The call for deliverance (Dan 3:20-3:22)

“Deliver us

In accordance

With your marvelous works!

Bring glory

To your name!

O Lord!

Let all who do harm

To your servants

Be put to shame!

Let them be disgraced!

Let them be deprived

Of all power!

Let their strength

Be broken!

Let them know

That you alone are

The Lord God!

Glorious!

Over the whole world!”       

Finally, Azariah got to the point. He wanted to be saved from this flaming furnace. He wanted God to show his marvelous works. He wanted him to bring glory to his name. On the other hand, anyone who was trying to bring harm to his servants should be shamed, disgraced, and lose all power and strength. They should all know that the glorious God alone is the lord over the whole world.

 

More paradoxes (Sir 34:28-34:31)

“When one builds,

Another tears down.

What do they gain

But hard work?

When one prays,

Another curses.

To whose voice

Will the Lord listen?

If one washes

After touching a corpse,

Then touches it again,

What has he gained

By his washing?

So if one fasts

For his sins,

Then goes again

And does the same things,

Who will listen

To his prayer?

What has he gained

By humbling himself?”

Sirach cites various paradoxes in life. One man builds and another tears it down. What is this except a waste of time and labor for both of them? Who does the Lord listen to, if one person prays and the other curses? If you wash after touching a dead body, then you go and touch it again, what was the point of washing in the first place? If you fast for your sins, and then go out again and sin, who would listen to your prayers? What did you gain by humbling yourself?

Epilogue (2 Macc 15:38-15:39)

“If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired. If it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. Just as it is harmful to drink wine alone or to drink water alone, but wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious. It enhances one’s enjoyment. So also I hope the style of this story delights the ears of those who read the work. Here will be the end.”

This biblical author is somewhat apologetic for not writing a better book. This was rare and even rarer today. If you like it fine, but otherwise it was the best that I could do, a rare hint of humility. It was the custom to read aloud even when reading alone because so few people had books anyway. Thus the hearing of the story is so important. The illusion to wine and water may be an attempt to speak about the Greek language of his work. Despite the opposition to Hellenization, the book was written not in Hebrew, but in Greek. Nevertheless, a little Hebrew water would add to the taste and enjoyment of all.