The invasion of Assyria (Isa 5:26-5:30)

“Yahweh will raise a signal

For a nation far away.

He will whistle for a people

At the ends of the earth.

Here they come!

Swiftly!

Speedily!

None are weary.

None stumbles.

None slumbers.

None sleeps.

Not a loin cloth is loose.

Not a sandal-thong broken.

Their arrows are sharp.

All their bows bent.

Their horses’ hoofs seem like flint.

Their wheels seem like the whirlwind.

Their roaring is like a lion.

Like young lions,

They roar.

They growl.

They seize their prey.

They carry it off.

None can rescue it.

They will roar over it

On that day,

Like the roaring of the sea.

If one looks to the land,

There is only darkness.

There is only distress.

The light grows dark

With clouds.”

This oracle of Isaiah probably refers to one of the various Assyrian invasions of Judah and Jerusalem between 735-701 BCE. The nation from far away may be the Babylonians who will execute God’s judgment on them. These invaders are actually acting on Yahweh’s behalf since he gave them a signal and a whistle. They are going to come speedily, swiftly, not stumbling, sleeping, or growing weary. Their loin clothes and sandals are tight and ready to go. Their spears, bows and arrows, as well as horses are on the move. They roar like a lion about to eat its prey. They roar like a sea storm about to hit land. There will be darkness and distress, as everything will be cloudy.

Inappropriate speech (Sir 20:18-20:20)

“A slip on the pavement

Is better than a slip of the tongue.

The downfall of the wicked

Will occur just as speedily.

A coarse person is

Like an inappropriate story,

That is continually on the lips

Of the ignorant.

A proverb from a fool’s lips

Will be rejected.

He does not tell it

At the proper time.”

Sirach notes that it is better to slip on the pavement than to have a slip of the tongue. The wicked fall speedily. A crude vulgar person is like an inappropriate story that ignorant people keep telling all the time. Thus a proverb from the lips of a fool will be rejected because he will not tell it at the right time.