Secret charity (Mt 6:3-6:4)

“But when you give alms,

Do not let your left hand

Know

What your right hand

Is doing.

Thus,

Your alms

May be done

In secret.

Your Father,

Who sees in secret,

Will reward you.”

 

σοῦ δὲ ποιοῦντος ἐλεημοσύνην μὴ γνώτω ἡ ἀριστερά σου τί ποιεῖ ἡ δεξιά σου,

ὅπως ᾖ σου ἡ ἐλεημοσύνη ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ· καὶ ὁ Πατήρ σου ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ ἀποδώσει σοι.

 

Jesus, via Matthew, continued with the idea of secretly giving alms or charity.  When you performed charitable acts or almsgiving (σοῦ δὲ ποιοῦντος ἐλεημοσύνην), it should be so secret, that your left hand would not know (μὴ γνώτω ἡ ἀριστερά σου) what your right hand was doing (τί ποιεῖ ἡ δεξιά σου).  That seems a little difficult.  Thus, almsgiving in secret (ὅπως ᾖ σου ἡ ἐλεημοσύνη ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ) would be rewarded by your heavenly Father (ὁ Πατήρ σου… ἀποδώσει σοι) who sees what is hidden in secret (ὁ βλέπων ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ).  Charitable giving is a good thing, best done in secret.  Your reward will be in heaven.

Do not worry (Dan 12:9-12:12)

“He said.

‘Go your way!

Daniel!

The words are

To remain secret.

They are to be sealed

Until the time of the end.

Many shall be

Purified,

Cleansed,

Refined.

But the wicked

Shall continue

To do wickedly.

None of the wicked

Shall understand.

But those who are wise

Shall understand.’”

The man in the linen clothes told Daniel not to worry.  Daniel was to go on his way.  These words were secret.  Thus, they would be sealed up until the end times.  Many had to be purified, cleansed and refined until then.  The wicked would continue to do wicked things, since they have no understanding.  However, the wise ones understand what is going on.  This is a kind of back handed slap at Daniel, since he claimed he did not understand what the angel had been telling him.

Baruch reads the scroll to the royal officials (Jer 36:14-36:16)

“Then all the officials

Sent Jehudi,

The son of Nethaniah,

The son of Shelemiah,

The son of Cushi,

To say to Baruch.

‘Bring the scroll

That you read

In the hearing

Of the people.

Come!’

So Baruch,

The son of Neriah,

Took the scroll

In his hand.

He came to them.

They said to him.

‘Sit down!

Read it to us!’

So Baruch read it to them.

When they heard

All the words,

They turned to one another

In alarm.

They said to Baruch.

‘We certainly must report

All these words

To the king.’”

These royal officials sent a man named Jehudi to get Baruch. Jehudi has three generations of ancestors listed, instead of the usual one or two. Jehudi may mean Jew. Perhaps his great grandfather was an Ethiopian or Cushite, so that his family may have converted to Judaism, giving him this name. Anyway, this man was sent to get Baruch to come before the royal officials with his scroll so that they could hear the exact words of this scroll for themselves. When Baruch came with his scroll, they asked him to sit down like a distinguished teacher. He then read the words of the scroll that he had written under the dictation of Jeremiah. These officials seemed alarmed. They told Baruch that they were going to report the words from the scroll to the king directly. There was nothing secret about this, since Baruch had publically proclaimed these words a little earlier.

The Creator Yahweh (Isa 45:18-45:19)

“Thus says Yahweh.

He created the heavens!

He is God!

He formed the earth!

He made it!

He established it!

He did not create it as a chaos!

He formed it to be inhabited!

‘I am Yahweh!

There is no other!

I did not speak in secret.

I did not speak in a land of darkness.

I did not say to the offspring of Jacob.

‘Seek me in chaos.’

I Yahweh speak the truth,

I declare what is right.’”

Second Isaiah has Yahweh speak about his creative actions. However, before he utters his words, this author explains clearly who Yahweh is. He is God, who created the heavens and the earth. He created it out of the primal chaos so that people could inhabit it. Then Yahweh proclaimed that there is no person, god, or being like him. He did not speak in secret or darkness to the offspring of Jacob. He spoke only the truth and what is right, not chaos.

Fear God (Eccl 12:13-12:14)

“This is the end of the matter.

All has been heard.

Fear God!

Keep his commandments!

That is the whole duty of everyone.

God will bring every deed into judgment,

Including every secret thing,

Whether good or evil.”

The final message is a call to fear God. The deed is done. This is the end. Everything has been heard. Fear God! Obey his commandments! That is the whole purpose of life, the duty of everyone. God will judge everything, even secret things. He will decide whether it was good or evil. So ends the message of Qoheleth and this epilogue writer.

The foolish woman (Prov 9:13-9:18)

“The foolish woman is loud.

She is ignorant.

She knows nothing.

She sits at the door of her house.

She takes a seat at the high places of the town.

She calls to those who pass by.

They go straight on their way.

‘You who are simple,

Turn in here!’

To those without sense,

She says.

‘Stolen water is sweet.

Bread eaten in secret is pleasant.’

But they do not know that the dead are there.

Her guests are in the depths of Sheol.”

Now we are back to the foolish woman. She is the loud, ignorant, and stupid woman who sits at her door or at the high places in town. She tries to get those passing by her to turn into her house. However, they go straight past her. Her sales pitch is that stolen water is sweet and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. This is a subtle form of seduction. Thus this first introduction to the proverbs ends with this admonition to avoid the evil ladies, as if men had nothing to do with it, as if men were not interested in sex without this enticement.

My time in the womb (Ps 139:13-139:18)

“You formed my inward parts.

You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you!

I am fearfully made.

I am wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works!

I know them very well.

My frame was not hidden from you.

I was being made in secret.

I was intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.

In your book were written

All the days that was formed for me,

When none of them as yet existed.

How weighty to me are your thoughts!

O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

If I would count them,

They are more than the sand.

I come to the end.

I am still with you.”

In beautiful colorful language, David, the psalmist, describes his life in the womb, and how he came to be. He was knit together in the womb of his mother by Yahweh. Thus pregnancy is time of knitting. He was made in secret as Yahweh intricately wove him in the depths of the womb. Earth was like the womb. He praised Yahweh for the wonderful work he had become, even as an unformed substance in the womb of his mother. Yahweh had this book of life where he kept track of his future days here on earth. The thoughts of Yahweh are so vast and deep that they cannot be counted because they are like the sands of the seashore. Even now, that his life is now ending, he still was with Yahweh. This is a masterful section about the womb as a place where Yahweh was knitting and weaving the human before his birth. What a powerful argument against abortion.