The filthy clothes of Joshua (Zech 3:3-3:5)

“Now Joshua was dressed

With filthy clothes,

As he stood

Before the angel.

The angel said

To those who were standing

Before him.

‘Take off his filthy clothes!’

He said to him.

‘See!

I have taken your guilt away

From you.

I will clothe you

With festive apparel.’

I said.

‘Let them put a clean turban

On his head.’

Thus,

They put a clean turban

On his head.

They clothed him

With the apparel.

The angel of Yahweh

Was standing by.”

Joshua the high priest was wearing filthy clothes before the angel of Yahweh.  The dirty clothes represented the sins of the people and the high priest, as a form of mourning.  Then the angel told him that he should remove his dirty clothing, because the angel had removed the guilt of his sins.  Now he was to put on festive clothing.  Then Zechariah chimed in with the comment that the high priest should have a clean turban for his head.  Of course, they then got a clean turban hat for Joshua.

Against Samaria (Mic 1:5-1:7)

“All this is for

The transgression

Of Jacob.

This is for

The sins

Of the house of Israel.

What is the transgression

Of Jacob?

Is it not Samaria?

What is the high place

Of Judah?

Is it not Jerusalem?

Therefore,

I will make Samaria

A heap in the open country.

I will make it

A place for planting vineyards.

I will pour down

Her stones

Into the valley.

I will uncover

Her foundations.

All her images

Shall be beaten to pieces.

All her wages

Shall be burned with fire.

I will lay waste

To all her idols.

She gathered them

As the wages of a prostitute.

They shall again be used

As the wages of a prostitute.”

Yahweh was coming because of the transgressions of Jacob, the sins of the house of northern Israel at the very place of Samaria.  The high place of Judah was Jerusalem.  Thus, Yahweh, was going to make Samaria like a heap in an open field or a place for vineyards.  He was going to take all their stones and throw them in the valley, as he would uncover their foundations.  All the idol images would be smashed to pieces, so that all their idols gods would be destroyed.  The wages of the temple prostitutes would be burned.  Whatever wages they had gained would be used against them.

The conversion of the wicked ones (Ezek 18:21-18:23)

“But if the wicked ones

Turn away

From all the sins

That they have committed,

They shall surely live.

If they keep

All my statutes,

They shall not die.

If they do

What is lawful,

What is right,

They shall surely live.

They shall not die.

None of the transgressions

That they have committed

Shall be remembered

Against them.

They shall live

Because of the righteousness

That they have done.

‘Have I any pleasure

In the death

Of the wicked?

I would rather

That they should turn

From their ways.

Then they would live.’

Says Yahweh God.”

What happens if wicked people turn away from all the sins that they have committed? They would live, if they kept all the statutes of Yahweh. If they did what was lawful and right, they would not die. None of their former transgressions would be remembered against them. They would live because of their righteousness. Yahweh did not take any pleasure in the death of the wicked ones. He would rather that they should turn from their evil ways, so that they would be able to live.

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.

The captivity in Babylon (Bar 6:2-6:3)

“Because of the sins

That you have committed

Before God,

You will be taken

To Babylon

As exiles

By King Nebuchadnezzar,

The king of the Babylonians.

Therefore

When you have come

To Babylon,

You will remain there

For many years,

For a long time,

Up to seven generations.

After that,

I will bring you

Away from there

In peace.”

This letter presents the traditional view that they were being sent into exile because of the sins that they had committed. King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Babylonians was going to take them to Babylon where they might stay for a long time, many years, possibly 7 generations, and not 70 years as in Jeremiah, chapter 29. After that they would leave in peace.

The grieving widow Jerusalem (Bar 4:9-4:12)

“Jerusalem saw

The wrath

That came

Upon you

From God.

She said.

‘Listen!

You neighbors of Zion!

God has brought

Great sorrow

Upon me!

I have seen

The exile

Of my sons.

I have seen

The captivity

Of my daughters,

The Everlasting one

Brought this

Upon them.

With joy,

I nurtured them.

But I sent them away

Weeping

With sorrow.

Let no one rejoice

Over me!

A widow!

I am bereaved of many.

I was left desolate

Because of the sins

Of my children.

Because they turned away

From the law of God.’”

The author of Baruch points out that Jerusalem saw the wrath of God that came upon them first hand. This personified city of Jerusalem said that the neighbors of Zion should listen. God had brought great sorrow on Jerusalem, since her sons and daughters were captured and exiled. The Everlasting One, the name of God used here instead of Yahweh, brought this exile on them. Jerusalem had nurtured them, but she sent them away weeping and in sorrow. No one should rejoice about this situation, since Jerusalem was now a widow, grieving over many people. She had become desolate because of the sins of her children. They had turned away from the law of God.

The restoration of Israel (Jer 50:19-50:20)

“‘I will restore Israel

To its pasture.

It shall feed on Carmel.

It shall feed in Bashan.

It shall feed on the hills of Ephraim.

It shall feed in Gilead.

Its hunger shall be satisfied.’

Says Yahweh.

‘In those days,

At that time,

The iniquity of Israel

Shall be sought.

None shall be found.

The sins in Judah,

Shall be sought.

None shall be found.

I will pardon

The remnant

That I have spared.’”

Both Israel and Judah would be restored. In the former northern Israelite kingdom, there would be plenty of satisfying food as four specific places are mentioned here, the Mediterranean costal Carmel area, the Bashan area on the east side of the Jordan River, the Ephraim territory north of the Benjamin territory, and the east bank area of the Gilead in the former Gad and Manasseh territory. No longer would there be any iniquity or sins found in Israel or Judah, even though people would look for them. Yahweh would forgive the sins of the remnant that was spared. All would be good again.

 

Personal responsibility (Jer 31:29-31:30)

“In those days,

They shall no longer say.

‘The parents have eaten

Sour grapes.

The children’s teeth

Are set on edge.’

But all shall die

For their own sins.

The teeth of everyone

Who eats sour grapes,

Shall be set on edge.”

Yahweh talks about personal responsibility rather than suffering for the sins of your father or parents. Instead of the parents eating sour grapes with the affect on the teeth of their children, now it will affect the parents’ teeth. Yahweh says that everyone will die for their own sins, not the sins of their ancestors. Sometimes, sinning persons were putting the blame on their ancestors, rather than themselves, for what was happening to them. Thus whoever eats sour grapes would find his own teeth affected, not their children.

The suffering servant and the will of Yahweh (Isa 53:10-53:12)

“Yet it was the will of Yahweh

To crush him with pain.

When you make his life

An offering for sin,

He shall see his offspring.

He shall prolong his days.

Through him

The will of Yahweh shall prosper.

Out of his anguish,

He shall see light.

He shall find satisfaction

Through his knowledge.

The righteous one,

My servant,

Shall make many righteous.

He shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will allot him

A portion with the great.

He shall divide the spoil

With the strong.

Because he poured out himself

To death.

He was numbered with the transgressors.

Yet he bore the sin of many.

He made intercession for the transgressors.”

Yahweh willed to crush his servant with pain. His life was an offering for sin, so that he would see his offspring and prolong his life. The will of Yahweh would see that he prospered. He would see the light and gain satisfaction from his knowledge. The ending for the suffering servant is that his life is prolonged with offspring, which seems different than the death with the wicked and the rich above. This righteous one would make others righteous people because he bears their iniquities. Thus he will be considered with the great ones. He will get the spoil because he gave of himself even to death. Although he was considered a transgressor, he bore the sins of many. He made intercession for the transgressors. The suffering servant seems to have a happy ending.

The glory of King David (Sir 47:6-47:11)

“They glorified him

For the tens of thousands that he conquered.

They praised him

For the blessings bestowed

By the Lord.

The glorious diadem was given to him.

He wiped out his enemies on every side.

He annihilated his adversaries,

The Philistines.

He crushed their power even to our own day.

In all that he did

He gave thanks to the Holy One,

The Most High,

Proclaiming his glory.

He sang praise

With all his heart.

He loved his Maker.

He placed singers before the altar.

They made sweet melody with their voices.

Daily they sing his praises.

He gave beauty to the festivals.

He arranged their times

Throughout the year.

They praised God’s holy name.

The sanctuary resounded from early morning.

The Lord took away his sins.

He exalted his power forever.

He gave him a covenant of kingship.

He gave him a glorious throne in Israel.”

Sirach told of the glory of King David who had killed thousands of his enemies. He was praised for the Lord’s blessings that he had received. He was given a glorious diadem crown to wear, after an unmentioned dispute with King Saul. David wiped out his enemies, especially the Philistines, but they kept coming back for more. However, David gave thanks to the Holy One, the Most High God. He loved his creator. He sang praises to him. He had singers at the altar as well as set up wonderful festivals throughout the year. Although there is mention of a sanctuary, the Temple was not built until his son King Solomon built it. The Lord took away the sins of David and established a covenant of kingship with him on the throne in Israel. In light of what was to come, there was no eternal covenant of kingship.