The anger of Yahweh (Isa 30:27-30:28)

“See!

The name of Yahweh

Comes from far away.

It burns with his anger,

In thick rising smoke.

His lips are

Full of indignation.

His tongue is

Like a devouring fire.

His breath is

Like an overflowing stream

That reaches up to the neck.

He sifts the nations

With the sieve of destruction.

He places on the jaws of the people

A bridle that leads them astray.”

Is this an allusion to the Assyrians as they attack Jerusalem? The name of Yahweh comes from a distance. Could this be an indication of the far off Assyrians? Or was this Yahweh himself angry? He burns with anger so that smoke is rising up. His lips and tongue were full of indignation and fire. His breath was like an overflowing stream that reached to your neck. He used a sieve to sift out the destruction of the various nations. He placed a bridle on the jaws of the people to lead them in the wrong direction. This is either a description of an anthropomorphic mad Yahweh or how Yahweh made the Assyrians mad.

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Quarrels (Sir 28:8-28:12)

“Refrain from strife.

Your sins will be fewer.

The hot tempered kindle strife.

The sinner disrupts friendships.

The sinner sows discord

Among those who are at peace.

In proportion to the fuel,

So will the fire burn.

In proportion to the obstinacy,

So will strife increase.

In proportion to a person’s strength,

So will be his anger.

In proportion to his wealth,

So he will increase his wrath.

A hasty quarrel kindles a fire.

A hasty dispute sheds blood.

If you blow on a spark,

It will glow.

If you spit on it,

It will be put out.

Yet both come out of your mouth.”

Sirach reminds us of the problems with quarrels and arguments. If you refrain from conflicts, your sins will be less. Usually it is the hot tempered people who start disputes. Sinners disrupt friendships. They sow discord among peacemakers. Then Sirach has a number of proportional examples. The more fuel you have, the more the fire burns. The more stubborn you are, the more disagreements you create. The stronger you are, the more you will be angry. The more wealth that you have, the more fury you will have. Sometimes it is a hasty quarrel that starts a fire that leads to bloodshed. However, you have control with your mouth. You can either blow on the spark to increase the flame or spit on the spark to put it out. The choice is yours, spit or blow on the spark of a fire to increase or decrease the argument.

How a carpenter makes false idols (Wis 13:11-13:16)

“A skilled woodcutter

May saw down a tree

That is easy to handle.

He skillfully strips off all its bark.

Then with pleasing workmanship

He makes a useful vessel

That serves life’s needs.

He burns the castoff pieces of his work.

Thus he prepares his food.

He eats his fill.

But he takes a castoff piece

From among them,

That is useful for nothing,

A crooked stick,

Full of knots.

He carves with care in his leisure.

He shapes it with skill gained in idleness.

He forms it in the likeness of a human being.

He makes it like some worthless animal.

He gives it a coat of red paint.

He colors its surface red.

He covers every blemish in it with paint.

Then he makes a suitable niche for it.

He sets it in the wall.

He fastens it there with iron.

He takes thought for it.

Thus it may not fall.

Because he knows

That it cannot help itself.

It is only an image.

It has need of help.”

This is a satirical description of how these false images were made by a skilled woodcutter or carpenter. Obviously this carpenter makes some useful vessels for eating and other purposes. He takes a tree and strips the bark. He then burns the left over wood for cooking. However, he may take some of this useless crooked knotted wood and carve some images in his spare time. He will probably make an image of a human (εἰκόνι ἀνθρώπου) or an animal. Then he will paint it red to cover all the blemishes. After that, he will fasten it with iron on a wall niche in an area so that it will not fall off. He knows that his carved image needs help to sit on a wall. Clearly there is nothing divine about this process or the resulting useless image (εἰκὼν).

Burns (Lev 13:24-13:28)

“When the body has a burn on the skin and the raw flesh of the burn becomes a spot, reddish-white or white, the priest shall examine it.  If the hair in the spot has turned white and it appears deeper than the skin, then it is a leprous disease.  It has broken out in the burn.  The priest shall pronounce him unclean.  This is a leprous disease.  But if the priest examines it and the hair in the spot is not white and it is no deeper than the skin, but has abated, the priest shall confine him seven days.  The priest shall examine him the seventh day.  If it is spreading in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean.  This is a leprous disease.  But if the spot remains in one place and does not spread in the skin, but has abated, it is a swelling from the burn.  The priest shall pronounce him clean.  It is the scar of the burn.”

If someone has burns and it becomes reddish-white or white, he has to go the priest to have it examined.  Once again, if the hair is white and deeper than the skin, then it is leprosy.  Otherwise, the priest shall confine him 7 days.  Then he will reexamine him.  On the seventh day, if it is spreading, the priest shall pronounce him unclean.  However, if it is not spreading, he is clean.  Although the priest is a medical doctor as well, there is never a prescription for getting better.  Yahweh will heal if it is not leprosy.  Otherwise, the lepers are unclean