“Outsiders conspired against Aaron.
They envied him in the wilderness.
There was Dathan with his followers.
There was Abiram with his followers.
There was the company of Korah.
They were filled with wrath and anger.
The Lord saw it.
He was not pleased.
In the heat of his anger
They were destroyed.
He performed wonders against them.
He consumed them in a flaming fire.
He added glory to Aaron.
He gave him a heritage.
He allotted to him
The best of the first fruits.
He prepared bread of first fruits
They eat the sacrifices of the Lord.
He gave it to him
And his descendants.
But in the land of the people
He has no inheritance.
He has no portion
Among the people.
The Lord himself
Is his portion
The Lord himself
Is his inheritance.”
In this section Sirach is relying on Numbers, chapter 16, about a revolt of some Levi tribe members, particularly Korah, along with Dathan and Abiram from the tribe of Reuben. It was not clear why Sirach called them outsiders since there were about 250 of those Israelites in the desert who actually revolted against Moses and Aaron. This uprising was put down, when Moses called for an incense face-off. Then Yahweh made the ground catch fire and split up so that this fire swallowed up these trouble makers. Aaron was then given more glory. This is why he and his descendants receive the best of the first fruits of the harvest. However, the Levites were not given any territory in the new Promise Land like the other tribes. Their portion was the Lord himself. That was their inheritance. Once again, this was an attempt to explain the situation of the later Levitical priests.
“Know well the condition of your flocks.
Give attention to your herds.
Riches do not last forever.
A crown does not endure for all generations.
When the grass is gone,
The new growth appears.
The herbage of the mountains is gathered.
The lambs will provide your clothing.
The goats provide the price of a field.
There will be enough goats’ milk for your food.
This is the food of your household.
This will nourish your servant-girls.”
You have to take good care of your farm animals. You should know the condition of your flock and your herds. Wealth, like the crown of a king, does not last forever. When the grass is gone, a new growth will appear. The vegetables or herbage of the mountains will be gathered. The lamb’s wool will be made into clothing. The goat’s milk will provide you with food. There will be enough food for your household and your servants. This is a warning to the rich not to take their situation too lightly since things could change.
“The enemy has pursued me.
He has crushed my life to the ground.
He has made me sit in darkness
Like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me.
My heart within me is appalled.”
The situation of David is described as being pursued by his enemies. He seems like he has been crushed to the ground. He sat in darkness as if he were dead. His spirit was fainting as mentioned above. His heart was appalled. He was in bad shape.
“May this be the reward of my accusers
This is the reward for those who speak evil against my life!
You act on my behalf for your name’s sake!
Because your steadfast love is good,
I am poor and needy.
My heart is pierced within me.
I am gone,
Like a shadow at evening.
I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees are weak through fasting.
My body has become gaunt.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers.
When they see me,
They shake their heads.”
Now David turns to Yahweh to be saved from these evil people who were talking about him. He wanted Yahweh to act on his behalf for his name’s sake. He relied on the steadfast love of Yahweh to deliver him from this terrible situation. David admitted that he was poor and needy. His heart was pierced. He had become like an evening shadow. He had been tossed away like a locust. His knees were weak from fasting. His body had become gaunt. He had become the object of scorn to his accusers. When they saw him, they would shake their heads in dismay.
“It is zeal for your house
That has consumed me.
The insults of those
Who insult you
Have fallen on me.
When I humbled my soul with fasting,
They insulted me for doing so.
When I made sackcloth my clothing,
I became a byword to them.
I am the subject of gossip
For those who sit in the gate.
The drunkards make songs about me.”
David explained his situation. He had great zeal for the house of Yahweh that he was about to construct. However, he felt that the insults against Yahweh had fallen on him. He had fasted but people insulted him for doing that. He was wearing mourning sackcloth, but all they did was gossip about him in the public meeting places at the gate. Even the drunkards were making up songs about him.
“The powerful possess the land.
The favored people live in it.
You have sent widows away empty.
You have crushed the arms of the orphans.
Therefore snares are around you.
Sudden terror overwhelms you.
Your light is darkened.
Thus you cannot see.
A flood of water covers you.”
Eliphaz claimed that Job had land, yet he sent widows and orphans away empty handed. Thus the snares and terrors are all around him because he was not kind to others. He was now in a situation where it was dark. He could not see because a flood of water had covered him. He was in a state or personal distress.
“Lay down a pledge for me with yourself.
Who is there that will give surety for me?
Since you have closed their minds to understanding,
Therefore, you will not let them triumph.
Those who denounce friends for a reward,
May the eyes of their children fail!
Job wanted assurances from God, a pledge. Who was going to bail him out or give him surety out of this situation? Since God had closed the minds of those around him, he did not want them to triumph. Anyone who denounced friends for a reward should have blind children. This was some kind of ancient proverb. Job, despite his despair, was not going to take this lying down.