No more just people (Mic 7:1-7:2)

“Woe is me!

I have become

Like one

After the summer fruit

Has been gathered.

I have become

Like one

After the vintage

Has been gleaned.

There is no cluster to eat.

There is no first-ripe fig

For which I hunger.

The faithful have disappeared

From the land.

There is no one left

Who is upright.

They all lie in wait

For blood.

They hunt each other

With nets.”

Micah started this lament with a woeful thought about himself.  He was lonely, because the late summer fruits had been harvested.  All the vineyards had been picked and gleaned.  There was nothing left to eat.  It did not make any difference, because Micah had no appetite for fig clusters or anything.  All the faithful people had disappeared from the land.  There was not even one good upright person left.  They were all waiting to steal from each other.  They were hungry for the blood of others, so that they were hunting each other with nets.

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Farming will continue (Joel 2:22-2:22)

“Do not fear!

You animals of the field!

The pastures

Of the wilderness

Are green.

The tree bears

Its fruit.

The fig tree

Gives it full yield.

The vine

Give its full yield.”

Joel and Yahweh reminded the people that farming would continue. They should not be afraid. The field animals would find green pastures. The trees would bear their fruit. There would be a full crop from the fig trees and the vineyards.

The captives and the poor (Jer 52:15-52:16)

Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Carried into exile

Some of the poorest

Of the people.

He took into exile

The rest of the people

Who were left in the city,

He took into exile

The deserters

Who had defected

To the king of Babylon,

Together with the rest

Of the artisans.

But Nebuzaradan,

The captain of the guard,

Left some of the poorest people

Of the land,

To be vinedressers

Or tillers of the soil.”

Once again, this is very close to 2 Kings, chapter 25. The king of Babylon did not come himself, but he sent the captain of his bodyguard, Nebuzaradan, to take all the people as captives. This included those who had deserted to the Chaldeans as well as those left in the city. However, he gave some poor people the vineyards and fields to work. This might be a problem when the exiles return. However, here, unlike the 2 Kings narrative and the earlier Jeremiah story of chapter 39, he also took the some of the poor people. This seems odd, since the next sentence talks about leaving the poor people to take care of the vineyards and till the soil. There was no mention of them getting fields and vineyards as in the earlier Jeremiah story. Also here there is a mention of artisans that was lacking in the other presentations.

They do not listen to the warning (Jer 6:9-6:11)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Glean thoroughly

As a vine

The remnant of Israel.

Like a grape-gatherer,

Pass your hand again

Over its branches.’

To whom shall I speak?

To whom shall I give warning?

Who might hear?

See!

Their ears are closed

Their ears are uncircumcised.

They cannot listen.

See!

The word of Yahweh is to them

As an object of scorn.

They take no pleasure in it.

But I am full of the wrath of Yahweh.

I am weary of holding it in.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that they should glean the vineyards looking for those grapes of the holy remnant of Israel. They should go behind the pickers to find these precious grapes. Who was going to listen to these warnings from Yahweh? Their ears were closed like uncircumcised ears. They could not listen. The word of Yahweh had become an object of scorn. They did not take any pleasure in the word of God. The wrath of God could not be held in any longer.

The devastation of the land (Isa 7:23-7:25)

“On that day,

Every place where

There used to be a thousand vines,

Worth a thousand shekels of silver,

Will become briers.

They will become thorns.

With bow and arrows,

One will go there.

All the land

Will be briers and thorns.

All the hills

That used to be hoed with a hoe,

One will not go there

For fear of the briers,

For fear of the thorns.

But they will become a place

Where cattle are let loose.

They will become a place

Where sheep tread.”

On this faithful day, the vineyards will shrivel up. Thousands of vines worth about $23,000 in silver shekels in today’s money would be abandoned to thorns and briers. Places that were hoed before would now be overrun with briers and thorns. People would be afraid to go there because of these briers and thorns. Only the cattle would roam all over the place. The sheep would also tread on any crops that might be growing. Things would be bad, as the land was devastated.

The powerful judgment of Yahweh (Isa 3:13-3:15)

“Yahweh rises to argue his case.

He stands to judge the people.

Yahweh enters into judgment

With the elders,

With the princes of his people.

‘You have devoured the vineyard.

The spoil of the poor

Is in your houses.

What do you mean

By crushing my people?

Why are you grinding

The face of the poor?’

Says Yahweh,

God of hosts.”

Isaiah says that Yahweh has presented his case. He has judged his people, especially the elders and the princes, who have devoured the vineyards. They have taken the spoils or goods of their own poor people into their own homes. They are crushing the people and grinding the faces of the poor. This clearly is an oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah.

Let’s get together (Song 7:10-7:13)

Female lover

“I am my beloved’s.

His desire is for me.

Come!

My beloved!

Let us go forth into the fields.

Let us lodge in the villages.

Let us go out early to the vineyards.

Let us see

Whether the vines have budded,

Whether the grape blossoms have opened,

Whether the pomegranates are in bloom.

There I will give you my love.

The mandrakes give forth fragrance.

Over our doors are all choice fruits.

There are new as well as old.

I have laid up for you.

O my beloved!”

This female lover responded that she belonged to her lover. She knew that he has a desire for her. She asked her lover to go into the fields and lodge in the villages. She wanted them to go out into the vineyards early in the day. She wanted to check whether the vines had budded, whether the grape blossoms were open, and whether the pomegranates were in bloom. She wanted to give her love to him there in vineyards where the mandrakes gave off their fragrance. There would be all kinds of choice fruits, both old and new. She had prepared them for him. She wanted her lover.