Yahweh will help against enemies (Isa 41:11-41:13)

“Yes!

All who are incensed against you

Shall be put to shame.

They shall be disgraced.

Those who strive against you

Shall be as nothing.

They shall perish.

You shall seek

Those who contend with you,

But you shall not find them.

Those who war against you

Shall be as nothing at all.

I!

Yahweh your God!

Hold your right hand!

It is I who say to you.

‘Fear not!

I will help you!’”

Once again, Yahweh, using the first person singular in Second Isaiah proclaims that the Israelites should not be afraid since he was going to help them. Anybody against them will be put to shame. They will end up as nothing since their enemies will perish. Anybody who tries to start a war with the Israelites will be as nothing at all. If they try to find people against the Israelites, they will not find any because they will have been reduced to nothing. Yahweh will help them by holding their right hand so that they do not have to be afraid.

Ariel (Isa 29:1-29:4)

“Woe to you!

Ariel!

Ariel!

This is the city

Where David encamped!

Add year to year!

Let the festivals run their round!

Yet I will distress Ariel!

There shall be moaning!

There shall be lamentation!

Jerusalem shall be to me

Like an altar hearth.

Like David,

I will encamp against you.

I will besiege you with towers.

I will raise siege works against you.

Then deep from the earth,

You shall speak.

From low in the dust,

Your words shall come.

Your voice shall come from the ground

Like the voice of a ghost.

Your speech shall whisper

Out of the dust.”

Ariel is a symbolic name for Jerusalem and its altar. Yahweh, via Isaiah, warns Jerusalem about what is going to happen to it. Perhaps this is before the siege of Jerusalem in 701 BCE. Jerusalem was where King David had lived and where festivals continued on an annual basis. However, Yahweh was going to encamp against it and set up siege works against it. They would be able to speak only from below the earth and the dust. Their voices would be reduced to a whisper, like a ghost in the middle of this dust pile.

Elijah (Sir 48:1-48:3)

“Then Elijah arose.

He was a prophet,

Like a fire.

His word burned

Like a torch.

He brought a famine

Upon them.

By his zeal

He made them

Few in number.

By the word of the Lord

He shut up the heavens.

Three times also

He brought down fire.”

Sirach seems to be relying on the Elijah cycle of stories from 1 Kings, chapters 17-18. This 9th century BCE northern prophet, Elijah, from the east side of the Jordan River in the town of Tishbe, the Gilead, went to the king of Northern Israel, King Ahab (874-853 BCE). Elijah was like a fire as his words were like a flaming torch. He foretold the famine that reduced the number of people in Israel. He foretold this famine, not brought as Sirach said. Elijah was able to control the heavens with his prayers, so that he could bring an end to this drought. He also had a faceoff with the 450 Baal priests or Jezebel’s prophets when he confronted the practices of King Ahab and his wife. Elijah then had Yahweh send down fire on his wet wood. Although the original story did not mention how many times the fire came down, Sirach mentions that it was 3 times.

The difficulties of King Solomon (Sir 47:19-47:22)

“You brought in women

To lie at your side.

Through your body,

You were brought

Into subjection.

You stained your honor.

You defiled your family line.

You brought wrath

Upon your children.

They were grieved

At your folly.

Because the sovereignty

Was divided.

A rebel kingdom

Arose out of Ephraim.

But the Lord

Will never give up his mercy.

He will not cause

Any of his works to perish.

He will never blot out

The descendants of his chosen one.

He will not destroy

The family line

Of him who loved him.

So he gave a remnant to Jacob.

To David

He gave a root of his stock.”

Unlike the other famous holy men, Sirach points out some problems with King Solomon. He had a woman problem. As usual, Sirach blames them rather than Solomon. However, he did point out that Solomon brought in women to lie with him that reduced his strength and power. Solomon thus stained the family line with this dishonor. Thus his children suffered with the split in the Israelite kingdom. At the death of King Solomon, the rebels in Ephraim took over the northern part of the kingdom, so that only Judah was left. However, the Lord was merciful and never gave up, so that the family line was not destroyed. They just had less power. The remnant remained of Jacob and David and his family. The roots were still there, even if the tree was smaller.