An eye for an eye (Mt 5:38-5:38)

“You have heard

That it was said.

‘An eye for an eye.

A tooth for a tooth.’”

 

Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη Ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ ὀφθαλμοῦ καὶ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος.

 

Once again, Matthew has Jesus cite Exodus, chapter 21:23.  They all had heard this old saying about revenge talked about (Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη).  An eye for an eye (Ὀφθαλμὸν ἀντὶ ὀφθαλμοῦ) and a tooth for a tooth (καὶ ὀδόντα ἀντὶ ὀδόντος.), plain and simple.  This Exodus citation started out by talking about what to do if you hit a pregnant woman that caused her to have a miscarriage.  Then you would have to pay the fine that the woman’s husband demanded, as approved by a judge.  If any harm followed, you ended up with the famous revenge concept of a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound, a stripe for a stripe.  This revenge concept was clear, even though it was a limited revenge.

Samuel (Sir 46:13-46:20)

“Samuel was beloved by his Lord.

He was a prophet of the Lord.

He established the kingdom.

He anointed rulers over his people.

By the law of the Lord

He judged the congregation.

The Lord watched over Jacob.

By his faithfulness,

He proved to be a prophet.

By his words,

He became known as a trustworthy seer.

He called upon the Lord,

The Mighty One,

When his enemies

Pressed him on every side.

He offered in sacrifice

A sucking lamb.

Then the Lord thundered from heaven.

He made his voice heard

With a mighty sound.

He subdued the leaders of the enemy

In Tyre.

He subdued all the rulers of the Philistines.

Before the time of his eternal sleep,

Samuel bore witness before the Lord.

Samuel bore witness before his anointed.

‘No property,

Not so much as a pair of shoes,

Have I taken from anyone!’

No one accused him.

Even after he had fallen asleep,

He prophesied.

He made known to the king his death.

He lifted up his voice from the ground.

In prophecy,

He wanted to blot out

The wickedness of the people.”

Next Sirach praises Samuel, the prophet who was a judge and founder of the monarchy. There is a Hebrew biblical book called Samuel that was later divided into 2 parts. He was a beloved trustworthy faithful prophet. He called upon the Lord when the enemies surrounded him. He offered a sacrifice of a lamb. He defeated the enemies at Tyre and the Philistines. Samuel anointed 2 kings, Saul and David. He never took any property from anyone, not even a pair of shoes. Even after his death, prophecies from the grave came to the king. He continually wanted to blot out the wickedness of his people.

Divine justice (Sir 35:13-35:21)

“The Lord is the one

Who repays.

He will repay you sevenfold.

Do not offer him a bribe!

He will not accept it.

Do not rely

On a dishonest sacrifice!

The Lord is the judge.

There is no partiality

With him.

He will not show partiality

To the poor.

He will listen to the prayer

Of one who is wronged.

He will not ignore

The supplication of the orphan.

He will not ignore

The widow

When she pours out her complains.

Do not the tears of the widow

Run down her cheek?

She cries out against those

Who have caused her to fall.

The one whose service

Is pleasing to the Lord

Will be accepted.

His prayer will reach

To the clouds.

The prayer of the humble

Pierces the clouds.

It will not rest

Until it reaches its goal.

It will not desist

Until the Most High responds.

He does justice

For the righteous.

He executes judgment.”

Sirach reminds us that the Lord repays us justly. No bribe or dishonest sacrifice will change his mind. The Lord is a judge without partiality. He listens to the prayer of those who have been wronged. He does not ignore orphans and especially crying widows who are complaining. He does accept the pleasing service of those whose prayers will go up to heaven. The prayers of the humble will pierce the clouds. They will not rest until they reach the Most High God who will respond with a righteous just judgment.

Honor (Sir 10:19-10:25)

“Whose offspring are worthy of honor?

Human offspring.

Whose offspring are worthy of honor?

Those who fear the Lord.

Whose offspring are unworthy of honor?

Human offspring.

Whose offspring are unworthy of honor?

Those who break the commandments.

Among family members

Their leader is worthy of honor.

Those who fear the Lord

Are worthy of honor in his eyes.

The rich find their glory

In the fear of the Lord.

The eminent find their glory

In the fear of the Lord.

The poor find their glory

In the fear of the Lord.

It is not right to despise

An intelligent poor person.

It is not proper

To honor a sinful person.

The prince is honored.

The judge is honored.

The ruler is honored.

But none of them is greater

Than the one who fears the Lord.

Free citizens will serve

A wise servant.

An intelligent person will not complain.”

Sirach poses a series of questions and answers about honor. Humans are worthy of both honor and dishonor. Those who fear the Lord are worthy of honor, but those who do not follow the commandments are worthy of dishonor. The leader in a family is worthy of honor, but so are those who fear the Lord. Whether you are rich, eminent, or poor, your glory is in the fear of the Lord. You should not despise intelligent poor people, but you should not honor sinners. You may honor a prince, a judge, or a ruler, but none of them is greater than the one who fears the Lord. Free citizens may serve a wise servant, so that the intelligent people will not complain.

Quarrels and travels (Sir 8:14-8:16)

“Do not go to law against a judge!

The decision will favor him

Because of his standing.

Do not go traveling with the reckless!

They will be burdensome to you.

They will act as they please.

Through their folly

You will perish with them.

Do not pick a fight with the quick-tempered!

Do not journey with them through lonely country!

Bloodshed means nothing to them.

Where no help is at hand,

They will strike you down.”

Do not go to the law against a judge because the decision will favor him due to his position as a judge. Do not travel with reckless people because they will be a burden to you. They will do whatever they want. They will draw you into their folly and you will perish with them. Do not pick a fight with someone who has a quick temper. Do not go traveling with them either. Killing people means nothing to them. They are liable to kill you when there is no one to help you. Be careful with who you travel with.

Public conduct (Sir 7:4-7:7)

“Do not seek from the Lord a high office!

Do not seek the seat of honor from the king!

Do not assert your righteousness before the Lord!

Do not display your wisdom before the king!

Do not seek to become a judge!

You may be unable to root out injustice.

You may be partial to the powerful.

You may mar your integrity.

Commit no offense against the public!

Do not disgrace yourself among the people!”

Sirach then gave some instructions on how to conduct yourself in public places. First, you should not seek a high office or a seat of honor from the king. Second, do not claim to be righteous before the Lord. Third, do not display your wisdom before the king. Fourth, you should not seek to become a judge because you may not be able to get rid of evil injustice. You might be partial to the powerful people and mar your own integrity. Finally, do not commit any offense against the people so that you do not end up in disgrace.

Yahweh speaks (Ps 110:1-110:1)

A psalm of David

“Yahweh says to my lord.

‘Sit at my right hand.

I will make your enemies your footstool.’”

Psalm 110 is a short psalm of David, where Yahweh speaks directly to the king. This psalm has had a Christian messianic interpretation as the king is also a priest and a judge. Certain verses were often repeated in the New Testament writings. Yahweh says to the lord or king to sit at his right hand. Yahweh was going to make his enemies into his footstool.