The trial of the elders (Dan 13:50-13:51)

“So,

All the people

Hurried back.

The rest of the elders

Said to Daniel.

‘Come!

Sit among us!

Inform us!

God has given you

The standing

Of an elder.

Daniel said to them.

‘Separate them far

From each other.

I will examine them.’”

All the people hurried back to the house of Joakim and Susanna. The rest of the elders came up to Daniel. They asked him to sit among them as an elder, since they thought that God had given him standing as an elder. There had been no indication about other elders until this point. Suddenly, Daniel became important, as he told them to separate the two elder judges who had testified against Susanna. He was going to examine each one of them separately.

The two maids (Dan 13:17-13:18)

“Susanna said

To her maids.

‘Bring me olive oil!

Bring me ointments!

Shut the garden doors

So that I can bathe!’

They did

As she told them.

They shut the doors

Of the garden.

They went out

By the side doors

To bring

What they had been commanded.

They did not see

The elders,

Because they were hidden.”

Susanna told her two maids to get her some olive oil and other ointments. She wanted them to shut the garden doors. Thus, they went out by the side door into the house. They were doing what she had asked them to do. However, these maids did not see the elder judges, because they were hidden in the garden.

The man with the writing case at his side (Ezek 9:2-9:4)

“Among the executors

Was a man

Clothed in linen,

With a writing case

At his side.

They went in.

They stood beside

The bronze altar.

Now the glory

Of the God of Israel

Had gone up

From the cherubim

On which it rested

To the threshold

Of the house.

Yahweh called

To the man

Clothed in linen,

With the writing case

At his side.

Yahweh said to him.

‘Go through the city,

Through Jerusalem,

Put a mark

On the foreheads

Of those who sigh,

Of those who groan

Over all the abominations

That are committed in it.’”

Now a new character enters the scene. This man dressed in white linen with a writing case at his side was among the 6 executioners from the north. They were all standing at the bronze altar when the glory of the God of Israel left the cherubim where it was resting and went to the threshold of the house. Then Yahweh called to the man, who was clothed in linen, with the writing case at his side. Yahweh told him to go into Jerusalem. He was to find all the people who were sighing and groaning about all the abominations in town. He was to put a taw mark on their forehead, like a mini cross, since taw was the last consonant of the Hebrew alphabet. Thus he acted like the angel of death in the Passover story. He marked those who cared about the situation there, who might be spared.

Read the scroll (Bar 1:14-1:14)

“You shall read aloud

This scroll

That we are sending you,

To make

Your confession

In the house

Of the Lord,

On the days

Of the festivals,

At the appointed seasons.”

They were to read out loud this book or scroll that Baruch was sending to the people in Jerusalem. Baruch seems to assume that there is some sort of customary life in Jerusalem. He wanted them to make a confession of their sins in the house of the Lord on the normal festival days. The problem, of course, is that the temple has been destroyed. Who was going to lead these normal appointed festivals? Apparently, somebody was there.

Daughters and married women (Sir 42:11-42:14)

“Keep strict watch

Over a headstrong daughter.

She may make you a laughingstock to your enemies.

She may make you a byword in the city.

She may make you a byword in the assembly of the people.

She may put you to shame in public gatherings.

See that there is no lattice in her room.

See that there is no spot

That overlooks the approaches to the house.

Do not let her parade her beauty before any man.

Do not let her spend her time among married women.

From garments comes the moth.

From a woman comes woman’s wickedness.

Better is the wickedness of a man

Than a woman who does good.

It is a woman

Who brings shame,

Who brings disgrace.”

Here Sirach warns against headstrong daughters. They will make their fathers a laughing stock in the city, in the assembly, and in any gathering. Do not let her have any patterns in her room windows that overlook the entrance to the house. Don’t let anyone see her beauty or how good she looks. However, the biggest warning is against her sitting around with married women. They will put ideas into her headstrong mind. Then Sirach lashes out at these married women, and maybe all women. He rails against female wickedness. Just as moths can be found in garments, so too wickedness can be found in women. He even stupidly proclaims that a man’s wickedness is better than a woman’s good deeds. How is that for anti-feminism? He adds on by saying that it is women who bring shame and disgrace, as if to say that men are never at fault.

Sins of pride (Sir 21:4-21:7)

“Panic

Will waste away riches.

Insolence

Will also waste away riches.

Thus the house of the proud

Will be laid waste,

Will be uprooted.

The prayer of the poor

Goes from their lips

To God’s ears.

His judgment comes speedily.

Whoever hates reproof

Walks in the steps of sinners.

Whoever fears the Lord

Will repent in their heart.

The mighty in speech

Are widely known.

When they slip,

The sensible person knows it.”

Terror, violence, panic, and insolence waste riches. Thus the house of the proud will be destroyed. On the other hand, the prayers of the poor go directly from their lips to God’s ears. God’s judgment will come quickly. If you hate criticism, you are walking in the steps of sinners. If you fear the Lord, you will repent in your heart. The great speakers are known far and wide, but when they slip up, the sensible people know it right away.

Your duty to your parents (Sir 3:1-3:9)

“Listen to me!

Your father!

O children!

Act accordingly!

Thus you may be kept in safety.

The Lord honors a father above his children.

The Lord confirms a mother’s right over her children.

Whoever honors their father

Atones for sins.

Whoever respects their mother is

Like one who lays up treasure.

Whoever honors their father

Will have joy in their own children.

When one prays

They will be heard.

Whoever respects their father

Will have a long life.

Whoever honors their mother

Obeys the Lord.

They will serve their parents as masters.

Honor your father by word.

Honor your father by deed.

Thus his blessing may come upon you.

A father’s blessing

Strengthens the houses of the children.

But a mother’s curse

Uproots their foundations.”

Now Sirach asks children to listen to their fathers. If they do so, they will be safe. The Lord has placed the father in charge of the children, so the children should respect their fathers. If they do, they will atone for their sins. They should respect their mothers because she is like an important treasure. If you honor your father, you will have joy in your own children. Their prayers will be heard. They will have a long life. If you honor your mother, you obey God. You should honor your parents by word and deed as if they were your masters. This is like the divine right of parents. Blessings will come upon you to strengthen the house of your children. However, watch out for the curse of your mother, which could uproot everything.

The righteous (Prov 12:5-12:11)

“The thoughts of the righteous are just.

But the advice of the wicked is treacherous.

The words of the wicked are a deadly ambush.

But the speech of the upright delivers them.

The wicked are overthrown.

They are no more.

But the house of the righteous will stand.

One is commended for good sense.

But a perverse mind is despised.           

Better to be a common despised man,

Who works for himself,

Than to be self important,

But lack food.

The righteous know the need of their animals.

But the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

Those who till their land will have plenty of food.

But those who follow worthless pursuits have no sense.”

Here we have a description of the righteous person. The thoughts of the righteous are just. On the other hand, the advice and the words of the wicked are treacherous and set an ambush. The upright speech of the righteous will help them to escape. Even though the wicked will be overthrown, the house of the righteous will continue to stand because they have good sense. The wicked are despised. It is better to work for yourself than pretend to be self important without any good. The righteous take good care of their animals. Even the mercy of the wicked is cruel. If you till the land, you will have plenty of food. However, if you pursuit worthless things, you are senseless.

Beware of female strangers (Prov 5:7-5:14)

“Now my child!

Listen to me!

Do not depart from the words of my mouth.

Keep your way far from her!

Do not go near the door of her house!

Do not let your honor go to others!

Do not let your years go to the merciless!

The strangers will take their fill of your wealth.

Your labors will go to the house of an alien.

At the end of your life

You will groan.

When your flesh and body are consumed,

You will say.

‘How I hated discipline!

My heart despised reproof!

I did not listen to the voice of my teachers.

I did not incline my ear to my instructors.

Now I am at the point of utter ruin

In the public assembly.’”

The parental admonitions continue. Once again he wants the children to listen to him and his words. He wanted them to avoid the house of strange women. This seems to be a follow up to the loose women already mentioned. If you went to them, you would lose your honor, your wealth, and maybe even your life. In fact, all your labor will go to a foreigner. At the end of your life you will not be happy because your life has been consumed. Your death bed pronouncement will be how you hated discipline and correction. You never listened to your teachers and instructors. Thus you ended up in utter ruin in the middle of your local assembly. Thus this is more about what happens to you if you follow the strange women.

Treat other people well (Prov 3:27-3:35)

“Do not withhold goods

From those to whom it is due,

When it is in your power to do it.

Do not say to your neighbor.

‘Go!

Come again!

Tomorrow I will give it.’

If you have it with you.

Do not plan harm against your neighbor.

He lives trustingly beside you.

Do not quarrel with anyone without cause,

When no harm has been done to you.

Do not envy the violent!

Do not choose any of their ways!

The perverse are an abomination to Yahweh.

But the upright are in his confidence.

Yahweh’s curse is on the house of the wicked.

But he blesses the abode of the righteous.

Toward the scorners

He is scornful.

But to the humble

He shows favor.

The wise will inherit honor.

But stubborn fools will inherit disgrace.”

When you owe someone something, you should repay it if you are able. Do not tell your neighbor to come back tomorrow, if you already have it. Do not plan any harm against your trusting neighbor. Do not quarrel with anyone without cause if they have not done anything to you. Do not envy the violent or follow any of their ways. While the perverse are an abomination to Yahweh, the upright are in the confidence of God. Yahweh curses the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous. To scorners, he is scornful. However, to the humble, he shows his favor. The wise will inherit honor but the stubborn fools will only find disgrace.