Saving both the north and the south (Zech 10:6-10:7)

“I will strengthen

The house of Judah.

I will save

The house of Joseph.

I will bring them back

Because I have compassion on them.

They shall be

As though I had not rejected them.

I am Yahweh,

Their God.

I will answer them.

Then the people of Ephraim

Shall become like warriors.

Their hearts shall be glad

As with wine.

Their children

Shall see it.

They shall rejoice.

Their hearts shall exult

In Yahweh.”

Yahweh, here in Zechariah, assumed the first person singular.  He was going to strengthen and save the house of Judah and Joseph, because he was going to bring them back in a compassionate way.  They were going to be, as if they had never been rejected.  Yahweh was clear.  He was their God.  Thus, he would answer them.  He would be particularly kind to the northern people in Ephraim.  They would become like warriors with wine filled glad hearts.  Their children would see what was going on and be happy as they exulted in Yahweh.

Against Judah (Am 2:4-2:5)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘For three transgressions

Of Judah,

And for four,

I will not revoke

The punishment.

Because they have rejected

The law of Yahweh.

They have not kept

His statutes.

But they have been

Led astray

By the same lies

After which their ancestors

Walked.

So,

I will send a fire

On Judah.

It shall devour

The strongholds

Of Jerusalem.’”

Next, Yahweh turned to Judah, his most favorite territory. Yahweh, via Amos, invoked the same language as he had used against Damascus, the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. He also used the same non-forgiving numeric formula of 3 and 4, as in Proverbs, chapter 30. Judah had rejected the law of Yahweh, as they had failed to keep its statutes. They had been led astray by the same lies that their ancestors had followed. Thus, Yahweh was going to send fire on Judah. In particular, he would devour their fortresses in Jerusalem.

Ephraim refused to listen (Hos 9:16-9:17)

“Ephraim is stricken.

Their root is dried up.

They shall bear no fruit.

Even though they give birth,

I will kill

The cherished offspring

Of their womb.

Because they have not listened

To him.

My God will reject them.

They shall become wanderers

Among the nations.”

Hosea delivered the final blow against Ephraim. They would be stricken with dry roots. There would be no more fruit from Ephraim. Even if they gave birth, Yahweh was going to kill their children, the fruit of their womb. They had not listened to Yahweh. God now rejected them. They would become wanderers among the various countries.

Israelite idolatry (Hos 8:4-8:6)

“They made kings,

But not through me.

They set up princes,

But without my knowledge.

With their silver,

With their gold,

They made idols

For their own destruction.

Your calf is rejected!

O Samaria!

My anger burns

Against them.

How long

Will they be incapable

O innocence?

It is from Israel

That an artisan made it.

It is not God.

The calf of Samaria

Shall be broken into pieces.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, was upset about the idolatry in northern Israel, Samaria. They had their own kings, who killed each other to be kings. Thus, these kings did not come from Yahweh. They set up their own officials and princes, without consulting Yahweh. Most important of all, they made idols made of silver and gold that led to their own destruction. The golden calf of Samaria was to be rejected. Yahweh was burning with anger against them, since they were incapable of being innocent. Local Israelite artisans made these idols, not God. Therefore, the Samarian calf would be broken into pieces.

The people lack knowledge (Hos 4:6-4:6)

“My people

Are destroyed,

For lack of knowledge.

Because you have rejected

Knowledge,

I reject you

From being

A priest to me.

Since you have forgotten

The law of your God,

I also will forget

Your children.”

The main objection against the priests is that they have not educated the people of Israel. The people lack knowledge because the priests and prophets have rejected knowledge themselves. These same priests had forgotten the law of God. Therefore, Yahweh was going to forget their children.

No promise land (Ezek 20:15-20:16)

“Moreover

I swore to them

In the wilderness

That I would not

Bring them

Into the land

That I had given them.

That is a land flowing

With milk and honey,

The most glorious of all lands.

Because they rejected

My ordinances.

They did observe

My statutes.

They profaned

My Sabbath.

Their heart went

After their idols.”

Yahweh swore to them in the wilderness that he was not going to bring them into the land that he had given them, that land flowing with milk and honey, the most glorious of all lands. They had rejected his ordinances. They did not observe his statutes. They profaned the Sabbath. Their hearts went after their former idols. Things did not look good for these wilderness wanderers.

They still rebelled (Ezek 20:13-20:13)

“But the house of Israel

Rebelled

Against me

In the wilderness.

They did not observe

My statutes.

But they rejected

My ordinances.

By their observance,

Everyone shall live.

They rejected

My Sabbath.

They greatly

Profaned it.”

The house of Israel rebelled in the wilderness also. They did not observe Yahweh’s statutes and ordinances. Instead, they rejected these living ordinances and the Sabbath observance. Thus they profaned it.

The rebellious ones in Jerusalem (Ezek 5:5-5:6)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘This is Jerusalem.

I have set her

In the center

Of the nations,

With countries

All around her.

She has rebelled

Against my ordinances.

She has rebelled

Against my statutes.

She has become

More wicked

Than the nations,

Than the countries,

All around her.

She has rejected

My ordinances.

She has not followed

My statutes.”

The God Yahweh spoke to Ezekiel about Jerusalem. Yahweh had put Jerusalem at the center of all the nations and countries that surrounded her. However, she has rebelled against the ordinances and statutes of Yahweh. She now has become more wicked that those nations and countries all around her, because she has rejected the ordinances of Yahweh. She has refused to follow the statutes of Yahweh.

The restoration (Lam 5:21-5:22)

“Restore us

To yourself!

O Yahweh!

Thus we may be

Restored!

Renew our days

As of old!

Unless you have

Utterly rejected us?

Are you angry

With us

Beyond measure?”

While this author pleads for restoration, there is an element of doubt at the end. They wanted to be restored to Yahweh like in the good old days. But then the element of doubt crept in. They were asking for mercy, but has Yahweh utterly rejected them? Is God so angry that it cannot be measured? Have the Judeans gone too far against Yahweh? Thus this lamentation does not have a happy ending, but a more existential angst that maybe there will be no restoration at all.

The crushing defeat of Zion (Lam 1:15-1:15)

Samek

“Yahweh has rejected

All my warriors

In the midst of me.

He proclaimed a time

Against me

To crush

My young men.

Yahweh has trodden

As in a wine press

The virgin daughter,

Judah.”

This lament continued with Jerusalem speaking in the first person. Yahweh has rejected all the warriors from Jerusalem and Judah. Yahweh, not the king of Babylon, has crushed the young men of Judah and Jerusalem. He has trodden and stomped over his virgin daughter, Judah, like a wine press. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Samek. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.