The prophecy of Isaiah (Mk 7:6-7:7)

“Jesus said

To them.

‘Isaiah prophesied rightly

About you hypocrites!

As it is written.

‘This people honor me

With their lips,

But their hearts

Are far from me.

In vain

Do they worship me!

They teach

Human precepts

As doctrines.’”

 

ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Καλῶς ἐπροφήτευσεν Ἡσαΐας περὶ ὑμῶν τῶν ὑποκριτῶν, ὡς γέγραπται ὅτι Οὗτος ὁ λαὸς τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ·

μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με, διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων·

 

There is something similar to this in Matthew, chapter 15:7-9.  Mark indicated that Jesus said to these Pharisees (ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς) that Isaiah had prophesied correctly (Καλῶς ἐπροφήτευσεν Ἡσαΐας) about them being hypocrites (περὶ ὑμῶν τῶν ὑποκριτῶν) as it was written (ὡς γέγραπται) in Isaiah.  Hypocrites were people who played a part in a drama, but who were not sincere.  This Greek quotation from Isaiah, chapter 29:13, is from the Septuagint, almost the same as in Matthew.  This oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, centered on insincere worship.  These Israelites adored Yahweh with their mouths and lips, but their hearts were far away.  They only praised the Lord because of human demands, as they recited rote prayers.  Jesus repeated these verses of Isaiah.  These people honored him with their lips or mouth (ὅτι Οὗτος ὁ λαὸς τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ).  However, their hearts were far away from him (ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ).  In a vain or useless way, they adored, worshiped, or reverenced him (μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με).  They were teaching doctrines (διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας) that were human precepts or ordinances (ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων).  Thus Jesus, via Mark and Isaiah, was wailing against false worship and human precepts pretending to be divine worship and divine teachings.

Isaiah and vain worship (Mt 15:8-15:9)

“This people honors me

With their lips.

But their hearts

Are far from me.

In vain,

Do they worship me,

They teach human precepts

As doctrines.”

 

Ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ·

μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με, διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.

 

This Greek quotation from Isaiah, chapter 29:13 is from the Septuagint, almost the same as in Mark, chapter 7:6-7.  This oracle of Yahweh, via Isaiah, centers on insincere worship.  These Israelites adored Yahweh with their mouths and lips, but their hearts were far away.  They only praised the Lord because of human demands, as they recited rote prayers.  Jesus repeated the verses of Isaiah, via Matthew.  These people honored him with their lips or mouth (Ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ).  However, their hearts were far away from him (ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ’ ἐμοῦ).  In a vain or useless way, they adored, worshiped, or reverenced him (μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με).  They are teaching doctrines (διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας) that were human precepts or ordinances (ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων).  Thus Jesus, via Matthew and Isaiah, was wailing against false worship and human precepts as divine worship and teachings.

Senseless dreams (Sir 34:1-34:8)

“The senseless have vain hopes.

The senseless have false hopes.

Dreams give wings to fools.

As one who catches at a shadow,

As one who pursues the wind,

So is anyone who believes in dreams.

What is seen in dreams

Is but a reflection.

It is like a face

Looking at itself.

From an unclean thing

What can be clean?

From something false,

What can be true?

Divinations are unreal.

Omens are unreal.

Dreams are unreal.

Like a woman in labor,

The mind has fantasies.

Unless they are by intervention

From the Most High,

Pay no attention to them.

Dreams have deceived many.

Those who put their hope in them

Have failed.

Without such deceptions,

The law will be fulfilled.

Wisdom is complete

In the mouth of the faithful.”

Sirach takes on the role of dreams. The dreams of Joseph in Egypt played a major role in the Genesis story. However, Sirach seems to point holes in theory of dreams. He believes that the dreams of the senseless fools are in vain. They give false hope to these fools. They are like trying to catch a shadow or a gust of wind as they easily disappear. A dream is nothing more than a reflection of yourself. Your dreams are nothing more than looking at yourself. How can anything good or clean come from an unclean person? No truth can come from falsehood. Dreams are like unreal divinations and omens. They are like the fantasies of a woman in labor. Unless they are sent from the Most High God, dreams should be disregarded. Many people have been deceived by dreams. Sirach believes that the law and wisdom are more important than dreams.

The false worship of natural forces (Wis 13:1-13:2)

“All people who were ignorant of God

Were foolish by nature.

They were unable

From the good things that are seen

To know the one who exists.

They did not recognize the artisan

While paying heed to his works.

They supposed that either

Fire,

Or wind,

Or swift air,

Or the circle of the stars,

Or turbulent water,

Or the luminaries of heaven

Were the gods that rule the world.”

All these vain foolish men (πάντες ἄνθρωποι) are ignorant of God (Θεοῦ ἀγνωσία). They see the good things of this earth, but they do not recognize the creative artisan who made them. Instead they worship the very works that he has made such as fire, wind, air, stars, water, or other heavenly bodies. They claim that these are the gods that rule the world (κόσμου θεοὺς ἐνόμισαν).

The wicked (Eccl 8:10-8:14)

“Then I saw the wicked buried.

They used to go in to the holy place.

They used to go out of the holy place.

They were praised in the city

Where they had done such things.

This also is vanity.

Because sentence against an evil deed

Is not executed speedily.

The human heart is fully set to do evil.

Though sinners do evil a hundred times,

They still prolong their lives.

Yet I know

That it will be well with those who fear God,

Because they stand in fear before him.

But it will not be well with the wicked.

Neither will they prolong their days like a shadow,

Because they do not stand in fear before God.

There is a vanity which takes place on earth.

There are righteous people

Who are treated according to the conduct of the wicked.

There are wicked men

Who are treated according to the conduct of the righteous.

I said that this also is vanity.”

The wicked people die. However, they too went in and out of the holy place, the Temple. Everyone praised them for this, but it still was useless, vanity. The problem is that the sentence against an evil person is not carried out quickly. Humans see this, so that they continue to do evil deeds a hundred times more. This is the problem of the criminal justice system that takes too long to punish people. Thus the wicked continue to live a long life. However, Qoheleth knows that those who fear God will be okay. Those who do not fear God will only have a shadowy life, not the full life of those who fear God. However, there are vain or useless things here on earth. Sometimes the righteous are treated as if they are wicked. Vice versa, some wicked are treated as if they were righteous. This whole life is vanity or futile.

Humans as passing shadows (Eccl 6:10-6:12)

“Whatever has come to be

Has already been named.

It is known what human beings are.

They are not able to dispute

With those who are stronger.

The more words,

The more vanity,

So how is one better?

Who knows what is good for mortals?

They live the few days

Of their vain life

That passes like a shadow.

Who can tell them

What will be after them

Under the sun?”

Death is the final stage of man. Qoheleth says that we know the human condition. Humans do not dispute with stronger humans. They use words. How can one be better with just words since they are useless and vain? Who even knows what is good for mortals. Then in his usual despairing attitude, Qoheleth maintains that our few days on earth are just passing away like shadows, here today and gone tomorrow. If there is no sunshine, there is no shadow. Darkness comes and the shadow disappears. Who can tell what is going to happen after you have left your place in the sun and your shadows?

The inability to enjoy a wealthy life (Eccl 6:1-6:6)

“There is an evil

That I have seen under the sun.

It lies heavy upon humans.

God gives wealth.

God gives possessions.

God gives honor to people.

Thus they lack nothing of all that they desire.

Yet God does not enable them

To enjoy these things.

But a stranger enjoys them.

This is vanity.

It is a grievous illness.

If a man beget a hundred children,

If a man lives many years,

However many are the days of his years,

But he does not enjoy life’s good things,

If he has no burial,

I say

That a stillborn child is

Better off than he.

‘It comes into vanity.

It goes into darkness.

In darkness

Its name is covered.

Moreover it has not seen the sun

It does not know anything.

Yet it finds rest rather than him.’

Even though he should

Live a thousand years twice over,

Yet enjoy no good,

Do not all go to the one place?”

Qoheleth finds another evil under the sun in his pessimistic mood. What happens to those who have everything that they desire? Somehow they are not able to enjoy all their wealth. Instead a stranger seems to enjoy them. This is another useless vain thing, another grievous illness among us. Even if someone had 100 children and a long life, but cannot enjoy them, what is the point of all this? If he does not even get a burial, this wealthy person with a large family and a long life is no better off than a stillborn child. This is an amazing comparison. He maintains that the stillborn is better off because it lives in darkness with no name, never seeing the sun, or knowing anything, but finds a better rest than this old rich guy with the large family. Even though this person might live 2,000 years, he would not enjoy any good things. After all, the stillborn and this old guy, as well as everyone else, will end up in the same place, dead.