“Like the partridge hatching
What it did not lay,
So are all
Who amass wealth unjustly.
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.
“Who will say?
‘What have you done?’
Who will resist your judgment?
Who will accuse you?
For the destruction of nations
That you made?
Who will come before you?
Who will plead as an advocate?
Who will plead for the unrighteous?
Neither is there any god besides you,
Whose care is for all people.
Who can prove
That you have not judged unjustly?
Nor can any king confront you.
A monarch cannot confront you
About those whom you have punished.”
Who can question God? Who could resist him? Who will accuse him? Who will plead for the unrighteous? Who can prove that he judged unjustly? Notice that there is a shift from wisdom to God, who is then compared to all the other gods. This God (Θεός), formerly Yahweh, cares for all (πάντων) the people, not just the Israelites. No one could confront him, not even a king or a monarch (βασιλεὺς ἢ τύραννος). No one could question him about his punishments.
“The good leave an inheritance to their children’s children.
But the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.
The field of the poor may yield much food.
But it is swept away through injustice.
Those who spare the rod
Hate their children.
But those who love them
Are diligent to discipline them.
The righteous have enough
To satisfy their appetite.
But the belly of the wicked
Good people leave an inheritance to their children and grandchildren. However, the sinner’s wealth is taken over by the righteous. There is no indication how this is done. The fields of the poor have a good yield, but someone unjustly takes it away. This sounds strange, but once again there is no explanation as to how this is done. Then there is the famous phrase about sparing the rod. If you did not use the stick on your children it meant that you disliked your children. If you loved them, you disciplined them. The righteous would always have enough to satisfy their appetites. However, the wicked will have an empty belly.
“Yahweh my God!,
If I have done this,
If there is wrong in my hands,
If I have requited my ally with harm,
If I plundered my enemy without cause,
Let the enemy pursue me.
Let him overtake me.
Let him trample my life to the ground.
Lay my soul in the dust.
David set up a series of hypothetical things that he might have done. If he has done any of these things he should be pursued, overtaken, and trampled to the ground. His soul or liver should be crushed to dust. What were the potential evil things he might have done. Had his hands done any wrong thing? Had he turned on his allies and friends? Had he plundered his enemy unjustly? It was all right to plunder the enemy if there was a good cause. This seems unrelated to his defeated dead son. However, he felt he was being punished by Yahweh for something he did. Once again, there is a pause for a musical interlude, a Selah.
“Athenobius, the king’s friend, came to Jerusalem. When he saw the splendor of Simon, and the sideboard with its gold and silver plate, and his great magnificence, he was amazed. He reported to him the words of the king, but Simon said to him in reply.
‘We have neither taken foreign land.
We have never seized foreign property.
We have only the inheritance of our ancestors.
This at one time had been unjustly taken by our enemies.
Now that we have the opportunity,
We are firmly holding the inheritance of our ancestors.
As for Joppa and Gazara,
Which you demand,
They were causing great damage among the people
And to our land.
We will give you a hundred talents.’
Athenobius did not answer him a word. He returned in wrath to the king. He reported to him these words, the splendor of Simon, and all that he had seen. The king was very angry.”
Athenobius, King Antiochus VII’s friend and envoy, was amazed at the splendor in Jerusalem with all the silver and gold. Then he went to Simon and repeated the words of the king in the preceding paragraph. Simon then responded that he had not taken any foreign land or property. All that he took was the inheritance of his ancestors that had been taken unjustly by their enemies. He was going to hold firm to the inheritance of his ancestors. As for Joppa and Gaza, they had caused great hardship on the Jewish people and the land. However, he was willing to pay 100 talents of silver, not the 500 or 1,000 that King Antiochus VII wanted. Athenobius did not say a word. He just returned to the king in an angry mood. When he reported this to the king, he too became very angry. I can see a problem brewing here.