Do to others,
As you would
Do to you.
Πάντα οὖν ὅσα ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς· οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται.
This saying of Jesus is nearly the same as in Luke, chapter 6:31, indicating a common Q source, except that Luke never mentioned the Law and the prophets. This saying is often known throughout the world as the philosophical golden rule. In everything, whatever you wanted other men to do to you (Πάντα οὖν ὅσα ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι), you should do to them the same (οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς). Matthew emphasizes that this already was in the Hebrew scriptures in the Torah, the Law (οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ νόμος), and among the various Judaic prophets (καὶ οἱ προφῆται). Pure and simple, treat other people the way that you would want to be treated.
“As the rain
Comes down from heaven,
As the snow
Comes down from heaven,
They do not return there
Until they have watered the earth.
They make it come forth.
They make it sprout.
They give seed to the sower.
They give bread to the eater.
Thus shall my word
Go out from my mouth.
It shall not return to me empty.
But it shall accomplish
That which I purpose.
It will succeed
In the thing
For which I sent it.”
Second Isaiah emphasizes the importance of the word of Yahweh. Water and snow do not return empty handed to heaven. Apparently, these biblical writers were aware of osmosis. The water and the snow helped bring about germination of the sprouts from the ground. They made the seeds of the sower grow. They assisted in making bread for humans to eat. So too, the word of Yahweh will not come back empty either. His words must accomplish their purpose. His word will be successful in making things grow.
“From a woman
Sin had its beginning.
Because of her,
We all die.”
Sirach emphasizes the idea of the woman committing the first sin. In the original Genesis story in chapter 3, the man and woman ate together, although the serpent spoke to the woman, Eve. Women thus get blamed not only for the entrance of sin into this world, but also for the concept of death. Humans would have been immortal had there not been this female disobedience. Cleary Sirach’s anti-feminism runs rampant in this section.
But not a wound of the heart!
But not the wickedness of a woman!
But not the suffering
From those who hate!
But not the vengeance of enemies!
There is no venom worse
Than a snake’s venom.
There is no wrath worse
Than a woman’s wrath.”
Once again, Sirach emphasizes the male point of view. These powerful females make the poor men suffer. The worst wound is to the heart. The worst wickedness comes from a woman. Hateful suffering is worse than any kind of suffering. The vengeance of enemies is bad. Just like the worse venom is that of a snake, so the worst wrath is that of a woman. Somehow, women do not seem to suffer, only the men, who suffer so much from these evil women.
“All this is
In the book of the covenant
Of the Most High God.
This is the law
That Moses commanded us.
It is an inheritance
For the congregations of Jacob.
Do not cease to be strong
In the Lord!
Cling to him!
Thus he may strengthen you.
The Lord Almighty alone is God.
There is no savior.”
Sirach emphasizes the Law of Moses in the book of the covenant for the descendants of Jacob. You should cling to the Lord, the one and only God and savior who gives you strength.
To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David
You have searched me!
You have known me!
When I sit down.
When I rise up.
You discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path.
You search out my lying down.
You are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
You know it completely.
You hem me in,
Behind and before.
You lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.
It is so high
That I cannot attain it.”
Psalm 139 is a choral psalm or song of David, as the title indicates. This prayer for deliverance emphasizes the great knowledge of Yahweh. Yahweh truly knew David. He knew when he sat down or rose up. He knew his thoughts from far away. He knew when he was walking or lying down. He knew all about his ways. He knew what he was going to say before David said it, so that David felt hemmed in on all sides. The hand of Yahweh was on him. Yahweh’s knowledge was so wonderfully high that David could not attain it.
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,
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.
“Happy are those
Who do not follow the advice of the wicked.
They do not take the path that sinners tread.
They do not sit in the seat of scoffers.
Their delight is in the law of Yahweh.
On his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
That are planted by streams of water.
They yield their fruit in its season.
Their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do,
Psalm 1 is considered a preface to the collection of psalms or praises. There is no attribution to this psalm. It may have been the biblical editor’s choice. This psalm emphasizes the two ways, much like the later 1st century CE Christian Didache. This is, in fact, a wisdom psalm. The happy or blessed ones are the people who do not follow wicked advice. They receive blessings. They are the prosperous or the righteous people. They do not walk down the way of sinners or scoffers. Their delight and happiness is in the law of Yahweh. They are like the strong trees planted by streams of water as they always yield their fruit in the correct season. Their leaves never wither. Everything that they do is prosperous because they are sustained by the water. They meditate day and night on the Torah that was given by Yahweh, the God of Israel, via Moses. They are much like Christian contemplatives or Buddhist monks. The happy blessed one is the one who follows the law. This psalm sets the tone for all the psalms to follow.
“The prayer was to this effect,
‘O Lord, Lord God,
Creator of all things,
You are awe-inspiring.
You are strong.
You are just.
You are merciful.
You alone are king.
You are kind.
You alone are bountiful.
You alone are just.
You are almighty.
You are eternal.
You rescue Israel from every evil.
You chose our ancestors.
You consecrated them.
Accept this sacrifice on behalf of all your people Israel!
Preserve your portion!
Make it holy!
Gather together our scattered people!
Set free those who are slaves among the gentiles!
Look on those who are rejected and despised!
Let the gentiles know that you are our God!
Punish those who oppress!
Punish those who are insolent with pride!
Plant your people in your holy place,
As Moses promised.’”
This is a beautiful prayer that emphasizes a theology of the attributes of God. God is a king, awe-inspiring, strong, just, merciful, kind, bountiful, almighty, and eternal. Then there was the turn to how God had rescued Israel and helped their consecrated ancestors. They want their sacrifice made holy. They wanted their scattered people to return, especially from the gentile slavery. They wanted God to look kindly on the rejected, the despised, and the oppressed. However, God should punish the oppressors and the prideful insolent people. Finally they wanted their people be brought back to the holy place as Moses had promised. Jerusalem was the holy place as they were scattered among the hostile gentiles.