Read the scroll (Bar 1:14-1:14)

“You shall read aloud

This scroll

That we are sending you,

To make

Your confession

In the house

Of the Lord,

On the days

Of the festivals,

At the appointed seasons.”

They were to read out loud this book or scroll that Baruch was sending to the people in Jerusalem. Baruch seems to assume that there is some sort of customary life in Jerusalem. He wanted them to make a confession of their sins in the house of the Lord on the normal festival days. The problem, of course, is that the temple has been destroyed. Who was going to lead these normal appointed festivals? Apparently, somebody was there.

The role of the king of Assyria (Isa 10:5-10:7)

“O Assyria!

The rod of my anger!

The club in their hands

Is my fury!

Against a godless nation,

I send him.

Against the people of my wrath,

I command him

To take spoil.

I command him

To seize plunder.

I command him

To tread them down

Like the mire of the streets.

This is not what he intends.

He did not have this in mind.

But in his heart,

He wanted to destroy.

He wanted to cut off

Not a few nations.”

It seems like Yahweh is sending the king of Assyria as his rod and club to work out God’s plans. Thus, King Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 BCE) of Assyria wanted to deport people, so that they would not lead a revolt against him. This Assyrian king was to be the stick of Yahweh’s anger to make the northern Israelites like sludge in the streets. He would take the plunder and the spoils of the people of Yahweh, the northern Israelites. The Assyrian king controlled a great part of the Middle East from the Tigris River, including Babylon, during this time of Isaiah. However, the Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser III did not intend to do the will of Yahweh. He really wanted to destroy and cut up many nations with his deportation and plunder policies.

The wonders of weather (Sir 43:13-43:17)

“By the Lord’s command,

He sends the driving snow.

He speeds the lightning

Of his judgment.

Therefore the storehouses

Are opened.

The clouds fly out

Like birds.

In his majesty,

He gives the clouds

Their strength.

The hailstones

Are broken in pieces.

The voice of his thunder

Rebukes the earth.

When he appears,

The mountains shake.

At his will,

The south wind blows.”

Sirach, like many of the ancient people, including the Israelites, believed that God completely controlled the weather. In fact, we still have some farming communities that pray to God for rain. Today’s TV weather forecast would be that God is sending us rain and a cool temperature, with nothing about a cold front. God’s command sent snow and lightning. The storehouses in the clouds would be opened up by the Lord to let rain, snow, and hailstones fall to earth like birds tumbling out of the sky. Thus precipitation from the sky was like the thunderous voice of God that shock up the mountains. The Lord was also responsible for the south mild winds also.

The letter to the Spartans about the past (1 Macc 12:5-12:8)

“This is a copy of the letter that Jonathan wrote to the Spartans.

‘The high priest Jonathan,

The senate of the nation,

The priests,

And the rest of the Jewish people,

To their brothers, the Spartans,

Greetings!

Already in time past

A letter was sent

To the high priest Onias from Arius,

He was king among you,

Stating that you are our brothers,

As the appended copy shows.

Onias welcomed the envoy with honor.

He received the letter

That contained a clear declaration of alliance and friendship.’”

This letter came from Jonathan, the Jewish senate of what later was known as the Sanhedrin, the priests, and all the Jewish people. He was sending it to his brothers in Sparta, which was a Greek city state. This is strange since he was so opposed to any Hellenism coming into Jewish society. Here he calls them brothers. The high priest Onias was high priest from 320-290 BCE, over 100 years before the writing to this letter. Arius was king of Sparta from 309-265 BCE. Onias accepted the Spartan envoy with honor and a clear declaration of alliance and friendship.

General Holofernes commends Judith (Jdt 11:20-11:23)

“Her words pleased General Holofernes and all his servants. They marveled at her wisdom.

‘No other woman from one end of the earth to the other,

Looks so beautiful,

Or speaks so wisely.’

General Holofernes said to her.

‘God has done well

To send you ahead of the people,

To strengthen our hands,

To bring destruction upon those who have despised my lord.

You are not only beautiful in appearance,

But you are wise in speech.

If you do as you have said,

Your God shall be my God!

You shall live in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar!.

You will be renowned throughout the whole world!’”

The general and his staff were very pleased by her words. They said that she was both beautiful and wise. General Holofernes told her that God was right for sending her to him in order to strengthen his hands and bring destruction to those who had despised him. Once again, he said that she was both beautiful and wise. If things go as planned, her God would be his God. She would live in the king’s palace and be known throughout the whole world. His offer is enticing.