The Pharisee prayer (Lk 18:11-18:11)

“The Pharisee,

Standing by himself,

Was praying thus.

‘God!

I thank you

That I am not

Like other people.

I am not

A thief,

A wicked person,

An adulterer,

Or even

Like this tax collector.’”

 

ὁ Φαρισαῖος σταθεὶς ταῦτα πρὸς ἑαυτὸν προσηύχετο Ὁ Θεός, εὐχαριστῶ σοι ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ ὥσπερ οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, ἅρπαγες, ἄδικοι, μοιχοί, ἢ καὶ ὡς οὗτος ὁ τελώνης·

 

Luke has Jesus tell a parable about this Pharisee and a tax collector that is only found in this gospel.  Luke indicated that Jesus said this Pharisee stood by himself (ὁ Φαρισαῖος σταθεὶς ταῦτα πρὸς ἑαυτὸν).  He was praying (προσηύχετο) to God.  He said thank you to God (Ὁ Θεός, εὐχαριστῶ σοι) that he was not like other people (ὅτι οὐκ εἰμὶ ὥσπερ οἱ λοιποὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων).  He was not a thief, a robber, or a swindler (ἅρπαγες), unjust, unrighteous, or wicked (ἄδικοι), or an adulterer (μοιχοί), or even like this tax collector (ἢ καὶ ὡς οὗτος ὁ τελώνης).  This Pharisee considered himself a just, righteous person, not like other sinners who were evil.  Certainly, he was happy not to be a terrible Roman tax collector, like that other person in the Temple.  Thus, he uttered the prayer of an upstanding righteous Jewish person.  Do you thank God that you are better than other people?

 

The good son of the unrighteous man (Ezek 18:14-18:17)

“But if this man

Has a son

Who sees all the sins

That his father

Has done,

Then considers it,

But does not do likewise,

Should he live?

This son does not

Eat upon the mountains

Or lift up his eyes

To the idols

Of the house of Israel.

He does not

Defile his neighbor’s wife

Or wrong any one.

He does not

Exact pledges

Or commit robbery.

But he gives his bread

To the hungry.

He covers the naked

With a garment.

He withholds his hand

From iniquity.

He takes no advance

Or accrues interest.

He observes

My ordinances.

He follows

My statutes.

He shall not die

For his father’s iniquity.

He shall surely live.”

What happens to the son of an unrighteous person? What if the son sees all the sins that his father has done, but decides to not follow in his father’s footsteps? This son does not eat upon the mountains or lift up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel. He does not defile his neighbor’s wife or wrong any one. He does not exact pledges for loans or commit any robberies. However, he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with a garment. He stays away from iniquity. He does not take any advances or accrue interest. He observes Yahweh’s ordinances and statutes. He is not going to die because of his father’s iniquity. Rather he will live.

Saved from death (Sir 51:5-51:9)

“The Lord delivered me

From the deep belly of Hades.

He delivered me

From an unclean tongue.

He delivered me

From lying words.

He delivered me

From the slander

Of an unrighteous tongue                          

To the king.

My soul drew

Near to death.

My life was

On the brink of Hades below.

They surrounded me on every side.

There was no one to help me.

I looked for human assistance.

There was none.

Then I remembered your mercy.

O Lord!

I remembered from of old.

You rescue those

Who wait for you.

You save them

From the hand of their enemies.

I sent up my prayers from the earth.

I begged for rescue from death.”

This author shows how he was near death, when the Lord helped him. He was saved from the belly of hell or Hades, the shadowy underworld after death. He also was saved from the unclean and lying tongues of the unrighteous people who went to the king against him. His soul grew close to death as he was on the brink of hell or the underworld of Hades. He was surrounded on every side, when he realized that human help was not enough. Then he remembered the mercy of the Lord who had rescued and saved others from the hands of their enemies. Thus he sent up prayers from earth to heaven, begging to be rescued from death.

The power of fire (Wis 16:15-16:19)

“To escape from your hand

Is impossible.

The ungodly,

Refusing to know you,

Were flogged

By the strength of your arm.

They were pursued

By unusual rains.

They were pursued

By hail.

They were pursued

By relentless storms.

They were utterly consumed

By fire.

Most incredible of all,

In water,

Which quenches all things,

The fire had still greater effect.

The universe defends the righteous.

At one time,

The flame was restrained.

Thus it might not consume the creatures

Sent against the ungodly.

But seeing this,

They might know

That they were being pursued

By the judgment of God.

At another time,

Even in the midst of water

It burned more intensely than fire.

Thus they destroyed the crops

Of the unrighteous land.”

It is impossible to escape from the hand of God (σὴν χεῖρα), so that the ungodly (ἀσεβεῖς) were flogged with his hands. God pursued them with unusual rains, hail, and storms. However, they were consumed by fire. The water was not able to put out the powerful fire (δύναμιν φλέγει). In fact, the righteous and the creatures against the ungodly were saved. The ungodly, however, were to learn that they were pursued by the judgment of God (Θεοῦ κρίσει). Even in the middle of water the fires destroyed the crops of the unrighteous.

God is rigorous (Wis 12:23-12:27)

“Therefore those who lived

In an unrighteous way,

In a life of folly,

You tormented

Through their own abominations.

They went far astray

On the paths of error.

They accepted as gods

Those animals

That even their enemies despised.

They were deceived like foolish infants.

Therefore as though like children,

Who cannot reason,

You sent your judgment to mock them.

But those who have not heeded

The warning of light rebukes

Will experience the deserved judgment of God.

When in their suffering,

They became incensed

At those creatures

That they had thought to be gods,

They were punished by means of them.

They saw the true God.

They recognized the true God

Whom they had before refused to know.

Therefore the utmost condemnation

Came upon them.”

Once again, we are reflecting on God’s actions in Egypt. The unrighteous ones (ἀδίκους) were tormented by their own abominations. They had accepted various animals as gods (θεοὺς) as if they were unknowing little infants. When they reached the age of reason you mocked their gods with mild rebukes or the so-called plagues. But they did not heed these mild rebukes or plagues. Finally they recognized the true God (Θεὸν ἐπέγνωσαν ἀληθῆ) and thus they received the ultimate condemnation at the end. This was an attempt to justify the killing of the first born of Egypt. The Egyptians should have known better.

You cannot question the judgment of God (Wis 12:12-12:14)

“Who will say?

‘What have you done?’

Who will resist your judgment?

Who will accuse you?

For the destruction of nations

That you made?

Who will come before you?

Who will plead as an advocate?

Who will plead for the unrighteous?

Neither is there any god besides you,

Whose care is for all people.

Who can prove

That you have not judged unjustly?

Nor can any king confront you.

A monarch cannot confront you

About those whom you have punished.”

Who can question God? Who could resist him? Who will accuse him? Who will plead for the unrighteous? Who can prove that he judged unjustly? Notice that there is a shift from wisdom to God, who is then compared to all the other gods. This God (Θεός), formerly Yahweh, cares for all (πάντων) the people, not just the Israelites. No one could confront him, not even a king or a monarch (βασιλεὺς ἢ τύραννος). No one could question him about his punishments.

Fratricide (Wis 10:3-10:3)

“But when an unrighteous man

Departed from her

In his anger,

He perished.

Because in rage

He killed his brother.”

Once again, based on Genesis, chapter 4, we have a reference to the dispute between Cain and Abel, without their names being used. Throughout this chapter of Wisdom, no specific names are used. In this Genesis story, Cain was the first born of Adam and Eve. This unrighteous Cain got angry because his sacrifice was not accepted, while his brother’s was accepted. Cain in a rage killed his younger brother, Abel. There is no clarity on why Cain was so unrighteous and departed from this female wisdom. However, he surely killed his brother, so that the first human murder was fratricide (ἀδελφοκτόνοις). Actually, most murders are not done by strangers.