The selling of the sheep (Zech 11:4-11:5)

“Thus said Yahweh my God.

‘Be a shepherd

For the flock doomed to slaughter!

Those who buy them,

Kill them.

They go unpunished.’

Those who sell them say.

‘Blessed be Yahweh!

I have become rich!’

Their own shepherds

Have no pity on them.’”

Yahweh, via Zechariah, seems to say that this flock of sheep was doomed to slaughter.  The people who bought the sheep, killed them, but they would go unpunished.  Meanwhile, the sellers of the sheep were praising Yahweh, because they had become rich.  The original shepherds had no pity on the sheep.  Sheep by their very nature would be killed for eating, but not before their wool was sheared.  This may be an allusion to the Ptolemaic rule (305-275 BCE) with their Israelite appointees.

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The terrible actions of Edom (Ob 1:10-1:11)

“The slaughter

With the violence

Done to your brother Jacob

Means that shame

Shall cover you!

You shall be cut off forever!

On the day

That you stood aside,

On the day

That strangers

Carried off his wealth,

On the day

That foreigners

Entered his gates,

On the day

That they cast lots

For Jerusalem,

You too were

Like one of them.”

For all the violence and slaughter that was done to Edom’s brother Jacob, shame would come upon the Edomites.  They would be cut off forever.  In other words, these Edomites were as guilty as the strangers who attacked Jerusalem.  On that day of attack on the holy city, when the foreigners and strangers entered the gates of Jerusalem and took their wealth, the Edomites were like the attackers who were casting lots for Jerusalem.  They were just like these invaders in their complicity.  They did nothing to help the people of Jerusalem and Judah.

The punishment for the idol loving Levite ministers (Ezek 44:10-44:12)

“‘But the Levites,

Who went far from me,

Going astray

From me

After their idols,

When Israel went astray,

Shall bear

Their punishment.

They shall be ministers

In my sanctuary,

Having oversight

At the gates

Of the temple.

They shall serve

In the temple.

They shall slaughter

The burnt offerings.

They shall slaughter

The sacrifices

For the people.

They shall attend

On them.

They shall serve them.

Because they ministered

To them

Before their idols,

They made

The house of Israel

Stumble into iniquity.

Therefore,

I have sworn concerning them.

They shall bear their punishment.’

Says Yahweh God!”

In a diatribe against the Levitical priests who had served idols in the high places, Yahweh was upset. However, his punishment was merely lowly menial tasks in the Temple, not a drastic death sentence. These Levites had sinned because they had led Israel astray with their idol worshipping. They made Israel stumble into iniquity. Thus, they were to be punished. They would only have oversight at the gates to the Temple, not in the sanctuary. They also would slaughter the burnt offerings and other sacrifices. They would continue to minister to Yahweh and his people, but only in the more pedestrian roles. This seems like a mild form of punishment for idol worship and leading the Israelites astray.

The preparation tables for the burnt offerings (Ezek 40:42-40:43)

“There were also

Four tables

Of hewn stone

For the burnt offerings,

One cubit and a half long,

One cubit and a half wide,

One cubit high.

The instruments

Were to be laid there.

These instruments

Were to slaughter

The burnt offerings

As well as the sacrifices.

These were pegs,

One handbreadth long.

They were fastened

All around the inside.

The flesh

Of the offerings

Was to be laid

On the tables.”

There were 4 hewn stone tables for the burnt offerings, that were 1½ cubits long and wide. These tables were a little less than 3 feet square tables. However, these stone tables were only 1 cubit high, about 18 inches high, not very high. The instruments of slaughter for the burnt offerings and sacrifices were these 4-inch-long pegs that were all fastened together. The flesh of the animals was to lay on these stone tables.

The king of Babylon chooses the way to go (Ezek 21:21-21:23)

“The king of Babylon

Stands

At the parting of the way,

At the fork

In the two roads.

He uses divination.

He shakes the arrows.

He consults the teraphim.

He inspects the liver.

Into his right hand

Comes the lot

For Jerusalem,

To set battering rams,

To call out

For slaughter,

For raising

The battle cry,

To set battering rams

Against the gates,

To cast up ramps,

To build siege towers.

But to them

It will seem

Like a false divination.

They have sworn

Solemn oaths.

But he brings

Their guilt

To remembrance,

Bringing about

Their captive.”

The king of Babylon stood at the fork in the road. He decided to use his forecasting skills of divination by shaking arrows, consulting the ancient household teraphim gods, and looking at sheep livers. Finally the lot of Jerusalem came into his right hand as he chose the road to Jerusalem. There he would call out for slaughter, raise the battle cry, set the battering rams against the gates, cast up ramps, and build siege towers. It might have seemed like a false divination for the people of Jerusalem. They had sworn solemn oaths. They had brought their guilt remembrance. They were about to be captured.

The glittering sword (Ezek 21:15-21:17)

“‘Therefore hearts melt!

Many stumble!

At all their gates,

I have set the point

Of the sword.

Ah!

It is made

For flashing.

It is polished

For slaughter.

Attack to the right!

Engage to the left!

Attack wherever

Your edge is directed!

I too will strike

Hand to hand.

I will satisfy

My fury.’

I,

Yahweh,

Have spoken.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, concluded this little hymn to the sword. Hearts would melt. Many would stumble. Everywhere there would be the flashing of swords. Especially at the gates, there would be polished silver swords that led to slaughter and death, all around, to the right and the left, front and back. Swords would be pointed in all directions. Yahweh would also strike where he pleased in order to satisfy his anger.

The defeat of Babylon (Jer 51:38-51:40)

“‘Like lions,

They shall roar together.

They shall growl

Like lions’ whelps.

While they are inflamed,

I will set out their drink.

I will make them drunk,

Until they become merry.

I will make them sleep

A perpetual sleep.

They will never wake.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will bring them down

Like lambs

To the slaughter,

Like rams,

Or like goats.’”

The mighty lion Babylon will no longer roar or growl. They will be reduced to young baby lions, whelps. They would get drunk and be merry until they fell into a perpetual sleep. Thus they will never wake up again. They will be like lambs, rams, and goats brought to the slaughter. They would not realize what hit them.