The dishonor of Jerusalem (Jer 51:50-51:51)

“You survivors

Of the sword!

Go!

Do not linger!

Remember Yahweh

In a distant land!

Let Jerusalem

Come into your mind!

We are put to shame!

We have heard insults!

Dishonor has covered

Our face!

Aliens have come

Into the holy places

Of Yahweh’s house.”

Those who have survived the sword should not linger. They should remember Yahweh in Jerusalem. They should not be put to shame, even though they hear insults. Their dishonor has covered their faces, since aliens now have come into their holy places, especially the house of Yahweh, the Temple in Jerusalem.

The people plead their case (Jer 14:19-14:22)

“Have you completely rejected Judah?

Does your heart loathe Zion?

Why have you struck us down?

Why is there is no healing for us?

We look for peace.

But we find no good.

We look for a time of healing.

But there is terror instead.

We acknowledge our wickedness!

O Yahweh!

We acknowledge the iniquity of our ancestors!

We have sinned against you!

Do not spurn us!

For your name’s sake,

Do not dishonor your glorious throne!

Remember!

Do not break your covenant with us!

Can any idols of the nations bring rain?

Can the heavens give showers?

Is it not you,

O Yahweh!

Our God?

We set our hope on you.

You do all this.”

Once again, Jeremiah presents the people of Judah pleading their case for God’s mercy. They wanted to know how God could reject Judah and loath Zion, Jerusalem. Why were they stricken? Why was there no healing? They looked for peace, but there was none. Instead of healing, there was more terror. They acknowledged their own wickedness that they shared with their ancestors. They had sinned against Yahweh, God. However, they did not want to be spurned by Yahweh, because that would dishonor his name. They wanted Yahweh to remember his covenant and not break it with them. Then they pointed out that Yahweh could bring rain and showers, but the idols of other nations could not do that. They still had their hope in Yahweh, despite everything, because Yahweh was all powerful.

The shamed Israelites (Jer 3:24-3:25)

“But from our youth

The shameful thing has

devoured all the things

For which our ancestors had labored,

Their flocks,

Their herds,

Their sons.

Their daughters.

Let us lie down in our shame!

Let our dishonor cover us!

We have sinned

Against Yahweh

Our God,

We,

With our ancestors,

From our youth,

Even to this day.

We have not obeyed

The voice of Yahweh our God.”

Jeremiah remarks that the Israelites were ashamed. Since their youth, they and their ancestors had done shameful things. All the work they had done with their flocks, herds, sons, and daughters has led them to be ashamed. They wanted dishonor to cover them, because they had sinned against Yahweh, their God, from their youth, and even as far back as their ancestors. They have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh, their God.

Priests of Yahweh (Isa 61:6-61:7)

“But you shall be called

The priests of Yahweh.

You shall be named

Ministers of our God.

You shall enjoy

The wealth of the nations.

In their riches

You shall glory.

Because your shame was double,

You shall have a double portion.

Dishonor was proclaimed

As their lot.

Therefore they shall possess

A double portion.

Everlasting joy shall be theirs.”

The new Israelites will be called priests of Yahweh and ministers of God. They will enjoy tremendous wealth among the nations, so that they will glory in their richness. They will have double of what they had because they have suffered so much. Due to their sufferings, dishonor, and shame they will have a double portion of everlasting joy. Everything will be twice as good for them.

The young widows at Jerusalem (Isa 4:1-4:1)

“Seven women

Shall take hold of one man

In that day.

Saying.

‘We will eat our own bread.

We will wear our own clothes.

Just let us be called by your name.

Take away our disgrace.’”

In order to avoid dishonor and disgrace, seven young widows would join a harem so that they can have something to eat and clothes to wear. They will even take the name of their new protector or husband. They do not want to be reproached for being celibate or sterile, since the single woman was considered outside the pale of society.

The difficulties of King Solomon (Sir 47:19-47:22)

“You brought in women

To lie at your side.

Through your body,

You were brought

Into subjection.

You stained your honor.

You defiled your family line.

You brought wrath

Upon your children.

They were grieved

At your folly.

Because the sovereignty

Was divided.

A rebel kingdom

Arose out of Ephraim.

But the Lord

Will never give up his mercy.

He will not cause

Any of his works to perish.

He will never blot out

The descendants of his chosen one.

He will not destroy

The family line

Of him who loved him.

So he gave a remnant to Jacob.

To David

He gave a root of his stock.”

Unlike the other famous holy men, Sirach points out some problems with King Solomon. He had a woman problem. As usual, Sirach blames them rather than Solomon. However, he did point out that Solomon brought in women to lie with him that reduced his strength and power. Solomon thus stained the family line with this dishonor. Thus his children suffered with the split in the Israelite kingdom. At the death of King Solomon, the rebels in Ephraim took over the northern part of the kingdom, so that only Judah was left. However, the Lord was merciful and never gave up, so that the family line was not destroyed. They just had less power. The remnant remained of Jacob and David and his family. The roots were still there, even if the tree was smaller.

The problems in lending money (Sir 29:4-29:7)

“Many persons regard a loan

As a windfall.

This causes trouble

To those who help them.

One kisses another’s hands

Until he gets a loan.

He is very deferential

In speaking of his neighbor’s money.

But at the time

For repayment,

He delays.

He pays back

With empty promises.

He finds fault with the time.

If he can pay,

His creditor

Will hardly get back half.

The borrower will regard

That as a windfall.

If he cannot pay,

The borrower has robbed

The other of his money.

He has needlessly

Made him an enemy.

He will repay him

With curses.

He will repay him

With reproaches.

Instead of glory,

He will repay him

With dishonor.

Many refuse to lend,

Not because of meanness,

But from fear of being defrauded needlessly.”

Sirach says that this ideal of lending money to your neighbor as giving a helping hand has a few hiccups. Some people think that the loan is a gift, so that they never pay it back. They go around being very deferential to the people with money, kissing their hands. However, when it comes time to repay the loan all they give back are empty promises. They say that they need more time. Sometimes they only pay half of it back, since they think the rest of it was a gift to them. If they do not pay it back, they have robbed their neighbor. They have needlessly made him an enemy. Curses and reproaches will follow with dishonor and anger on all sides. This had led many people to refuse to lend money because they are afraid of being defrauded. Thus there are less and less no interest loans happening.