The people lack knowledge (Hos 4:6-4:6)

“My people

Are destroyed,

For lack of knowledge.

Because you have rejected

Knowledge,

I reject you

From being

A priest to me.

Since you have forgotten

The law of your God,

I also will forget

Your children.”

The main objection against the priests is that they have not educated the people of Israel. The people lack knowledge because the priests and prophets have rejected knowledge themselves. These same priests had forgotten the law of God. Therefore, Yahweh was going to forget their children.

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The grieving widow Jerusalem (Bar 4:9-4:12)

“Jerusalem saw

The wrath

That came

Upon you

From God.

She said.

‘Listen!

You neighbors of Zion!

God has brought

Great sorrow

Upon me!

I have seen

The exile

Of my sons.

I have seen

The captivity

Of my daughters,

The Everlasting one

Brought this

Upon them.

With joy,

I nurtured them.

But I sent them away

Weeping

With sorrow.

Let no one rejoice

Over me!

A widow!

I am bereaved of many.

I was left desolate

Because of the sins

Of my children.

Because they turned away

From the law of God.’”

The author of Baruch points out that Jerusalem saw the wrath of God that came upon them first hand. This personified city of Jerusalem said that the neighbors of Zion should listen. God had brought great sorrow on Jerusalem, since her sons and daughters were captured and exiled. The Everlasting One, the name of God used here instead of Yahweh, brought this exile on them. Jerusalem had nurtured them, but she sent them away weeping and in sorrow. No one should rejoice about this situation, since Jerusalem was now a widow, grieving over many people. She had become desolate because of the sins of her children. They had turned away from the law of God.

The rich and the poor (Jer 5:4-5:5)

“Then I said.

‘These are only the poor.

They have no sense.

They do not know

The way of Yahweh.

They do not know

The law of their God.

Let me go to the rich!

I will speak to them.

They know

The way of Yahweh.

They know

The law of their God.’

But they all alike

Had broken the yoke.

They had burst the bonds.”

Jeremiah went to both the rich and the poor people in Jerusalem. At first, he thought that the little poor people had no sense. They did not know Yahweh or the law of God. However, he found the same thing among the privileged rich people also. He had expected the rich to know Yahweh and the law. However, they both turned out the same. They had both broken the yoke of Yahweh and burst out of his bonds.

The scribes (Sir 39:1-39:5)

“How different is

The one who devotes himself

To the study

Of the law of the Most High.

He seeks out the wisdom

Of all the ancients.

He is concerned with prophecies.

He preserves the sayings

Of the famous.

He penetrates the subtleties

Of the parables.

He seeks out the hidden meanings

Of proverbs.

He is at home

With the obscurities of parables.

He serves among the great men.

He appears before rulers.

He travels in foreign lands.

He learns what is good and evil

In the human lot.

He sets his heart to rise early.

He seeks the Lord who made him.

He petitions the Most High.

He opens his mouth in prayer.

He asks pardon for his sins.”

Sirach is more interested in the scholarly scribes. This seems like a defense of his own life, and what he is doing. He devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High God. He seeks the wisdom of the ancients and the current prophecies. He preserves the ancient sayings or writings. He penetrates and finds the hidden meanings of the parables and the proverbs. He serves among and appears before the rulers. He even travels in foreign lands so that he can learn about good and evil among all humans. He rises early to seek the Lord. He prays with petitions and penitence to the Most High God. In other words, he is a great righteous man, fully dedicated to the law of God and living it out in his daily life. He is Sirach!

Wise companions (Sir 9:14-9:16)

“As much as you can,

Aim to know your neighbors.

Consult with the wise.

Let your conversation be

With intelligent people.

Let all your discussions be

About the law of the Most High.

Let righteous ones be

Your dinner companions.

Let your glory be

In the fear of the Lord.”

You should get to know your neighbors. You should consult with the wise ones. Your conversations should be with intelligent people about the law of God. Your dinner companions should be righteous people. Your glory should be in your fear of the Lord.

Judith reveals the situation of the Israelites (Jdt 11:9-11:15)

“As for Achior’s speech in your council,

We have heard his words.

The people of Bethulia spared him.

He told them all he had said to you.

Therefore, lord and master, do not disregard what he said.

Keep it in your mind.

It is true.

Indeed, our nation cannot be punished.

The sword cannot prevail against them,

Unless they sin against their God.

Now, in order that my lord may not be defeated

That his purpose may not be frustrated,

Death will fall upon them.

A sin has overtaken them,

By which they are about to provoke their God to anger,

When they do what is wrong.

Since their food supply is exhausted,

Their water has almost given out,

They have planned to kill their livestock.

They have determined to use all

That God by his laws has forbidden them to eat.

They have decided to consume

The first fruits of the grain,

The tithes of the wine and oil,

That they had consecrated.

They had set aside for the priests

Who minister in the presence of our God in Jerusalem.

These are things not lawful for any of the people,

Even to touch with their hands.

Since even the people in Jerusalem have been doing this,

They have sent messengers there,

To bring back permission from the council of the elders.

When the response reaches them

They will act upon it.

On that very day,

They will be handed over to you to be destroyed.”

Judith revealed that the people of Bethulia knew everything that Achior had said to him. What he said was true. Only God can defeat them if they sin. However, because of the famine and thirst, they are about to sin. They were going to eat the forbidden foods. They are going to take the first fruits and tithes of wine and oil that had been set aside for the priests, and consume it. They are going to break the law of God. It was forbidden to even touch these things. Now they have sent messengers to Jerusalem to get permission from the elders there. As soon as their response reaches them, they will act on it and destroy themselves.