Even as your Father
Γίνεσθε οἰκτίρμονες, καθὼς ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν οἰκτίρμων ἐστίν
The result of the kindness of God was that the followers of Jesus should also be merciful (Γίνεσθε οἰκτίρμονες), even as their Father is merciful (καθὼς ὁ Πατὴρ ὑμῶν οἰκτίρμων ἐστίν). Matthew, chapter 5:48, had Jesus say that they should be perfect, like their heavenly Father by loving and greeting everyone. Only Matthew had this emphasis on perfection, completeness, or maturity, while Luke had Jesus emphasize mercy. Would you rather be merciful or perfect?
“Whoever blesses his neighbor
With a loud voice,
Rising early in the morning,
Will be counted as cursing.
A continual dripping on a rainy day
Is like a contentious wife.
To restrain her
Is to restrain the wind.
It is to grasp oil in the right hand.”
What is wrong with blessing your neighbor in the morning? Well, you were supposed to pray in the morning before greeting your neighbor. Using a loud voice was considered inappropriate. This was like cursing instead of blessing. The contentious wife was like dripping rain on a rainy day. She was difficult to restrain since this was like trying to restrain the wind or hold oil in your right hand. The contentious wife was a real problem. However, there was no mention of an obnoxious husband.
“The people of Jerusalem
And of Judea
And the senate
Who is of the family of the anointed priests,
Teacher of King Ptolemy,
And to the Jews in Egypt,
Once again, it is the people of Jerusalem and Judea who are sending this letter. However, here there is a mention of a Jewish senate, perhaps modeled after the Roman Senate that was also mentioned by Jonathan in chapter 12 of 1 Maccabees. Judas, mentioned here in this letter, is Judas Maccabeus. Thus this letter actually preceded the first letter since it about 40 years earlier, around 164 BCE. Once again we are not sure of the author. The recipient, however, is Aristobulus, who was an Alexandrian Jew, who somehow was a teacher to King Ptolemy VII in Egypt who died in 144 BCE. This may be Aristobulus of Paneas, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who attempted to combine Hebrew Scripture with Greek philosophical thought who lived in the 2nd century BCE. He argued that the essentials of Greek philosophy and metaphysics were derived from Jewish sources. He may have been the author of the Book or Sirach. Somehow he was related to a family of anointed priests that came with King Ptolemy I (367-283 BCE) to Egypt. This greeting is for all the Jews in Egypt. So this is a Greek letter to the Greek speaking Jews in Egypt from the Jews in Judea and Jerusalem who were against the Greek influence in their life.