The false pursuits (Bar 3:15-3:19)

“Who has found

Her place?

Who has entered

Her storehouses?

Where are the rulers

Of the nations?

Where are those

Who lorded it over

The animals on earth?

Where are those

Who have made sport

Of the birds of the air?

Where are those

Who hoarded up

Silver with gold

In which people trust ?

Where are those

With no end

To their getting?

Where are those

Who schemed

To get silver?

Where are those

Who are anxious?

There is no trace

Of their works.

They have vanished.

They have gone down

To Hades.

Others have arisen

In their place.”

Baruch talks about the vanity and uselessness of various life pursuits as in wisdom literature. What happens to people who store up treasures in a storehouse? Where are all the rulers of the various nations? Where are all the people who felt superior to animals. Where are the sportsmen who tried to shoot the birds in the air with their arrows? What happened to all those who hoarded up and put their trust in silver and gold? Where are all the people who never had enough? Where are those who schemed to get silver? Where are all the people who were so anxious? Baruch’s response is simple and clear. There is no trace of any of these people and their works. They have vanished and gone to hell, Hades, the Greek word for Sheol, the shadowy underworld that we often call hell. However, there are always others to take their place to do the same thing over and over again.

The fierce successful attack on Babylon (Jer 50:14-50:16)

“Take up your positions

Around Babylon!

All you that bend the bow!

Shoot at her!

Spare no arrows!

She has sinned

Against Yahweh.

Raise a shout

Against her

From all sides!

She has surrendered!

Her bulwarks have fallen!

Her walls are thrown down!

This is the vengeance

Of Yahweh.

Take vengeance on her!

Do to her

As she has done!

Cut off from Babylon

The sower with

The wielder of the sickle

In the time of harvest.

Because of the destroying sword,

All of them shall return

To their own people.

All of them shall flee

To their own land.”

The attack on Babylon would be successful. The archers with their great arrows would take their positions and shoot at the Babylonians. They would raise great shouts of joy from all sides. Babylon had sinned against Yahweh. Finally, Babylon would surrender. The fortresses and the walls would come tumbling down, because this was the vengeance of Yahweh at work. Babylon was done. There would be nobody to plant. No one would be there to cut down the harvest, since there would be no harvest. Everyone would return and flee to their own lands. Thus the destruction of Babylon in 539 BCE was described here some 60 years previous to the event. Is that an indication of a later composition?

God will take care of David’s enemies (Ps 64:7-64:9)

“God will shoot his arrow at them.

They will be wounded suddenly.

Because of their tongue

He will bring them to ruin.

All who see them

Will shake with horror.

Then everyone will fear.

They will tell what God has brought about.

They will ponder what he has done.”

God will shoot the bow and arrow for David. God will suddenly wound his enemies. They will be ruined because of their evil tongues. Everyone who sees it will shake with horror. They will fear what God has done. They will then have second thoughts about doing evil things and God.

The wicked will fall on their own sword (Ps 37:14-37:15)

Het     

“The wicked draw the sword.

The wicked bend their bows.

They want to bring down the poor and needy.

They want to kill those who walk uprightly.

But their sword shall enter their own heart.

Their bows shall be broken.”

The wicked have their swords with bows and arrows. They are ready to bring down the poor and the needy. They wanted to kill all those who walked upright in the way of Yahweh. However, their own swords will enter their own hearts. They bows will be broken so that they cannot shoot any arrows.

Confidence in Yahweh (Ps 11:1-11:3)

To the choirmaster leader, of David.

‘In Yahweh I take refuge.

How can you say to me?

‘Flee like a bird to the mountains!

Look!

The wicked bend the bow!

They have fitted their arrows to the string,

They shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.

If the foundations are destroyed,

What can the righteous do?’”

Once again in Psalm 11, the theme of confidence dominates. The opening remarks are only to the choirmaster leader as this is a generic psalm of David. David or the psalmist takes refuge in Yahweh. Are you really safe if you fly to a mountain like a bird? The faithful ones are often compared to birds. Mountains were considered a safe place. However, the problem was more immediate as the wicked ones had their bow and arrows ready to shoot at them. They could shoot in the dark. What can the righteous ones do?