Fear of the Lord and wisdom (Sir 15:1-15:8)

“Whoever fears the Lord

Will do this.

Whoever holds to the law

Will obtain wisdom.

Wisdom will come to meet him

Like a mother.

She will be

Like a young bride.

She will welcome him.

She will feed him

With the bread of learning.

She will give him

The water of wisdom to drink.

He will lean on her.

He will not fall.

He will rely on her.

He will not be put to shame.

She will exalt him

Above his neighbors.

She will open his mouth

In the midst of the assembly.

He will find gladness.

He will find a crown of rejoicing.

He will inherit an everlasting name.

The foolish will not obtain her.

Sinners will not see her.

She is far from arrogance.

Liars will never think of her.”

Anyone who fears the Lord will have a chance at wisdom. They must hold firmly and follow the law in order to get wisdom. Then wisdom will come to meet them like a mother or a young bride. Clearly wisdom is feminine as a mother or wife. The food and drink of the wise person will be the bread of learning and the water of wisdom. These people can lean on wisdom so that they will not fall or be put to shame. They will be exalted above their neighbors because they will open their mouths in the assembly of the elders. They will find gladness with a rejoicing crown and an everlasting name. The foolish and the sinners cannot obtain or see wisdom. Wisdom stays away from arrogance. Liars never think about wisdom, since she is reserved for those who fear the Lord.

Pride (Sir 10:6-10:13)

“Do not get angry

With your neighbor

For every injury!

Do not resort to acts of insolence!

Arrogance is hateful to the Lord.

Arrogance is hateful to mortals.

Injustice is outrageous to both also.

Sovereignty passes

From nation to nation.

This happens

On account of injustice,

On account of insolence,

On account of wealth.

How can dust be proud?

How can ashes be proud?

Even in life,

The human body decays.

A long illness baffles the physician.

The king of today

Will die tomorrow.

When one is dead,

He inherits

Maggots,

Vermin,

And worms.

The beginning of human pride

Is to forsake the Lord.

The heart has withdrawn

From its Maker.

The beginning of pride

Is sin.

The one who clings to it

Pours out abominations.”

You should not get mad with your neighbor over any perceived injuries. Do not become insolent! Arrogance is hateful to God and humans. Injustice is outrageous to the Lord and your neighbor. Sovereignty passes from one country to another because of injustice, insolence, and wealth. This is not a pretty picture. How can humans made of dust and ashes be proud? Their body will decay no matter what. Sometimes it is a baffling long illness that even physicians do not know how to cure. Even the king of today will be dead and gone tomorrow. When you die, the maggots, the vermin, and the worms will take over your body. Pride starts when you give up on the Lord and Creator. Sin is the beginning of pride. If you cling to it, there will be abominations all over the place.

The response of the unjust (Wis 5:3-5:8)

“They will say.

‘These are persons

Whom we once held in derision.

We made them a byword of reproach.

We were fools!

We thought that their lives were madness.

Their end was without honor.

Why have they been numbered

Among the children of God?

Why is their lot among the saints?

So it was we

Who strayed from the way of truth.

The light of righteousness did not shine on us.

The sun did not rise upon us.

We took our fill of the paths of lawlessness.

We took our fill of the paths of destruction.

We journeyed through trackless deserts.

But the way of the Lord

We have not known.

What has our arrogance profited us?

What good has our boasted wealth brought us?’”

The unjust laid out their complaint. They said that they derided and reproached these people. They thought that their lives were madness and without honor. It turns out that they are the fools, because the righteous are numbered among the sons or children of God (υἱοῖς Θεοῦ), the holy ones (ἁγίοις), not them. The unjust suddenly realized that they had strayed from the truth (ἀληθείας). The light of righteousness and the sun were not going to shine on them. They had followed the path of lawlessness and destruction through trackless deserts. They did not know the way of the Lord (ὁδὸν Κυρίου). Their arrogance and wealth became useless.

A description of wisdom (Prov 8:12-8:21)

“I

Wisdom,

I live with prudence.

I attain knowledge.

I attain discretion.

The fear of Yahweh is hatred of evil.

I hate pride.

I hate arrogance.

I hate the way of evil.

I hate perverted speech.         

I have good advice.

I have sound wisdom.

I have insight.

I have strength.

Kings reign by me.

Rulers decree what is just.

Rulers rule by me.

Nobles govern by me.

All who govern rightly rule by me.

I love those who love me.

Those who seek me diligently

Find me.

Riches and honor are with me.

Enduring wealth is with me.

Prosperity is with me.

My fruit is better than gold,

Even fine gold.

My yield is better than choice silver.

I walk in the way of righteousness.

I walk along the paths of justice,

I endow with wealth those who love me.

I fill their treasuries.”

In an interesting use of a literary form, female wisdom describes herself in the first person singular, “I.” She is prudent, knowledgeable, and discreet. As God fearing, she hates evil, pride, arrogance, and perverted speech. On the other hand, she has good advice, sound wisdom, insight, and strength. All the kings, rulers, and nobles govern rightly because of her. She loves those who love her and seek her out diligently. When you have lady wisdom, then you have riches, honor, wealth, and prosperity. The fruit of wisdom is better than fine gold and silver. She walks in the way of righteousness along the paths of justice. Those who love her will be filled with wealth and treasures.

Judas Maccabeus prepares to attack (2 Macc 15:6-15:11)

“Thus Nicanor in his utter boastfulness and arrogance had determined to erect a public monument of victory over Judas and his forces. But Judas Maccabeus did not cease to trust with all confidence that he would get help from the Lord. He exhorted his troops not to fear the attack of the gentiles. Rather, they should keep in mind the former times when help had come to them from heaven. They were now to look for the victory which the All powerful would give them. Encouraging them from the law and the prophets, he reminded them also of the struggles they had won. He made them the more eager. When he had aroused their courage, he issued his orders. At the same time he pointed out the perfidy of the gentiles and their violation of oaths. He armed each of them not so much with confidence in shields and spears as with the inspiration of brave words. He cheered them all by relating a dream, a sort of vision, which was worthy of belief.”

Nicanor was so confident that he wanted to create a public monument of his victory over Judas Maccabeus that not yet happened. On the other hand, Judas Maccabeus was confident that his help would come from the Lord. He told his troops not to feat the attack of the gentiles. They should remember the former times when help came from heaven. Victory would come from the all powerful God. He encouraged them by reading from the Law and the prophets and all their struggles. The troops became more eager to fight as their courage was aroused. Judas also pointed out the lying and the violations of the gentiles. They had confidence in their shields and spears, but his troops would have confidence in the inspired words of God. He cheered them all by talking about a visionary dream.

Judas Maccabeus asks for prayers (2 Macc 13:9-13:12)

“The king with barbarous arrogance was coming to show the Jews things far worse than those that had been done in his father’s time. But when Judas Maccabeus heard of this, he ordered the people to call upon the Lord day and night. Now was the time to help those who were on the point of being deprived of the law, their country, and the holy temple. He did not want to let the people who had just begun to revive fall into the hands of the blasphemous gentiles. They all joined in the same petition. They had implored the merciful Lord with weeping, fasting, and lying prostrate for three days without ceasing. Then Judas Maccabeus exhorted them and ordered them to stand ready.”

Judas Maccabeus heard that King Antiochus V was coming to destroy the Jews. He was going to be worse than his father King Antiochus IV. Judas Maccabeus ordered the people to pray to the Lord day and night. He was afraid that they would fall back into the deprived ways of the blasphemous gentiles. They all joined him in imploring the Lord for 3 days of weeping, fasting, and lying prostrate. Then he exhorted and commanded them to get ready.

The cruel painful illness of King Antiochus IV (2 Macc 9:5-9:10)

“But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he stopped speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels with sharp internal tortures, for which there was no relief. That was very just, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange inflictions. Yet he did not in any way stop his insolence. He was even more filled with arrogance, breathing fire in his rage against the Jews. He gave orders to drive even faster. So it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along. The fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body. Thus only a little while before, he had thought in his super human arrogance that he could command the waves of the sea. He imagined that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance. Finally, he was brought down to earth. He was carried in a litter, making the power of God manifest to all. Worms swarmed all over the ungodly man’s body. While he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away. Because of the stench, the whole army felt revulsion at his decay. Because of his intolerable stench, no one was able to carry the man who a little while before had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven.”

Here the cause of the illness of King Antiochus IV was not depression but the God of Israel who struck him down. Notice that it is the God of Israel not the almighty Shaddai God who struck him down. This biblical author went into great detail about his illness. The king had a bowel problem because he had tortured others with infliction of various stomach disorders. He still wanted to get to Jerusalem so he asked his chariot to go faster. However, then he fell out of the chariot causing him even more pain. King Antiochus IV had been arrogant so that he thought that he could command the sea waves, measure the height of mountains, and touch the stars. However, his body swarmed with worms as it rotted away. There was a terrible smell about him that kept people away from him. The great king was reduced to a smelly sick pain filled old man.