Against the complacent women in Jerusalem (Isa 32:9-32:14)

“Rise up!

You women who are at ease!

Hear my voice!

You complacent daughters!

Listen to my speech!

In little more than a year

You will shudder!

You complacent ones!

The vintage will fail!

The fruit harvest will not come!

Tremble!

You women who are at ease!

Shudder!

You complacent ones!

Strip!

Make yourselves bare!

Put sackcloth on your loins!

Beat upon your breasts

For the pleasant fields,

For the fruitful vine,

For the soil of my people,

Growing up in thorns,

Growing up in briers!

All the joyous houses

In the joyful city

Will be no more.

The palace will be forsaken.

The populous city will be deserted.

The watchtower will become a den.

The hills will become a den forever

For the joy of wild donkeys,

As a pasture for flocks.”

Isaiah attacks the easy going complacent Jerusalem women. Apparently this was a year before the attack on Jerusalem around 703 BCE. Isaiah always wanted people to listen to him, since they appear to be not listening. He reminded the complacent women that next year the vintage would fail and there would not be any fruit harvest. Isaiah wanted these complacent women to take off their clothes and go into mourning for their city. They should put on sackcloth and beat their breasts for the coming death of the pleasant fields and fruit vines that were about to be turned into thorns and briers. The joyful houses, the city, and the palace would be abandoned. This heavily populated city would be deserted. The towers and the hills would become a den for wild donkeys and a grazing area for animals.

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Stay with your own kind (Sir 13:15-13:20)

“Every creature loves its like.

Every person loves his neighbor.

All living beings associate

With their own kind.

People stick close to those

Like themselves.

What does a wolf have in common

With a lamb?

No more has a sinner anything in common

With the devout.

What peace is there

Between a hyena and a dog?

What peace is there

Between the rich and the poor?

Wild asses in the wilderness

Are the prey of lions.

Likewise the poor

Are feeding grounds for the rich.

Humility is an abomination

To the proud.

Likewise the poor are an abomination

To the rich.”

Sirach tells us that people and creatures like to stick with their own kind. There is a natural born prejudice to stay with your own kind of people. Everybody usually loves their neighbors. Why else would they live there? A wolf and a lamb have nothing in common, just like the sinner and the devout do not have anything in common. There can never be peace between hyenas and dogs, so too the animosity between rich and poor cannot be bridged. Wild donkeys are the prey of lions, so too are the poor the feeding grounds of the rich. The rich take advantage of the poor. The proud hate the humble, just like the rich hate the poor.

Yahweh questions Job about wild asses (Job 39:5-39:8)

“Who has let the wild ass go free?

Who has loosed the bonds of the swift ass?

I have given the steppe for its home.

I have given the salt land for its dwelling place.

It scorns the tumult of the city.

It does not hear the shouts of the driver.

It ranges the mountains as its pasture.

It searches after every green thing.”

Once again there is a series of questions and answers about wild animals. This time it is the wild donkeys. Why are they so fast? Yahweh has given them a home in the steppe and the salt land. They live far from the tumult of the city and the shouts of drivers. They pasture in the mountains seeking green things. Somehow Yahweh wants to show the importance of wild animals.