They have forgotten the law (Mt 23:23-23:23)

“Woe to you!

Scribes!

Woe to you!

Pharisees!

Hypocrites!

You tithe

Mint,

Dill,

And cumin!

You have neglected

The weightier matters

Of the law,

Justice,

Mercy,

And faith!

These you ought

To have practiced,

Without neglecting

The others.”

 

Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν, γραμματεῖς καὶ Φαρισαῖοι ὑποκριταί, ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον, καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου, τὴν κρίσιν καὶ τὸ ἔλεος καὶ τὴν πίστιν· ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα μὴ ἀφεῖναι.

 

Like Luke, chapter 11,42, Jesus continued to curse the Pharisees and the Scribes, much like earlier in verses 13, 14, and 15.  The first part of this diatribe is exactly the same as those earlier verses of Matthew.  Woe to you (Οὐαὶ ὑμῖν)!  Scribes (γραμματεῖς)!  Woe to you!  Pharisees (καὶ Φαρισαῖοι)!  Hypocrites (ὑποκριταί)!  There is no doubt that here Jesus was cursing the Scribes and the Pharisees.  This time it was their insistence on tithing.  He blamed them for their concern about the tithing of the various aromatic spices of mint, dill, and cumin plants (ὅτι ἀποδεκατοῦτε τὸ ἡδύοσμον καὶ τὸ ἄνηθον καὶ τὸ κύμινον), instead of more serious matters of the law (καὶ ἀφήκατε τὰ βαρύτερα τοῦ νόμου).  Thus, they neglected, the serious practice of justice (τὴν κρίσιν), mercy (καὶ τὸ ἔλεος), and faith (καὶ τὴν πίστιν).  They should have spent more time on these issues (ταῦτα δὲ ἔδει ποιῆσαι κἀκεῖνα) without neglecting the other things (μὴ ἀφεῖναι).  This seemed like a critique of misplaced priorities with their legalistic sense of tithing being more important than justice, mercy, faith, and the Mosaic law.

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The day of Yahweh’s anger (Lam 2:22-2:22)

Taw

“You invited

My enemies

From all around

As if for a festival day.

On the day

Of the anger

Of Yahweh,

No one escaped.

No one survived.

Those whom I bore,

Those whom I reared,

My enemy destroyed.”

Jerusalem blamed Yahweh for inviting its enemies from all over to come and have a great feast. On the day of Yahweh’s anger, no one escaped or survived from Jerusalem. Now the enemies of Jerusalem have destroyed all the people who were born and raised in Jerusalem. Thus Yahweh’s anger was to blame for all the havoc and death that happened in Jerusalem. This final verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Taw. This acrostic poem ends with the personification of Jerusalem speaking about Yahweh’s day of anger.

King Rehoboam (Sir 47:23-47:23)

“Solomon rested

With his ancestors.

He left behind him

One of his sons.

Rehoboam was

Broad in folly.

He was

Lacking in understanding.

His policy drove

The people to revolt.”

Now Sirach turns to the Book of Kings that was also later divided into 2 sections. In the first book, in chapters 11-12, he clearly blamed the son of Solomon, Rehoboam, for the breakup of the kingdom of Israel. Sirach did not think much of Rehoboam, since he says that he was foolish and lacked understanding. He claims that it was Rehoboam’s policies that led to the northern revolt.

Sin and death come from a woman (Sir 25:24-25:24)

“From a woman

Sin had its beginning.

Because of her,

We all die.”

Sirach emphasizes the idea of the woman committing the first sin. In the original Genesis story in chapter 3, the man and woman ate together, although the serpent spoke to the woman, Eve. Women thus get blamed not only for the entrance of sin into this world, but also for the concept of death. Humans would have been immortal had there not been this female disobedience. Cleary Sirach’s anti-feminism runs rampant in this section.