The breaking of the peace (Mic 2:8-2:10)“But you rise Against my people As an enemy. You strip the robe From the peaceful, From those who pass by Trustingly, With no thought of war. You drive out The women Of my people From their pleasant houses. You take away From their young children My glory forever. Arise! Go! This is no place To rest. Because uncleanness Destroys With a grievous destruction.” Micah pointed out that this was no longer a time of peace. The people of Israel had treated their own people, the people of Yahweh in Israel, like they were an enemy. They had taken their clothes, including the robes of the peaceful and trusting ones, as if there was a war. They had driven out the young women from their pleasant homes. They had taken away the glory of Yahweh from the young children. Israel was no longer a restful place anymore, because uncleanliness had brought great destruction to this place.

“But you rise

Against my people

As an enemy.

You strip the robe

From the peaceful,

From those who pass by

Trustingly,

With no thought of war.

You drive out

The women

Of my people

From their pleasant houses.

You take away

From their young children

My glory forever.

Arise!

Go!

This is no place

To rest.

Because uncleanness

Destroys

With a grievous destruction.”

Micah pointed out that this was no longer a time of peace.  The people of Israel had treated their own people, the people of Yahweh in Israel, like they were an enemy.  They had taken their clothes, including the robes of the peaceful and trusting ones, as if there was a war.  They had driven out the young women from their pleasant homes.  They had taken away the glory of Yahweh from the young children.  Israel was no longer a restful place anymore, because uncleanliness had brought great destruction to this place.

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Against Gog (Ezek 39:1-39:2)

“You!

Son of man!

Prophesy against Gog!

Say!

Thus says Yahweh God!

‘I am against you!

O Gog!

Chief prince

Of Meshech

With Tubal!

I will turn you around!

I will drive you forward!

I will bring you up

From the remotest parts

Of the north!

I will lead you

Against the mountains

Of Israel!’”

As if one chapter were not enough, Ezekiel has another chapter about Gog.   Yahweh God, as usual, came to the prophet Ezekiel, the son of man. This time, he wanted Ezekiel to prophesy against Gog, who is now called the prince of Meshech and Tubal and not from Magog. Like in the last chapter, Gog was clearly an enemy of Yahweh. Yet Yahweh used him for his own purposes. Yahweh was going to turn Gog around and drive him forward from the remotest parts of the northern area. In fact, Yahweh was going to lead Gog against the mountains of Israel. The only possible historical basis for this Gog, might be the supposedly chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, two 7th century BCE kingdoms in Asia Minor of Turkey.

False friends (Sir 37:1-37:6)

“Every friend says.

‘I too am a friend.’

But some friends

Are friends only in name.

Is it not a sorrow

Like death itself?

A dear friend

Turns into an enmity.

O inclination to evil!

Why were you formed?

Why do you cover the land

With deceit?

Some companions rejoice

In the happiness of a friend.

But in times of trouble,

They are against him.

Some companions help a friend

For their stomach’s sake.

Yet in battle

They will carry his shield.

Do not forget a friend

In your heart

During the battle.

Do not be unmindful of him

When you distribute your spoils.”

Sirach reminds us about false friends. Some friends are such in name only. Sometimes a friend turns into an enemy. Sirach wondered why there was this inclination to evil. Why was the land covered with deceit? Some companions are happy when you are happy. However, in troubled times, they may be against you. Some people help for the sake of a good meal, while others will go to battle with you. You should not forget the friends who went out to battle with you, especially when you distribute the rewards or spoils of victory.

The problems in lending money (Sir 29:4-29:7)

“Many persons regard a loan

As a windfall.

This causes trouble

To those who help them.

One kisses another’s hands

Until he gets a loan.

He is very deferential

In speaking of his neighbor’s money.

But at the time

For repayment,

He delays.

He pays back

With empty promises.

He finds fault with the time.

If he can pay,

His creditor

Will hardly get back half.

The borrower will regard

That as a windfall.

If he cannot pay,

The borrower has robbed

The other of his money.

He has needlessly

Made him an enemy.

He will repay him

With curses.

He will repay him

With reproaches.

Instead of glory,

He will repay him

With dishonor.

Many refuse to lend,

Not because of meanness,

But from fear of being defrauded needlessly.”

Sirach says that this ideal of lending money to your neighbor as giving a helping hand has a few hiccups. Some people think that the loan is a gift, so that they never pay it back. They go around being very deferential to the people with money, kissing their hands. However, when it comes time to repay the loan all they give back are empty promises. They say that they need more time. Sometimes they only pay half of it back, since they think the rest of it was a gift to them. If they do not pay it back, they have robbed their neighbor. They have needlessly made him an enemy. Curses and reproaches will follow with dishonor and anger on all sides. This had led many people to refuse to lend money because they are afraid of being defrauded. Thus there are less and less no interest loans happening.

Shame (Sir 20:21-20:23)

“One may be prevented

From sinning

By poverty.

When he rests,

He feels no remorse.

One may lose his life

Through shame.

One may lose his life

Because of his foolish look.

Another out of shame

Make promises to a friend.

Thus he makes an enemy

For nothing.”

If you are in poverty, there is less chance of you sinning. Thus when the poor person rests, he does not feel any remorse. However, you can lose your life through shame or some foolish look.   Another person may make promises to a friend that he is not able to keep. He will do this out of shame. Thus he ends up making an enemy for no good reason.

Friendly enemies (Sir 12:8-12:12)

“A friend is not known in prosperity.

An enemy is not hidden in adversity.

One’s enemies are friendly

When one prospers.

But in adversity,

Even one’s friends disappear.

Never trust your enemy.

Like corrosion in copper,

So is his wickedness.

Even if he humbles himself,

Even if he walks bowed down,

Watch yourself!

Take care to be on your guard

Against him.

Be to him

Like one who polishes a mirror.

Make sure that

It does not become completely tarnished.

Do not put him next to you.

He may overthrow you.

He may take your place.

Do not let him sit

At your right hand.

Otherwise he may try

To take your own seat.

At last,

You will realize

The truth of my words.

You will be stung

By what I have said.”

You cannot tell who is a friend or an enemy when you have prosperity or adversity. Do not trust your wicked enemy since he is like corrosive copper. Watch out even when he humbles himself before you. Treat him like a mirror that always needs polishing. Do not put him next to you, because he will overthrow you and take your place. Listen to these words of Sirach. You will realize how true they are when you are stung by your enemies.