Description of the servant of Yahweh (Matt 12:19-12:21)

“He will not quarrel.

He will not cry aloud.

They will not hear his voice

In the streets.

He will not break

A bruised reed.

He will not quench

A smoldering wick,

Until he brings justice to victory.

In his name,

The gentiles will hope.”

 

οὐκ ἐρίσει οὐδὲ κραυγάσει, οὐδὲ ἀκούσει τις ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ.

κάλαμον συντετριμμένον οὐ κατεάξει καὶ λίνον τυφόμενον οὐ σβέσει, ἕως ἂν ἐκβάλῃ εἰς νῖκος τὴν κρίσιν.

καὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν.

 

Second Isaiah, chapter 42:2-4, described this servant of Yahweh.  He would not cry nor lift up his voice in the streets.  He would not break the bruised reeds nor put out a dimly burning wick on a candle.  In other words, he would be a very quiet person.  However, he would fight for justice.  He would not be faint or crushed, until he has established justice on the whole earth.  Matthew clearly applied this description to Jesus since Jesus would not quarrel or be contentious (οὐκ ἐρίσει).  Jesus would not cry out or shout (οὐδὲ κραυγάσει).  They would not hear Jesus’ voice in the streets (οὐδὲ ἀκούσει τις ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις τὴν φωνὴν αὐτοῦ).  Jesus would not break a bruised reed into pieces (κάλαμον συντετριμμένον οὐ κατεάξει).  Jesus would not quench a smoldering wick on a candle (καὶ λίνον τυφόμενον οὐ σβέσει).  Jesus would bring justice to victory (ἕως ἂν ἐκβάλῃ εἰς νῖκος τὴν κρίσιν).  In the name of Jesus (καὶ τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ), the gentile nations would hope (ἔθνη ἐλπιοῦσιν).  There was no doubt in the mind of Matthew that Jesus was the servant of Yahweh from Isaiah.

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The motivation for fasting (Isa 58:3-58:5)

“Why do we fast?

You do not see it.

Why humble ourselves?

You do not notice it.

Look!

You serve your own interest

On your fast day.

You oppress all your workers.

Look!

You fast only to quarrel!

You fast only to fight!

You fast to strike with a wicked fist.

Such is the fasting

That you do today.

It will not make your voice

Heard on high.

Is such the fast that I choose?

Is this a day to humble oneself?

Is it to bow down the head

Like a bulrush?

Is it to lie in sackcloth?

Is it to lie in ashes?

Will you call this a fast?

Will you call this

A day acceptable to Yahweh?”

Third Isaiah points out the hypocrisy of those who are fasting. Why are they fasting? God does not seem to notice them since they serve their own interests when they are fasting. While fasting, they oppress their workers, quarrel with others, and fight with strong fists. What kind of fast is that? This kind of fasting will get them nowhere. How will they be able to make their voice heard on high with these actions? They are not humble with this kind of fasting. Are they like a bulrush marsh plant? What about sackcloth and ashes? How can they call this acceptable to the Lord? This is a strong condemnation of useless unmotivated fasting.

The use of wine (Sir 31:25-31:31)

“Do not try to prove your strength

By drinking wine.

Wine has destroyed many people.

As the furnace tests

The work of the smith,

So wine tests hearts

When the insolent quarrel.

Wine is very life to human beings,

If you drink it in moderation.

What is life to one

Who is without wine?

It has been created

To make people happy.

Wine drunk at the proper time,

Is rejoicing to the heart.

Wine drunk in moderation

Brings gladness to the soul.

Wine drunk to excess

Leads to bitterness of spirit,

Leads to quarrels,

Leads to stumbling.

Drunkenness increases

The anger of a fool

To his own hurt.

It reduces his strength.

It adds wounds.

Do not reprove your neighbor

At a banquet of wine.

Do not despise him

In his merrymaking.

Speak no word of reproach to him.

Do not distress him

By making demands of him.”

Sirach warns that you should not try to show how strong you are by drinking wine since it has destroyed many people. Just as a furnace tests the iron work of a blacksmith, so too wine tests insolent people when they quarrel. However, wine does have a good purpose. It is life itself when taken in moderation. Without wine, our lives would not be happy. Wine at the proper time and in moderation rejoices and gladdens the heart and the soul. On the other hand, over indulging in wine can lead to a bitter spirit, quarrels, and stumbling around. The fool who drinks excessively increases his own anger to his own detriment. Drunkards lose their strength and sometimes get wounded. If you are at a banquet with wine, do not pick an argument with your neighbor. Do not dislike him for having a good time. Do not criticize him or ask him for anything. It is not the right time.

Prudence (Sir 8:1-8:3)

“Do not contend with the powerful.

Otherwise you may fall into their hands.

Do not quarrel with the rich.

Otherwise their resources may outweigh yours.

Gold has ruined many.

Gold has perverted the minds of kings.

Do not argue with the loud of mouth.

Do not heap wood on their fire.”

Sirach has some common sense prudent statements about life. Do not argue with powerful people or you might fall into their hands. Do not quarrel with the rich because they have more resources than you have. Don’t let your life be ruined by gold, as some kings have. Don’t argue with loud-mouthed people because you are only putting more wood on their fire.

Evil men (Prov 17:11-17:15)

“Evil people seek only rebellion.

A cruel messenger will be sent against them.

Better to meet a she-bear robbed of its cubs,

Than to confront a fool immersed in folly.

Evil will not depart from the house

Of one who returns evil for good.

The beginning of strife is

Like letting out water.

So stop before the quarrel breaks out.

Whoever justifies the wicked,

Whoever condemns the righteous,

Are both alike.

They are an abomination to Yahweh.”

The evil people are rebellious. Therefore the good are in favor of the status quo. A cruel messenger will be sent to evil rebels, perhaps the angel of death. You are better off meeting a mama bear with her cubs than trying to confront a fool in his foolishness. Evil will stay in the house of those who return evil for good. A quarrel or strife is like running water. It is better to stop the quarrel before it breaks out. Whether you justify the wicked or condemn the righteous, you are both alike, an abomination before Yahweh.

Treat other people well (Prov 3:27-3:35)

“Do not withhold goods

From those to whom it is due,

When it is in your power to do it.

Do not say to your neighbor.

‘Go!

Come again!

Tomorrow I will give it.’

If you have it with you.

Do not plan harm against your neighbor.

He lives trustingly beside you.

Do not quarrel with anyone without cause,

When no harm has been done to you.

Do not envy the violent!

Do not choose any of their ways!

The perverse are an abomination to Yahweh.

But the upright are in his confidence.

Yahweh’s curse is on the house of the wicked.

But he blesses the abode of the righteous.

Toward the scorners

He is scornful.

But to the humble

He shows favor.

The wise will inherit honor.

But stubborn fools will inherit disgrace.”

When you owe someone something, you should repay it if you are able. Do not tell your neighbor to come back tomorrow, if you already have it. Do not plan any harm against your trusting neighbor. Do not quarrel with anyone without cause if they have not done anything to you. Do not envy the violent or follow any of their ways. While the perverse are an abomination to Yahweh, the upright are in the confidence of God. Yahweh curses the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. To scorners, he is scornful. However, to the humble, he shows his favor. The wise will inherit honor but the stubborn fools will only find disgrace.