The siege of Jerusalem (Jer 39:1-39:1)

“In the ninth year

Of King Zedekiah

Of Judah,

In the tenth month,

King Nebuchadnezzar

Of Babylon

With all his army

Came against Jerusalem.

He besieged it.”

Once again, there is an exact date, almost the same as in 2 Kings, chapter 25. It is rare that we have exact dating, but here it is very specific, not some vague “at that time.” In the 9th year of King Zedekiah, in the 10th month, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came with his army to Jerusalem in order to besiege the city. King Zedekiah had probably began to plot with the Egyptians and rebelled against the king of Babylon.   This siege of Jerusalem probably began in 588 BCE. Like the preceding chapter, this is a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, since they are the latter part of chapter 45 and chapter 46, not chapter 39 as here.

Stay away from these consultants (Sir 37:10-37:11)

“Do not consult anyone

Who regards you with suspicion!

Hide your intentions

From those who are jealous of you!

Do not consult with

A woman about her rival!

Do not consult with

A coward about war!

Do not consult with

A merchant about business!

Do not consult with

A buyer about selling!

Do not consult with

A miser about generosity!

Do not consult with

A merciless person about kindness!

Do not consult with

An idler about any work!

Do not consult with

A seasonal laborer about completing his work!

Do not consult with

A lazy servant about a big task!

Pay no attention

To any advice they give!”

Now Sirach is specific about whom you should avoid as counselors. Avoid anyone who is suspicious or jealous of you. Don’t consult with a woman about her rivals, a coward about war, a merchant or a buyer about business selling, a miser about generosity, a merciless person about kindness, an idler, seasonal laborers, or lazy servants about completing big work tasks. Pay no attention to any of these people and their advice.

Seek God (Wis 1:1-1:5)

“Love righteousness!

You rulers of the earth!

Think of the Lord in goodness!

Seek him with sincerity of heart!

Because he is found

By those who do not put him to the test.

He manifests himself

To those who do not distrust him.

Perverse thoughts separate people from God.

When his power is tested,

It exposes the foolish.

Wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul.

Wisdom will not dwell in a body enslaved to sin.

A Holy Spirit will flee from deceit.

A disciplined spirit will flee from deceit.

The Spirit will leave foolish thoughts behind.

The Spirit will be ashamed

At the approach of unrighteousness.”

This book is set in poetic verses just like Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and The Song of Solomon. This author wants the rulers of the earth to seek God with a sincere heart. Only those who are not testing him will find him. God will manifest himself to those who do not distrust him. Perverse thoughts will separate them from God. If they test his power, he will expose their foolishness. Wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul nor dwell in a body enslaved in sin. The Holy Spirit, who is disciplined, will flee from deceit. He will leave foolish thoughts behind because he is ashamed of the approach of the unrighteousness ones. Here we have a more developed theology of God. He is no longer Yahweh since this is a Greek Septuagint work. He is the Greek Lord (τοῦ Κυρίου). Wisdom (σοφία) is almost equivalent to God (Θεοῦ). Notice also the use of the Holy Spirit (ἅγιον γὰρ πνεῦμα), even if not too specific. The Spirit of God will not stay with the deceitful and unrighteous. The concept of soul (ψυχὴν) also fits in nicely. I will be using the Greek Septuagint to highlight certain words and concepts in this Greek work.

Job wants them to explain themselves (Job 6:24-6:27)

“Teach me!

I will be silent.

Make me understand how I have gone wrong.

How forceful are honest words!

But you criticize.

What does it do to blame?

Do you think that you can use accusing words?

Is the speech of the desperate like a wind?

You would even cast lots over the orphan.

You would even bargain over your friend.”

Job dared them to tell him where he made a mistake. Where had he gone wrong? He was being criticized and reprimanded without anything specific. Where they critical of his words? Did they blame him? Their speech was like the wind, as it easily moved on. They were the kind of people who would gamble over orphans and bargain over friends. Who needs friends like this?