The wounded society (Isa 1:5-1:6)

“Why do you seek further beatings?

Why do you continue to rebel?

The whole head is sick.

The whole heart is faint.

From the sole of the foot

Even to the head,

There is no soundness in it.

There are only bruises.

There are only sores.

There are bleeding wounds.

These have not been drained.

These have not been bound up.

These have not been softened with oil.”

The oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, continued with a comparison of this society to a sick or injured rebel. Why would they want to receive more whippings? Why did they continue to rebel against Yahweh? Their heads are sick and their hearts are weak. There is no health in them, from the soles of their feet to the tip of their head. They are bruised, with sores and bleeding wounds that have not been drained, bounded up, or cared for with oil. They are just plain suffering from head to toe.

The bad behavior of the rich (Sir 13:3-13:7)

“A rich person does wrong.

A rich person even adds insults.

A poor person suffers wrong.

A poor person must add apologies.

A rich man will exploit you,

If you can be of use to him.

But if you are in need,

He will forsake you.

If you own something,

He will live with you.

He will drain your resources

Without a qualm.

When he needs you,

He will deceive you.

He will smile at you.

He will encourage you.

He will speak to you kindly.

He will say.

‘What do you need?’

He will embarrass you with his delicacies,

Until he has drained you

Two or three times.

Finally he will laugh at you.

Should he see you afterwards,

He will pass you by.

He will shake his head at you.”

Sirach warns that rich will do bad things to you and then insult you. If a poor person does something wrong, they have to apologize. Not so for the rich. They will exploit you if you can be helpful to them. However, if you need anything, they will leave quickly. The rich will use what you have and thus drain your resources. If the rich need you, they will deceive you with smiles and kindly words. They will encourage you by asking what they can do for you. They will provide embarrassing delicacies, until you are drained a couple of times over. Then they will laugh at you. If you see them later, they will pass you by and shake their heads at you. Do not be fooled by the rich and their false kindness.

 

The tragic suicide death of Razis (2 Macc 14:37-14:46)

“A certain Razis, one of the elders of Jerusalem, was denounced to Nicanor as a man who loved his compatriots. He was very well thought of. For his good will, he was called father of the Jews. In former times, when there was no mingling with the gentiles, he had been accused of Judaism. He had most zealously risked body and life for Judaism. Nicanor, wishing to exhibit the enmity which he had for the Jews, sent more than five hundred soldiers to arrest him. He thought that by arresting him, he would do them an injury. When the troops were about to capture the tower, they forced the door of the courtyard. They ordered that fire be brought and the doors burned. Being surrounded, Razis fell upon his own sword. He preferred to die nobly rather than to fall into the hands of sinners and suffer outrages unworthy of his noble birth. But in the heat of the struggle he did not hit exactly. The crowd was now rushing in through the doors. He courageously ran up on the wall. He bravely threw himself down into the crowd. But as they quickly drew back, a space opened and he fell in the middle of the empty space. Still alive and aflame with anger, he rose up. Although his blood gushed forth and his wounds were severe, he ran through the crowd. Standing upon a steep rock, with his blood now completely drained from him, he tore out his entrails. He took them with both hands and hurled them at the crowd, calling upon the Lord of life and spirit to give them back to him again. This was the manner of his death.”

Wow, what a gruesome description of the death of Razis! Razis was a well respected Jewish elder, sometimes referred to as the father of the Jews. He was accused of Judaism because he would not mingle with the gentiles. Nicanor wanted to make an example of him so he sent 500 troops to arrest him. So far this does not sound outlandish. Then when they got to his house, they decided to set fire to his door to get in. Then Razis was surrounded and decided to kill himself with a sword, a common Roman practice, rather than die in disgrace. However, in the heat of the excitement with the 500 troops running at him, he somehow missed killing himself but merely cut himself. So Razis ran to the top of the wall. He wanted to hurl himself into the crowd, but they stepped back and he fell into an empty space. Now as he was angry and still alive, he ran through the crowd of troops until he got to a sharp rock. The blood was gushing out all over the place. Somehow he tore out his own intestines and threw them at the crowd. This was some weird scene. Here then is the main point. He cried to the Lord of life to give them back to him. Of course, he died. Somehow this father of Judaism believed that his intestines would be restored in some kind of afterlife, a resurrection. This is one of the few times that we have a Jewish attempted suicide.