The curse (Mal 2:2-2:3)

“Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘If you will not listen,

If you will not lay it to heart

To give glory

To my name,

Then I will send

The curse

On you.

I will curse your blessings.

Indeed,

I have already cursed them.

Because you do not lay it to heart.

I will rebuke your offspring.

I will spread dung

On your faces,

The dung of your offerings.

I will put you

Out of my presence.’”

Yahweh, via Malachi, said that if they did not listen and take to heart his words by giving glory to Yahweh’s name, he was going to send a curse on them.  In fact, he had already cursed their blessings.  They had not taken their worship of Yahweh to heart.  Thus, they would have the dung of their offerings spread out over their faces.  He was going to put them and their offspring out of his presence.

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The crown (Zech 6:11-6:13)

“Take the silver!

Take the gold!

Make a crown!

Set it upon the head

Of the high priest Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak!

Say to him!

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

Here is a man whose name

Is the Branch.

He shall branch out

In his place.

He shall build

The temple of Yahweh.

It is he who shall build

The temple of Yahweh.

He shall bear royal honor.

He shall sit

Upon his throne,

Where he shall rule.

There shall be a priest

By his throne,

With peaceful understanding

Between the two of them.’”

Yahweh wanted the prophet Zechariah to take the gold and silver that the former exile captives had given him and make a crown out it.  He was to set this crown on the head of the high priest Joshua, the son of Jehozadak.  Perhaps this is a mistake and maybe it should be Governor Zerubbabel, since this ruler ends up with a priest by his side.  This newly crowned person would be the branch that would spread out.  He was the one who was going to build the temple of Yahweh.  Thus, he would have a royal honor and sit on a throne ruling the people.  However, they were still under Persian jurisdiction.  Both the priest and this new ruler would get along peacefully.

Compassion for Jerusalem (Zech 1:15-1:17)

“‘I am extremely angry

With the nations

That are at ease.

While only a little angry,

They made the disaster worse.’

Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh.

‘I have returned to Jerusalem

With compassion.

My house shall be built in it.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘The measuring lines

Shall be stretched out

Over Jerusalem.

Proclaim further!

Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

My cities

Shall again overflow

With prosperity.

Yahweh will again comfort Zion.

He will again choose Jerusalem.’”

While Yahweh was angry at the various easy-going nations, he was going to be compassionate to Jerusalem.  The other countries had made matters worse.  Now Yahweh was going to return to Jerusalem with compassion for its people.  Yahweh of hosts was going to spread out his measuring lines over Jerusalem.  He wanted them to proclaim that the cities of Yahweh would again overflow with prosperity.  Yahweh has chosen Jerusalem and Zion as his home.

Israel shall return to life (Hos 14:4-14:6)

“I will heal

Their disloyalty.

I will love them

Freely.

My anger

Has turned

From them.

I will be

Like the dew

To Israel.

He shall blossom

Like the lily.

He shall strike root

Like the forests of Lebanon.

His shoots

Shall spread out.

His beauty shall be

Like the olive tree.

His fragrance shall be

Like Lebanon.”

Yahweh, via Hosea, said that he was going to heal the disloyalty of Israel. He would love them freely, since his anger had turned from them. He was going to be like the morning dew to Israel. He was going to make them blossom again like the lilies. He was going to have them set down strong roots, like the forests of the Lebanon cedar trees. Their shoots would spread out all over the place. Their beauty would be like that of an olive tree. Their fragrance would be like the Lebanon cedar trees.

The second young lion was captured (Ezek 19:7-19:9)

“The second young lion

Ravaged

Their strongholds.

He laid waste

To their towns.

The land

Was appalled.

All who were in it

Were appalled

At the sound

Of his roaring.

The nations

Set upon him

From the provinces

All around.

They spread

Their net

Over him.

He was caught

In their pit.

With hooks,

They put him

In a cage.

They brought him

To the king of Babylon.

They brought him

Into custody.

Thus his voice

Would be heard

No more

On the mountains

Of Israel.”

This second young lion ravaged the strongholds and towns around there. The land and everybody in it were appalled at the sound of his roaring. Thus various countries from around the area set upon him. They spread out their nets over him. They caught him in a pit. They hooked him and put him into a cage. They brought him to the king of Babylon. He was now in custody so that his voice would no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel. This sounds a lot like a reference to King Zedekiah (598-587).

The faces of the four living creatures (Ezek 1:10-1:11)

“As for the appearance

Of their faces,

Each had

The face

Of a human being

In front.

Each had

The face

Of a lion

On the right side.

Each had

The face

Of an ox

On the left side.

Each had

The face

Of an eagle

At the back.

Such were their faces.

Their wings

Were spread out above.

Each creature

Had two wings.

Each wing

Touched the wing

Of another.

The two wings

Covered their bodies.”

Each creature had the face of a human being in front. Then there was a face of a lion on the right side with a face of an ox on the left side. In the back was the face of an eagle. Interesting enough this is similar to the idea of cherubim in Assyrian and Babylonian times. They had a statue of a god who had the head of a human, the body of a lion, the paws of an ox, with wings. This same symbolism was later taken up as the symbols of the four Christian evangelists, as well as the 4 creatures of the apocalypse in the Book of Revelation. There is also the interpretation that these animal heads symbolize mobility, intelligence, and strength. Their wings were spread out above each of these creatures, so that they touched each other. Thus these wings covered the bodies of these creatures.

The oracle about the stones for King Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 43:8-43:10)

“Then the word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah

In Tahpanhes.

‘Take some large stones

In your hands!

Bury them

In the clay pavement

At the entrance

To Pharaoh’s palace

In Tahpanhes!

Let the Judeans

See you do it!

Then say to them.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

I am going to send

King Nebuchadnezzar.

I am going to take

King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon,

My servant.

He will set his throne

Above these stones

That I have buried.

He will spread

His royal canopy

Over them.’”

Yahweh utters an oracle to Jeremiah, even though he is in the Egyptian northeastern border town of Tahpanhes, where the Suez Canal is today. Once again Yahweh wants Jeremiah to do some symbolic action to get a point across. Jeremiah was to take large stones and then bury them in the pavement at the entrance to the palace of the Egyptian Pharaoh. He was to do this in front of all his fellow Judean expatriates. Then he uttered God’s prophetic oracle that King Nebuchadnezzar, his servant like his own servant prophets, would put his throne on top of these stones. He would then spread out his royal canopy over them. In other words, the Babylonian king was going to take over Egypt. It actually happened in 568 BCE, about 20 years after this action.