The ruin of the powerful trees (Zech 11:1-11:3)

“Open your doors!

O Lebanon!

Thus,

The fire may devour

Your cedars!

Wail!

O cypress!

The cedar has fallen.

The glorious trees

Are ruined!

Wail!

Oaks of Bashan!

The thick forest

Has been felled!

Listen!

To the wail of the shepherds!

Their glory is despoiled!

Listen!

To the roar of the lions!

The tickets of the Jordan

Are destroyed!”

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.

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Everyone is evil (Mic 7:3-7:4)

“Their hands are skilled

To do evil.

The official

Asks for a bribe.

The judge

Asks for a bribe.

The powerful

Dictate

What they desire.

Thus,

They pervert justice.

The best of them is

Like a brier.

The most upright

Of them is

Like a thorn hedge.

The day of their sentinels,

Of their punishment,

Has come.

Now their confusion

Is at hand.”

Micah thought that everyone was evil.  The officialsand judges did things only if they got bribes.  The powerful people did whatever they wanted to do, since they all perverted justice.  The best and most upright of them were like a briar patch or a thorn hedge.  The day of punishment was announced.  Thus, they were in a state of confusion.

A very destructive king (Dan 8:23-8:25)

“At the end of their rule,

When the transgressions

Have reached

Their full measure,

A king of bold countenance,

Skilled in intrigue,

Shall grow strong in power.

He shall cause

Fearful destruction.

He shall succeed

In what he does.

He shall destroy

The powerful,

The people of the holy ones.

By his cunning,

He shall make

Deceit prosper

Under his hand.

In his own mind,

He shall be great.

Without warning,

He shall destroy many.

He shall even rise up

Against the Prince of princes.

But he shall be broken,

But not by human hands.’”

Gabriel continued his explanation of the vision. He pointed out that one of the last rulers would be skilled in intrigue and grow strong in power. The obvious allusion is to King Antiochus IV Epiphanes. He would successfully destroy others by getting rid of powerful people, even the holy ones, without warning. His cunning would make deceit prosper. 1 Maccabees, chapter 1, goes into great detail about this king. In his own mind, he would be great. He would even go against the Prince of princes. Finally, God, not human hands, would break him.

Public conduct (Sir 7:4-7:7)

“Do not seek from the Lord a high office!

Do not seek the seat of honor from the king!

Do not assert your righteousness before the Lord!

Do not display your wisdom before the king!

Do not seek to become a judge!

You may be unable to root out injustice.

You may be partial to the powerful.

You may mar your integrity.

Commit no offense against the public!

Do not disgrace yourself among the people!”

Sirach then gave some instructions on how to conduct yourself in public places. First, you should not seek a high office or a seat of honor from the king. Second, do not claim to be righteous before the Lord. Third, do not display your wisdom before the king. Fourth, you should not seek to become a judge because you may not be able to get rid of evil injustice. You might be partial to the powerful people and mar your own integrity. Finally, do not commit any offense against the people so that you do not end up in disgrace.