The return of the exiles (Bar 5:5-5:9)

“Arise!

O Jerusalem!

Stand upon the height!

Look toward the east! See your children

Gathered from the west,

Gathered from the east, At the word

Of the Holy One! They are rejoicing

That God has remembered them. They went out from you

On foot.

They were led away

By their enemies.

But God will bring them

Back to you.

They will be carried in glory

As on a royal throne.

God has ordered

That every high mountain

With the everlasting hills

Will be made low.

The valleys will be filled up

To make level ground.

Thus Israel may walk safely

In the glory of God.

The woods

With every fragrant tree

Have shaded Israel

At God’s command.

God will lead Israel with joy,

In the light of his glory,

With the mercy,

With the righteousness

That comes from him.”

This author concludes this book of Baruch with a call to Jerusalem to arise and stand tall. They were to look to the east to see their children, both from the east and west, returning and rejoicing because God had remembered them. They went out on foot, led away by their captive enemies. However, they would return as if carried in glory on a throne. Every high mountain and hill would be leveled, while the valleys would fill up, to make a level ground so that they could walk safely in the glory of God. The fragrant trees of the woods would shade them. God would lead them with the joy and the light of his glory that comes from his mercy and righteousness.

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The return of the exiles (Bar 4:36-4:37)

“Look toward the east!

O Jerusalem!

See the joy

That is coming

To you

From God!

Look!

Your children

Are coming!

Those you sent away

Are coming.

They are gathered

From the east,

From the west,

At the word

Of the Holy One,

Rejoicing

In the glory

Of God.”

Jerusalem was to look to the east to see the joy of those coming back to Jerusalem. The children, who were sent away, are now returning to this holy city. They are being gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, not Yahweh. They are rejoicing in the glory of God.

Israel forgot Yahweh (Jer 18:13-18:17)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh.

‘Ask among the nations?

Who has heard the like of this?

The virgin Israel has done

A very horrible thing.

Does the snow of Lebanon

Leave the crags of Sirion?

Do the mountain waters run dry?

Do the cold flowing streams stop?

But my people have forgotten me.

They burn incense to a delusion.

They have stumbled in their ways,

On the ancient roads.

They have gone into bypaths.

They have not gone on the highway.

They are making their land a horror.

This is a thing to be hissed at forever.

Everyone who passes by it

Is horrified.

They shake their heads.

Like the east wind,

I will scatter them

Before the enemy.

I will show them my back.

I will not show them my face,

In the day of their calamity.’”

Yahweh wants to know why the Israelites have forgotten him. This virgin Israel has done a horrible thing. He asks whether the snow leaves the mountains of Lebanon at Mount Hermon. Sirion is another name for Mount Hermon. Do the mountain waters dry up? Do the cold streams disappear? Do these sources for the Jordan River stop? Of course not, yet Yahweh’s people have forgotten him. They have turned to offering incense to false delusionary idol gods. They were stumbling along. They have gone off the main highways into the side roads. Their land has become horrible. People shake their heads and hiss as they pass by. Thus Yahweh was going to be like a wind from the east and scatter them to their enemies. When the day of troubles would begin, he would show them his back and not his face.

Judgment (Isa 59:18-59:20)

“According to their deeds,

So will he repay.

Wrath will come to his adversaries.

Requital will come to his enemies.

To the coastlands,

He will render requital.

Thus those in the west

Shall fear the name of Yahweh.

Those in the east,

His glory will come.

He will come

Like a rushing pent up stream.

The wind of Yahweh will drive it.

He will come to Zion as a Redeemer

To those in Jacob,

Who turn from transgression.

Says Yahweh.”

The judgment of Yahweh is coming. Yahweh will repay people according to their deeds. He will bring wrath to his enemies and adversaries, particularly the coastlands of the Mediterranean area. The people in the west will fear the Lord. Those in the east will see his glory. Yahweh will come like a windy pent up storm. Yahweh will come to Mount Zion as the redeemer for those Israelites who turn away from their transgressions.

The call of Cyrus (Isa 46:10-46:11)

“Yahweh said.

‘My purpose shall stand.

I will finish my intention.’

I am calling a bird of prey

From the east.

I am calling the man

Of my purpose

From a far country.

I have spoken.

I will bring it to pass.

I have planned it.

I will do it.’”

Second Isaiah once again insists that Yahweh has called the bird of prey from the East in a far country, King Cyrus of Persia, for his own purpose. He was going to make sure that Cyrus could finish off his intentions and purposes. He has said this, and so it shall be. He has planned it, and so it will happen, no questions asked.

Cyrus does not know that Yahweh is helping him (Isa 45:4-45:6)

“For the sake

Of my servant Jacob,

For the sake

Of Israel my chosen one,

I call you by your name.

I surname you,

Even though you do not know me.

I am Yahweh.

There is no other.

Besides me

There is no god.

I arm you,

Even though you do not know me.

Thus they might know,

From the rising of the sun,

As well as from the west,

That there is none besides me.

I am Yahweh.

There is no other.”

Second Isaiah explains how Yahweh, who is all powerful, was helping Cyrus. Yahweh was doing this for the sake of Jacob and Israel. Even though Cyrus is not aware that Yahweh was helping and arming him, Yahweh has named him in particular. Yahweh was doing this, so that all people would know that there was no god besides him. Thus from the east to the west, they would know that Yahweh, and he alone, was responsible for the exploits of Cyrus. This is a rather large claim, much like the 20th century anonymous Christians, who did not know they were Christians.

The ransom of Israel (Isa 43:3-4:7)

“I give Egypt as your ransom.

I give Ethiopia in exchange for you.

I give Seba in exchange for you.

Because you are precious in my sight,

I honored you.

I love you.

I give people in return for you.

I give nations in exchange for your life.

Do not fear!

I am with you!

I will bring your offspring from the east.

I will gather you from the west.

I will say to the north.

‘Give them up!’

I will say to the south.

‘Do not withhold!’

Bring my sons from far away!

Bring my daughters from the end of the earth!

Bring everyone who is called by my name,

Whom I created for my glory,

Whom I formed,

Whom I made.”

Yahweh God, using the first person singular in Second Isaiah, wants to ransom the Israelites, whether they were in Egypt, Ethiopia, or Arabia Seba. The Israelites were precious in his sight. He loved and honored them. He would give other people up to save their lives. The Israelite offspring shall be from the east, the west, the north, and the south. He would gather his sons and daughters from the ends of the earth. He would have everyone who called on his name and gave him glory ransomed, since he had formed and made them.