Yahweh hates divorces (Mal 2:14-2:16)

“You ask.

‘Why does he not?’

Because Yahweh was

A witness

Between you

And the wife of your youth.

You have been faithless

To her.

She is your companion.

She is your wife by covenant.

Did not one God make her?

Both flesh and spirit are his.

What does the one God desire?

Godly offspring.

Thus,

Look to yourselves

Do not let anyone

Be faithless

To the wife of his youth!

I hate divorce.’

Says Yahweh,

The God of Israel.

‘Do not cover

One’s garment

With violence!’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Thus,

Take heed to yourselves!

Do not be faithless!’”

Yahweh warned them that he was a witness to the marriage of an Israelite to the bride of his youth.  If he was not faithful to her, Yahweh would not accept his sacrifices.  The bride of his youth was his companion and wife, since God made her, both flesh and spirit.  God’s desire was offspring.  He reminded the Israelites to look at themselves.  They should be faithful to the bride of their youth.  Yahweh hated divorce.  They should not cover their garment or wife in violence.  They were to remain faithful to God and their wife.

Judah has been unfaithful (Mal 2:11-2:12)

“Judah has been faithless.

An abomination

Has been committed

In Israel,

As well as in Jerusalem.

Judah has profaned

The sanctuary of Yahweh

That he loves.

He has married

The daughter of a foreign god.

May Yahweh cut off

From the tents of Jacob

Anyone who does this!

May Yahweh cut off

Anyone who witnesses,

Who answers,

Who brings an offering

To Yahweh of hosts!”

Yahweh, via Malachi, noted that Judah had not been faithful.  There was an abomination in Jerusalem itself.  Judah had profaned the sanctuary of Yahweh.  Judah had married the daughter of a foreign god.  Perhaps this indicates a non-Jewish woman.  Thus, Yahweh was going to cut them off from the tents of Jacob.  Anyone involved in any kind of false worship of a foreign god would be cut off from being a witness or bringing offerings to Yahweh.  They should be excommunicated.

They will obey Yahweh (Jer 42:5-42:6)

“They in turn said to Jeremiah.

‘May Yahweh be a true witness!

May Yahweh be a faithful witness

Against us,

If we do not act

According to everything

That Yahweh

Your God

Sends us through you.

Whether it is good or bad,

We will obey

The voice of Yahweh

Our God,

To whom we are sending you,

So that it may go well

With us

When we do obey

The voice of Yahweh

Our God.’”

The leaders and the group of those remaining from the land of Judah proclaimed to Jeremiah that Yahweh would be a true and faithful witness against them, if they did not act according to everything that Yahweh would say to Jeremiah. It did not matter whether it was good or bad, they would obey the voice of Yahweh as interpreted by Jeremiah. They wanted things to go well with them, so that they were willing to listen to the voice of Yahweh, their God. Yahweh was no longer Jeremiah’s God, but their God also.

The naked Isaiah (Isa 20:2-20:2)

“At that time,

Yahweh had spoken

To Isaiah,

Son of Amoz,

Saying.

‘Go!

Loose the sackcloth

From your loins!

Take your sandals

Off your feet!’

He had done so.

He was walking naked.

He was walking barefooted.”

The time frame is between 722-705 BCE, perhaps around 711 BCE, when Yahweh spoke to Isaiah, the son of Amoz. He told him to go out and loosen his loin cloth and take off his sandals. Isaiah was to walk around naked and barefooted. Quite often prophets were asked by God to do strange things as a symbol and witness for the other Israelites.

Yahweh in control of Egypt (Isa 19:19-19:22)

“On that day,

There will be an altar to Yahweh

In the center of the land of Egypt.

There will be a pillar to Yahweh

At its border.

It will be a sign.

It will be a witness

To Yahweh of hosts

In the land of Egypt.

When they cry to Yahweh

Because of oppressors,

He will send them a savior.

He will defend them.

He will deliver them.

Yahweh will make himself known

To the Egyptians.

The Egyptians will know Yahweh.

On that day,

They will worship with sacrifice.

They will worship with burnt offering.

They will make vows to Yahweh.

They will perform them.

Yahweh will strike Egypt,

Striking and healing.

They will return to Yahweh.

He will listen to their supplications.

He will heal them.”

On that special day, the Egyptians will convert to Yahweh. They will build an altar to Yahweh in the center of Egypt, much like another Jerusalem. There will even be a pillar to Yahweh at the borders of Egypt. This would indicate and witness that Egypt was under the protection of Yahweh. If they had any oppressors, all that they had to do was to cry out to Yahweh for help. Then he would send a savior to them in order to defend and deliver them. They were also going to be the people of Yahweh as the Egyptians would worship with sacrifices and burnt offerings to Yahweh. They would make vows and perform them for Yahweh. Yahweh would listen to them and heal them. He even would forgive them like the Israelites. Thus we have a new people of Yahweh in Egypt. How different this is from the idea of a few remnant Israelites in Jerusalem.

Wickedness (Wis 17:11-17:14)

“Wickedness is a cowardly thing.

It is condemned

By its own testimony.

Distressed by conscience,

It has always exaggerated the difficulties.

Fear is nothing but a giving up of the helps

That come from reason.

Fear gives up hope.

It is defeated

By this inward weakness.

It prefers ignorance of what causes the torment.

Throughout the night,

That was really powerless,

Which came upon them

From the recesses of powerless Hades.

They all slept the same sleep.”

Wickedness (πονηρία) is cowardly. Its own witness (μαρτυρεῖ) condemns it. Wickedness always exaggerates difficulties so that it fears (φόβος) everything that comes from reason (λογισμοῦ). The wicked give up hope. They are defeated by their own inner weakness. They prefer ignorance of what causes problems. They are powerless throughout the night, like a powerless hell or Hades (ἀδυνάτου ᾅδου). However, everyone sleeps the same sleep, no matter what.

The Spirit of God (Wis 1:6-1:11)

“Wisdom is a kindly spirit.

Wisdom will not free blasphemers

From the guilt of their words. God is witness

Of their inmost feelings.

God is a true observer of their hearts.

He is a hearer of their tongues.

The Spirit of the Lord

Has filled the world.

What holds all things together

Knows what is said.

Therefore those who utter unrighteous things

Will not escape notice.

Justice,

When it punishes,

Will not pass them by.

Inquiry will be made

Into the counsels of the ungodly.

A report of their words

Will come to the Lord.

It will convict them of their lawless deeds.

A jealous ear hears all things.

The sound of grumbling does not go unheard.

Beware then of useless grumbling!

Keep your tongue from slander!

No secret word is without result.

A lying mouth destroys the soul.”

Wisdom (σοφία) is a kindly or philanthropic spirit (φιλάνθρωπον πνεῦμα). There is almost equivalence between wisdom and the Spirit. The blasphemers (βλάσφημον) will not escape the guilt of their words. God is a witness (μάρτυς ὁ Θεὸς) to their innermost feelings. He knows their heart (τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ ἐπίσκοπος ἀληθὴς). He hears their tongues (τῆς γλώσσης ἀκουστής). The Spirit of the Lord (πνεῦμα Κυρίου) has filled the world. Thus this creative spirit knows all things. Thus those who utter unrighteous things will not escape notice. A just punishment will not pass them by. An inquiry will be made and a report will be given to the Lord (Κΰριον). They will be convicted of their evil and lawless deeds. A jealous ear hears all things. Thus the Lord hears this useless grumbling. You should keep your tongue from slandering. Even secret words are known, so that a lying mouth destroys the soul (ψυχήν).

Job cries out to earth (Job 16:18-16:22)

“O earth!

Do not cover my blood!

Let my outcry find no resting place.

Even now,

In fact,

My witness is in heaven.

He that vouches for me is on high.

My friends scorn me.

My eye pours out tears to God.

That he would maintain the right of a mortal with God,

As one does for a neighbor.

When a few years have come,

I shall go the way

From which I shall not return.”

Job wanted the earth not to cover his blood. He wanted the cry of his innocent blood to reach heaven. He wanted his outcries not to be buried and lost. He still believed that he had a witness in heaven that would vouch for him. His friends still scorned him as he cried with tears to God. He still wanted to be treated like a mortal in the sight of God, the way that mortals treat their neighbors. Within a few years, he would have his final exit. He seems to be pleading with God to still listen to him despite his condition.

The happy visit to Scythopolis (2 Macc 12:29-12:31)

“Setting out from Ephron, they hastened to Scythopolis, which is seventy-five miles from Jerusalem. However, the Jews who lived there bore witness to the goodwill that the people of Scythopolis had shown them. They had shown their kind treatment of them in times of misfortune. Thus the men of Judas Maccabeus thanked them. They exhorted them to be well disposed to their race in the future also.”

Scythopolis was about 75 miles northeast of Jerusalem on the Jordan River. There had been many battles fought here under the Hebrew name of Beth-Shan, where King Saul was defeated by the Philistines. By the 2nd century BCE it had the Greek name of Scythopolis. This time the Jews there said that the folks in this town treated them with good will. Since they had been treated kindly, they thanked them and moved on. There was no battle here.