The sinfulness at Jerusalem (Isa 3:9-3:11)

“The look on their faces

Bears witnesses against them.

They proclaim their sin

Like Sodom.

They do not hide it.

Woe to them!

They have brought evil

Upon themselves.

Tell the innocent

How fortunate they are.

They shall eat

The fruit of their labors.

Woe to the guilty!

How unfortunate they are.

What their hands have done

Shall be done to them.”

Now Isaiah makes a reference to Jerusalem as being a sinning town like Sodom, the famous sinning place in Genesis, chapters 18-19, which seems to be ingrained in Israelite life. They were bluntly proclaiming their sinfulness, not hiding it, since the look on their faces gave them away. They will experience woe because they have brought this evil upon themselves. On the other hand, the innocent are fortunate because they will enjoy the results of their labors. The guilty are unfortunate because what they did with their hands will be done to them. Clearly, there was a sense of retributive justice.

Family life (Sir 7:26-7:28)

“If you have a wife

Who pleases you,

Do not divorce her.

But do not trust yourself to one

Whom you detest.

With all your heart

Honor your father.

Do not forget

The birth pangs of your mother.

Remember that it was of your parents

You were born.

How can you repay

What they have given you?”

Sirach has some recommendations about family life. You should not divorce a pleasing wife, which makes sense. However, the same is not true about anyone whom you do not trust or whom you detest. This seems to indicate that a man could divorce a woman if he did not like her. On the other hand, you should honor your father, but not forget about your mother’s labor pains at your birth. Stating the obvious, you were born to your parents. He asked the question about what you owe to your parents. In a more absolute statement, he said that you can never repay them for all that they have done for you.

The reaction to the death of the first born (Wis 18:10-18:13)

“The discordant cry of their enemies

Echoed back.

Their piteous lament for their children

Was spread abroad.

The slave was punished

With the same penalty as the master.

The commoner suffered

The same loss as the king.

They suffered all together,

By the one form of death.

They had corpses too many to count.

The living were not sufficient

Even to bury them.

In one instant,

Their most valued children

Had been destroyed.

Even though they had disbelieved everything

Because of their magic arts,

Yet when their first-borns were destroyed,

They acknowledged your people

To be God’s child.”

After this deadly event, the Egyptians were upset. Here there seems to be sense of the horrific action here that took place that was not present in the original Exodus story. The cries of these parents echoed throughout the land. Their lament went throughout the world. Every first born child in Egypt had been killed. It did not matter whether they were slave or master, king or common person. They all suffered the same with their dead children. There were too many corpses to count and not enough people to bury the dead. These precious children had been killed. On the positive side, these disbelievers (ἀπιστοῦντες), who just had their children killed, acknowledged that the Israelites were God’s children or sons (Θεοῦ υἱὸν λαὸν εἶναι).

The human task (Eccl 3:9-3:11)

“What gain have the workers received

From their toil?

I have seen the business

That God has given to everyone

To be busy with.

He has made everything suitable

For its time.

Moreover,

He has put a sense of past and future

Into human minds.

Yet they cannot find out

What God has done

From the beginning to the end.”

God has given workers things to busy themselves with, but they do not know their gain or profit. Everything, however, is suitable for its time. Humans have a sense of past and future, not just the present. Despite this, they do not know what God has done from the beginning until now or what he will do in the future.

Adultery (Prov 30:20-30:20)

“This is the way of an adulterous woman.

She eats.

She wipes her mouth.

She says.

‘I have done no wrong.’”

This female adulterer eats and wipes her face, saying that she has not done anything wrong. This is the ancient belief that the female was somehow more responsible for adultery than the male. The old moral saying is that once you get accustomed to doing something, you no longer think that it is wrong. The first few times you might be worried, but then it becomes a habit with no sense of sin or evil involved.

Crooked minds (Prov 11:20-11:23)

“Crooked minds are an abomination to Yahweh.

But those of blameless ways are his delight.

Be assured!

The wicked will not go unpunished.

But those who are righteous will escape.

Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout

Is a beautiful woman

Without good sense.

The desire of the righteous

Ends only in good.

The expectation of the wicked

Ends in wrath.”

Yahweh does not like crooked minds. He delights in the blameless ones. You should not worry because the wicked will not go unpunished. The righteous, however, will escape punishment. A beautiful woman without any sense is like a gold ring in a pig’s nose. This simile is doubly stark because of the distaste of pigs and pork in the Middle East culture. The righteous will have their desires fulfilled, but the expectations of the wicked will end in disaster.

City life (Prov 11:10-11:14)

“When it goes well with the righteous,

The city rejoices.

When the wicked perish

There is jubilation.

By the blessing of the upright,

A city is exalted.

But the city is overthrown

By the mouth of the wicked.

Whoever belittles another

Lacks sense.

But an intelligent person remains silent.

A gossip goes about telling secrets.

But one who is trustworthy in spirit

Keeps a confidence.

Where there is no guidance,

A nation falls.

But in an abundance of counselors

There is safety.”

The city dwellers are happy with the righteous. They rejoice when all goes well with them. However, they are just as happy when the wicked perish. The city dwellers exalt at the blessings of the upright. However, the words of the wicked can overthrow a city. Anyone who belittles another lacks sense because the intelligent person keeps silent. You cannot trust gossips that go about telling secrets because they are not trustworthy. If there is no guidance, a city or country will fall. It is much better when there are many counselors, since they will keep the city or country safe.

Scoffers (Prov 9:7-9:12)

“Whoever corrects a scoffer wins abuse.

Whoever rebukes the wicked gets hurt.

A scoffer who is rebuked,

Will only hate you.

The wise man,

When rebuked,

Will love you.

Give instruction to the wise.

They will become wiser still.

Teach the righteous,

They will gain in learning.

The fear of Yahweh

Is the beginning of wisdom.

The knowledge of the Holy One is insight.

By me,

Your days will be multiplied.

By me,

Years will be added to your life.

If you are wise,

You are wise for yourself.

If you scoff,

You alone will bear it.”

If you mock or deride people as scoffers, there is no sense in rebuking you. You will only get hurt and abused because you are as if rebuking a wicked person. They will hate you. On the other hand, if you give instruction to the wise ones, they will become wiser still. If you teach the righteous, they will gain in learning. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Yahweh. The knowledge of the Holy One leads to insight. Wisdom will multiple your days and years. If you are wise, it will go well with you. If you are a scoffer or cynic, you will bear the whole burden alone.

Hope in Yahweh (Ps 130:7-130:8)

“O Israel!

Hope in Yahweh!

With Yahweh                                   

There is steadfast love.

With him

There is great power to redeem.

He will redeem Israel

From all its iniquities.”

This short psalm ends with a sense of hope. The psalmist called on Israel to have hope in Yahweh and his steadfast love. Yahweh has the power to redeem Israel from all its iniquities.