The fifth beatitude on mercy (Mt 5:7-5:7)

“Blessed are

The merciful!

They shall receive mercy.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ ἐλεήμονες, ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται.

 

The happy, blessed, and fortunate ones (μακάριοι) would be those who were merciful.  Along with justice, one of Yahweh’s two great attributes was mercy.  Matthew just said that people who hungered and thirsted after righteousness or justice would be holy or blessed.  Now, you would be emulating God, if you showed mercy.  Not only that, if you were merciful (οἱ ἐλεήμονες), you would receive mercy (ὅτι αὐτοὶ ἐλεηθήσονται).  God would be merciful to you, just as in Psalm 145:8-9.  Yahweh, God the Father, was gracious and merciful, slow to anger, in his abundant steadfast love.  Yahweh was good to all the people, because he had compassion and mercy over all that he had made.

The anger of Yahweh (Nah 1:2-1:3)

Aleph

“Yahweh is

A jealous God.

Yahweh is

An avenging God.

Yahweh is

Avenging.

Yahweh is

Wrathful.

Yahweh takes vengeance

On his adversaries.

He rages

Against his enemies.

Yahweh is

Slow to anger.

But Yahweh is

Great in power.

Yahweh will

By no means

Clear the guilty.”

This book opens with an incomplete acrostic psalm, as it only gets to the letter Kaph.  However, this opening letter Aleph is very clear.  Yahweh was a jealous, avenging, and wrathful God.  He took out his vengeance and raged against his adversaries and enemies.  However, Yahweh was slow to anger, but he was very powerful.  Thus, he would not clear the guilty ones very easily.

Jonah’s justifying prayer to Yahweh (Jon 4:2-4:2)

“Jonah prayed

To Yahweh.

He said.

‘O Yahweh!

Is this not what I said

While I was still

In my country?

That is why I fled

To Tarshish

At the beginning.

I knew that

You are a gracious God.

You are merciful.

You are slow to anger.

You are abounding

In steadfast love.

You are ready

To relent from punishing.’”

Jonah in his prayer to Yahweh tried to justify his former actions.  He claimed that Yahweh was so gracious and merciful that he would not have inflicted any damage on Nineveh.  Jonah gave that as his reason for originally trying to flee to Tarshish.  He knew that Yahweh was slow to anger and abounding with steadfast love.  Thus, he knew that Yahweh was eager and ready to not punish the people of Nineveh.

Slow to anger (Prov 16:31-16:33)

“Grey hair is a crown of glory.

It is gained in a righteous life.

Whoever is slow to anger

Is better than the mighty.

The one whose temper is controlled

Is better than one who captures a city.

The lot is cast into the lap.

But the decision is Yahweh’s alone.”

Grey was a crown of glory because you had to be righteous to live a long life. If you were slow to anger, you were stronger than the mighty ones. You were better than someone who captured a city. Finally, the lot that was chosen from the priestly ephod was really the decision of Yahweh alone. Thus casting lots was a way of putting the decision in God’s hands, not human hands.

Ezra tells of the disobedience of Israel in the wilderness (Neh 9:16-9:21)

“They and our ancestors acted presumptuously.

They stiffened their necks.

They did not obey your commandments.

They refused to obey.

They were not mindful of the wonders you performed among them.

They stiffened their necks.

They determined to return to their slavery in Egypt.

You are a God ready to forgive.

You are gracious and merciful.

You are slow to anger.

You abound in steadfast love.

You did not forsake them.

Even when they cast an image of a calf for themselves,

They said.

‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt.’

They had committed great blasphemies.

You in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness.

The pillar of cloud that led them in the way did not leave them day.

The pillar of fire gave them light on the way by which they should go.

You gave your good Spirit to instruct them.

You did not withhold your manna from their mouths.

You gave them water for their thirst.

Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness.

They lacked nothing.

Their clothes did not wear out.

Their feet did not swell.”

Despite the great love of God, the Israelites would not obey him. They actually wanted to return to Egypt. However, God was forgiving, merciful, gracious, and slow to anger. He was steadfast in his love so that he did not forsake our ancestors. Even though they were blasphemous and created a golden calf, in his mercy he did not forsake our ancestors. He sent a pillar of cloud and fire to guide them. He gave his Spirit to instruct them. He gave them manna and water to sustain them in the wilderness. They lacked nothing as their clothes did not wear out nor their feet swell.

 

The Divine proclamation (Ex 34:6-34:9)

“Yahweh passed before him and proclaimed:

‘Yahweh, Yahweh,

a God merciful and gracious,

slow to anger,

and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,

keeping steadfast love to the thousandth generation,

forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,

yet by no means clearing the guilty,

but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation.’

Yahweh describes himself to Moses as he, passed before him.  He proclaimed that he is Yahweh.  He is merciful and gracious.  He is slow to anger.  He is loving and faithful down to the thousandth generation.  He forgives iniquity and sin.  However, he does not clear the guilty, but visits the iniquity of the parents to the children up to the fourth generation.

Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped.  He said, ‘If now I have found favor in your sight Yahweh, I pray, let Yahweh go with us.  Although this is a stiff-necked people, pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.’”

Moses bowed and worshiped him and then asked Yahweh to pardon their sins and let them share in Yahweh’s inheritance.