The soldiers and the chariots (Nah 2:3-2:5)

“The shields

Of his warriors

Are red.

His soldiers

Are clothed

In scarlet.

The metal

On the chariots

Flashes

On the day

When he musters them.

The chargers prance.

The chariots race madly

Through the streets.

They rush back and forth

Through the squares.

Their appearance is

Like torches.

They dart

Like lightning.

He calls his officers.

They stumble

As they come forward.

They hasten

To the wall.

The mantelet is set up.”

Nahum gave a vivid colorful description of the actions in Nineveh.  The shields of the warriors in Nineveh would be red with blood.  The clothes of their soldiers were scarlet from the blood.  The metal from the chariots flashed from the sunlight, as the men followed behind.  The chargers were prancing around, while the chariots raced madly through the streets, going back and forth from the squares.  They were like torches darting in and out, almost like lightning.  When they called their officers, they came out stumbling along.  They ran to the wall where the protective screens or mantelet was set up.  In other words, the soldiers and their officers with their chariots were in a state of chaos.

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The dark day of Yahweh (Am 5:18-5:20)

“Woe to you!

You who desire

The day of Yahweh!

Why do you want

The day of Yahweh?

It is darkness,

Not light.

It is like

As if someone fled

From a lion,

But a bear met him.

It is like

Someone went into the house.

They then rested

Their hand

Against the wall.

Then a serpent bit him.

Is not

The day of Yahweh

Darkness,

Not light?

It is gloom

With no brightness in it.”

The day of Yahweh meant many different things to the ancient Israelites. For some, it was a favorable intervention of Yahweh. For others, as here, it was a day of Yahweh’s anger. After the exile, it was considered a day of hope that the anger of Yahweh would turn on Israel’s oppressors. Then this day of Yahweh became a day of judgment, as a triumph for the righteous. Finally, there were cosmic signs that would accompany this day of Yahweh. Here, Amos wanted to know why anyone would want the day of Yahweh to come, because it was a time of darkness, not light. In fact, he wanted to curse them for wishing the day of Yahweh to come. This day of Yahweh was more like a person fleeing from a lion, only to run into a bear. It was like going into a house, and then resting your arm on the wall, only to be bit by a snake. For Amos, the day of Yahweh was a time of darkness, not light, a time of gloom and not brightness.

The death of King Belshazzar (Dan 5:30-5:30)

“That very night

King Belshazzar,

The Chaldean king

Was killed.”

Right after Daniel became the 3rd in command, this Chaldean King Belshazzar was killed. How did he die? Apparently, the Medes and Persians invaded Babylon without any resistance. They took over and killed the sitting king. Was there any connection to the hand writing on the wall and Daniel’s intervention? Did this mean that Daniel was now 2nd in command? What would happen to him?

The king explains the situation to Daniel (Dan 5:15-5:16)

“‘Now the wise men,

The enchanters,

Have been brought in

Before me

To read this writing.

They were to tell me

Its interpretation.

But they were not able

To give the interpretation

Of the matter.

But I have heard

That you can give

Interpretations.

You can

Solve problems.

Now if you able

To read the writing,

If you are able

To tell me

Its interpretation,

You shall be clothed

In purple.

You shall have

A chain of gold

Around your neck.

You shall rank third

In the kingdom.’”

The king explained to Daniel that the wise men and enchanters of Babylon were not able to read this writing on the wall. Thus, they were not able to give its interpretation. However, the king had heard that Daniel was capable of giving interpretations and solving problems. Then he made the same offer that he had made to the others. If Daniel was able to read and interpret this writing, he would be clothed in purple, the sign of royalty. He would then have a chain of gold around his neck, indicating that he was the 3rd in command in the kingdom of Babylon, after himself and his father.

The failure of the wise men (Dan 5:8-5:9)

“Then all the king’s wise men

Came in.

But they could not read

The writing.

They could not tell

The king

Its interpretation.

Then King Belshazzar

Became greatly terrified.

His face turned pale.

His lords were perplexed.”

However, when all the wise men came in to see the king, they could not read or interpret the writing on the wall. Then the king got afraid, as his face turned pale again. Even his important lords at this party were perplexed, since they did not know what to do.

The king called for his wise men (Dan 5:7-5:7)

“The king

Cried aloud

To bring in

The enchanters,

The Chaldeans,

The diviners.

The king said

To the wise men

Of Babylon.

‘Whoever can read

This writing,

Whoever can tell me

Its interpretation,

Shall be clothed

In purple.

He shall have

A chain

Of gold

Around his neck.

He shall rank third

In the kingdom.’”

Like all good kings, this King Belshazzar then called for his wise men to interpret the writing on the wall. Thus, the enchanters, the diviners or astrologists, with the wise Chaldeans came to him. After all, he had 1,000 of his best men with him at this feast or party. He then told these wise men that anyone who could read and interpret this mysterious writing would be clothed in purple. They would be able to wear the gold chain of 3rd place in the Babylonian kingdom, after his father and himself.

Measuring all four sides of the square wall (Ezek 42:16-42:20)

“He measured the east side

With the measuring reed.

It was five hundred cubits

By the measuring reed.

Then he turned.

He measured the north side.

It was five hundred cubits

By the measuring reed.

Then he turned.

He measured the south side.

It was five hundred cubits

By the measuring reed.

Then he turned to the west side.

He measured it.

It was five hundred cubits

By the measuring reed.

He measured it

On the four sides.

It had a wall around it.

It was

Five hundred cubits long,

Five hundred cubits wide.

This made a separation

Between the holy

With the common.”

The bronze man then measured the outer Temple wall. Guess what? It was a square of 500 cubits or about 800 feet square all around, a fairly large enclosed square area. He measured first the east side, then the north, south, and west side with his measuring stick or reed. Each time the result was the same. Thus, there was a separation between the interior holy place and the common area outside the wall.