Eternal salvation (Isa 51:7-51:8)

“Listen to me!

You who know righteousness!

You people!

You have my teaching in your hearts!

Do not fear the reproach of others!

Do not be dismayed

When they revile you!

The moth will eat them up

Like a garment.

The worm will eat them

Like wool.

But my deliverance will be forever.

My salvation is to all generations.”

Again, Second Isaiah asks people, especially the righteous who have his teaching in their hearts, to listen to Yahweh. They should not be afraid of the reproach of others when they are reviled. Forget about that! These revilers would be eaten up like a moth destroys a garment or worms ruin wool. Never fear, the deliverance and salvation of Yahweh is forever into many generations to come.

The greetings in Sheol (Isa 14:9-14:11)

“Sheol beneath is stirred up.            

They want to meet you

When you come.

They rouse the shades

To greet you.

All who were leaders of the earth

Greet you.

All who were kings of the nations

Rise from their thrones.

All of them will speak.

They will say to you.

‘You too have become

As weak as we!

You have become

Like us!’

Your pomp

Is brought down to Sheol.

The sound of your harps

Is brought down to Sheol.

Maggots are the bed beneath you.

Worms are your covering.”

This haughty king now descends after his death into the shadowy underworld of Sheol. Everyone there wanted to meet this king. All the former leaders and kings of the world were there to greet this newly deceased Babylonian king. They got up from their thrones and greeted him. Then they reminded him that he had become like them, weak. All his self important pomps were gone in Sheol. There was no harp playing in Sheol. In fact, he would sleep on a bed of maggots with worms as his covering, not a pretty picture.

Reckless drunkards (Sir 19:1-19:3)

“A worker who is a drunkard

Will not become rich.

One who despises small things

Will fail little by little.

Wine leads intelligent men astray.

Women lead intelligent men astray.

The man who consorts

With prostitutes is reckless.

Decay will take possession of him

Worms will inherit him.

The reckless person

Will be snatched away.”

Sirach warns us that a drunkard will not become rich. If you despise small things, you will fail little by little. Both wine and women have led intelligent men astray. You are reckless, if you hang around with prostitutes. Always blame your downfall on someone or something other than yourself. Your body will decay and worms will take over. The reckless person will have his life snatched away.

Humble work (Sir 7:15-7:17)

“Do not hate hard labor.

Do not hate farm work.

These were created by the Most High.

Do not enroll in the ranks of sinners.

Remember that retribution does not delay.

Humble yourself to the utmost.

The punishment of the ungodly is fire and worms.”

These Sirach recommendations continue. You should not dislike hard labor or farm work since they were created by the Most High God. Do not hang out with sinners because retribution will not be delayed. Humble yourself. The punishment for the ungodly is both fire and worms.

Bildad praises God (Job 25:1-25:6)

“Then Bildad the Shuhite answered.

‘Dominion and fear are with God.

He makes peace in his high heaven.

Is there any number to his armies?

Upon whom does his light not arise?

How then can a mortal be righteous before God?

How can one born of woman be pure?

If even the moon is not bright,

If the stars are not pure in his sight,

How much less a mortal,

A maggot,

A human being,

A worm?”

This is a very short chapter with only 6 verses. This is clearly the response of Bildad. He said that dominion and fear come with God since he had made peace in the high heavens. No one could number or count God’s armies or his angels because they were so numerous. His light shines on all. How could a mortal man be righteous before God? No one born of a woman can be pure or clean. Event the moon and the stars are not totally bright. Mortals are like maggots, worms or just plain humans.

The ways of the wicked (Job 24:18-24:21)

“Swift are they on the face of the waters.

Their portion in the land is cursed.

No one who treads turns toward their vineyards.

Drought and heat snatch away the snow waters.

Sheol snatches away those who have sinned.

The womb forgets them.

The worm finds them sweet.

They are no longer remembered.

Wickedness is broken like a tree.’

They harm the childless woman.

They do no good to the widow.”

These are difficult passages since they are later in the Jerusalem Bible, after chapter 27, in order to connect to the curse of Zophar. It is difficult to say whether this is Job or one of his comforters speaking. This may have been an inserted poem. These wicked are quick, but their land is cursed. No one walks, tramples, or treads in their vineyards. The snow waters do not reach their land. Sheol eventually takes them. Their mothers forget them. They are not remembered. The worms like their sweetness like a broken tree. They have harmed the childless woman and the widows.

Do the wicked really suffer? (Job 21:17-21:26)

“How often is the lamp of the wicked put out?

How often does calamity come upon them?

How often does God distribute pains in his anger?

How often are they like straw before the wind?

How often are they like chaff that the storm carries away?

You say.

‘God stores up their iniquity for their children.

Let it be paid back to them.

Thus they may know it.

Let their own eyes see their destruction.

Let them drink of the wrath of the Almighty Shaddai.’

What do they care for their household after them?

When the number of their months is cut off?

Will any teach God knowledge?

He judges those that are on high.

One dies in full prosperity.

They are at ease and secure.

Their loins are full of milk.

The marrow of their bones is moist.

Another dies in bitterness of soul.

They have never tasted of good.

They lie down alike in the dust.

The worms cover them.”

Job wondered whether the wicked were really punished at all. The wicked people seem to be surviving pretty well. Where is their pain and calamity? They do not seem to be like chaff or straw in the wind. As for their children getting the punishment, what do they care about that? What do they care about their inheritance after they have died? They seem to die at ease and secure with their prosperity. What else could you ask for? They die like everyone else. Dust and worms will cover them up whether they were prosperous or not, whether they were wicked or not. Where is God’s punishment to them since they do not seem to care or know about God?