Judgment of all the countries (Joel 3:2-3:3)

“I will gather

All the nations.

I will bring them down

To the valley of Jehoshaphat.

I will enter

Into judgment

With them there.

On account of my people,

On account of my heritage,

Israel,

Because they have scattered them

Among the nations.

They have divided

My land.

They have cast lots

For my people.

They have traded boys

For prostitutes.

They have sold girls

For wine.

They have drunk it down.”

Yahweh, via Joel, said that he was going to gather all the countries of the world together in the valley of Jehoshaphat. That would have to be a big place. Actually, they were dealing with the known world of the near East at that time. Jehoshaphat means the valley of decision or the Lord judges. This was probably some place close to Jerusalem, perhaps the Kidron valley. Yahweh was going to judge these countries on what they had done to his people, his heritage, Israel. They had scattered the Israelites among the various countries. They had divided the land of Israel. They had gambled over his people, trading boys for prostitutes and selling girls for wine to get drunk on. Yahweh was going to lay down his judgment on them.

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The worship on the mountain tops (Hos 4:13-4:13)

“They sacrifice

On the tops

Of the mountains.

They make offerings

Upon the hills.

They make offerings

Under the oak trees,

Under the poplar trees,

Under the terebinth trees.

Their shade is good.

Therefore,

Your daughters

Play the prostitute.

Your daughters-in-law

Commit adultery.”

The Israelites were sacrificing to the various Canaanite gods on the tops of the mountains. They were making offerings on the hills. They preferred to make these offerings under the various trees, the oak, the poplar, and the terebinth, because the shade of those trees was good. Thus, their daughters became prostitutes, while their daughters-in-law committed adultery. Clearly, they were unfaithful to Yahweh.

The paying adulterous wife (Ezek 16:32-16:34)

“‘Adulterous wife!

You receive strangers

Instead of your husband!

Gifts are given

To whores.

But you gave

Your gifts

To all your lovers.

You bribed them

To come

To you

From all around

For your prostitution activities.

So you were different

From other women

In your prostitution.

No one solicited you

To play the whore.

You gave payment,

While no payment

Was given to you.

You were different.’”

Jerusalem was a different kind of adulterous wife. She took in strangers rather than her husband. However, instead of getting gifts as most prostitutes did, she gave gifts to her lovers. She bribed them to come to her from all over the place to share sexual activities. Thus, she was different from other female prostitutes. No one solicited her as a prostitute. She paid people to come to her, instead of receiving payment for her sexual activities. She never received any money or gifts. She was a different kind of prostitute.

The colorful gods (Bar 6:8-6:11)

“The god’s tongues

Are smoothed

By the carpenter.

They themselves

Are overlaid

With gold

Or silver.

But they are false.

They cannot speak.

People take gold.

They make crowns

For the heads

Of their gods,

As they would

For a girl

Who loves ornaments.

Sometimes the priests

Secretly take gold

Or silver

From their gods.

They spend it

On themselves.

They even give

Some of it

To the prostitutes

On the terrace.

They deck

Their gods out

With garments

Like human beings.

These are gods of silver.

These are gods of gold.

These are gods of wood.”

These colorful gods have carpenters who smooth out their tongues. These gods are overlaid with gold or silver, but they are still false since they cannot speak. They even have golden crowns on their heads. These gods are like young girls who love pretty ornaments. Sometimes, their priests secretly take the gold or silver from their gods to spend it on themselves. They may even give some of it to the local street or temple prostitutes. They dress up their gods with various garments to make them look more human. Thus they have gods made of silver, gold, or wood that are colorful but useless.

The divorced wife (Jer 3:1-3:1)

“‘If a man divorces his wife,

She goes from him.

If she becomes another man’s wife,

Will he return to her?

Would not such a land

Be greatly polluted?

You have played the whore

With many lovers.

Would you return to me?’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has Yahweh speak about a divorced wife. If she leaves him and becomes the wife of another, would he return to her? The answer is obviously not, because he has already divorced her. According to Deuteronomy, chapter 24, the first husband cannot remarry anyway. She has become another man’s wife. Also this would pollute the land in trying to figure out who is the father of her children. Yahweh explains that the Israelites have been prostitutes with many lovers. Would they return to him? This presupposes that he has divorced himself from them.

Things to be ashamed of (Sir 41:17-41:23)

“Be ashamed of sexual immorality before your father or mother!

Be ashamed of a lie before a prince or a ruler!

Be ashamed of a crime before a judge or a magistrate!

Be ashamed of a breach of the law before the congregation!

Be ashamed of a breach of the law before the people!

Be ashamed of unjust dealing before your partner!

Be ashamed of unjust dealing before or your friend!

Be ashamed of theft in the place where you live!

Be ashamed of breaking an oath before the truth of God!

Be ashamed of breaking an agreement before the truth of God!

Be ashamed of leaning on your elbow at meals!

Be ashamed of surliness in receiving!

Be ashamed of surliness in giving!

Be ashamed of silence before those who greet you!

Be ashamed of looking at a prostitute!

Be ashamed of rejecting the appeal of a relative!

Be ashamed of taking away someone’s portion!

Be ashamed of taking away someone’s gift!

Be ashamed of gazing at another man’s wife!

Be ashamed of meddling with his maidservant!

Do not approach her bed!

Be ashamed of abusive words before friends!

Do not be insulting after making a gift!

Be ashamed of repeating what you hear!

Be ashamed of revealing secrets!

Then you will show proper shame.

Then you will find favor with everyone.”

Sirach indicates a long list of things that you should really be ashamed of. They include sexual immorality, lying, crimes, law breaking, unjust dealings, theft, and breaking oaths before your parents, rulers, judges, congregations, friends, roommates, and God. Besides these actions, you should also be ashamed of bad manners at meals, surliness when giving and receiving gifts, being silent when greeted, looking at prostitutes, refusing your relatives, taking someone’s gift, gazing an someone’s wife, meddling with the female servants, abusive words among friends, insulting other’s gifts, repeating what you hear, and betraying secrets. These are the proper things to be ashamed of so that everyone will like you.

The good and bad wife (Sir 26:22-26:27)

“A prostitute is regarded as spittle.

A married woman

Is a tower of death to her lovers.

A godless wife is given as a portion

To a lawless man.

But a pious wife is given

To a man who fears the Lord.

A shameless woman constantly

Acts disgracefully.

A modest daughter will even

Be embarrassed before her husband.

A headstrong wife is regarded as a dog.

But one who has a sense of shame

Will fear the Lord.

A wife honoring her husband

Will seem wise to all.

But if she dishonors him

In her pride,

She will be known to all

As ungodly.

Happy is the husband

Of a good wife.

The number of his years

Will be doubled.

A loud voiced wife is

Like a trumpet sound.

A garrulous wife is

Like a trumpet sounding the charge.

Every person like this,

Lives in the anarchy of war.”

This section, like the preceding, does not appear in some editions. Sirach once again distinguishes between the good and the bad wife. Of course, prostitutes are like spit. A married wife who has lovers is like the tower of death to them. These godless wives belong with lawless husbands. On the other hand, a pious wife is a gift to a husband who fears the Lord. The shameless wife consistently acts disgraceful, so that even her daughter is embarrassed when her husband is around. A headstrong wife is a like a dog. She needs to be brought under control. The wife who has a sense of shame fears the Lord. Wives who honor their husbands are seen as wise. However, the ungodly wives dishonor their husbands. If a man has a good wife, as above, his life span will be doubled. A loud and talky wife is like a trumpet sound in battle. They deserve to live in a war of anarchy. Thus the humble wife is the ideal.