Yahweh was going to do away with false worship (Mic 5:12-5:14)

“I will cut off

Sorceries

From your hand.

You shall have no more soothsayers.

I will cut off

Your images.

I will cut off

Your pillars

From among you.

You shall bow down no more

To the work of your hands.

I will uproot

Your sacred poles

From among you.

I will destroy

Your towns.”

Yahweh was going to do away with all forms of false worship.  He wanted the pure worship of Yahweh at his temple in Jerusalem.  He was going to do away with all sorceries and soothsayers.  He was going to tear down all their false images and pillars.  They were not going to bow down before any more man-made images.  Yahweh was going to root out their sacred totem poles, and even destroy some of these idol worshipping towns.

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The future destruction of Israel (Am 3:13-3:15)

“‘Hear!

Testify

Against the house of Jacob!’

Says Yahweh God!

The God of hosts!

‘On the day

That I punish Israel

For its transgressions,

I will punish

The altars of Bethel.

The horns of the altar

Shall be cut off.

They shall fall

To the ground.

I will tear down

The winter house,

As well as the summer house.

The houses of ivory

Shall perish.

The great houses

Shall come to an end.’

Says Yahweh.”

Amos has this oracle of Yahweh, the God of many hosts or heavenly armies, about the future destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel. Yahweh wanted them to hear and testify against the house of Jacob. On the day that he was going to punish them, he was going to destroy the altars at Bethel, the holy shrine, with its altar horns. He also was going to tear down the many great houses in Israel, including the winter and summer homes of the officials of the northern kingdom, even the ivory houses.

King Nebuchadnezzar will come to Egypt (Jer 43:11-43:13)

“‘King Nebuchadnezzar

Shall come.

He shall ravage

The land of Egypt.

Giving those who are doomed

For pestilence,

To pestilence.

Giving those who are destined

For captivity.

To captivity.

Giving those who are doomed

For the sword

To the sword.

He shall kindle a fire

In the temples

Of the gods of Egypt.

He shall burn them.

He shall carry them away captive.

He shall pick clean

The land of Egypt,

As a shepherd picks

His cloaks clean of vermin.

He shall depart

From there safely.

He shall break

The obelisks of Heliopolis

That is in the land of Egypt.

He shall break the temples

Of the gods of Egypt.

He shall burn them with fire.’”

Jeremiah described what was going to happen when King Nebuchadnezzar would come to Egypt, which he did around 568 BCE. The Babylonian king was going to ravage the land of Egypt. Those who were destined for pestilence got pestilence. Those destined for the sword, got the sword. Those destined for famine, got a famine. This was real simple, but who decided who was destined for what? King Nebuchadnezzar was going to burn down the Egyptian temples and make the Judeans captives. He was going to pick the land clean in the same way that shepherds pluck bugs off their cloaks or coats. He would come and go safely. However, he would also break the ornate pillars or obelisks in the town of Heliopolis, the city of the sun worshipers, which was about 25 miles east of Memphis, 6 mile northeast of Cairo. He would also burn down the Egyptian temples and their gods, as well as tear down other pillars throughout the land of Egypt.

The Chaldeans are coming (Jer 33:4-33:5)

“Thus says Yahweh!

The God of Israel!

Concerning the houses

Of this city.

This concerns

The houses

Of the kings of Judah.

They were torn down

To make a defense

Against the siege mounds,

Before the sword.

The Chaldeans

Are coming in

To fight.

They are coming

To fill them

With the dead bodies

Of those whom

I shall strike down,

In my anger,

In my wrath.

I have hidden my face

From this city

Because of all their wickedness.”

Yahweh explains, via Jeremiah, why they had to tear down the buildings in the city, including the houses of the kings of Judah. The military needed to protect themselves from the siege ramps that the Chaldeans had put up against the city walls. These Chaldeans or Babylonians were coming to fight. They would find the dead bodies that Yahweh had struck down inside the city walls. Yahweh had killed these Israelites because of his anger and wrath. He had hidden his face from this city because of their wickedness.

The intervention of Yahweh (Isa 42:14-42:17)

“For a long time,

I have held my peace.

I have kept still.

I have restrained myself.

Now I will cry out

Like a woman in labor.

I will gasp.

I will pant.

I will lay waste mountains.

I will lay waste hills.

I will dry up all their herbage.

I will turn the rivers into islands.

I will dry up the pools.

I will lead the blind

By a road that they do not know.

I will lead the blind

In paths that they have not known.

I will guide them.

I will turn

The darkness before them into light.

I will turn

The rough places into level ground.

These are the things I will do.

I will not forsake them.

They shall be turned back.

They shall be utterly put to shame.

All those who trust in craved images,

All those who say to cast images,

‘You are our gods.’”

Once again, we have the first person singular, as Yahweh speaks directly in Second Isaiah. Yahweh had been quiet, still, and restrained. Now, however, Yahweh was going to yell out with gasps and pants, like a woman in labor about to give birth. He was going to tear down the mountains and the hills, dry up vegetation and pools, as well as turn rivers into islands. He was going to lead the blind on unknown roads with unlevel ground. He would turn their darkness into light and level the rough ground. He was not going to give up on the blind, perhaps a reference to the Israelites being led blindly in the desert wilderness during the Exodus. However, he was going to shame those who relied on carved and cast images as their gods. This was a strong plea for monotheism among the Israelites.

Path of life (Prov 15:24-15:25)

“The wise man’s path of life leads upward.

Thus he may avoid Sheol below.

Yahweh tears down the house of the proud.

But he maintains the widow’s boundaries.”

The path of the wise man goes up, so that he does not go down to Sheol. This is the common conception that up is good and down is bad. Just like a house, the upstairs are better than the basements. Yahweh would tear down the house of the proud ones, but he would sustain the territory or boundaries of the widows.

The death of Alcimus (1 Macc 9:54-9:57)

“In the one hundred and fifty-third year in the second month, Alcimus gave orders to tear down the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary. He tore down the work of the prophets! But he only began to tear it down, for at that time Alcimus was stricken. His work was hindered. His mouth was stopped. He was paralyzed, so that he could no longer say a word or give commands concerning his house. Alcimus died at that time in great agony. When Bacchides saw that Alcimus was dead, he returned to the king. The land of Judah had rest for two years.”

In 159 BCE the high priest Alcimus, who was chosen by the Syrian King Demetrius I, died. Alcimus had begun to tear down the inner wall that had been built by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. However, as Alcimus began this project he was stricken and died. He became paralyzed so that he could no longer lead this work. He died in great agony. Then Bacchides returned to King Demetrius I in Syria, so that there was no fighting for 2 years.