The southern campaign in Palestine (Dan 11:22-11:24)

“Armies

Shall be utterly swept away

Before him.

They shall be broken

Before him.

This includes

The prince of the covenant as well.

After an alliance is made

With him,

He shall act deceitfully.

He shall become strong

With a small party.

Without warning,

He shall come

Into the richest parts

Of the province.

He shall do

What none of his predecessors

Had ever done.

He shall lavish

Plunder,

Spoil,

Wealth,

On them.

He shall devise plans

Against strongholds,

But only for a time.”

This king of the north from Syria and Babylon, King Antiochus IV, would go south to Judea or Palestine. He would take his armies and go against the prince of the covenant, probably the Jerusalem high priest, Onias III. He was going to act deceitfully and become strong with a small party of his own. He even was going to attack the rich areas of Israel to plunder, spoil, and give wealth to his friends, something his predecessors had never done. He even would temporarily make plans against the various strongholds.

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The servant in prison (Isa 42:22-42:25)

“But this is a people robbed.

This is a people plundered.

All of them are trapped in holes.

They are hidden in prisons.

They have become a prey,

With no one to rescue them.

They have become a spoil,

With none to say.

‘Restore!’

Who among you will give heed to this?

Who will attend for the time to come?

Who will listen for the time to come?

Who gave up Jacob to the spoiler?

Who gave up Israel to the robbers?

Was it not Yahweh?

They have sinned against him.

They would not walk in his ways.

They would not obey his law.

So he poured upon him

The heat of his anger.

He poured upon him

The fury of war.

It set him on fire all around.

But he did not understand.

It burned him.

But he did not take it to heart.”

In this section of Second Isaiah, it talks about the people and the individual servant together. The Israelite servants were robbed and plundered, and then put into prison holes. No one would rescue them as they were prey and a spoil to others. No one wanted to restore them to their former ways. No one paid attention. Yahweh made Jacob or Israel fall to these robbers and spoilers. This happened because they had sinned against Yahweh. They would not walk in his ways or follow his laws. Thus Yahweh poured out his heat and anger on his servant with the fury of a war. He set his servant on fire, but he still does not understand what was happening. He got burned, but he did not take it to heart.

Forgiveness for all (Isa 33:23-33:24)

“Your riggings hangs loose.

It cannot hold the mast firm in its place.

It cannot keep the sail spread out.

Then prey in abundance will be divided.

Spoil in abundance will be divided.

Even the lame will fall to plundering.

No inhabitant will say.

‘I am sick.’

The people who live there

Will be forgiven their iniquity.”

Isaiah remarks that despite the fact that the ship is not in good shape since the riggings are loose, the mast is not firm, and the sail is not spread out, you will not have to worry. There will be enough prey to be divided up. There will be so much spoil that even the lame will be able to plunder the area. No one will be sick in this utopian time. In fact, all their iniquity will be forgiven so that they do not have to be anxious or troubled.

False justice (Isa 10:1-10:4)

“Woe to you

Who make iniquitous decrees!

Woe to you

Who write oppressive statutes!

You turn aside

The needy from justice!

You rob the poor of my people

Of their right!

Widows may be your spoil!

You make the orphans your prey!

What will you do

On the day of punishment?

What will you do

In the calamity

That will come from afar?

To whom will you flee for help?

Where will you leave your wealth?

Will you crouch among the prisoners?

Will you fall among the slain?

For all this

His anger has not turned away.

His hand is still stretched out.”

Isaiah then curses those who practice injustice, those who make evil decrees and oppressive statutes. He was against those who took away justice and robbed the poor people of their rights. These unjust people took stuff from the widows and the orphans as if they were taking spoil after a war or prey for an animal. What were they going to do on the punishment day? In troubles, who would help them? Where were they going to leave their wealth? They might end up as a prisoner or get killed. Once again, this little section ends with the refrain that the angry hand of Yahweh has not turned away, since it is still stretched out today.

Gifts (Sir 18:15-18:18)

“My child!

Do not mix reproach

With your good deeds!

Do not spoil your gift

By harsh words!

Does not the dew give relief

From the scorching heat?

So a word is

Better than a gift.

Indeed,

Does not a word

Surpass a good gift?

Both are to be found

In a gracious man.

A fool is ungracious.

A fool is abusive.

The gift of a grudging giver

Makes the eyes dim.”

Be careful when you are giving gifts that your words and attitude not betray your good deed. Do not criticize when you are doing good deeds. Don’t spoil your gifts with unkind words. Just like the morning dew gives relief from the later noon day heat, so too a nice word might be better than a good gift, and even surpass it. The gracious man offers both good words and good gifts. On the other hand, the fool is both ungracious and insulting. People do not look favorably on a grudging giver.

The little foxes (Song 2:15-2:15)

Female lover

“Catch us!

The foxes.

We are the little foxes

That ruin the vineyards.

Our vineyards are in blossom.”

Her response is enigmatic, not straightforward. She reminded him about the little foxes that spoil the vineyards in bloom. Her own vineyards were also in bloom. She seems to add a word of caution, yet excitement. Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) wrote a play and movie about the nasty Little Foxes in 1939 and 1942, based on this little biblical passage.

Praise Yahweh (Ps 119:161-119:168)

Shin

“Princes persecute me without cause.

But my heart stands in awe of your words.

I rejoice at your word,

Like one who finds great spoil.

I hate falsehood.

I abhor falsehood.

But I love your law.

Seven times a day,

I praise you

For your righteous ordinances.

Those who love your law have great peace.

Nothing can make them stumble.

I hope for your salvation.

Yahweh!

I fulfill your commandments.

My soul keeps your decrees.

I love them exceedingly.

I keep your precepts.

I keep your decrees.

All my ways are before you.”

Princes persecute the psalmist without cause, but his heart is in awe of Yahweh. He rejoiced at the word of Yahweh like one who had found great spoil after a victory. He loved the law. He hated and abhorred falsehood. He prayed 7 times a day, much like the later Christian choral prayers. He praised God for his righteous ordinances. He wanted peace for those who loved the law because nothing could make them stumble. He fulfilled the commandments of Yahweh. He kept his commandments, decrees, and precepts. Everything was laid out for Yahweh to see. So ends this section on the twenty-first consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Shin.