The rotten plague (Zech 14:12-14:12)

“This shall be the plague

With which Yahweh

Will strike all the people

That waged wars

Against Jerusalem.

Their flesh shall rot,

While they are still

On their feet.

Their eyes shall rot

In their sockets.

Their tongues shall rot

In their mouths.”

Yahweh was going to send a plague on everybody that had waged war on Jerusalem.  Their flesh would rot on their body as they were still standing on their feet.  Their eyes would rot in their sockets, while their tongues would rot in their mouths.  This was a rotten plague.

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The colorful gods (Bar 6:8-6:11)

“The god’s tongues

Are smoothed

By the carpenter.

They themselves

Are overlaid

With gold

Or silver.

But they are false.

They cannot speak.

People take gold.

They make crowns

For the heads

Of their gods,

As they would

For a girl

Who loves ornaments.

Sometimes the priests

Secretly take gold

Or silver

From their gods.

They spend it

On themselves.

They even give

Some of it

To the prostitutes

On the terrace.

They deck

Their gods out

With garments

Like human beings.

These are gods of silver.

These are gods of gold.

These are gods of wood.”

These colorful gods have carpenters who smooth out their tongues. These gods are overlaid with gold or silver, but they are still false since they cannot speak. They even have golden crowns on their heads. These gods are like young girls who love pretty ornaments. Sometimes, their priests secretly take the gold or silver from their gods to spend it on themselves. They may even give some of it to the local street or temple prostitutes. They dress up their gods with various garments to make them look more human. Thus they have gods made of silver, gold, or wood that are colorful but useless.

Against the false prophets (Jer 23:30-23:32)

“‘See!

Therefore,

I am against the prophets.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They steal my words

From one another.

See!

I am against the prophets.’

Says Yahweh.

They use their own tongues

To say.

‘Says Yahweh!’

See!

I am against those who prophesy

Lying dreams.’

Says Yahweh.

‘They tell them.

They lead my people astray

By their lies,

By their recklessness.

I did not send them.

I did not appoint them.

They do not profit

This people at all.’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has 3 more oracles of Yahweh against the false prophets. They have been stealing Yahweh’s words from one another. They use their tongues to pretend that their words are from Yahweh. They prophesize lying dreams. They have led his people astray with their lies and their recklessness. Yahweh never sent them or appointed them as prophets. They have not helped the people at all. Instead, they have been a detriment to the people of Judah and Jerusalem.

How should they be punished? (Jer 9:7-9:9)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I will now refine them.

I will test them.

What else can I do

With my sinful people?

Their tongue is a deadly arrow.

It speaks deceit

Through the mouth.

They all speak friendly words

To their neighbors.

But inwardly

They are planning

To lay an ambush.

Shall I not punish them

For these things?

Shall I not bring retribution

On a nation such as this?’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh wants to test or refine this sinful people. Their tongues are like deadly arrows because of their deceit. They speak friendly words to their neighbors, but they are planning an ambush for them. How are they to be punished? How much retribution should be handed out to such a people and a country?

The deceitful neighbors (Jer 9:4-9:6)

“‘Beware of your neighbors!

Put no trust in any of your relatives!

All your relatives are liars.

Every neighbor goes around

Like a slanderer.

They all deceive their neighbors.

No one speaks the truth.

They have taught their tongues

To speak lies.

They commit iniquity.

They are too weary to repent.

Oppression upon oppression!

Deceit upon deceit!

They refuse to know me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has another oracle of Yahweh about watching out for your neighbors and their deceitfulness. Not only are they to be aware of their neighbors, but also their own relatives and next of kin. They were not to trust them because they were liars, hoping to take their place. Neighbors are going around slandering them. No one was speaking the truth because they all had taught their tongues to lie. When they did something wrong, they were too weary to repent. Thus there was oppression piled on oppression, deceit after deceit. They all refused to know Yahweh.

A lamentation about the moral corruption of Judah (Jer 9:1-9:3)

“‘O that my head were a spring of water!

O that my eyes were a fountain of tears!

Thus I might weep day and night

For the slain of my poor people!

O that I had in the desert

A traveler’s lodging place!

Thus I might leave my people!

Thus I might go away from them!

They are all adulterers.

They are a band of traitors.

They bend their tongue

Like bows.

They have grown strong in the land

Because of falsehood,

Not because of truth.

They proceed from evil to evil.

They do not know me.’

Says Yahweh.”

Jeremiah has another oracle of Yahweh that speaks out about his lament over the corruption in Judah. Yahweh wished that he had a head with a spring of water or fountain of tears in his eyes, so that he could weep all day and night for the dead people of Judah. He wished that he had a lodging place in the desert so that he could get away from his poor people. They were all adulterers and traitors. They bent their tongues like bows with all their falsehood, instead of truth. They simply went from one evil to another evil. They did not even know Yahweh. It was a terrible scene. There is a slight discrepancy of the verse numbers since this first verse in the Jerusalem Bible is the last of the preceding chapter. However, I will follow the Revised Standard edition numbering for this chapter.

The young people at the banquet (Sir 32:7-32:9)

“Speak!

You who are young!

If you are obliged to.

But speak

No more than twice,

And only if asked.

Be brief!

Say much in few words!

Be as one

Who knows!

Be as one

Who can still hold his tongue!

Among the great,

Do not act as their equal!

When another is speaking,

Do not babble!”

Sirach thinks that the young people should speak only if they are asked to do so. They should never speak more than twice and with few words. They should be like someone who knows something, but still holds their tongues. They should not act as equals among the great people. If someone is speaking, they should not babble. This is actually good advice for everyone.