The dark day of Yahweh (Am 5:18-5:20)

“Woe to you!

You who desire

The day of Yahweh!

Why do you want

The day of Yahweh?

It is darkness,

Not light.

It is like

As if someone fled

From a lion,

But a bear met him.

It is like

Someone went into the house.

They then rested

Their hand

Against the wall.

Then a serpent bit him.

Is not

The day of Yahweh

Darkness,

Not light?

It is gloom

With no brightness in it.”

The day of Yahweh meant many different things to the ancient Israelites. For some, it was a favorable intervention of Yahweh. For others, as here, it was a day of Yahweh’s anger. After the exile, it was considered a day of hope that the anger of Yahweh would turn on Israel’s oppressors. Then this day of Yahweh became a day of judgment, as a triumph for the righteous. Finally, there were cosmic signs that would accompany this day of Yahweh. Here, Amos wanted to know why anyone would want the day of Yahweh to come, because it was a time of darkness, not light. In fact, he wanted to curse them for wishing the day of Yahweh to come. This day of Yahweh was more like a person fleeing from a lion, only to run into a bear. It was like going into a house, and then resting your arm on the wall, only to be bit by a snake. For Amos, the day of Yahweh was a time of darkness, not light, a time of gloom and not brightness.

A woman’s wound (Sir 25:13-25:15)

“Any wound,

But not a wound of the heart!

Any wickedness,

But not the wickedness of a woman!

Any suffering,

But not the suffering

From those who hate!

Any vengeance,

But not the vengeance of enemies!

There is no venom worse

Than a snake’s venom.

There is no wrath worse

Than a woman’s wrath.”

Once again, Sirach emphasizes the male point of view. These powerful females make the poor men suffer. The worst wound is to the heart. The worst wickedness comes from a woman. Hateful suffering is worse than any kind of suffering. The vengeance of enemies is bad. Just like the worse venom is that of a snake, so the worst wrath is that of a woman. Somehow, women do not seem to suffer, only the men, who suffer so much from these evil women.

Hurtful sins (Sir 21:1-21:3)

Have you sinned?

My child!

Do so no more!

Ask forgiveness

For your past sins!

Flee from sin

As from a snake!

If you approach sin,

It will bite you.

Its teeth are lion’s teeth.

They can destroy human lives.

All lawlessness is

Like a two-edged sword.

There is no healing

For the wounds it inflicts.”

Sirach uses his parental tone in reminding others about the sting of sin. If you have sinned, stop! Ask forgiveness! You should run away from sin like you would run away from a snake. Do not go near to sin or it will bite you like a snake. Sin has lion’s teeth that can destroy people. Breaking the law is like a sharp two edged sword because there is no healing the wounds that it inflicts. Stay away from sin or you will get hurt.

The wine drinker (Prov 23:29-23:35)

“Who has woe?

Who has sorrow?

Who has strife?

Who has complaining?

Who has wounds without cause?

Who has redness of eyes?

The answer is

Those who linger late over wine,

Those who keep trying mixed wine.

Do not look at wine when it is red.

Do not look at it when it sparkles in the cup.

Do not look at it when it goes down smoothly.

At the last it bites like a serpent.

It stings like an adder.

Your eyes will see strange things.

Your mind will utter perverse things.

You will be like

One who lies down in the midst of the sea.

You will be like

One who lies on the top of a mast.

You will say.

‘They struck me.

But I was not hurt.

They beat me.

But I did not feel it.

When shall I awake?

I will seek another drink.’”

This is a stinging rebuke against drunkenness. What are some of the characteristics of a drunkard or an alcoholic? They are full of woe and sorrow. They are always in arguments complaining. They have wounds on their body that they do not know where they came from. Of course, they have redness in their eyes. There is a lure to excessive wine drinking. They stay up late drinking and talking. This red wine sparkles in the cup and goes down so smoothly. However, this wine has a bite like a snake or viper adder. That is when you hallucinate. You see strange things and image even stranger things. You think that you are in the middle of the sea or at the top of a ship’s mast. You complain that you got hit, but it didn’t hurt.   People beat you, but you do not feel it. All you think about when you wake up is when I will get my next drink. These are the true symptoms of an alcoholic. You need to get help.