The gathering around holiness (Ezek 20:41-20:42)

“‘As a pleasing odor,

I will accept you.

When I bring you out

From the people,

I will gather you

Out of the countries

Where you have been

Scattered.

I will manifest

My holiness

Among you

In the sight

Of the nations.

You shall know

That I am Yahweh,

When I bring you

Into the land of Israel,

The country

That I swore

To give

To your ancestors.”

Yahweh was going to accept the Israelites as a pleasing odor, when he was going to gather his people from the various scattered nations and countries. Yahweh was going to manifest his holiness among them in the sight of the other nations. They would all know that it was Yahweh that brought them into the land of Israel. This is the same country that he had sworn to give to their ancestors.

 

Yahweh’s reaction (Ezek 20:8-20:10)

“Then I thought

That I would pour out

My wrath

Upon them.

I would spend

My anger

Against them

In the midst

Of the land

Of Egypt.

But I acted

For the sake

Of my name.

It should not be

Profaned

In the sight

Of the nations

Among whom

They lived,

In whose sight

I have made

Myself known

To them.

I will bring them

Out of the land

Of Egypt.

So I led them

Out of the land

Of Egypt.

I brought them

Into the wilderness.”

Yahweh wanted to pour out his wrath on them right there and then in the land of Egypt, because he was angry with them. However, he acted for the sake of his name. He did not want to profane his name in the sight of other nations among whom the Israelites had lived. He did not want to embarrass his name among those who had heard that Yahweh was bringing them out of the land of Egypt. So he ended up leading them out of the land of Egypt into the wilderness.

The broken jug (Jer 19:10-19:11)

“Then you shall break the jug

In the sight

Of those who went with you.

You shall say to them.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

So will I break this people

As well as this city.

Just as one breaks a potter’s vessel,

So that it can never be mended.”

Now we are back to the earthen jug and the people with him. Yahweh told Jeremiah that he was to break the jar in the sight of others. Then he was to say that Yahweh was going to break his people as well as this city in the same way. They were going to be broken, so that they could never be put back together, just like this potter’s earthen jug.

The ransom of Israel (Isa 43:3-4:7)

“I give Egypt as your ransom.

I give Ethiopia in exchange for you.

I give Seba in exchange for you.

Because you are precious in my sight,

I honored you.

I love you.

I give people in return for you.

I give nations in exchange for your life.

Do not fear!

I am with you!

I will bring your offspring from the east.

I will gather you from the west.

I will say to the north.

‘Give them up!’

I will say to the south.

‘Do not withhold!’

Bring my sons from far away!

Bring my daughters from the end of the earth!

Bring everyone who is called by my name,

Whom I created for my glory,

Whom I formed,

Whom I made.”

Yahweh God, using the first person singular in Second Isaiah, wants to ransom the Israelites, whether they were in Egypt, Ethiopia, or Arabia Seba. The Israelites were precious in his sight. He loved and honored them. He would give other people up to save their lives. The Israelite offspring shall be from the east, the west, the north, and the south. He would gather his sons and daughters from the ends of the earth. He would have everyone who called on his name and gave him glory ransomed, since he had formed and made them.

Yahweh is in charge (Isa 42:6-42:9)

“‘I am Yahweh!

I have called you in righteousness!

I have taken you by the hand!

I have kept you!

I have designed you

As a covenant to the people.

I have designed you

As a light to the nations.

You are to open the eyes

That are blind.

You are to bring out the prisoners

From the dungeons.

You are to bring out from the prisons

Those who sit in darkness.

I am Yahweh!

That is my name!

My glory!

I give to no other!

I do not give my praise to idols!

See!

The former things have come to pass.

I now declare the new things.

Before they spring forth

I will tell you of them.’”

In this section of Second Isaiah, Yahweh apparently speaks directly to the people of Israel, rather than to an individual person. He is Yahweh. He has called his people in righteousness. He took them into his hand. He kept them with a covenant. They were to be the light to the nations in order to give sight to the blind as well as bring out prisoners from dungeons and dark prisons. He is Yahweh. That is his name and his glory. He has no other names, nor does he praise any other idols. He has told you about the past, but he will tell you about things to come before they happen.

A reproach against conceit (Isa 5:21-5:21)

“Woe to you

Who are wise

In your own eyes!

Woe to you

Who are shrewd

In your own sight!”

Isaiah is simple and clear. Woe to you if you think you are wise and shrewd. You believe this with your own eyes and sight in your own conceited wisdom and shrewdness.

Humility (Sir 3:17-3:25)

“My child!

Perform your tasks with humility!

Then you will be loved

By those whom God accepts.

The greater you are,

The more you must humble yourself.

Thus you will find favor

In the sight of the Lord.

Great is the might of the Lord.

However he is glorified

By the humble.

Seek not what is too difficult for you.

Do not investigate what is beyond your power.

Reflect upon what has been commanded.

What is hidden is not your concern.

Do not meddle in matters that are beyond you.

More than you can understand has been shown you.

Their concern has led many astray.

Wrong opinion has impaired their judgment.

Without eyes,

There is no light.

Without knowledge,

There is no wisdom.”

Once again, assuming the role of the parent, Sirach teaches the importance of humility. Be humble in whatever you do. The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself in order to find favor with the Lord. The Lord is glorified by the humble. Do not seek what is too difficult for you. Do not investigate things beyond your power. Reflect on what you have been asked to do. Do not worry about hidden things. Do not meddle in things that are beyond you. You already have many more things in your life that you cannot understand. Worrying about these things has led many astray. A wrong opinion has led many to make wrong judgments. Be content with your lot in life. Do what you are told to do. Perhaps this is an attempt to warn against the Hellenization of Judaism. We have the final admonition, that there is no sight without eyes, while there is no knowledge without wisdom.

Loss of the light (Eccl 12:1-12:2)

“Remember also your creator

In the days of your youth,

Before the days of trouble came.

The years draw near

When you will say.

‘I have no pleasure in them.’

Before the sun is darkened,

Before the light is darkened,

Before the moon is darkened,

Before the stars are darkened,

The clouds will return

With the rain.”

After the happy youth, the days of trouble begin. You should remember your creator when your years draw near to an end. No longer will you have the same pleasure. The sun, the moon, and the stars will darken on you. The clouds will come back after the rain. This seems to imply that aging will bring the loss of sight or a growing blindness, what we might call cataracts.

The fragility of man (Ps 90:3-90:4)

“You turn us back to dust.

You say.

‘Turn back!

You mortals!

A thousand years in your sight

Are like yesterday when it is past.

A thousand years in your sight

Are like a watch in the night.”

God can turn humans back to dust with a simple word. 1,000 years in God’s sight is like yesterday. 1,000 years are like one night watch in the sight of God.

May Yahweh accept this meditation (Ps 19:14-19:14)

“Let the words of my mouth

Be acceptable in your sight!

Let the meditation of my heart

Be acceptable in your sight!

Yahweh!

My rock and my redeemer!”

David or the psalmist wants his words to be acceptable in the sight of Yahweh as he comes to the end of this psalm. He also wanted the mediation in his heart to be also acceptable to Yahweh, who is his rock and redeemer.