the mountains!
Let the hills hear
The controversy of Yahweh!
You enduring foundations
Of the earth!
Yahweh has a controversy
With his people.
He will contend with Israel.”
Yahweh wanted them to rise up and plead their case. He wanted them to do this before the mountains. All the great communications between Yahweh and his people took place on the mountains or the hills, the closest that humans could get to heaven. Yahweh then spoke directly to the mountains, called them ‘you’. Yahweh had a controversy with his people, the Israelites. This controversy was that they had forgotten how to walk with Yahweh. They had forgotten the sayings and actions of their ancestors. He was going to contend with them.
“Then Yahweh said to me.
‘Even if Moses stood before me,
Even if Samuel stood before me,
Yet my heart
Would not turn toward this people.
Send them out of my sight!
Let them go!’”
Yahweh seems determined to let his people go. Yahweh told Jeremiah that even if the great intercessors like Moses and Samuel were to come before him to plead for these people, he would not respond. Yahweh was determined. His heart would not turn toward these people. He wanted them out of his sight. Instead of the “let them go” out of Egypt, now he wanted them to get out of his sight. This was a very strong rejection of his people.
“Learn to do good!
Rescue the oppressed!
Defend the orphans!
Plead for the widows!”
Isaiah’s call for justice has nothing to do with worship or the law. It is a clear moral imperative. You must seek justice. You must rescue anyone who is oppressed. You must defend the fatherless orphans. You must plead for the widows. There is no equivocation. It is your moral responsibility to help the oppressed, the orphans, and the widows, not the rich or the powerful.
“Who will say?
‘What have you done?’
Who will resist your judgment?
Who will accuse you?
For the destruction of nations
That you made?
Who will come before you?
Who will plead as an advocate?
Who will plead for the unrighteous?
Neither is there any god besides you,
Whose care is for all people.
Who can prove
That you have not judged unjustly?
Nor can any king confront you.
A monarch cannot confront you
About those whom you have punished.”
Who can question God? Who could resist him? Who will accuse him? Who will plead for the unrighteous? Who can prove that he judged unjustly? Notice that there is a shift from wisdom to God, who is then compared to all the other gods. This God (Θεός), formerly Yahweh, cares for all (πάντων) the people, not just the Israelites. No one could confront him, not even a king or a monarch (βασιλεὺς ἢ τύραννος). No one could question him about his punishments.
“Do not remove an ancient landmark.
Do not encroach on the fields of orphans.
Their redeemer is strong.
He will plead their cause against you.”
This is a repetition of what was said last chapter about not removing ancient landmarks. This is about trying to take land from others. In particular, you were not to try to take away the fields of orphans, since they might have a redeemer or relative who would plead their case against you. Do not think that you can get away with this kind of action.
If you have given your pledge to your neighbor,
If you have bound yourself to another,
You are snared by the utterance of your lips.
You are caught by the words of your mouth.
You have come into your neighbor’s power.
Plead with your neighbor!
Give your eyes no sleep.
Give your eyelids no slumber.
Like a gazelle from the hunter!
Like a bird from the hand of the fowler!”
This paternal advice continues with a strange admonition. It seems that there was an ancient custom of pledging your house to help a neighbor. However, here the father warns his children against doing this. If you have already pledged to help, then you are stuck with your own words. However, then it is time to negotiate a resolution with your neighbor since you are under his power. Plead with him until you get this resolved. Do not get any sleep until this is straightened out. You have to save yourself because you are being hunted like a hunter after an animal or a bird that is already caught in a trap.
“He has put my family far from me.
My acquaintances are wholly estranged from me.
My relatives and my close friends have failed me.
The guests in my house have forgotten me.
My servant girls count me as a stranger.
I have become an alien in their eyes.
I call to my servant,
But he gives me no answer.
I must myself plead with him.
My breath is repulsive to my wife.
I am loathsome to my own family.
Even young children despise me.
When I rise,
They talk against me.
All my intimate friends abhor me.
Those whom I loved have turned against me.
My bones cling to my skin and to my flesh.
I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
Have pity on me!
Have pity on me!
O you my friends,
The hand of God has touched me!
Why do you,
Why are you never satisfied with my flesh?”
Job was an outcast from his family and friends. Everyone had failed him. His own house guests have forgotten him. As if to impress us with his wealth, his servant girls now treat him like a stranger. His servants do not answer him so that now he has to actually plead with them to do things. His wife did not like his breath. Even little kids ran away from him and talked behind his back. His bones clung to his skin since he seemed to lose weight. His teeth were in bad shape. He wanted God to have pity on him. He wanted to know why God was pursuing him. Why was everybody after him?
“Hachratheus went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him all that had happened. He said that Haman had promised to pay ten thousand talents into the royal treasury to bring about the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of what had been posted in Susa for their destruction. He wanted him to show it to Queen Esther. He told him to charge her to go in to the king. He wanted her to plead for his favor in behalf of her people. He said.
‘Remember the days when you were an ordinary person.
You were brought up under my care.
Haman, who stands next to the king,
He has spoken against us.
He demands our death.
Call upon the Lord!
Then speak to the king on our behalf.
Save us from death!’”
Once again there is a discrepancy between the Hebrew text that does not have the small speech of Mordecai that is found in the Greek text only. The name of the eunuch is slightly different in the Greek text also. However, the idea is about the same. Mordecai gave the decree to the eunuch. He told him that Haman was behind this move to extinguish the Jews in the Persian kingdom. He wanted him to show this decree to Queen Esther. He also wanted Queen Esther to intercede with the king to stop this destruction. In the small soliloquy, Mordecai reminded the queen that she was once an ordinary young girl under his care. He wanted here to be aware that Haman was behind all that was happening since he was calling for their death. He wanted her to pray to God and then speak to the king. Somehow Mordecai does not feel that he is the right one to present this petition to the king.