The proud prince of Tyre as a wise trader (Ezek 28:3-28:5)

“You are indeed wiser

Than Daniel.

No secret

Is hidden

From you.

By your wisdom,

By your understanding,

You have amassed wealth

For yourself.

You have gathered

Gold,

With silver,

Into your treasuries.

By your great wisdom

In trade,

You have increased

Your wealth.

Your heart

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.

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The bad people in Jerusalem (Ezek 22:6-25:9)

“The princes of Israel

In you,

Everyone

According to his power,

Has been bent

On shedding blood.

Fathers are treated

With contempt.

Mothers are treated

With contempt

In you.

The alien,

Residing within you,

Suffers extortion.

The orphans

Are wronged

In you.

The widows

Are wronged

In you.

You have despised

My holy things.

You have profaned

My Sabbath.

There are men

In you

Who slander

To shed blood.

There are men

In you

Who eat

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.

The commands of Yahweh (Jer 22:3-22:3)

“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.

The wicked scoundrels (Jer 5:26-5:29)

“‘Wicked scoundrels are

Found among my people.

They take over

The goods of others.

They lurk

Like fowlers,

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

With justice

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?’

Says Yahweh.

‘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?

Divine justice (Sir 35:13-35:21)

“The Lord is the one

Who repays.

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

With him.

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

The widow

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.

Be kind to all (Sir 4:6-4:10)

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 take advantage of others (Prov 23:10-23:11)

“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.