The deed is done (Ezek 9:11-9:11)

“Then the man,

Clothed in linen,

With the writing case

At his side,

Brought back word.

He said.

‘I have done

As you commanded me.’”

The man with the writing case at his side said that he was finished with his task of finding people who cared about the terrible situation in Jerusalem. He had marked all those who were to be saved, just as Yahweh had told him to do.

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The man with the writing case at his side (Ezek 9:2-9:4)

“Among the executors

Was a man

Clothed in linen,

With a writing case

At his side.

They went in.

They stood beside

The bronze altar.

Now the glory

Of the God of Israel

Had gone up

From the cherubim

On which it rested

To the threshold

Of the house.

Yahweh called

To the man

Clothed in linen,

With the writing case

At his side.

Yahweh said to him.

‘Go through the city,

Through Jerusalem,

Put a mark

On the foreheads

Of those who sigh,

Of those who groan

Over all the abominations

That are committed in it.’”

Now a new character enters the scene. This man dressed in white linen with a writing case at his side was among the 6 executioners from the north. They were all standing at the bronze altar when the glory of the God of Israel left the cherubim where it was resting and went to the threshold of the house. Then Yahweh called to the man, who was clothed in linen, with the writing case at his side. Yahweh told him to go into Jerusalem. He was to find all the people who were sighing and groaning about all the abominations in town. He was to put a taw mark on their forehead, like a mini cross, since taw was the last consonant of the Hebrew alphabet. Thus he acted like the angel of death in the Passover story. He marked those who cared about the situation there, who might be spared.

The moon (Sir 43:6-43:8)

“It is the moon

That marks the changing seasons.

The moon governs the times.

It is their everlasting sign.

From the moon

Comes the sign

For festal days.

It is a light that wanes

When it completes its course.

The new moon,

As its name suggests,

Renews itself.

The month is named

After the moon.

How marvelous it is

In this change!

It is a beacon

For the hosts on high!

It shines

In the vault of the heavens!”

Sirach points out how important the moon was for the Israelites. First, the moon marked the changing of seasons. Then the festival days were based on the moon. Both Passover and the feast of the Tents were based on a full moon. In fact, calculating the observance of Christian Easter each year is based on the full moon of spring. We even still talk about a harvest moon and a romantic moon. The moon appears to become full and wane because of its position between the sun and the earth. Thus it looks like the new moon renews itself. The Israelite Hebrews had the same word for moon and month, since they used a lunar calendar to keep track of their days. Yet even today, we appreciate the value of a bright glorious moon in the heavenly sky at night.