Pharaoh in the pit (Ezek 32:31-32:32)

“‘When Pharaoh

Sees them,

He will be consoled

For all his hordes.

Pharaoh

With all his army,

Will be killed

By the sword.’

Says Yahweh God.

‘He spread terror

In the land

Of the living.

Therefore,

He shall be laid

To rest

Among the uncircumcised.

He,

Pharaoh

With all his multitude,

Shall be laid

To rest

With those

Who are slain

By the sword.’

Says Yahweh God.”

Yahweh God was clear about Pharaoh. The king of Egypt thought that he would be consoled with all his own people. However, Pharaoh with all his army would be killed by the sword. He had spread terror in the land of the living. Thus, he with all his crowd will be laid to rest among the uncircumcised and those killed by the sword, in the dishonorable area of the pit.

The silent sufferings of the servant of Yahweh (Isa 53:7-53:9)

“He was oppressed.

He was afflicted.

Yet he did not open his mouth.

He was

Like a lamb

That is led to the slaughter.

He was

Like a sheep

That before its shearers is silent.

Thus he did not open his mouth.

By a perversion of justice

He was taken away.

Who could have imagined his future?

He was cut off

From the land of the living.

He was stricken

For the transgression of my people.

They made his grave

With the wicked.

His tomb was with the rich.

He had done no violence.

There was no deceit in his mouth.”

This suffering servant does not open his mouth to complain, unlike Job and others. Even though he was oppressed and afflicted, he was like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep about to have his wool sheared, since he never opened his mouth. Although there was a perversion of justice against him, no one knew about his future. He was cut off from the land of the living for the transgressions of his people, indicating that this was an Israelite person. He had a grave with the wicked, but somehow he ended up in the tomb of a rich man. He had done no violence nor was there any deceit in his mouth. Once again, who is this silent suffering servant? Is this an Israelite prophet? Is it Isaiah? Obviously, many of these thoughts about the silent suffering innocent servant, who was oppressed, were later applied to Jesus Christ.

The sacrifices of the anointed Levitical Aaron (Sir 45:14-45:17)

“Aaron’s sacrifices

Shall be wholly burned.

This will be done

Twice every day continually.

Moses ordained him.

He anointed Aaron

With holy oil.

It was an everlasting covenant for him.

It was for his descendants

As long as the heavens continue.

They were to minister to the Lord.

They were to serve as priests.

They were to bless his people

In his name.

He chose him out of all the living

To offer sacrifice to the Lord.

He was to offer incense

With a pleasing odor

As a memorial portion,

To make atonement for your people.

In his commandments,

He gave him authority.

He gave him statutes.

He gave him judgments.

He was to teach Jacob the testimonies.

He was to enlighten Israel with his law.”

Sirach says that the sacrifices of Aaron should be completely burned, twice a day, continually. Moses had ordained Aaron and anointed him with oil, as it was indicated in Exodus, chapter 29. The Lord had an everlasting covenant with Aaron and his descendants as long as the heavens existed. They were to be the priests that ministered to the Lord. They were chosen out of all the living in the world to offer this memorial sacrifice with sweet smelling incense in order to make atonement for their people. In fact, Aaron was the brother of Moses. In the Mosaic commandments, the Lord gave Aaron and his descendants’ authority, statutes, and judgments so that they could teach and enlighten Jacob about the Israelite law.

Unacceptable sacrifices (Sir 34:21-34:27)

“If one sacrifices ill-gotten goods,

The offering is blemished.

The gifts of the lawless

Are not acceptable.

The Most High is not pleased

With the offerings of the ungodly.

He does not forgive sins

For a multitude of sacrifices.

Like one who kills a son,

Before his father’s eyes,

Is the person

Who offers a sacrifice

From the property of the poor.

The bread of the needy

Is the life of the poor.

Whoever deprives them of it

Is a murderer.

To take away a neighbor’s living

Is to commit murder.

To deprive an employee of his wages

Is to shed blood.”

There are some sacrifices that are not acceptable to the Lord. Sirach points out that stolen or ill-gotten goods sacrificed are blemished and thus unacceptable. Even good gifts from the lawless and the ungodly will not be acceptable. A lot of sacrifices do not forgive sins. If you sacrifice the property of the poor, you are like a person killing a son before his own father. The bread of the poor is needed for their life. You are a murderer when you take bread from the poor. If you take away the living of your neighbor, you are a murderer. To deprive anyone of their wages is like shedding their blood. In other words, to steal from the poor or take away their livelihood is like murdering them.

The downtrodden (Sir 7:32-7:36)

“Stretch out your hand to the poor.

Thus your blessing may be complete.

Give graciously to all the living.

Do not withhold kindness

Even from the dead.

Do not avoid

Those who weep.

But mourn with those who mourn.

Do not hesitate to visit the sick.

Because for such deeds

You will be loved.

In all you do,

Remember the end of your life.

Then you will never sin.”

Sirach has some recommendations for how to deal with the downtrodden and what the consequences are. First, stretch out your hand to the poor and your blessings will be complete. Be kind and gracious to all the living as well. Secondly, you should be kind to the dead, but it is not clear what is meant here. Thirdly, you should comfort and mourn with those who are weeping and mourning. Fourthly, you should visit the sick because you will be loved for that. Finally, you should remember the end of your life to help you avoid sin. Once again, this is not a clear indication of an afterlife, but a hint at it.

The cry to Yahweh (Ps 142:5-142:6)

“I cry to you!

Yahweh!

I say.

‘You are my refuge.

You are my portion

In the land of the living.’

Give heed to my cry!

I am brought very low!”

The response of David to his loneliness is to cry to Yahweh. He said that Yahweh was his refuge and portion in the land of the living. He wanted Yahweh to pay attention to his cry because he had been brought low.

Yahweh saved me from death (Ps 116:8-116:11)

“You have delivered my soul from death.

You have delivered my eyes from tears.

You have delivered my feet from stumbling.

I walk before Yahweh

In the land of the living.

I kept my faith,

Even when I said,

‘I am greatly afflicted.’

I said in my consternation.

‘Everyone is a liar.’”

Yahweh had been good to the psalmist. He had kept his soul from death. He kept his eyes from tearing up. He had kept his feet from stumbling. Therefore he was going to walk in the land of the living with Yahweh. He had kept his faith even though he admitted that he was greatly afflicted. He called everyone a liar since he trusted in God.