The message of Yahweh’s prophets (Jer 25:5-25:7)

“They said.

‘Every one of you!

Turn now

From your evil ways!

Turn now

From wrong doings!

You will remain

Upon the land

That Yahweh has given

To you

As well as your ancestors

From of old

And forever.

Do not go

After other gods

To serve them,

To worship them!

Do not provoke me to anger

With the work of your hands!

Then I will do you no harm.’

Says Yahweh.

‘Yet you did not listen to me.

Thus you have provoked me

To anger

With the work of your hands

To your own harm.’”

Jeremiah says that Yahweh’s prophets had told all of them to turn away from their evil ways and wicked doings. If they had done that, they would remain in the land that Yahweh gave to them and their ancestors forever. However, they were not to go after other gods, serving and worshipping them. Thus they should not provoke Yahweh to anger with their own hands. Yahweh was not going to harm them. However, they did not listen. They had to provoke him to anger with the works of their own hands that only brought harm to them.

Yahweh did not send false prophets (Jer 23:21-23:22)

“I did not send the prophets.

Yet they ran.

I did not speak to them.

Yet they prophesied.

But if they had stood

In my council,

Then they would have proclaimed

My words to my people.

They would have turned them

From their evil way,

From the evil of their doings.”

Yahweh clearly indicated that he had not sent these prophets who pretended to run and prophesize in his name. They were never part of his council. If they had been, they would have proclaimed to the people to turn away from their evil ways of doing things. However, they did not do that.

No more pity for Jerusalem (Jer 15:6-15:9)

“Says Yahweh.

‘You have rejected me!

You are going backward.

I have stretched out my hand

Against you.

I destroyed you.

I am weary of relenting.

I have winnowed them

With a winnowing fork

In the gates of the land.

I have bereaved them.

I have destroyed my people.

They did not turn from their ways.

I have made their widows

More numerous than the sand of the seas.

I have brought

Against the mothers of young men

A destroyer at noonday.

I have made anguish fall on her suddenly.

I have made terror fall on her suddenly.

She who bore seven has languished.

She has swooned away.

Her sun went down

While it was yet day.

She has been shamed.

She has been disgraced.

The rest of them

I will give to the sword

Before their enemies.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that they have rejected and turned against him. Thus Yahweh stretched out his hand and destroyed them. He was tired of forgiving them. He tried to winnow them out to find the good ones. He made them sad by destroying them. They would not turn away from their evil ways. Thus they may have more widows than all the sand in the seas. That is quite a big hyperbolic number. The destroyer came at noon against young mothers. Even strong women who had 7 children were fainting. The sun was setting before the day was done since they were ashamed and disgraced. Anyone left over would suffer the hardship of the deadly sword.

Warning against Jerusalem (Jer 6:6-6:8)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Cut down her trees!

Cast up a siege ramp

Against Jerusalem!

This is the city

That must be punished!

There is nothing but oppression

Within her!

As a well keeps its water fresh,

So she keeps fresh her wickedness.

Violence is heard within her.

Destruction is heard within her.

Sickness is ever before me.

Wounds are ever before me.

Take warning!

O Jerusalem!

Otherwise I shall turn from you

In disgust.

I will make you a desolation.

I will make you an uninhabited land.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, warned Jerusalem. They were going to cut down trees in order to make a ramp siege against Jerusalem because this city needed to be punished. There was nothing but oppression and wickedness within her. Jerusalem was a place of violence and destruction with sickness and wounded people all around. Yahweh was going to turn away in disgust against Jerusalem. Thus it would become a desolate uninhabited land, if it did not heed his warning.

Poem on trust (Jer 3:19-3:20)

“I thought

How would I set you

Among my children?

How would I give you

A pleasant land?

How would I give you

The most beautiful heritage

Of all the nations?

I thought

You would call me,

My Father!

I thought

That you would not turn

From following me.

Surely,

As a faithless wife

Leaves her husband,

So have you been faithless to me,

O house of Israel!’

Says Yahweh.”

This seems to be a thoughtful poem about the lack of trust on the part of the Israelites. Yahweh, via Jeremiah, was thinking about his children, the Israelites. He wanted to give them a pleasant land, the most beautiful heritage among all the countries of the world. They then would call Yahweh father. They would not turn away from him. However, they turned out to be like faithless wives, who leave their husbands. So too, the house of Israel has been faithless to him. There is no mistaking his thoughts and intentions.

Judgment (Isa 59:18-59:20)

“According to their deeds,

So will he repay.

Wrath will come to his adversaries.

Requital will come to his enemies.

To the coastlands,

He will render requital.

Thus those in the west

Shall fear the name of Yahweh.

Those in the east,

His glory will come.

He will come

Like a rushing pent up stream.

The wind of Yahweh will drive it.

He will come to Zion as a Redeemer

To those in Jacob,

Who turn from transgression.

Says Yahweh.”

The judgment of Yahweh is coming. Yahweh will repay people according to their deeds. He will bring wrath to his enemies and adversaries, particularly the coastlands of the Mediterranean area. The people in the west will fear the Lord. Those in the east will see his glory. Yahweh will come like a windy pent up storm. Yahweh will come to Mount Zion as the redeemer for those Israelites who turn away from their transgressions.

The confession of sins (Isa 59:12-59:15)

“Our transgressions before you are many.

Our sins testify against us.

Our transgressions indeed are with us.

We know our iniquities.

We have transgressed Yahweh.

We have denied Yahweh.

We have turned away

From following our God.

We talk oppression.

We talk revolt.

We conceive lying words.

We utter them from our hearts.

Justice is turned back.

Righteousness stands at a distance.

Truth stumbles in the public square.

Uprightness cannot enter.

Truth is lacking.

Whoever turns from evil is despoiled.”

Third Isaiah seems to have a community confession or acknowledgement of sins. They have committed many transgressions, since their sins will testify against them. They know that they have denied God. They have tried to turn away from him, as they wanted to revolt. They lied from their hearts. They have turned back justice since righteousness is now far away. There is no truth in the public squares, no uprightness. Anyone who turns from evil is attacked.

The suffering servant of Yahweh (Isa 50:5-50:6)

“I was not rebellious.

I did not turn backward.

I gave my back

To those who struck me.

I gave my cheeks

To those who pulled out my beard.

I hid not hide my face

From insult.

I did not hide my face

From spitting.”

Now Second Isaiah has this teaching servant become a suffering servant of Yahweh. He had not been rebellious nor turned his back on Yahweh. If anyone struck him, he turned his back to them. If anyone pulled on his beard, he did not turn away since he gave up his cheeks. If anyone insulted him by spitting on him, he did not turn his face to cover it. This suffering servant was very passive in the face of an attack.

The end of idolatry (Isa 17:7-17:8)

“On that day

People will regard their Maker.

Their eyes will look

To the Holy One of Israel.

They will not have regard

For the altars,

The work of their own hands.

They will not look

To what their own fingers have made,

Either the sacred poles

Or the altars of incense.”

The end of idolatry and the turning to the Holy One of Israel will take place on this day of destruction. On that day, they will turn away from the altars that they made with their own hands. They will not look at the idols that they made with their own fingers.   They will turn away from the sacred or holy poles or sticks, like totem poles, and the altars with incense on them. Idolatry will become a thing of the past.

Judges (Sir 46:11-46:12)

“The judges also,

With their respective names,

Were holy famous men.

Their hearts did not fall

Into idolatry.

They did not turn away

From the Lord.

May their memory be blessed!

May their bones send forth new life

Where they lie!

May the names of those

Who have been honored

Live again in their children!”

Sirach does not name any specific judges in his praise of these judges to whom a whole book of the Hebrew Bible describes in some detail, Judges. They did not fall into idolatry, since they did not turn away from the Lord. Their memory should be blessed. Their bones should bring life to where they have been placed. Their names should be honored, as they live again in their children. Despite this plea to honor their names, Sirach does not mention any one particular name of a judge, even though the whole institution of judges was held in high esteem.