Do not remember the sins of our ancestors (Bar 3:5-3:8)

“Do not remember

The iniquities

Of our ancestors!

But in this crisis,

Remember

Your power!

Remember

Your name!

You are the Lord

Our God!

It is you!

O Lord!

Whom we will praise!

You have put

The fear of you

In our hearts

So that we would

Call upon your name.

We will praise you

In our exile!

We have put away

From our hearts

All the iniquity

Of our ancestors

Who sinned before you.

See!

We are today

In our exile

Where you have scattered us.

We are reproached.

We are cursed.

We are punished

For all the iniquities

Of our ancestors

Who forsook

The Lord

Our God.”

Baruch wanted God not to remember the iniquities of their ancestors. Instead he wanted God to remember his own power and his name. They, the Israelite exiles, were going to praise God whom they feared in their hearts, during this exilic time. They were going to call on his name. They wanted the stain of their ancestor’s sins removed. They were scattered in this exile, reproached, cursed, and punished. It was their ancestors who had given up on the Lord, their God, not them.

The example of the Rechabites (Jer 35:14-35:15)

“The command

Has been carried out

That Jonadab,

The son of Rechab,

Gave to his descendants,

To drink no wine.

They drink none

To this day.

They have obeyed

Their ancestor’s command.

I myself have spoken

To you persistently.

But you have not obeyed me.

I have sent to you

All my servants,

The prophets.

I am sending them persistently,

Saying.

‘Turn now every one of you

From your evil ways!

Amend your doings!

Do not go after other gods!

Do not serve them!

Then you shall live

In the land

That I gave to you,

That I gave to your ancestors.’

But you did not incline

Your ears.

You did not obey me.’”

Yahweh was upset that the Rechabites precisely followed the commands of their ancestor Jonadab up to the present day, as they refused to drink wine based on Jonadab’s command. However, the people of Judah and Jerusalem have not listened or obeyed Yahweh, even though he has continually told them to listen to his commands. They have not listened to his persistent servants, the prophets, who told them to change from their evil ways and amend their life style. They kept going to other gods to serve them. All they had to do to live in this land was to serve and obey Yahweh, something their ancestors knew about. However, they had not inclined their ears or obeyed Yahweh.

The Sabbath (Isa 58:13-58:14)

“‘If you refrain

From trampling the Sabbath,

Then you shall take delight in Yahweh.

If you refrain

From pursing your own interests

On my holy day,

Then you shall take delight in Yahweh.

If you call the Sabbath a delight

Then you shall take delight in Yahweh.

If you call the holy day of Yahweh honorable

Then you shall take delight in Yahweh.

If you honor it,

Not going your own ways,

Nor seeking your own interests,

Nor pursuing your own affairs,

Then you shall take delight in Yahweh.

I will make you ride

Upon the heights of the earth.

I will feed you

With the heritage of your ancestor Jacob.’

The mouth of Yahweh has spoken.”

This chapter of Third Isaiah ends with an oracle from Yahweh about the Sabbath. They had to refrain from trampling the Sabbath and pursuing their own interests on this holy day. If they delighted and honored the Sabbath, they would surely delight in Yahweh. As long as they were not pursuing their own affairs and interests on the Sabbath, Yahweh would make them ride to the heights of the earth. They would be part of the heritage of their ancestor Jacob.