Saving both the north and the south (Zech 10:6-10:7)

“I will strengthen

The house of Judah.

I will save

The house of Joseph.

I will bring them back

Because I have compassion on them.

They shall be

As though I had not rejected them.

I am Yahweh,

Their God.

I will answer them.

Then the people of Ephraim

Shall become like warriors.

Their hearts shall be glad

As with wine.

Their children

Shall see it.

They shall rejoice.

Their hearts shall exult

In Yahweh.”

Yahweh, here in Zechariah, assumed the first person singular.  He was going to strengthen and save the house of Judah and Joseph, because he was going to bring them back in a compassionate way.  They were going to be, as if they had never been rejected.  Yahweh was clear.  He was their God.  Thus, he would answer them.  He would be particularly kind to the northern people in Ephraim.  They would become like warriors with wine filled glad hearts.  Their children would see what was going on and be happy as they exulted in Yahweh.

The siege of Nineveh (Nah 3:12-3:14)

“You also will be drunken.

You will go into hiding.

You will seek

A refuge

From the enemy.

All your fortresses are

Like fig trees

With first-ripe figs.

If shaken,

They fall

Into the mouth

Of the eater.

Look at your troops!

They are women

In your midst.

The gates

Of your land

Are wide open

To your foes.

Fire has devoured

The bars of your gates.

Draw water

For the siege!

Strengthen your forts!

Trample the clay!

Tread the mortar!

Take hold

Of the brick mold!”

So too, the people of Nineveh would be drunk and go into hiding, as they would seek to get away from their enemies.  All their strong fortresses would be like ripe fig trees.  If they would be touched or shaken, these strongholds would fall like ripe fruit right into the mouths of their enemies.  Women had become their troops.  The gates of the city were wide open to their enemies because fire had consumed the bars on their gates.  They had to get water during the siege.  They would have to strengthen their fortresses with clay, mortar, and bricks.

These shepherds do not take care of their sheep (Ezek 34:3-34:4)

“You eat the fat.

You clothe yourselves

With wool.

You slaughter

The fatlings.

But you do not

Feed the sheep.

You have not strengthened

The weak ones.

You have not healed

The sick ones.

You have not bound up

The injured ones.

You have not brought back

The strayed ones.

You have not sought

The lost ones.

You have ruled them

With force.

You have ruled them

With harshness.”

Yahweh complained, via Ezekiel, to these shepherds that they ate the good fat things and clothed themselves with wool clothing. They slaughtered the fat livestock, but they did not feed the sheep. They did not strengthen the weak ones or heal the sick or injured sheep. They never brought back the straying or lost sheep. These shepherds ruled over the sheep with force and harshness.

The king of Babylon will scatter the Egyptians (Ezek 30:23-30:26)

“I will scatter the Egyptians

Among the nations.

I will disperse them

Throughout the lands.

I will strengthen

The arms

Of the king of Babylon.

I will put my sword

In his hand.

But I will break

The arms of Pharaoh.

He will groan

Before him

With the groans

Of one mortally wounded.

I will strengthen

The arms

Of the king of Babylon.

But the arms of Pharaoh

Shall fall.

They shall know

That I am Yahweh

When I put

My sword

Into the hand

Of the king of Babylon.

He shall stretch it out

Against the land of Egypt.

I will scatter

The Egyptians

Among the nations.

I will disperse them

Throughout the countries.

Then they will know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh was going to scatter and disperse the Egyptians among the various nations. He was going to strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon with his own sword. At the same time, he was going to break the arms of the Pharaoh who would groan, as if he were mortally wounded. Then Yahweh repeated himself. He was going to strengthen the arms of the king of Babylon, but break the arms of Pharaoh, who would fall. Then everyone would know that Yahweh was God. The king of Babylon would stretch out his hand with the sword of Yahweh against Egypt. The king of Babylon would scatter and disperse these Egyptians among the various nations.

 

God is with Israel (Isa 41:8-41:10)

“But you!

Israel!

My servant! Jacob!

I have chosen you!

The offspring of Abraham!

My friend!

I took you

From the ends of the earth.

I called you

From its farthest corners.

I said to you.

‘You are my servant.

I have chosen you.

I have not cast you off.

Do not fear!

I am with you!

Do not be afraid!

I am your God!

I will strengthen you!

I will help you!

I will uphold you

With my victorious right hand!’”

God will protect his servants, a theme that comes up over and over again. Second Isaiah used both terms ‘Israel’ and ‘Jacob’ to refer to the offspring of his friend Abraham, but there is little mention of Moses here. God uses the first person singular “I” when he says that he called them from the ends of the earth and all its corners. They were to be his chosen servants, since he would not cast them off. They should not be afraid or fear anything. God is with them to strengthen them, to help them, and to uphold them with his victorious right hand.

Yahweh brings joy to the blooming desert (Isa 35:1-35:4)

“The wilderness shall be glad.

The dry land shall be glad.

The desert shall rejoice.

The desert shall blossom.

Like the crocus,

It shall blossom abundantly.

It shall rejoice with joy.

It shall rejoice with singing.

The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it.

The majesty of Carmel

Shall see the glory of Yahweh.

The majesty of Sharon

Shall see the majesty of our God.

Strengthen the weak hands!

Make firm the feeble knees!

Say to those who are of a fearful heart.

‘Be strong!

Do not fear!                                      

Here is your God!

He will come with vengeance!

He will come with terrible recompense!

He will come!

He will save you!’”

Isaiah seems to indicate here that God will make the deserts bloom abundantly. The wilderness and the dry land will rejoice and be glad with singing. The glory of the cedar trees of Lebanon will be given to the areas of Carmel and Sharon in Israel, where the glory and majesty of Yahweh God will be seen. God will strengthen their weak hands and their feeble knees. Thus the cry of Isaiah to those who are fearful is that they should be strong and not afraid. Your God is coming with a vengeance to make up for past problems. He will come to save you.

Your duty to your parents (Sir 3:1-3:9)

“Listen to me!

Your father!

O children!

Act accordingly!

Thus you may be kept in safety.

The Lord honors a father above his children.

The Lord confirms a mother’s right over her children.

Whoever honors their father

Atones for sins.

Whoever respects their mother is

Like one who lays up treasure.

Whoever honors their father

Will have joy in their own children.

When one prays

They will be heard.

Whoever respects their father

Will have a long life.

Whoever honors their mother

Obeys the Lord.

They will serve their parents as masters.

Honor your father by word.

Honor your father by deed.

Thus his blessing may come upon you.

A father’s blessing

Strengthens the houses of the children.

But a mother’s curse

Uproots their foundations.”

Now Sirach asks children to listen to their fathers. If they do so, they will be safe. The Lord has placed the father in charge of the children, so the children should respect their fathers. If they do, they will atone for their sins. They should respect their mothers because she is like an important treasure. If you honor your father, you will have joy in your own children. Their prayers will be heard. They will have a long life. If you honor your mother, you obey God. You should honor your parents by word and deed as if they were your masters. This is like the divine right of parents. Blessings will come upon you to strengthen the house of your children. However, watch out for the curse of your mother, which could uproot everything.