“A sword shall come
Anguish shall be
When the slain
Will be carried away.
Will be torn down.
Of the allied lands
By the sword.”
When the sword or battle would come to Egypt, the anguish would also come to Ethiopia, which is south of Egypt. The wealth of the dead people in Egypt would be carried away. The foundations of Egypt would be shaken and torn down. However, the neighboring countries and those allied with Egypt would also suffer. Besides Ethiopia, there were the people from Put and Lud, who had also served in the army of Tyre, as mentioned earlier in chapter 27. However, those affected by this invasion were also the people from Libya, west of Egypt, as well as all the Arabian tribes and those people allied with Egypt. They would all fall by the sword.
“Simon the high priest,
Son of Onias,
Was the leader
Of his brothers.
The pride of his people.
In his life
He repaired the house.
In his time,
He fortified the temple.
He laid the foundations
For the high double walls.
The high retaining walls
For the temple enclosure.
In his days,
A water cistern was dug.
He made a reservoir
Like the sea in circumference.
How to save his people
He fortified the city
Against any siege.”
Sirach ends his work with a whole chapter about the high priest Simon, son of Onias. Who is this guy and why is he important? This high priest Simon is Simeon the just or the righteous one. He may have been one of the last members of the questionable Great Assembly. There is a question whether he was Simeon I (310-273) or Simeon II (220-195) since both their fathers were called Onias. The general consensus today is that it is the later which would make him a contemporary of Sirach. Maybe that is why he got so much ink. He certainly was a leader among his fellow priests and a source of pride for the people. He repaired and fortified the Temple, always a good thing to do. He put down some foundations to make the walls higher around the Temple. He helped to build a large reservoir of water for the city. He tried to save his people from ruin so that he fortified the city against any kind of siege.
Remember against the Edomites.
Remember the day of Jerusalem’s fall.
How they said.
‘Tear it down!
Tear it down!
Tear it down to its foundations!’
O daughter Babylon!
Happy shall they be
Those who pay you back
What you have done to us!
Happy shall they be
Those who take your little ones.
They shall dash them against the rock.”
This psalm ends by asking for the destruction of Babylon and its young people. The psalmist wanted to recall the day that the Edomites attacked Jerusalem. They tore down the walls in Jerusalem to its foundations. Now they were wishing evil to the devastated daughters of Babylon, the Babylonian people. They would be happy people when they paid them back for what they had done. In fact, in one of the cruelest curses, this psalmist wanted them to take the Babylonian little children and dash their heads against the rocks. With that somber image, this captivity psalm ends.
“You set the earth on its foundations.
Thus it shall never be shaken.
You cover it with the deep
As with a garment.
The waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke
At the sound of your thunder
They took to flight.
They rose up to the mountains.
They ran down to the valleys.
They all went to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary.
They may not pass this boundary.
Thus the waters might not again cover the earth.”
The earth had foundations like any building in a very static way. There was no hint of a round world in this flat world concept of the earth. However, they did seem to understand that the solid earth came from the waters. At the command of Yahweh, the waters receded, much like at the time of Noah in Genesis, chapters 6-10. The thunder served as the voice of Yahweh telling the waters to recede, which they did. Then the earth was formed as the mountains rose and the valley sunk, all due to the water that had been there. Everything took its place as it was appointed by Yahweh. Yahweh put boundaries on the waters so that they would never again cover the earth. This was the victory of Yahweh over the chaos of the waters.
“Yahweh is king!
Let the earth rejoice!
Let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him.
Fire consumes his adversaries on every side.
His lightning lights the world.
The earth sees it.
The earth trembles.
The mountains melt like wax
Before the Lord of all the earth.”
Psalm 97 is another untitled psalm about the kingship of Yahweh. Yahweh is the king who rules the earth. The earth and the coastlands rejoice and are glad. Clouds and darkness are all around Yahweh. Righteousness and justice are the foundations of this throne. Fire consumes all his adversaries. His lightning strikes the world. The earth sees it and trembles. The mountains melt like wax before Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth.
“They have neither knowledge nor understanding.
They walk about in darkness.
All the foundations of the earth are shaken.”
The people of earth and the rulers do not have knowledge or understanding. They are people walking around in darkness. Thus all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
“Then the earth reeled.
The earth rocked.
The foundations also of the mountains trembled.
The foundations quaked.
Because Yahweh was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils.
Devouring fire came from his mouth.
Glowing coals flamed forth from him.”
Just like in 2 Samuel, chapter 22, Yahweh’s reaction was formidable. God was angry. The earth rocked and rolled. The foundations of the mountains and not the heavens as in 2 Samuel, trembled and quaked. Smoke and fire came from his mouth and nose. Yahweh’s face, nose, and mouth become important for expressing the feelings of the divine spiritual God. Just as in 2 Samuel, flames rose up all around with glowing coals.