“The people did not turn to him
Who had struck them.
They did not seek Yahweh of hosts.
Thus Yahweh cut off from Israel
Head and tail.
In one day,
He cut off the palm branch.
He cut off the reed.
The elders and dignitaries are the head.
The prophets who teach lies are the tail.
Those who lead this people
Led them astray.
Those who were led by them
Were left in confusion.
Therefore Yahweh did not have pity
On their young people.
He did not have compassion
On their orphans and widows.
Everyone was godless.
Everyone was an evildoer.
Every mouth spoke folly.
Thus his anger has not turned away.
His hand is still stretched out.”
Isaiah puts part of the blame for the destruction of northern Israel on their leaders. However, he starts and finishes with the guilt of all the people, because they did not turn to the Lord, Yahweh. Both the head and the tail of northern Israel were to blame. Thus Yahweh cut off the tall palm trees and the short reeds in one day. The heads of northern Israel were the elders and the dignitaries who failed to do anything. The tails were the lying northern prophets since there were both good and bad prophets. These leaders led their people astray. They left the people confused. Thus Yahweh, the Lord, did not take pity on their young, their orphans, or their widows, as he had done elsewhere. After all, everyone was involved in foolish godless evildoing. Once again, we have the refrain that Yahweh’s anger was continuing, as he still stretched out his hand against these northern Israelites.
“Whoever is slack in his work
Is close kin to a vandal.
The name of Yahweh is a strong tower.
The righteous run into it.
The righteous are safe.
The wealth of the rich is their strong city.
They image wealth like a protective high wall.
One’s heart is haughty.
But humility goes before honor.”
If you are slack in your work, you are like a vandal stealing from your employer. The name of Yahweh is like a strong tower. The righteous run to this tower of Yahweh where they are safe. The rich people live in a strong city. They believe that their wealth is like a protective wall for them. Generally speaking, one’s heart is haughty or proud before the destruction comes. Humility should go before honors.
“But those who seek to destroy my life
Shall go down into the depths of the earth.
They shall be given over
To the power of the sword.
They shall be prey for jackals.
But the king shall rejoice in God.
All who swear by him shall exult.
The mouths of liars will be stopped.”
This psalm ends with the destruction of David’s enemies. Those out to destroy his life, like King Saul, shall go down to the depths of earth, the pit, or Sheol, the underground world of the dead. They would die by the sword. They would become the prey for the wild dog jackals. However, the king, meaning him rather than Saul, would rejoice in God. Those who swore by him would be exalted, while the mouths of the liars would be stopped.
“The thrice-accursed Nicanor had brought one thousand merchants to buy the Jews. He was now humbled with the help of the Lord by opponents whom he regarded as of the least account. He took off his splendid uniform. He made his way alone like a runaway slave across the country until he reached Antioch. He had succeeded chiefly in the destruction of his own army! Thus he who had undertaken to secure tribute for the Romans by the capture of the people of Jerusalem proclaimed that the Jews had a Defender. Therefore the Jews were invulnerable, because they followed the laws ordained by him.”
Nicanor comes in for a heavy dismissal since he was cursed 3 times. He was the one who brought 1,000 merchants to buy the Jews for slavery. He was humbled by his opponents with the help of the Lord. However, he took off his wonderful uniform, and fled across the countryside like a runaway slave until he reached Antioch. His only success was that he had destroyed his own army. He now claimed that the Jews were invulnerable as long as they followed the laws of their almighty defender. Nicanor will appear again later in this book.