Did what was evil
In the sight of Yahweh,
Just as King Jehoiakim
So angered Yahweh
That he expelled them
From his presence.
Against the king of Babylon.”
This is word for word the same as the opening of 2 Kings, chapter 25. Yahweh was angry with King Zedekiah, since he walked in the evil ways of his brother King Jehoiakim, and not in the good ways of his father, King Josiah. However, King Zedekiah also rebelled against the king of Babylon, which was not always a good idea since the king of Babylon had put him on the throne.
“In the prophets of Samaria,
I saw a disgusting thing.
They prophesied by Baal.
They led my people Israel astray.
But in the prophets of Jerusalem,
I have seen a more shocking thing.
They commit adultery.
They walk in lies.
The hands of evildoers.
Thus no one turns from wickedness.
All of them have become
Like Sodom to me.
Its inhabitants are
Yahweh makes a comparison between the evil prophets of Jerusalem with the false prophets of Samaria as well as the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. There is no doubt that the false prophets of Samaria worshipped and prophesized by Baal. Thus they led the Israelites astray by these disgusting practices. However, the prophets of Jerusalem have done a more shocking thing. They committed adultery and walked in lies. Thus they strengthened the hands of the evil doers. Thus, no one turned away from wickedness. They became like the famous sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, in Genesis, chapter 19.
“I solemnly warned your ancestors
When I brought them up
Out of the land of Egypt.
I warned them persistently,
Even to this day,
‘Obey my voice!’
Yet they did not obey.
They did not incline their ear.
But everyone walked
In the stubbornness of an evil heart.
Therefore I brought upon them
All the words of this covenant,
That I commanded them to do.
But they did not.”
Yahweh explained in the first person singular to Jeremiah how he had warned their ancestors, when he brought them out of Egypt. He has consistently warned them even until the present day. They were to obey his voice. However, they did not obey since they did not listen. They all walked in the stubbornness of their evil hearts. Thus Yahweh asked them to hear the words of the covenant and observe them. However, they did not, so that is the problem.
‘They have forsaken my law
That I set before them.
They have not obeyed my voice.
They have not walked in accordance with it.
But they have stubbornly followed
Their own hearts.
They have gone after the Baals,
As their ancestors taught them.”
Yahweh explains why this punishment was about to take place. They simply have forsaken the law of Yahweh that he set before them. They have not obeyed his voice. They have not walked according to his ways. They have stubbornly followed their own hearts. They went to the pagan idol gods of Baal, like their ancestors. Yahweh clearly explained his reasoning.
“Those who see you
Will stare at you.
They will ponder over you.
‘Is this the man
Who made the earth tremble?
Is this the man
Who shook kingdoms?
Is this the man
Who made the world
Like a desert?
Is this the man
Who overthrew its cities?
Is this the man
Who would not let his prisoners go home?’
All the kings of the nations
Lie in glory,
Each in their own tomb.
But you are cast out.
You are away from your grave,
Like loathsome carrion.
You are clothed with the dead,
Those pierced by the sword.
You go down to the stones of the Pit,
Like a corpse trampled underfoot.”
Isaiah then has his companions ask this king a series of satirical questions. They were staring at this king as they thought about him. He had made the earth tremble. He had shook up kingdoms. He had made the world a desert. He had overthrown cities. He had never let prisoners go. But look at him now! Is this the same man? Most kings are buried in their own tombs. However, he was cast out of his grave so that he became rotten flesh for birds to eat. He was pierced by the sword so that he was not in a grave, but in a pit, so that his corpse was trampled on as people walked by.
‘Because the daughters of Zion
With outstretched necks.
They glance wantonly
With their eyes.
They mince along
As they go.
With their feet.
Yahweh will afflict them
On the heads
Of the daughters of Zion.
Yahweh will lay bare
Their secret parts.”
Now Isaiah presents another oracle of Yahweh about the prideful women of Zion in Jerusalem. The women of Zion were proud, since they stretched out their necks. They were provocative with their wandering unrestrained sexual looks in their eyes. They minced or played around as they went their way. They made noises or tinkled bells with their feet as they walked to gain attention. Yahweh was not content to let this go. Instead he was going to put scabs on their heads. He was going to make them naked, revealing their private parts. Obviously, this is a strong anti-feminism attitude.
“‘I came forth
From the mouth of the Most High.
I covered the earth like a mist.
I dwelt in the highest heaven.
My throne was in a pillar of cloud.
I compassed the vault of heaven.
I traversed the depths of the abyss.
Over waves of the sea,
Over all the earth,
Over every people,
Over every nation,
I have held sway.
Among all these,
I sought a resting place.
In whose territory
Should I abide?’”
Sirach has wisdom personally speak in the first person singular. She seems to come directly from the mouth of the Most High God, like the spirit of God, what Christians would later call the Holy Spirit. She covered the earth like a mist. She was in the highest heaven on a throne in a cloud pillar. She was alone in the vault of heaven and walked in the depths of the sea. She was in charge of everything, earth and sea, peoples and nations. She was looking for a resting place where she might live. She wanted to know where this might be.
Accept my words!
Thus the years of your life may be many.
I have taught you the way of wisdom.
I have led you in the path of uprightness.
When you walk,
Your step will not be hampered.
If you run,
You will not stumble.
Keep hold of this instruction!
Do not let go!
She is your life.”
This parental instruction continues. This time if they follow his advice, they will have a long life. This father has taught them the way of wisdom and the path of righteousness. When they walked, they would not be interfered with. If they ran, they would not stumble. He reminds them to hold fast to his instruction and not let it go. They were to guard his advice on wisdom so that lady wisdom would lead them to a long productive life.
“Even though I walk
In the midst of trouble,
You preserve me
Against the wrath of my enemies.
You stretch out your hand.
Your right hand delivers me.
Yahweh will fulfill his purpose for me.
Your steadfast love endures forever!
Do not forsake the work of your hands.”
This short psalm ends with a beautiful expression of faith. David believed that even though he walked in the middle of trouble, Yahweh would protect him from his enemies. Yahweh would stretch out his right hand to deliver and save him. Yahweh would fulfill his promises with David because his steadfast love endures forever. David believed that Yahweh would not forsake the work of his hands.
“If I had said.
‘I will talk on in this way.’
I would have been untrue
To the circle of your children.
But when I thought how to understand this,
It seemed to me a wearisome task,
Until I went into the sanctuary of God.
Then I perceived their end.
Truly you set them in slippery places.
You make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment.
They are swept away utterly by terrors!
They are like a dream when one awakes.
You despise their phantoms.”
This psalmist Asaph deals in the hypothetical of what might have happened if he walked in their ways. He would have been untrue to the children of God. He was confused and weary until he went to the Temple sanctuary of God. There he understood their end. These wicked ones were on slippery ground. They would fall to ruin. They would be destroyed in a moment. They would be swept away with terrible terrors. This was like a dream. When you awake from it you hate it. The wicked were only enjoying temporary success.