Abraham and the ancestors (Lk 1:55-1:55)

“God had made

Promises

To our ancestors,

To Abraham,

And to his descendants,

Forever.”

 

καθὼς ἐλάλησεν πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶν, τῷ Ἀβραὰμ καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα.

 

This canticle of Mary concluded by remembering the promises that God had made to their ancestors, especially to Abraham in Genesis, chapters 12:3, 15:5, 17:7, 18:18, and 22:17. and his eternal descendants.  Notice that there is no mention of Jacob, Moses, or David, but the wider Abraham covenant.  Luke indicated that Mary said that God had spoken (καθὼς ἐλάλησεν) to their ancestors (πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας ἡμῶν), to Abraham (τῷ Ἀβραὰμ), and to his descendants (καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ) for all time or forever (εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα).

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The future of Israel (Hos 3:4-3:5)

“The Israelites

Shall remain many days

Without a king

Or a prince.

They shall remain

Without sacrifice

Or pillar,

Without ephod

Or teraphim.

Afterward,

The Israelites

Shall return.

They shall seek

Yahweh,

Their God,

With David

Their king.

They shall come

In awe

To Yahweh,

To his goodness,

In the latter days.”

Hosea that predicted that the Israelites would spend many days without a king, prince, or leader. They also would be without sacrifices, since there would be no temple or pillar to worship at. There would be no high priest who would wear the ephod. There would be no teraphim or household gods, implying that the Israelites had some of these gods as in Genesis, chapter 31. The good news was that these Israelites would eventually seek Yahweh, their God. They would have David or his descendants as their king. In awe, they would return to the good Yahweh in the days to come.

Wisdom and incarnation (Bar 3:35-3:37)

“This is our God!

No other can be

Compared to him!

He found the whole way

To knowledge.

He gave her

To his servant

Jacob.

He gave her

To Israel

Whom he loved.

Afterward she appeared

On earth.

She lived

With humans.”

This section of Baruch indicates that wisdom became human in some sense, like an incarnation. Surely God, and not Yahweh, was the creator of the world. Thus no other god or person could compare with him. He had full knowledge of everything. He was omniscient. Thus he gave wisdom to his servant Jacob. He also gave wisdom to Israel, whom he loved. The use of both Jacob and Israel is interesting, since it implies that Jacob was a person and Israel was a name of all his descendants. Then there is the final intriguing comment about how she, wisdom, appeared on earth and lived with humans. Some Christians see this as a hint about the incarnation of Jesus. However, it should be noted that the reference is to a she, a female. Wisdom was generally seen as feminine, not masculine like Jesus. Finally, she has already appeared, so that this is not a future aspirational comment. Wisdom is already living among humans. You just have to find this personification of wisdom here on earth.

Phinehas (Sir 45:23-45:25)

“Phinehas

Son of Eleazar

Is the third in glory.

He was zealous

In the fear of the Lord.

He stood firm,

When the people turned away.

In the noble courage of his soul,

He made atonement for Israel.

Therefore a covenant of peace

Was established with him.

He should be the leader of the sanctuary.

He should be the leader of his people.

He with his descendants

Should have the dignity

Of the priesthood forever.

Just as a covenant

Was established with David,

Son of Jesse,

Of the tribe of Judah,

That the king’s heritage

Passes only from son to son,

So the heritage of Aaron

Is for his descendants alone.”

This story of Phinehas was based on Numbers, chapter 25. It is strange that Sirach has given him such an important place. In fact, Sirach says that he ranks 3rd behind Moses and Aaron. Phinehas was the grandson of Aaron via Eleazar, the son of Aaron. However, his claim to fame was that he stopped a plague among the Israelites by killing a fellow Israelite who was having sex with a Midianite woman at Peor. Thus he made atonement for the Israelites who were involved in intermarriage situations with the Midianites. Yahweh rewarded Phinehas with a perpetual covenant of friendship. He then became the leader of the future sanctuary so that his descendants would be priests forever. However, he already was in the line of Aaron. This covenant was like the later covenant with David and his descendants. Thus the descendants of the Phinehas often became the head high priest of Jerusalem.

The sacrifices of the anointed Levitical Aaron (Sir 45:14-45:17)

“Aaron’s sacrifices

Shall be wholly burned.

This will be done

Twice every day continually.

Moses ordained him.

He anointed Aaron

With holy oil.

It was an everlasting covenant for him.

It was for his descendants

As long as the heavens continue.

They were to minister to the Lord.

They were to serve as priests.

They were to bless his people

In his name.

He chose him out of all the living

To offer sacrifice to the Lord.

He was to offer incense

With a pleasing odor

As a memorial portion,

To make atonement for your people.

In his commandments,

He gave him authority.

He gave him statutes.

He gave him judgments.

He was to teach Jacob the testimonies.

He was to enlighten Israel with his law.”

Sirach says that the sacrifices of Aaron should be completely burned, twice a day, continually. Moses had ordained Aaron and anointed him with oil, as it was indicated in Exodus, chapter 29. The Lord had an everlasting covenant with Aaron and his descendants as long as the heavens existed. They were to be the priests that ministered to the Lord. They were chosen out of all the living in the world to offer this memorial sacrifice with sweet smelling incense in order to make atonement for their people. In fact, Aaron was the brother of Moses. In the Mosaic commandments, the Lord gave Aaron and his descendants’ authority, statutes, and judgments so that they could teach and enlighten Jacob about the Israelite law.

Yahweh helps the people (Ps 28:8-28:9)

“Yahweh is the strength of his people.

He is the saving refuge of his anointed.

O save your people!

Bless your heritage!

Be their shepherd!

Carry them forever!”

Yahweh was the strength for his people. He was the refuge for the anointed one, David, so that he wanted Yahweh to continue to save his people. He wanted him to bless his descendants. This psalm ends with David wanting Yahweh to be their shepherd and carry them, his sheep, forever.