The end for buyers and sellers (Ezek 7:12-7:13)

“The time has come!

The day draws near!

Let not the buyer rejoice!

Let not the seller mourn!

The wrath is upon

All their multitude.

The seller

Shall not return

To what has been sold,

As long as they remain alive.

The vision concerns

All their multitude.

It shall not be revoked.

Because of their iniquity,

They cannot maintain

Their lives.”

As in Jeremiah, chapter 32, buying and selling land and other things assumed a stable society. The time was coming as the day drew near when buyers and sellers would not rejoice or mourn because of the chaotic conditions. The wrath of God was to be upon both of them. The seller could not return his goods as long as he was alive. Everybody was going to suffer the consequences of those who had committed iniquities. No one would be able to maintain their lives.

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The grieving widow Jerusalem (Bar 4:9-4:12)

“Jerusalem saw

The wrath

That came

Upon you

From God.

She said.

‘Listen!

You neighbors of Zion!

God has brought

Great sorrow

Upon me!

I have seen

The exile

Of my sons.

I have seen

The captivity

Of my daughters,

The Everlasting one

Brought this

Upon them.

With joy,

I nurtured them.

But I sent them away

Weeping

With sorrow.

Let no one rejoice

Over me!

A widow!

I am bereaved of many.

I was left desolate

Because of the sins

Of my children.

Because they turned away

From the law of God.’”

The author of Baruch points out that Jerusalem saw the wrath of God that came upon them first hand. This personified city of Jerusalem said that the neighbors of Zion should listen. God had brought great sorrow on Jerusalem, since her sons and daughters were captured and exiled. The Everlasting One, the name of God used here instead of Yahweh, brought this exile on them. Jerusalem had nurtured them, but she sent them away weeping and in sorrow. No one should rejoice about this situation, since Jerusalem was now a widow, grieving over many people. She had become desolate because of the sins of her children. They had turned away from the law of God.

They do not listen to the warning (Jer 6:9-6:11)

“Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

‘Glean thoroughly

As a vine

The remnant of Israel.

Like a grape-gatherer,

Pass your hand again

Over its branches.’

To whom shall I speak?

To whom shall I give warning?

Who might hear?

See!

Their ears are closed

Their ears are uncircumcised.

They cannot listen.

See!

The word of Yahweh is to them

As an object of scorn.

They take no pleasure in it.

But I am full of the wrath of Yahweh.

I am weary of holding it in.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that they should glean the vineyards looking for those grapes of the holy remnant of Israel. They should go behind the pickers to find these precious grapes. Who was going to listen to these warnings from Yahweh? Their ears were closed like uncircumcised ears. They could not listen. The word of Yahweh had become an object of scorn. They did not take any pleasure in the word of God. The wrath of God could not be held in any longer.

Sinners until death (Sir 23:16-23:17)

“Two kinds of individuals

Multiply sins.

A third incurs wrath.

Hot passion blazes

Like a burning fire.

Hot passion

Will not be quenched

Until it burns itself out.

Whoever commits fornication

With his near of kin

Will never cease

Until the fire burns him up.

To a fornicator,

All bread is sweet.

He will never cease

Until he dies.”

Here Sirach is like Proverbs with a numerical proverb that is a little unclear. Some sinners multiply their sins, basically those with sins of passion. However, another kind of sinner incurs the wrath of God. Obviously, fornication is wrong. Hot passion blazes like a burning fire until it is quenched and burns itself out. The big sin is sexual fornication with a relative. Sirach believes that this fornicator will not cease until fire burns him up. Each fornicator believes that all bread is sweet, since they make no distinction on who they get involved with. They will only cease their bad habits at death. This is a strong condemnation of the indiscriminate sexual offender, especially those who get sexually involved with their own family members.

Job speaks about Sheol (Job 14:13-14:17)

“O that you would hide me in Sheol!

O that you would conceal me until your wrath is past!

O that you would appoint me a set time!

O that you would remember me!

If mortals die,

Will they live again?

All the days of my service

I would wait until my release should come.

You would call me.

I would answer you.

You would long for the work of your hands.

Then you would not number my steps.

You would not keep watch over my sin.

My transgression would be sealed up in a bag.

You would cover over my iniquity.”

Job wanted to hide in Sheol, or the underworld of the dead, what we often call hell. He wanted to stay there until the wrath of God against him had subsided. He wanted a set time. He wanted to know if mortals lived after their death. Job was willing to wait in Sheol if he had a release date. He would answer if called. He wanted God to remember that he was the work of God. He wanted him to remember his steps. He wanted his sins and transgressions covered up in a sealed bag. He wanted Sheol or hell to be transitory, not permanent.

The unfaithful country (2 Chr 36:14-36:16)

“All the leading priests and the people also were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. They polluted the house of Yahweh that he had consecrated in Jerusalem. Yahweh, the God of their ancestors, sent persistently to them his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. They kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of Yahweh against his people became so great that there was no remedy.”

This is a diatribe against the whole nation of Judah, rather than just its leaders, the kings. Both the priests and people were unfaithful. They were like other countries, not special to Yahweh. They polluted the Temple, the house of Yahweh, in Jerusalem. Yahweh had sent messengers to warn the people. However, they mocked and despised the words of the prophets. The prophets and the Levites seem to be the good guys since there is no mention of the evil ways of the Levites. Finally, the anger of Yahweh had no other remedy except to send the people into captivity.