“They will be called
Oaks of righteousness.
They will be called
The planting of Yahweh,
To display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins.
They shall raise up the former devastations.
They shall repair the ruined cities.
They shall repair the devastations
Of many generations.”
The goal of this mission was to rebuild Israel. Yahweh would plant trees of righteousness and justice to display his glory. They were to rebuild these ancient ruins. They would repair the many ruined cities. They would repair the former devastations that had been there for many generations.
You who are older!
It is your right!
With accurate knowledge!
Do not interrupt the music!
Where there is entertainment,
Do not pour out talk!
Do not display
At the wrong time!
A ruby seal
In a setting of gold
Is a concert of music
At a banquet of wine.
A seal of emerald
In a rich setting of gold
Is the melody of music
With good wine.”
Sirach has some advice for the old folks at a wine banquet. If they are older, they should speak because it is their right. However, they should have accurate knowledge. These old folks should not talk if there is entertainment, so that they do not display their cleverness at the wrong time. Sirach compares the role of music and wine at a banquet to a ruby seal in gold and an emerald set in gold. Once again, jewelry was a comparison to the happy good times of music and drink.
“Do not make a display
Of your wisdom
When you do your work.
Do not boast
When you are in want.
Better is the worker
Who has goods in plenty
Than the boaster
Who lacks bread.”
You should not display your wisdom when you are working. You should not boast when you have nothing to boast about. You should be a worker who has plenty rather than a boaster who has nothing to eat.
“Do not seek from the Lord a high office!
Do not seek the seat of honor from the king!
Do not assert your righteousness before the Lord!
Do not display your wisdom before the king!
Do not seek to become a judge!
You may be unable to root out injustice.
You may be partial to the powerful.
You may mar your integrity.
Commit no offense against the public!
Do not disgrace yourself among the people!”
Sirach then gave some instructions on how to conduct yourself in public places. First, you should not seek a high office or a seat of honor from the king. Second, do not claim to be righteous before the Lord. Third, do not display your wisdom before the king. Fourth, you should not seek to become a judge because you may not be able to get rid of evil injustice. You might be partial to the powerful people and mar your own integrity. Finally, do not commit any offense against the people so that you do not end up in disgrace.
“We do not see our emblems.
There is no longer any prophet.
There is none among us
Who knows how long.
Is the foe to scoff?
Is the enemy to revile your name forever?
Why do you hold back your hand?
Why do you keep your hand in your bosom?”
This is one of the few times when the Israelites seem to be without any leaders. Obviously the king was gone. Their emblems were not on display. There does not seem to be any prophets. No one seemed to know how long this was going to last. How long would the foes scoff at them? How long would they revile the name of God? Why did God keep his hand at this chest instead of striking down these foes? These were very serious questions.
“Meanwhile, Queen Vashti also gave a drinking party for the women in the palace of King Artaxerxes. On the seventh day, when the king was in good humor, probably due to the wine, he told Haman, Bazan, Tharra, Boraze, Zastholtha, Abataza, and Tharaba, the seven eunuchs who served King Artaxerxes, to escort the queen to him in order to proclaim her as queen. He wanted to place the diadem on her head. He wanted to have her display her beauty to all the governors and the people of the various nations. She was indeed a beautiful woman.”
Apparently, there were separate drinking parties for men and women. Queen Vashti was giving a party for the women in another part of the palace. On the last day of the drinking festival, the king feeling his wine asked his 7 eunuchs to escort his queen to their party. She would be proclaimed queen with a tiara on her head. He wanted to show her off to the all the governors of the various countries that were there. After all, she was a very beautiful woman. The 7 eunuchs have different names in the Greek and Hebrew texts. Haman may be wrong since he was an official and not a eunuch. Once again, eunuchs were castrated men who were the personal servants of the king and his female companions.
“At the end of the festivity, the king gave a drinking party for the people of the various nations who lived in the capital city of Susa, both great and small, a banquet lasting for seven days, in the garden courtyard of the royal king’s palace. The courtyard was adorned with white cotton curtains and blue hangings tied with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and marble pillars. Gold and silver couches were placed on a mosaic floor of emerald, mother-of-pearl, and marble. There were coverings of gauze, embroidered in various colors, with roses arranged around them. The cups were of gold and silver. A miniature cup made of ruby was on display, worth thirty thousand talents. There was abundant sweet wine, such as the king himself drank. The drinking was not according to a restrained fixed rule. The king wanted it this way. Thus he commanded his stewards to comply with his pleasure and that of his guests, as each one desired.
The first gathering was more official. This week long festival seems a little less organized. The participants seem to be local Susa folk who worked in the capitol. Persian kings supposedly gave great feasts. The setting is a beautiful outdoor royal courtyard that is adorned with white, blue, and purple linen cloths tied to marble pillars with silver rings. They had gold and silver couches on a mosaic marble floor, with roses all around. This would indicate a late spring, early summer time frame. They drank from gold and silver drinking cups. He had a miniature cup of ruby worth millions of USA dollars. Everyone got to drink the king’s wine as much as they wanted. The king had given the orders to his wine stewards. This seems like a very happy sumptuous gathering.