Not respecting the creative potter (Isa 29:15-29:16)

“Woe to you!

You hide a plan too deep for Yahweh!

Your deeds are in the dark!

You say.

‘Who sees us?

Who knows us?’

You turn things upside down!

Shall the potter be regarded as the clay?

Shall the thing made

Say of its maker?

‘He did not make me.’

Shall the thing formed

Say of the one who formed it?

‘He has no understanding.’”

Yahweh seems to be mad at the leaders of Judah who are attempting to plot with Assyria. They have a hidden dark plan since they seem to say that no one sees them or knows about it. They have things upside down because they are the creatures, not the creators. They are the clay that thinks that they are the potters who mold the clay. They were made by the Creator God as in Genesis, chapter 2. They were the formed, not the formers. Why are they saying that the Creator God does not understand, since they are mere clay?

Rebuke against rebellion (Isa 1:2-1:3)

“Hear!

O heavens!

Listen!

O earth!

Yahweh has spoken.

‘I reared children.

I brought them up.

But they have rebelled

Against me.

The ox knows its owner.

The donkey knows its master’s crib.

But Israel does not know.

My people do not understand.’”

Isaiah begins with an oracle that comes from Yahweh. He asks heaven and earth to listen to him. Yahweh says that he reared and brought up his children. However, these children have rebelled against him. As an ox knows its owner and a donkey knows where his home is, the people of Israel are just the opposite. They do not know or understand anything. This is the tone to many of the oracles of Yahweh via Isaiah. It is not clear whether this oracle is against just the northern Israelites or also includes the people of Judah. Sometimes the term “Israel” is used for both and sometimes just for the northern Israelites.

The importance of travel (Sir 34:9-34:13)

“A traveled educated person

Knows many things.

One with much experience

Knows what he is talking about.

An inexperienced person

Knows few things.

But he that has traveled

Acquires much cleverness.

I have seen many things

In my travels.

I understand more

Than I can express.

I have often been

In danger of death.

But I have escaped

Because of these experiences.”

Sirach points out the importance of travel for knowledge. The educated well traveled person knows many things. From his experiences, he knows what he is talking about. An inexperienced person only knows a few things. The well traveled person is clever. Then Sirach once again got personal as he said that he had seen many things in his travels. Thus he understands more than he can tell others. He was in danger of death, but he escaped because his experiences helped him out of those situations.

The young people at the banquet (Sir 32:7-32:9)

“Speak!

You who are young!

If you are obliged to.

But speak

No more than twice,

And only if asked.

Be brief!

Say much in few words!

Be as one

Who knows!

Be as one

Who can still hold his tongue!

Among the great,

Do not act as their equal!

When another is speaking,

Do not babble!”

Sirach thinks that the young people should speak only if they are asked to do so. They should never speak more than twice and with few words. They should be like someone who knows something, but still holds their tongues. They should not act as equals among the great people. If someone is speaking, they should not babble. This is actually good advice for everyone.

The divine judge (Sir 17:15-17:24)

“Their ways are always known to him.

They will not be hid from his eyes.

Their ways from youth tend towards evil.

They are unable

To make for themselves hearts of flesh

In place of their stony hearts.

In the division of nations of the whole earth

He appointed a ruler for every nation.

But Israel is the Lord’s own portion.

Being his firstborn,

He brings them up with discipline.

He allots to them

The light of his love.

He does not neglect them.

All their works are as clear

As the sun before him.

His eyes are continually upon their ways.

Their iniquities are not hidden from him.

All their sins are before the Lord.

The Lord is gracious.

He knows how they were formed.

He has not left them.

He has not abandoned them.

But he has spared them.

One’s almsgiving is

Like a signet ring with the Lord.

He will keep a person’s kindness

Like the apple of his eye.

Afterward he will rise up.

He will repay them.

He will bring their recompense on their heads.

Yet to those who repent,

He grants a return.

He encourages those who are losing hope.”

The Lord is a diving judge. He knows human ways. You cannot hide from him. He appointed rulers for the various countries, but he is the ruler of Israel. Since the time of the Exile in the 6th century BCE, there was no king of Israel. As Israel is the first born, the Lord has disciplined and loved Israel. He would not neglect them as he watches them continually. Their works are as clear as the sun. They cannot hide their sins, but he has not abandoned them. Almsgiving is like the Lord’s ring. Kindness is the apple of his eye. However, he will repay them for their sins. Nevertheless, those who repent can return. In fact, he tries to encourage those who are losing hope.

The wisdom of the Lord (Sir 15:18-15:20)

“Great is the wisdom of the Lord.

He is mighty in power.

He sees everything.

His eyes are on those who fear him.

He knows every human action.

He has not commanded any one to be wicked.

He has not given anyone permission to sin.”

The Lord God has great wisdom and mighty power. He sees everything as he watches over those who fear him. He knows their every action. He definitely has not commanded us to be wicked. He has never given anyone permission to sin.

The presence of wisdom (Wis 9:9-9:12)

“With you is wisdom.

She knows your works.

She was present

When you made the world.

She understands

What is pleasing in your sight.

She understands

What is right

According to your commandments.

Send her forth

From the holy heavens.

From the throne of your glory

Send her!

Thus she may labor at my side.

Thus I may learn what is pleasing to you.

She knows all things.

She understands all things.

She will guide me wisely in my actions.

She will guard me with her glory.

Then my works will be acceptable.

I shall judge your people justly.

I shall be worthy

Of the throne of my father.”

Wisdom (ἡ σοφία) was present with God when he made the world (ἐποίεις τὸν κόσμον). She understands what is pleasing and what is right according to the commandments. She was sent from the holy heavens (ἐξ ἁγίων οὐρανῶν) and the throne of glory (θρόνου δόξης σου). Thus she labors on earth. She knows and understands all things. She guides and guards this author. Then the author as King Solomon declared that he would judge his people fairly so that he would be worthy of the throne of his father (θρόνων πατρός μου), presumably David.

The Spirit of God (Wis 1:6-1:11)

“Wisdom is a kindly spirit.

Wisdom will not free blasphemers

From the guilt of their words. God is witness

Of their inmost feelings.

God is a true observer of their hearts.

He is a hearer of their tongues.

The Spirit of the Lord

Has filled the world.

What holds all things together

Knows what is said.

Therefore those who utter unrighteous things

Will not escape notice.

Justice,

When it punishes,

Will not pass them by.

Inquiry will be made

Into the counsels of the ungodly.

A report of their words

Will come to the Lord.

It will convict them of their lawless deeds.

A jealous ear hears all things.

The sound of grumbling does not go unheard.

Beware then of useless grumbling!

Keep your tongue from slander!

No secret word is without result.

A lying mouth destroys the soul.”

Wisdom (σοφία) is a kindly or philanthropic spirit (φιλάνθρωπον πνεῦμα). There is almost equivalence between wisdom and the Spirit. The blasphemers (βλάσφημον) will not escape the guilt of their words. God is a witness (μάρτυς ὁ Θεὸς) to their innermost feelings. He knows their heart (τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ ἐπίσκοπος ἀληθὴς). He hears their tongues (τῆς γλώσσης ἀκουστής). The Spirit of the Lord (πνεῦμα Κυρίου) has filled the world. Thus this creative spirit knows all things. Thus those who utter unrighteous things will not escape notice. A just punishment will not pass them by. An inquiry will be made and a report will be given to the Lord (Κΰριον). They will be convicted of their evil and lawless deeds. A jealous ear hears all things. Thus the Lord hears this useless grumbling. You should keep your tongue from slandering. Even secret words are known, so that a lying mouth destroys the soul (ψυχήν).

The good wife works hard (Prov 31:16-31:19)

Zain

“She considers a field.

She buys it.

With the fruit of her hands,

She plants a vineyard.

Het

She girds herself with strength.

She makes her arms strong.

Tet

She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.

Her lamp does not go out at night.

Yod

She puts her hands to the distaff.

Her hands hold the spindle.”

The good wife does not sit around all day and gossip. She goes out and buys fields, just like men do. She plants a vineyard, just like other workers. She has strength with strong arms. She buys and sells merchandise like her husband. She stays up late figuring things out. She even knows how to handle the spindle. She is like a super woman. She even has contact with others in business doings. Thus she is not a stay at home wife, but really a business partner.

The consequences of non-action (Prov 24:11-24:12)

“If you hold back from rescuing

Those taken away to death,

Those who go staggering to the slaughter,

What are the consequences?

If you say.

‘Look!

We did not know this.’

Does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?

Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it?

Will he not repay all according to their deeds?”

If you do not try to rescue someone from death, what are the consequences? They were staggering to their slaughter, what were you to do? Can you say that I did not know what was going on? This was the case at the time of the holocaust roundup. The excuse for non-action was I didn’t know. However, it is important to note that God, who weighs the heart, perceives this. He watches over your soul and knows it. He will repay you according to your deeds.