The grain offerings (Ezek 46:11-46:11)

“At the festivals

Or the appointed seasons,

The grain offering

With a young bull

Shall be an ephah.

The grain offering

With a ram

Shall be an ephah.

The grain offering

With the lambs

Shall be as much

As one wished to give.

There shall be together

A hin of oil

With every ephah.”

At all the religious festivals, a grain offering of an ephah (2/3rds of a bushel) would accompany the young bull or the ram. However, as stated earlier, the prince could provide as much grain as he wanted to for the sacrifice of the lambs. However, with every ephah of grain, there had to be a gallon or hin of oil. It seems that the animals were cooked in oil with grains.

Good conduct at the Temple (Eccl 5:1-5:3)

“Guard your steps

When you go

To the house of God.

To draw near

To listen is better

Than to offer the sacrifice of fools.

They do not know

How to keep from doing evil.

‘Never be rash with your mouth!

Do not let your heart be quick

To utter a word before God.

God is in heaven.

You are on earth.

Therefore let your words be few!

Dreams come with many cares.

A fool’s voice comes with many words.’”

Be careful when you go up to the house of God, the Temple. It is better to listen than to offer the sacrifice of fools. These sacrificing fools do not know how to keep from doing evil. This appears to be a little bit against the sacrifices at the Temple. Then there is the stern warning of Qoheleth. Don’t be rash with your mouth. Don’t be quick to utter words before God. He reminded everyone that there was a difference between heaven and earth. God is in heaven and you are not. Therefore, you do not need to use a lot of words in your prayer. Dreams make us worry. A fool uses many words, so do not be like a fool. There is a discrepancy of one verse between the Bible of Jerusalem and the Oxford Bible for the next few verses. The phrasing is the same but verse 1 of chapter 5 is verse 17 of the Bible of Jerusalem.

The importance of fire (2 Macc 1:19-1:23)

“When our ancestors were being led captive to Persia,

The pious priests of that time took

Some of the fire of the altar.

They secretly hid it in the hollow of a dry cistern.

They took such precautions

That the place was unknown to anyone.

But after many years had passed,

When it pleased God,

Nehemiah, having been commissioned by the king of Persia,

Sent the descendants of the priests

Who had hidden the fire to get it.

When they reported to us

That they had not found fire

But only a thick liquid,

He ordered them to dip it out and bring it.

When the materials for the sacrifices were presented,

Nehemiah ordered the priests

To sprinkle the liquid on the wood

And on the things laid upon it.

When this was done,

Some time had passed.

The sun, which had been clouded over,

Shone out,

A great fire blazed up,

So that all marveled.

While the sacrifice was being consumed,

The priests offered prayer.

The priests and everyone,

Jonathan led.

The rest responded,

As did Nehemiah.”

There is nothing in the book of Nehemiah about this fire incident. If anything it is a reference to the cult of fire among the Persians. Somehow the captured Israelite priests hid a fire that had been on an altar in a dry cistern that no one knew about. How could a fire keep going it no feeds it? When Nehemiah asked the descendents of these priests to get the fire, they told him that they only had a thick liquid that could have been naphtha or petro-chemical oil, which of course, was found in the Persian area. They put wood on it. When the sun shone it, it burst into flames so that it consumed the sacrifice. Obviously, the priests and everyone offered sacrifices. A certain Jonathan seemed to be the priest leader of this ceremony.