The power of Yahweh (Jer 10:12-10:13)

“It is he who made the earth

By his power.

He established the world

By his wisdom.

By his understanding,

He stretched out the heavens.

When he utters his voice

There is a tumult of waters

In the heavens.

He makes the mist rise

From the ends of the earth.

He makes lightning for the rain.

He brings forth the wind

From his storehouses.”

Jeremiah proclaims that Yahweh is all powerful. He made the earth by his power and thus established the world by his wisdom. He stretched out the heavens by his understanding, so that when he utters his voice, the waters in the heaven can create a mist from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning in the rain. He also brings wind from his various wind storehouses. Thus you can see this author’s cosmology about the powerful God, Yahweh, who has control of the world and its climate.

Advertisements

Harvesting (Isa 28:7-28:29)

“Dill herbs are not threshed

With a threshing sledge.

Nor is a cart wheel rolled over carrot seeds.

But the dill herbs are beaten out with a stick.

The carrot seeds are beaten with a rod.

Grain is crushed for bread.

But one does not thresh it forever.

One drives the cart wheel with horses over it.

But he does not pulverize it.

This also comes from Yahweh of hosts.

He is wonderful in counsel.

He is excellent in wisdom.”

Each crop has a different form of harvesting. The dill herbs and carrot seeds are too fragile to be smashed with a threshing sledge hammer. You do not roll the cart wheels over the herbs and seeds like you do to the wheat and the barley. You beat the herbs and seeds with a stick or a rod that is gentler than the wheel cart. However, the threshing of the wheat and barley requires a heavy horse drawn cart wheel in order to provide grain for bread. However, you do not want to pulverize these grains into nothing. How do these farmers know how to do this? Why, the Lord of hosts, Yahweh has told them how to do it. Yahweh is wonderful in his counsel and excellent in his wisdom, as in the later wisdom tradition.

Conclusion (Sir 50:27-50:29)

“I have written

In this book about

Instruction in understanding.

I have written about knowledge.

I am

Jesus son of Eleazar,

Son of Sirach,

Of Jerusalem.

My mind poured forth wisdom.

Happy are those

Who concerns themselves

With these things.

Those who lay them to heart

Will become wise.

If they put them into practice,

They will be equal to anything.

The fear of the Lord is their path.”

This appears to be the original ending of this book as Jesus son of Eleazar, son of Sirach, explains who he is and why he wrote this book. He wrote this work to instruct people in understanding. He wanted to give them more knowledge. He has poured out his wisdom. Now he would be happy if anyone concerned themselves about these things. Let them take these things to heart and become wise also. So much the better, if they put these things into practice. If they do, the fear of the Lord will be their path.

The glory of God’s creation (Sir 42:21-42:25)

“The Lord has set in order

The splendors of his wisdom.

He is

From all eternity,

One and the same.

Nothing can be added.

Nothing can be taken away.

He needs no one

To be his counselor.

How desirable are all his works!

How sparkling they are to see!

All these things live!

They remain forever!

Each creature is preserved

To meet a particular need.

All are obedient.

All things come in pairs,

One opposite the other.

He has made nothing incomplete.

Each one supplements

The virtues of the other.

Who could ever tire

Of seeing his glory?”

Sirach points out that the Lord has set everything in its splendid place so that all things might show his wisdom and glorify him. God is from eternity, one and the same, unchanging. Nothing can be added or taken away from him so that he does not need a counselor to tell him what to do. All his works are splendid and desirable. Each created thing serves a particular need since they all obey him. Everything comes in pairs as opposites, much like in the Noah’s ark story in Genesis. Nothing is incomplete. There is nothing out of place in this well ordered universe. Each one supplements the virtues of the other. Who would ever get tired seeing this eternal glory of the Lord?

Words for the kings (Wis 6:9-6:11)

“To you then!

O monarchs!

My words are directed.

Thus you may learn wisdom.

Thus you may not transgress.

They will be made holy

Who observe holy things in holiness.

Those who have been taught them

Will find a defense.

Therefore set your desire

On my words.

Long for them!

You will be instructed.”

God wants the monarchs or tyrants (ὦ τύραννοι) to follow his words (οἱ λόγοι μου) and learn his wisdom (μάθητε σοφία). They should not transgress these words, but be made holy by observing them. They have to desire to be instructed about his word (λόγων μου). You cannot learn anything unless you want to learn.

The vanity of hard work (Eccl 2:18-2:23)

“I hated all my toil

In which I had toiled under the sun.

I must leave it to

Those who will come after me.

Who knows

Whether they will be a wise or foolish?

Yet they will be

Master of all for which I toiled.

I used my wisdom under the sun.

This also is vanity.

So I turned about.

I gave my heart up to despair

Concerning all the toil of

My labors under the sun.

Sometimes one who has toiled with wisdom,

Toiled with knowledge,

Toiled with skill,

Must leave all to be enjoyed by another

Who did not toil for it.

This also is vanity.

This is a great evil.

What do mortals get from all the toil?

What do mortals gat from the strain

With which they toil under the sun?

All their days are full of pain.

Their work is a vexation.

Even at night

Their minds do not rest.

This also is vanity.”

Now Qoheleth addressed the problem of hard work. What is its value? He had been a hard working wise man, but he would have to leave all his work to those who would come after him. There was no telling if they would be wise or foolish, but still they would be in charge of all his things. He then realized that with all his wisdom under the sun, everything that he had accomplished was in vain. He then fell into despair, much like Job. He would not enjoy the fruit of his hard work. He had worked with wisdom, knowledge, and skill, but he had to leave the results of his work to be enjoyed by those who would not work hard. This is the problem with parents who work hard to see their children succeed, only to have them dissipate their life away. This painful useless work is a great evil. He wanted to know if there was a reward for this hard work. This work was nothing but a painful troubling vexation that kept him from sleeping at night. Hard work was useless, in vain, vanity itself. This is a very strong indictment against hard work.

The vanity of greatness (Eccl 2:9-2:11)

“So I became great.

I surpassed all

Who were before me in Jerusalem.

However,

My wisdom remained with me.

Whatever my eyes desired,

I did not keep from them.

I kept my heart from no pleasure.

My heart found pleasure in all my toil.

This was my reward for all my toil.

Then I considered

All that my hands had done.

I considered the toil

I had spent in doing it.

Again,

All was vanity.

It was like chasing after wind.

There was nothing to be gained under the sun.”

Qoheleth became great as he surpassed all those that had gone before him. Yet he still had his wisdom. There was no pleasure denied to him. Whatever his eyes or heart desired, he got. He was the great playboy of the ancient world. Everything was his because of his wealth. In fact, he felt that he deserved this because of his hard work, which is true about most rich people. They feel that they deserve all their wealth because of their hard work. They forget about all the other hard working people who never achieve great wealth because of their circumstances. Qoheleth considered how much time he had spent becoming rich and great. Then it all kicked in. This was useless and in vain. He was once again out there chasing a wind that could never be caught. Rarely does one ever get rich enough to feel that they have enough. Like the super rich, suddenly Qoheleth felt that he had enough, because nothing was to be gained under the sun. He practically had everything. He was the richest man in Jerusalem.