Yahweh saves his flock (Ezek 34:21-34:22)

“You pushed

With your flank.

You pushed

With your shoulder.

You butted

At all the weak animals

With your horns.

You have scattered them

Far and wide.

I will save my flock.

They shall no longer

Be ravaged.

I will judge

Between sheep

With sheep.”

Yahweh, via Ezekiel, complained about the bad sheep. They were pushing the other sheep around with their sides or flanks and their shoulders. They were butting all the weak sheep with their horns. Thus, they were scattering Yahweh’s flock of sheep. Yahweh said that his sheep would no longer be ravaged, because he was going to judge between the good and the bad sheep.

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King Nebuchadnezzar and Tyre (Ezek 29:17-29:18)

“In the twenty-seventh year,

In the first month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

Made his army

Labor hard

Against Tyre.

Every head

Was made bald.

Every shoulder

Was rubbed bare.

Yet neither he

Nor his army

Got anything

From Tyre

To pay

For the labor

That he had expended.”

This appears to be one of the last oracles of Ezekiel. Once again, there is an exact date, the 1st day of the 1st month of the 27th year of King Zedekiah, making it 571 BCE, well after the captivity of Jerusalem. As usual, the word of Yahweh came to Ezekiel, the son of man. Yahweh explained how King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had made his army work very hard against Tyre. They were baldheaded and wore out their shoulders. However, neither he nor his army got anything out of Tyre to pay for all the energy that they had spent against it.

The sea dragon in the wilderness (Ezek 29:5-29:7)

“I will fling you

Into the wilderness.

You!

With all the fish

Of your channels!

You shall fall

In the open field!

You will not be gathered.

You will not be buried.

I have given you

As food

To the animals

Of the earth,

To the birds

Of the air.

Then all the inhabitants

Of Egypt

Shall know

That I am Yahweh.

Because they were

A staff of the reed

To the house of Israel.

When they grasped you

With the hand,

You broke down.

You tore

All their shoulders.

When they leaned

On you,

You broke down.

You made

All their legs

Unsteady.”

Yahweh was going to fling this sea dragon of Pharaoh, with all his fish in the Nile River channels, into the wilderness. They would then fall into an open field, where they would not be gathered or buried. The animals of the earth and the birds of the air would then eat them as food as they lay in the open fields. Then all the inhabitants of Egypt would know that Yahweh was God. They were like a reed to the house of Israel. When they grasped this dragon and his fish with their hands, they broke down. They tore all their shoulders when they leaned on these fish. Their legs became unsteady.

The failure to serve the king of Babylon (Bar 2:21-2:23)

“Thus says the Lord.

‘Bend your shoulders!

Serve

The king of Babylon!

You will then

Remain in the land

That I gave

To your ancestors.

But if you will not obey

The voice of the Lord,

If you will not serve

The king of Babylon,

I will cease

The voice of mirth,

The voice of gladness,

The voice of the bridegroom,

The voice of the bride,

From the towns of Judah,

As well as from the region

Around Jerusalem.

The whole land

Will be a desolation

Without inhabitants.’”

The Lord via the prophets had told the Judeans to bend their shoulders and serve the king of Babylon. If they did that, they would remain in the land that the Lord had given to their ancestors. However, if they did not obey the voice of God, and not serve the king of Babylon, then God would cease to have any sounds of mirth or gladness from the brides or the bridegrooms from the towns of Judah as well as the region around Jerusalem. The whole land would become a desolation without inhabitants. They had a clear choice, obey the Lord and the king of Babylon, or suffer the consequences. They were already in exile, because they had not obeyed the king of Babylon. As usual, Jeremiah and Baruch were pro-Babylonian.

Yahweh is incomparable to the weak false idols (Isa 46:5-46:7)

“To whom will you liken me?

Can you make me equal?

Can you compare me?

Do you think that we are all alike?

Those who lavish gold

From the purse,

They hire a goldsmith

To make it into a god.

Those who weigh out silver

On the scales,

They hire a silversmith,

To make it into a god.

Then they fall down.

They worship it.

They lift it to their shoulders.

They carry it.

They set it in its place.

It stands there.

It cannot move

From its place.

If one cries to it,

It does not answer.

It does not save anyone

From trouble.”

Second Isaiah continues with this theme of the useless idols and how incomparable they are to Yahweh. Once again, Yahweh defends himself. How can you say that these false idols and Yahweh are the same? How could you even make a comparison? Then Yahweh repeated his thought about the uselessness of human made idols, even though they are made of lavish gold and silver. After the goldsmith or silversmith has made their idols, they would bow down and worship before it, knowing that they had just made it. Then they would carefully carry the idol on their shoulders to set it in a place where it could not move. If anyone went to cry before this idol, it could not answer or save that person from their troubles.

Yahweh had protected them in the past (Isa 10:25-10:27)

“In a very little while,

My indignation

Will come to an end.

My anger will be directed

To their destruction.

Yahweh of hosts

Will wield a whip against them,

As when he smote Midian

At the rock of Oreb.

His staff will be over the sea.

He will lift it

As he did in Egypt.

In that day,

His burden will be removed

From your shoulder.

His yoke will be destroyed

From your neck.’”

Yahweh speaks directly via Isaiah about his love for Israel. His indignation at them will be short lived. In his anger, he will destroy the Assyrians with a whip. He will do this, just as he had helped the Israelites under Gideon against Oreb and the Midian people at the rock of Oreb in Judges, chapters 6-7. Then there is also an allusion to Yahweh’s staff at the parting of the Red Sea when the Israelites escaped from Egypt in Exodus, chapter 14. At that point, the burden on their shoulders and the yoke on their necks will be lifted.

From darkness to light (Isa 9:2-9:5)

“The people who walked in darkness

Have seen a great light.

Those who lived

In a land of deep darkness,

Light has shined on them.

You have multiplied the nation.

You have increased its joy.

They rejoice before you,

As with joy

At the harvest,

As people exalt

When dividing plunder.

You have broken

The yoke of their burden,

The bar across their shoulders,

The rod of their oppressor,

As on the day of Midian.

All the boots

Of the tramping warriors,

With all the garments

Rolled in blood,

Will be burned

As fuel for the fire.”

Isaiah predicts that the time of darkness will turn to light. Light will shine on them. Their nation will increase with joy just like at harvest time or the splitting up of plunder. Their yoke and the bar across their shoulders will have been broken. The oppressor’s rod will have been laid aside just like at Midian. Could this be a reference to Midianites in Judges, chapter 7, when Gideon attacked them? Anyway, all the boots of the trampling warriors and their bloody garments will be used as fuel to be burned in a fire.