Against Tyre and Sidon (Zech 9:2-9:4)

“Tyre and Sidon thought

That they are very wise.

Tyre has built itself a rampart.

They piled up silver

Like dust.

They piled up gold

Like the dirt of the streets.

But now,

Yahweh will strip it

Of its possessions.

He will hurl

Her wealth

Into the sea.

Tyre shall be devoured

By fire.”

The 2 coastal cities of Tyre and Sidon, in present day Lebanon, thought that they were wise.  They had built fortresses to protect themselves.  They had so much silver and gold that it was like dust or dirt on the streets.  However, Yahweh was going to strip them of their possessions, by hurling their wealth into the sea.  The city of Tyre would also suffer a devouring fire.

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The defeat of the enemies of Zion (Mic 4:11-4:13)

“Now many nations

Are assembled against you.

Saying.

‘Let her be profaned!

Let our eyes gaze upon Zion!’

But they do not know

The thoughts of Yahweh.

They do not understand

His plan.

He has gathered them

As sheaves

To the threshing floor.

Arise!

Thresh!

O daughter Zion!

I will make your horn iron.

I will make your hoofs bronze.

You shall beat in pieces

Many people.

You shall devote their gain

To Yahweh.

You shall devote their wealth

To Yahweh,

The lord of the whole earth.”

Yahweh, via Micah, warned that many nations and people would attack Jerusalem, Mount Zion.  Perhaps this is allusion to the Assyrians around 700 BCE.  However, as they came to gaze at Jerusalem, Yahweh had other plans.  He was going to treat these enemies of Israel as if they were wheat to be grinded down on the threshing floor.  Yahweh wanted the people of Zion to wake up and get ready.  They were to get the threshing machines ready.  The horses would have bronze hoofs and strong iron to do this grinding.  They were to beat these enemies into pieces.  Then they were to take their wealth to devote and donate it to Yahweh, the lord of the whole world.

The terrible actions of Edom (Ob 1:10-1:11)

“The slaughter

With the violence

Done to your brother Jacob

Means that shame

Shall cover you!

You shall be cut off forever!

On the day

That you stood aside,

On the day

That strangers

Carried off his wealth,

On the day

That foreigners

Entered his gates,

On the day

That they cast lots

For Jerusalem,

You too were

Like one of them.”

For all the violence and slaughter that was done to Edom’s brother Jacob, shame would come upon the Edomites.  They would be cut off forever.  In other words, these Edomites were as guilty as the strangers who attacked Jerusalem.  On that day of attack on the holy city, when the foreigners and strangers entered the gates of Jerusalem and took their wealth, the Edomites were like the attackers who were casting lots for Jerusalem.  They were just like these invaders in their complicity.  They did nothing to help the people of Jerusalem and Judah.

The rich fools (Jer 17:11-17:11)

“Like the partridge hatching

What it did not lay,

So are all

Who amass wealth unjustly.

In midlife,

It will not leave them.

At their end,

They will prove to be fools.”

Jeremiah has this neat little proverb about a partridge hatching an egg that it did not lay. This was compared to rich people who get their wealth unjustly. They will keep their wealth through midlife. However, at the end of their lives, they will prove themselves to be fools.

Foreigners building Jerusalem (Isa 60:10-60:12)

“Foreigners shall build up your walls.

Their kings shall minister to you.

In my wrath,

I struck you down.

But in my favor,

I have had mercy on you.

Your gates shall always be open.

Day and night,

They shall not be shut.

Thus nations shall bring you

Their wealth.

Their kings will lead in procession.

The nation that will not serve you

Shall perish.

The kingdom that will not serve you

Shall perish.

Those nations

Shall be utterly laid waste.”

Apparently, Jerusalem will be so rich that foreigners will build or rebuild Jerusalem. Kings would minister to them. Just as Yahweh struck down Jerusalem in his anger, so in his favor he had mercy on them. The gates of Jerusalem were to be open all the time, both day and night. Everyone would bring their wealth to Jerusalem with the various kings leading the processions there. However, those nations and kings that were not going to serve Jerusalem would be utterly wiped out and perish. Cooperate or die!

False justice (Isa 10:1-10:4)

“Woe to you

Who make iniquitous decrees!

Woe to you

Who write oppressive statutes!

You turn aside

The needy from justice!

You rob the poor of my people

Of their right!

Widows may be your spoil!

You make the orphans your prey!

What will you do

On the day of punishment?

What will you do

In the calamity

That will come from afar?

To whom will you flee for help?

Where will you leave your wealth?

Will you crouch among the prisoners?

Will you fall among the slain?

For all this

His anger has not turned away.

His hand is still stretched out.”

Isaiah then curses those who practice injustice, those who make evil decrees and oppressive statutes. He was against those who took away justice and robbed the poor people of their rights. These unjust people took stuff from the widows and the orphans as if they were taking spoil after a war or prey for an animal. What were they going to do on the punishment day? In troubles, who would help them? Where were they going to leave their wealth? They might end up as a prisoner or get killed. Once again, this little section ends with the refrain that the angry hand of Yahweh has not turned away, since it is still stretched out today.

The wealthy (Sir 31:1-31:4)

“Wakefulness over wealth

Wastes away one’s flesh.

Anxiety about wealth

Drives away sleep.

Wakeful anxiety prevents slumber.

A severe illness carries off sleep.

The rich person toils

To amass a fortune.

When he rests,

He fills himself with his dainties.

The poor person toils

To make a meager living.

If ever he rests,

He becomes needy.”

Sirach believes that the wealthy worry too much about their wealth. They are awake all the time, because their anxiety forces them to not get enough sleep. Their worries waste away their bodies, so that they probably will get a severe illness. Then Sirach has a contrast between the rich person who stops working, only to enjoy his delicacies, and the poor person who can hardly stop working because he would fall into poverty. The rich work to amass a fortune, while the poor work to earn a meager living.