The high priest Simon at the altar (Sir 50:11-50:15)

“When he put on

His glorious robe,

He clothed himself

In perfect splendor.

When he went up

To the holy altar,

He made the court

Of the sanctuary glorious.

When he received the portions

From the hands of the priests,

He stood by the hearth of the altar.

There was a garland

Of brothers around him.

He was

Like a young cedar on Lebanon.

They surrounded him

Like the trunks of palm trees.

All the sons of Aaron

In their splendor

Held the Lord’s offering

In their hands

Before the whole congregation of Israel.

Finishing the service at the altars,

They arranged

The offering to the Most High,

The Almighty.

He held out his hand for the cup.

He poured a drink offering

Of the blood of the grape.

He poured it out

At the foot of the altar.

It was a pleasing odor

To the Most High,

The King of all.”

Sirach explains that the high priest Simon put on his splendid glorious robe. Then he went to the holy altar in the sanctuary. He received the sacrificial gifts from the priests at the foot of the altar. He was like a Lebanon cedar tree among his brother priests who were like palm trees. All the sons of Aaron were there in their splendor as they held the Lord’s offering in their hands before the whole congregation. They arranged the offering to the Most High God, the Almighty one. Simon held out his hand and took the cup. He poured the blood of the grape drink at the foot of the altar, so that it was a pleasing odor to the King of all, the Most High God.

Noah (Sir 44:17-44:18)

“Noah was found perfect.

Noah was righteous.

In the time of wrath,

He kept the human race alive.

Therefore a remnant

Was left on the earth

When the flood came.

Everlasting covenants

Were made with him.

Thus all flesh should never again

Be blotted out by a flood.”

Now Sirach praises Noah, a more popular hero today, with his famous ark as in Genesis, chapters 6-10. In fact, there was a feature movie called Noah released in 2014. Noah was found to be perfect as a righteous man. Obviously then he was considered an ideal famous holy man. He kept humans going with the second creation after the flood. Here there is a mention of a remnant, those few who were loyal to God. Noah formed a series of covenants with God that there would never be another flood to blot out humankind. As part of these rainbow agreements, humans would not eat meat with the blood in it. They also should not kill each other. Humans, as the image of God, would then dominate the earth with all its creatures.

The idol worship in Canaan (Ps 106:34-106:39)

“The Israelites did not destroy the peoples,

As Yahweh commanded them.

But they mingled with the nations.

They learned to do as they did.

They served their idols.

This became a snare to them.

They sacrificed their sons to the demons.

They sacrificed their daughters to the demons.

They poured out innocent blood,

The blood of their sons and daughters.

They sacrificed them to the idols of Canaan.

The land was polluted with blood.

Thus they became unclean by their acts.

They prostituted themselves in their doings.”

This section of this psalm is based on the description in Judges, chapter 2, when the Israelites worshipped Baal in their new home. Instead of destroying the people of Canaan as Yahweh had instructed, they mingled and intermarried with the local inhabitants. With that, they did what the locals were doing, worshiping the local gods of Baal as they served these local idol gods. Part of their rituals was the sacrificial offering up of sons and daughters. They sacrificed their children to the demons. In thus killing their own children the blood of the young children polluted the land. The psalmist here calls them prostitutes who became unclean by their own acts.

The righteous win (Ps 58:10-58:11)

“The righteous will rejoice

When they see the vengeance done.

They will bathe their feet

In the blood of the wicked.

People will say.

‘Surely

There is a reward

For the righteous.

Surely

There is a God

Who judges on earth.’”

This psalm concludes with the righteous winning out. They would rejoice when they saw that vengeance against the wicked ones had been carried out. They would bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked ones. What a cruel metaphor. This was the reward for the righteous because God was the true judge who ruled the earth.

The prayer of Judas Maccabeus and his men (2 Macc 8:1-8:4)

“Meanwhile Judas, who was also called Maccabeus, and his companions secretly entered the villages. They summoned their kindred. They enlisted those who had continued in the Jewish faith. They gathered about six thousand men. They implored the Lord to look upon the people who were oppressed by all. They wanted the Lord to have pity on the temple which had been profaned by ungodly men. They wanted him to have mercy on the city that was being destroyed, and about to be leveled to the ground. They wanted the Lord to hearken to the blood that cried out to him. They wanted him to remember also the lawless destruction of the innocent babies. They wanted him to remember the blasphemies committed against his name. They wanted him to show his hatred of evil.”

Judas Maccabeus and his companions, and not just his brothers, entered the villages. There is no mention of Mattathias, the father of Judas, as if nothing happened until Judas came on the scene. This is the first mention of Judas in chapter 8, outside of the author’s preface in chapter 2 of this book. In 1 Maccabees, Judas came on the scene in chapter 3, after the death of his father, who had started the uprising. Judas gathered about 6,000 men. The first thing they did was pray to the Lord. They wanted God to look on their oppression and have pity on the Temple and its profanation. They wanted mercy for their city Jerusalem that was being leveled to the ground. They wanted God to listen to the innocent blood crying out to him from innocent babies. They wanted him to remember the blasphemies against his name and all the other evils that was going on.