The defilement of the dead (Ezek 44:25-44:27)

“‘They shall not defile

Themselves

By getting near

To a dead person.

However,

They may defile

Themselves

For a father,

For a mother,

For a son,

For a daughter,

For a brother,

Or for an unmarried sister.

After he has become clean,

They shall count

Seven days for him.

Then he shall be clean.

On the day

That he goes

Into the holy place,

Into the inner court,

To minister

In the holy place,

He shall offer

His sin offering.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh God told Ezekiel what to do about the Zadok Levitical priests who defiled themselves by going near a dead person. They were not supposed to go close to a dead person. However, there were occasions when these priests could go near a dead person, and thus, defile themselves. In particular, this usually meant a close family member, a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a brother, or an unmarried sister. Yet they would have to become clean again. They would have to wait 7 days before they could be clean. Then they would have to offer a sin offering for themselves in the holy place.

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No lamenting for King Jehoiakim (Jer 22:18-22:19)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh

Concerning King Jehoiakim,

The son of King Josiah

Of Judah.

‘They shall not lament for him.

Saying.

‘O my brother!’

Or

‘O sister!’

They shall not lament for him,

Saying.

‘O lord!’

Or

‘O his majesty!’

With the burial of a donkey,

He shall be buried.

He shall be dragged off.

He shall be thrown out

Beyond the gates of Jerusalem.’”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, was very clear. No one should lament for King Jehoiakim (609-598 BCE), the son of King Josiah (640-609 BCE) of Judah. Do not even mention he was a brother or a sister, or a majestic person. He should be given a burial like a donkey. They should drag him through the streets and throw him out beyond the gates of Jerusalem. He was to have an inglorious end. Obvious Yahweh, via Jeremiah did not like this king that was put on the throne by the Egyptians.

One slave as a brother (Sir 33:30-33:31)

“If you have only one slave

Treat him like yourself!

You have bought him

With blood.

If you have only one slave,

Treat him like a brother!

You will need him,

As you need your life.

If you ill-treat him,

He may leave you.

He may run away.

Which way will you go

To seek him?”

Now there is a completely different tone, if you only have one slave. Here Sirach wants you to treat this one slave like yourself or as a brother. You bought him so that you need to make sure that your investment is worthwhile. You will need this one slave like you need a brother. He may save your life. If you do not treat him well, he may leave you. He may run away. Probably, you will not be able to find him.

Almsgiving (Sir 29:8-29:13)

“Be patient with someone

In humble circumstances.

Do not keep him waiting

For your alms.

Help the poor man

For the commandment’s sake.

In their need,

Do not send them away

Empty-handed.

Lose your silver

For the sake of a brother.

Lose your silver

For the sake of a friend.

Do not let your silver rust

Under a stone.

Do not let your silver be lost.

Lay up your treasure

According to the commandments

Of the Most High.

It will profit you

More than gold.

Store up almsgiving

In your treasury.

It will rescue you

From every disaster.

Better than a stout shield,

Better than a sturdy spear,

It will fight for you

Against the enemy.”

You should be patient with people in humble poor circumstances. You should not make them wait for your almsgiving gift. You are only following the commandments when you give to the poor. You should not send the needy away empty-handed. You should give your silver to a brother or a friend. Do not let your silver rust or get lost under a stone. Circulate money. Your treasure should be in the commandments of the Most High God that are more profitable than gold. Your treasury should be filled with almsgiving, so that it can rescue you from any disaster that might come your way. Almsgiving is better than a strong shield or spear in the fight against your enemy.