Lie with the uncircumcised in Sheol (Ezek 32:19-32:21)

“‘Whom do you surpass

In beauty?

Go down!

Be laid to rest

With the uncircumcised!’

They shall fall

Among those

Who are killed

By the sword.

Egypt has been

Handed over

To the sword.

Carry away

Both it

With its hordes!

The mighty chiefs

Shall speak of them,

With their helpers,

Out of the midst of Sheol.

‘They have come down!

They lie still!

The uncircumcised,

Killed by the sword.’”

This section opens with a sarcastic question about who is more beautiful. The response is that they are to go down and lie with the uncircumcised people and those killed by the sword. Egypt with the multitude of their inhabitants has been handed over to death. The mighty chiefs with their helpers will speak to them in the middle of Sheol, the shadowy underworld of the afterlife. They will say that the Egyptians have come down to lie quietly with the uncircumcised and those killed by the sword, which is the worst place in Sheol.

The unreachable wisdom (Bar 3:29-3:31)

“Who has

Gone up into heaven?

Who has

Taken her?

Who has

Brought her down

From the clouds?

Who has

Gone over the sea?

Who has

Found her?

Who will buy her

For pure gold?

No one knows

The way to her.

No one is concerned

About the path to her.”

Next Baruch asked a series of questions about wisdom. Who has ever gone up to heaven and took wisdom away? Who has brought her down from the clouds? Who has gone over the seas and then found her? Who was able to buy wisdom with pure gold? The answer, of course, is no one. No one knows the way to wisdom. In fact, most people are not concerned about the paths to wisdom. There is no broad highway to wisdom.

Jeremiah in the muddy cistern (Jer 38:6-38:6)

“Thus the officials

Took Jeremiah.

They threw him

Into the cistern of Malchiah,

The king’s son.

This was

In the court of the guard.

They let Jeremiah down

By ropes.

There was no water

In the cistern,

But only mud.

Thus Jeremiah sank

In the mud.”

These officials, with the blessing of the king, went and took Jeremiah. They threw him down into a well or cistern that was called Malchiah, after the name of some king’s son. There is no indication that it was the son of King Zedekiah. However, this well was in the court of the guard, or where this royal prison was. They then let Jeremiah down into the cistern with ropes, instead of throwing him down. This indicates that there were no steps or ladder to get up. They probably meant for him to starve to death. This is somewhat reminiscent of the brothers of Joseph who wanted to throw him into a well in Genesis, chapter 37, so that they would not have his blood on their hands. This well, however, had very little if any water. It really was a mud hole that Jeremiah sank into.

An enlarged Sheol (Isa 5:14-5:17)

“Therefore Sheol

Has enlarged its appetite.

It has opened its mouth

Beyond measure.

The nobility of Jerusalem

Go down to Sheol.

Her multitudes

Go down to Sheol.

Her throng

Go down to Sheol.

All who exult in her

Go down to Sheol.

People are bowed down.

Everyone is brought low.

The eyes of the haughty

Are humbled.

But Yahweh of hosts

Is exalted

By justice.

The Holy God

Shows himself holy

By righteousness.

Then the lambs shall graze

As in their pasture.

Fatlings shall feed

Among the ruins.

Kids shall feed

Among the ruins.”

Because there were so many evil people, Sheol, the shadowy afterlife underworld, had to get bigger to hold all these people. After all, the nobility of Jerusalem would go down to Sheol. Along with them, the multitude and the throngs of people would also go down to Sheol. Everyone will be brought low, as the eyes of the haughty or proud will be humbled. However, Yahweh, the Lord, will be exalted by justice since he will show his righteous holiness. As for Jerusalem, the lambs, the fatlings, and the kid animals will graze as if they were in a pasture among those ruins of Jerusalem. This is a desolate picture.

The reaction of the people to the actions of Simon (Sir 50:16-50:19)

“Then the sons of Aaron shouted.

They blew their trumpets

Of hammered metal.

They sounded a mighty fanfare,

As a reminder before

The Most High.

Then all the people together

Quickly fell to the ground

On their faces.

They worshiped their Lord,

The Almighty,

The God Most High.

Then the singers praised him

With their voices

In sweet full-toned melody.

The people

Of the Lord Most High

offered their prayers

Before the merciful one,

Until the order of worship of the Lord

Was ended.

Thus they completed Simon’s ritual.”

Next the sons of Aaron shouted. Then they blew their hammered metal trumpets with a great fanfare before the Most High God. The people in the assembly then quickly fell with their faces down to the ground, as they worshipped the Lord Almighty, the Most High God. The singers chimed in with their sweet melodic voices, as the people offered their prayers to the Most High merciful God, until this worship service to the Lord was ended.

Path of life (Prov 15:24-15:25)

“The wise man’s path of life leads upward.

Thus he may avoid Sheol below.

Yahweh tears down the house of the proud.

But he maintains the widow’s boundaries.”

The path of the wise man goes up, so that he does not go down to Sheol. This is the common conception that up is good and down is bad. Just like a house, the upstairs are better than the basements. Yahweh would tear down the house of the proud ones, but he would sustain the territory or boundaries of the widows.

The great fraternal life (Ps 133:1-133:3)

A song of ascents.

“How very good it is!

How pleasant it is!

Kindred brothers live together in unity!

It is like the precious oil upon the head.

It runs down upon the beard.

It runs down on the beard of Aaron.

It runs down over the collar of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon.

It falls on the mountains of Zion.

For there Yahweh has commanded his blessing,

Life forevermore.”

Psalm 133 is another very short psalm in this series of pilgrimage songs on the ascent to Jerusalem. This wisdom song emphasizes the value of brothers living together in unity. This was like the holy oil that one puts on one’s head. As in the ceremony for the consecration of the Levitical priests, it runs down as on the beard of Aaron and over the collar of his robes. This good fraternal life is like the dew from the mountains of Hermon in Syria. Here the dew falls on Mount Zion. From Mount Zion, Yahweh gives his blessings of life forever. Thus this very short psalm concludes with everlasting life.

Why do people lie? (Ps 4:2-4:2)

“How long,

You people,

Shall my honor suffer shame?

How long will you love vain words?

Why do they seek after lies?

Selah”

David believed that people were lying about him, since he believed that he was falsely accused. Why did they continually try to bring the honor of David down? Why did they love vain words? Why did they seek after lies against David? Once again there is the musical interlude pause of “Selah.”