The crown (Zech 6:11-6:13)

“Take the silver!

Take the gold!

Make a crown!

Set it upon the head

Of the high priest Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak!

Say to him!

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

Here is a man whose name

Is the Branch.

He shall branch out

In his place.

He shall build

The temple of Yahweh.

It is he who shall build

The temple of Yahweh.

He shall bear royal honor.

He shall sit

Upon his throne,

Where he shall rule.

There shall be a priest

By his throne,

With peaceful understanding

Between the two of them.’”

Yahweh wanted the prophet Zechariah to take the gold and silver that the former exile captives had given him and make a crown out it.  He was to set this crown on the head of the high priest Joshua, the son of Jehozadak.  Perhaps this is a mistake and maybe it should be Governor Zerubbabel, since this ruler ends up with a priest by his side.  This newly crowned person would be the branch that would spread out.  He was the one who was going to build the temple of Yahweh.  Thus, he would have a royal honor and sit on a throne ruling the people.  However, they were still under Persian jurisdiction.  Both the priest and this new ruler would get along peacefully.

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The words of Yahweh in the Temple (Ezek 43:7-43:7)

“He said to me.

‘Son of man!

This is the place

Of my throne.

This is the place

Of the soles

Of my feet.

I will reside

Among the people

Of Israel

Forever!

The house of Israel

Shall no more

Defile

My holy name.

Neither they,

Nor their kings,

By their prostitution,

By the corpses

Of their kings,

At their death,

Defile

My holy name.’”

Yahweh spoke directly to Ezekiel using his normal appellation, son of man. However, rather than an amorphous glorified God, he refers to himself in anthropomorphic terms. Yahweh was going to sit on a throne, like a king. The soles of his feet would walk in this place. He was going to live among his people, not just for a short time but forever. However, there was a caveat. They were not to defile his holy name. Neither the people or their kings should tarnish his sacred name with their prostitution and dead bodies of kings in his Temple.

The return of the exiles (Bar 5:5-5:9)

“Arise!

O Jerusalem!

Stand upon the height!

Look toward the east! See your children

Gathered from the west,

Gathered from the east, At the word

Of the Holy One! They are rejoicing

That God has remembered them. They went out from you

On foot.

They were led away

By their enemies.

But God will bring them

Back to you.

They will be carried in glory

As on a royal throne.

God has ordered

That every high mountain

With the everlasting hills

Will be made low.

The valleys will be filled up

To make level ground.

Thus Israel may walk safely

In the glory of God.

The woods

With every fragrant tree

Have shaded Israel

At God’s command.

God will lead Israel with joy,

In the light of his glory,

With the mercy,

With the righteousness

That comes from him.”

This author concludes this book of Baruch with a call to Jerusalem to arise and stand tall. They were to look to the east to see their children, both from the east and west, returning and rejoicing because God had remembered them. They went out on foot, led away by their captive enemies. However, they would return as if carried in glory on a throne. Every high mountain and hill would be leveled, while the valleys would fill up, to make a level ground so that they could walk safely in the glory of God. The fragrant trees of the woods would shade them. God would lead them with the joy and the light of his glory that comes from his mercy and righteousness.

The misery of the human condition (Sir 40:1-40:5)

“Hard work

Was created for everyone.

A heavy yoke is laid

On the children of Adam.

This begins

From the day they come forth

From their mother’s womb,

Until the day

They return

To the mother of all the living.

They have perplexities.

They have fear of heart.

They have their anxious thoughts

About the day of their death.

Whether one sits on a splendid throne,

Whether one grovels in dust,

Whether one grovels in ashes,

Whether one who wears purple,

Whether one wears a crown,

Whether one is clothed in burlap,

There is anger.

There is envy.

There is trouble.

There is unrest.

There is fear of death.

There is fury.

There is strife.”

Sirach indicates that hard work is for everyone. The children of Adam must wear a heavy yoke on their necks from the day they are born until the day they die. Humans are perplexed, fearful, and anxious about the day of their death. It does not matter whether they sit on a throne with a crown and purple clothing or grovel in dust and ashes wearing burlap, they all have the same troubles of anger, envy, unrest, fury, strife, and of course the fear of death.

Wisdom at creation (Sir 24:3-24:7)

“‘I came forth

From the mouth of the Most High.

I covered the earth like a mist.

I dwelt in the highest heaven.

My throne was in a pillar of cloud.

Alone,

I compassed the vault of heaven.

I traversed the depths of the abyss.

Over waves of the sea,

Over all the earth,

Over every people,

Over every nation,

I have held sway.

Among all these,

I sought a resting place.

In whose territory

Should I abide?’”

Sirach has wisdom personally speak in the first person singular. She seems to come directly from the mouth of the Most High God, like the spirit of God, what Christians would later call the Holy Spirit. She covered the earth like a mist. She was in the highest heaven on a throne in a cloud pillar. She was alone in the vault of heaven and walked in the depths of the sea. She was in charge of everything, earth and sea, peoples and nations. She was looking for a resting place where she might live. She wanted to know where this might be.