The devastation of the grasshopper locust plague has left seeds shriveled up. The storehouses and granaries are ruined and desolate. The grain harvests have all failed. The farm animals groan. The cattle herds wander around looking for a grass pasture. They and the flocks of sheep are perplexed and dismayed. Both humans and animals lack food.
This is exactly the same, word for word from chapter 10 about the power of Yahweh. Jeremiah proclaimed that Yahweh was all powerful. He made the earth by his power. Thus he established the world by his wisdom. He stretched out the heavens by his understanding, so that when he uttered his voice, the waters in the heaven could create a mist from the ends of the earth. He made lightning in the rain. He also brought wind from his various wind storehouses. Thus you can see this author’s cosmology about the powerful God, Yahweh, who has control of the world and its climate.
Sirach, like many of the ancient people, including the Israelites, believed that God completely controlled the weather. In fact, we still have some farming communities that pray to God for rain. Today’s TV weather forecast would be that God is sending us rain and a cool temperature, with nothing about a cold front. God’s command sent snow and lightning. The storehouses in the clouds would be opened up by the Lord to let rain, snow, and hailstones fall to earth like birds tumbling out of the sky. Thus precipitation from the sky was like the thunderous voice of God that shock up the mountains. The Lord was also responsible for the south mild winds also.
Yahweh is great, above all gods. He does whatever he pleases in heaven, on earth, and in the seas, no matter how deep they are. He makes the clouds rise, lightning for rain, and brings the winds out of his storehouses. The assumption was that Yahweh stored up his winds and then released them as he saw fit.
The heavens came to be with the simple word of Yahweh, the creator God. All that exists, the hosts of things, were created by the breath of Yahweh. Yahweh gathered all the seas and waters as if he poured it out of a bottle. He had storehouses for the depths of the seas. In very colorful anthropomorphic language, Yahweh speaks, breathes, and gathers water in a bottle as the creator of the world.
“I also found out that the portions of the Levites had not been given to them. Thus the Levites and the singers, who had conducted the service, had gone back to their fields. So I remonstrated with the officials. I said.
‘Why is the house of God forsaken?’
I gathered them together. I set them in their stations. Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain, wine, and oil into the storehouses. I appointed as treasurers over the storehouses the priest Shelemiah, the scribe Zadok, and Pedaiah of the Levites. I appointed as their assistant Hanan son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, for they were counted faithful. Their duty was to distribute to their associates.
O my God,
Do not wipe out my good deeds
That I have done
For the house of my God
And for his service.’”
Next Nehemiah found out that the Levites were not offering praise and singing in the Temple. They had gone back to tending their fields because no one was offering their tithes. Nehemiah then reestablished the tithing. He wanted the services in the Temple reinstituted. He put new people in charge of collecting the tithes and making sure that they got to where they should be. Then he prayed to God to not wipe out the good deeds that he had done for the house of God.