Judah (Ezek 27:17-27:17)

“Judah,

With the land of Israel,

Traded with you.

They exchanged

For your merchandise

Wheat from Minnith,

Olives,

Honey,

Oil,

Balm.”

Judah and northern Israel traded with Tyre also. Apparently the wheat from Minnith on the east side of the Jordan River was extra special. They also traded olives, honey, oil, and balm.

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Jerusalem’s renowned beauty (Ezek 16:13-16:14)

“‘Your clothing was

Of fine linen.

Your clothing was

Rich fabrics.

Your clothing was

Embroidered cloth.

You had choice flour.

You had honey.

You had oil.

You grew

Exceedingly beautiful.

You were fit

To be a queen.

Your fame spread

Among the nations

On account

Of your beauty.

It was perfect

Because of my splendor

That I had bestowed

On you.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh made sure that young Jerusalem had wonderful clothing to wear, such as fine linens, rich fabrics, and embroidered clothes. She also had fine foods to eat. She had choice flour, honey, and oil. Thus she grew exceedingly beautiful. She was fit to be a queen. Her fame spread far and wide because of her perfect beauty. Why was she so beautiful? Well, Yahweh gave her his perfect splendor. So ends the story of the young maiden Jerusalem growing up to become very beautiful.

Ishmael kills the pilgrim worshippers (Jer 41:6-41:8)

“Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah,

Came out from Mizpah

To meet

The weeping pilgrims.

As he met them,

He said to them.

‘Come to Governor Gedaliah,

The son of Ahikam.’

When they reached

The middle of the city,

Ishmael,

The son of Nethaniah,

With his men

Slaughtered them.

He threw them into a cistern.

But there were ten men

Among them

Who said to Ishmael,

‘Do not kill us!

We have stores

Of wheat,

Of barley,

Of oil,

Of honey

Hidden in the fields.’

So he refrained.

He did not kill them

Along with their companions.”

Ishmael went out to meet these 80 mourning crying pilgrims as they approached Mizpah. He told them to come and meet the new governor of Judah, Gedaliah. When they got to the center of Mizpah, Ishmael and his 10 men killed these 80 pilgrims. He saved 10 of these northern pilgrims because they said that they hidden provisions of wheat, barley, oil, and honey in the fields. However, the other dead people were thrown into a cistern well. It is amazing how strong these 10 men with Ishmael were.

Isaiah and the sign of Immanuel (Isa 7:13-7:16)

“Then Isaiah said.

‘Hear then!

O house of David!

Is it too little for you to weary mortals?

Do you weary my God also?

Therefore Yahweh himself

Will give you a sign.

Look!

The virgin young woman

Is with child.

She shall bear a son.

You shall name him Immanuel.

God is with us.

He shall eat curds.

He shall eat honey,

By the time

He knows how to refuse the evil

And choose the good.

Before the child knows

How to refuse the evil,

Before the child knows

How to choose the good,

The land before whose two kings

You are in dread

Will be deserted.”

This time it is Isaiah who is speaking to King Ahaz and the whole house of David, not Yahweh. They should not weary each other or God. Yahweh was going to give them a sign. The young woman, who is presumed to be a virgin, will have a child. He will be called Immanuel that means God is with us. Quite often Christians have used this passage as a prophecy about the birth of Jesus. However, the context seems to indicate that King Ahaz will have a son to carry on his royal name. That son of Ahaz will be the great holy King Hezekiah who ruled Judah from 716-687 BCE. This young child would do good and refuse evil by the time he was able to eat the basic foods of curds and honey. Even before he learns how to choose good over evil, the 2 invading countries of these 2 kings will lay desolate and deserted.

Caleb (Sir 46:7-46:10)

“In the days of Moses,

Joshua proved his loyalty

With Caleb

Son of Jephunneh.

They opposed the congregation.

They restrained the people from sin.

They stilled their wicked grumbling.

These two alone were spared

Out of the six hundred thousand infantry.

They led the people into their inheritance,

The land flowing with milk and honey.

The Lord gave Caleb strength.

This remained with him in his old age.

He went up to the hill country.

His children obtained it

For an inheritance.

Thus all the Israelites might see

How good it is to follow the Lord.”

According to Numbers, chapter 14, Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun were the only two people allowed to live long enough to see the Promise Land, because they were the only two that felt like going into the land of Canaan would not be that difficult. The rest of the 600,000 desert wanderers perished and died in the desert wilderness. Not even Moses and Aaron were allowed to make it into the land of milk and honey. The Israelite people had been grumbling, but only Joshua and Caleb convinced them to carry on. Thus Caleb and his family were given a special place in the high country in the new land that they had conquered. Caleb was the ideal warrior and follower of the Lord who lived to a ripe old age with all his strength intact.

The blessings of the Lord (Sir 39:22-39:27)

“His blessing covers the dry land

Like a river.

His blessing drenches it

Like a flood.

But his wrath drives out

The nations.

He has turned a watered land

Into salt.

To the faithful,

His ways are straight.

But they are full of pitfalls

For the wicked.

From the beginning,

Good things were created

For the good.

But for the sinners,

Bad things.

The basic necessities of human life are

Water,

Fire,

Iron,

Salt,

Wheat flour,

Milk,

Honey,

The blood of the grape,

Oil,

And clothing.

All these are good

For the godly.

But for the sinners,

They turn into evils.”

Sirach remarks that the Lord’s blessing is a like a river on dry land or a drenching flood. However, he drives out countries with his wrath, as he has turned watered land into salt. The ways of the faithful are straight, but the wicked have all kinds of obstacles that they fall into. God created the good things, but the sinners get bad things. Then Sirach explained the basic necessities of life. I wonder if we would name all the same stuff. He had water, fire, iron, salt, wheat flour, milk, honey, grapes, oil, and clothing. These were good for the godly but evil for the sinners. In other words, you attitude towards them made them either good or bad.

The invitation of wisdom (Sir 24:18-24:22)

“‘I am the mother of beautiful love.

I am the mother of fear.

I am the mother of knowledge.

I am the mother of holy hope.

Being eternal,

I am given to

All my children.

I am given to

Those who are named by him.

Come to me!

You who desire me!

Eat your fill of my fruits!

The memory of me

Is sweeter than honey.

The possession of me

Is sweeter than the honeycomb.

Whoever eats me

Will hunger for more.

Whoever drinks me

Will thirst for more.

Whoever obeys me

Will not be put to shame.

Whoever works with me

Will not sin.’”

Sirach has wisdom extend an invitation to all people to come to her.   Wisdom is the mother of beautiful love, fear, knowledge, and holy hope. She has been given to all her children. She invites all who desire her to come to her. Thus they may eat the full of her fruits. Her memory and the possession of her is sweeter than honey and honeycombs. Anyone who eats and drinks of her will want more. Whoever obeys her will not be put to shame. They will not sin. She is a great female intercessor with God, much like the later Christian Virgin Mary. At the same time, she sometimes has qualities that were later attributed to the Christian Holy Spirit.