The attack of the king of the south (Dan 11:7-11:9)

“In those times,

A branch from her roots

Shall rise up

In his place.

He shall come

Against the army.

He shall enter the fortress

Of the king of the north.

He shall take action

Against them.

He shall prevail.

He shall carry off

To Egypt

Even their gods,

With their idols,

With their precious vessels

Of silver,

Of gold,

As spoils of war.

For some years,

He shall refrain

From attacking

The king of the north.

Then the latter

Shall invade

The realm

Of the king of the south.

But he shall return

To his own land.”

The southern King Ptolemy III (247-221 BCE) attacked the northern King Seleucus II (246-225 BCE). Ptolemy III would enter the fortress of the king of the north, as he would be successful. He would take their spoils and booty back to Egypt, including the idols of their gods, as well as their precious silver and gold vessels. There were a few years of peace, but then the northern King Seleucus II attacked the south unsuccessfully and returned home.

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The destruction of the various Egyptian city idols (Ezek 30:13-30:16)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I will destroy

The idols.

I will put an end

To the images

In Memphis.

There shall no longer

Be a prince

In the land of Egypt.

Thus I will put fear

Into the land of Egypt.

I will make Pathros

A desolation.

I will set fire

To Zoan.

I will execute

Acts of judgment

On Thebes.

I will pour my wrath

Upon Pelusium,

The stronghold of Egypt.

I will cut off

The hordes of Thebes.

I will set fire

To Egypt.

Pelusium shall be

In great agony.

Thebes shall be

Breached.

Memphis will face

Adversaries by day.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that he was going to destroy the idols and images of the city of Memphis, the capital of lower Egypt. They would face daily adversaries. There would be no longer a prince in Egypt. Yahweh was going to put fear into the people of Egypt. He was going to decimate Pathros and set a fire in Zoan, that later became known as Tanis, in the northeast Delta area. He was going to execute his judgment on Thebes, current day Karnak, by getting rid of the multitude of people there, when the walls would be broken down. He was going to pour out his wrath on the stronghold of Pelusium that was east of Zoan, so that it would be in great agony.

 

The good son of the unrighteous man (Ezek 18:14-18:17)

“But if this man

Has a son

Who sees all the sins

That his father

Has done,

Then considers it,

But does not do likewise,

Should he live?

This son does not

Eat upon the mountains

Or lift up his eyes

To the idols

Of the house of Israel.

He does not

Defile his neighbor’s wife

Or wrong any one.

He does not

Exact pledges

Or commit robbery.

But he gives his bread

To the hungry.

He covers the naked

With a garment.

He withholds his hand

From iniquity.

He takes no advance

Or accrues interest.

He observes

My ordinances.

He follows

My statutes.

He shall not die

For his father’s iniquity.

He shall surely live.”

What happens to the son of an unrighteous person? What if the son sees all the sins that his father has done, but decides to not follow in his father’s footsteps? This son does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife or wrong any one. He does not exact pledges for loans or commit any robberies. However, he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment. He stays away from iniquity. He does not take any advances or accrue interest. He observes Yahweh’s ordinances and statutes. He is not going to die because of his father’s iniquity. Rather he will live.

Against the altars in the high places (Ezek 6:4-6:7)

“Your altars

Shall become desolate.

Your incense stands

Shall be broken.

I will throw down

Your slain

In front of your idols.

I will lay

The corpses

Of the people of Israel

In front of your idols.

I will scatter your bones

Around your altars.

Wherever you live,

Your towns

Shall be waste.

Your high places

Shall be ruined.

Thus your altars

Shall be waste.

Your altars

Shall be ruined.

Your idols

Shall be broken.

Your idols

Shall be destroyed.

Your incense stands

Shall be cut down.

Your works

Shall be wiped out.

The slain shall fall

In your midst.

Then you shall know

That I am Yahweh.”

Yahweh continued to tell Ezekiel that these Israelite altars would become desolate. The incense stands would be broken. Yahweh would throw down the dead corpses in front of the idols there. He was going to scatter their bones around these altars. No matter where they might live, Yahweh was going to lay waste to these high places, so that they all would be ruined. The idols would be broken and destroyed. Their incense stands would be cut down. All their works would be wiped out, as many died among them. They would all know that Yahweh was the one who did all this.

The people plead their case (Jer 14:19-14:22)

“Have you completely rejected Judah?

Does your heart loathe Zion?

Why have you struck us down?

Why is there is no healing for us?

We look for peace.

But we find no good.

We look for a time of healing.

But there is terror instead.

We acknowledge our wickedness!

O Yahweh!

We acknowledge the iniquity of our ancestors!

We have sinned against you!

Do not spurn us!

For your name’s sake,

Do not dishonor your glorious throne!

Remember!

Do not break your covenant with us!

Can any idols of the nations bring rain?

Can the heavens give showers?

Is it not you,

O Yahweh!

Our God?

We set our hope on you.

You do all this.”

Once again, Jeremiah presents the people of Judah pleading their case for God’s mercy. They wanted to know how God could reject Judah and loath Zion, Jerusalem. Why were they stricken? Why was there no healing? They looked for peace, but there was none. Instead of healing, there was more terror. They acknowledged their own wickedness that they shared with their ancestors. They had sinned against Yahweh, God. However, they did not want to be spurned by Yahweh, because that would dishonor his name. They wanted Yahweh to remember his covenant and not break it with them. Then they pointed out that Yahweh could bring rain and showers, but the idols of other nations could not do that. They still had their hope in Yahweh, despite everything, because Yahweh was all powerful.

Against pagan practices (Isa 66:17-66:17)

“‘Those who sanctify themselves,

Those who purify themselves

In order to go into the gardens,

Follow the one in the center.

They eat the flesh of pigs.

They eat vermin.

They eat rodents.

They shall come to an end together.’

Says Yahweh.”

This probably should have followed the earlier remarks about pig’s blood. Yahweh once again points out that he is against these people who follow pagan practices. They sanctify and purify themselves to go into their gardens with the idols in the center. They end up eating pork, vermin, and rodents. They will all come to an end together.

The end of idolatry (Isa 17:7-17:8)

“On that day

People will regard their Maker.

Their eyes will look

To the Holy One of Israel.

They will not have regard

For the altars,

The work of their own hands.

They will not look

To what their own fingers have made,

Either the sacred poles

Or the altars of incense.”

The end of idolatry and the turning to the Holy One of Israel will take place on this day of destruction. On that day, they will turn away from the altars that they made with their own hands. They will not look at the idols that they made with their own fingers.   They will turn away from the sacred or holy poles or sticks, like totem poles, and the altars with incense on them. Idolatry will become a thing of the past.