Jeremiah is saved (Jer 26:16-26:16)

“Then the officials

With all the people

Said to the priests

As well as the prophets.

‘This man does not deserve

The sentence of death.

He has spoken to us

In the name of Yahweh,

Our God.’”

After the defense of Jeremiah by himself, the royal officials and the rest of the people told the priests and the prophets that Jeremiah did not deserve to be put to death. He had only spoken to them in the name of Yahweh, their God. Let him be!

The scribes (Sir 39:1-39:5)

“How different is

The one who devotes himself

To the study

Of the law of the Most High.

He seeks out the wisdom

Of all the ancients.

He is concerned with prophecies.

He preserves the sayings

Of the famous.

He penetrates the subtleties

Of the parables.

He seeks out the hidden meanings

Of proverbs.

He is at home

With the obscurities of parables.

He serves among the great men.

He appears before rulers.

He travels in foreign lands.

He learns what is good and evil

In the human lot.

He sets his heart to rise early.

He seeks the Lord who made him.

He petitions the Most High.

He opens his mouth in prayer.

He asks pardon for his sins.”

Sirach is more interested in the scholarly scribes. This seems like a defense of his own life, and what he is doing. He devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High God. He seeks the wisdom of the ancients and the current prophecies. He preserves the ancient sayings or writings. He penetrates and finds the hidden meanings of the parables and the proverbs. He serves among and appears before the rulers. He even travels in foreign lands so that he can learn about good and evil among all humans. He rises early to seek the Lord. He prays with petitions and penitence to the Most High God. In other words, he is a great righteous man, fully dedicated to the law of God and living it out in his daily life. He is Sirach!

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.

Accept the discipline (Sir 6:23-6:31)

“Listen!

My child!

Accept my judgment!

Do not reject my counsel!

Put your feet into her fetters!

Put your neck into her collar!

Bend your shoulder!

Carry her!

Do not fret under her bonds!

Come to her with all your soul!

Keep her ways with all your might!

Search out!

Seek her!

She will become known to you.

When you get hold of her,

Do not let her go.

For at last,

You will find the rest she gives.

She will be changed into joy for you.

Then her fetters will become for you a strong defense.

Her collar will be a golden ornament.

Her bonds will be a purple cord.

You will wear her like a glorious robe.

You will put her on like a splendid crown.”

Sirach wants the children to listen to him and accept his judgment. They should receive the chains of wisdom around their necks and on their feet in order to accept wisdom. They should carry her, this feminine wisdom, and let her come into their souls. They should seek and search her out. She will become known to them. They should never let her go. Their lives will be changed into joy as the chains will be a defense. They will have golden ornaments around their necks, purple cords, and a splendid crown. Just listen to what he and wisdom are telling them. This almost sounds like a masochistic love for this female wisdom.

The power of God (Ps 60:1-60:4)

To the choirmaster leader, according to Lily of the Covenant, a Miktam of David, for instruction, when he struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

“O God!

You have rejected us!

You have broken our defenses!

You have been angry!

Restore us!

You have caused the land to quake.

You have torn it open.

Repair the cracks in it!

It is tottering.

You have made your people

Suffer hard things.

You have given us wine to drink

That made us reel.

You have set up a banner

For those who fear you.

You want us to rally

To it from the bow.”

Selah

Psalm 60 has one of the longest titles of any of the psalms. As opposed to the earlier individual complaints of David, this is a group lament. Once again it is a choral song to the tune of “Lily of the Covenant,” which will be the tune of Psalm 80 also. According to 2 Samuel, chapter 8, it was David himself who killed the 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of the Salt. This was on an adventure into southern Syria. He actually had been successful but this psalm is more about failure. Somehow God has rejected them, a theme often heard in the later time of captivity. Their defense had been broken. God was angry with them so he wanted God to restore them. They have had a mini earthquake so that there were cracks in the ground. The people had been suffering. Unfortunately, they had been drinking the wrong kind of wine. They wanted to rally around God’s banner out of the distance of bows and arrows. This section ended with a musical interlude meditative pause, Selah.

A cry to Yahweh (Ps 35:22-35:24)

“You have seen!

Yahweh!

Do not be silent!

Yahweh!

Do not be far from me!

Wake up!

Bestir yourself for my defense!

For my cause,

My God!

My Lord!

Vindicate me!

Yahweh!

My God!

According to your righteousness,

Do not let them rejoice over me!”

David’s cry to Yahweh wants Yahweh to wake up and see what is going on. Yahweh had seen what was happening to David, and yet he was silent. David wanted Yahweh close to him as his defense. He wanted his righteousness to be vindicated. He did not want others to rejoice over his misfortunes.

Lysias defends the peace treaty in Ptolemais (2 Macc 13:24-13:26)

“The king received Judas Maccabeus. He left Hegemonides as the governor from Ptolemais to Gerar. Then the king went to Ptolemais. The people of Ptolemais were indignant over the treaty. In fact, they were so angry that they wanted to annul its terms. Lysias took the public platform, made the best possible defense. He convinced them, appeased them, gained their good will, and then set out for Antioch. This is how the king’s attack and withdrawal turned out.”

Once again, this is similar to 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. There Lysias convinced the king and the commanders that the peace treaty with the Jews was a good idea. Here he must convince the people of Ptolemais, who did not like the Jews. The Syrian Hegemonides remained the governor of the seacoast area. However, the people of Ptolemais were upset about the treaty with the Jews. Only the eloquent speaking of Lysias convinced and appeased them. Thus with good will, they set out for Antioch. This then is the peace treaty that took place when King Antiochus V and Lysias attacked and then withdrew.