The destruction of the Amorites (Am 2:9-2:10)

“Yet I destroyed

The Amorites

Before them.

Their height was

Like the height of cedar trees.

They were

As strong

As the oak trees.

I destroyed

His fruit above.

I destroyed

His roots beneath.

I brought you up

Out of the land of Egypt.

I led you forty years

In the wilderness.

Thus,

You possess

The land of the Amorites’”

The literary tone changed, as Yahweh, via Amos, reminded the people of Israel on how he had destroyed the Amorites, the people who lived in the Promise Land before the Israelites arrived. These Amorites or Canaanites were very tall like cedar trees and very strong like oak trees. However, Yahweh completely destroyed them including the fruit of their trees above ground as well as the roots of their trees beneath ground, a complete annihilation. After all, he had brought the Israelites out of Egypt. He had protected them for 40 years, while they were in the wilderness or desert. Finally, Yahweh let the Israelites possess the land of the Amorites.

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The reaction of Yahweh to the rebellious children (Ezek 20:21-20:24)

“Then I thought

I would pour out

My wrath upon them.

I would spend

My anger

Against them

In the wilderness.

But I withheld

My hand.

I acted for the sake

Of my name.

Thus it should not be

Profaned

In the sight

Of the nations,

In whose sight

I had brought them out.

Moreover,

I swore to them

In the wilderness

That I would scatter them

Among the nations.

I would disperse them

Through the countries.

Because they had not

Executed

My ordinances.

They had rejected

My statutes.

They had profaned

My Sabbath.

Their eyes

Were set

On their ancestor’s idols.”

Yahweh’s reaction was pretty much the same as in the former rebellions. Yahweh immediately thought about destroying them in his anger. However, as earlier, he changed his mind for the sake of his name that he did not want profaned in the sight of all the other countries that had seen him bring them out of Egypt. Thus he swore to them in the wilderness that he would scatter them among the nations, instead of refusing to take them out of Egypt or refusing to take them to the Promise Land. This was a prediction of the exile that was due to their failure to keep his statutes, ordinances, and the Sabbath. They also still yearned for their ancestor’s idols.

Ezekiel lies on his right side for Judah (Ezek 4:6-4:8)

“When you have

Completed these things,

You shall lie down

A second time,

But on your right side.

You shall bear

The punishment

Of the house of Judah.

I assign you

Forty days,

One day for each year.

You shall set your face

Toward the siege of Jerusalem.

With your arm bared,

You shall prophesy

Against the city.

See!

I am putting cords

On you.

Thus you cannot turn

From one side

To the other,

Until you have completed

The days of your siege.”

When Ezekiel had finished the 390 days laying on his left side for the punishment of Israel, he was ordered to lie down a second time, but this time on his right side. He was going to bear a punishment for the house of Judah. However, this was only for 40 days, representing the famous 40 years in the wilderness from Egypt to the Promise Land. However, during this time, he was to face toward the siege of Jerusalem. In fact, he was to bear his arm and prophesy against the city of Jerusalem. To make sure that Ezekiel would do this and not move, Ezekiel had cords put on him, so that he could not switch sides. I am not sure how this worked. He was to do this until he had completed the two assignments for a total of 430 days.

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.

The holy vestments of Aaron (Sir 45:7-45:9)

“The Lord blessed Aaron with stateliness.

He put a glorious robe on him.

He clothed him in perfect splendor.

He strengthened him

With the symbols of authority.

Aaron had linen undergarments.

He had a long robe.

He had the ephod.

The Lord encircled him with pomegranates.

There were many golden bells all around.

This sent forth a sound as he walked.

Their ringing could be heard in the temple.

This was a reminder to his people.”

Next Sirach explains the holy vestments of Aaron. The problem, of course, is that Aaron never made it to the Promise Land to wear any of these vestments, since he died in the desert or wilderness, centuries before the Jerusalem Temple was built. These were the vestments of the Levitical priests, not Aaron, as described in Exodus, chapter 28. Aaron was to be stately and splendid wearing these robes of authority. He was to wear linen undergarments, a long robe, and the ephod. According to Exodus, the long robe was blue with pomegranates all around it. The bells were to remind people that he was coming into the Temple that did not yet exist. The ephod was an old cultural vestment, an embroidered garment, believed to be like an apron with shoulder straps, worn by Levitical priests in ancient Israel.