“One who hates gossip
Has less evil.
Never repeat a conversation.
You will lose nothing at all.
With a friend,
With a foe,
Do not report it.
Unless it would be a sin for you,
Do not reveal it.
Someone may have heard you.
Someone may have watched you.
They will hate you.
Have you heard something?
Let it die with you!
It will not make you burst.
Having heard something,
The fool suffers birth pangs
Like a woman in labor with a child.
Like an arrow stuck in a person’s thigh,
So is gossip inside a fool.”
Gossip or idle chatter appears to be an evil. Sirach reminds you that you should not repeat a conversation with another person, whether it was your friend or your foe. The only reason for repeating a conversation would be if it was a sin not to do so. You should not reveal your conversations since somebody may have heard or seen you doing it. This then can turn into hatred. If you have heard something, just let it die. A fool, on the other hand, hears something and immediately wants to let everyone know about it. This foolish gossip person is like a woman in labor trying to deliver her baby. This fool is like someone who has an arrow stuck in his leg. He just can’t wait to get it out.
“Better is a little
With the fear of Yahweh
Than great treasure
Along with trouble.
Better is a dinner of vegetables
Where love is
Than a fatted ox
Along with hatred.”
What kind of meal do you want? It is better to fear Yahweh than have a great treasure and all the troubles that come with it. It is better to be a vegetarian with love than have a fatted ox, or steak, with hatred. Score one for the loving vegetarians!
“Hatred stirs up strife.
But love covers all offenses.
On the lips of him who has understanding
Wisdom is found.
But a rod is for the back
Of one who lacks sense.
The wise lay up knowledge.
But the babbling of a fool brings ruin near.
The wealth of the rich is their fortress.
But the poverty of the poor is their ruin.
The wage of the righteous leads to life.
But the gain of the wicked is to sin.
Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life,
But one who rejects a rebuke goes astray.
Lying lips conceal hatred.
But whoever utters slander is a fool.”
Hatred stirs up things. However, love covers all faults. Wise lips have understanding. However, for the senseless they need a rod slap on the back. The wise ones have knowledge, but the babbling fools have nothing but ruin. The rich use wealth as a fortress. The poverty of the poor brings them to ruin. The righteous will have life, while the wicked will simply sin. When you follow instructions, you are on the path to life. However, if you reject a rebuke, you are probably going astray. Lying lips conceal hatred, but fools are slanderers.
“O that you would kill the wicked!
Then the bloodthirsty
Would depart from me!
Those who speak of you maliciously
Would depart from me!
Those who lift themselves up against you for evil
Would depart from me!
Do I not hate those who hate you?
Do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with perfect hatred.
I count them my enemies.
Know my heart!
Know my thoughts!
See if there is any wicked way in me!
Lead me in the way everlasting!”
This psalm ends on a bitter note. David asked Yahweh to kill the wicked ones. They are the bloodthirsty, malicious, and evil ones who should depart from David. They were his enemies. He hated those who hated Yahweh. He loathed those who were against Yahweh. In fact, David had perfect hatred for his enemies. Finally, David recognized that he might have a fault. He wanted God to search and test him, know his heart and his thoughts. If there was anything wicked in him, he wanted to be led into the eternal everlasting way. So while he recognized the evil in others, he was also aware of his own shortcomings.
To the choirmaster leader, a psalm of David
“Do not be silent!
O God of my praise!
Wicked and deceitful mouths
Are opened against me.
They speak against me
With lying tongues.
They beset me
With words of hate.
They attack me without cause.
In return for my love
They accuse me.
Even while I make prayer for them,
They accuse me.
Thus they reward me
With evil for good.
They reward me
With hatred for my love.”
Psalm 109 is a Davidic personal prayer for deliverance within a choral setting. This is a lamentation of David against his enemies. As per usual, he began by asking God not to be silent. He explained that the wicked and deceitful people had opened their mouths against him with their lying tongues. Once again, they hated him without cause, another common lament. He tried to love them, but they accused him. When he prayed for them, they rewarded his good with evil. His love was returned as hatred. David was having a hard time getting along with his wicked foes.
“Meanwhile Judas, who was also called Maccabeus, and his companions secretly entered the villages. They summoned their kindred. They enlisted those who had continued in the Jewish faith. They gathered about six thousand men. They implored the Lord to look upon the people who were oppressed by all. They wanted the Lord to have pity on the temple which had been profaned by ungodly men. They wanted him to have mercy on the city that was being destroyed, and about to be leveled to the ground. They wanted the Lord to hearken to the blood that cried out to him. They wanted him to remember also the lawless destruction of the innocent babies. They wanted him to remember the blasphemies committed against his name. They wanted him to show his hatred of evil.”
Judas Maccabeus and his companions, and not just his brothers, entered the villages. There is no mention of Mattathias, the father of Judas, as if nothing happened until Judas came on the scene. This is the first mention of Judas in chapter 8, outside of the author’s preface in chapter 2 of this book. In 1 Maccabees, Judas came on the scene in chapter 3, after the death of his father, who had started the uprising. Judas gathered about 6,000 men. The first thing they did was pray to the Lord. They wanted God to look on their oppression and have pity on the Temple and its profanation. They wanted mercy for their city Jerusalem that was being leveled to the ground. They wanted God to listen to the innocent blood crying out to him from innocent babies. They wanted him to remember the blasphemies against his name and all the other evils that was going on.
“Charges were brought against Menelaus about this incident in Jerusalem. When the king came to Tyre, three men sent by the senate presented the case before him. But Menelaus, already as good as beaten, promised a substantial bribe to Ptolemy son of Dorymenes to win over the king. Therefore Ptolemy, taking the king aside into a colonnade as if for refreshment, induced the king to change his mind. He acquitted Menelaus, the cause of all the trouble, of the charges against him. Meanwhile, the king sentenced to death those unfortunate men, who would have been freed un-condemned if they had pleaded even before the Scythians. So those who had spoken for the city, the villages, and the holy vessels quickly suffered the unjust penalty. Therefore even the Tyrians, showing their hatred of the crime, provided magnificently for their funeral. But Menelaus, because of the greed of those in power, remained in office. He grew in wickedness. He had become the chief plotter against his fellow citizens.”
There were charges brought against Menelaus concerning this whole affair of Lysimachus in Jerusalem. King Antiochus IV came to Tyre to hear the case. 3 men from the Jewish Senate presented the case before the king. Menelaus bribed Ptolemy, the king’s friend, who had been the governor of Cyprus. Thus he put in the fix with the king so that the 3 accusers were condemned and killed, while Menelaus was acquitted. Those who spoke for the city, the villages, and the villages lost their lives, while Menelaus remained in office and grew in wickedness. He continued to plot against his fellow citizens. This was worse justice than that of the barbarian Scythians in southern Russia. Apparently these Scythians were considered the worst kind of people at that time. The locals in Tyre were also upset so they provided a wonderful funeral for the 3 men from Jerusalem, although the 3 men had been condemned to death by the king.
“For this reason, not only Jews, but many also of other nations, were grieved and displeased at the unjust murder of Onias. When the king returned from the region of Cilicia, the Jews in the city appealed to him with regard to the unreasonable murder of Onias. The Greeks shared their hatred of the crime. Therefore King Antiochus was grieved at heart and filled with pity. He wept because of the moderation and good conduct of the deceased. Inflamed with anger, he immediately stripped off the purple robe from Andronicus. He tore off his garments. He led him around the whole city to that very place where he had committed the outrage against Onias. There he dispatched the bloodthirsty fellow. The Lord thus repaid him with the punishment he deserved.”
The killing of the deposed high priest Onias was a semi-official act of the king. The Jews and many other nations were upset about this murder of Onias. After all, Andronicus had tricked Onias into coming out of a pagan sanctuary Temple. When King Antiochus IV returned from Cilicia, the southern coastal region of Asia Minor, he was upset and angry. He too wept for the good man. He immediately stripped Andronicus of his purple robes, the robes of authority. He tore his garments and brought him to the place where the outrage had taken place. Then he killed him so that he was given the punishment that the Lord said that he deserved. Here the king of Syria implements the will of God and brings justice to the death of the former Jerusalem high priest.
“The previously mentioned Simon, who had informed about the money against his own country, slandered Onias. Simon said that it was Onias who had incited Heliodorus. Onias had been the real cause of the misfortune. Simon dared to designate as a plotter against the government the man who was the benefactor of the city, the protector of his fellow countrymen, and a zealot for the laws. His hatred progressed to such a degree that even murders were committed by one of Simon’s approved agents. Onias recognized that the rivalry was serious. Apollonius son of Menestheus, and governor of Coele-syria and Phoenicia, was intensifying the malice of Simon. So he appealed to the king, not accusing his compatriots but having in view the welfare, both public and private, of all the people. He saw that without the king’s attention public affairs could not again reach a peaceful settlement. Simon would not stop his folly.”
Simon, the one who complained about the money in the Temple treasury, then slandered Onias. He said the Onias was the cause of the problem when he incited Heliodorus to look for the money. Simon was calling the kettle black. He was the one who started the investigation, but he was saying the Onias was the one who started the problem. Some of Simon’s men committed murder. Onias realized that Apollonius, the governor of the area, was siding with Simon. He decided that he would go directly to the king. Otherwise, there was no way to stop Simon. By this time Onias and Heliodorus were good friends, which bothered Simon also.
“While the holy city was inhabited in unbroken peace, the laws were strictly observed. This was due to the piety of the high priest Onias and his hatred of wickedness. It came about that the kings themselves honored the place and glorified the temple with the finest presents. Even King Seleucus of Asia defrayed from his own revenues all the expenses connected with the service of the sacrifices.”
This author reminds us of the good old days when things were peaceful in Jerusalem. The Mosaic laws were strictly observed because the good pious high priest, Onias III was in charge from 199-175 BCE. He hated wickedness. In fact, the Seleucid dynasty of kings honored this Second Jerusalem Temple with many presents, especially the Asian King Seleucus IV (186-175 BCE). Everything was wonderful because this king sent money to defray the expenses of the Temple in Jerusalem. 175 BCE seems to be the turning point here. Before that, everyone was happy.