The commandments (Lk 18:20-18:20)

“You know the commandments.

‘Do not commit adultery!

Do not murder!

Do not steal!

Do not bear false witness!

Honor your father

And mother!’”

 

τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς, Μὴ φονεύσῃς, Μὴ κλέψῃς, Μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς, Τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα.

 

Luke indicated that Jesus said to this ruler that he knew the commandments (τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας).  Then he listed a few that were “Do not commit adultery (Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς,)!”  “Do not murder (Μὴ φονεύσῃς)!”  “Do not steal (Μὴ κλέψῃς)!”  “Do not bear false witness (Μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς)!”  “Honor your father and your mother (Τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου καὶ τὴν μητέρα)!”  Thus, Jesus emphasized which commandments he wanted this man to keep.  This can also be found in Mark, chapter 10:19, and Matthew, chapter 19:17-19, but slightly different, since Luke and Mark are closer to each other.  Mark said that Jesus gave the classic answer for those who wanted to enter eternal life.  They knew the commandments or laws (τὰς ἐντολὰς οἶδας).  Follow them!  Mark did not have any question about which commandments to follow.  Jesus just mentioned some of the commandments.  You shall not kill or murder (Μὴ φονεύσῃς)!  You shall not commit adultery (Μὴ μοιχεύσῃς)!  You shall not steal (Μὴ κλέψῃς)!  You shall not bear false witness (Μὴ ψευδομαρτυρήσῃς)!  You shall not defraud (Μὴ ἀποστερήσῃς)!  Honor your father (Τίμα τὸν πατέρα σου)!  Honor your mother (καὶ τὴν μητέρα)!  All of these are from the Ten Commandments in Exodus, chapter 20:12-16, and Deuteronomy, chapter 5:16-20.  Mark added the comment about not defrauding others that was not in Luke.  In Matthew, this person asked Jesus which commandments (λέγει αὐτῷ Ποίας) should he follow.  Thus, Jesus responded to him (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἔφη) directly citing which commandments.  You shall not kill or murder (ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἔφη)!  You shall not commit adultery (Οὐ μοιχεύσεις)!  You shall not steal (Οὐ κλέψεις)!  You shall not bear false witness (Οὐ ψευδομαρτυρήσεις)!  Honor your father (Τίμα τὸν πατέρα)!  Honor your mother (καὶ τὴν μητέρα)!  All of these are the same as in Mark and Luke.  However, Matthew added something not in the other two gospel stories.  This man was to love or esteem his neighbor as himself (καὶ Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν), that was from Leviticus, chapter 19:18.  Do you think that the Ten Commandments are important?

The reward for the Rechabites (Jer 35:18-35:19)

“But to the house

Of the Rechabites,

Jeremiah said.

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

You have obeyed

The command

Of your ancestor Jonadab.

You have kept

All his precepts.

You have done

All that he commanded you.

Therefore thus says

Yahweh of hosts!

The God of Israel!

Jonadab,

The son of Rechab,

Shall not lack

A descendant

To stand before me

For all time.’”

Now Jeremiah said that Yahweh was well pleased with the Rechabites because they obeyed the commandments of their ancestor Jonadab. They kept all his precepts and followed all his commands. Therefore Yahweh would make sure that they would never lack a descendant until the end of time. This group would continue on, something like the Davidic line of kings.

The live style of the Rechabites (Jer 35:7-35:10)

“‘You shall not

Build a house!

You shall not

Sow seed!

You shall not

Plant a vineyard!

You shall not

Own a vineyard!

You shall live

In tents

All your days!

Thus you may live many days

In the land where you reside.’

We have obeyed

This charge

Of our ancestor Jonadab

The son of Rechab,

In all that he commanded us.

Thus we ourselves,

Our wives,

Our sons,

Our daughters

Do not drink wine

All our days.

We do not build houses

To live in.

We have no vineyard.

We have no field.

We have no seed.

But we have lived in tents.

We have obeyed Jonadab.

We have done

All that our ancestor Jonadab

Commanded us.”

These Rechabites followed the commandments of Jonadab the son of Rechab. Thus they lived a unique nomad live style. Jonadab had commanded them not to build houses or sow seeds. They were to live in tents. They did not practice any kind of agriculture, so that they neither planted nor owned any vineyards or fields. They would live a long life, as long as they abstained from intoxicants, as they, their wives, and their children did not drink any wine. Since they did not cultivate grapes, they drank the milk of their animals. Thus they seem to be closer to the Hebrew Nazirites, who vowed a sacred separate life style, but only for a set time period, not cutting their hair, not drinking intoxicating liquids, and not touching unclean things. These Rechabites seem to be like a religious order or communal monks, actually like wandering desert Arabs.

The Promised Land failure (Jer 32:22-32:23)

“You gave them

This land!

You swore

To their ancestors

To give them

This land!

This was a land

Flowing with milk

And honey!

They entered it.

They took possession of it.

But they did not obey

Your voice.

They did not follow

Your law.

Of all that you commanded

Them to do,

They did nothing at all.

Therefore you have made

All these disasters

Come upon them.”

Jeremiah’s prayer continues with Yahweh overseeing the Promised Land.   Yahweh had promised their ancestors this wonderful land that was flowing with milk and honey, rich and easy to till. Once they entered and took possession of this land, they did not obey the voice or law of Yahweh. Instead of following the commandments of Yahweh, they did nothing. Thus Yahweh sent disasters to this Promised Land.

Good counselors (Sir 37:12-37:15)

“Associate with a godly person!

Associate with

Someone you know

To be a keeper

Of the commandments!

Associate with

Someone who is like minded

With yourself!

Associate with

Someone who will grieve

With you,

If you fail!

Heed the counsel

Of your own heart!

No one is more faithful

To you than it is.

Our own mind sometimes

Keeps us better informed

Than seven watchmen

Sitting high on a watchtower.

But above all,

Pray to the Most High!

Thus he may direct

Your way in truth.”

Sirach has some positive advice on who to associate with, mainly the godly person who keeps the commandments. In other words, seek counsel and give counsel with those who are like minded people. They will grieve with you if you fail. You should follow your heart, since no one is more faithful to you than your own heart. Your mind is better informed than any guards around the tower. However, the most important thing to do is pray to the Most High God so that he can direct your way truthfully. In the end, the best consultation is between you and God.

The generous spirit of sacrifice (Sir 35:6-35:12)

“Do not appear

Before the Lord

Empty-handed!

All that you offer

Is a fulfillment of the commandments.

The offering of a righteous person

Enriches the altar.

Its pleasing odor

Rises before the Most High.

The sacrifice of the righteous

Is acceptable.

It will never be forgotten.

Be generous

When you worship the Lord!

Do not stint

The first fruits of your hands!

With every gift

Show a cheerful face!

Dedicate your tithe

With gladness!

Give to the Most High

As he has given to you!

Be as generous

As you can afford!”

Sirach wanted every Temple sacrificial offering to be generous. You should never appear before the Lord empty-handed. You should fulfill the commandments. Your offering should enrich the altar with a pleasing odor that reaches to the Most High God. The acceptable sacrifices of the righteous will never be forgotten. Thus, you should be generous when you worship the Lord. You should not be stingy with your offering of the first fruits. Every tithe gift that you bring should be with a cheerful glad face. Remember that you are giving to the Most High God as he has given to you. You should be as generous as you can afford to be.

Law and sacrifice (Sir 35:1-35:5)

“Whoever keeps the law,

Makes many offerings.

Whoever heeds the commandments

Makes an offering of well-being.

Whoever returns a kindness

Offers choice fine flour.

Whoever gives alms

Sacrifices a thank offering.

To keep from wickedness

Is pleasing to the Lord.

To forsake unrighteousness

Is atonement.”

Sirach reminds us of the connection between keeping the law and offering the sacrificial rites. If you keep the law, you are like offering many sacrifices. If you keep the commandments, you are making the equivalent of a well-being or peace offering. When you return a kindness to someone, offer them the choice flour. If you give alms, you are like making a thanksgiving sacrifice. Whenever you keep from wickedness, you are pleasing to the Lord. When you stay away from unrighteousness, you are making an atonement for your sins. Keeping the law is like offering sacrifices.