Second narrative

This second narrative centered around the Sermon on the Mount and the famous so-called Beatitudes.  The first beatitude was about poverty, while the second beatitude was about mourning.  The third beatitude was about the meek or the humble.  The fourth beatitude was about righteousness.  The fifth beatitude was on mercy, while the sixth beatitude was about the pure of heart.  The seventh beatitude was on peacemakers, while the eighth beatitude was on persecution.  There was a grand blessing for the persecuted Christians, who were the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  They had to value and become the lighted lamp.

Next came the law and the prophets.  The law with all its commandments remained.  The righteous ones would not murder, nor would they get angry with insults.  They would offer their gifts at the Temple.  They would pay their debts and not commit adultery.  Jesus warned against the sinning eye and the sinning right hand.  He favored the traditional divorce stance, but warned about marrying a divorced woman.  They should not bear false witness, nor swear at all, since they should have a simple speech.  No longer was it an eye for an eye, but rather turn the other cheek with unusual kindness.  They were to love their enemies and their heavenly Father with a perfect love.

The followers of Jesus should fast and pray.  We should have piety with almsgiving.  Our charity and prayer should be secret with short prayers.  Thus, there was the famous “Our Father” prayer.  The first part of the Lord’s prayer was about God the Father.  The second part of the Lord’s prayer was about our human problems.  We should seek forgiveness and fast in secret.  We should not want earthly treasures, but heavenly treasures.  We need to have a healthy eye because we cannot serve two masters.

We should trust in Providence.  We do not need to worry.  Just look at the birds who do not worry.  The lilies of the field have more beauty than Solomon in all his glory.  Seek the kingdom of heaven first and you will not have to worry about tomorrow.

As far as judgment was concerned, do not judge the speck in the eye of your neighbor.  Be careful with your holy treasures.  Be seekers and give to your sons.  Pray to your heavenly Father and follow the golden rule.  The gate was narrow and there were many false prophets.  Know them by their fruits.  The sound tree has good fruits.  Cut down the bad tree.  Seek the kingdom of heaven.  Stay away from evildoers.  Wise men build on a rock foundation, while the foolish ones build on a sand foundation.  The crowds were astonished at the authority of Jesus.

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The provocative Ephraim (Hos 12:14-12:14)

“Ephraim has given bitter offense.

Thus,

Yahweh will bring his crimes

Down on him.

Yahweh will pay him back

For his insults.”

Ephraim has offended Yahweh. Now Yahweh was going to reverse their crimes on them. He was going to pay them back for their insults. Pure and simple, this was payback time.

Silence is good (Lam 3:28-3:30)

Yod

“It is good

To sit alone

In silence,

When Yahweh

Has imposed it.

It is good

To put

One’s mouth

To the dust.

There may yet be hope.

It is good

To give one’s cheek

To the one who

Strikes you.

It is good

To be filled

With insults.”

Now this author says that is good to sit alone waiting in silence for Yahweh. It is also good to put your mouth to the dust, indicating that one has hope for the future. You should also give your cheek to the one who is hitting you, an idea mentioned later in the Christian gospels. Finally it is good to accept insults. Here there is an important element of silence, self control, and humility.   These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Yod in this acrostic poem.

The dishonor of Jerusalem (Jer 51:50-51:51)

“You survivors

Of the sword!

Go!

Do not linger!

Remember Yahweh

In a distant land!

Let Jerusalem

Come into your mind!

We are put to shame!

We have heard insults!

Dishonor has covered

Our face!

Aliens have come

Into the holy places

Of Yahweh’s house.”

Those who have survived the sword should not linger. They should remember Yahweh in Jerusalem. They should not be put to shame, even though they hear insults. Their dishonor has covered their faces, since aliens now have come into their holy places, especially the house of Yahweh, the Temple in Jerusalem.

The personal plea of Jeremiah (Jer 15:15-15:18)

“Yahweh!

You know me!

Remember me!

Visit me!

Bring down retribution for me

On my persecutors!

In your forbearance,

Do not take me away!

Know that on your account

I suffer insult!

Your words were found.

I ate them.

Your words became to me a joy.

Your words became the delight of my heart.

I am called by your name.

O Yahweh!

God of hosts!

I did not sit in the company of merrymakers.

But I did rejoice

Under the weight of your hand.

I sat alone.

You had filled me with indignation.

Why is my pain unceasing?

Why is my wound incurable?

Why has my wound refused to be healed?

Truly you are to me

Like a deceitful brook,

Like waters that fail.”

Jeremiah pleaded with Yahweh to remember and visit him. Jeremiah wanted his persecutors to get retribution. He wanted to be saved. He indicated that he had suffered insults because of the name of Yahweh. Jeremiah had eaten the words of Yahweh that were a joyful delight to him. He had called on the name of Yahweh. He has never sat in the company of merrymakers. Rather he often sat alone, because of his indignation. However, Jeremiah continued to suffer continuing pain that was not healing. He thought that Yahweh was like a deceitful stream where the waters had stopped running. Jeremiah was a little upset at Yahweh.

Trusting friendly neighbors (Sir 22:23-22:26)

“Gain the trust of your neighbor

In his poverty.

Thus you may rejoice with him

In his prosperity.

Stand by him

In time of his distress.

Thus you may share with him

In his inheritance.

One should not always despise

Restricted circumstances.

One should not admire

A rich person who is stupid.

The vapor of the furnace

Precedes the fire.

The smoke of the furnace

Precedes the fire.

Thus insults precede bloodshed.

I am not ashamed

To shelter a friend.

I will not hide from him.

But if harm should come to me

Because of him,

Whoever hears of it

Will beware of him.”

Friendship happens in good times as well as bad times. If you trust your neighbor in his poverty, you can rejoice with him in his prosperity. If you stand by him in his distress, you can share with him in his good times. On the other hand, you should not admire a rich stupid person or despise those in poverty. Where there is a smell and smoke, there surely will be a fire. So too, insults often precede bloodshed. So be careful! Sirach was not ashamed to shelter a friend. However, if any harm came to him because of that friend, this would be a reminder to others to be wary about what his friend had done. Even this friendship is a little shaky, so that you should always be on guard against false friends.

The test of the righteous one (Wis 2:17-2:20)

“‘Let us see if his words are true.

Let us test what will happen

At the end of his life.

If the righteous man is God’s son,

He will help him.

He will deliver him

From the hand of his adversaries.

Let us test him with insult.

Let us test him with torture.

Thus we may find out how gentle he is.

Let us make trial of his forbearance.

Let us condemn him to a shameful death.

According to what he says,

He will be protected.’”

They were going to test this righteous one to see if his words were true (λόγοι αὐτοῦ ἀληθεῖς). If he is a true righteous son of God (ὁ δίκαιος υἱὸς Θεοῦ), God will help him. He will deliver him from the hands of his adversaries. They were going to test him with insults and torture to see how gentle he really was. They wanted to condemn him to a shameful death (θανάτῳ ἀσχήμονι). Then they would see if he was protected. Interesting enough, this is some of the same things that were said about Jesus of Nazareth, about a couple of hundred years later.