One of the attendants
To ask him
Concerning all this.
That he would disclose
Of the matter.
‘As for these four great beasts,
Out of the earth.
But the holy ones
Of the Most High God
Shall receive the kingdom.
They shall possess
The kingdom forever,
Forever and ever.’”
In a strange way, Daniel approached one of the people in his dream or vision to ask for an interpretation of his dream. In fact, it seems to be just one of the attendants standing around there. Daniel wanted to know the truth and the interpretation about these 4 beasts. Then, this attendant told him that the 4 beasts were 4 kings that rose up and ruled. However, the holy ones of the Most High God got possession of the kingdom. They were then going to have possession of this kingdom forever. It was not clear whether the other 4 kings had ruled this same kingdom or other kingdoms.
“How glorious you were!
In your wondrous deeds!
Whose glory is equal to yours?
You raised a corpse
You raised him From Hades
By the word of the Most High.
You sent kings
Down to destruction.
You sent famous men
From their sickbeds.
You heard the rebuke
You heard the judgments
Of vengeance at Horeb.
You anointed kings
To inflict retribution.
You anointed prophets
To succeed you.”
Sirach continues with his eulogy to Elijah with this second person singular prayer to him. In fact, Sirach almost treats Elijah like a god when he is talking about his great deeds. However, he carefully points out that Elijah raised the dead son of the widow by the word of the Most High, and not by himself as in 1 Kings, chapter 17. At the same time, he brought kings to destruction and saved people from their sick beds. Then Elijah went to where Moses got the 10 commandments, Horeb or Mount Sinai. Thus he is like a second Moses, certainly not in the Levitical line of Aaron, when he speaks with Yahweh as in 1 Kings, chapter 19. Yahweh told him whom he was to anoint as kings and prophets. Thus Elijah tried to follow out the orders of Yahweh.
“Remember the end of your life!
Set enmity aside!
Be true to the commandments!
Remember the commandments!
Do not be angry with your neighbor!
Remember the covenant of the Most High!
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.
“Some sat in darkness.
Some sat in gloom.
They were prisoners in misery.
They were prisoners in irons.
They had rebelled against the words of God.
They had spurned the counsel of the Most High.
Their hearts were bowed down with hard labor.
They fell down.
There was no one to help them.
Then they cried to Yahweh in their trouble.
He saved them from their distress.
He brought them out of darkness.
He brought them out of gloom.
He broke their bonds asunder.
Let them thank Yahweh
For his steadfast love!
Let them thank Yahweh
For his wonderful works to humankind!
He shatters the doors of bronze.
He cuts in two the bars of iron.”
Some people were in darkness and gloom. They were prisoners in misery and in actual irons, shackled together, because they had rebelled against God. They had turned away from the counsel of the Most High God. They were in forced labor with no one to help them. These people were not innocent, since they had done or said something against God. However, they cried to Yahweh for help in their distress. Guess what? He saved them from their distress, darkness, and gloom. He tore their chains apart. Now they should give thanks to Yahweh for his steadfast love and wondrous deeds. He shattered the doors of bronze and the iron bars. They were now free people.
“Because you have made Yahweh your refuge,
The Most High is your habitation.
No evil shall befall you.
No scourge shall come near your tent.”
Going back to the first verses, due to the fact that Yahweh is your refuge and the Most High your habitation, no evil shall come to you. No scourge will come near to your tent. You are safe because of God.
“‘If I were hungry,
I would not tell you.
The world and all that is in it is mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls?
Do I drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving!’
Pay your vows to the Most High!
Call on me in the day of trouble!
I will deliver you.
You shall glorify me.”
God is not hungry. Anyway the whole world and everything in it is his. He does not eat the flesh of bulls or the blood of goats. He wanted instead a sacrifice of thanksgiving. He wanted them to pay vows to the Most High God, himself. He wanted them to call on him in their day of trouble. He wanted them to communicate with him by praying. Then he would deliver them because they had glorified him.
“After I was carried away captive to Nineveh, every one of my kindred and my people ate the food of the Gentiles. However, I kept myself from eating the food of the Gentiles. Because I was mindful of God with all my heart, the Most High gave me favor and good standing with King Shalmaneser. I used to buy all the provisions he needed. Until his death, I used to go into Media, and buy for him there. While in the country of Media I left bags of silver worth ten talents in trust with Gabael, the brother of Gabri.”
Although the family and friends of Tobit ate the Gentile food, he did not. It is not clear what food he actually ate. Because of this God was good to him. Somehow he became a messenger of the king. He would buy provisions for him in Media, which was pretty far away. One day he left 10 talents of silver with some person called Gabael. Why he did this is not clear. This was a lot of money, worth about $60,000 USA. However, as the rest of the story unfolds, the return of this money will be important.