Ephraim was a silly dove (Hos 7:11-7:12)

“Ephraim has become

Like a dove,

Silly,

Without sense.

They call upon Egypt.

They go to Assyria.

As they go,

I will cast my net

Over them.

I will bring them down

Like birds of the air.

I will disciple them

According to the report

Made to their assembly.”

Ephraim has become a silly, senseless dove. They tried to make alliances with Egypt and Assyria. However, Yahweh was going to cast a net over them. He was going to bring them down as if they were birds in the air. He was going to discipline them according to the information that he got from their assembly.

The chant of the sharpened sword (Ezek 21:8-21:11)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Son of man!

Prophesy!

Say!

Thus says Yahweh!

Say!

‘A sword!

A sword is sharpened!

A sword is also polished!

It is sharpened

For slaughter!

It is polished

To flash

Like lightning!

How can we make merry?

You have despised

The rod.

You have despised

All discipline.

The sword is given

To be polished,

To be grasped

In the hand.

It is sharpened.

The sword is polished.

It is to be placed

In the killer’s hand.’”

This oracle of Yahweh is often called the song of the sword. Yahweh told Ezekiel to prophesize this chant about the importance of the sword. A sword should be sharpened and polished for the slaughter to come. The sword should be polished so that it flashes like lightning. How can they be happy and merry? They had despised the rod and all discipline. They should have a polished sword that can be easily grasped. It should be sharpened and polished before it was placed in the killer’s hand.

Ephraim pleads to return (Jer 31:18-31:20)

“Indeed I heard

Ephraim pleading.

‘You disciplined me!

I took the discipline

Like an untrained calf.

Bring me back!

Let me come back!

You are Yahweh!

My God!

After I had turned away

I repented.

After I was discovered,

I struck my thigh.

I was ashamed.

I was dismayed.

Because I bore

The disgrace of my youth.’

‘Is Ephraim my dear son?

Is he the child I delight in?

As often as I speak

Against him,

I still remember him.

Therefore I am deeply moved

For him.

I will surely have mercy

On him.’

Says Yahweh.”

Here Jeremiah has Ephraim, the son of Joseph, whose territory was just north of Benjamin plead with Yahweh to let him return to the Promised Land. Samaria and Bethel were in this territory that was the capitol of the northern Israelites. Ephraim admitted that he needed discipline, like a young calf. He wanted to come back home. He had repented and struck his thigh, a sign of penance. He was ashamed and dismayed because of his disgraceful youth. Yahweh, on the other hand, seemed very happy to have him come back. Ephraim was his dear delightful child. Yahweh still remembered him, despite his diatribes against him. Yahweh was deeply moved and would have mercy on him. The northern Israelites can return to Israel.

They will not listen (Jer 7:27-7:28)

“So you shall speak

All these words to them.

But they will not listen to you.

You shall call to them,

But they will not answer you.

You shall say to them.

‘This is the nation

That did not obey

The voice of Yahweh,

Their God.

They did not accept discipline.

Truth has perished.

Truth is cut off from their lips.”

Yahweh told Jeremiah what to say. However, he warned Jeremiah that the Israelites would not listen to him either. He would call to them but they would not respond to him. Yahweh told him to tell them that they were a nation that did not obey the voice of Yahweh, their God. They would not accept any kind of discipline because truth had perished and was no longer coming from their lips.

Things not to ashamed of (Sir 42:1-42:8)

“You should not be ashamed of the following things.

Do not sin to save face!

Do not be ashamed of the law of the Most High!

Do not be ashamed of his covenant!

Do not be ashamed of rendering judgment to acquit the ungodly!

Do not be ashamed of keeping accounts with a partner!

Do not be ashamed of keeping accounts with traveling companions!

Do not be ashamed of dividing the inheritance of friends!

Do not be ashamed of accuracy with scales!

Do not be ashamed of accuracy with weights!

Do not be ashamed of acquiring much!

Do not be ashamed of acquiring little!

Do not be ashamed of profit from dealing with merchants!

Do not be ashamed of frequent disciplining of children!

Do not be ashamed of drawing blood

From the back of a wicked servant!

Where there is an untrustworthy wife,

A seal is a good thing.

Where there are many hands,

Lock things up!

When you make a deposit,

Be sure it is counted!

Be sure it is weighed!

When you give put it all in a written record!

When you receive put it all in a written record!

Do not be ashamed to instruct the stupid!

Do not be ashamed to instruct the foolish!

Do not be ashamed to instruct the aged

Who are guilty of sexual immorality!

Then you will show your sound training.

You will be approved by all.”

Here Sirach points out the things that you should not be ashamed to do. However, in this listing, he shows his prejudice against strangers, slaves, women, and children. He has kind but cautious words for commerce and profit. You should not sin to save face. Obviously, you should not be ashamed of the law of the Most High God and his covenant. You should render judgment against the ungodly. You can keep accounts with your partners and traveling companions. You can divide the inheritance of your friends. You should not be ashamed of your balanced scales or making money with merchants. You should not be afraid to discipline your children, your wicked slaves, and your untrustworthy wife. Be careful when many people are around. When you make a deposit, make sure that everything is counted and weighed. Keep a written record of your dealings. Do not be ashamed to correct the stupid, foolish, or the immoral old guys. Thus you will show your good training. You will get approval from everyone.

Fear of the Lord (Sir 32:14-32:17)

“Whoever seeks God

Will accept his discipline.

Whoever rises early

To seek him

Will find his favor.

Whoever seeks the law

Will be filled with it.

But the hypocrite

Will stumble at it.

Whoever fears the Lord

Will form true judgments.

They will kindle righteous deeds

Like a light.

The sinner

Will shun reproof.

He will find a decision

According to his liking.”

Once again, Sirach has linked everything to the fear of God. Anyone who is seeking God must accept God’s discipline. You have to get up early to seek God. You should seek the law and be filled with it. The law, of course, means the commandments of God. You should not be a hypocrite who stumbles around. If you fear the Lord, you will make true judgments that will end up with righteous deeds that kindle a light like a fire. The sinner does not like to be reprimanded. The sinner likes only the decisions that fit his way of thinking.

Avoid a spoiled son (Sir 30:7-30:13)

“Whoever spoils his son,

Will bind up his wounds.

You will suffer heartache

At every cry.

An unbroken horse

Turns out stubborn.

An unchecked son

Turns out headstrong.

Pamper a child,

Then he will terrorize you.

Play with him,

Then he will give you grief.

Do not laugh with him,

Lest you have sorrow with him.

In the end

You will gnash your teeth.

Give him no freedom

In his youth.

Do not ignore his errors.

Bow down his neck

In his youth.

Beat his sides

While he is young,

Lest he become stubborn.

He will disobey you.

You will have sorrow of soul

From him.

Discipline your son.

Make his yoke heavy.

Thus you may not be offended

By his shamelessness.”

Once again, Sirach reflects the ideals of his time about the importance of discipline and corporal punishment of children. Above all, do not spoil your son! Otherwise, you will spend a lifetime healing his wounds and suffering heartaches at his every cry. The young boy is compared to a horse that is unbroken, stubborn, and headstrong. If you pamper your son, then he will terrorize you. Do not laugh or play with your son! Otherwise, you will end up gnashing your teeth. Do not give him any freedom when he is young! Do not ignore his mistakes! Beat him up on his sides when he is young! If not, he will become stubborn and disobey you. Then you will have a sorrowful soul. Make his iron collar heavy so that he does not end up shameless. Be tough on those kids!