The word of God proclaimed (Jer 11:6-11:6)

“Yahweh said to me.

‘Proclaim all these words

In the cities of Judah,

In the streets of Jerusalem.

Hear the words of this covenant!

Do them.’”

This is almost a repeat of the first 2 verses of this chapter. Yahweh spoke to Jeremiah directly. Once again, Yahweh wanted Jeremiah to speak to the people in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem about the words of the covenant. However, here they must not only hear the words of the covenant, but they must also observe or do them.

Moses (Sir 45:1-45:5)

“From Jacob’s descendants,

The Lord brought forth a godly man.

He found favor in the sight of all.

He was beloved by God.

He was beloved by the people.

Moses’ memory is blessed.

The Lord made him equal in glory

To the holy ones.

The Lord made him great.

Mosses brought terror to his enemies

By his words.

He performed swift miracles.

The Lord glorified him

In the presence of kings.

The Lord gave him commandments

For his people.

The Lord revealed to him his glory.

The Lord consecrated him for his faithfulness.

He sanctified him for his meekness.

He chose him out of all humans.

He allowed him to hear his voice.

He led him into the dark cloud.

He gave him the commandments

Face to face.

He gave him the law of life.

He gave him knowledge.

Thus Moses

Might teach Jacob the covenant.

He might teach Israel his decrees.”

Obviously, Sirach has Moses as one of these blessed famous godly men, who found favor in the sight of all people. He surely was a holy one as described in practically all the first part of Exodus, chapters 2-24. Moses was a later descendant of Jacob who was loved both by God and the people. However, Moses was a terror to his enemies, yet glorified in the presence of kings. He performed great miracles. The Lord gave him commandments face to face, as he was chosen and consecrated from all the people, because he was faithful and meek. He heard the voice of God in the dark cloud. He received the law of life and knowledge from God. Thus he was able to teach the covenant and the decrees to Jacob and Israel.

The rainbow (Sir 43:11-43:12)

“Look at the rainbow!

Praise him

Who made it!

It is exceedingly beautiful

In its brightness.

It encircles the sky

With its glorious arc.

The hands of the Most High

Have stretched it out.”

Sirach now points out the beauty of the rainbow, after a rainfall. He wants us to look at it. He wants us think about who made it, since it is exceeding beautiful and bright. The half circle arc seems to go into the sky. If you were in Ireland you might go look for some gold at the end of the rainbow. There have been popular songs about rainbows. Sirach indicates that the hands of the Most High God have stretched it out. In fact, it was considered a sign of the covenant between Yahweh and Noah, after the flood in Genesis, chapter 9, but that is not mentioned here. Neither is there any indication of the various colors that reflect the sun’s rays through the rain clouds that has become a symbol of diversity.

The wisdom of the scribes (Sir 39:6-39:11)

If the great Lord is willing,

He will be filled

With the spirit of understanding.

He will pour forth

Words of wisdom.

He will give thanks

To the Lord in prayer.

The Lord will direct his counsel.

The Lord will direct his knowledge.

He will meditate on his mysteries.

He will show the wisdom

Of what he has learned.

He will glory in the law

Of the Lord’s covenant.

Many will praise

His understanding.

It will never be blotted out.

His memory will not disappear.

His name will live

Through all generations.

Nations will speak of his wisdom.

The congregation

Will proclaim his praise.

If he lives long,

He will leave a name

Greater than a thousand.

If he goes to rest,

It is enough for him.”

Sirach continues his praise for the wise scribes like himself. Always it is the will of God that brings wisdom and understanding. These scribes will speak words of wisdom and give prayerful thanks to the Lord. The Lord directs their counsel and knowledge, as they meditate on the divine mysteries. These scribes will show their wisdom by glorifying the law and the covenant. However, many will praise these scribes, since their names will not disappear or be blotted out, but remain for generations to come. Many countries and congregations will praise them also. If they live long, their names will be remembered more than 1,000 others. If they die early, that will be okay also.

Divine commands (Sir 28:6-28:7)

“Remember the end of your life!

Set enmity aside!

Remember corruption!

Remember death!

Be true to the commandments!

Remember the commandments!

Do not be angry with your neighbor!

Remember the covenant of the Most High!

Overlook faults!”

Sirach then reminds us of things to do with a series of divine commands. You have to remember a lot of things, especially the end of your lives with death. You ought to remember that there is corruption in this life. You should not have any hostility or antagonism towards others. You have to remember and be true to the commandments of the Lord. You should not be angry with your neighbor. Instead overlook their faults. You should remember the covenant with the Most High God.

Yahweh’s promise to Zion (Ps 132:13-132:18)

“Yahweh has chosen Zion.

He has desired it for his habitation.

‘This is my resting place forever.

Here I will reside.

I have desired it.

I will abundantly bless its provisions.

I will satisfy its poor with bread.

I will clothe its priests with salvation.

Its faithful will shout for joy.

There I will cause a horn to sprout up for David.

I have prepared a lamp for my anointed one.

I will clothe his enemies with shame.

But upon him,

His crown will gleam.’”

This psalm ends with Yahweh’s promise to remain at Zion, Jerusalem. Yahweh has chosen Zion for his dwelling place. He was going to rest there at his new residence. He desired to live there. He was going to provide for the poor people there with provisions and bread. The priests would be provided with saving clothes, while the faithful would be full of joyful shouts. David would have his horn of plenty full. He would have a lamp for the anointed one, David. His enemies would be clothed in shame, while David’s crown would gleam.   Thus the combination of the Ark of the Covenant, the covenant with David, and Jerusalem as the holy city are all combined into one thought here at the conclusion of this psalm.

The rejection (Ps 89:38-89:45)

“But now you have spurned him.

You have rejected him.

You are full of wrath against your anointed.

You have renounced the covenant with your servant.

You have defiled his crown in the dust.

You have broken through all his walls.

You have laid his strongholds in ruins.

All who pass by despoil him.

He has become the scorn of his neighbors.

You have exalted the right hand of his foes.

You have made all his enemies rejoice.

Moreover,

You have turned back the edge of his sword.

You have not supported him in battle.

You have removed the scepter from his hand.

You hurled his throne to the ground.

You have cut short the days of his youth.

You have covered him with shame.”

Selah

Now there is a switch in tone in this psalm. Instead of the everlasting dynasty of David, this psalmist complains that God has abandoned David. In a series of complaints directly to God, using the second person “you,” he says that God has spurned and rejected David. His wrath or anger has turned on David. God has renounced the covenant with David. He has thrown his crown on the ground. He has broken down all the walls and ruined his fortresses. His foes now plunder him and scorn him as all the enemies now rejoice. The edge of his sword has turned on himself as he no longer has any support in battles. His scepter is gone as well as his youth. He is full of shame. This could be at the time of the revolt against David or a metaphor for the captivity that came to the descendents of David. The Israelites saw this captivity as a punishment from God. This section also ends with the musical interlude pause of Selah.

The false repentance (Ps 78:34-78:37)

“When he killed them,

They sought him.

They repented.

They sought God earnestly.

They remembered

That God was their rock,

That the Most High God was their redeemer.

But they flattered him with their mouths.

They lied to him with their tongues.

Their heart was not steadfast toward him.

They were not true to his covenant.”

After some of the Israelites died in the desert, others claimed to repent. They sought God earnestly as they remembered that God was their rock. The Most High God was their redeemer. They tried to flatter God with their mouths as they lied with their tongues. Their heart was not in it. They were not true to the covenant.

The dying words of Mattathias (1 Macc 2:49-2:50)

“Now the days drew near for Mattathias to die. He said to his sons.

‘Arrogance and scorn have now become strong.

It is a time of ruin and furious anger.

Now, my children,

Show zeal for the law.

Give your lives for the covenant of our ancestors.’”

This text does not indicate how old Mattathias was or what he was dying of.  However, he called his 5 sons and righty said that arrogance and scorn had become common place. There was much anger at that time. However, he also was right to tell them to have zeal for the law and the covenant of their ancestors.

The persecution of the Jews (1 Macc 1:54-1:61)

“Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year they erected a desolating sacrilege on the altar of burnt offerings. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah. They offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. The books of the law that they found they tore to pieces and burned with fire. Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who adhered to the law, was condemned to death by the decree of the king. They kept using violence against Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns. On the twenty-fifth day of the month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. According to the decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised. They put to death their families and those who circumcised them. They hung the infants from their mothers’ necks.”

Once again, we have specific days and years. Chislev was December of 167 BCE. The sacrilege mentioned might be the idol of Zeus. There will be more indications of this in the Book of Daniel and 2 Maccabees, which must be from about the same time period. They used the old altars with incense in the house and streets. When they found the book of the law, they tore it apart and burned it. Thus we have an early instance of the burning of books. Anyone who was following the Mosaic covenant was condemned to death. Violence was a way of life. They put to death any women who circumcised their children, plus their whole family. Then they would hang the infants on their mother’s necks. This seems like an especially brutal way to get rid of strange customs.