The near-death experience of Jonah (Jon 2:4-2:6)

“Then I said.

‘I am driven away

From your sight.

How shall I look again

Upon your holy Temple?

The waters closed in

Over me.

The deep surrounded me.

Weeds were wrapped

Around my head.

At the roots

Of the mountains,

I went down

To the land.

The bars closed

Upon me forever.

Yet you brought up

My life

From the Pit.

O Yahweh!

My God!’”

The experience of drowning or nearly drowning is like a near-death experience. Jonah had been driven away from the sight of Yahweh because he had decided to run away from the task that Yahweh had asked him to do. He would never again look at the holy Temple in Jerusalem. As the sea waters closed in on him on every side, sea weeds were wrapped around his head. He actually felt like he was buried at the bottom of a mountain with the bars closed in on forever. He had gone down to the sea. like in Davy Jones locker. However, Yahweh, his God, brought him to life. He saved him from the Pit, the shadow like afterlife.

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The conversion of the sailors to Yahweh (Jon 1:16-1:16)

“Then the sailors

Feared Yahweh even more.

They offered a sacrifice

To Yahweh.

They made vows

To Yahweh.”

Thus, Jonah, despite his attempt to run away, converted these sailors to the worship of Yahweh.  Once the sea was calm, they were even more fearful of Jonah’s God, Yahweh.  Thus, they offered a sacrifice and made vows to Yahweh, the God who calmed the seas.

The punishment of Israel (Am 2:13-2:16)

“‘So,

I will press you down

In your place.

Just as a cart

Presses down,

When it is full of sheaves.

Flight shall perish

From the swift.

The strong

Shall not

Retain their strength.

The mighty

Shall not

Save their lives.

Those who handle the bow

Shall not stand.

Those who are swift

Of foot

Shall not save themselves.

Those who ride horses

Shall not save their lives.

Those who are stout

Of heart,

Among the mighty,

Shall flee away naked,

In that day.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Amos, issued his punishment. The Israelites were going to be pressed down like a bundle of hay or sheaves. The swift people would lose their quick agility. The strong people would lose their strength. The mighty people would lose their lives. The archers would not be able to stand. The fast people would not be able to save themselves. The horse riders would lose their lives also. The mighty strong people would run away naked. Yahweh said that all this would take place on the appointed day.

Another personal lament of Jeremiah (Jer 17:14-17:18)

“Heal me!

Yahweh!

Then I shall be healed.

Save me!

Then I shall be saved.

You are my praise!

See how they say to me.

‘Where is the word of Yahweh?

Let it come!’

I have not run away

From being a shepherd

In your service.

I have not desired

The fatal day.

You know

What came from my lips.

It was before your face.

Do not become a terror to me!

You are my refuge

In the day of disaster.

Let my persecutors be shamed!

But do not let me be shamed!

Let them be dismayed!

But do not let me be dismayed!

Bring on them

The day of disaster!

Destroy them

With a double destruction!”

Jeremiah lamented about the fatal day of destruction. He wanted to be healed and saved by Yahweh because he praised him. He was taunted by others for his connection to Yahweh. However, he had not run away from being a shepherd or leader in the service of Yahweh. He had not desired this fatal day of destruction. Yahweh knew what he had said in front of him. He did not want Yahweh to scare him on this future fatal day. Instead, he wanted his persecutors to be ashamed and dismayed, but not him. He wanted to bring on this fatal day to them with a double dose of destruction.

 

Yahweh’s final judgment against idolatry (Isa 2:18-2:22)

“The idols shall utterly pass away.

Enter the caves of the rocks!

Enter the holes of the ground!

Flee from the terror of Yahweh!

Flee from the glory of his majesty!

He rises to terrify the earth.

On that day,

People will throw away

Their idols of silver

To the moles.

They will throw away

Their idols of gold

To the bats.

These were the idols

Made for themselves

To worship.

Enter the caves of the rocks!

Enter the holes of the ground!

Flee from the terror of Yahweh!

Flee from the glory of his majesty!

He rises to terrify the earth.

Turn away from mortals!

They only have breath

In their nostrils.

Of what account are they?”

Isaiah points out that the idols would without doubt pass away. Then he repeats what he said earlier about hiding behind rocks and in the ground. In fact, this same refrain is repeated 2 verses later. People will be throwing away their silver and gold idols that they themselves had made to the moles and the bats.  As they hide in the caves and underground, Yahweh will come to terrify the earth and proclaim his glory. People will run away from mortals, since they only have breath in their noses. They will be useless in this day of the Lord.

One slave as a brother (Sir 33:30-33:31)

“If you have only one slave

Treat him like yourself!

You have bought him

With blood.

If you have only one slave,

Treat him like a brother!

You will need him,

As you need your life.

If you ill-treat him,

He may leave you.

He may run away.

Which way will you go

To seek him?”

Now there is a completely different tone, if you only have one slave. Here Sirach wants you to treat this one slave like yourself or as a brother. You bought him so that you need to make sure that your investment is worthwhile. You will need this one slave like you need a brother. He may save your life. If you do not treat him well, he may leave you. He may run away. Probably, you will not be able to find him.

Hurtful sins (Sir 21:1-21:3)

Have you sinned?

My child!

Do so no more!

Ask forgiveness

For your past sins!

Flee from sin

As from a snake!

If you approach sin,

It will bite you.

Its teeth are lion’s teeth.

They can destroy human lives.

All lawlessness is

Like a two-edged sword.

There is no healing

For the wounds it inflicts.”

Sirach uses his parental tone in reminding others about the sting of sin. If you have sinned, stop! Ask forgiveness! You should run away from sin like you would run away from a snake. Do not go near to sin or it will bite you like a snake. Sin has lion’s teeth that can destroy people. Breaking the law is like a sharp two edged sword because there is no healing the wounds that it inflicts. Stay away from sin or you will get hurt.