The problem of Jerusalem (Zech 12:2-12:3)

“See!

I am about to make Jerusalem

A cup of trembling

For all the surrounding people.

It will be against Judah also

In the siege against Jerusalem.

On that day,

I will make Jerusalem

A heavy stone

For all the people.

Anyone who lifts it

Shall grievously hurt themselves.

All the nations of the earth

Shall come together against it.”

Zechariah pointed out that Jerusalem was going to have a special place.  They were going to be like a cup of trembling or reeling, perhaps an allusion to the cup, bowl, or basin that caught the blood of the Passover lamb.  The neighboring people should be aware that Jerusalem was under siege.  Thus, Jerusalem was to become a heavy stone that few people could lift.  Apparently, there was a practice of lifting stones to show one’s strength among young men, like weight lifting.  Thus, anyone who tried to lift the heavy stone of Jerusalem would hurt themselves.  All the various countries in the world would come against Jerusalem, but at their own risk.

Advertisements

Blessed is God in heaven (Dan 3:32-3:34)

“Blessed are you!

You look

Into the depths

From your throne

On the cherubim!

You are to be praised!

You are highly exalted forever!

Blessed are you

On the throne

Of your kingdom.

You are to be extolled!

You are highly exalted forever!

Blessed are you

In the firmament

Of heaven!

You are to be sung to!

You are to be glorified forever.”

Next, the 3 young men bless God in heaven, who looks down on them from his throne on the cherubim in heaven. God is to be praised and exalted forever, because he sees his kingdom from the firmament of heaven. Thus, everyone should sing to him and glorify him forever.

The ten-day test (Dan 1:14-1:16)

“Thus,

The guard agreed

To this proposal.

He tested them

For ten days.

At the end of ten days,

It was observed

That they appeared better,

As well as fatter,

Than all the young men

Who had been eating

The royal rations.

Thus,

The guard continued

To withdraw

Their royal rations.

He took away

Their wine

That they were to drink.

Instead,

He gave them vegetables.”

The guard agreed to Daniel’s request for 10 days. Then after 10 days, he observed that they were fatter and in better shape than the other young men who had been eating and drinking the royal food and wine. Thus, the guard continued to give them only vegetables instead of the rich royal food and wine.

The names of the Israelite students (Dan 1:6-1:7)

“Among those chosen were

Daniel,

Hananiah,

Mishael,

Azariah,

From the tribe of Judah.

The palace master

Gave them other names.

Daniel,

He called Belteshazzar.

Hananiah,

He called Shadrach.

Mishael,

He called Meshach.

Azariah

He called Abednego.”

The names of the 4 Israelite students from the tribe of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Obviously, the emphasis will be on Daniel, the name of this book. However, Ashpenaz, the chief of the palace, gave them other names that were more Babylonian, Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. There was an American song written about the 3 young men with Daniel, called “Shadrach,” and later recorded by Louis Armstrong and Brook Benton.  This was another common practice to help integrate them into the Chaldean Babylonian culture.

The Babylonian king requests young Israelite students (Dan 1:3-1:4)

“Then the king commanded

His palace master,

Ashpenaz,

To bring

Some of the Israelites

Of the royal family

Or Of the nobility.

These should be

Young men

Without physical defect,

As well as handsome.

These should be

Versed in every branch

Of wisdom,

Endowed

With knowledge,

As well as insight.

These young men

Should be competent

To serve

In the king’s palace.

They were to be taught

The literature,

As well as the language,

Of the Chaldeans.”

King Nebuchadnezzar wanted to have some well-bred Israelites students. He had his palace chief, Ashpenaz, find these young men if they met certain conditions. These young men would have to be in good physical shape, as well as good looking. They had to be from the Israelite royal family or the Israelite nobility. Thus, these young men would not be run of the mill students. On top of that, they had to show some wisdom, knowledge, and insight. They were not going to waste their time on people who did not want to learn. Thus, they would be competent to serve in the king’s palace like a page. They also had to learn the Chaldean or Babylonian culture with its literature and language. This seemed like a good use of smart young men.

 

The captive cities of Egypt (Ezek 30:17-30:19)

“The young men

Of On

Shall fall by the sword.

The young men

Of Pi-beseth

Shall fall by the sword.

The cities themselves

Shall go into captivity.

At Tehaphnehes,

The day shall be dark,

When I break

The dominion of Egypt.

Its proud might

Shall come to an end.

The city

Shall be covered

By a cloud.

Its daughters-towns

Shall go into captivity.

Thus I will execute

Acts of judgment

On Egypt.

Then they will know

That I am Yahweh.”

Not only would Yahweh destroy many Egyptian cities, he was also going to take their surviving citizens captive. The young men of On and Pi-beseth would die by the sword. On was Heliopolis and Pi-beseth was Bubastis. Anyone still remaining alive in these cities would be taken into captivity. At Tehaphnehes or Tahpanhes, the day would become dark. Yahweh was going to put an end to the great dominion of Egypt. This powerful city would be covered, as if there was a cloud over it. The daughters-towns or suburbs of Tehaphnehes would also be taken into captivity. Yahweh was going to execute his judgment on Egypt, so that they would know that he was Yahweh, God.

The change in habits (Lam 5:13-5:14)

“Young men

Are compelled

To grind

At the mill.

Boys stagger

Under loads of wood.

The old men

Have left

The city gate.

The young men

Have left

Their music.”

The lives of the people left in Jerusalem have changed. The young men are now grinding at the mill, while the young boys stagger under the heavy loads of wood. The old men have left their discussions at the city gate, while the young men no longer are involved with music.