The indifference of Israel (Jer 8:4 -8:7)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘You shall say to them.

When people fall,

Do they not get up again?

If they go astray,

Do they not turn back?

Why then has this people turned away?

Why are they perpetually backsliding?

They hold fast to deceit.

They have refused to return.

I have given heed.

I have listened.

But they do not speak honestly.

No man repents of wickedness.

Saying.

‘What have I done?’

All of them turn to their own course,

Like a horse

Plunging headlong into battle.

Even the stork in the heavens

Knows its times.

The turtledove

Observes the time of its coming.

The swallow

Observes the time of its coming.

The crane

Observes the time of its coming.

But my people do not know

The ordinance of Yahweh.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, points out the indifference of Israel. Most people when they fall, they get up. If they are lost, they turn back. Why are these Israelites continuing to backslide? Why do they refuse to return? They are deceitful. Yahweh was listening, but they were not speaking honestly. No one was repenting for what they had done. All of them went their own way like a horse plunging headlong into a battle. The various birds, like the stork, the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane, know when to come and go. However, the people of the Lord do not know and are indifferent to his ordinances.

Lack of shame (Jer 3:3-3:5)

“You have the forehead of a whore.

You refuse to be ashamed.

Have you not just now called to me?

‘My father!

You are the friend of my youth.

Will he be angry forever?

Will he be indignant to the end?’

This is how you have spoken.

But you have done

All the evil that you could.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that they still refuse to be ashamed despite the fact that they have the forehead of a whore. Still, they called on Yahweh, their father. They wanted forgiveness. They wanted him to remember their youth. Would their father be angry forever and indignant until the end of life? Yahweh points out how they have spoken. Yet at the same time, they did all the evil that they could.

Isaiah and the sign of Immanuel (Isa 7:13-7:16)

“Then Isaiah said.

‘Hear then!

O house of David!

Is it too little for you to weary mortals?

Do you weary my God also?

Therefore Yahweh himself

Will give you a sign.

Look!

The virgin young woman

Is with child.

She shall bear a son.

You shall name him Immanuel.

God is with us.

He shall eat curds.

He shall eat honey,

By the time

He knows how to refuse the evil

And choose the good.

Before the child knows

How to refuse the evil,

Before the child knows

How to choose the good,

The land before whose two kings

You are in dread

Will be deserted.”

This time it is Isaiah who is speaking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David, not Yahweh. They should not weary each other or God. Yahweh was going to give them a sign. The young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, will have a child. He will be called Immanuel that means God is with us. Quite often Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the birth of Jesus. However, the context seems to indicate that King Ahaz will have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz will be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. This young child would do good and refuse evil by the time he was able to eat the basic foods of curds and honey. Even before he learns how to choose good over evil, the 2 invading countries of these 2 kings will lay desolate and deserted.

The problems in lending money (Sir 29:4-29:7)

“Many persons regard a loan

As a windfall.

This causes trouble

To those who help them.

One kisses another’s hands

Until he gets a loan.

He is very deferential

In speaking of his neighbor’s money.

But at the time

For repayment,

He delays.

He pays back

With empty promises.

He finds fault with the time.

If he can pay,

His creditor

Will hardly get back half.

The borrower will regard

That as a windfall.

If he cannot pay,

The borrower has robbed

The other of his money.

He has needlessly

Made him an enemy.

He will repay him

With curses.

He will repay him

With reproaches.

Instead of glory,

He will repay him

With dishonor.

Many refuse to lend,

Not because of meanness,

But from fear of being defrauded needlessly.”

Sirach says that this ideal of lending money to your neighbor as giving a helping hand has a few hiccups. Some people think that the loan is a gift, so that they never pay it back. They go around being very deferential to the people with money, kissing their hands. However, when it comes time to repay the loan all they give back are empty promises. They say that they need more time. Sometimes they only pay half of it back, since they think the rest of it was a gift to them. If they do not pay it back, they have robbed their neighbor. They have needlessly made him an enemy. Curses and reproaches will follow with dishonor and anger on all sides. This had led many people to refuse to lend money because they are afraid of being defrauded. Thus there are less and less no interest loans happening.

The proud, the lazy, and the wicked (Prov 21:24-21:29)

“The proud and haughty persons

Are named ‘scoffers.’

They act with arrogant pride.

The craving of the lazy person is fatal.

His lazy hands refuse to labor.

All day long the wicked covet.

But the righteous give.

The righteous do not hold back.

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination.

How much more is it

When brought with evil intent.

A false witness will perish.

But a good listener will testify successfully.

The wicked put on a bold face.

But the upright give thought to their ways.”

The proud and haughty people are scoffers, or ones who mock people. They act with an arrogant pride. The lazy ones, on the other hand, refuse to work so that it is fatal to them. The wicked want more things, but the righteous are generous and do not hold back. Any sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination. It is even worse when they make a sacrifice with an evil intent. The person who gives false testimony will perish. The good listener will testify successfully. The wicked have a bold face, but the upright think before they act.

Evil doers (Prov 21:5-21:8)

“The plans of the diligent

Lead surely to abundance.

But everyone who is hasty

Comes only to want.

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue

Is a fleeting vapor

The getting of treasures by a lying tongue

Is a snare for death.

The violence of the wicked

Will sweep them away.

They refuse to do what is just.

The way of the guilty is crooked.

But the conduct of the pure is right.”

Diligent plans will lead to abundance, but hasty plans will only come up wanting. If you get money by a lying tongue it will be like a fleeting breath that leads to a death trap. The very violence of the wicked will sweep them away, since they refuse to do what is just. The guilty go on a crooked path, but the pure conduct their way correctly.

The wicked (Prov 15:8-15:12)

“The sacrifice of the wicked is

An abomination to Yahweh.

But the prayer of the upright is

His delight.

The way of the wicked is

An abomination to Yahweh.

But he loves whoever

Pursues righteousness.

There is severe discipline

For one who forsakes the way.

But one who hates rebuke will die.

Sheol and Abaddon lie open before Yahweh.

How much more the human hearts!

Scoffers do not like to be rebuked.

They will not go to the wise.”

The wicked are so bad that their sacrifice to Yahweh is an abomination. However, the prayer of the upright is delightful to Yahweh. The way of the wicked is an abomination to Yahweh because Yahweh loves righteousness. He rebukes those who forsake his way. However, the wicked do not like to be rebuked. These wicked ones will die and go to Sheol, the shadowy underground world, or Abaddon, the bottomless pit. Those cynic scoffers do not like to be rebuked either. They refuse to go with their human heart in following the wise ones.