“On that day,
With his hard sword,
With his great sword,
With his strong sword,
The fleeing serpent.
The twisting serpent.
Yahweh will kill
That is in the sea.”
Leviathan was a mythical personified sea serpent that was also mentioned predominately in the Book of Job, chapters 40-41, so that this oracle may be from the same milieu. Isaiah says that Yahweh will take his hard, great, and strong sword to punish the fleeing serpent Leviathan. Yahweh was going to kill this twisting serpent dragon of the sea. Later in medieval Christianity, the Leviathan was considered to be the devil in popular works. For the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679), Leviathan was a symbol of big government that came from a social contract.
“At that time,
Yahweh had spoken
Son of Amoz,
Loose the sackcloth
From your loins!
Take your sandals
Off your feet!’
He had done so.
He was walking naked.
He was walking barefooted.”
The time frame is between 722-705 BCE, perhaps around 711 BCE, when Yahweh spoke to Isaiah, the son of Amoz. He told him to go out and loosen his loin cloth and take off his sandals. Isaiah was to walk around naked and barefooted. Quite often prophets were asked by God to do strange things as a symbol and witness for the other Israelites.
“‘I will rise up against them.’
Says Yahweh of hosts.
‘I will cut off from Babylon
‘I will make it a possession
Of the hedgehog,
With pools of water.
I will sweep it
With the broom of destruction.’
Says Yahweh of hosts.”
Isaiah has Yahweh give a dire outlook for Babylon with 2 oracles. Yahweh was going to cut off the name of Babylon, including the remaining people, its offspring, and its posterity. In addition to that, Yahweh was going to make Babylon the possession of the hedgehog with pools of water. Finally, Yahweh was going to take out the broom of destruction against Babylon. This large city of Babylon became the symbol of evil. These were clear oracles of Yahweh against Babylon, not just its king.
“Look at the rainbow!
Who made it!
It is exceedingly beautiful
In its brightness.
It encircles the sky
With its glorious arc.
The hands of the Most High
Have stretched it out.”
Sirach now points out the beauty of the rainbow, after a rainfall. He wants us to look at it. He wants us think about who made it, since it is exceeding beautiful and bright. The half circle arc seems to go into the sky. If you were in Ireland you might go look for some gold at the end of the rainbow. There have been popular songs about rainbows. Sirach indicates that the hands of the Most High God have stretched it out. In fact, it was considered a sign of the covenant between Yahweh and Noah, after the flood in Genesis, chapter 9, but that is not mentioned here. Neither is there any indication of the various colors that reflect the sun’s rays through the rain clouds that has become a symbol of diversity.
“When the terrible rage of wild beasts
Came upon your people,
They were being destroyed
By the bites of writhing serpents.
Your wrath did not continue to the end.
They were troubled for a little while
As a warning.
They received a symbol of deliverance
To remind them of your law’s command.
The ones who turned toward it
Not by the thing that he saw,
But by you,
The Savior of all.”
This is a reference to Moses and the bronze serpent in Numbers, chapter 21. The Israelites, after Yahweh had sent poisoned snakes to them, repented. These wild terrible snakes were biting and killing the Israelites. However, Yahweh put a stop to it. This was then seen as a symbol of God’s deliverance for his people. They were reminded to keep the laws. Those who turned to the law’s commandments (ἐντολῆς νόμου σου·) would be saved by the Savior of all (πάντων σωτῆρα), God.
“Those who trouble their household with disorder,
They will inherit wind.
The fool will be a servant to the wise.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life.
But violence takes away lives.
If the righteous are repaid on earth,
How much more will the wicked and the sinners!”
There are consequences to your actions. If you leave your household troubled and disordered, they will inherit nothing but the wind. The fool will turn out to be the servant of the wise one. The fruit of the righteous is the tree of life, the symbol of immortality. Violence takes away life. Thus if the righteous are repaid here on earth, how much more will the wicked and sinners be repaid.
“Happy are the people
Who know the festal shout.
Happy are the people
Who walk in the light of your countenance.
Happy are the people
Who exalt in your name all day long.
Happy are the people
Who extol your righteousness.
You are the glory of their strength.
By your favor our horn is exalted.
Our shield belongs to Yahweh,
The holy one of Israel.”
The people are happy when they are able to shout at the festivals, when they walk in the light of Yahweh. They are happy when they exalt the name of Yahweh all day long. They extol Yahweh’s righteousness. They glory in his strength, since the horn was a symbol of strength. They were happy with their shield, the king who was the holy one of Israel.
“I say to the boastful.
‘Do not boast.’
I say to the wicked.
‘Do not lift up your horn!
Do not lift up your horn on high!
Do not speak with an insolent neck.’”
This oracle continued by reminding the boastful that they should not be boastful. He reminded the wicked that they should not lift their horn on high. The horn was the symbol of strength or power. Of course, they should not speak with insolence.