Woe to the wicked (Mic 2:1-2:2)

“Woe to those

Who devise wickedness!

Woe to those

Who devise evil deeds

On their beds!

When the morning dawns,

They perform them,

Because it is

In their power.

They covet fields.

They seize them.

They covet houses.

They take them away.

They oppress

The householder

With his house.

They oppress

People

With their inheritance.”

Yahweh, via Micah, warned about the evil wicked people, who were devising evil deeds from their beds.  Then when they got up in the morning, they put their thoughts into action, because of their power.  If they wanted a field or a house, they would seize the field and the house.  By taking them away, they were oppressing the one who owned the house, his household, and the house itself, the people with their inheritance.

The rising waters of the Nile River (Jer 46:7-46:9)

“Who is this?

Who is rising like the Nile?

Who is like rivers

Whose waters surge?

Egypt rises

Like the Nile.

They are

Like rivers

Whose waters surge.

It said.

Let me rise!

Let me cover the earth!

Let me destroy cities!

Let me destroy their inhabitants!

Advance!

O horses!

Dash madly!

O chariots!

Let the warriors go forth!

Men of Ethiopia!

Men of Put

Who carry the shield!

Men of Lud,

Who draw the bow!”

The Egyptians had originally thought that they would have the waters of the Nile River, or their power, take over the Babylonians, but the reverse was true. They wanted to be like rivers surging forth. They wanted to destroy other cities and their inhabitants. They had horses and chariots to carry out their mission as they advanced. They had the people from Ethiopia and Somalia. They had the people of Put, the Libyans, and Lud, the Lydians, who had shields and were good at bows and arrows. However, all this great might was turned back by the Babylonians.

The bad kings (Sir 49:4-49:5)

“Except for King David,

Except for King Hezekiah,

Except for King Josiah

All of them were

Great sinners.

They abandoned

The law of the Most High.

The kings of Judah

Came to an end.

They gave their power

To others.

They gave their glory

To a foreign nation.”

Sirach points out that all the kings, whether in Judah or Israel, were great sinners, except for King David, King Hezekiah, and King Josiah. But even these kings also committed some sins. The worst, of course, were the later kings, just before the exile. Somehow these bad kings were responsible for the downfall of the Israelite and Judah kingdoms because these great sinners abandoned the law of the Most High God. They lost their power and gave away their glory to foreign nations.

Darkness (Wis 17:1-17:6)

“Great are your judgments.

They are hard to describe.

Therefore uninstructed souls have gone astray.

When lawless people supposed

That they held the holy nation in their power,

They themselves lay as captives of darkness.

They were prisoners of a long night.

They were shut in under their roofs.

They were exiles from eternal providence.

Thinking that in their secret sins

They were unobserved

Behind a dark curtain of forgetfulness,

They were scattered.

They were terribly alarmed.

They were appalled by specters.

Not even the inner chamber

That held them

Protected them from fear.

But terrifying sounds rang out around them.

Dismal phantoms with gloomy faces appeared.

No power of fire was able to give light.

Nor did the brilliant flames of the stars avail

To illumine that hateful night.

Nothing was shining through to them,

Except a dreadful,

Self-kindled fire.

In terror

They deemed the things which

That they saw

To be worse

Than that unseen appearance.”

This is an ode to God’s power, whose great judgment is hard to describe. The uninstructed have gone astray. The lawless (ἄνομοι) refers to Egypt, while the holy nation (ἔθνος ἅγιον) is Israel. These uninstructed lawless ones (Egypt) thought that they had the holy nation in their power. However, they were the captives of darkness. They were prisoners of the long night as they were under their own roof. They were exiles from divine providence. They thought that their secret sins would be forgotten. However, they were scattered, alarmed, and appalled. They were full of fear (ἀφόβως) in this darkness. They heard terrifying sounds and saw visions (φάσματα) of gloomy ghost faces. No fire was able to break this darkness. Nothing was shining on them except their own fear. They actually thought that things were worse than what they appeared to be.