Future problems for the king of Assyria (Isa 10:16-10:19)

“Therefore the Sovereign,

Yahweh of hosts,

Will send

A wasting sickness

Among his stout warriors.

Under his glory

A burning will be kindled,

Like the burning of a fire.

The light of Israel

Will become a fire.

His Holy One

Will be a flame.

It will burn his thorns.

It will devour his briers in one day.

Yahweh will destroy

The glory of his forest.

Yahweh will destroy

The glory of his fruitful land,

Both soul and body.

It will be as

When an invalid wastes away.

The remnant of the trees

Of his forest

Will be so few

That a child

Can write them down.”

Isaiah predicts the devastation of the army and land of the king of Assyria. Yahweh was going to send a wasting sickness among his warriors. This maybe an allusion to 2 Kings, chapter 19, when 185,000 Assyrian troops died. The light of Israel will become a raging flame starting a great fire that will destroy and devour the thorns and briers of Assyria itself. Yahweh will destroy the forests and the fruitful land with a wild fire, so that both their bodies and souls will be destroyed. There will be so few trees left, so that a mere child can count and write the number down.

Evil consequences of the worship of false idols (Wis 14:22-14:26)

“Then it was not enough for them to err

About the knowledge of God,

But they lived in great strife due to ignorance.

They called such great evils peace.

Whether they killed children in their initiations,

Or celebrated secret mysteries,

Or held frenzied revels with strange customs,

They no longer keep

Either their lives pure

Or their marriages pure.

But they either treacherously killed one another,

Or grieved one another by adultery.

All was a raging riot

Of blood,

Of murder,

Of theft,

Of deceit,

Of corruption,

Of faithlessness,

Of tumult,

Of perjury.

There was confusion over what was good.

There was forgetfulness of favors.

There was pollution of souls.

There was sex perversion.

There was disorder in marriage.

There was adultery.

There was debauchery.”

What happens to those who worship false idols? They were ignorant of God (περὶ τὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ γνῶσιν). However, they lived in great strife and called it peace. They killed their children in strange initiation ceremonies. They celebrated secret mysteries (μυστήρια) with strange customs. Their lives and marriages were no longer pure. They killed each other. They committed adultery among themselves. They ended up in a riot of blood and murder. There was theft, deceit, corruption, faithfulness, tumult, perjury, sexual perversion, adultery, and debauchery. They did not know what was good.   They forgot favors. They defiled their souls.

The immortality of the just (Wis 3: 1-3:6)

“The souls of the righteous

Are in the hand of God.

No torment will ever touch them.

In the eyes of the foolish

They seemed to have died.

Their departure was thought

To be an affliction.

Their going from us was thought

To be their destruction.

But they are at peace.

Though in the sight of others,

They were punished.

Their hope is full of immortality.

Having been disciplined a little,

They will receive great good.

God tested them.

God found them worthy of himself.

Like gold in the furnace

He tried them.

Like a sacrificial burnt offering

He accepted them.”

The souls of the righteous (δίκαιον δὲ ψυχαι) or just ones are in the hands of God (ἐν χειρὶ Θεοῦ). What a great thought! They have no more torments. In the eyes of the foolish, they seem to have died. The fools thought that it was a disaster and destruction, but they are at peace (εἰρήνῃ). They seem to have been punished, but their hope is in full immortality (ἡ ἐλπὶς αὐτῶν ἀθανασίας πλήρης), the opposite of dead, fully non-dead. Once again, we have the idea that the just do not die. They were disciplined a little, but they received a great good. They were tested but found worthy. They were like gold in a furnace or an accepted sacrificial offering.

The need for mercy (Ps 123:3-123:4)

“Have mercy upon us!

Yahweh!

Have mercy upon us!

We have had more than enough of contempt.

Our soul has more than its fill

Of the scorn of those

Who are at ease.

Our soul has more than its fill

Of the contempt of the proud.”

This short 4 verse psalm comes to an end with a cry for mercy to Yahweh. They have had enough of contempt and scorn from those who are proud and have an easy life. Their souls are full of disdain from these proud and easy going people. There is the repeated cry to have mercy on them.

Yahweh helped those wandering in the desert (Ps 107:4-107:9)

“Some wandered in the desert wastes.

They found no way to an inhabited town.

They were hungry and thirsty.

Their soul fainted within them.

Then they cried to Yahweh in their trouble.

He delivered them from their distress.

He led them by a straight way.

They finally reached an inhabited town.

Let them thank Yahweh

For his steadfast love!

Let them thank Yahweh

For his wonderful works to humankind!

He satisfies the thirsty.

He fills the hungry with good things.”

This section points out how Yahweh has helped those wandering Israelites in the desert. I am not sure what particular event this refers to since these wanderers seem to be looking for inhabited towns. This does not seem to be a reference to the 40 years of wandering in the desert, but a smaller group of lost Israelites who were hungry and thirsty. Their souls were fainting. In their distress they called out to Yahweh. Yahweh heard them. He led them in a straight path to an inhabited town. Thus they have to give thanks again to Yahweh for his steadfast love and the all the works that he has done for all humans. He has satisfied the thirsty. He has filled the hungry with good food.

Grateful and happy (Ps 4:6-4:7)

“There are many who say.

‘O that we might see some good!

Lift up the light of your face!

Shine on us!

O Yahweh!’

You have put more joy and gladness in my heart.

It is more than when grain and wine abound.”

There is a strange expression about the bright face of Yahweh that lights up everything that is often repeated. They wanted to see some goodness or good things happen. Somehow the light from the face of Yahweh would shine on them in order to bring them happiness. This joy and happiness would then fill up their souls or hearts. This joy was greater than wonderful grain harvests and abundant wine supplies.

The people prepare (2 Macc 15:17-15:19)

“The people were encouraged by the words of Judas Maccabeus. They were so noble and so effective in arousing the valor and awaking the courage in the souls of the young. Thus, they determined not to remain in camp, but to attack bravely. They would decide the matter, by fighting hand to hand with all courage, because the city, the sanctuary, and the temple were in danger. Their concern for their wives and children, and also for their brothers, sisters, and relatives, lay upon them less heavily. Their greatest and first fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. Those who had to remain in the city were in no little distress, being anxious over the encounter in the open country.”

Judas Maccabeus had encouraged the people to have courage, especially the young. Instead of staying in camp, they were willing to attack bravely. They wanted to fight hand to hand with courage. They were more worried about the city, the Temple, and sanctuary rather than their wives, children, brothers, sisters, or other relatives. Their greatest fear was for the consecrated sanctuary. The people who remained in the city were anxious about the battle encounter in the open country.