Gabriel comes (Dan 9:20-9:21)

“I was speaking.

I was praying,

I was confessing my sins,

As well as the sins

Of my people Israel.

I was presenting

My supplication

Before Yahweh

My God,

On behalf

Of the holy mountain

Of my God.

While I was speaking

In prayer,

The man Gabriel,

Whom I had seen before

In the vision,

Came to me

In swift flight,

At the time

Of the evening sacrifice.”

Daniel was continuing with his prayers and supplications to Yahweh. He was confessing his sins and the sins of his people Israel. He was praying for the holy mountain of God that had been desolated. Then a man called Gabriel came flying in. Daniel said that he was the same Gabriel that was in the preceding chapter that helped Daniel interpret his vision before. There, he had the appearance of a man. Here, he is referred to as a flying man who arrived at the time of the evening sacrifice. Was this the angel Gabriel?

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Courage and hope (Bar 4:21-4:22)

“Take courage!

My children!

Cry to God!

He will deliver you

From the power

Of the enemy!

He will deliver you

From the hand

Of the enemy!

I have put my hope

In the Everlasting One

To save you!

Joy has come

To me

From the Holy One!

Because mercy

Will soon come

To you

From your everlasting Savior.”

Continuing with the personification of Jerusalem, this city wanted her children to have courage. They should cry to God who would deliver them from the power and hand of their enemy. Jerusalem had put her hope in the Everlasting One, not Yahweh, to save them from their enemy. Joy has come to Jerusalem because the mercy of the Holy One would soon come to them to be their everlasting savior.

Being pursued (Lam 4:19-4:19)

Qoph

“Our pursuers

Were swifter

Than the eagles

In the heavens.

They chased us

On the mountains.

They lay in wait

For us

In the wilderness.”

Continuing with the first person plural, the people of Jerusalem and this author believed that they were being pursued by their enemies that were faster than the eagles in the sky. Their foes chased them into the mountains and lay waiting to ambush them in the desert wilderness, since their enemies were all around them. This verse starts with the Hebrew consonant letter Qoph in this acrostic poem.

The devastation of northern Israel (Isa 9:13-9:17)

“The people did not turn to him

Who had struck them.

They did not seek Yahweh of hosts.

Thus Yahweh cut off from Israel

Head and tail.

In one day,

He cut off the palm branch.

He cut off the reed.

The elders and dignitaries are the head.

The prophets who teach lies are the tail.

Those who lead this people

Led them astray.

Those who were led by them

Were left in confusion.

Therefore Yahweh did not have pity

On their young people.

He did not have compassion

On their orphans and widows.

Everyone was godless.

Everyone was an evildoer.

Every mouth spoke folly.

Thus his anger has not turned away.

His hand is still stretched out.”

Isaiah puts part of the blame for the destruction of northern Israel on their leaders. However, he starts and finishes with the guilt of all the people, because they did not turn to the Lord, Yahweh. Both the head and the tail of northern Israel were to blame. Thus Yahweh cut off the tall palm trees and the short reeds in one day. The heads of northern Israel were the elders and the dignitaries who failed to do anything. The tails were the lying northern prophets since there were both good and bad prophets. These leaders led their people astray. They left the people confused. Thus Yahweh, the Lord, did not take pity on their young, their orphans, or their widows, as he had done elsewhere. After all, everyone was involved in foolish godless evildoing. Once again, we have the refrain that Yahweh’s anger was continuing, as he still stretched out his hand against these northern Israelites.

Physicians (Sir 38:1-38:8)

“Honor physicians

For their services!

The Lord created them.

Their gift of healing

Comes from the Most High.

They are rewarded by the king.

The skill of the physicians

Makes them distinguished.

In the presence of the great men,

They are admired.

The Lord created medicines

Out of the earth.

The sensible ones

Will not despise them.

Was not water made sweet

With a tree?

Thus its power might be known.

He gave skill to human beings.

Thus he might be glorified

In his marvelous works.

By them,

The physician heals.

He takes away pain.

The pharmacist makes a mixture

From them.

God’s works

Will never be finished.

From him,

Health spreads over all the earth.”

Were physicians thought of as witch doctors or a kind of false idol worship? Sirach has a strong defense of these physicians. They are actually continuing the creative work of the Most High God with his gift of healing to the people. These distinguished and admired medical doctors are honored by kings because of their skills. The Lord has created healing medicines from the earth. Do not despise their human skills that heal and take away pain. The pharmacists make these mixtures to help the work of God, whose work is never finished. Thus health will spread over all the earth. Sirach has a definite pro-physician and pro-pharmacist attitude, unlike some Christian Scientists who are against medical doctors.

Take care of your father (Sir 3:10-3:16)

“Do not glorify yourself

By dishonoring your father.

Your father’s dishonor

Is no glory to you.

The glory of one’ father

Is one’s own glory.

It is a disgrace for children

Not to respect their mother.

My child!

Help your father in his old age!

Do not grieve him

As long as he lives.

Even if his mind fails,

Be patient with him!

Because you have all your faculties

Do not despise him!

Kindness to a father

Will not be forgotten.

Kindness to a father

Will be credited to you against yours sins.

In the day of your distress

It will be remembered in your favor.

Like frost in fair weather,

Your sins will melt away.

Whoever forsakes his father

Is like a blasphemer.

Whoever angers his mother

Is cursed by the Lord.”

Continuing the theme of taking care of parents, you should not consider dishonoring your father as a glory to you. It is a disgrace not to honor your mother also. You should help your father in his old age. You should not bother him. Be patient with him, even if his mind fails and you have all your faculties. The kindness to a father will be credited against your sins. When you are in trouble, it will be remembered in your favor. Like frost melting in sunny weather, your sins will melt away. However, if you forsake your father, that is like a blasphemy. If you anger your mother, you will be cursed by God.