The fall of Egypt and her allies (Ezek 30:6-30:6)

“Thus says Yahweh!

‘Those who support Egypt

Shall fall.

Its proud might

Shall come down.

From Migdol

To Syene.

They shall fall

Within it

By the sword.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Repeating what was said in the previous chapter, Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that those supporting Egypt would also fall. The pride of Egypt would be abolished from the northern town of Migdol to the southern town of Syene, near the Ethiopian border. All would die by the sword.

The bad proverb (Ezek 18:1-18:4)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘What do you mean

By repeating

This proverb

Concerning

The land of Israel?

‘The parents have eaten

Sour grapes.

The children’s teeth

Are set on edge.’

As I live,

Says Yahweh God!

‘This proverb

Shall no more

Be used by you

In Israel.

Know

That all lives are mine!

The life of the parent

Is mine.

The life of the child

Is mine.

It is only the person

Who sins

That shall die.’”

Yahweh was talking about personal responsibility rather than suffering for the sins of one’s parents. This proverb about parents eating sour grapes, while the effect would be on their children’s teeth is also found in Jeremiah, chapter 29. Here Yahweh asked them why they were repeating this proverb, because he wanted them to stop using this proverb in Israel. Yahweh, via Ezekiel, said that all lives, both the parents and their children, belong to him. The person who sins will die. No one else will die. There is no collective guilt passed on from father to son.

The coming battles in Israel (Ezek 7:14-7:15)

“They have blown

The horn.

They have made

Everything ready.

But no one goes

To battle.

My wrath is

Upon all their multitude.

The sword is

Outside.

Pestilence is within.

Famine is within.

Those in the field

Die by the sword.

Those in the city

Have famine

With pestilence

Devour them.”

This picks up on a theme of the last chapter about how people die, repeating the three ways to die. The Israelites blew the horn to get ready for the battle, but no one showed up. Thus Yahweh’s wrath was on everybody. Those outside the city in the fields would die by the sword. However, those in the city would die from a pestilence or a famine that would devour them.

The connection of the four wheels to the living creatures (Ezek 1:19-1:21)

“When the living creatures

Moved,

The wheels

Moved beside them.

When the living creatures

Rose from the earth,

The wheels rose.

Wherever the Spirit

Would go,

They went.

The wheels

Rose along

With them.

The Spirit

Of the living creatures

Was in the wheels.

When they moved,

The others moved.

When they rose

From the earth,

The wheels rose

Along with them.

The Spirit

Of the living creatures

Was in the wheels.”

Ezekiel said that when the living creatures moved, the wheels moved with them. When the living creatures rose from the earth, the wheels also rose. Wherever the Spirit would go, the living creatures went. The wheels went with them. The Spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. Thus when they moved, the others moved. Then repeating what was in the earlier verse, he said that when the living creatures rose from the earth, so did the wheels. Then repeating again, he said that the Spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels. Thus there was a clear connection between the four living creatures and these wheels. I am not sure where this is going.

The second message to King Hezekiah (Isa 37:9-37:13)

“When King Sennacherib heard it,

He sent messengers

To King Hezekiah.

‘Thus shall you speak

To King Hezekiah of Judah.

Do not let your God,

On whom you rely,

Deceive you

By promising

That Jerusalem will not be given

Into the hand of the king of Assyria.

See!

You have heard

What the kings of Assyria

Have done to all lands,

Destroying them utterly.

Shall you be delivered?

Have the gods of the other nations delivered them?

My predecessors destroyed these nations,

Gozan,

Haran,

Rezeph,

Also the people of Eden

Who were in Telassar.

Where is the king of Hamath?

Where is the king of Arpad?

Where is the king of the city of Sepharvaim?

Where is the king of Hena?

Where is the king of Ivvah?’”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 19, almost repeating the speech of Rabshakeh in the preceding chapter. These messengers of King Sennacherib of Assyria were to present almost the same message. Do not rely on your God. See what has happened to those places that relied on their gods, since the various kings of Assyria have destroyed them. How have their gods defended them? He repeated what had happened to the kings of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah. Most of these towns were in Babylon or Syria. He also added the cities of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and Eden.   Gozan was where the northern Israelites were sent in their captivity. Haran was in Mesopotamia, a town where Abraham had stopped. Rezeph was near Hamath. Eden in Telassar probably refers to some place in Mesopotamia, thus giving further credence to Mesopotamia as the original place of the Garden of Eden. At least at this time, nearly 2700 years ago, this place was called Eden, which might have also influenced the biblical writers.

Things to be ashamed of (Sir 41:17-41:23)

“Be ashamed of sexual immorality before your father or mother!

Be ashamed of a lie before a prince or a ruler!

Be ashamed of a crime before a judge or a magistrate!

Be ashamed of a breach of the law before the congregation!

Be ashamed of a breach of the law before the people!

Be ashamed of unjust dealing before your partner!

Be ashamed of unjust dealing before or your friend!

Be ashamed of theft in the place where you live!

Be ashamed of breaking an oath before the truth of God!

Be ashamed of breaking an agreement before the truth of God!

Be ashamed of leaning on your elbow at meals!

Be ashamed of surliness in receiving!

Be ashamed of surliness in giving!

Be ashamed of silence before those who greet you!

Be ashamed of looking at a prostitute!

Be ashamed of rejecting the appeal of a relative!

Be ashamed of taking away someone’s portion!

Be ashamed of taking away someone’s gift!

Be ashamed of gazing at another man’s wife!

Be ashamed of meddling with his maidservant!

Do not approach her bed!

Be ashamed of abusive words before friends!

Do not be insulting after making a gift!

Be ashamed of repeating what you hear!

Be ashamed of revealing secrets!

Then you will show proper shame.

Then you will find favor with everyone.”

Sirach indicates a long list of things that you should really be ashamed of. They include sexual immorality, lying, crimes, law breaking, unjust dealings, theft, and breaking oaths before your parents, rulers, judges, congregations, friends, roommates, and God. Besides these actions, you should also be ashamed of bad manners at meals, surliness when giving and receiving gifts, being silent when greeted, looking at prostitutes, refusing your relatives, taking someone’s gift, gazing an someone’s wife, meddling with the female servants, abusive words among friends, insulting other’s gifts, repeating what you hear, and betraying secrets. These are the proper things to be ashamed of so that everyone will like you.

Foolish chatter (Sir 19:6-19:12)

“One who hates gossip

Has less evil.

Never repeat a conversation.

You will lose nothing at all.

With a friend,

With a foe,

Do not report it.

Unless it would be a sin for you,

Do not reveal it.

Someone may have heard you.

Someone may have watched you.

In time,

They will hate you.

Have you heard something?

Let it die with you!

Be brave!

It will not make you burst.

Having heard something,

The fool suffers birth pangs

Like a woman in labor with a child.

Like an arrow stuck in a person’s thigh,

So is gossip inside a fool.”

Gossip or idle chatter appears to be an evil. Sirach reminds you that you should not repeat a conversation with another person, whether it was your friend or your foe. The only reason for repeating a conversation would be if it was a sin not to do so. You should not reveal your conversations since somebody may have heard or seen you doing it. This then can turn into hatred. If you have heard something, just let it die. A fool, on the other hand, hears something and immediately wants to let everyone know about it. This foolish gossip person is like a woman in labor trying to deliver her baby. This fool is like someone who has an arrow stuck in his leg. He just can’t wait to get it out.