Day 219

Isaiah 45-48

Chapter 45

In verse 1-13, why does Yahweh refer to King Cyrus of Persia as his ‘anointed one’? Special, or chosen, maybe, since Yahweh seems to have chosen Cyrus to free the Jews from captivity and allow them to return home to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. But ‘anointed’? (The literal translation of the word ‘messiah’ is ‘anointed king’.)

The SAB points out that David Koresh (born Vernon Howell) chose his name after the two men in the Bible who are called Messiah (or anointed one) in the Bible: David and Cyrus. (The name “Koresh” is a transliteration of the Hebrew name Cyrus.) mmmm… And if god’s mission was to free the Jews and restore Jerusalem, did he have to choose such a complicated and convoluted Rube Goldberg way to do it? Note in v 7, god’s words include the phrase “I make peace, and create evil” (KJV); modern translations avoid the use of the word ‘evil’, substituting ‘good times and bad times’ (NLT) or ‘prosperity and disaster’ (NIV).

In v 14, god changes the topic to how the Israelites are his special people and the rest of the world will bow down to them, and everyone else’s gods are just idols, and then he boasts again about his power yada yada yada. Why is it that god’s wishes always align with the hopes of the people who worship him? Some recognizable phrases in v 23, suitable for cherry-picking – sure enough, a simple search yields this (from a Russian Orthodox liturgy):

Chapter 46

Yahweh reminds us that he is the only god, and all the others are mere idols who cannot protect Israel. (Just in case you haven’t heard this before.) And he adds, “Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” (v 10). No free will there for sure – Yahweh has our lives all planned, so why bother?

Chapter 47

In v 1-4, the fall of Babylon is predicted. Is it necessary to use such base, sexually graphic language to describe it? What’s the purpose – shock, humiliation, or just crass misogyny? This chapter is crude – see also the negative references to magic and witchcraft in v 9, 12, and 13. The words of v 14, in the KJV, seem to suggest that astrologers will literally be burned; but again, in the NLT, this image is watered down to more of a metaphor. Read and see what you think.

no peaceChapter 48

Yahweh is lecturing Israel, asserting his authority, reminding the people of past sins, and saying ‘I told you so’, and he sounds just like every parent who has ever lectured a teenager. But then in v 6-7, he gets ridiculous (in the NLT, anyway). “I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard. They are brand new, not things from the past. So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’ “Yes, I will tell you of things that are entirely new…” Does anyone else hear Dr Seuss here? V13 illustrates some lovely bad science. And the chapter concludes with a verse that has become a cliché – “There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.”

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