The interpretation of this flying scroll (Zech 5:3-5:4)

“Then the angel said to me.

‘This is the curse

That goes out

Over the face

Of the whole land.

Everyone who steals

Shall be cut off

According to the writing

On one side.

Everyone who swears falsely

Shall be cut off

According to the writing

On the other side.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I have sent it out.

It shall enter

The house of the thief.

It shall enter

The house of anyone

Who swears falsely

By my name.

It shall abide

In that house.

It shall consume it,

Both timber

With stones.’”

The angel who had been talking to Zechariah interpreted this vision for him.  This flying scroll was a curse that went out over the face of the earth.  On one side of this scroll, it said that everyone who had stolen anything would be cut off, while the other side of the scroll said that anyone who swore falsely in Yahweh’s name would be cut off also.  Thus, this flying scroll would enter the houses of those robbers and perjurers, so that their houses would be destroyed, including all the timber and stones in them.

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The priests and the sanctuary land (Ezek 45:3-45:4)

“In the holy district,

You shall measure off

A section

Twenty-five thousand cubits long,

Ten thousand cubits wide.

This shall be

The sanctuary,

The most holy place.

It shall be

A holy portion

Of the land.

It shall be

For the priests,

Who minister

In the sanctuary.

They approach Yahweh

To minister

To him.

It shall be

A place

For their houses,

A holy place

For the sanctuary.”

This 25,000 by 20,000-cubit area was divided into 2 parts. This first part included the space for the Zadok priests and the sanctuary itself so that it was 25,000 by 10,000 cubits. The sanctuary, the most holy place, the 500-square cubit building would be in this half of the holy land of Jerusalem. Besides the sanctuary, this area included the houses for the Zadok priests who ministered to Yahweh in this sanctuary. Thus, the holy priests would live next to the holy place, where they would be cultic ministers.

The Chaldeans take Jerusalem (Jer 32:26-32:29)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to Jeremiah.

‘See!

I am Yahweh!

The God of all flesh!

Is anything too hard for me?’

Therefore,

Thus says Yahweh.

‘I am going to give this city

Into the hands of the Chaldeans.

I am going to give this city

Into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon.

He shall take it.

The Chaldeans,

Who are fighting against this city,

Shall come.

They will set this city on fire.

They will burn it.

They will burn the houses

On whose roofs

Offerings were made

To Baal,

Where libations

Have been poured out

To other gods.

They did these sacrifices

To provoke me to anger.’”

Yahweh once again has an oracle for Jeremiah. Yahweh was the God of all flesh. There was nothing too hard for him. He was going to give Jerusalem over to the Chaldeans who were fighting there. He was going to hand the city over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Babylonians and the Chaldeans were going to set the city on fire and burn it down. Thus the houses with the roof tops that had made offerings to Baal or libations to the other gods would be destroyed. These Israelites had offered these sacrifices to provoke Yahweh to anger. They had succeeded.

The city in chaos (Isa 24:7-24:13)

“The wine dries up.

The vine languishes.

All the merry hearted sigh.

The mirth of the timbrels is stilled.

The noise of the jubilant has ceased.

The mirth of the lyre is stilled.

No longer do they drink wine

With singing.

Strong drink is bitter

To those who drink it.

The city of chaos is broken down.

Every house is shut up

So that none can enter.

There is an outcry in the streets

For lack of wine.

All joy has reached its eventide.

The gladness of the earth is banished.

Desolation is left in the city.

The gates are battered into ruins.

Thus it shall be on the earth.

Thus it shall be among the nations.

It will be

Like a beaten olive tree,

Like the gleaning

When the grape harvest is ended.”

Isaiah points out that without wine, there is no joy, just sighing. The vines and the wine have languished and dried up. The sound of the jubilant musical instruments of the timbrels and lyre was no more. There were no more drinking and singing. Strong drink had become bitter, like raw alcohol. The city of chaos broke down. It is difficult to figure out whether this was a specific city or the symbolic end of the world chaos. All the houses were closed, so that no one could come in or go out. People complained about the lack of wine with no joy in this city, since gladness had been banished. It was now a desolate chaotic city with broken down gates. This felt like the time after the olive trees and vines had been harvested with nothing left to do, even though there was no harvest. The vines and trees were empty and barren.

Oracle against Tyre (Isa 23:1-23:1)

“The oracle concerning Tyre.

Wail!

O ships of Tarshish!

Your fortress is destroyed.

When they came in

From Cyprus

They learned of it.”

Tyre was a Phoenician costal island city that still exists in southern Lebanon. Known for its maritime trade and purple dye, it was actually in the Israelite territory of Asher. The ships of Tarshish are mentioned 24 times in the biblical books, most notably when speaking about the wealth of King Solomon, in 1 Kings, chapter 10. Tarnish must have been someplace where there was a lot of metal, such as silver, probably some distance away, since speculation continues as to its exact location. The fortress or the houses of Tyre would be destroyed. Apparently these Phoenician sailors from Tyre were coming back from the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea, when they learned about this destruction.

The righteous (Prov 21:12-21:15)

“The righteous observe the house of the wicked.

He casts the wicked down to ruin.

If you close your ear

To the cry of the poor,

You will cry out.

However, you will not be heard.

A gift in secret averts anger.

But a concealed bribe in the bosom

Brings strong wrath.

When justice is done,

It is a joy to the righteous.

But it is dismay to evildoers.”

The righteous ones can see the houses of the wicked. They want to cast out the wicked so that they will be ruined. If you do not listen to the poor, when you cry out, you will not be heard. A secret gift can avert anger. However, a concealed bribe will only bring about anger. Whenever justice is done, the righteous are joyous, but the evildoers are dismayed.

Simon takes Gazara (1 Macc 13:43-13:48)

“In those days Simon encamped against Gazara. He surrounded it with troops. He made a siege engine. He brought it up to the city so that he battered and captured one tower. The men in the siege engine leaped out into the city as a great tumult arose in the city. The men in the city, with their wives and children, went up on the wall with their clothes torn. They cried out with a loud voice, asking Simon to make peace with them. They said.

‘Do not treat us according to our wicked acts

But according to your mercy.’

So Simon reached an agreement with them. He stopped fighting against them. However, he expelled them from the city. He cleansed the houses in which the idols were located. He then entered it with hymns and praise. He removed all the wickedness from it. He settled in it men who observed the law. He also strengthened its fortifications. He then built in it a house for himself.”

Apparently this Gazara was Gaza. Simon surrounded it with his troops.   The siege war engine was like a tower on wheels with catapults and battering rams that could break fortifications. As the people in Gaza saw this, they tore their clothes and asked for mercy. Simon decided not to kill them, but to expel them from the Gaza strip. He then put law abiding Jewish people there and built a house for himself. Does that sound familiar? Before he entered the city of Gaza, he cleansed the houses that had idols so that all the wicked things were gone when he entered the town singing hymns.