The tents and curtains (Hab 3:7-3:7)

“I saw the tents

Of Cushan

Under affliction.

I saw the curtains

Of the land of Midian

Tremble.”

Habakkuk said that he saw the afflicted tents of Cushan.  Where is this Cushan?  It is probably not Cush in Ethiopia.  However, it could be a tribe next to the Midians in the Sinai area.  In Midian, the curtains on their tents were shaking or trembling.  This might be a vague allusion to the route from Egypt to the promised land.

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The lamentation over this sudden disaster (Jer 4:19-4:22)

“My anguish!

My anguish!

I writhe in pain!

O!

The walls of my heart!

My heart is beating wildly!

I cannot keep silent!

I hear the sound of the trumpet.

I hear the alarm of war.

Disaster overtakes disaster.

The whole land is laid waste.

Suddenly my tents are destroyed.

My curtains are destroyed in a moment.

How long must

I see the standard?

How long must

I hear the sound of the trumpet?

‘My people are foolish.

They do not know me.

They are stupid children.

They have no understanding.

They are skilled in doing evil.

But they do not know

How to do good.’”

Jeremiah laments the actions that are taking place. He is pained and in anguish. His heart is beating wildly as he hears the sound of the war trumpet. There was disaster after disaster in the land, as their tents and curtains were also destroyed quickly. He wondered how long this was going to last. He realized that his people were foolish, acting like stupid children, not listening to him. They had no understanding of what was happening. The only thing that they knew was evil, since they did not know how to do good things.

A song of fruitfulness for Jerusalem (Isa 54:1-54:3)

“‘Sing!

O barren one!

You who did not bear!

Burst into song!

Shout!

You who have not been in labor!

The children of the desolate woman

Will be more

Than the children of her

That is married.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Enlarge the site place of your tent!

Let the curtains of your habitations

Be stretched out!

Do not hold back!

Lengthen your cords!

Strengthen your stakes!

You will spread out to the right.

You will spread out to the left.

Your descendants

Will possess the nations.

They will settle

The desolate towns.’”

Jerusalem was the barren city that had no children because of the Exile. Now they were to sing and shout because the barren one was about to have many children, even more that the married women. They were now going to enlarge the place for their tents. Their land would be stretched out so that they would need more cords and stakes for their tents. They were about to spread out to the right and the left. Their descendants would possess many nations and repopulate many desolate towns.

The holy prophet Moses (Wis 11:1-11:4)

“Wisdom prospered their works

By the hand of a holy prophet.

They journeyed through an uninhabited wilderness.

They pitched their tents

In untrodden places.

They withstood their enemies.

They fought off their foes.

When they thirsted,

They called upon you.

Water was given them

Out of flinty rock.

A remedy for their thirst

Was from hard stone.”

Based on the stories in Exodus, chapter 17, here we see that Moses is called a holy prophet (προφήτου ἁγίου), not just a servant. Wisdom will now work through the hands (ἐν χειρὶ) of Moses. The Israelites pitched their tents in the stark wilderness or desert (ἔρημον). They were able to fight off their enemies and foes. When they were thirsty they got water (ὕδωρ) from the hard stone rocks.

Bildad describes the life of the wicked (Job 18:5-18:21)

“Surely the light of the wicked is put out.

The flame of their fire does not shine.

The light is dark in their tent.

The lamp above them is put out.

Their strong steps are shortened.

Their own schemes throw him down.

They are thrust into a net by their own feet.

They walk into a pitfall.

A trap seizes them by the heel.

A snare lays hold of them.

A rope is hid for them in the ground.

A trap for them is in the path.

Terrors frighten them on every side.

They chase them at their heels.

Their strength is consumed by hunger.

Calamity is ready for their stumbling.

By disease their skin is consumed.

The firstborn of death consumes their limbs.

They are torn from the tent in which they trusted.

They are brought to the king of terrors.

In their tents nothing remains.

Sulfur is scattered upon their habitations.

Their roots dry up beneath.

Their branches wither above.

Their memory perishes from the earth.

They have no name in the street.

They are thrust from light into darkness.

They are driven out of the world.

They have no offspring.

They have no descendants among their people.

There are no survivors where they used to live.

They of the west are appalled at their fate.

Horror seizes those of the east.

Surely such are the dwellings of the ungodly.

Such is the place of those who do not know God.”

Bildad described the life of the wicked. There was no light or flame for the wicked. They could only take short steps. They would get caught in their own scheming nets and traps that were hidden in the ground. They were stumbling with hunger as trouble was all around them. Their skin was diseased. They had the worst disease, the first born of death, leprosy or a plague. The ancient people always believed that the worse illness was one of the skin or the bowels. They were torn from their tents to meet the king of terrors, death itself. Nothing was left of them, like a dead tree, as the memory of them perished from this earth. They had no name, no children, and no descendents. This was the dwelling of the ungodly, who did not know God in their terrible existence.