“It is the moon
That marks the changing seasons.
The moon governs the times.
It is their everlasting sign.
From the moon
Comes the sign
For festal days.
It is a light that wanes
When it completes its course.
The new moon,
As its name suggests,
The month is named
After the moon.
How marvelous it is
In this change!
It is a beacon
For the hosts on high!
In the vault of the heavens!”
Sirach points out how important the moon was for the Israelites. First, the moon marked the changing of seasons. Then the festival days were based on the moon. Both Passover and the feast of the Tents were based on a full moon. In fact, calculating the observance of Christian Easter each year is based on the full moon of spring. We even still talk about a harvest moon and a romantic moon. The moon appears to become full and wane because of its position between the sun and the earth. Thus it looks like the new moon renews itself. The Israelite Hebrews had the same word for moon and month, since they used a lunar calendar to keep track of their days. Yet even today, we appreciate the value of a bright glorious moon in the heavenly sky at night.
Let us enjoy the good things that exist!
Make use of creation to the full
As in youth.
Let us take our fill of costly wine!
Let us take our fill of perfumes!
Let no flower of spring pass us by.
Let us crown ourselves
With rosebuds before they wither.
Let none of us fail to share in our revelry.
Everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment.
Because this is our portion,
This is our lot.”
Once again, following the advice of Qoheleth in Ecclesiastes, we should enjoy life and not worry because all is vanity. These impious people want to enjoy all the existing good things, the use of all creation as they had done in their youth. They wanted to enjoy costly wine, perfumes, and the flowers of spring. They should be crowned with rosebuds as well as share in their revelry. They should enjoy themselves because this was their portion and lot in life.
“Inspired decisions are on the lips of a king.
His mouth does not sin in judgment.
Honest balances and scales are Yahweh’s.
All the weights in the bag are his work.
It is an abomination for kings to do evil.
The throne is established by righteousness.
Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
He loves those who speak what is right.
A king’s wrath is a messenger of death.
Whoever is wise will appease it.
In the light of a king’s face
There is life.
His favor is like the clouds
That bring the spring rain.”
This next section follows the medieval concept of the diving right of kings. Thus the king speaks in the name of Yahweh. His decisions are thus inspired by Yahweh. He does not sin in making his judgments. He expects, like Yahweh, to have honest scales and balances, so that there should not be any false weights in bags on the scales. Thus, it is an abomination for a king to do evil because the throne was established by righteousness, which should be the delight of the king. The king loves those who speak correctly and rightly. On the other hand, his wrath is a messenger of death. The wise ones are able to appease his anger. You will have life if the king’s face lights upon you. His favors are like refreshing spring rains.
“Singers and dancers alike say.
‘All my springs are in you.’”
This seems to be a confusing end to this psalm. It is not the fact of singers and dancers, but what they say. It seems that all people or good people spring from Mount Zion. Everything springs from Yahweh and especially from Zion.
“The next day General Holofernes ordered his whole army, and all the allies who had joined him, to break camp. They were to move against Bethulia. They were to seize the passes up into the hill country. They were going to make war on the Israelites. All their warriors marched out that day. Their fighting forces numbered one hundred seventy thousand infantry and twelve thousand cavalry, not counting the baggage and the foot soldiers handling it, a very great multitude. They encamped in the valley near Bethulia, beside the spring. They spread out in breadth over Dothan as far as Balbaim, and in length from Bethulia to Cyamon, which faces Esdraelon. When the Israelites saw their vast numbers they were greatly terrified. They said to one another.
‘They will now strip clean the whole land.
Neither the high mountains, the valleys, nor the hills
Will bear their weight.’
Yet they all seized their weapons. When they had kindled fires on their towers, they remained on guard all that night.”
The very day after they got rid of Achior, General Holofernes ordered his army to break camp. They were going to invade Bethulia. They were going to seize the mountain passes and make war on the Israelites. This huge fighting army marched out. They had 170,000 foot soldiers, 12,000 cavalry, plus foot soldiers to take care of their baggage. They camped near Bethulia, close to Dothan with Esdraelon at their back. When the Israelites finally saw how big the army was, they were terrified. However, they lit fires in their towers to stand watch that night.