That if a man’s brother
Leaving a wife,
But no child,
The man shall
Marry the widow
And raise up children
For his brother.’”
Διδάσκαλε, Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν ὅτι ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ καὶ καταλίπῃ γυναῖκα καὶ μὴ ἀφῇ τέκνον, ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ.
Matthew, chapter 22:24, and Luke, chapter 20:28, are almost word for word as here in Mark. Mark said that these Sadducees addressed Jesus very respectfully as “Teacher (Διδάσκαλε).” These Sadducees quoted a Mosaic text that Moses had written for them (Μωϋσῆς ἔγραψεν ἡμῖν), from Deuteronomy, chapter 25:5-10. If a man’s brother should die (ὅτι ἐάν τινος ἀδελφὸς ἀποθάνῃ) leaving behind a wife (καὶ καταλίπῃ γυναῖκα) without any children (καὶ μὴ ἀφῇ τέκνον), his living brother should take his dead brother’s widow as his wife (ἵνα λάβῃ ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ τὴν γυναῖκα). He would then raise up the descendant children or seeds for his brother (καὶ ἐξαναστήσῃ σπέρμα τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ). This levirate law goes back as far as Tamar in Genesis, chapter 38:1-30, with the story of Judah’s 3 sons and Tamar, the original wife of Er. The brother of the deceased was supposed to marry his brother’s widow if he had no sons. The widow was not to marry outside her family. It also assumes that the brother lived close by or in the same house as his brother. There was no indication of whether the brother was married or not, but this seems to assume a younger brother. This was an attempt to prolong the heritage and name of a person, which was common in ancient times. The punishment for the brother’s refusal was an insult rather than any physical punishment.
“When the father dies,
He will not seem to be dead.
Because he has left behind him
One like himself.
He was looked upon
There is no grief.
He has left behind him
Against his enemies.
He has left behind him
One to repay
The kindness of his friends.”
When the father dies, it will not seem like he died, since his son will be like him. Although there was rejoicing in life, there is no grief at death. His son will be an avenger of his enemies and be kind to his friends. Once again Sirach has this repeated theme of friends and enemies.
“So I turned to consider wisdom.
I considered madness.
I considered folly.
What can one do
Who comes after the king?
Only what has already been done.
Then I saw that wisdom excels folly
As light excels darkness.
‘The wise have eyes in their head.
But fools walk in darkness.’”
Now Qoheleth considered, wisdom, madness, and folly again. What happens when a king dies? The next king will pretty much do what the preceding king had done. Finally, he saw the light. He realized that wisdom exceeds folly just like light exceeds darkness. Wisdom is light while folly is darkness. This picks up the main theme of Proverbs again. The wise have eyes in their head, but the fools are blind, walking in darkness.
“Two things I ask of you.
Do not deny them to me before I die.
Remove far from me falsehood.
Remove far from me lying.”
Agur wants to be removed from anybody or anything that is false before he dies. He wants to get away from all liars.
“To him, indeed!
Shall all who sleep in the earth bow down.
Shall bow all who go down to the dust.
I shall live for him.
Posterity will serve him.
Future generations will be told about Yahweh.
They will proclaim his deliverance
To a people yet unborn.
They will say that he has done it.”
This psalm ends with everyone on earth who goes to sleep bowing down to Yahweh. Anyone who lives or dies will bow down to Yahweh. David or the psalmist will live for Yahweh. Also posterity and future generations will learn about Yahweh and serve him. They will proclaim his deliverance to each new generation, even to those not yet born. They will tell about all that he has done.