Get ready for the battle (Nah 2:1-2:1)

“The one who shatters

Has come up

Against you.

Guard the ramparts!

Watch the road!

Gird your loins!

Collect all your strength.”

Nahum warned that they should get ready for the battle in very descriptive language.  A shattering foe was to come up against them.  They were to guard the ramparts leading up to their town.  They were to watch the road.  They were to gird their loins, that meant that they would tuck in their robes around their waist for better leg movement.  Today’s equivalent would be roll up your selves.  They were to collect all their strength for the battle to come.

The punishment of Israel (Am 2:13-2:16)

“‘So,

I will press you down

In your place.

Just as a cart

Presses down,

When it is full of sheaves.

Flight shall perish

From the swift.

The strong

Shall not

Retain their strength.

The mighty

Shall not

Save their lives.

Those who handle the bow

Shall not stand.

Those who are swift

Of foot

Shall not save themselves.

Those who ride horses

Shall not save their lives.

Those who are stout

Of heart,

Among the mighty,

Shall flee away naked,

In that day.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Amos, issued his punishment. The Israelites were going to be pressed down like a bundle of hay or sheaves. The swift people would lose their quick agility. The strong people would lose their strength. The mighty people would lose their lives. The archers would not be able to stand. The fast people would not be able to save themselves. The horse riders would lose their lives also. The mighty strong people would run away naked. Yahweh said that all this would take place on the appointed day.

The lack of food (Lam 1:11-1:11)

Kaph

“All her people groan.

They search for bread.

They trade

Their treasures

For food

To revive

Their strength.

‘Look!

Yahweh!

See!

How worthless

I have become!’”

Once again, we have the shift from a third person description about Jerusalem to a first person singular Jerusalem itself praying directly to Yahweh, the God of Israel. All the people were groaning due to the lack of bread or nourishment. They were trading their treasures for food, which makes sense. They wanted to revive their strength. This verse ends with the first person singular plea to Yahweh. Jerusalem laments how worthless she has become. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Kaph. Each verse after this will use the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet in this acrostic poem.

The coming terror against Ammon (Jer 49:4-49:5)

“‘Why do you boast

In your strength?

Your strength is ebbing.

O faithless daughter!

You trusted

In your treasures.

Saying,

‘Who will attack me?’

Says Yahweh

God of hosts.

‘I am going to bring terror

Upon you

From your neighbors.

You will be scattered,

Each headlong,

With no one

To gather the fugitives.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, was clear. The Ammonites were going to suffer in terror. Why had they boasted about their strength, when they were actually losing strength. They had trusted in their treasures, thinking that no one would be able to attack them. Yahweh had other plans for them, although he also called them faithless daughters as if they were like the northern Israelites. They were going to be attacked by their neighbors, scattered headlong against each other. There would be no one left to gather all those who were fleeing Ammon.

The curse of Yahweh (Jer 17:5-17:6)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Cursed are those

Who trust in mere mortals!

Cursed are those

Who make mere flesh

Their strength!

Cursed are those

Whose hearts turn away

From Yahweh!

They are

Like a shrub in the desert.

They shall not see

When relief comes.

They shall live

In the parched places

Of the wilderness.

They shall live

In an uninhabited salt land.’”

Jeremiah had Yahweh issue a curse, not a blessing. If they trusted in mere mortals, if they made their own flesh their strength, and if their hearts turned away from Yahweh, they would be cursed. They are like shrubs in a desert that do not know when help is coming to them. They will live in a wild parched land. They will live in uninhabitable salt lands. Their punishment would be a hard life with bad soil.

The cities along the Mediterranean Sea should listen (Isa 41:1-41:1)

“Listen to me in silence!

O coastlands!

Let the people renew their strength!

Let them approach!

Let them speak!

Let us together

Draw near for judgment.”

Second Isaiah asks for people in the cities along the Mediterranean Sea to pay attention. They should renew their strength, approach him, and speak together in order to render judgment in some kind of court situation.

The refusal of the Israelites (Isa 30:15-30:17)

“Thus said Yahweh God,

The Holy One of Israel.

‘In returning

You shall be saved.

In rest,

You shall be saved.

Your strength is in quietness.

Your strength is in trust.

But you refused.

You said.

‘No!

We will flee upon horses.’

Therefore you shall flee!

‘We will ride upon swift steeds.’

Therefore your pursuers shall be swift!

A thousand shall flee

At the threat of one.

At the threat of five,

You shall flee,

Until you are left

Like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,

Like a signal on a hill.”

This oracle of Isaiah has both titles, Yahweh God and the Holy One of Israel. Yahweh shows the Israelites how they can be saved. They have to be quiet in a trustful rest, which would then be their strength. However, they refused. They wanted to get on their fast horses and ride away. However, Yahweh reminded them that their pursuers had swift horses also. These combatants will chase them until they become like a flagpole on the top or a mountain or a signal on the top of the hill. They should have stayed quiet and relied on trusting Yahweh, not their fast horses.