“Woe to you!
You make your neighbors drink!
You pour out your wrath,
Until they are drunk,
In order to gaze
On their nakedness!
You will be sated
Instead of glory!
In Yahweh’s right hand
Will come around to you.
Shame will come upon
The violence done
Will overwhelm you.
Of the animals
Will terrify you,
Because of human bloodshed
With the violence to the earth,
To the cities,
To all who live in them.”
Habakkuk then cursed the Chaldean drunkards. They made their neighbors drunk so that they would become naked. They themselves would drink until they staggered around. They used alcohol as a weapon and as a form of feasting. Their glory would turn to shame. They had been violent to Lebanon. The destruction of animals would terrify them. They had committed violence that led to bloodshed in the various cities that they had taken over.
“‘You shall not go
Into the house of feasting
To sit with them,
To eat with them,
To drink with them.’
Thus says Yahweh of hosts!
The God of Israel!
‘I am going to banish
From this place,
Before your eyes,
In your days,
The voice of mirth.
I will banish
The voice of gladness.
I will banish
The voice of the bridegroom.
I will banish
The voice of the bride.’”
Yahweh, the God of Israel, told Jeremiah that he should stay away from any place that was feasting and celebrating. He should not sit, eat, or drink with these merrymakers. They were going to be banished from Judah and Jerusalem. No longer would there be the voice of mirth or gladness in his days. In fact, the voice of the bride and bridegroom would be banished also, hinting at no more weddings.
“Do not follow
Your base desires!
Restrain your appetites!
If you allow your soul
To take pleasure
In base desire,
It will make you
The laughingstock of your enemies.
Do not revel
In great luxury!
You might become impoverished
By its expense.
Do not become a beggar
By feasting with borrowed money,
When you have nothing in your purse.”
Sirach reminds us that we should have self control. You should not follow your base desires, because you should restrain your various appetites. Do not let your soul take pleasure in these base desires. Otherwise, you will be the laughing stock of your enemies. Do not get caught up in luxuries. You might be impoverished by this attempt to enjoy luxury. Do not become a beggar by feasting on borrowed money, when you have nothing. Try a little self control.
“Those who lived long ago in your holy land,
You hated for their detestable practices.
They had their works of sorcery.
They had their unholy rites.
They had their merciless slaughter of children.
They had their sacrificial feasting of human flesh.
They had their sacrificial feasting of human blood.
These were initiates from the midst of a heathen cult.
These were parents who murdered helpless lives.
You willed to destroy them
By the hands of our ancestors.
Thus the land is the most precious of all to you.
Thus you might receive a worthy colony
Of the children of God.”
Now this author turns to God’s holy land (τῆς ἁγίας σου γῆς) of Canaan and its former inhabitants who lived there long ago. They had detestable practices of sorcery. They had rites of sacrificial children with feasting on human flesh and blood. These heathen cults had parents kill their helpless children. God wanted to destroy all of them because the land was so precious. Thus there he created a colony for the children of God (Θεοῦ παίδων).
“Mordecai recorded these things. He sent letters to all the Jews who were in all the provinces of King Artaxerxes, both near and far. He enjoined them that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and also the fifteenth day of the same month, year by year. These are the days on which the Jews gained relief from their enemies. This is the month that had been turned for them from sorrow into gladness, and from mourning into a holiday. They should make them days of feasting and gladness, days for sending gifts of food to one another, and presents to the poor. Thus the Jews adopted as a custom what they had begun to do, as Mordecai had written to them.”
Mordecai put in a decree for the Jews of the Persian kingdom, a custom that they had already started. This became known as Purim. Each year they should remember what happened to them on the 14th and 15th of Adar. They should exchange food gifts and give to the poor. They were to remember that on this day that they turned from sorrow to gladness and from mourning to feasting. In modern day Judaism, this has become a big holiday eating and drinking for Conservative and Orthodox Jews, much like a Halloween feast. Children dress up and exchange treats. They read the Book of Esther, while booing Haman and cheering Mordecai.
“The Jews, who were in Susa, gathered on the thirteenth day and on the fourteenth day. They rested on the fifteenth day of Adar, making that a day of feasting and gladness. Therefore the Jews of the villages, who live in the open towns, hold the fourteenth day of the month of Adar as a day for gladness and feasting and holiday-making. This is a day on which they send gifts of food to one another.”
There was a difference between the Jews in Susa and those in the various villages. Since the Jews in the city of Susa defended themselves for 2 days, they did not celebrate until the 15th or Adar instead of the 14th as the rest of the provinces. During this day of celebration they sent gifts of food to one another.
“Now the other Jews who were in the king’s provinces also gathered to defend their lives. They gained relief from their enemies. They killed seventy-five thousand of those who hated them. However, they laid no hands on the plunder. This was on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar. On the fourteenth day they rested and made that a day of feasting and gladness.”
The Jewish people in the provinces gathered to defend themselves. They gained relief from their enemies by killing 75,000 of those people who hated them. However, they took no plunder. The day after, they celebrated with feasts and gladness as they rested.
“Now, O Lord God and King,
God of Abraham,
Spare your people!
The eyes of our foes are upon us
To annihilate us.
They desire to destroy the inheritance
That has been yours from the beginning.
Do not neglect your portion.
You redeemed us for yourself
Out of the land of Egypt.
Hear my prayer!
Have mercy upon your inheritance!
Turn our mourning into feasting,
That we may live and sing praise to your name,
Do not destroy the lips of those who praise you.
All Israel cried out mightily!
Their death was before their eyes.”
Once again the Greek text prayer of Mordecai asked for God’s intervention to save Israel. Here he called God lord and king, the God of Abraham. He pleaded for God to save his people. He used some of the arguments of Moses in Exodus that their foes were trying to eliminate his people. Mordecai said that God had saved them from Egypt. He wanted God to hear his prayer so as to have mercy on his own inheritance. He wanted to turn mourning into feasting so that all Israel could live and sing his praises. He did not want God to destroy the very lips that praised him. All of Israel was crying because death was before their eyes.