Yahweh speaks (Ezek 38:17-38:17)

“Thus says Yahweh God!

‘Are you he

Of whom I spoke

In former days?

My servants,

The prophets of Israel,

In those days,

Prophesied for years

That I would bring you

Against them.’”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, asked the question whether the attack of Gog would fulfill a prophesy of the old prophets of Israel. These former prophets often spoke of an attack on Israel. There already had been the Assyrian attack on Samaria and the Babylonian attack on Jerusalem. Was this attack different? In both the other cases, the Israelites lost.

The prosperous wicked people (Jer 12:1-12:3)

“Yahweh!

You will be in the right

When I complain to you.

But let me plead my case

Before you?

Why does the way of the guilty prosper?

Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

You plant them.

They take root.

They grow.

They bring forth fruit.

You are near in their mouths.

Yet you are far from their hearts.

Yahweh!

You know me!

You see me!

You test me!

My heart is with you.

Pull them out

Like sheep for the slaughter!

Set them apart

For the day of slaughter.”

Jeremiah wanted to know why the wicked ones prospered. Much like Job, and the sapiential literature, this was the question of why do bad or evil people succeed? Jeremiah pleaded his case before Yahweh. Yahweh was the one who planted them and gave them roots. Thus they have grown and born fruit. They say the right things, but their hearts are not in it. Jeremiah complained that Yahweh knew what kind of person he was, since Yahweh knew, saw, and tested him. His heart was with Yahweh. Now he wanted these wicked guilty people to be pulled out and put to slaughter like sheep. Jeremiah was not happy about these prosperous wicked people.

The reluctant returning children to an overcrowded land (Isa 49:19-49:21)

“Surely your waste land

Will now be too crowded

For your inhabitants.

Your desolate places

Will surely now be too crowded

For your inhabitants.

Your devastated land

Will surely now be too crowded

For your inhabitants.

Those who swallowed you up

Will be far away.

The children born

In the time of your bereavement

Will yet say in your hearing?

‘The place is too crowded for me.

Make room for me to settle.’

Then you will say in your heart.

‘Who has borne me these?

I was bereaved.

I was barren.

I was exiled.

I was put away.

So who has reared these?

I was left all alone.

Where then have these come from?’”

Second Isaiah raises the question about overcrowding if all the exiles returned. There would be a special problem for those born in exile that had never lived in Israel. Why would they want to return there? The land was wasted, desolate, and devastated, why would anyone want to live in overcrowded conditions there? Their captives were gone. However, what would entice those who had spent their entire life elsewhere to move to a place that they had never known. There was nothing there to attract them. In fact, the mothers were upset at their children. They had spent their life bereaved, barren, alone, and exiled in a far away land. Who had reared these kids? Where did they come from? Why didn’t they want to go back to Israel? Was the influence of this new country too much for their own children?

Desolate country (Isa 1:7-1:7)

“Your country lies desolate.

Your cities are burned

With fire.

In your very presence

Aliens devour your land.

It is desolate.

It is overthrown by foreigners.”

Now we have the question as to what country is Yahweh, via Isaiah talking about. Is it Jerusalem and Judah, or the northern kingdom of Israel? In 721 BCE, the Assyrians took over the Kingdom of Israel at Samaria, as outlined in 2 Kings, chapter 17. However, Isaiah was considered a prophet of Judah. Was he implying that the Assyrians were attacking Judah about 10 years later, as in 2 Kings, chapter 18? In chapter 19, King Hezekiah consulted with this prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. That would put his oracle sometime between 721 BCE and 710 BCE. There was no doubt that the country was desolate. The cities had been burned down. Aliens were in this desolate land because these foreigners had taken over. This certainly sounds like the defeated northern kingdom of Israel that had been at Samaria.

The intelligent ones (Prov 18:13-18:17)

“If one gives an answer before hearing,

It is folly and shame.

The human spirit will endure sickness.

But who can bear a broken spirit?

An intelligent mind acquires knowledge.

The ear of the wise seeks knowledge.

A gift opens doors.

Gifts give access to the great.

Whoever first states a case seems right,

Until the other comes,

Until the other cross-examines him.”

The intelligent mind is always acquiring knowledge. The wise ones always have an ear seeking knowledge. Inquiring minds want to know. It is folly and your shame if you give an answer before you hear the question. The human spirit can endure sickness, but a broken spirit is more difficult to bear. A gift will open doors for you, especially to the great ones. If you go to court, your case may seem right until you are cross-examined by somebody else.