Foolish chatter (Sir 19:6-19:12)

“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.

In time,

They will hate you.

Have you heard something?

Let it die with you!

Be brave!

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.

The good diner (Prov 15:16-15:17)

“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 (Prov 10:12-10:18)

“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.

Yahweh will defeat the wicked (Ps 139:19-139:24)

“O that you would kill the wicked!

O God!

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?

Yahweh!

Do I not loathe those who rise up against you?

I hate them with perfect hatred.

I count them my enemies.

Search me!

O God!

Know my heart!

Test me!

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.

The current terrible situation (Ps 109:1-109:5)

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.

The prayer of Judas Maccabeus and his men (2 Macc 8:1-8:4)

“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.

Menelaus is acquitted (2 Macc 4:43-4:50)

“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.