The reward for the Rechabites (Jer 35:18-35:19)

“But to the house

Of the Rechabites,

Jeremiah said.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

You have obeyed

The command

Of your ancestor Jonadab.

You have kept

All his precepts.

You have done

All that he commanded you.

Therefore thus says

Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

Jonadab,

The son of Rechab,

Shall not lack

A descendant

To stand before me

For all time.’”

Now Jeremiah said that Yahweh was well pleased with the Rechabites because they obeyed the commandments of their ancestor Jonadab. They kept all his precepts and followed all his commands. Therefore Yahweh would make sure that they would never lack a descendant until the end of time. This group would continue on, something like the Davidic line of kings.

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Yahweh speaks (Isa 28:11-28:13)

“Truly,

With stammering lips,

With an alien tongue,

Yahweh will speak to this people.

He has said to them.

This is rest.

Give rest to the weary.

This is repose.’

Yet they would not hear.

Therefore the word of Yahweh

Will be to them.

‘Precept upon precept,

Precept upon precept.

Line upon line,

Line upon line,

Here a little,

There a little.’

Thus they may go.

They will fall backward.

They will be broken.

They will be snared.

They will be taken.’”

Since they have rejected Isaiah, Yahweh would send other people, the Assyrians, who would speak to the Israelites with stammering tongues in a foreign language. However, it is still the word of Yahweh. The weary were to get some rest, but they could not hear or understand what was going on. Once again we have Yahweh speaking to them via the Isaiah onomatopoeia saying about precepts, lines, and presence. However, the Assyrians would come, as they fell backwards, broken, and taken captive.

The nothingness of humans (Sir 18:8-18:14)

“What are human beings?

What use are they?

What is good about them?

What is evil about them?

The number of days in their life is great,

If they reach one hundred years.

The death of each one

Is beyond the calculation of all.

Like a drop of water from the sea,

Like a grain of sand,

So are these few years

Among the days of eternity.

Therefore the Lord is patient with them.

He pours out his mercy upon them.

He sees them.

He recognizes

That their end is miserable.

Therefore he grants them forgiveness all the more.

The compassion of human beings

Is for their neighbors.

But the compassion of the Lord

Is for every living thing.

He rebukes them.

He trains them.

He teaches them.

He turns them back,

As a shepherd his flock.

He has compassion on those

Who accept his discipline.

He has compassion on those

Who are eager for his precepts.”

Sirach points out that human beings, in contrast to the greatness of God, are useless, like a later 20th century existential 1943 Jean Paul Sartre work, Being and Nothingness. They have a little good and little evil in them, but they have a short unpredictable life, at best 100 years long. Their lives are like a drop of water in the sea or a grain of sand on the shore compared to divine eternity. That is why the Lord is patient and merciful with them. He knows that they will come to a miserable end, so that he grants them forgiveness. While the compassion of humans is for their neighbors, the compassion of the Lord is for all living things. Like a theme later attributed to Jesus, Sirach sees the Lord as a shepherd who rebukes, trains, teaches, and takes his sheep back and forth. The Lord has compassion for those who accept his discipline and precepts.

Praise Yahweh (Ps 119:161-119:168)

Shin

“Princes persecute me without cause.

But my heart stands in awe of your words.

I rejoice at your word,

Like one who finds great spoil.

I hate falsehood.

I abhor falsehood.

But I love your law.

Seven times a day,

I praise you

For your righteous ordinances.

Those who love your law have great peace.

Nothing can make them stumble.

I hope for your salvation.

Yahweh!

I fulfill your commandments.

My soul keeps your decrees.

I love them exceedingly.

I keep your precepts.

I keep your decrees.

All my ways are before you.”

Princes persecute the psalmist without cause, but his heart is in awe of Yahweh. He rejoiced at the word of Yahweh like one who had found great spoil after a victory. He loved the law. He hated and abhorred falsehood. He prayed 7 times a day, much like the later Christian choral prayers. He praised God for his righteous ordinances. He wanted peace for those who loved the law because nothing could make them stumble. He fulfilled the commandments of Yahweh. He kept his commandments, decrees, and precepts. Everything was laid out for Yahweh to see. So ends this section on the twenty-first consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Shin.

Rescue me (Ps 119:153-119:160)

Resh

“Look on my misery!

Rescue me!

I do not forget your law.

Plead my cause!

Redeem me!

Give me life

According to your promise!

Salvation is far from the wicked.

They do not seek your statutes.

Great is your mercy!

Yahweh!

Give me life

According to your justice!

Many are my persecutors.

Many are my adversaries.

Yet I do not swerve from your decrees.

I look at the faithless with disgust.

Because they do not keep your commands.

Consider how I love your precepts!

Preserve my life

According to your steadfast love!

The sum of your word is truth.

Every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever.”

This psalmist wanted to be rescued from his misery because he had not forgotten the law. He wanted a defense attorney and a redeemer. He wanted his life as Yahweh had promised. The wicked would not be saved because they did not seek Yahweh’s statutes. Yahweh’s mercy was great so that his justice would also help him. Although he had many persecutors and adversaries the psalmist did not swerve from Yahweh’s decrees. He looked at the unfaithful in disgust because they did not keep Yahweh’s commands. He, on the other hand, loved Yahweh’s precepts. He wanted his life preserved because of Yahweh’s love. The word of Yahweh is truth so that every one of his just ordinances would endure forever. So ends this section on the twentieth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Resh.

 

I do not forget the law (Ps 119:105-119:112)

Nun

“Your word is a lamp to my feet.

Your word is a light to my path.

I have sworn an oath.

I have confirmed it.

I will observe your righteous ordinances.

I am severely afflicted.

Give me life!

Yahweh!

According to your word!

Accept my offerings of praise!

Yahweh!

Teach me your ordinances!

I hold my life in my hand continually.

But I do not forget your law.

The wicked have laid a snare for me.

But I do not stray from your precepts.

Your decrees are my heritage forever.

They are the joy of my heart.

I incline my heart to perform your statutes,

Forever,

To the end.”

The word of Yahweh is a lamp and a light so that the psalmist might walk in the right path. He had sworn an oath to observe the righteous ordinances. Despite his sufferings, he would continue to offer praise. He wanted to be taught about the ordinances since he never forgot the law. Even when the wicked set a snare for him, he never forgot the law. He never strayed from the precepts of Yahweh. They were his heritage forever, the joy of his heart. He would follow the statutes of Yahweh forever, even to the bitter end. Thus this section on the fourteenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Nun, came to an end.

The sweet law (Ps 119:97-119:104)

Mem

“Oh!

How I love your law!

It is my meditation all day long.

Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies.

It is always with me.

I have more understanding than all my teachers.

Your decrees are my meditation.

I understand more than the aged.

I keep your precepts.

I hold back my feet from every evil way,

In order to keep your word.

I do not turn aside from your ordinances.

You have taught me.

How sweet are your words to my taste!

Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Through your precepts I get understanding.

Therefore I hate every false way.”

This psalmist spoke about the sweet law. He loved the law as he meditated on it all day long. The commandments of Yahweh made him wiser than his enemies. The law was always with him. In fact, he had more understanding than his teachers because he meditated on the law. He understood more than the old folks because he kept those precepts. He stayed away from evil ways so that he could keep the law of Yahweh. He never turned away from the ordinances of Yahweh. The law was sweeter than honey, a famous phrase. He understood things because of Yahweh’s precepts. He hated all false ways. Thus this section on the thirteenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Mem, came to an end.