Wisdom and incarnation (Bar 3:35-3:37)

“This is our God!

No other can be

Compared to him!

He found the whole way

To knowledge.

He gave her

To his servant

Jacob.

He gave her

To Israel

Whom he loved.

Afterward she appeared

On earth.

She lived

With humans.”

This section of Baruch indicates that wisdom became human in some sense, like an incarnation. Surely God, and not Yahweh, was the creator of the world. Thus no other god or person could compare with him. He had full knowledge of everything. He was omniscient. Thus he gave wisdom to his servant Jacob. He also gave wisdom to Israel, whom he loved. The use of both Jacob and Israel is interesting, since it implies that Jacob was a person and Israel was a name of all his descendants. Then there is the final intriguing comment about how she, wisdom, appeared on earth and lived with humans. Some Christians see this as a hint about the incarnation of Jesus. However, it should be noted that the reference is to a she, a female. Wisdom was generally seen as feminine, not masculine like Jesus. Finally, she has already appeared, so that this is not a future aspirational comment. Wisdom is already living among humans. You just have to find this personification of wisdom here on earth.

Advertisements

Yahweh God as your husband (Isa 54:4-54:6)

“‘Do not fear!

You will not be ashamed.

Do not be discouraged!

You will not suffer disgrace.

You will forget the shame of your youth!

You will remember no more

The disgrace of your widowhood.

Your Maker is your husband.

Yahweh of hosts is his name.

The Holy One of Israel is

Your Redeemer.

He is called

The God of the whole earth.

Yahweh has called you

Like a wife forsaken,

Like a wife grieved in spirit,            

Like the wife of a man’s youth

When she is cast off.’

So says your God.”

Second Isaiah says that you should not be fearful or discouraged because you will not be ashamed or suffer disgrace. You will forget the shameful sins of your youth. You will forget the disgrace of your widowhood, living in Exile. Your maker or creator, Yahweh of hosts, is your husband. The Holy One of Israel will be your redeemer. He is God of the whole earth, not just Israel. You were like a grieving spurned wife or like the first wife who has been cast off for the trophy wife. God is telling you this so that you do not feel bad.

The beautiful prayer of King Hezekiah (Isa 37:15-37:20)

“King Hezekiah prayed to Yahweh.

He said.

‘O Yahweh of hosts!

God of Israel!

You are enthroned above the cherubim!

You alone are God

Of all the kingdoms of the earth.

You have made heaven and earth.

Incline your ear!

O Yahweh!

Hear!

Open your eyes!

O Yahweh!

See!

Hear all the words of King Sennacherib

That he has sent to mock the living God!

O Yahweh!

The kings of Assyria have laid waste

All the nations with all their lands.

They have hurled their gods into the fire.

They were no gods,

But the work of human hands,

Wood with stone.

So they were destroyed.

O Yahweh!

Our God!

I pray you,

Save us

From his hand!

Thus all the kingdoms of the earth

May know that you,

O Yahweh,

Are God alone.’”

Once again, this beautiful prayer of monotheism is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19. There is no doubt or question that there is only one God, Yahweh. There are no other gods, since this is the monotheistic religion of Yahweh. There might have been some ambiguity in the past, but not here. This is a personal direct prayer to Yahweh. King Hezekiah cries out to Yahweh, who is almighty in heaven, above all the kingdoms of the earth. He has made heaven and earth as its creator. Now the personal plea comes, as King Hezekiah asks Yahweh to listen to how King Sennacherib of Assyria has mocked Yahweh. It is true that he has destroyed many nations and many gods, but those gods were manmade gods of sticks and stones. King Hezekiah wants Yahweh to show his glory to all the nations of the world by saving Jerusalem.

Praise for the Divine presence (Sir 43:27-43:33)

“We could say more.

But we could never say enough.

Let the final word be.

‘He is the all.’

Where can we find the strength

To praise him?

He is greater

Than all his works.

Awesome is the Lord.

He is very great.

His power is marvelous.

Glorify the Lord!

Exalt him as much as you can!

He surpasses even that.

When you exalt him,

Summon all your strength.

Do not grow weary!

You cannot praise him enough.

Who has seen him?

Who can describe him?

Who can extol him as he is?

Many things greater

Than these lie hidden.

I have seen

But a few of his works.

The Lord has made all things.

To the godly,

He has given wisdom.”

Sirach assumes the first person plural saying that he or we could say more, but it would never be enough. In fact, Sirach is very close to a pantheistic view when he maintains that the Lord is all things. However, he quickly corrects himself when he says that the Lord is greater than all his works, separating him from his creation. The Lord is awesome, very great, marvelous, and powerful. Where do we get the strength to praise the Lord? We should glorify him and exalt him as much as we can. We should not grow weary because we can never praise God enough. Nobody has seen him or described him. How can we extol him enough? Sirach has related what he has seen, but there are many more hidden things about the Lord, since he is the creator of all things. Luckily, he has given wisdom to the godly, so that they will experience a few of these marvels of the Lord.

Pride (Sir 10:6-10:13)

“Do not get angry

With your neighbor

For every injury!

Do not resort to acts of insolence!

Arrogance is hateful to the Lord.

Arrogance is hateful to mortals.

Injustice is outrageous to both also.

Sovereignty passes

From nation to nation.

This happens

On account of injustice,

On account of insolence,

On account of wealth.

How can dust be proud?

How can ashes be proud?

Even in life,

The human body decays.

A long illness baffles the physician.

The king of today

Will die tomorrow.

When one is dead,

He inherits

Maggots,

Vermin,

And worms.

The beginning of human pride

Is to forsake the Lord.

The heart has withdrawn

From its Maker.

The beginning of pride

Is sin.

The one who clings to it

Pours out abominations.”

You should not get mad with your neighbor over any perceived injuries. Do not become insolent! Arrogance is hateful to God and humans. Injustice is outrageous to the Lord and your neighbor. Sovereignty passes from one country to another because of injustice, insolence, and wealth. This is not a pretty picture. How can humans made of dust and ashes be proud? Their body will decay no matter what. Sometimes it is a baffling long illness that even physicians do not know how to cure. Even the king of today will be dead and gone tomorrow. When you die, the maggots, the vermin, and the worms will take over your body. Pride starts when you give up on the Lord and Creator. Sin is the beginning of pride. If you cling to it, there will be abominations all over the place.

Israelite festival (Ps 149:1-149:5)

“Praise Yahweh!

Sing to Yahweh a new song!

His praise is due

In the assembly of the faithful!

Let Israel be glad in its maker!

Let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!

Let them praise his name with dancing!

Let them make melody to him

With the tambourine!

Let them make melody to him

With the lyre!

Yahweh takes pleasure in his people.

He adorns the humble with victory.

Let the faithful exult in glory!

Let them sing for joy on their couches!”

Psalm 149 begins with the phrase “praise Yahweh,” another way of saying alleluia, the Hebrew “Hallelujah.” There is no introductory title. The Israelites were to sing a new song in the assembly of the faithful. They should be glad because Yahweh is their creator. They should rejoice with their king. They were to dance and play the tambourine and the lyre. Yahweh was pleased with his people. He would give them glory and victory. Thus they can sing with glory from their couches after their victory.

Yahweh’s creation (Ps 136:4-136:9)

“Yahweh alone does great wonders.

His steadfast love endures forever.

By understanding he made the heavens.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He spread out the earth on the waters.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the great lights.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the sun to rule over the day.

His steadfast love endures forever.

He made the moon and the stars to rule over the night.

His steadfast love endures forever.”

Once again, the congregational refrain, “His steadfast love endures forever” is repeated after every verse. This is a tribute to the creator Yahweh. He has done great wonders. He has made the heavens and put the earth on top of the waters. He made the great lights for the day and the night, the sun, the moon, and the stars. Therefore we cry out that his steadfast love endures forever.