The unreachable wisdom (Bar 3:29-3:31)

“Who has

Gone up into heaven?

Who has

Taken her?

Who has

Brought her down

From the clouds?

Who has

Gone over the sea?

Who has

Found her?

Who will buy her

For pure gold?

No one knows

The way to her.

No one is concerned

About the path to her.”

Next Baruch asked a series of questions about wisdom. Who has ever gone up to heaven and took wisdom away? Who has brought her down from the clouds? Who has gone over the seas and then found her? Who was able to buy wisdom with pure gold? The answer, of course, is no one. No one knows the way to wisdom. In fact, most people are not concerned about the paths to wisdom. There is no broad highway to wisdom.

The fixed order and Israel (Jer 31:35-31:37)

“Thus says Yahweh.

‘Who gives the sun

For light by day?

Who has the fixed order

Of the moon

With the stars

For light by night?

Who stirs up the sea

So that its waves roar?

Yahweh of hosts

Is his name.

If this fixed order

Were ever to cease

From my presence,

Then also the descendants

Of Israel

Would cease

To be a nation

Before me forever.’

Says Yahweh.

Thus says Yahweh.

‘If the heavens above

Can be measured,

If the foundations

Of the earth below

Can be explored,

Then I will reject

All the offspring of Israel

Because of all

That they have done.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh says that he makes sure that there is a sun for daylight with the moon and the stars for light at night. Yahweh stirs up the seas so that they roar. It is Yahweh who keeps all this in a fixed order. If these things ceased to exist, then the descendants of Israel would cease to be a nation forever before him. In other words, as long as there is a sun, a moon, stars, and a roaring sea, Israel will be a nation, according to Yahweh.  Yahweh then said that if they could measure the heights of the heavens or the depths of the earth’s foundations, then he would reject the offspring of Israel, because they must have done something wrong.

The lack of a response (Isa 50:2-50:3)

“Why was no one there,

When I came?

When I called,

Why did no one answer me?

Is my hand shortened,

So that it cannot redeem?

Have I no power to deliver?

By my rebuke,

I dry up the sea.

I make the rivers a desert.

Their fish stink

For lack of water.

They die of thirst.

I clothe the heavens

With blackness.

I make sackcloth their covering.”

Second Isaiah continues with this rebuke of Yahweh. Why was no one there to greet him when he came? Why was no one listening to him when he called? Is he no longer capable of redeeming them? Has he lost his power? After all, he dries up the seas and turns the rivers into deserts. Their fish would stink and die because of a lack of water. He could command the heavens to turn black and put on sackcloth.

The perfect future time (Isa 11:6-11:9)

“The wolf shall live

With the lamb.

The leopard shall lie down

With the kid goat.

The calf shall be with the lion.

The lion and the fatling shall be together.

A little child shall lead them.

The cow and the bear shall graze together.

Their young shall lie down together.

The lion shall eat straw

Like the ox.

The nursing child shall play

Over the hole of the asp.

The weaned child shall put his hand

On the adder’s den.

But they will not get hurt.

They will not destroy

All my holy mountains.

The earth shall be full

Of the knowledge of Yahweh,

Just as the waters cover the sea.”

Isaiah points out that this future messianic king will be Davidic, with the Spirit of Yahweh, just, and live in an ideal perfect time, where all disagreements would disappear. All our problems would be solved in this idyllic perfect age to come, like the paradise that was lost. The wolf and the lamb would get along. So too, the leopard and the kid goat would be fine together. Calves, lions, and feed animals would all be as one. The cow and the bear would graze on the same field. A little child would be able to lead them, since they are so tame. Lions would eat grass and straw, just like oxen. Little nursing children would play by an asp nest or put their hands into adder’s den, and still not get hurt. No one will hurt the holy mountains. The whole earth would be filled with the knowledge of Yahweh, the Lord, just as there is the right amount of water in the seas.

The seas (Sir 43:23-43:26)

“By the Lord’s plan,

He stilled the great deep sea.

He planted islands in it.

Those who sail the sea

Tell of its dangers.

We marvel at

What we hear.

In the sea

Are strange creatures.

In the sea

Are marvelous works.

There are

All kinds of living things.

There are

Huge sea-monsters.

Because of him,

Each of his messengers succeeds.

By his word

All things hold together.”

Next Sirach explains how the Lord controls and stills the seas. The Lord planted the islands in these seas. Many sailors tell of their dangerous adventures on the high seas, mostly on the Mediterranean Sea. Within these waters, there are many strange and marvelous creatures. Among the many living things in the sea are the sea monsters, in particular Leviathan that played a major role in biblical stories, particularly in the book of Job, chapter 41. All these things stay together because of the power of the Lord.

You cannot hide from the Lord (Sir 16:17-16:23)

“Do not say.

‘I am hidden from the Lord.

Who from on high

Has me in mind?

Among so many people,

I am unknown.

What am I

In a boundless creation?

Look!

At his visitation,

Heaven trembles,

The highest heaven trembles.

The abyss trembles.

The earth trembles.

The very mountains quiver.

The foundations of the earth shake,

When he looks upon them.

No human mind can grasp this.

Who can comprehend his ways?

Like a tempest

That no one can see,

So most of his works are concealed.

Who will announce

His acts of justice?

Who will await them?

His decree is far off.’

Such are the thoughts

Of one devoid of understanding.

A senseless person

Thinks foolishly.

A misguided person

Thinks foolishly.”

Sirach warns those who say that God is too busy to worry about them. They think that that they can hide from the Lord because there are so many people in this great boundless created world. After all the heavens, the seas, and the earth tremble and quake when the Lord comes. The mountains and the foundations of the earth shake when he sees them. No human mind can comprehend the ways of the Lord because most of his works are concealed to us. The Lord is like a storm that we never see coming. Who is going to announce his judgments because his decrees seem so far away? These are the thoughts of the foolish misguided people who think that God does not care about them.

Yahweh is great (Ps 135:5-135:7)

“I know that Yahweh is great.

Our Yahweh is above all gods.

Whatever Yahweh pleases he does

In heaven and on earth.

Whatever Yahweh pleases he does

In the seas and all depths.

He makes the clouds rise

At the end of the earth.

He makes lightning

For the rain.

He brings forth the wind

From his storehouses.”

Yahweh is great, above all gods. He does whatever he pleases in heaven, on earth, and in the seas, no matter how deep they are. He makes the clouds rise, lightning for rain, and brings the winds out of his storehouses. The assumption was that Yahweh stored up his winds and then released them as he saw fit.