The new and old wine (Lk 5:38-5:39)

“But new wine

Must be put into

Fresh wineskins.

No one,

After drinking old wine

Desires new wine.

But he says.

‘The old wine

Is good.’”

 

ἀλλὰ οἶνον νέον εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινοὺς βλητέον.

καὶ οὐδεὶς πιὼν παλαιὸν θέλει νέον· λέγει γάρ Ὁ παλαιὸς χρηστός ἐστιν.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said that new wine (ἀλλὰ οἶνον νέον) must be put into fresh, new, or unused wineskins (εἰς ἀσκοὺς καινοὺς βλητέον).  No one, after drinking old wine (καὶ οὐδεὶς πιὼν παλαιὸν), desires new wine (θέλει νέον).  But he says (λέγει γάρ) that the old wine was good (Ὁ παλαιὸς χρηστός ἐστιν).  Interesting enough, Luke has the first verse like Mark, chapter 2:22, and Matthew, chapter 9:17, but then he uniquely added that that old wine was good because people did not like new wine.  Both Mark and Matthew said that new wine should be poured into fresh or new wineskin leather pouches.  Thus, both the wine and the wineskins would be preserved.  They seem to be saying not to mix up the new with the old, since they are incompatible.  Here Luke said that the old was better, when most of the teaching was about the renewal of the old ways.

The waiting prayer (Isa 26:7-26:9)

“The way of the righteous

Is level.

O just one!

You make smooth

The path of the righteous.

Yahweh!

In the path of your judgments,

We wait for you.

Your name

Is the soul’s desire!

Your renown

Is the soul’s desire!

My soul yearns for you

In the night!

My spirit within me

Earnestly seeks you!

When your judgments

Are in the earth,

The inhabitants of the world

Will learn righteousness.”

This prayer of Isaiah is waiting on Yahweh to come. Yahweh has made a smooth paved path for the righteous. Following the judgments of Yahweh, he is waiting for him. He knows that Yahweh’s name is great. His soul desires and yearns for Yahweh at night. His spirit is with him. Thus he earnestly seeks Yahweh. He wanted God’s judgments to be known among all the inhabitants of the world, so that they might learn righteousness.

What is better? (Sir 40:21-40:25)

“The flute makes

A sweet melody.

The harp makes

A sweet melody,

But a pleasant voice is

Better than either.

The eye desires grace.

The eye desires beauty.

But the eye desires

Green shoots of grain

More than either.

A friend is always welcome

A companion is always welcome.

But a sensible wife is

Better than either.

Kindred are for a time of trouble.

Helpers are for a time of trouble.

But almsgiving rescues

Better than either.

Gold makes one stand firm.

Silver makes one stand firm.

But good counsel is

Esteemed more than either.”

Sirach continues with his questions about what is better. However, here the answer is not wisdom. While wine and music gladden the heart, the love of friends is actually better for a happy heart. While the flute and the harp make sweet melodies, a pleasant singing voice is sweeter than both. While the eye desires grace and beauty, the eye, especially of a farmer, prefers to see the green sprouts of grain in the fields. Everyone welcomes a friend or companion in their house, but a sensible wife in the house is much better. In troubled times, family members and helpers can be supportive, but actually almsgiving helps you better than both family and friends. While gold and silver can help you stand firm, good counsel is better than both gold and silver.

Wealth (Sir 5:1-5:3)

“Do not rely on your wealth!

Do not say.

‘I have enough.’

Do not follow your inclination,

In pursuing the desires of your heart.

Do not follow your strength,

In pursuing the desires of your heart.

Do not say.

‘Who can have power over me?’

The Lord will surely punish you.”

Do not rely on your wealth. Do not say that you have enough wealth so that you can follow the powerful inclinations and desires of your heart. Do not say that no one has power over you. Then you surely will be punished by the Lord.

The impending death of old age (Eccl 12:3-12:7)

“In the day

When the guards of the house tremble,

The strong men are bent.

The women who grind cease working

Because they are few.

Those who look through the windows see dimly.

The doors on the street are shut.

The sound of the grinding is low.

One rises up at the sound of a bird.

All the daughters of song are brought low.

When one is afraid of heights,

The terrors are in the road.

The almond tree blossoms.

The grasshopper drags itself along.

Desire fails.

Because all must go to their eternal home.

The mourners will go about the streets.

The silver cord is snapped.

The golden bowl is broken.

The pitcher is broken at the fountain.

The wheel is broken at the cistern.

The dust returns to the earth as it was.

The spirit returns to God who gave it.”

This is an ode to old age. The dying old man, with his many servants and guards, comes to an end. The guards tremble. The strong men bend over. The women grinders stop their dancing. They can only see dimly out the window. Everyone has shut their doors. The grinders have ceased. Morning comes early with the first sound of a bird. There are no more singing young girls. The old man is afraid of heights. He dreads going out on the road because of the fear of attack. The old people tend to walk awkwardly like a grasshopper. Their desires fail maybe due to incompetence. The trees still blossom, but the mourners are out on the streets. The signs of death, the snapped silver cord, the broken gold bowl, and the broken pitcher at the fountain all take place. The wheel was broken at the cistern. They return to dust, but their spirit or breath returns to God. This is a depressing description of old age, just before death, along with the symbolic actions that go with death.

Happy youth (Eccl 11:9-11:10)

“Rejoice!

Young man!

While you are young.

Let your heart cheer you

In the days of your youth.

Follow the inclinations of your heart.

Follow the desire of your eyes.

But know that for all these things

God will bring you into judgment.

Banish anxiety from your mind.

Put away pain from your body.

Youth is vain.

The dawn of life is vanity.”

Now Qoheleth has an ode to youth. Young men should rejoice while they are young. They should be cheerful and happy. They should follow the inclinations and desires of their hearts and eyes. However, they should be aware that God will judge them. Despite that, they should banish an anxious mind or a painful body. After all, all of this is in vain. Youth and the dawn of life is useless vanity.

Crooked minds (Prov 11:20-11:23)

“Crooked minds are an abomination to Yahweh.

But those of blameless ways are his delight.

Be assured!

The wicked will not go unpunished.

But those who are righteous will escape.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout

Is a beautiful woman

Without good sense.

The desire of the righteous

Ends only in good.

The expectation of the wicked

Ends in wrath.”

Yahweh does not like crooked minds. He delights in the blameless ones. You should not worry because the wicked will not go unpunished. The righteous, however, will escape punishment. A beautiful woman without any sense is like a gold ring in a pig’s nose. This simile is doubly stark because of the distaste of pigs and pork in the Middle East culture. The righteous will have their desires fulfilled, but the expectations of the wicked will end in disaster.