You who are far away!
What I have done!
You who are near!
Acknowledge my might!
The sinners in Zion
Trembling has seized the godless.
‘Who among us can live
With the devouring fire?
Who among us can live
With these everlasting flames?’”
Isaiah has Yahweh ask the Israelites to listen, just as he had done. If they are far away, can they see what he has done? If they are near, then they should acknowledge Yahweh’s might. The sinners at Mount Zion are afraid. The godless are trembling. They seem to ask how they can live with this devouring fire and these everlasting flames.
“A prostitute is regarded as spittle.
A married woman
Is a tower of death to her lovers.
A godless wife is given as a portion
To a lawless man.
But a pious wife is given
To a man who fears the Lord.
A shameless woman constantly
A modest daughter will even
Be embarrassed before her husband.
A headstrong wife is regarded as a dog.
But one who has a sense of shame
Will fear the Lord.
A wife honoring her husband
Will seem wise to all.
But if she dishonors him
In her pride,
She will be known to all
Happy is the husband
Of a good wife.
The number of his years
Will be doubled.
A loud voiced wife is
Like a trumpet sound.
A garrulous wife is
Like a trumpet sounding the charge.
Every person like this,
Lives in the anarchy of war.”
This section, like the preceding, does not appear in some editions. Sirach once again distinguishes between the good and the bad wife. Of course, prostitutes are like spit. A married wife who has lovers is like the tower of death to them. These godless wives belong with lawless husbands. On the other hand, a pious wife is a gift to a husband who fears the Lord. The shameless wife consistently acts disgraceful, so that even her daughter is embarrassed when her husband is around. A headstrong wife is a like a dog. She needs to be brought under control. The wife who has a sense of shame fears the Lord. Wives who honor their husbands are seen as wise. However, the ungodly wives dishonor their husbands. If a man has a good wife, as above, his life span will be doubled. A loud and talky wife is like a trumpet sound in battle. They deserve to live in a war of anarchy. Thus the humble wife is the ideal.
“They turned aside from following him.
They had no regard for any of his ways.
They caused the cry of the poor to come to him.
He heard the cry of the afflicted.
When he is quiet,
Who can condemn?
When he hides his face,
Who can behold him?
Whether it is a nation or an individual,
The godless man should not reign.
Those who ensnare the people should not reign.”
Elihu wanted to point out that the godless wicked person should not be in charge. They have no regard for God’s ways. They do not care about the poor or the afflicted. How can you condemn someone when they are quiet and hiding their face, whether it be a nation or an individual? Clearly they should not rule others.
“May my enemy be like the wicked ones!
May my opponents be like the unrighteous!
What is the hope of the godless?
When God cuts them off?
When God takes away their lives?
Will God hear their cry?
When trouble comes upon them?
Will they take delight in the Almighty Shaddai?
Will they call upon God at all times?
I will teach you concerning the hand of God.
What is with the Almighty Shaddai?
I will not conceal it.
All of you have seen it yourselves.
Why then have you become altogether vain?”
Job or is it Zophar described the lot of the wicked. His enemies should be like the wicked and unrighteous. The godless people have no hope. When God cut them off, he takes their lives. God did not hear their cry when trouble came to them. They did not delight in the almighty Shaddai. Job knew about the almighty God, but they did not know him. Job did not hide so that anyone can see what is vain.
“When Jonathan learned of this, he sent ambassadors to Bacchides to make peace with him and obtain release of the captives. Bacchides agreed and he did as Jonathan said. He swore to Jonathan that he would not try to harm him as long as he lived. He restored to him the captives whom he had previously taken from the land of Judah. Then he turned and departed to his own land. He never came back into their territory. Thus the sword ceased from Israel. Jonathan settled in Michmash. He began to judge the people. He destroyed the godless out of Israel.”
When Jonathan heard that General Bacchides was leaving, he sent messengers to him to make peace and exchange prisoners. General Bacchides agreed with Jonathan. He swore that he would not harm Jonathan as long as he lived. They then exchanged prisoners or captives. General Bacchides left for his own land and never came back again. Thus there was peace in Israel. For someone unknown reason, Jonathan did not go to Jerusalem. Instead he settled in Michmash, about 8 miles northeast of Jerusalem and about 9 miles south of Bethel, where Saul had his fight with the Philistines. Jonathan was more like the early Israelite judges and Samuel than a king. However, he did destroy the godless renegades.
“After the death of Judas, the renegades emerged in all parts of Israel. All wrongdoers reappeared. In those days a very great famine occurred. The country went over to their side. Bacchides chose the godless renegades. He put them in charge of the country. They made inquiries and searched for the friends of Judas. They brought them to Bacchides. He took vengeance on them. He made sport of them. Thus there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that the prophets ceased to appear among them.”
Once Judas Maccabeus was gone, the renegade pro-Syrians Hellenized Jews emerged in all parts of Israel. However, a famine also occurred so that most of the people went to the side of the Hellenizing Syrians since there was no resistance. Bacchides, the Syrian general and governor, put these godless renegades in charge of the country. They sought out all of Judas’ old comrades in order to take vengeance on them by making sport of them. There was great distress in Israel, something like the time when the prophets ceased to exist in Israel, probably referring to the 5th century BCE.