We are sinners (Isa 64:5-64:7)

“But you were angry.

We sinned!

Because you hid yourself,

We transgressed.

We have all become

Like one who is unclean.

All our righteous deeds are

Like a filthy cloth.

We all fade

Like a leaf.

Our iniquities are

Like the wind.

They take us away.

There is no one

Who calls on your name.

No one attempts

To take hold of you.

You have hidden your face

From us.

You have delivered us

Into the hand of our iniquities.”

Then the prophet proclaimed that he and his people were sinners. Once again, he tried to mitigate this sinfulness by saying that God was angry at them and hid his face. This made it easier to be a transgressor. They all became unclean, so that even their good deeds were like filthy cloths. They faded like a leaf into their iniquities. They were like the wind, blown away. No one called the name of Yahweh or tried to contact him, because Yahweh had hidden his face from them. Once again, in an attempt to avoid responsibility, the prophet said that he was delivered into the hands of iniquity, as if he could not refrain from it.

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The suffering servant and the will of Yahweh (Isa 53:10-53:12)

“Yet it was the will of Yahweh

To crush him with pain.

When you make his life

An offering for sin,

He shall see his offspring.

He shall prolong his days.

Through him

The will of Yahweh shall prosper.

Out of his anguish,

He shall see light.

He shall find satisfaction

Through his knowledge.

The righteous one,

My servant,

Shall make many righteous.

He shall bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will allot him

A portion with the great.

He shall divide the spoil

With the strong.

Because he poured out himself

To death.

He was numbered with the transgressors.

Yet he bore the sin of many.

He made intercession for the transgressors.”

Yahweh willed to crush his servant with pain. His life was an offering for sin, so that he would see his offspring and prolong his life. The will of Yahweh would see that he prospered. He would see the light and gain satisfaction from his knowledge. The ending for the suffering servant is that his life is prolonged with offspring, which seems different than the death with the wicked and the rich above. This righteous one would make others righteous people because he bears their iniquities. Thus he will be considered with the great ones. He will get the spoil because he gave of himself even to death. Although he was considered a transgressor, he bore the sins of many. He made intercession for the transgressors. The suffering servant seems to have a happy ending.

The clever ones (Sir 19:23-19:30)

“There is cleverness

That is detestable.

There is a fool

Who merely lacks wisdom.

Better are the God-fearing

Who lacks understanding

Than the highly intelligent

Who transgresses the law.

There is cleverness

That is exact

But unjust.

There are people

Who abuse favors

To gain a verdict.

There is a villain

Bowed down in mourning.

But inwardly

He is full of deceit.

He hides his face.

He pretends not to hear.

But when no one notices,

He will take advantage of you.

Even if he lacks strength

It does not keep him from sinning.

He will nevertheless do evil

When he finds the opportunity.

A person is known

By his appearance.

A sensible person is known

When first met,

Face to face.

A person’s attire shows what he is.

His hearty laughter shows what he is.

The way he walks shows what he is.”

Sirach then attacks the clever ones with their cleverness, who are really detestable fools who lack wisdom. It is better to be a God fearing person without intelligence than an intelligent transgressor of the law. There are exacting clever people who are unjust. These clever people use the legal system to avoid a bad verdict. They pretend to bow down before you, but there is only deceit in their hearts. They pretend not to hear and not to care, until the right time comes along. Then they take advantage of you. Even if these clever fools are not strong, they will try to do as much evil as they can. They will find any opportunity to be wicked. Look at the appearances of people. See what clothes they are wearing. See how they laugh and walk. Thus you can spot these clever wicked fools.