The fourth beatitude about righteousness (Mt 5:6-5:6)

“Blessed are

Those who hunger for righteousness,

Those who thirst for righteousness,

They shall be filled.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην, ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσοντ

 

The happy, blessed, and fortunate ones (μακάριοι) were those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness (οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην).  They would not go away empty handed.  They would be satisfied or filled (ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσοντ).  Isaiah, chapter 55:1-2 has an invitation to those without money to come to drink and eat.  They could have water, wine, milk and bread.  They would enjoy themselves at this banquet.  Matthew may have been referencing Psalm 107:4-9, where Yahweh had helped a small group of lost Israelites who were hungry and thirsty, while wandering in the desert.  He satisfied their thirst and filled their hunger with good food.  In their distress, they called out to Yahweh, who heard them.  He led them in a straight path to an inhabited town.  Thus, they gave thanks to Yahweh.  So too, those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness, the right way of doing things, would be satisfied or filled with this righteousness.

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They will faint from the lack of the word of Yahweh (Am 8:13-8:14)

“In that day,

The beautiful young women

With the young men

Shall faint for thirst.

Those who swear

By Ashimah

Of Samaria,

Will say,

‘As your god lives,

O Dan!’

‘As the way of Beer-sheba

Lives.’

They shall fall,

But never rise again.”

Amos reminded them that on the day of Yahweh, the good looking young men and women would faint from thirst.  Their hope from their local gods would be useless, whether it was Ashimah in Samaria, the far northern territory of Dan or the far southern place of Beer-sheba.  They would all fall, never to rise again.

The breakup (Hos 2:2-2:3)

“Plead with your mother!

Plead!

She is not my wife!

I am not her husband!

She should put away

Her whoring

From her face.

She should put away

Her adultery

From between her breasts.

Otherwise,

I will strip her naked.

I will expose her

As in the day

She was born.

I will make her

Like a wilderness.

I will turn her

Into a parched land.

I will kill her

With thirst.”

Now the prophet Hosea really tore into Gomer. He told the children that Gomer was not his wife and that he was not her husband. Gomer had to stop her whoring ways. She continued to commit adultery, although she bore 3 children. Hosea had a punishment for her. He was going to strip her naked, so that she would be like the day she was born. He was going to turn her into a wilderness or a parched land. He was going to kill her with thirst. I guess that there was no reconciliation here. The verse numbering system is not the same here for various bibles, since the Bible of Jerusalem has this at the end of the chapter.

A reproach against carousing (Isa 5:11-5:13)

“Woe to you

Who rise early in the morning,

In pursuit of strong drink!

Woe to you

Who linger in the evening

To be inflamed by wine!

These feasts consist of

Lyre,

Harp,

Tambourine,

Flute,

And wine.

They do not regard

The deeds of Yahweh!

They do not see

The work of his hands!

Therefore my people

Go into exile

Without knowledge.

Their nobles

Are dying of hunger.

Their multitude

Is parched with thirst.”

Isaiah turns to those who think only about drinking and carousing around. The first thing they think of in the morning is where their next drink is coming from. At night, they only worry about drinking wine while others played musical instruments like the lyre, harp, tambourine, and the flute. While the Israelites were going into exile, these people had no regard for the work of Yahweh and his deeds since they lacked knowledge. The nobles and the people were dying of malnutrition and thirst. However, these folks continued to play on.

The test (Wis 11:9-11:14)

“When they were tried,

Even though they were being disciplined in mercy,

They learned how the ungodly were tormented

When judged in wrath.

You tested them

As a parent does

In warning.

But you examined the ungodly

As a stern king does

In condemnation.

Whether absent or present,

They were equally distressed.

A twofold grief possessed them.

There was a groaning

At the memory of what had occurred.

They heard

That through their own punishments,

The righteous had received benefit.

They perceived

It was the Lord’s doing.

Even though they had mockingly rejected him,

Who long before had been cast out and exposed,

At the end of the events

They marveled at him.

They felt thirst in a different way

From the righteous.”

The righteous began to understand that their trials and thirst for water in Deuteronomy, chapter 8, were nothing in comparison to the punishment that the ungodly (ἀσεβεῖς) had received. They were disciplined in mercy, while the ungodly were angrily tormented and judged. They were treated like children getting a paternal (ὡς πατὴρ) warning, while the ungodly were given a royal (βασιλεὺς) condemnation. The Lord (τοῦ Κυρίου) gave benefits to the Israelites because the Egyptians had mocked and rejected him. The thirst that the two of them had was completely different between the righteous (δικαίοις) and the ungodly. Finally, the ungodly marveled at the Lord.

The ambiguity of water (Wis 11:5-11:8)

“Through the very things

By which their enemies were punished,

They received benefit in their need.

Instead of the fountain

Of an ever-flowing river

Stirred up with blood,

Defiled with blood,

You gave them abundant water unexpectedly.

Instead of a rebuke for the decree

To kill the infants,

You gave them abundant water unexpectedly.

They showed by their thirst at that time

How you punished their enemies.”

We have here a reflection on the role of water. Just as water punished the Egyptians, it saved the Israelites in the wilderness. Water destroyed the Egyptians as they crossed the Red Sea that was stirred up and defiled with blood. Their infants were killed. However, the Israelites received water (ὕδωρ) unexpectedly. In their thirst, they saw how their enemies had been punished.

Judith reveals the situation of the Israelites (Jdt 11:9-11:15)

“As for Achior’s speech in your council,

We have heard his words.

The people of Bethulia spared him.

He told them all he had said to you.

Therefore, lord and master, do not disregard what he said.

Keep it in your mind.

It is true.

Indeed, our nation cannot be punished.

The sword cannot prevail against them,

Unless they sin against their God.

Now, in order that my lord may not be defeated

That his purpose may not be frustrated,

Death will fall upon them.

A sin has overtaken them,

By which they are about to provoke their God to anger,

When they do what is wrong.

Since their food supply is exhausted,

Their water has almost given out,

They have planned to kill their livestock.

They have determined to use all

That God by his laws has forbidden them to eat.

They have decided to consume

The first fruits of the grain,

The tithes of the wine and oil,

That they had consecrated.

They had set aside for the priests

Who minister in the presence of our God in Jerusalem.

These are things not lawful for any of the people,

Even to touch with their hands.

Since even the people in Jerusalem have been doing this,

They have sent messengers there,

To bring back permission from the council of the elders.

When the response reaches them

They will act upon it.

On that very day,

They will be handed over to you to be destroyed.”

Judith revealed that the people of Bethulia knew everything that Achior had said to him. What he said was true. Only God can defeat them if they sin. However, because of the famine and thirst, they are about to sin. They were going to eat the forbidden foods. They are going to take the first fruits and tithes of wine and oil that had been set aside for the priests, and consume it. They are going to break the law of God. It was forbidden to even touch these things. Now they have sent messengers to Jerusalem to get permission from the elders there. As soon as their response reaches them, they will act on it and destroy themselves.