Prayer to Elijah (Sir 48:4-48:8)

“How glorious you were!

O Elijah!

In your wondrous deeds!

Whose glory is equal to yours?

You raised a corpse

From death.

You raised him From Hades

By the word of the Most High.

You sent kings

Down to destruction.

You sent famous men

From their sickbeds.

You heard the rebuke

At Sinai.

You heard the judgments

Of vengeance at Horeb.

You anointed kings

To inflict retribution.

You anointed prophets

To succeed you.”

Sirach continues with his eulogy to Elijah with this second person singular prayer to him. In fact, Sirach almost treats Elijah like a god when he is talking about his great deeds. However, he carefully points out that Elijah raised the dead son of the widow by the word of the Most High, and not by himself as in 1 Kings, chapter 17. At the same time, he brought kings to destruction and saved people from their sick beds. Then Elijah went to where Moses got the 10 commandments, Horeb or Mount Sinai. Thus he is like a second Moses, certainly not in the Levitical line of Aaron, when he speaks with Yahweh as in 1 Kings, chapter 19. Yahweh told him whom he was to anoint as kings and prophets. Thus Elijah tried to follow out the orders of Yahweh.

Moses (Sir 45:1-45:5)

“From Jacob’s descendants,

The Lord brought forth a godly man.

He found favor in the sight of all.

He was beloved by God.

He was beloved by the people.

Moses’ memory is blessed.

The Lord made him equal in glory

To the holy ones.

The Lord made him great.

Mosses brought terror to his enemies

By his words.

He performed swift miracles.

The Lord glorified him

In the presence of kings.

The Lord gave him commandments

For his people.

The Lord revealed to him his glory.

The Lord consecrated him for his faithfulness.

He sanctified him for his meekness.

He chose him out of all humans.

He allowed him to hear his voice.

He led him into the dark cloud.

He gave him the commandments

Face to face.

He gave him the law of life.

He gave him knowledge.

Thus Moses

Might teach Jacob the covenant.

He might teach Israel his decrees.”

Obviously, Sirach has Moses as one of these blessed famous godly men, who found favor in the sight of all people. He surely was a holy one as described in practically all the first part of Exodus, chapters 2-24. Moses was a later descendant of Jacob who was loved both by God and the people. However, Moses was a terror to his enemies, yet glorified in the presence of kings. He performed great miracles. The Lord gave him commandments face to face, as he was chosen and consecrated from all the people, because he was faithful and meek. He heard the voice of God in the dark cloud. He received the law of life and knowledge from God. Thus he was able to teach the covenant and the decrees to Jacob and Israel.

The responsibility of humans (Sir 17:8-17:14)

“The Lord put the fear of him

Into human hearts.

He showed them

The majesty of his works.

They will praise

His holy name.

They will proclaim

The grandeur of his works.

He bestowed knowledge

Upon them.

He allotted to them

The law of life.

He established with them

An eternal covenant.

He revealed to them

His decrees.

Their eyes saw

His glorious majesty.

Their ears heard

The glory of his voice.

He said to them.

‘Beware of all evil.’

He gave commandments

To each of them

Concerning their neighbor.”

Sirach believed that the Lord put the fear of hin into human hearts. He showed humans the majesty of his works. However, they had to praise his holy name and proclaim the grandeur of his works because they had knowledge about it. The Lord gave these humans the law of life by an eternal covenant with them. He revealed his decrees to them. Their human eyes saw his glorious majesty. Their ears heard the glory of his voice. They were able to see and hear God. He told them to watch out for evil. He gave them commandments on how they were to treat their neighbors.

Apprenticeship of wisdom (Sir 6:32-6:37)

“If you are willing,

My child,

You can be disciplined.

If you apply yourself.

You will become clever.

If you love to listen,

You will pay attention,

You will become wise.

Stand in the assembly of the elders.

Who is wise?

Attach yourself to such a one.

Be ready to listen to every godly discourse.

Let no wise proverbs escape you.

If you see an intelligent person,

Rise early.

Visit him.

Let your foot wear out his doorstep.

Reflect on the statutes of the Lord.

Meditate at all times on his commandments.

It is he who will give insight to your mind.

Your desire for wisdom will be granted.”

Sirach now gives clear directions on how to be wise. You must go through an apprenticeship, just like a Trump apprentice. However, here it is the wisdom apprentice. If you are willing and disciplined, you can become clever and wise. You have to apply yourself and listen attentively. You should stand in the assembly of the elders. You should attach yourself to an intelligent person who has a godly discourse and wise proverbs. You should rise early. Go wear out his doorstep with your many visits to this wise man. If you reflect on the statutes of the Lord and meditate on his commandments, you will gain insight. Wisdom will be granted to you after your time of trial.

The sign of the serpents (Wis 16:5-16:7)

“When the terrible rage of wild beasts

Came upon your people,

They were being destroyed

By the bites of writhing serpents.

Your wrath did not continue to the end.

They were troubled for a little while

As a warning.

They received a symbol of deliverance

To remind them of your law’s command.

The ones who turned toward it

Were saved,

Not by the thing that he saw,

But by you,

The Savior of all.”

This is a reference to Moses and the bronze serpent in Numbers, chapter 21. The Israelites, after Yahweh had sent poisoned snakes to them, repented. These wild terrible snakes were biting and killing the Israelites. However, Yahweh put a stop to it. This was then seen as a symbol of God’s deliverance for his people. They were reminded to keep the laws. Those who turned to the law’s commandments (ἐντολῆς νόμου σου·) would be saved by the Savior of all (πάντων σωτῆρα), God.

The presence of wisdom (Wis 9:9-9:12)

“With you is wisdom.

She knows your works.

She was present

When you made the world.

She understands

What is pleasing in your sight.

She understands

What is right

According to your commandments.

Send her forth

From the holy heavens.

From the throne of your glory

Send her!

Thus she may labor at my side.

Thus I may learn what is pleasing to you.

She knows all things.

She understands all things.

She will guide me wisely in my actions.

She will guard me with her glory.

Then my works will be acceptable.

I shall judge your people justly.

I shall be worthy

Of the throne of my father.”

Wisdom (ἡ σοφία) was present with God when he made the world (ἐποίεις τὸν κόσμον). She understands what is pleasing and what is right according to the commandments. She was sent from the holy heavens (ἐξ ἁγίων οὐρανῶν) and the throne of glory (θρόνου δόξης σου). Thus she labors on earth. She knows and understands all things. She guides and guards this author. Then the author as King Solomon declared that he would judge his people fairly so that he would be worthy of the throne of his father (θρόνων πατρός μου), presumably David.

The importance of paternal advice (Prov 7:1-7:5)

“My child!

Keep my words!

Store up commandments with you!

Keep my commandments!

Live!

Keep my teachings

As the apple of your eye!

Bind them on your fingers!

Write them on the tablet of your heart!

Say to wisdom.

‘You are my sister.’

Call insight your intimate friend.

Thus they may keep you

From the loose woman.

They may keep you

From the adulterous woman.

They may keep you

From her smooth words.”

Once again there is an emphasis on the paternal words and commandments that will help the children to live, much like in chapters 2, 3, and 4. These teachings should be like the apple of your eye. They should be bound to your fingers, written on your heart. Wisdom should be a like a sister or an intimate friend. Then this wisdom will keep you from the loose women, the adulterous women, and their smooth words. Somehow, these loose women were very good talkers.

Let me live (Ps 119:169-119:176)

Tav

“Let my cry come before you!

Yahweh!

Give me understanding

According to your word!

Let my supplication come before you!

Deliver me

According to your word!

My lips will pour forth praise.

Because you teach me your statutes.

My tongue will sing of your promise.

All your commandments are right.

Let your hand be ready to help me!

I have chosen your precepts.

I long for your salvation.

Yahweh!

Your law is my delight!

Let me live!

Thus I may praise you.

Let your ordinances help me!

I have gone astray

Like a lost sheep.

Seek out your servant!

I do not forget your commandments.”

This long psalm concludes with the last or twenty-second consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Tav. This psalmist wanted to live and be saved. He, on his part, would not forget the commandments of Yahweh. He wanted his cry to come before Yahweh. He wanted to understand the word and law of Yahweh. He, on his part, would give praise to Yahweh with his lips and tongue. He will sing of his praises because Yahweh has taught him his statutes and commandments. All he wanted was help in salvation. He delighted in the law. Thus his ordinances would help him. However, the psalmist admitted that even though he had gone astray like a lost sheep, he still had not forgotten Yahweh’s commandments. Thus we have a fitting end to this long psalm about the importance and beauty of the law.

My cry for help (Ps 119:145-119:152)

Qoph

“With my whole heart

I cry.

Answer me!

Yahweh!

I will keep your statutes.

I cry to you.

Save me!

Thus I may observe your decrees.

I rise before dawn.

I cry for help.                                                                              

I put my hope in your words.

My eyes are awake before each watch of the night.

Thus I may meditate on your promise.

In your steadfast love,

Hear my voice!

Yahweh!

In your justice,

Preserve my life!

Those who persecute me with evil purpose,

Draw near.

They are far from your law.

You are near.

Yahweh!

All your commandments are true.

Long ago

I learned from your decrees.

You have established them forever.”

This psalmist cried for help to Yahweh from his heart. He wanted to be saved because he kept the statutes of Yahweh. He rose before dawn with his crying prayer to Yahweh. In the middle of the night, he would get up and meditate on the promises of Yahweh. He wanted the steadfast love of Yahweh in his justice to preserve his life. He was being persecuted with an evil purpose by those who were far from Yahweh’s law. He wanted Yahweh near him because his commandments were true. He had long ago learned from Yahweh’s decrees that had been established forever. So ends this section on the nineteenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Qoph.

Yahweh is righteous (Ps 119:137-119:144)

Cade

“You are righteous!

Yahweh!

Your judgments are right.

You have appointed your decrees in righteousness.

You have appointed your decrees in all faithfulness.

My zeal consumes me.

Because my foes forget your words.

Your promise is well tried.

Your servant loves it.

I am small.

I am despised.

Yet I do not forget your precepts.

Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness.

Your law is the truth.

Trouble has come upon me.

Anguish has come upon me,

However your commandments are my delight.

Your decrees are righteous forever.

Give me understanding!

Thus I may live.”

The psalmist declared that Yahweh was righteous. His judgments and decrees were righteous and faithful. The zeal of the psalmist consumed him when he found out that his foes had forgotten the words of Yahweh. He, the servant of Yahweh, loved the decrees. Although he was small and despised, he never forgot the precepts of Yahweh. Yahweh’s righteousness was everlasting because his law was the truth. Even though he was in trouble and anguish, the psalmist delighted in Yahweh’s commandments. All he asked for was understanding, so that he might live. So ends this section on the eighteenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Cade.