The invitation of wisdom (Sir 24:18-24:22)

“‘I am the mother of beautiful love.

I am the mother of fear.

I am the mother of knowledge.

I am the mother of holy hope.

Being eternal,

I am given to

All my children.

I am given to

Those who are named by him.

Come to me!

You who desire me!

Eat your fill of my fruits!

The memory of me

Is sweeter than honey.

The possession of me

Is sweeter than the honeycomb.

Whoever eats me

Will hunger for more.

Whoever drinks me

Will thirst for more.

Whoever obeys me

Will not be put to shame.

Whoever works with me

Will not sin.’”

Sirach has wisdom extend an invitation to all people to come to her.   Wisdom is the mother of beautiful love, fear, knowledge, and holy hope. She has been given to all her children. She invites all who desire her to come to her. Thus they may eat the full of her fruits. Her memory and the possession of her is sweeter than honey and honeycombs. Anyone who eats and drinks of her will want more. Whoever obeys her will not be put to shame. They will not sin. She is a great female intercessor with God, much like the later Christian Virgin Mary. At the same time, she sometimes has qualities that were later attributed to the Christian Holy Spirit.

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The qualities of wisdom (Wis 7:22-7:23)

“Wisdom is the fashioner of all things.

Wisdom has taught me.

There is in her a spirit that is

Intelligent,

Holy,

Unique,

Manifold,

Subtle,

Mobile,

Clear,

Unpolluted,

Distinct,

Invulnerable,

Loving the good,

Keen,

Irresistible,

Beneficent,

Humane,

Steadfast,

Sure,

Free from anxiety,

All-powerful,

Overseeing all,

Penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent,

Pure,

Altogether subtle.”

Many of the qualities given to the personification of wisdom will be adopted later in the New Testament writings by Paul with his description of the “Spirit” and the Christian Holy Spirit theology. Wisdom fashions all things. It has taught this author.   How do you describe this wisdom spirit? She is an intelligent and Holy Spirit. In some sense, she is the Holy Spirit. She is unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, and invulnerable. She loves the good, and is keen, irresistible, beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure, and free from anxiety. She is all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all intelligent spirits. She is also pure and subtle. Thus you can see the comparative descriptions with the Christian Holy Spirit.

Yahweh makes the king a priest (Ps 110:4-110:4)

“Yahweh has sworn.

He will not change his mind,

‘You are a priest forever

According to the order of Melchizedek.’”

Yahweh then somehow makes David a priest also. The allusion here is to Melchizedeck, the ancient priest and king at the time of Abraham. This King Melchizedek of Salem, as found in Genesis, chapter 14, offered a sacrifice of bread and wine for Abraham. Here there is an order of Melchizedek, which will become an important Christian emphasis within the Roman Catholic concept of the priesthood. This same phrase was repeated in the New Testament Epistle to the Hebrews, chapter 5.

The apparition at Mamre (Gen 18:1-18:15)

Yahweh appeared to Abraham by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day.  He looked up and saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the tent entrance to meet them, and bowed down to the ground.  He said, ‘My lord, if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.  Let a little water be brought, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree.  Let me bring a little bread that you may refresh yourselves, and after that you may pass on, since you have come to your servant.’ So they said, ‘Do as you have said.’”

We are back to the Yahweh tradition.  Yahweh appeared to Abraham at the oaks of Mamre near Hebron, as he was sitting in front of his tent.  Abram is now Abraham. There were three men standing there in the heat of the day.  Abraham was kind to them, bringing water to wash their feet, letting them sit unde a tree, and bringing them bread to eat.

“Abraham hastened into the tent to Sarah, and said, ‘Make ready quickly three measures of choice flour, knead it, and make cakes.’   Abraham ran to the herd, and took a calf, tender and good, and gave it to the servant, who hastened to prepare it.  Then he took curds, and milk, and the calf that he had prepared, and set it before them.  He stood by them under the tree while they ate.”

Abraham told Sarah, not Sarai, to make some cakes.  He also got a calf and prepared it along with curds and milk.  All this he brought to the three men sitting under the tree as he stood by.  Abraham seems like the perfect host.

“They said to him, ‘Where is your wife Sarah?’ And he said, ‘There in the tent.’  Then one said, ‘I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.’ And Sarah was listening at the tent entrance behind him.  Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age.  He had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.  So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?’  Yahweh said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh, and say, shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old.’  Is anything too wonderful for Yahweh? At the set time I will return to you, in due season and Sarah shall have a son.’  But Sarah denied it, saying, ‘I did not laugh,’ because she was afraid. He said, ‘Oh yes, you did laugh.’”

They asked Abraham where Sarah was. One of the visitors said that he would return next season and Sarah would have a son.  Sarah, who was listening in the tent, laughed because she was old and was not with her husband in a womanly way.  Now Yahweh is explicitly named as one of the visitors.  He asked why Sarah was laughing. Sarah denied that she was laughing, but he insisted that she was laughing and seemed annoyed that Sarah lied about her laughing.   This is a strange Yahweh story, as some Christians have seen the three men, one of which is called Yahweh, as a fore taste of the Trinity concept.