‘They have Moses
And the prophets!
They should listen
λέγει δὲ Ἀβραάμ Ἔχουσι Μωϋσέα καὶ τοὺς προφήτας· ἀκουσάτωσαν αὐτῶν.
This parable story about the poor man Lazarus and an unnamed rich man is only found in Luke, not in the other gospels. Luke indicated that Jesus said that Abraham replied to this tormented rich man (λέγει δὲ Ἀβραάμ) that his brothers had Moses (Ἔχουσι Μωϋσέα) and the prophets (καὶ τοὺς προφήτας). Why wouldn’t they listen to them (ἀκουσάτωσαν αὐτῶν). Abraham had a sharp response to this rich man. They already had Moses and prophets. What more do they want? They, like him, were not listening. Do you listen to religious authorities?
At his words.
Answered them again.
How hard it is
For those who trust
The kingdom of God!’”
οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς λέγει αὐτοῖς Τέκνα, πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν·
This unique saying of Mark is really the repetition of what was said in the previous verse, a redundancy, to drive home a point. Mark indicated how difficult it would be for rich people to get into the kingdom of God. Mark said that the disciples were perplexed or amazed at his words (οἱ δὲ μαθηταὶ ἐθαμβοῦντο ἐπὶ τοῖς λόγοις αὐτοῦ.). However, Jesus responded or answered his disciples again (δὲ Ἰησοῦς πάλιν ἀποκριθεὶς), calling them children (λέγει αὐτοῖς Τέκνα,), not understanding what was being said. He indicated once again how hard it was for those who trusted in riches or wealth to enter the kingdom of God (πῶς δύσκολόν ἐστιν εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ Θεοῦ εἰσελθεῖν τοὺς πεποιθότας ἐπὶ χρήμασιν). Mark had Jesus repeat things because the disciples were not that sharp. Quite often wealth had been seen as a sign that God was pleased with that person.
“‘Do not fear!
You worm Jacob!
You insects of Israel!
I will help you!’
The Holy One of Israel!
‘Now I will make of you
A threshing sledge,
You shall thresh the mountains.
You shall crush them.
You shall make the hills
You shall winnow them.
The wind shall carry them away.
The tempest shall scatter them.
You shall rejoice in Yahweh!
You shall glory in the Holy One of Israel!’”
Once again, Yahweh assumes the first person singular in Second Isaiah. He seems a little derogatory at first calling the Israelites the worm Jacob and the insect Israel. However, it is clear that he is here to help. He was going to be the Redeemer and the Holy One of Israel, no questions asked. He was going to make the Israelites strong, new, and sharp. They would be a teeth threshing sledge to beat up the crop. Instead of crops, they would go out and crush the mountains and the hills until they become like useless chaff. In other words they were to winnow or separate the grain from the chaff. Then they were to let the wind and the storms carry this chaff away and scatter it. They were to rejoice and glory in Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel.
“Have you sinned?
Do so no more!
For your past sins!
Flee from sin
As from a snake!
If you approach sin,
It will bite you.
Its teeth are lion’s teeth.
They can destroy human lives.
All lawlessness is
Like a two-edged sword.
There is no healing
For the wounds it inflicts.”
Sirach uses his parental tone in reminding others about the sting of sin. If you have sinned, stop! Ask forgiveness! You should run away from sin like you would run away from a snake. Do not go near to sin or it will bite you like a snake. Sin has lion’s teeth that can destroy people. Breaking the law is like a sharp two edged sword because there is no healing the wounds that it inflicts. Stay away from sin or you will get hurt.
Be attentive to my wisdom!
Incline your ear to my understanding!
Thus you may hold on to prudence.
Thus your lips may guard knowledge.
The lips of a loose woman drip honey.
Her speech is smoother than oil.
But in the end
She is as bitter as wormwood.
She is as sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death.
Her steps follow the path to Sheol.
She does not keep straight on the path of life.
Her ways wander.
She does not know it.”
Once again, we have a parental warning, but this time it is about the loose or strange woman also mentioned in chapter 2. There is the usual admonition to pay attention and listen to his words of wisdom and understanding. He wanted his children to have prudence and knowledge. Then he went into a description of this loose or strange woman. Her lips were sweeter than honey and her speech smoother than oil. However she was bitter like wormwood, some kind of bitter plant. She also was a sharp two edged sword that would lead to death in Sheol. She did not keep to the straight and narrow path of life. She was a wanderer, but did not know it. There does not seem to be any sexual overtones, but a mere unflattering portrayal of this loose or strange woman.