The Spirit of God (Wis 1:6-1:11)

“Wisdom is a kindly spirit.

Wisdom will not free blasphemers

From the guilt of their words. God is witness

Of their inmost feelings.

God is a true observer of their hearts.

He is a hearer of their tongues.

The Spirit of the Lord

Has filled the world.

What holds all things together

Knows what is said.

Therefore those who utter unrighteous things

Will not escape notice.

Justice,

When it punishes,

Will not pass them by.

Inquiry will be made

Into the counsels of the ungodly.

A report of their words

Will come to the Lord.

It will convict them of their lawless deeds.

A jealous ear hears all things.

The sound of grumbling does not go unheard.

Beware then of useless grumbling!

Keep your tongue from slander!

No secret word is without result.

A lying mouth destroys the soul.”

Wisdom (σοφία) is a kindly or philanthropic spirit (φιλάνθρωπον πνεῦμα). There is almost equivalence between wisdom and the Spirit. The blasphemers (βλάσφημον) will not escape the guilt of their words. God is a witness (μάρτυς ὁ Θεὸς) to their innermost feelings. He knows their heart (τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ ἐπίσκοπος ἀληθὴς). He hears their tongues (τῆς γλώσσης ἀκουστής). The Spirit of the Lord (πνεῦμα Κυρίου) has filled the world. Thus this creative spirit knows all things. Thus those who utter unrighteous things will not escape notice. A just punishment will not pass them by. An inquiry will be made and a report will be given to the Lord (Κΰριον). They will be convicted of their evil and lawless deeds. A jealous ear hears all things. Thus the Lord hears this useless grumbling. You should keep your tongue from slandering. Even secret words are known, so that a lying mouth destroys the soul (ψυχήν).

Oppression (Eccl 5:8-5:9)

“If you see in a province

The oppression of the poor

If you see

The violation of justice,

The violation of rights,

Do not be amazed at the matter.

The high official

Is watched by a higher.

There are yet higher ones

Over them.

But all things considered,

There is an advantage

To a land

To have a king

For a plowed field.”

In a strange sort of remark, Qoheleth says to watch out for oppression. However, he does not seem to ask for any kind of action. If someone is oppressed and there is injustice, just don’t be amazed. Someone is in charge. They have to report to someone else even higher up. It is good to have a bureaucracy. They will take care of things like that. After all, there is an advantage in having a king to rule over cultivated or plowed fields. You can avoid the minor skirmishes that take place.

The high priest Onias prays for the life of Heliodorus (2 Macc 3:31-3:34)

“Some of Heliodorus’ friends quickly begged Onias to call upon the Most High in order to grant life to one who was lying almost at his last breath. The high priest, fearing that the king might get the notion that some foul play had been perpetrated by the Jews with regard to Heliodorus, offered sacrifice for the man’s recovery. While the high priest was making an atonement sacrifice, the same young men appeared again to Heliodorus dressed in the same clothing. They stood and said.

‘Be very grateful to Onias the high priest,

Since for his sake

The Lord has granted you your life.

See that you,

Who have been scourged by heaven,

Report to all people

The majestic power of God.’

Having said this they vanished.”

Some of the friends of Heliodorus begged Onias to call upon God to grant him life as he was nearly on his last breath. The high priest Onias thought that this was a good idea. He did not want the king to think that the Jews had killed Heliodorus with foul play when he merely came to investigate some money problems. He then offered sacrifices for Heliodorus. Then the same 3 men who had appeared when they kicked and wiped Heliodorus to near death appeared again. This time they spoke, unlike last time when they simply acted. They told Heliodorus to be thankful that the high priest Onias had prayed for him. The Lord was going to save his life. In return, Heliodorus was to tell all people about the majestic power of God. When they were finished, they disappeared. Thus the 3 mysterious men reappear to save the life of Heliodorus.

The dire message from the north (1 Macc 5:14-5:20)

“While the letter was still being read, other messengers, with their garments torn, came from Galilee. They made a similar report. They said that the people of Ptolemais, Tyre, Sidon, and all Galilee of the gentiles had gathered together against them, ‘to annihilate us.’ When Judas and the people heard these messages, a great assembly was called to determine what they should do for their kindred who were in distress. They were being attacked by enemies. Then Judas said to his brother Simon.

‘Choose your men.

Go and rescue your kindred in Galilee.

Jonathan my brother and I will go to Gilead.’

But he left Joseph son of Zechariah, and Azariah, a leader of the people, with the rest of the forces, in Judea to guard it. He gave them this command.

‘Take charge of this people.

But do not engage in battle with the gentiles until we return.’

Then three thousand men were assigned to Simon to go to Galilee, and eight thousand to Judas for Gilead.”

Suddenly, there is a problem to the north and west. Ptolemais, Tyre, and Sidon were seacoast towns that had not been involved in wars with Israel previously. Galilee had mostly Samaritans who were Israelites. Thus it was a surprise that this group should be picking on Israelites, especially to annihilate them. Judas Maccabeus made a decision. His brother Simon would go to Galilee with 3,000 troops, while he and his brother Jonathan would go to Gilead with 8,000 troops. Joseph and Azariah would be in charge in Judea, but they would not fight in any battles.