Against the strange false idol gods (Zeph 1:4-1:6)

“I will cut off

From this place

Every remnant of Baal.

I will cut off

The name

Of the idolatrous priests.

They bow down

On the roofs

To the host

Of the heavens.

They bow down.

They swear

To Yahweh,

But also swear

To Milcom.

They have turned back

From following Yahweh.

They do not seek Yahweh.

They do not inquire of him.”

In Jerusalem and Judah, Yahweh was going to cut off every last remains of the Canaanite god Baal, a very popular Semitic god, who was in charge of fertility and storms as the lord of all.  Thus, the use of the term lord might indicate Baal as well.  Apparently, there were some idolatrous priests in Judah or Jerusalem who worshiped Baal on the roofs of their houses.  On top of that, there was the cult or worship of Milcom or Moloch.  Generally, people would offer up their children as sacrifices to Milcom or Moloch.  Thus, some people were swearing by Yahweh, but also swearing by Milcom at the same time.  In other words, they were not true monotheists.  They had turned away from Yahweh.  They were no longer seeking Yahweh or inquiring about him.

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They have become worthless dross metals (Ezek 22:17-22:18)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

The house of Israel

Has become

Worthless dross

To me.

All of them,

Silver,

Bronze,

Tin,

Iron,

Lead,

Are worthless dross.

In the smelter,

They have become

Worthless dross.’”

Yahweh once again came to Ezekiel, the son of man. This time he proclaimed that the house of Israel had become worthless dross, the left over elements after smelting in a furnace. Thus silver, bronze, tine, iron, and lead were all worthless, as if they were the remains of a refining process in a smelting furnace.

The test of human speech (Sir 27:4-27:7)

“When a sieve is shaken,

The refuse remains.

Thus a person’s faults appear

When he speaks.

The kiln tests

The potter’s vessels.

Thus the test of a person

Is in his conversation.

The fruit discloses

The cultivation of a tree.

Thus a person’s speech

Discloses the cultivation of his mind.

Do not praise anyone

Before he speaks.

This is the way people are tested.”

When cooking, people often use a sieve to only let the good grains go through. So when a sieve is shaken, the refuse remains. In the same way, when a person speaks, their faults appear. Just as a potter’s work is finished or tested in the furnace kiln, so too human conversation is a test. Just as the fruit of a tree reveals how well the tree was cultivated, so too a person’s speech reveals how his or her mind has been cultivated. Thus you should not praise anyone until they have spoken. Human conversation is how we test each other.

The earth around us (Eccl 1:4-1:7)

“A generation goes.

A generation comes.

But the earth remains forever.

The sun rises.

The sun goes down.

The sun hastens to the place

Where it rises.

The wind blows to the south.

The wind goes around to the north.

Round and round goes the wind.

On its circuits

The wind returns.

All streams run to the sea.

But the sea is not full.

They continue to flow

To the place where the streams flow.

There they continue to flow.”

This is a stunning appreciation of creation. Generations of humans come and go, but the earth remains forever in a static flat world concept. The sun rises and sets every day. There was no thought that the earth was moving around a static sun. The wind blew in from the north to south and then around and around again. The wind, as we know, blows in various directions. The streams do run to the sea, and not vice versa. However, the seas never seem to fill up because there is osmosis. No matter what, the streams continue to flow to where they want to go, usually downhill because of gravity. Thus this poetic expression of creation uses the scientific assumptions of its day, not those of the later scientific age.