The fall of the Babylonian gods (Jer 50:2-50:2)

“Declare!

Among the nations!

Proclaim!

Set up a banner!

Proclaim!

Do not conceal it!

Say!

‘Babylon is taken!

Bel is put to shame!

Merodach is dismayed!

Her images are put to shame!

Her idols are dismayed!’”

This oracle of Yahweh says that Jeremiah should proclaim to the various nations and not conceal the fact that Babylon was taken. However, Jeremiah died in 582 BCE and Babylon was defeated in 539 BCE, over forty years after the death of Jeremiah. Previously, Jeremiah had been very favorable to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. Here he was told to set up a banner that said that Babylon with its false idol gods was put to shame and dismayed, especially two Babylonian gods, Bel and Merodach. Bel was another encompassing word for master or lord as some of the Hebrew words used about Yahweh. It also had some connection to Baal in the Mesopotamian area. Merodach or Marduk was the principal god or patron of the city of Babylon. Thus these two major Babylonian gods would be put to shame and dismayed. Much the same can be found in Isaiah, chapter 46.

Advertisements

Degenerate children (Sir 22:3-22:8)

“It is a disgrace

To be the father

Of an undisciplined son.

The birth of a daughter

Is a loss.

A sensible daughter

Obtains a husband of her own.

But the daughter

Who acts shamefully

Is a grief to her father.

An impudent daughter

Disgraces her father.

She disgraces her husband.

She is despised by both.

Like music in time of mourning

Is an ill-timed conversation.

But thrashing is wisdom at all times.

Discipline is wisdom at all times.

Children who are brought up

In a good life,

Conceal the lowly birth of their parents.

Children who are disdainfully haughty

Stain the nobility of their kindred.

Children who are boorish

Stain the nobility of their kindred.”

What happens if you have bad kids, degenerate children? Sirach warns that an undisciplined son is a disgrace to his father. Notice that he says that the birth of a daughter is considered to be a loss. The obvious importance of the male son runs throughout all of these biblical writings. A sensible daughter is able to get her own husband. The shameful daughter, however, disgraces both her father and her husband. There is a proper time for everything, but thrashing and disciplining children is wise at all times. Once again, Sirach insists that children should be disciplined all the time. If your children are brought up well, this will conceal the lowly background of you, his or her parents. However, the opposite is also true. Children who are disrespectful, haughty, and boorish stain whatever noble birth the parents and their family may have.

Hatred (Prov 10:12-10:18)

“Hatred stirs up strife.

But love covers all offenses.

On the lips of him who has understanding

Wisdom is found.

But a rod is for the back

Of one who lacks sense.

The wise lay up knowledge.

But the babbling of a fool brings ruin near.

The wealth of the rich is their fortress.

But the poverty of the poor is their ruin.

The wage of the righteous leads to life.

But the gain of the wicked is to sin.

Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life,

But one who rejects a rebuke goes astray.

Lying lips conceal hatred.

But whoever utters slander is a fool.”

Hatred stirs up things. However, love covers all faults. Wise lips have understanding. However, for the senseless they need a rod slap on the back. The wise ones have knowledge, but the babbling fools have nothing but ruin. The rich use wealth as a fortress. The poverty of the poor brings them to ruin. The righteous will have life, while the wicked will simply sin. When you follow instructions, you are on the path to life. However, if you reject a rebuke, you are probably going astray. Lying lips conceal hatred, but fools are slanderers.

The righteous and the wicked (Prov 10:6-10:11)

“Blessings are on the head of the righteous.

But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

The memory of the righteous is a blessing.

But the name of the wicked will not be a blessing.

The wise of heart will heed commandments.

But a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely.

But whoever follows perverse ways will be found out.

Whoever winks the eye causes trouble.

But the one who rebukes boldly makes peace.

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.

But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”

This constant contrast of the righteous and the wicked continues. The righteous ones will be blessed, because the wicked ones conceal violence. The righteous memory is a blessing, but the name of the wicked ones will not get a blessing. The wise ones follow the commandments, but the babbling fools come to ruin. If you walk with integrity, you will be secure. However, if you follow perverse ways, you will be found out. If you wink your eye and let evil happen, you cause more problems. If you rebuke evil things, then you will bring about peace. The righteous mouth is a fountain of life, while the mouth of the wicked conceals its violent ways.

Raphael reveals that he is an angel (Tob 12:11-12:15)

“I will now declare the whole truth to you. I will conceal nothing from you. Already I have declared to you when I said.

‘It is good to conceal the secret of a king,

But to reveal with due honor the works of God.’

So now, when you and your daughter-in-law Sarah prayed,

It was I who brought and read the record of your prayer

Before the glory of the Lord.

Likewise, whenever you would bury the dead,

I was present with you.

That time when you did not hesitate to get up

And leave your dinner to go and bury the dead,

I was sent to test you.

At the same time,

God sent me to heal you and Sarah your daughter-in-law.

I am Raphael,

One of the seven angels who stand ready

And enter before the glory of the Lord.’”

Raphael said that he would reveal the whole truth and conceal nothing. He had hinted at that when he said that it was good to conceal the secrets of the king. He told Tobit and Tobias that when Tobit and Sarah had prayed in despair, he was the one who recorded this and brought it to the Lord. He was present when Tobit buried the dead. He was sent to test him. God sent him to heal both Tobit and Sarah. Then he revealed that he is the angel Raphael. However, he is not just any angel, but one of the 7 who stand before the glory of the Lord. Literally, his name means, “God heals,” so that this was a perfect project for him. The naming of angels did not take place until after the Persian captivity, in the Second Temple time, so there is a Persian influence here. Sometimes, he is referred to as an archangel, because of his place among the top 7 angels. Perhaps he might have a place among the guardian angels as he protected Tobias here.