Yahweh will sweep away everything (Zeph 1:2-1:3)

“‘I will utterly sweep away

Everything

From the face

Of the earth.’

Says Yahweh.

‘I will sweep away

Humans.

I will sweep away

Animals.

I will sweep away

The birds of the air.

I will sweep away

The fish of the sea.

I will make the wicked

Stumble.

I will cut off

Humanity

From the face of the earth.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh said that he was going to undo his creation.  He was going to sweep away everything on the face of the earth.  He was going to do away with all humans and animals, as well as all the birds in the air and the fish in the sea.  The wicked would stumble, as all humanity would be wiped out.

The future death of the people of Judah and Jerusalem (Jer 34:19-34:20)

“The officials of Judah,

The officials of Jerusalem,

The eunuchs,

The priests,

With all the people

Of the land,

Who passed between

The parts of the calf,

Shall be handed over

To their enemies.

They shall be handed over

To those who seek

Their lives.

Their corpses

Shall be food

For the birds

Of the air

As well as the wild animals

Of the earth.”

All the officials of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the eunuchs and the priests, would be handed over to their enemies, who wanted to kill them. The same goes true also for all the people who were part of that agreement to free the Hebrew slaves, when they passed through the 2 parts of the calf. Thus they would all die. Their dead bodies would become the food for the birds of the air or the wild animals of the earth.

Paradoxes (Sir 27:25-27:27)

Whoever throws a stone straight up

Throws it on his own head.

A treacherous blow

Opens up many wounds.

Whoever digs a pit

Will fall into it.

Whoever sets a snare

Will be caught in it.

If a person does evil,

It will roll back upon him.

He will not know

Where it came from.”

Sirach then has a series of paradoxes. If you throw a stone straight up in the air, it will land on your head. A treacherous blow opens many wounds. If you dig a pit, you will fall into it. If you set a snare, you will be caught in it. Whenever you do evil, it will roll back on you. However, you will have no idea where it came from.

The false worship of natural forces (Wis 13:1-13:2)

“All people who were ignorant of God

Were foolish by nature.

They were unable

From the good things that are seen

To know the one who exists.

They did not recognize the artisan

While paying heed to his works.

They supposed that either

Fire,

Or wind,

Or swift air,

Or the circle of the stars,

Or turbulent water,

Or the luminaries of heaven

Were the gods that rule the world.”

All these vain foolish men (πάντες ἄνθρωποι) are ignorant of God (Θεοῦ ἀγνωσία). They see the good things of this earth, but they do not recognize the creative artisan who made them. Instead they worship the very works that he has made such as fire, wind, air, stars, water, or other heavenly bodies. They claim that these are the gods that rule the world (κόσμου θεοὺς ἐνόμισαν).

The traceless end of the unjust (Wis 5:9-5:13)

“All those things have vanished

Like a shadow.

They have vanished

Like a rumor that passes by.

They are

Like a ship that sails through the billowy water.

When it has passed

No trace can be found.

There is no track of its keel in the waves.

When a bird flies through the air,

No evidence of its passage is found.

The light air,

Lashed by the beat of its pinions,

Pierced by the force of its rushing flight,

Is traversed

By the movement of its wings.

Afterward no sign of its coming is found there.

When an arrow is shot at a target,

The air,

Thus divided,

Comes together at once.

Thus no one knows its pathway.

So we also,

As soon as we were born,

Ceased to be.

We had no sign of virtue to show.

But we were consumed in our wickedness.”

The ungodly and unjust have disappeared like a shadow. Here now, but gone when the sun stops shining. They are like a rumor that vanishes almost instantaneously. They are like a ship going in the sea. Once it is gone, there is no way to trace its path. The same is true on the bird in the air. Once gone, you are never sure of its precise path. The same goes for an arrow shot in the air. No one can tell its path. However, today we do have technology that can trace ships, birds, and arrows. So what? These unjust ones declared that they ceased to exist the day they were born, because they had no virtue. Thus they were consumed with wickedness.

God will not accept the sacrifices of Israel (Ps 50:7-50:11)

“Hear!

O my people!

I will speak!

O Israel!

I will testify against you!

I am God!

I am your God!

Not for your sacrifices,

Do I rebuke you.

Your burnt offerings are continually before me.

I will not accept a bull from your house.

I will not accept goats from your folds.

Every wild animal of the forest is mine.

The cattle on a thousand hills are mine.

I know all the birds of the air.

I know that all that moves in the field is mine.”

This time the plea is for God asking the people of Israel to hear him, not the other way around. God was going to speak to Israel as he wanted to testify against them. He was rebuking them, but not for their sacrifices, which they had continually brought forth as burnt offerings. He was no longer going to accept bulls and goats as sacrifices. God claimed that all the wild animals were his anyhow. The cattle in the hills, the birds in the air, and all that moved in the fields belonged to God.

David’s enemies were out to get him (Ps 31:11-31:13)

“I am the scorn of all my adversaries.

I am a horror to my neighbors.

I am an object of dread to my acquaintances.

Those who see me in the street flee from me.

I have passed out of mind.

I am like one who is dead.

I have become like a broken vessel.

I hear the whispering of many.

There is terror all around.

They scheme together against me.

They plot to take my life.”

David was scorned by all his enemies. He was a horror to his neighbors. He was an object of dread to his acquaintances. Anyone who saw him in the street fled from hid. He was a like a dead man walking. He was like a broken vessel. They whispered all around him. There was terror in the air. They schemed and plotted to take his life. He was in bad shape.