Against pagan practices (Isa 66:17-66:17)

“‘Those who sanctify themselves,

Those who purify themselves

In order to go into the gardens,

Follow the one in the center.

They eat the flesh of pigs.

They eat vermin.

They eat rodents.

They shall come to an end together.’

Says Yahweh.”

This probably should have followed the earlier remarks about pig’s blood. Yahweh once again points out that he is against these people who follow pagan practices. They sanctify and purify themselves to go into their gardens with the idols in the center. They end up eating pork, vermin, and rodents. They will all come to an end together.

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Put wisdom into practice (Sir 51:26-51:30)

“I resolved to live

According to wisdom.

I was zealous for the good.

I shall never be disappointed.

My soul grappled with wisdom.

In my conduct

I was strict.

I spread out my hands

To the heavens.

I lamented my ignorance of her.

I directed my soul to her.

In purity

I found her.

With her,

I gained understanding

From the first.

Therefore I will never be forsaken.

My heart was stirred to seek her.

Therefore I have gained a prize possession.

The Lord gave me my tongue

As a reward.

I will praise him with it.”

Sirach or this author wanted to live according to wisdom, to put wisdom into practice. He was zealous for the good things, so that he was never disappointed. He was strict in his conduct, as his soul wrestled with wisdom. He admitted in prayer that he was ignorant of wisdom, but he tried to purify his soul to find out more. Finally, he gained the understanding that he would never be abandoned by God. His heart was stirred to seek her even more. The result was a prize possession, the Lord gave him a speaking tongue so that he could praise the Lord even much more.

The celebration (2 Macc 10:5-10:9)

“It happened that on the same day on which the sanctuary had been profaned by the foreigners, the purification of the sanctuary took place, that is, on the twenty-fifth day of the same month, which was Chislev. They celebrated it for eight days with rejoicing, in the manner of the festival  of booths. They remembered how not long before, during the feast of booths, they had been wandering in the mountains and caves like wild animals. Therefore bearing ivy-wreathed wands and beautiful branches with also fronds of palm, they offered hymns of thanksgiving to him who had given success to the purifying of his own holy place. They decreed by public edict, ratified by vote, that the whole nation of the Jews should observe these days every year. Such then was the end of King Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes.”

This is very reminiscent of 1 Maccabees, chapter 4. However, the festival of booths was usually in September, but Chislev is December. As they were not able to celebrate it then, they celebrated it here for 8 days. This might be the source of Hanukkah. This took place 2 years to the day that the profanation of the Temple took place. It is the same time frame as the story in Esther. Yet it is reminiscent of the restoration of the Temple of King Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles, chapter 29. Here there is an official decree that is voted upon. This is the first mention of any kind of vote. Previously, questions were answered by lot. Perhaps this is the Greek influence. Nevertheless, this is the end of King Antiochus IV as now they have a restored Temple in Jerusalem to celebrate and remember.