“You are indeed wiser
By your wisdom,
By your understanding,
You have amassed wealth
You have gathered
Into your treasuries.
By your great wisdom
You have increased
Has become proud
In your wealth.”
Ezekiel’s reference to Daniel may be a Canaanite judge named Daniel who gave out wise decisions for orphans and widows, not the prophet Daniel. Thus, the prince of Tyre was wiser than this Daniel, since he knew all kinds of secrets. With his great wisdom and understanding, he had amassed great wealth for himself and his treasury full of gold and silver. This Tyre prince or leader was a very wise trader. His wealth, however, made his heart very proud.
“The princes of Israel
According to his power,
Has been bent
On shedding blood.
Fathers are treated
Mothers are treated
Residing within you,
You have despised
My holy things.
You have profaned
There are men
To shed blood.
There are men
Upon the mountains.
Men commit lewdness
In your midst.”
A lot of bad things were happening in Jerusalem. The princes of Israel had been shedding blood. Parents, both mothers and fathers, were treated with contempt. The alien residents suffered extortion. The orphans and the widows were wronged. The people of Jerusalem have despised Yahweh’s holy things and profaned his Sabbath. They slander and shed blood. They eat on the mountains. They commit lewd actions in their midst.
“Thus says Yahweh.
‘Act with justice!
Act with righteousness!
Deliver from the hand of the oppressor
Anyone who has been robbed!
Do no wrong!
Do no violence to the alien!
Do no wrong to the orphan!
Do no violence to the widow!
Do not shed innocent blood in this place!’”
Yahweh, via Jeremiah, lays out his demands to the king as in the preceding chapter. The king had to act with justice and righteousness. He was to help those who had been robbed from those oppressive robbers. He was to do no wrong or violence to the aliens, orphans, and widows. He was not to shed blood in his kingdom.
“‘Wicked scoundrels are
Found among my people.
They take over
The goods of others.
They set a trap.
They catch human beings.
Like a cage full of birds,
Their houses are full of treachery.
Therefore they have become great.
They have become rich.
They have grown fat.
They have become sleek.
They know no limits
In their deeds of wickedness.
They do not judge
The cause of the orphans,
To make them prosper.
They do not defend
The rights of the needy.
Shall I not punish them for these things?’
‘Shall I not bring retribution
On a nation such as this?’”
Yahweh, via Jeremiah, justifies his stance against the Israelites. This time he cites the wicked scoundrels in the land among his own people. They actually take the goods of others like robbers. They are like bird trappers, but they set their traps for their fellow humans. They are full of tricks that have made them great, rich, fat, and sleek. They have no limits to their wickedness. When they judge, they judge without justice, especially in the cases of orphans and the needy. Why shouldn’t Yahweh punish them? Why shouldn’t he bring retribution on this whole nation?
“The Lord is the one
He will repay you sevenfold.
Do not offer him a bribe!
He will not accept it.
Do not rely
On a dishonest sacrifice!
The Lord is the judge.
There is no partiality
He will not show partiality
To the poor.
He will listen to the prayer
Of one who is wronged.
He will not ignore
The supplication of the orphan.
He will not ignore
When she pours out her complains.
Do not the tears of the widow
Run down her cheek?
She cries out against those
Who have caused her to fall.
The one whose service
Is pleasing to the Lord
Will be accepted.
His prayer will reach
To the clouds.
The prayer of the humble
Pierces the clouds.
It will not rest
Until it reaches its goal.
It will not desist
Until the Most High responds.
He does justice
For the righteous.
He executes judgment.”
Sirach reminds us that the Lord repays us justly. No bribe or dishonest sacrifice will change his mind. The Lord is a judge without partiality. He listens to the prayer of those who have been wronged. He does not ignore orphans and especially crying widows who are complaining. He does accept the pleasing service of those whose prayers will go up to heaven. The prayers of the humble will pierce the clouds. They will not rest until they reach the Most High God who will respond with a righteous just judgment.
“If in bitterness of soul,
Some should curse you,
Their Creator will hear their prayer.
Endear yourself to the congregation.
Bow your head low to the great.
Give a hearing to the poor.
Return their greeting politely.
Rescue the oppressed from the oppressor.
Do not be hesitant in giving a verdict.
Be like a father to orphans.
Be like a husband to their mother.
You will then be like a son of the Most High.
He will love you more than does your mother.”
Now it may happen, that someone who is bitter might curse you. Let the Creator God judge you. Fit into your community. Bow your head to the people in charge. Listen to the poor. Greet them politely. Rescue those who are being abused. Do not be afraid to make a judgment. Be like a father to orphans and a husband to widows. If you do these things, you will be like a son of the Most High God. God, the Creator, will love you more than your mother does. This is a strong demand for a civil society.
“Do not remove an ancient landmark.
Do not encroach on the fields of orphans.
Their redeemer is strong.
He will plead their cause against you.”
This is a repetition of what was said last chapter about not removing ancient landmarks. This is about trying to take land from others. In particular, you were not to try to take away the fields of orphans, since they might have a redeemer or relative who would plead their case against you. Do not think that you can get away with this kind of action.
“Yahweh executes justice for the oppressed.
Yahweh gives food to the hungry.
Yahweh sets the prisoners free.
Yahweh opens the eyes of the blind.
Yahweh lifts up those who are bowed down.
Yahweh loves the righteous.
Yahweh watches over the strangers.
Yahweh upholds the orphan and the widow.
Yahweh brings to ruin the way of the wicked.”
Yahweh makes sure that there is justice for the oppressed. He gives food to the hungry. He sets prisoners free. He opens the eyes of the blind. He lifts up those who are bowed down. He loves the righteous. He watches over strangers. He helps orphans. He holds up widows. However, he brings to ruin those who are pursuing wicked ways.
“May his days be few!
May another seize his position!
May his children be orphans!
May his wife be a widow!
May his children wander about!
May his children beg!
May they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit!
May the creditor seize all that he has!
May strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
May there be no one to do him a kindness!
May there be no one to pity his orphaned children!
May his posterity be cut off!
May his name be blotted out in the second generation!
May the iniquity of his father be remembered before Yahweh!
May the sin of his mother not be blotted out!
May they be before Yahweh continually!
May his memory be cut off from the earth!”
The enemies of David issued a whole series of curses against him. They wanted his days to be few with an early death, so that his children would be orphans and his wife a widow. They wanted someone to take over his position or the crown. They wanted his children to wander about begging. They wanted them driven out of their ruined home. Creditors should seize all his things. Strangers should plunder his fields. No one should show him kindness. No one should worry about his orphaned children. His name should be wiped out in the 2nd generation. People should remember the iniquity and sin of his father and mother. There was to be no memory of him on earth. All of this should be brought to Yahweh so that he might punish David. Obviously, these curses did not come true for David.
“God is the father of orphans.
God is the protector of widows.
God is in his holy habitation.
God gives the desolate a home to live in.
God leads out the prisoners to prosperity.
However the rebellious live in a parched land.”
God is the father of orphans. He protects widows from his holy dwelling. He gives the desolate a home to live in. He leads the prisoners into prosperity. However, the rebellious ones will have to live in a parched dry land.