The tribe of Benjamin (Ezek 48:23-48:23)

“The rest of the tribes

Includes Benjamin.

From the east side

To the west side,

Benjamin shall have

one portion.”

Unlike in Joshua, chapter 18, the territory of Benjamin does not have any details of where it would be. Obviously, the old Benjamin was north of Judah and south of Ephraim. Here it simply is one portion from the east to the west side, without any further explanation. Somehow, it had been reduced in value.

The land for all the Israelites (Ezek 45:6-45:6)

“Alongside the portion

Set apart

As the holy district,

You shall assign

As a possession

For the city

An area

Five thousand cubits wide,

Twenty-five thousand cubits long.

It shall belong

To the whole house

Of Israel.”

Besides the holy district in the city of Jerusalem, there was to be another portion of the land set aside for all the people of Israel. In fact, it is rather small, only half the size of the land set apart for the Levites. This is a long strip of land 25,000 cubits long, but only 5,000 cubits wide. It would seem that there were more Levites than regular people in Jerusalem.

The useless idols (Jer 10:14-10:16)

“Everyone is stupid

Without knowledge.

Goldsmiths are put to shame

By their idols.

Their images are false.

There is no breath in them.

They are worthless.

They are a work of delusion.

At the time of their punishment,

They shall perish.

Not like these is Yahweh.

He is the portion of Jacob.

He formed all things.

Israel is the tribe of his inheritance.

Yahweh of hosts is his name.”

Jeremiah contends that the idols are useless because the people who made them were stupid without any kind of knowledge. These goldsmiths will be put to shame because they have created false images without any breath in them. They are worthless works of delusion that will perish at the time of punishment. Yahweh, on the other hand, has formed all things. His portion and inheritance is the tribe of Jacob or Israel. He, of course, is called Yahweh of hosts.

The revolt against Aaron (Sir 45:18-45:22)

“Outsiders conspired against Aaron.

They envied him in the wilderness.

There was Dathan with his followers.

There was Abiram with his followers.

There was the company of Korah.

They were filled with wrath and anger.

The Lord saw it.

He was not pleased.

In the heat of his anger

They were destroyed.

He performed wonders against them.

He consumed them in a flaming fire.

He added glory to Aaron.

He gave him a heritage.

He allotted to him

The best of the first fruits.

He prepared bread of first fruits

In abundance.

They eat the sacrifices of the Lord.

He gave it to him

And his descendants.

But in the land of the people

He has no inheritance.

He has no portion

Among the people.

The Lord himself

Is his portion

The Lord himself

Is his inheritance.”

In this section Sirach is relying on Numbers, chapter 16, about a revolt of some Levi tribe members, particularly Korah, along with Dathan and Abiram from the tribe of Reuben. It was not clear why Sirach called them outsiders since there were about 250 of those Israelites in the desert who actually revolted against Moses and Aaron. This uprising was put down, when Moses called for an incense face-off. Then Yahweh made the ground catch fire and split up so that this fire swallowed up these trouble makers. Aaron was then given more glory. This is why he and his descendants receive the best of the first fruits of the harvest. However, the Levites were not given any territory in the new Promise Land like the other tribes. Their portion was the Lord himself. That was their inheritance. Once again, this was an attempt to explain the situation of the later Levitical priests.

Priests (Sir 7:29-7:31)

“With all your soul

Fear the Lord!

Revere his priests!

With all your might,

Love your Maker!

Do not neglect his ministers!

Fear the Lord!

Honor the priest!

Give him his portion,

As you have been commanded.

Give him

The first fruits,

The guilt offering,

The gift of the shoulders,

The sacrifice of sanctification,

The first fruits of the holy things.”

Once again, Sirach is absolute in his demands about the Israelite Levitical priests.   Listening to them was like listening to God. Obviously, you were to fear the Lord and love your Maker. You also were to revere God’s priests. Thus you should not neglect God’s ministers. They should have their portion as commanded by the law. In case there was any confusion, he specifically listed what the priests were to get, the first fruits, the guilt offerings, the shoulders, the sanctification sacrifice, and the first fruits of the holy things. I am not sure about the shoulders, but the others were common in the Torah.

Enjoy life (Wis 2:6-2:9)

“Come!

Therefore!

Let us enjoy the good things that exist!

Make use of creation to the full

As in youth.

Let us take our fill of costly wine!

Let us take our fill of perfumes!

Let no flower of spring pass us by.

Let us crown ourselves

With rosebuds before they wither.

Let none of us fail to share in our revelry.

Everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment.

Because this is our portion,

This is our lot.”

Once again, following the advice of Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes, we should enjoy life and not worry because all is vanity. These impious people want to enjoy all the existing good things, the use of all creation as they had done in their youth. They wanted to enjoy costly wine, perfumes, and the flowers of spring. They should be crowned with rosebuds as well as share in their revelry. They should enjoy themselves because this was their portion and lot in life.

The cry to Yahweh (Ps 142:5-142:6)

“I cry to you!

Yahweh!

I say.

‘You are my refuge.

You are my portion

In the land of the living.’

Give heed to my cry!

I am brought very low!”

The response of David to his loneliness is to cry to Yahweh. He said that Yahweh was his refuge and portion in the land of the living. He wanted Yahweh to pay attention to his cry because he had been brought low.