The great storm flood (Isa 28:17-28:19)

Hail will sweep away

The refuge of lies.

Waters will overwhelm

The shelter.

Then your covenant with death

Will be annulled.

Your agreement with Sheol

Will not stand.

When the overwhelming scourge

Passes through,

You will be beaten down by it.

As often as it passes through,

It will take you.

Morning by morning,

It will pass through.

By day and by night,

It will pass through.

It will be sheer terror

To understand the message.”

Isaiah remarks that as for the lies of the former rulers, their refuge and shelters will be destroyed and swept away by hail and flooding. Their covenant with death, mentioned above, will be annulled. Their agreement with Sheol will fall apart. This storm scourge will beat them down as it goes through each day and night. The sheer terror of this storm will help them to understand this message.

Do not be afraid (Isa 10:24-10:24)

“Therefore Yahweh

God of hosts,

Says.

‘O my people!

Who live in Zion!

Do not be afraid of the Assyrians!

Do not be afraid

When they beat you

With a rod!

Do not be afraid

When they lift up

Their staff against you

As the Egyptians did.’”

Apparently this oracle was when an attack of the Assyrians was imminent, as Yahweh issued his oracle via Isaiah. He told the people of Zion not to be afraid of the Assyrians. Even if they beat them with a rod or staff like the Egyptians had done to their ancestors, they should not be afraid.

Perpetual peace from Jerusalem (Isa 2:2-2:4)

“In days to come

The mountain of Yahweh’s house

Shall be established

As the highest of the mountains.

It shall be raised above the hills.

All the nations shall stream to it.

Many people shall come.

They shall say.

‘Come!

Let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh!

Let us go to the house of the God of Jacob!

Thus he may teach us his ways.

Thus we may walk in his paths.’

Out of Zion

Shall go forth instruction.

The word of Yahweh

Comes from Jerusalem.

He shall judge

Between the nations.

He shall arbitrate for many people.

They shall beat their swords into plowshares.

They shall turn their spears into pruning hooks.

A nation shall not lift up its sword

Against another nation.

Neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Isaiah has a vision of a time of perpetual peace that is often cited by pacifists. However, it comes from Yahweh. The Lord’s house will be on the highest mountain above the hills at Zion in Jerusalem. All the nations of the world would come to the God of the house of Jacob, so that they could learn the ways and paths of Yahweh, the Lord God. Yahweh would arbitrate and judge all nations. Then there is the famous saying that they would beat their swords into plows. They would turn their spears into pruning hooks. No one would lift a sword against anyone else. People would forget how to wage war since no one would learn it. This is the utopian theocratic peace that has Jerusalem rule the world through Yahweh. It has never happened and probably will not.

The treatment of slaves (Sir 33:24-33:29)

“Fodder is for a donkey.

A stick is for a donkey.

A burden is for a donkey.

Bread is for a slave.

Discipline is for a slave.

Work is for a slave.

Set your slave to work.

You will find rest.

If you leave his hands idle,

He will seek liberty.

A yoke will bow his neck.

A thong will bow his neck.

A wicked servant should have

Rack and tortures.

Put him to work.

Thus he may not be idle.

Idleness teaches much evil.

Set him to work,

As is fitting for him.

If he does not obey,

Make his fetters heavy.

Do not be overbearing

Toward anybody.

Do nothing unjust.”

Sirach accepts slavery as a fact of life, not to be disputed. This was a common biblical theme, so that the slave owners who cited the Bible could not be faulted. Slaves were slaves, so what? There was no sense of the idea of an equal fellow human being. In fact, it was clear that they should work hard as there was a comparison of a slave to a donkey. Just as the donkey was fed, whipped, and burdened, so too the slave should be fed with bread, disciplined, and worked hard. If your slave worked hard, you could get some restful idleness time for yourself. You should put a yoke and thong around your slave’s neck. If he was bad, you could beat him up. The slave should never be idle because that would lead to evil and his possible escape. If the slave did not obey, he should be punished. However, there was a limit to this brutality. You should not be overbearing or unjust. Of course, it was your decision to evaluate the situation.

Avoid a spoiled son (Sir 30:7-30:13)

“Whoever spoils his son,

Will bind up his wounds.

You will suffer heartache

At every cry.

An unbroken horse

Turns out stubborn.

An unchecked son

Turns out headstrong.

Pamper a child,

Then he will terrorize you.

Play with him,

Then he will give you grief.

Do not laugh with him,

Lest you have sorrow with him.

In the end

You will gnash your teeth.

Give him no freedom

In his youth.

Do not ignore his errors.

Bow down his neck

In his youth.

Beat his sides

While he is young,

Lest he become stubborn.

He will disobey you.

You will have sorrow of soul

From him.

Discipline your son.

Make his yoke heavy.

Thus you may not be offended

By his shamelessness.”

Once again, Sirach reflects the ideals of his time about the importance of discipline and corporal punishment of children. Above all, do not spoil your son! Otherwise, you will spend a lifetime healing his wounds and suffering heartaches at his every cry. The young boy is compared to a horse that is unbroken, stubborn, and headstrong. If you pamper your son, then he will terrorize you. Do not laugh or play with your son! Otherwise, you will end up gnashing your teeth. Do not give him any freedom when he is young! Do not ignore his mistakes! Beat him up on his sides when he is young! If not, he will become stubborn and disobey you. Then you will have a sorrowful soul. Make his iron collar heavy so that he does not end up shameless. Be tough on those kids!

The missing lover (Song 5:6-5:7)

Female lover

“I opened to my beloved.

But my beloved had turned away.

He was gone.

My soul failed me

When he spoke.

I sought him.

But I did not find him.

I called him.

But he gave no answer.

Making their rounds in the city,

The sentinels found me.

They beat me.

They wounded me.

They took away my mantle.

These were the sentinels of the walls.”

This is a lot like chapter 3, where this female lover went searching in the streets to find her lover. Instead of her lover being at the door, he had left. Her soul was faint. Once again, like in chapter 3, she called for him, but her lover gave no answer. However, when she searched the city, the result here was more brutal. The sentinels or watchmen guards of the town, instead of helping her, beat her up, wounded her, and took her coat or mantle.

Discipline children (Prov 29:15-29:17)

“The rod and reproof give wisdom.

But a mother is disgraced by a neglected child.

When the wicked are in authority,

Transgressions increase.

But the righteous will look upon their downfall.

Discipline your children.

They will give you rest.

They will give delight to your heart.”

The children who get beat with the rod and rebuked will get wisdom. A mother will be in disgrace because of a neglected child. When the wicked are in charge, transgressions increase. However, the righteous wait for their downfall. If you discipline your children, they will give rest and delight to your heart. Discipline those kids!

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.

The mixed marriages problem (Neh 13:23-13:27)

“In those days also I saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. Half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod. They could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke the language of various peoples. I contended with them. I cursed them. I beat some of them. I pulled out their hair. I made them take an oath in the name of God, saying.

‘You shall not give your daughters to their sons,

Or take their daughters for your sons or for yourselves.

Did not King Solomon of Israel sin?

On account of such women

Among the many nations there was no king like him.

He was beloved by his God.

God made him king over all Israel.

Nevertheless, foreign women made even him to sin.

Shall we then listen to you?

Shall you do all this great evil?

Shall you act treacherously against our God?

Shall you marry foreign women?’”

Nehemiah saw that they were marrying women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab, which was strictly forbidden. The children were speaking forms of Aramaic and not Hebrew. Nehemiah was very proactive. He cursed them, beat them, and pulled out their hair. This was no simple admonition. This was physical punishment. He made them take an oath to God not to give their daughters to these foreign sons or take their daughters as sons. He cited the example of King Solomon, about how powerful he was, yet he sinned by taking foreign women. Do you want to do the same? They would act against God treacherously by marrying foreign women. It seems they were more afraid of foreign women than foreign men.