“Israel is swallowed up.
Now they are among the nations
As a useless vessel.
They have gone up
They are like
A wild ass
Ephraim has bargained
Though they bargain
With the nations,
I will now
Gather them up.
They shall soon writher
Under the burden
Yahweh, via Hosea, said that the northern Israel kingdom would be swallowed up as a country. They would become a useless vessel among all the various nations. They had gone to Assyria, like a wild wandering donkey. The territory of Ephraim, on the other hand, tried to bargain with various lover countries. They would not succeed, because Yahweh was going to put them under the burden of other kings and princes.
“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.
A song of ascents, of David
“If it had not been Yahweh
Who was on our side,
Let Israel now say.
If it had not been Yahweh
Who was on our side,
When our enemies attacked us,
Then they would have swallowed us up alive.
Their anger was kindled against us.
Then the flood would have swept us away,
The torrent would have gone over us.
Then over us would have gone
The raging waters.”
Psalm 124 is another short song or psalm of thanksgiving on the pilgrimage ascending to Jerusalem, like the others in this series. Notice the repetition of the opening verses that made it easier to remember while moving on pilgrimage. If Yahweh was not on their side, they would have been swallowed up alive. Their enemies or the flood waters would have destroyed them. They were blessed that Yahweh was on their side of the battle against man and nature.
“Do not let them say to themselves.
‘Aha, we have our heart’s desire.’
Do not let them say.
‘We have swallowed you up.’
Let all those who rejoice at my calamity
Be put to shame and confusion!
Let those who exalt themselves against me
Be clothed with shame and dishonor!”
David wanted his enemies not to be able to say that they had achieved their heart’s desire. He did not want them to be able to say that they had swallowed up David. Instead, he wanted those who rejoiced at his hardships to be put to shame and confusion. He wanted all those who put him down to be clothed with shame and dishonor. David wanted his enemies shamed.