The parable about the places of honor (Lk 14:8-14:8)

“When you are invited

By someone

To a wedding banquet,

Do not sit down

At the place of honor!

Otherwise,

Someone more distinguished

Than you may

Had been invited

By your host.”

 

Ὅταν κληθῇς ὑπό τινος εἰς γάμους, μὴ κατακλιθῇς εἰς τὴν πρωτοκλισίαν, μή ποτε ἐντιμότερός σου ᾖ κεκλημένος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ,

 

Luke uniquely had Jesus tell this parable about being invited by someone to a wedding banquet (Ὅταν κληθῇς ὑπό τινος εἰς γάμους).  He told them not to sit down or recline (μὴ κατακλιθῇς) in the place of honor (εἰς τὴν πρωτοκλισίαν).  Luke was the only gospel writer who used this word κατακλιθῇς, that means to recline a table.  He used it more than 5 times.  Otherwise, someone more distinguished than them (μή ποτε ἐντιμότερός σου) may have been invited by their host (ᾖ κεκλημένος ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ).  This is similar or based on Proverbs 6:7, where they were told not to put themselves forward in a great place before the king.  It was much better to be told to come up than to be put lower in the presence of a noble person.  In other words, let the host realize and show that you are important, rather than pretend that you are more important than you are.  Have you ever sat at the wrong place at some banquet?

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Physicians (Sir 38:1-38:8)

“Honor physicians

For their services!

The Lord created them.

Their gift of healing

Comes from the Most High.

They are rewarded by the king.

The skill of the physicians

Makes them distinguished.

In the presence of the great men,

They are admired.

The Lord created medicines

Out of the earth.

The sensible ones

Will not despise them.

Was not water made sweet

With a tree?

Thus its power might be known.

He gave skill to human beings.

Thus he might be glorified

In his marvelous works.

By them,

The physician heals.

He takes away pain.

The pharmacist makes a mixture

From them.

God’s works

Will never be finished.

From him,

Health spreads over all the earth.”

Were physicians thought of as witch doctors or a kind of false idol worship? Sirach has a strong defense of these physicians. They are actually continuing the creative work of the Most High God with his gift of healing to the people. These distinguished and admired medical doctors are honored by kings because of their skills. The Lord has created healing medicines from the earth. Do not despise their human skills that heal and take away pain. The pharmacists make these mixtures to help the work of God, whose work is never finished. Thus health will spread over all the earth. Sirach has a definite pro-physician and pro-pharmacist attitude, unlike some Christian Scientists who are against medical doctors.

The present distress of Job (Job 30:1-30:8)

“But now they make sport of me.

Those who are younger than I,

Whose fathers I would have disdained

To have them set with the dogs of my flock.

What could I gain from the strength of their hands?

All their vigor is gone.

Through want and hard hunger

They gnaw the dry and desolate ground.

They pick mallow and the leaves of bushes,

They pick the roots of the broom to warm themselves.

They are driven out from society.

People shout after them as after a thief.

They must live in the gullies of the Wadi torrents.

They must live in the holes of the earth.

They must live in the holds of the rocks.

Among the bushes they bray.

Under the nettles they huddle together.

A senseless, a disreputable brood,

They have been whipped out of the land.”

The difference between then and now is evident. Job instead of being a distinguished member of the community he was now derided. Now even the outcasts of society ridiculed him. Young people, whose fathers Job would have had them sit with his dogs watching his flock, are now making fun of him. Job was no longer strong. He then colorfully described the indigent homeless society of people who were making fun of him. These were the people who gnaw at the dry ground and eat in the salt marshes near the Dead Sea. They warm themselves with the roots of brooms, a shrub that grows in regions of that area. People shout after them as if they were thieves. They live along the river banks, the holes in the ground and in the caves. They huddle together like a senseless disreputable brood of people that have been sent away from the land.

The dream about Onias the high priest (2 Macc 15:12-15:16)

“What Judas Maccabeus saw was this. Onias, who had been high priest, was a noble and good man of modest bearing and gentle manner. He spoke fittingly. He had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence. He was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. Then in the same fashion another appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity. He had a marvelous majesty and authority. Onias spoke, saying.

‘This is a man who loves the family of Israel.

He prays much for the people and the holy city.

He is Jeremiah, the prophet of God.’

Jeremiah stretched out his right hand. He gave to Judas Maccabeus a golden sword. As he gave it he addressed him thus.

‘Take this holy sword,

As a gift from God,

With which you will strike down your adversaries.’”

Judas Maccabeus revealed his dream about the noble and good Onias who had been the Jerusalem high priest in the 3rd century BCE. In fact, there were other high priests with the same name related to him. This high priest Onias was a modest and a gentle person, who had been trained since childhood in excellence. He prayed with outstretched hands for the Jews. However, right beside Onias was a distinguished dignified gray haired man. In fact, Onias introduced him as Jeremiah the great prophet of God who loved Israel and prayed for its people and its holy city. Then Jeremiah, this great prophet, extended his hand to Judas Maccabeus to give him a holy golden sword so that he could strike down his adversaries. This was taken as a sign that Judas would be successful.

The decree is against one group of disruptive people (Greek text only)

“I asked my counselors how this peace might be accomplished. Haman excels among us in sound judgment. He is distinguished for his unchanging good will and steadfast fidelity. Thus he has attained the second place in the kingdom. He pointed out to us that among all the nations in the world there is scattered a certain hostile people, who have laws contrary to those of every nation. They continually disregard the ordinances of kings. Thus the unifying of the kingdom that we honorably intend cannot be brought about. We understand that this people and it alone, stands constantly in opposition to every nation, perversely following a strange manner of life and laws. They are ill-disposed to our government. They do all the harm they can so that our kingdom may not attain stability.”

This great peaceful king asked his counselors how peace could be achieved and maintained. His number two man, Haman had sound judgment, good will, and fidelity. He pointed out that there was one ethnic group of people scattered among the 127 provinces who were hostile to all the over nations and people. They disregarded the royal ordinances. They have a strange perverse life style with their own laws. They do not like our government and they are ruining any stability that we might attain. Interesting enough, these Persian kings were tolerant and not looking for uniformity. In fact, these are like many of the complaints against the Jews in the later Hellenistic period thus indicating its origin. There is no indication that Persians ever disliked the Jews, since Nehemiah was a cup bearer as a Jew to this same king. Clearly this is the work of Haman who disliked a certain group of so-called outsiders. However, there is no specific mention of Jews in this Greek text.