The good learners (Dan 1:17-1:17)

“To these four young men,

God gave them

Knowledge.

He gave them

Skill

In every aspect

Of literature,

As well as wisdom.

Daniel also

Had insight

Into all visions

As well as all dreams.”

These four young men were good learners. God, not Yahweh, gave them the skills needed for every aspect of literature, as well as wisdom. In addition, Daniel also had an insight into all kinds of visions and dreams.

The lying prophets (Jer 23:25-23:27)

“I have heard

What the prophets have said.

They prophesy lies

In my name.

They say.

‘I have dreamed!

I have dreamed!’

How long

Will this last?

Will the hearts of the prophets

Ever turn back?

They prophesy lies!

They prophesy

The deceit of their own heart.

They plan to make my people

Forget my name,

By their dreams

That they tell one another.

They are just

Like their ancestors

Who forgot my name

For Baal.”

Yahweh complains about these lying prophets, since they prophesy and lie in his name. They claim that they have had dreams. Will these prophets ever return? They continue to lie and present the deceit for their own hearts. They want the people to forget the name of Yahweh with their dreams that they tell to one another. They are just like their ancestors who forgot the name of Yahweh and went to the Baal gods.

The righteous Joseph (Wis 10:13-10:14)

“When a righteous man was sold,

Wisdom did not desert him.

She delivered him from sin.

She descended with him

Into the dungeon.

When he was in prison,

She did not leave him,

Until she brought him

The scepter of a kingdom.

He had authority over his masters.

Those who accused him

She showed to be false.

She gave him everlasting honor.”

Without mentioning his name, this section talks about the righteous Joseph, based on the stories in Genesis, chapters 37-41. Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery. However, wisdom did not abandon this righteous man (δίκαιον). She stayed with him when he was imprisoned in Egypt. However, due to his explanation of dreams, he received a special role in the Egyptian government. Thus he has an everlasting honor or eternal glory (δόξαν αἰώνιον). Of course, all this was accomplished because of wisdom.

The righteous Jacob (Wis 10:9-10:12)

“Wisdom rescued from troubles

Those who served her.

When a righteous man fled

From his brother’s wrath,

She guided him on straight paths.

She showed him the kingdom of God.

She gave him knowledge of holy things.

She prospered him in his labors.

She increased the fruit of his toil.

When his oppressors were covetous,

She stood by him.

She made him rich.

She protected him from his enemies.

She kept him safe

From those who lay in wait for him.

In his arduous contest

She gave him the victory.

Thus he might learn

That godliness is more powerful

Than anything else.”

Wisdom also helped the righteous Jacob as we have a condensed version of the story of Jacob in Genesis, chapters 25-32. Of course, the unnamed Jacob is called a just man (δίκαιον) who served wisdom (σοφία). He fled from his brother’s anger after he had tricked Esau out of his birthright. Jacob had dreams that told him about the kingdom of God (βασιλείαν Θεοῦ) and the heavenly angels. Jacob went to live with Laban, the brother of his mother, or his uncle. He then married his 2 first cousins, Rachel and Leah, while he worked for his uncle. He then became rich before he got into a fight with his uncle Laban. For some reason, Jacob was considered righteous as opposed to Esau and Laban in their various disputes.

Dreams (Eccl 5:7-5:7)

“With many dreams

Come vanities.

With many dreams

Come a multitude of words.

But you should fear God.”

Dreams are useless, like most everything else. Even dreams with a lot of words are in vain. This is opposed to the view that God spoke to people in their dreams. Instead Qoheleth wants you to fear God and everything will be all right.

 

 

Good conduct at the Temple (Eccl 5:1-5:3)

“Guard your steps

When you go

To the house of God.

To draw near

To listen is better

Than to offer the sacrifice of fools.

They do not know

How to keep from doing evil.

‘Never be rash with your mouth!

Do not let your heart be quick

To utter a word before God.

God is in heaven.

You are on earth.

Therefore let your words be few!

Dreams come with many cares.

A fool’s voice comes with many words.’”

Be careful when you go up to the house of God, the Temple. It is better to listen than to offer the sacrifice of fools. These sacrificing fools do not know how to keep from doing evil. This appears to be a little bit against the sacrifices at the Temple. Then there is the stern warning of Qoheleth. Don’t be rash with your mouth. Don’t be quick to utter words before God. He reminded everyone that there was a difference between heaven and earth. God is in heaven and you are not. Therefore, you do not need to use a lot of words in your prayer. Dreams make us worry. A fool uses many words, so do not be like a fool. There is a discrepancy of one verse between the Bible of Jerusalem and the Oxford Bible for the next few verses. The phrasing is the same but verse 1 of chapter 5 is verse 17 of the Bible of Jerusalem.

Hope and knowledge (Prov 13:12-13:19)

“Hope deferred

Makes the heart sick.

But a desire fulfilled

Is a tree of life.

Whoever despises the word

Brings destruction on themselves.

But whoever respects the commandment

Will be rewarded.

The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life.

Thus one may avoid the snares of death.

Good sense wins favor.

But the way of the faithless is their ruin.

The clever do all things intelligently.

But the fool displays folly.

A bad messenger brings trouble.

But a faithful envoy brings healing.

Poverty and disgrace come to

Whoever ignores instruction.

But whoever heeds reproof is honored.

A desire realized

Is sweet to the soul.

But to turn away from evil

Is an abomination to fools.”

When hope is deferred, it brings on sickness. However, when a desire is fulfilled, the tree of life grows more. If you despise the word or commandment of God, you will bring on your own destruction. If you respect the commandments, then you will be rewarded. Listen to the teachings of the wise ones because they are fountain of life to help you avoid the snares of death. Good sense will win you favors, while the faithless way leads to ruin. The clever smart ones do everything intelligently, while the fools tend to be foolish. It is better to be a good messenger than a bad messenger because that will bring healing to people. If you ignore instruction, you will end up poor and in disgrace. If you follow instructions, you will be honored. Realizing your dreams and hopes is sweet. The problem is that the evil ones have a hard time turning away from evil since they are so attracted to it.