“They will be called
Oaks of righteousness.
They will be called
The planting of Yahweh,
To display his glory.
They shall build up the ancient ruins.
They shall raise up the former devastations.
They shall repair the ruined cities.
They shall repair the devastations
Of many generations.”
The goal of this mission was to rebuild Israel. Yahweh would plant trees of righteousness and justice to display his glory. They were to rebuild these ancient ruins. They would repair the many ruined cities. They would repair the former devastations that had been there for many generations.
“The memory of King Josiah is
Like a blending of incense.
This was prepared
By the skilful art of the perfumer.
His memory is
As sweet as honey
To every mouth.
His memory is
At a banquet of wine.
He did what was right
By reforming the people.
He removed the wicked abominations.
He kept his heart
On the Lord.
In lawless times,
Now Sirach takes on the memory of the long reign of Judah King Josiah (640-609 BCE) as found in 2 Kings, chapters 22-23, and 2 Chronicles, chapters 34-35. He was a substantial king for over 30 years, so his impact was great. His memory was like the beautiful aroma of incense and sweeter than honey. His memory was like music at a wine banquet because he did what was right. He refurnished the Jerusalem Temple by collecting money to repair it. During this remodeling, they discovered the book of the law, probably Deuteronomy. After reading this book, he called for a religious reform in Judah, apparently reinstating monotheism. He then set out to destroy all the other religious shrines or wicked abominations that were not in Jerusalem. He kept his heart fixed on the Lord. He changed the lawless times into the times of godliness. What a great king!
“One who is often reproved,
Yet remains stubborn,
Will suddenly be broken beyond healing.
When the righteous are in authority,
The people rejoice.
But when the wicked rule,
The people groan.
A child who loves wisdom
Makes a parent glad.
But to keep company with prostitutes
Is to squander one’s substance.
A king gives stability to the land.
But one who makes heavy exactions
Ruins the land.”
If someone corrects you and you remain stubborn, you will be broken beyond repair. When the righteous are in control, the people are happy. When the wicked are in charge, the people groan. If a child loves wisdom, their parents are happy. If you keep company with prostitutes, you are squandering your life substances. When a king rules with justice, the land is stable. However, if a king tries to exact too much from the people, the land will be ruined.
“A scoundrel and a villain
Go about with crooked speech.
They wink their eyes.
They shuffle their feet.
They point with their fingers.
They have a perverted mind.
They devise evil.
They continually sow discord.
Therefore calamity will descend suddenly.
In a moment they will be damaged beyond repair.”
Now we move on to a different type of person, the scoundrel or an old fashioned villain. These are some kind of shady disreputable characters. They have a kind of crooked speech. They wink their eyes. They shuffle their feet. They point with their fingers. Watch out for these people! They have a perverted mind and are always devising evil. We might call them con men. They are always getting people upset. However, they will suddenly have something terrible happen to them. In a moment, they will be damaged beyond repair. It is hard to say what will happen to them.
“Above the Horse Gate the priests made repairs, each one opposite his own house. After them Zadok son of Immer made repairs opposite his own house. After him Shemaiah son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the East Gate, made repairs. After him Hananiah son of Shelemiah and Hanun sixth son of Zalaph repaired another section. After him Meshullam son of Berechiah made repairs opposite his living quarters. After him Malchijah, one of the goldsmiths, made repairs as far as the house of the temple servants and of the merchants, opposite the Muster Gate. They went on to the upper room of corner. Between the upper room of the corner and the Sheep Gate, the goldsmiths and the merchants made repairs.”
They turned to the east wall, east of the Temple and the Palace of King Solomon. On that side was the East Gate and the Horse Gate. The priests continued to make repairs beside their own houses so that they must have lived near the wall. Shemaiah was the keeper of the East Gate, so he made the repairs there. The goldsmiths and the Temple servants also repaired this east wall. Finally the merchants and goldsmiths finished up the east wall as they came to the corner upper room. They finished with the Sheep Gate that had started all this construction that began with the high priest Eliashib.
“After him the priests, the men of the surrounding area, made repairs. After them Benjamin and Hasshub made repairs opposite their house. After them Azariah son of Maaseiah, son of Ananiah, made repairs beside his own house. After him Binnui son of Henadad repaired another section, from the house of Azariah to the Angle and to the corner. Palal son of Uzai repaired opposite the Angle and the tower projecting from the upper house of the king at the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah son of Parosh and the temple servants living on Ophel made repairs up to a point opposite the Water Gate on the east and the projecting tower. After him the Tekoites repaired another section opposite the great projecting tower as far as the wall of Ophel.”
The wall continued east to the temple. The Ophel was on the east hill of Jerusalem, the higher ground south of the temple. The unnamed priests from the surrounding area helped from the high priest’s house east. Then a number of people began to repair the wall near their own houses. That seemed simple enough. Even those living near the Ophel repaired the area around the Water Gate. Apparently these were the Temple servants who lived near the Temple and the Ophel. Finally the people of Tekoa were helpful also as earlier in this chapter.
“After him, Baruch son of Zabbai repaired another section from the Angle to the door of the house of the high priest Eliashib. After him Meremoth son of Uriah, son of Hakkoz, repaired another section from the door of the house of Eliashib to the end of the house of Eliashib.”
This is the old wall that started at the west Angle Gate and went due east. A vocal point here was the house of the high priest Eliashib. It must have been an impressive house since one group built up to it while another group repaired right around his house. He also was the one who repaired the Sheep Gate earlier in this chapter. There are other people with the name of Baruch, but this is the only biblical reference to this Baruch. Meremoth also came up earlier in this chapter as he repaired the Fish Gate. He also was a key player in Ezra, chapter 8. Thus we have a connection between the 2 books.