The priests and the idols (Bar 6:48-6:52)

“When war

Or calamity

Comes upon them,

The priests consult together

As to where

They can

Hide themselves

With their gods.

How then can anyone

Fail to see

That these are not gods?

They cannot save themselves

From war

Or calamity.

They are made of wood,

Overlaid

With gold

Or silver.

It will afterward

Be known

That they are false.

It will be manifest

To all the nations,

To all the kings,

That they are not gods

But the work of human hands.

There is no work

Of God

In them.

Who then can fail

To know

That they are not gods?”

What happens when war or calamity comes to these priests and their idol gods? The priests consult together on where they can hide themselves with their gods. All can see that these are not gods. They cannot save themselves from either war or calamity, since they are made of wood, overlaid with gold or silver. Afterwards, everyone will know that these were false gods. It is will be clear to all the nations and all the kings that they are not gods. As they were the work of human hands, there is no work of God in them. This author asked the question, who would not recognize that these idols are not gods?

The sinful ancestors (Bar 1:19-1:20)

“From the time

When the Lord

Brought our ancestors

Out of the land of Egypt

Until today,

We have been disobedient

To the Lord,

Our God.

We have been negligent,

In not heeding

His voice.

So to this day,

There have clung to us

The calamities,

The curse,

That the Lord declared

Through his servant

Moses

At the time

When he brought

Our ancestors

Out of the land of Egypt

To give us

A land flowing

With milk and honey.”

The Lord brought their ancestors out of Egypt. However, even from the beginning of this relationship, their ancestors were negligent, not listening to the voice of God. They would rather be cursed and live in calamity than follow their God. Moses his servant was clear. God was going to lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey. How many times have you heard that? Their ancestors had set the stage for the later disobedience and negligence towards God.

The destiny of the impious and their children (Sir 41:5-41:10)

“The children of sinners

Are abominable children.

They frequent

The haunts of the ungodly.

The inheritance

Of the children of sinners

Will perish.

On their posterity

Will be a perpetual reproach.

Children will blame

An ungodly father.

They suffer disgrace

Because of him.

Woe to you!

The ungodly!

You have forsaken

The law of the Most High God!

If you have children,

Calamity will be theirs.

You will beget them

Only for groaning.

When you stumble,

There is lasting joy.

When you die,

A curse is your lot.

Whatever comes from earth,

Returns to earth.

Thus the ungodly go

From curse to destruction.”

Sirach draws a clear line from parent to child when it comes to sinners. The children of sinners are abominable. These children will live among the ungodly, since their inheritance will be lost. These children of sinners will blame their sinful ungodly father because they suffer a perpetual disgrace due to him. Then Sirach turns directly to these ungodly folks claiming that they have forsaken the law of the Most High God. Calamity and groaning will come to their children. When they stumble, everyone will be happy. When they die, they will receive a curse. Whatever comes from earth returns there. Thus the ungodly will go from a curse to total destruction.

Life is a game of chance (Eccl 9:11-9:12)

“Again I saw that under the sun.

The race is not to the swift.

Nor is the battle to the strong.

Nor is bread to the wise.

Nor is riches to the intelligent.

Nor is favor to the skillful.

But time happens to them all.

Chance happens to them all.

No one can anticipate

The time of disaster.

Like fish taken in a cruel net,

Like birds caught in a snare,

So mortals are snared

At a time of calamity.

When it suddenly falls upon them.”

Qoheleth sees human life under the sun like a game of chance. The swiftest runner does not always win the race. The strongest do not always win the battle. The wise do not always have the best food. The intelligent are not always rich. The skillful do not always succeed. Time and chance play a role. No one can predict when disaster will come. Just as fish and birds get stuck in nets and snares, so too mortals get caught when calamity suddenly happens to them.

The evil enemies (Prov 24:15-24:20)

“Do not lie in wait,

Like an outlaw,

Against the home of the righteous.

Do no violence to the place

Where the righteous live!

Although the righteous fall seven times,

They will rise again.

But the wicked are overthrown by calamity.

Do not rejoice when your enemies fall!

Do not let your heart be glad when they stumble!

Yahweh will see it.

He will be displeased.

He will turn away his anger from them.

Do not fret because of evildoers!

Do not envy the wicked!

The evil have no future.

The lamp of the wicked will be put out.”

Do not attack the righteous like an outlaw. Do not wait for them or do any violence to them where they live. The righteous will fall 7 times, but they will still get up. However, the wicked are easily overthrown by calamity. Do not rejoice when your enemies fall. Don’t be happy when they stumble. Yahweh sees all this. He will be displeased. He will probably turn his anger away from them. Don’t worry about evildoers or envy the wicked ones. Just remember that they have no future. Their lamp will go out never to burn again.

Be careful (Prov 22:5-22:8)

“Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse.

The cautious will keep far from them.

Train children in the right way.

Then when they are old,

They will not stray.

The rich rule over the poor.

The borrower is the slave of the lender.

Whoever sows injustice

Will reap calamity,

The rod of anger will fail.”

The way of the perverse is full of thorns and snares, so keep away from them. If you train children correctly, they will not stray when they are old. The rich will rule over the poor. The borrower becomes the slave of the lender. If you sow injustice, you will harvest calamity. Beatings in anger will fail.

The senseless (Prov 17:18-17:20)

“It is senseless

To give a pledge.

It is senseless

To becomes surety for a neighbor.

Whoever loves transgression

Loves strife.

Whoever builds a high threshold

Invites broken bones.

The crooked of mind do not prosper.

The perverse of tongue fall into calamity.”

Do not give a pledge for your neighbor. If you love transgressions, then get ready to love strife. If you build a high threshold, you are inviting danger because some tall strong people might come into your house to hurt you. This might also be a sign that you are showing pride. The crooked and the perverse do not prosper, but fall into calamity or danger.