“But they refused
A stubborn shoulder.
They stopped their ears,
In order not to hear.
They made their hearts adamant
In order not to hear the law,
In order not to hear the words
That Yahweh of hosts
By his Spirit
Through the former prophets.”
Unfortunately, the Israelites failed to listen to Yahweh. They turned a stubborn shoulder to him. They stopped up their ears, so that they could not hear Yahweh. They hardened their hearts, so that they were not able to hear the law of Yahweh or his words. Yahweh of hosts had sent his Holy Spirit via the early prophets, but to no avail. They never listened.
“The Lord hardened Pharaoh.
Thus he did not recognize him.
The result was
That his works might be known
His mercy is manifest
To the whole of creation.
And his darkness
With a plumb line.”
Sirach seems to say that the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh in order to show off his majesty. His great power was manifested in all his creation, including his mercy. The Lord has divided the world into light and darkness using a builder’s plumb line that measures things.
“Do not human beings have a hard service on earth?
Are not their days like the days of a laborer?
Are not their days like a slave who longs for the shadow?
Are not their days like laborers who look for their wages?
So I am allotted months of emptiness.
Nights of misery are apportioned to me.
When I lie down I say.
‘When shall I arise?’
But the night is long.
I am full of tossing until dawn.
My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt.
My skin hardens.
Then my skin breaks out again.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle.
They come to their end without hope.”
This was a man in despair. He had a hard mortal life. He was like a day laborer who got paid by the day, assuming that he worked. He was like a paid mercenary. He was a like a slave who only looked for shade. All that he could hope for was his paid wages. His months were empty. His nights were miserable. When he lay down, all he could think of was when he would get up. He tossed and turned all night long with little sleep. His flesh was full of worms and dirt. His skin hardened and then broke out again. His days went by like a weaver’s spinning wheel. In the end, there was no hope in his hopeless hard human life.