The marvelous Red Sea experience (Wis 19:6-19:9)

“The whole creation

In its nature

Was fashioned anew.

It complies with your commands.

Thus your children might be kept unharmed.

The cloud was seen overshadowing the camp.

Dry land emerged

Where water had stood before.

There was an unhindered way

Out of the Red Sea.

There was a grassy plain

Out of the raging waves.

Those protected by your hand

They passed through as one nation.

After gazing on marvelous wonders.

They ranged like horses.

They leaped like lambs.

They praised you.

O Lord!

You delivered them.”

Creation itself helped the righteous Israelites as they complied with the commands of God to help his children (σοὶ παῖδες). There was a cloud (παρεμβολὴν) over the camp. Dry land emerged from the Red Sea (ἐρυθρᾶς θαλάσσης) as in Exodus, chapter 13. Here there is an explicit mention of the Red Sea as they passed through a grassy plain in the middle of the raging waters. God’s hand (χειρί) protected them as they passed through the Red Sea together like horses and lambs. They praised the Lord (Κύριε) for their deliverance.

Pray to God (Wis 16:24-16:29)

“Creation,

Serving you

Who made it,

Exerts itself to punish the unrighteous.

In kindness,

It relaxes on behalf of those

Who trust in you.

Therefore at that time also,

Changed into all forms,

It served your all-nourishing bounty,

Aaccording to the desire of those who had need,

Thus your children,

Whom you loved,

O Lord!

Might learn

That it is not the production of crops

That feeds humankind.

But your word sustains

Those who trust in you.

What was not destroyed by fire

Was melted

When simply warmed by a fleeting ray of the sun.

This was to make it known

That one must rise before the sun

To give you thanks.

One must pray to you

At the dawning of the light.

The hope of an ungrateful person

Will melt like wintry frost.

This hope will flow away like waste water.”

Creation serves God by punishing the unrighteous. However, it gives bounty to those whom you love, your children, your sons (οἱ υἱοί σου). People should learn that it is not the production of crops that feeds people, but the word of the Lord (Κύριε) that sustains them. Thus fire can destroy or warm a crop. Therefore, humans should rise in the morning before sunlight to give thanks and pray to God. Otherwise, the hope of an ungrateful person will melt like frost. Their hope will flow away like waste water.

The Lord prepares for the battle (Wis 5:17-5:20)

“The Lord will take his zeal

As his whole armor.

He will arm all creation

To repel his enemies.

He will put on righteousness

As a breastplate.

He will wear impartial justice

As a helmet.

He will take holiness

As an invincible shield.

He will sharpen stern wrath

For a sword.

Creation will join with him

To fight against his frenzied foes.”

The Lord will prepare for this battle against the unjust. His zeal will be his armor. All creation will join him against his enemies. His breastplate will be righteousness. His helmet will be impartial justice. Holiness will be his shield. His sword will be his stern anger. Once again, all of creation will join with the Lord to fight his foes.

Enjoy life (Wis 2:6-2:9)

“Come!

Therefore!

Let us enjoy the good things that exist!

Make use of creation to the full

As in youth.

Let us take our fill of costly wine!

Let us take our fill of perfumes!

Let no flower of spring pass us by.

Let us crown ourselves

With rosebuds before they wither.

Let none of us fail to share in our revelry.

Everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment.

Because this is our portion,

This is our lot.”

Once again, following the advice of Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes, we should enjoy life and not worry because all is vanity. These impious people want to enjoy all the existing good things, the use of all creation as they had done in their youth. They wanted to enjoy costly wine, perfumes, and the flowers of spring. They should be crowned with rosebuds as well as share in their revelry. They should enjoy themselves because this was their portion and lot in life.

The earth around us (Eccl 1:4-1:7)

“A generation goes.

A generation comes.

But the earth remains forever.

The sun rises.

The sun goes down.

The sun hastens to the place

Where it rises.

The wind blows to the south.

The wind goes around to the north.

Round and round goes the wind.

On its circuits

The wind returns.

All streams run to the sea.

But the sea is not full.

They continue to flow

To the place where the streams flow.

There they continue to flow.”

This is a stunning appreciation of creation. Generations of humans come and go, but the earth remains forever in a static flat world concept. The sun rises and sets every day. There was no thought that the earth was moving around a static sun. The wind blew in from the north to south and then around and around again. The wind, as we know, blows in various directions. The streams do run to the sea, and not vice versa. However, the seas never seem to fill up because there is osmosis. No matter what, the streams continue to flow to where they want to go, usually downhill because of gravity. Thus this poetic expression of creation uses the scientific assumptions of its day, not those of the later scientific age.

Yahweh creator (Ps 19:1-19:4)

To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David.

The heavens are telling the glory of God.

The firmament proclaims his handiwork.

Day to day pours forth speech.

Night to night declares knowledge.

There is no speech.

There are no words.

Their voice is not heard.

Yet their voice goes out through all the earth.

Their words go to the end of the world.”

Once again, Psalm 19 is a simple choral psalm of David, without any explicit setting. The Assyrians and Babylonians were interested in the heavenly bodies and often considered some of them gods. There was a natural preoccupation with the heavens and creation. The heavens proclaim the glory and handiwork of God. Day talks to day and night talks to night, but no words are exchanged. You never hear a voice or a sound. However, the voice and words of day and night go throughout the world to the ends of the earth. The heavens and the sky speak to us even if they do not have a voice or words.

Yahweh questions Job about creation (Job 38:4-38:7)

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Tell me!

Do you have understanding?

Who determined its measurements?

Surely you know!

Who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk?

Who laid its cornerstone?

When the morning stars sang together,

All the heavenly beings shouted for joy.”

Clearly this is an enclosed finished creation. This is not an expanding concept of creation. There was a foundation, a cornerstone, measurements, and bases. The earthly creation was like a large building, like a temple. God was the master contractor builder. God asked Job where he was when creation was happening. He probably has no response. Who did all the measurements? Certainly not Job. Who laid the brick lines, the bases, or cornerstones. It certainly was not Job. However, all the heavenly beings sang and shouted for joy. Job was not among them.

Sing to the Lord a new song (Jdt 16:13-16:17)

“I will sing to my God a new song!

O Lord, you are great and glorious!

Wonderful in strength!

Invincible!

Let all your creatures serve you!

You spoke, and they were made.

You send forth your Spirit.

It formed them.

There is none that can resist your voice.

The mountains shall be shaken to their foundations with the waters.

Before your glance,

The rocks shall melt like wax.

But to those who fear you,

You show mercy.

Every sacrifice as a fragrant offering is a small thing.

The fat of all whole burnt offerings to you is a very little thing.

But who ever fears the Lord is great forever.

Woe to the nations that rise up against my people!

The Lord Almighty will take vengeance on them

In the Day of Judgment.

He will send fire and worms into their flesh.

They shall weep in pain forever.”

Now this canticle switched back to Judith praising God. Judith was going to sing a new song to the great and glorious God who has invincible strength. Once again there was an illusion to creation as she said that all creatures got their life from God. Therefore, they should praise God, who sent forth his Spirit to form the world. No one can resist the voice of God. He controls the mountains and the rocks. Sacrifices are trifling matters before God. The most important thing is to fear God. The Lord almighty will take vengeance on anyone who rises up against his people. The Day of Judgment is coming where there will be eternal weeping as fire and worms will eat flesh and cause eternal pain. Here we see the eschatological sense of a final judgment day, a post-exilic theme.

The prayer of Judith for God’s help (Jdt 9:11-9:14)

“Your strength does not depend on numbers.

Your might does not depend on the powerful.

You are the God of the lowly.

You are the helper of the oppressed.

You are the upholder of the weak.

You are the protector of the forsaken.

You are the savior of those without hope.

Please, please, God of my father,

God of the heritage of Israel,

Lord of heaven and earth,

Creator of the waters,

King of all your creation,

Hear my prayer!

Make my deceitful words bring wound.

May they bruise those who have planned cruel things

Against your covenant,

Against your sacred house,

Against Mount Zion,

Against the house your children possess.

Let your whole nation and every tribe

Know and understand

That you are the God,

The God of all power and might.

There is no other who protects the people of Israel

But you alone!”

The prayer of Judith ends with this strong theological statement about the power of God. She seeks help from the all powerful God. The power of God cannot be enumerated. Our God is the God of the lowly, the oppressed, the weak, the forsaken, and the hopeless. He is the God of the heritage of Israel, the God of heaven and earth, the creator of water, the king of all creation. Judith asked that her prayer be heard. Her deceitful words will bruise those who are against God’s covenant, his sacred house, Mount Zion, and his children. Let everyone among all the tribes know that he is the God of power and might. No one protects Israel like God himself.

The prayer of Tobias (Tob 8:5-8:8)

“Tobias began by saying.

‘Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors.

Blessed is your name in all generations forever.

Let the heavens and all the creation bless you forever.

You made Adam.

For him you gave his wife Eve

As a helper and support.

From the two of them

The human race has sprung.

You said.

‘It is not good that the man should be alone.

Let us make a helper for him like himself.’

I now am taking this kinswoman of mine

Not because of lust,

But with sincerity.

Grant that she and I may find mercy.

Grant that we may grow old together.’

They both said. ‘Amen. Amen.’  Then they both went to sleep for the night.’”

This prayer of Tobias is an ode to creation. It is one of the first prayers that talks about Adam and Eve. In fact, it uses the words of Genesis, chapter 2. This prayer combines the God of his ancestors with the God of heaven. Tobias maintained that he did not marry out of lust but because of sincerity for his family. He asked for God’s mercy, and the famous saying, “Grant that we may grow all together.” They both say amen and go to sleep. There is no mention of sexual intercourse.