Spirituality Scripture Home

Prophetic Oracles

What do you mean by crushing my people, and grinding down the poor when they look to you? Says the Lord, the God of Hosts. Woe to those who build their houses on wrong, their terraces on injustice; who work their neighbors without pay, and give them no wages. The Lord rises to accuse, standing to try his people. The Lord enters into judgment with his people's elders and princes: it is you who have devoured the vineyard; the loot wrested from the poor is in your houses.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil, who change darkness into light, and light into darkness, who change bitter into sweet, and sweet into bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own sight, and prudent in their own esteem! To those who acquit the guilty for bribes, and deprive the just man of his rights!

Woe to those who enact unjust statutes and who write oppressive decrees, depriving the needy of judgment and robbing my people's poor of their rights, making widows their plunder, and orphans their prey! What will you do on the day of punishment, when ruin comes from afar? To whom will you flee for help? Where will you leave your wealth, lest it sink beneath the captive or fall beneath the slain? For all this, his wrath is not turned back, his hand is still outstretched.

Hear this word, women of the mountain of Samaria, you cows of Bashan, -- you who oppress the weak and abuse the needy. The Lord God has sworn by his holiness; truly the days are coming upon you when they shall drag you away with hooks, the lat of you with fishhooks; you shall go out through the breached walls each by the most direct way, and you shall be cast into the mire, says the Lord.

Proclaim this in the castles of Ashdod, in the castles of the land of Egypt: Gather about the mountain of Samaria and see the great disorders within her; the oppression in her midst. Fort they know not how to do what is right, says the Lord, storing up in their castles what they have extorted and robbed. Therefore, thus says the Lord God, an enemy shall surround the land, and strip you of your strength, and pillage your castles, what they have extorted and robbed. For near is the day of the Lord for all the nations! As you have done, so shall it be done to you, your deed shall come back upon your own head. Thus says the Lord: for three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke my word; because they sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way. I hate, I spurn your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities; your offering I will not accept, nor consider your best donations. Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps. But if you would offer me something, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! "When will the Sabbath be over," you ask, "that we may sell our grain, and the holiday, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the pound, add to the price, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the sweepings of the wheat we will sell!" The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Never will I forget a thing they have done!

Woe to those who turn judgment to wormwood and cast justice to the ground! They hate him who reproves at the gate and abhor him who speaks the truth. Therefore, because you have trampled upon the weak and exacted of them levies of grain, though you have built houses of hewn stone, you shall not live in them! Though you have planted choice vineyards, you shall not drink their wine! Yes, I know how many are your crimes, how grievous your sins; oppressing the just, accepting bribes, repelling the needy at the gate! Therefore the prudent man is silent at this time, for it is an evil time. Seek good and not evil, that you may live; then truly will the Lord, the God of hosts, be with you as you claim! Hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate.

Tainted are their gifts who offer in sacrifice ill-gotten goods! Fake presents from the lawless do not win God's favor. The Most High approves not the gifts of the godless, nor for their many sacrifices does he forgive their sins. Like the criminal who slays children in their parents' presence are those who offer sacrifice from the possessions of the poor. The bread of charity is life itself for the needy; those who withhold it are creatures of blood. If you deprive your neighbor of their living, you kill them; the one who sheds blood denies the laborers their wages.

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one, he offers you no resistance.

Woe to those who plan iniquity, and work out evil on their couches; in the morning light they accomplish it when it lies within their power. They covet fields and seize them; houses, and they take them; they cheat an owner of his house, a man of his inheritance. Therefore thus says the Lord: Behold I am planning against this race an evil from which you shall not withdraw your necks. Nor shall you walk with head high, for it will be a time of evil. The women of my people you drive out from their pleasant houses; from their children you take away forever the honor I gave them. [You say to them,] Up! Be off, this is no place to rest; for any trifle you exact a crippling pledge.

And I said, Listen you leaders of Jacob, house of Israel! Is it not your duty to know what is right, you who hate what is good, and love evil? You who tear their skin from them and their flesh from their bones? They eat the flesh of my people and flay their skin from them, and break their bones. They chop them in pieces like flesh in a kettle, and like meat in a caldron. When they cry to the Lord, he shall not answer them, rather shall God hide from them at that time, because of the evil they have done. Hear this, you leaders of T House of Jacob, you rulers of the house of Israel! You who abhor what is just, and pervert all that is right; who build up Zion with bloodshed and Jerusalem with wickedness! Your leaders render judgment for a bribe, your priests give decisions for a salary, your prophets divine for money, while you rely on the Lord saying, "Is not the Lord in the midst of us? No evil can come upon us.

[The wicked say,] "Let us oppress the needy just man; let us neither spare the widow nor revere the old man for his hair grown white with time. But let our strength be our norm for justice; for weakness proves itself useless. Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law, and charges us with violations of our training."

Your holidays and festivals I detest, they weigh me down, I tire of the load. When you spread out your hands, I close my eyes to you; though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds before my eyes; cease doing evil, learn to do good. Make justice your aim, redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow.

How has she turned adulteress, the faithful city, so upright! Justice used to lodge there, but now, murderers. Your silver is turned to dross, your wine is mixed with water. Your princes are rebels and comrades of thieves; each one of them loves a bribe and looks for gifts. The fatherless they defend not, and the widow's plea does not reach them. Now therefore, says the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the Mighty One of Israel: Ah! I will take vengeance on my foes and fully repay my enemies. I will turn my hand against you and refine your dross in the furnace, removing all your alloy. I will restore your judges as at first, and your counselors as in the beginning; after that you shall be called city of justice, faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed by judgment, and her repentant ones by justice.

Lord, avenging God, shine forth! Rise up, judge of the earth; give the proud what they deserve. How long, Lord, shall the wicked glory? How long will they mouth haughty speeches, go on boasting, all these evildoers? They crush your people, Lord, they torment your very own. They kill the widow and alien; the fatherless they murder. They say, "The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob takes no notice." Understand, you stupid people! You fools, when will you be wise? Does the one who shaped the ear not hear? The one who formed the eye not see? Does the one who guides nations not rebuke? The one who teaches humans not have knowledge? The Lord does not human plans, they are only puffs of air.

Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, you arrogant, who rule this people in Jerusalem: Because you say, "We have made a covenant with death, and with the nether world we have made a pact; when the overwhelming scourge passes, it will not reach us; for we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have found a hiding place." Therefore, thus says the Lord God: See, I am laying a stone in Zion, a stone that has been tested, a precious cornerstone as a sure foundation; he who puts his faith in it shall not be shaken. I will make of right a measuring line, of justice a level -- hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies and waters shall flood the hiding place. Your covenant with death shall be canceled and your pact with hell shall not stand. When the overwhelming scourge passes, you shall be trampled down by it.

The Lord said: Since this people draws near with words only and honors me with their lips alone, though their hearts are far from me, and their reverence for me has become routine observance of the precepts of men, therefore I will again deal with this people in a surprising and wondrous fashion: the wisdom of its wise men shall perish and the understanding of its prudent men be hid. Woe to those who would hide their plans too deep for the Lord! Who work in the dark, saying, "Who sees us, or who knows us?" Your perversity is as though the potter were taken to be the clay, as though what is made should say of its maker, "He made me not!" Or the vessel should say of the potter, "He does not understand."

You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with fortune-tellers and soothsayers, like the Philistines; they covenant with strangers. Their land is full of silver and gold and there is no end to their treasures; their land is full of horses, and there is no end to their treasures. Their land is full of idols; they worship the works of their hands, that which their fingers have made. But the people are abased, each one brought low. Get behind the rocks, hide in the dust, from the terror of the Lord and the splendor of his majesty! The haughty eyes of the proud will be lowered, the arrogant will be abased, and the Lord alone will be exalted, on that day. For the Lord of hosts will have his day against all that is proud and arrogant, all that is high, and it will be brought low. Human pride will be abased, the arrogant brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted, on that day; the idols will perish forever.

But a very little while, and the land shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as a forest! On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the tyrant will be no more and the arrogant will have gone; all who are alert to do evil will be cut off, those whose mere word condemns a man, who ensnare his defender at the gate, and leave the just man with an empty claim.

Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of the house of Jacob, who redeemed the Abraham: Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall his face grow pale. When their children see the work of my hands in their midst, they shall keep my name holy; they shall reverence the Holy One of Jacob, and be in awe of the God of the Israel. Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find their fault shall receive instruction.

In days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it, many peoples shall come and say: Come, let us climb the Lord's mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that God may instruct us in his ways and we may walk in his paths. For from Zion shall go forth instruction and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. God shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.

Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner's fire, or like the fuller's lye. He will sit refining and purifying silver and he will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord. Then the sacrifice of Judah and Jerusalem will please the Lord, as in the days of old, as in years gone by. I will draw near to you for judgment and I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, adulterers, and perjurers, those who defraud the hired man of his wages, against those who defraud widows and orphans, those who turn aside the stranger, and those who do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Reform your ways and your deeds, so that I may remain with you in this place. Put not your trust in the deceitful words: "This is the temple of the Lord! The temple of the Lord! The temple of the Lord". Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds; if each of you deals justly with his neighbor, if you no longer oppress the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow' if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place, or follow strange gods to your own harm, will I remain with you in this place, in the land which I gave your fathers long ago and forever.

To the royal house of Judah: Hear the word of the Lord, O house of David! Thus says the Lord: each morning dispense justice, rescue the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor, lest my fury break out like fire which burns without being quenched, because of the evil of your deeds. Open your mouth, decree what is just, defend the needy and the poor!

For I know the Lord will secure justice for the needy, their rights for the poor. Then the just will give thanks to your name; the upright will dwell in your presence. If you see oppression of the poor, and violation of rights and justice in the realm, do not be shocked by the fact, for the high official has another higher than he watching him and above these are others higher still.

Must you prove your rank among kings by competing with them in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink? He did what was right and just, and it went well with him. Because he dispensed justice to the weak and the poor, it went well with them. Is this not true knowledge of me? says the Lord. But your eyes and heart are set on nothing except on your own gain, on shedding innocent blood, on practicing oppression and extortion.

Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock. He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down; he tumbles it to the ground, he levels it with the dust. It is trampled underfoot by the needy, by the footsteps of the poor. The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain, their tongues are parched with thirst. I, the Lord, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. In my pastures the poor shall eat, and the needy lie down in safety.

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly; untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed. Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!

If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; if you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday; then the Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land. He will renew your strength and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails. The ancient ruins shall be rebuilt for your sake, and the foundations from ages past you shall raise up; "Repairer of the breech" they shall call you, "Restorer of ruined homesteads."

Cursed be all who violate the rights of the alien, the orphan, or the widow! And all the people shall answer, Amen. For the Lord of all shows no partiality, nor does he fear greatness, because he himself made the great as well as the small, and he provides for all alike; for for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends.

And the punishments came upon the sinners only after forewarnings from the violence of the thunderbolts. For they justly suffered for their own misdeeds, since indeed they treated their guests with the more grievous hatred. For those others did not receive unfamiliar visitors, but these were enslaving beneficent guests. And not that only; but what punishment was to be theirs since they [sinned against hospitality]?

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest, as men make merry when dividing spoils, for the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster, you have smashed, as on the day of Midian. For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames. For a child is born to us, a son is given us, upon his shoulder dominion rests. The name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David's throne, and over his kingdom which he confirms and sustains. By judgment and justice, both now and forever, the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. A throne shall be set up in mercy, and on it shall sit in fidelity, in David's tent, a judge upholding right and prompt to do justice.

But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land's afflicted.

He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. Then the wolf shall be the guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The crow and the bear shall be neighbors, together with their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra's den, and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea.

He shall give rain for the seed that you sow in the ground, and the wheat that the soil produces will be rich and abundant. On that day your cattle will graze in spacious meadows; the oxen and the donkeys that till the ground will eat silage tossed to them with shovel and pitchfork. Upon every high mountain and lofty hill there will be streams of running water. On the day the Lord binds up the wounds of his people, he will heal the bruises left by his blows.

See, a king will reign justly, and princes will rule rightly. Each of them will be a shelter from the wind, a retreat from the rain. They will be like streams of water in a dry country, like the shade of a great rock in a parched land. The eyes of those who see will not be closed; the ears of those who hear will be attentive. The flighty will become wise and capable, and the stutterers will speak fluently and clearly. No more will the fool be called noble, nor the trickster be considered honorable. For the fool speaks foolishly, planning evil in his heart; how to do wickedness, to speak perversely against the Lord, to let the hungry go empty and the thirsty be without drink. And the trickster uses wicked trickery, planning crimes: how to ruin the poor with lies, and the needy when they plead their case. But the noble man plans noble things, and by noble things he stands.

Then will the desert become an orchard and the orchard be regarded as a forest. Right will dwell in the desert and justice abide in the orchard. Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security. My people will live in peaceful country, in secure dwellings and quiet resting places. Happy are you who sow beside every stream, and let the ox and the donkey go freely!

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she has received from the hand of the Lord double for all her sins. A voice cries out: in the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all mankind shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

A voice says, "Cry out!" I answer, "What shall I cry out?" "All mankind is grass, and all their glory like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower wilts, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it. Though the grass withers and the flower wilts, the word of our God stands forever.

Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings; cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord God who rules by his strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock, in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.

Who has cupped in his hand the waters of the sea, and marked off the heavens with a span? Who has held in a measure the dust of the earth, weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance? Who has directed the spirit of the Lord, or has instructed him as his counselor? Whom did he consult to gain knowledge? Who taught him the path of judgment, or showed him the way of understanding? Behold, the nations count as a drop of the bucket, as dust on the scales; the coast lands weigh no more than powder. Lebanon would not suffice for fuel, nor its animals be enough for sacrifices. Before God all the nations are as naught, as nothing and void he accounts them.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Was it not foretold you from the beginning? Have you not understood? Since the earth was founded, God sits enthroned above the vault of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a veil, spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. He brings princes to naught and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing. Scarcely are they planted or sown, scarcely is their stem rooted in the earth, when he breathes upon them and they wither, and the stormwind carries them away like straw.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint nor grow weary and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny. He gives strength to the fainting, for the weak he makes vigor abound. Though young men faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall, they that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth, the coast lands will wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spreads out the earth with its crops, who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk on it. I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice. I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. I am the Lord, this is my name, my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. See, the earlier things have come to pass, new ones I now foretell; before they spring into being, I announce them to you.

Thus says the Lord: in a time of favor I answer you, on the day of salvation I help you, to restore the land and allot the desolate heritages, saying to the prisoners: Come out! To those in darkness: Show yourselves! Along the ways they shall find pasture, on every bare height shall their pastures be. They shall not hunger or thirst, nor shall the scorching wind or the sun strike them; for he who pities them leads them and guides them beside springs of water. I will cut a road through all my mountains, and make my highways level. See, some shall come from afar, others from the north and the west, and some from the land of Syene. Sing out, o heavens, and rejoice, o earth, break forth into song, you mountains.

For the Lord comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted. But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me." Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name; your walls are ever before me. Your rebuilders make haste, as those who tore you down and laid you waste go forth from you; look about and see, they are all gathering and coming to you. As I live, says the Lord, you shall be arrayed with them all as with adornments, like a bride you shall fasten them on you.

Listen to me, you who pursue justice, who seek the Lord; look to the rock from which you were hewn, to the pit from which you were quarried. Look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth; when he was but one I called him, I blessed him and made him many. Yes, the Lord shall comfort Zion and have pity on all her ruins; her deserts he shall make like Eden, her wasteland like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of song.

Be attentive to me, my people, my folk, give ear to me. For law shall go forth from my presence, and my judgment, as the light of the peoples. I will make my justice come speedily; my salvation shall go forth and my arm shall judge the nations, in me shall the coast lands hope, and my arm they shall await.

Raise your eyes to the heavens, and look at the earth below; though the heavens grow thin like smoke, the earth wears out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies, my salvation shall remain forever and my justice shall never be dismayed. Hear me, you who know justice, you people who have my teaching at heart: Fear not the reproach of men, be not dismayed at their revilings. They shall be like a garment eaten by moths, like wool consumed by grubs; but my justice shall remain forever and my salvation, for all generations. Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the lord! Awake as in the days of old, in ages long ago! Was it not you who crushed Egypt, you who pierced the dragon? Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep? Who made the depths of the sea into a way for the redeemed to pass over? Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy. They will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.

I, it is I who comfort you. Can you then fear mortal man, who is human only, to be looked upon as grass, and forget the Lord, your maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth? All the day you are in constant dread of the fury of the oppressor; but when he sets himself to destroy, what is there of the oppressor's fury?

The oppressed shall soon be released; they shall not die and go down into the pit, nor shall they want for bread. For I am the Lord, your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts by name. I have put my words into your mouth and shielded you in the shadow of my hand. I, who stretched out the heavens, who laid the foundations of the earth, who say to Zion: you are my people.

Awake, awake! Arise O Jerusalem, you who drank at the Lord's hand the cup of his wrath; who drained to the dregs the bowl of staggering! She has no one to guide her of all the sons she bore; she has no one to grasp her by the hand, of all the sons she reared! Your misfortunes are double, who is there to console you? Desolation and destruction, famine and sword! Who is there to comfort you? Your sons lie helpless at every street corner like antelopes in a net. They are filled with the wrath of the Lord, the rebuke of your God.

But now, hear this, O afflicted one, drunk, but not with wine, thus says the Lord, your Master, your God who defends his people: See, I am taking from your hand the cup of staggering, the bowl of my wrath you shall no longer drink. I will put it into the hands of your tormentors, those who ordered you to bow down, that they might walk over you, while you offered your back like the ground, like the street for them to walk on.

Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; put on your glorious garments, O Jerusalem, holy city. No longer shall the uncircumcised or the unclean enter you. Shake off the dust, ascend to the throne, Jerusalem. Loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter Zion! For thus says the Lord: you were sold for nothing and without money you shall be redeemed. Thus says the Lord God: to Egypt in the beginning my people went down to sojourn there; Assyria too, oppressed them for nothing. But now, what am I to do here? Says the Lord. My people have been taken away without redress; their rulers make a boast of it, says the Lord; all the day my name is constantly reviled.

Therefore, on that day, my people shall know my renown, that it is I who have foretold it. Here I am! How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, and saying to Zion, "Your God is King!" Hark! Your watchmen raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the Lord restoring Zion. Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the Lord comforts his people, he redeems Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will behold the salvation of our God.

See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him -- so marred was his look beyond that of man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals -- so shall he startle many nations, because of him, kings shall stand speechless; for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was rejected and avoided by men, a man of suffering accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces, rejected, and we held him in no esteem.

Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins. Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the Lord laid upon him the guilt of us all. Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth, like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.

Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, a grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood. But the Lord was pleased to crush him in infirmity.

If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the Lord shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; and he shall take away the sin of many and win pardon for their offenses.

There is no darkness so dense that evildoers can hide in it. Therefore, God discerns their works, the Lord turns at night and crushes them. For the Lord forewarns no one of their time to come before God in judgment. Without a trial, God breaks the mighty and sets others in their stead, because they turned away from God and heeded none of his ways, but caused the cries of the poor to reach God, so that God heard the plea of the afflicted.

After this, I saw another angle coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth became illumined by his splendor. He cried out in a mighty voice: "Fallen is Babylon the great. She has become a haunt for demons. She is a cage for every unclean spirit, a cage for every unclean bird and disgusting beast. For all the nations have drunk the wine of her licentious passion. The kings of the earth had intercourse with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her drive for luxury.

Then I heard another voice from heaven say, "Depart from her, my people, so as not to take part in her sins and receive a share in her plagues, for her sins are piled up to the sky and God remembers her crimes. Pay her back as she has paid others. Pay her back double for her deeds. Into her cup pour double what she poured. To the measure of her boasting and wantonness, repay her in torment and grief; for she said to herself, I sit enthroned as queen; I am no widow, and I will never know grief. Therefore, her plagues will come in one day, pestilence, grief, and famine; she will be consumed by fire. For mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

The kings of the earth who had intercourse with her in their wantonness will weep and mourn over her when they see the smoke of her burning. They will keep their distance for fear of the torment inflicted on her, and they will say: "Alas, great city, Babylon, mighty city, in one hour your judgment has come."

The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn for her, because there will be no more markets for their cargo of gold, silver, precious stones, and pearls; fine linen, purple silk, and scarlet cloth; fragrant wood of every kind, all articles of ivory and all articles of the most expensive wood, bronze, iron, and marble; cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, and frankincense; wine, olive oil, fine flour, and wheat; cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and salves, that is, human beings.

The fruit you craved has left you. All your luxury and splendor are gone, never again will one find them. The merchants who deal in these goods, who grew rich from her, will keep their distance for fear of the torment inflicted on her. Weeping and mourning, they cry out: "Alas, alas, great city, wearing fine linen, purple and scarlet, adorned in gold, precious stones, and pearls. In one hour this great wealth has been ruined."

Every captain of a ship, every traveler at sea, sailors, and seafaring merchants stood at a distance and cried out when they saw the smoke of her burning, "What city could compare with the great city?" They threw dust on their heads and cried out, weeping and mourning: "Alas, alas, great city, in which all who had ships at sea grew rich from her wealth. In one hour she has been ruined. Rejoice over her, heaven, you holy ones, apostles, and prophets. For God has judged your case against her.

A mighty angel picked up a stone like a huge millstone and threw it into the sea and said: "With such force will Babylon the great city be thrown down, and will never be found again. No melodies of harpists and musicians, flutists and trumpeters, will ever be heard in you again. No craftsmen in any trade will ver be found in you again. No sound of the millstone will ever be heard in you again. No light from a lamp will ever be seen in you again. No voices of bride and groom will ever be heard in you again. Because your merchants were the great ones of the world, all nations were led astray by your magic potion. In Babylon was found the blood of prophets and holy ones and all who have been slain on the earth.

A Parable of Nathan the Prophet before David the King

The Lord sent Nathan to David, and when he came to him, he said, "Judge this case for me! In a certain town there were two men, one rich, the other poor. The rich man had flocks and herds in great numbers. But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had brought. He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. She shared the little food he had and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom. She was like a daughter to him. Now, the rich man received a visitor, but he would not take from his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to him. Instead he took the poor man's ewe lamb and made a meal of it for his visitor. David grew very angry with than man and said to Nathan, "As the Lord lives, the man who has done this merits death! He shall restore the ewe lamb fourfold because he has done this and had not pity."

Then Nathan said to David: "You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: I anointed you king of Israel. I rescued you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your lord's house and your lord's wives for your own. I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more. Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in his sight? You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword' you took his wife as your own, and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites. Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife."

A Sermon of Ezekial the Prophet

Thus the word of the Lord came to me: Son of man, say to her: you are a land [dry as drought] at the time of my fury. Her princes are like roaring lions that tear prey; they devour people, seizing their wealth and precious things, and make widows of many within her. Her priests violate my law and profane what is holy to me;' they do not distinguish between the sacred and the profane, nor teach the difference between the unclean and the clean; they pay no attention to my Sabbaths, so that I have been profaned in their midst. Her nobles within her are like wolves that tear prey, shedding blood and destroying lives to get unjust gain. Her prophets cover them with whitewash, pretending to visions that are false and performing lying divinations, saying, "Thus says the Lord God", although the Lord has not spoken. The people of the land practice extortion and commit robbery; they afflict the poor and the needy, and oppress the resident alien without justice. Thus I have searched among them for someone who could build a wall or stand in the breach before me to keep me from destroying the land; but I found no one. Therefore I have poured out my fury upon them; with my fiery wrath I have consumed them; I have brought down their conduct upon their heads, says the Lord God.

See, everyone who is fond of proverbs will say of you, Like mother, like daughter. Yes, you are the true daughter of the mother who spurned her husband and children and you are a true sister to those who spurned their husbands and children -- your mother was a Hittite and your father an Amorite. Your elder sister was Samaria with her daughters, living to the north of you; and the your younger sister, living to the south of you, was Sodom with her daughters. Yet not only in their ways did you walk, and act as abominably as they did, in a very short time you became more corrupt in all your ways than they. As I live, says the Lord God, I swear that Sodom, with her daughters children, has not done as you and your daughters have done! And look at the guilt of that city: Sodom and her daughters were proud, sated with food, complacent in their prosperity, and they gave no help to the poor and needy. Rather, they became haughty and committed abominable crimes in my presence; then, as you have seen, I removed them.

If anyone begets a child who is a thief, a murderer, or who does nay of these things (though the parent does none of them), who eats on the mountains, defiles the spouse of a neighbor, oppresses the poor and needy, commits robbery, does not give back a pledge, raises his eyes to idols, does abominable things, lends at interest and exacts usury -- such people certainly shall not live. Because they practiced all these abominations, they shall surely die, their deaths shall be their own fault.

On the other hand, if anyone begets children who, seeing all the sins their parents commit, yet fears and does not imitate them; children who do not eat on the mountains, or raise their eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, or defile their neighbor's spouse; who do not oppress anyone, or exact a pledge, or commit robbery; who give their food to the hungry and clothe the naked, who hold off from evildoing, accept no interest or usury, but keep my ordinances and live by my statues -- these shall not die for the sins of their parents, but shall surely life. Only the parents, since they violated rights, and robbed, and did what was not good among the people shall in truth die for their sins. The virtuous ones virtue shall be their own, as the wicked's wickedness shall be theirs.

But if the wicked turn away from all the sins they committed, if they keep all my statutes and do what is right and just, they shall surely live, they shall not die. None of the crimes they committed shall be remembered against them; they shall live because of the virtue they have practiced. Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? Says the Lord God. Do I not rather rejoice when they turn from their evil ways that they may life?

Scripture citations:

Is. 3:15; Her. 22:13; Is. 3:13-14; Is. 5:20-23; Is. 10:1-4; Amos 4:1b-3; Amos 3:9-11; Obadiah 15; Amos 2:6-8; Amos 5:21-24; Amos 8:4-7; Amos 5:7-15a; Sirach 34:18-22; James 5:1-6; Micah 2:1-3, 9-11; Micah 3:1-4, 9-11; Wis. 2:10-12; Is. 1:14-16, 21-27; Ps. 94:1-11; Is. 28:14-18; Is. 2:6-12, 18; Is. 29:13-24; Is. 2:1-5; Malachi 3:1-5; Jer. 7:3-7; Jer. 21:11-12; Prov. 31:9; Ps. 140:13-14; Ecc. 5:7; Jer. 22:15b-17; Is. 26:4-6; Is. 41:17; Is. 14:30a; Is. 58:6-12; Deut. 27:19; Wis. 19:13-15; Wis. 6:7-8; Is. 9:1-6; Is. 16:5; Is. 11:1-9; Is. 30:23-25a, 26b; Is. 32:1-8; Is. 32:15b-20; Is. 40:1-17l Is. 40:21-24; Is. 40:28-31; Is. 42:1-9; Is. 49:8-18; Is. 51; Is. 52:1-10; Is. 52:13-15; Is. 53; Job 34:22-28; Rev. 18: 2 Sam. 12:1-10; Eze. 22:23-31; Eze. 16:44-50; Eze. 18:10-19, 20b-23.

Spirituality Scripture Home