The return of the prisoner captives (Zech 9:11-9:13)

“As for you also,

Because of the blood

Of my covenant

With you,

I will set your prisoners free

From the waterless pit.

Return to your stronghold!

O prisoners of hope!

Today I declare

That I will restore to you double.

I have bent Judah

As my bow.

I have made Ephraim

Its arrow.

I will arouse your sons!

O Zion!

Against your sons,

O Greece!

I will wield you

Like a warrior’s sword.”

In this oracle, Yahweh said that he was going to free the prisoners from their dungeons or waterless pits, because of the covenant or blood treaty that he had with Israel.  Perhaps, this is an allusion to the Temple sacrifices.  The former prisoners of hope or captives would return to their stronghold, since Yahweh was going to double what they had before.  He was going to use Judah in the south and Ephraim in the north as a bow and arrow against other countries, such as Greece.  Yahweh was going to wield them like a warrior’s sword.

The broken arm of the Pharaoh (Ezek 30:20-30:21)

“In the eleventh year,

In the first month,

On the seventh day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

I have broken

The arm of Pharaoh,

King of Egypt.

It has not been

Bound up

For healing.

It has not been

Wrapped

with a bandage.

Thus it cannot

Become strong

To wield the sword.’”

Once again there is a precise date for this oracle of Yahweh to Ezekiel, the son of man, the 7th day of the 1st month of the 11th year of King Zedekiah, in 587 BCE. Yahweh said that he had broken the arm of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. Once it was broken, it was not going to heal. His broken arm was not bound up, wrapped up, or bandaged. He was not going to become strong enough to wield a sword. In other words, the Pharaoh would be useless in the face of any battle.

The rhetorical questions (Isa 10:15-10:15)

“Shall the axe vaunt itself

Over the one who wields it?

Can the saw magnify itself

Against the one who handles it?

Can the rod

Raise the one who lifts it up?

Can the staff

Lift the one who is not wood?”

Isaiah asks a series of rhetorical questions about the proud King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) of Assyria. The axe cannot wield itself. Someone, like Yahweh, has to wield the axe, who is the king. A saw, like the king, will not work unless someone is making it work, like Yahweh. The rod by itself, the king, is useless unless Yahweh lifts it up for punishment. Can a staff of wood do anything without someone controlling it like Yahweh. Yahweh is controlling this proud king, but he thinks that he is in charge.