The chosen ones (Zech 6:9-6:10)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Collect silver!

Collect gold

From the exiles

Heldai,

Tobijah,

Jedaiah!

They have arrived

From Babylon.

Go the same day

To the house of Josiah,

The son of Zephaniah.”

Yahweh spoke to Zechariah again.  He told him to collect silver and gold from the exiles that had returned from Babylon.  There are 3 people named here who were exiles from the captivity, Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah.  However, we know nothing about them, since they only appear in this work without any kind of titles.  Apparently, they were rich.  Zechariah was also to go to Josiah, the son of Zephaniah.

The wickedness of the city (Mic 6:9-6:12)

“The voice of Yahweh

Cries to the city.

It is sound wisdom

To fear your name.

‘Hear!

O tribe!

Hear!

Assembly of the city!

Can I forget

The treasures of wickedness

In the house of the wicked?

Can I forget

The scant measure

That is accursed?

Can I tolerate

Wicked scales?

Can I tolerate

A bag of dishonest weights?

Your wealthy

Are full of violence!

Your inhabitants

Speak lies!

They have tongues of deceit

In their mouths!”

The voice of Yahweh would cry out to the city.  The wisdom of the city assembly should be to fear his name.  These city folks should listen to Yahweh.  How could Yahweh forget the treasures of wickedness of these wicked people?  How could he forget the accursed ones?  How could Yahweh tolerate wicked scales with dishonest weights?  The rich wealthy people were full of violence, while the common folk inhabitants of the city spoke nothing but lies, since they had deceitful tongues.

The Promised Land failure (Jer 32:22-32:23)

“You gave them

This land!

You swore

To their ancestors

To give them

This land!

This was a land

Flowing with milk

And honey!

They entered it.

They took possession of it.

But they did not obey

Your voice.

They did not follow

Your law.

Of all that you commanded

Them to do,

They did nothing at all.

Therefore you have made

All these disasters

Come upon them.”

Jeremiah’s prayer continues with Yahweh overseeing the Promised Land.   Yahweh had promised their ancestors this wonderful land that was flowing with milk and honey, rich and easy to till. Once they entered and took possession of this land, they did not obey the voice or law of Yahweh. Instead of following the commandments of Yahweh, they did nothing. Thus Yahweh sent disasters to this Promised Land.

The wicked scoundrels (Jer 5:26-5:29)

“‘Wicked scoundrels are

Found among my people.

They take over

The goods of others.

They lurk

Like fowlers,

They set a trap.

They catch human beings.

Like a cage full of birds,

Their houses are full of treachery.

Therefore they have become great.

They have become rich.

They have grown fat.

They have become sleek.

They know no limits

In their deeds of wickedness.

They do not judge

With justice

The cause of the orphans,

To make them prosper.

They do not defend

The rights of the needy.

Shall I not punish them for these things?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Shall I not bring retribution

On a nation such as this?’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, justifies his stance against the Israelites. This time he cites the wicked scoundrels in the land among his own people. They actually take the goods of others like robbers. They are like bird trappers, but they set their traps for their fellow humans. They are full of tricks that have made them great, rich, fat, and sleek. They have no limits to their wickedness. When they judge, they judge without justice, especially in the cases of orphans and the needy. Why shouldn’t Yahweh punish them? Why shouldn’t he bring retribution on this whole nation?

Foreigners building Jerusalem (Isa 60:10-60:12)

“Foreigners shall build up your walls.

Their kings shall minister to you.

In my wrath,

I struck you down.

But in my favor,

I have had mercy on you.

Your gates shall always be open.

Day and night,

They shall not be shut.

Thus nations shall bring you

Their wealth.

Their kings will lead in procession.

The nation that will not serve you

Shall perish.

The kingdom that will not serve you

Shall perish.

Those nations

Shall be utterly laid waste.”

Apparently, Jerusalem will be so rich that foreigners will build or rebuild Jerusalem. Kings would minister to them. Just as Yahweh struck down Jerusalem in his anger, so in his favor he had mercy on them. The gates of Jerusalem were to be open all the time, both day and night. Everyone would bring their wealth to Jerusalem with the various kings leading the processions there. However, those nations and kings that were not going to serve Jerusalem would be utterly wiped out and perish. Cooperate or die!

The suffering servant and the will of Yahweh (Isa 53:10-53:12)

“Yet it was the will of Yahweh

To crush him with pain.

When you make his life

An offering for sin,

He shall see his offspring.

He shall prolong his days.

Through him

The will of Yahweh shall prosper.

Out of his anguish,

He shall see light.

He shall find satisfaction

Through his knowledge.

The righteous one,

My servant,

Shall make many righteous.

He shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will allot him

A portion with the great.

He shall divide the spoil

With the strong.

Because he poured out himself

To death.

He was numbered with the transgressors.

Yet he bore the sin of many.

He made intercession for the transgressors.”

Yahweh willed to crush his servant with pain. His life was an offering for sin, so that he would see his offspring and prolong his life. The will of Yahweh would see that he prospered. He would see the light and gain satisfaction from his knowledge. The ending for the suffering servant is that his life is prolonged with offspring, which seems different than the death with the wicked and the rich above. This righteous one would make others righteous people because he bears their iniquities. Thus he will be considered with the great ones. He will get the spoil because he gave of himself even to death. Although he was considered a transgressor, he bore the sins of many. He made intercession for the transgressors. The suffering servant seems to have a happy ending.

The sword of Yahweh on Edom (Isa 34:5-34:7)

“When my sword has drunk

Its fill in the heavens,

It will descend upon Edom.

My sword will descend

Upon the people I have doomed.

Yahweh has a sword.

It is sated with blood,

With the blood of lambs,

With the blood of goats.

It is gorged with fat,

With the fat of the kidneys of rams.

Yahweh has a sacrifice in Bozrah.

There was a great slaughter

In the land of Edom.

Wild oxen shall fall with them.

Young steers shall fall with them.

Mighty bulls shall fall with them.

Their land shall be soaked with blood.

Their soil made rich with fat.”

Isaiah has Yahweh talk about his sword that was going to descend on the country of Edom, southeast of Judah, where the twin brother of Jacob, Esau, had settled as in Genesis, chapter 36. Yahweh’s heavenly sword would fall upon the doomed country of Edom. This sword would be full of blood from goats and rams as well as fat from their kidneys. There was going to be a great sacrificial slaughter in Bozrah, the capital city of Edom. There was going to be such a sacrifice of oxen, steers, and bulls that the land would be soaked with blood and fat so that the soil would become rich.

Seek justice (Isa 1:17-1:17)

“Learn to do good!

Seek justice!

Rescue the oppressed!

Defend the orphans!

Plead for the widows!”

Isaiah’s call for justice has nothing to do with worship or the law. It is a clear moral imperative. You must seek justice. You must rescue anyone who is oppressed. You must defend the fatherless orphans. You must plead for the widows. There is no equivocation. It is your moral responsibility to help the oppressed, the orphans, and the widows, not the rich or the powerful.

Health (Sir 30:14-30:17)

“Better off is a poor person

Who is healthy and fit

Than a rich person

Who is afflicted in his body.

Health is better

Than any gold.

Fitness is better

Than any gold.

A robust body is better

Than countless riches.

There is no wealth better

Than the health of a body.

There is no gladness

Above joy of the heart.

Death is better

Than a miserable life.

Eternal sleep is better

Than chronic sickness.”

Sirah proclaims that a poor healthy fit person is better off than an afflicted sickly rich person. Good health and fitness are better than any gold. A robust healthy body is better than wealth. A joyful heart is full of gladness. Death is better than a miserable life. Eternal death is better than a chronic sickness. Sirach almost seems to imply that euthanasia would be better than life with a chronic illness.

The profit motive (Sir 27:1-27:3)

“Many have committed sin

For a trifle gain.

Whoever seeks to get rich

Will avert their eyes.

As a stake is driven firmly

Into a fissure between stones,

So sin is wedged

In between

Selling and buying.

If a person is not steadfast

In the fear of the Lord,

His house

Will be quickly overthrown.”

Sirach reminds us that many sins have been committed over the attempt to make a small profit. Those who seek to get rich turn their eyes away from morality. Just as a stake is usually placed between 2 stones, so too you will find some sin between the buying and selling of a product. If you are not steadfast in your fear of the Lord, your house will be quickly overthrown. Sirach was no friend of capitalism.