The division of Ezekiel’s hair into thirds (Ezek 5:2-5:4)

“One third of the hair,

You shall burn

In the fire

Inside the city,

When the days

Of the siege

Are completed.

One third of the hair,

You shall take

To strike

With the sword

All around the city.

One third of the hair,

You shall scatter

To the wind.

I will unsheathe

The sword after them.

Then you shall take

From these

A small number.

You shall bind them

In the skirts

Of your robe.

From these,

Again,

You shall take some.

You shall throw them

Into the fire.

You shall burn them up.

From there a fire

Will come out

Against all the house of Israel.”

Ezekiel was to divide his shaved hair into thirds. He would burn one third of his shaved hair in a fire inside the city, when the siege days of Jerusalem were over. He was to strike with a sword all around the city another third of his shaved hair. This was kind of vague. The final third would be scattered to the wind, which is pretty simple. Yahweh was going to take a sword after them. The left over hair fragments were to be bound into the skirts of their robes. Finally, anything still not used up would be thrown into a burning fire. This fire indicated how fire would come against all the house of Israel. There was a symbolic purpose to the dividing of Ezekiel’s hair.

These false gods and robbers (Bar 6:57-6:58)

“Gods made of wood,

Overlaid

With silver

Or gold,

Are unable

To save themselves

From thieves

Or robbers.

Anyone,

Who can,

Will strip them

Of their gold

Or silver.

They will strip them

Of the robes

They wear.

They will go off

With this booty.

These gods

Will not be able

To help themselves.”

This author says that these wooden gods, overlaid with silver or gold, are unable to save themselves from thieves or robbers. Anyone can strip away their gold or silver. Anyone can take the robes that these gods wear. These robbers can vandalize and take things from these gods, because they are not able to help themselves.

The holy vestments of Aaron (Sir 45:7-45:9)

“The Lord blessed Aaron with stateliness.

He put a glorious robe on him.

He clothed him in perfect splendor.

He strengthened him

With the symbols of authority.

Aaron had linen undergarments.

He had a long robe.

He had the ephod.

The Lord encircled him with pomegranates.

There were many golden bells all around.

This sent forth a sound as he walked.

Their ringing could be heard in the temple.

This was a reminder to his people.”

Next Sirach explains the holy vestments of Aaron. The problem, of course, is that Aaron never made it to the Promise Land to wear any of these vestments, since he died in the desert or wilderness, centuries before the Jerusalem Temple was built. These were the vestments of the Levitical priests, not Aaron, as described in Exodus, chapter 28. Aaron was to be stately and splendid wearing these robes of authority. He was to wear linen undergarments, a long robe, and the ephod. According to Exodus, the long robe was blue with pomegranates all around it. The bells were to remind people that he was coming into the Temple that did not yet exist. The ephod was an old cultural vestment, an embroidered garment, believed to be like an apron with shoulder straps, worn by Levitical priests in ancient Israel.

The great fraternal life (Ps 133:1-133:3)

A song of ascents.

“How very good it is!

How pleasant it is!

Kindred brothers live together in unity!

It is like the precious oil upon the head.

It runs down upon the beard.

It runs down on the beard of Aaron.

It runs down over the collar of his robes.

It is like the dew of Hermon.

It falls on the mountains of Zion.

For there Yahweh has commanded his blessing,

Life forevermore.”

Psalm 133 is another very short psalm in this series of pilgrimage songs on the ascent to Jerusalem. This wisdom song emphasizes the value of brothers living together in unity. This was like the holy oil that one puts on one’s head. As in the ceremony for the consecration of the Levitical priests, it runs down as on the beard of Aaron and over the collar of his robes. This good fraternal life is like the dew from the mountains of Hermon in Syria. Here the dew falls on Mount Zion. From Mount Zion, Yahweh gives his blessings of life forever. Thus this very short psalm concludes with everlasting life.

The three friends of Job (Job 2:11-2:13)

“When Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home. Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite met together. They wanted to go to console and comfort him. When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. They raised their voices and wept aloud. They tore their robes. They sprinkled dust in the air upon their heads. They sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights. No one spoke a word to him. They saw that his suffering was very great.”

There were 3 friends of Job who heard about the trouble of Job. They decided to come together and visit Job to console and comfort him. As they approached from a distance, they did not recognize him. They went into the normal mourning attitude. They wept, tore their robes, and sprinkled dust on their heads. As they saw that Job was suffering, they did not say anything for 7 days and nights. Their consoling and comforting was a mere presence. Who then are these people? They are sometimes referred to as the 3 Wise Men as they come from nearby northwest Arabia. They dominate this book. Eliphaz the Temanite was main comforter. Thus Job’s friend Eliphaz was a Temanite, perhaps named for an ancestor called Eliphaz. Teman was the name of an Edomite clan in the Genesis, chapter 36, the son of Eliphaz, Esau’s eldest son.  The Temanite tribe was famous for their wisdom. The exact location of Teman remains unknown, but there is a possibility that it was in present day Jordan or north Yemen. Bildad the Shuhite was the 2nd of Job’s three friends. He might have been a descendant of Shuah, the son of Abraham and Keturah in Genesis, chapter 25.  He seems to be from a desert area of Arabia.  The 3rd of Job’s 3 friends was Zophar who came from the city of Naamah, in Canaan. These 3 men represent 3 views of suffering. In one sense, they represent the various Israelite views of man’s relationship to Yahweh. 1) The sufferer has knowing committed a sin. 2) Someone in his family has committed a sin. 3) He was not aware of his sin. These explanations go one step further to say that God’s actions are inscrutable. We do not know how God’s policy of retribution works.