Stay away from stupid people (Sir 22:13-22:15)

“Do not talk much

With a senseless person!

Without sense,

He will despise

Everything about you.

Do not visit

An unintelligent person!

Stay clear of him!

You may have trouble.

You may be spattered

When he shakes himself off.

Avoid him!

Then you will find rest.

You will never be wearied

By his lack of sense.

What is heavier than lead?

What is its name

Except ‘Fool’?

Sand is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.

Salt is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.

A piece of iron is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.”

Sirach warns us to stay away from stupid people. Do not talk to these senseless people. They will despise you for your intelligence. There is a kind of elitism here. He did not want you to visit with unintelligent people. Stay away from them when they shake themselves like animals, because some of their filth might spatter on you. If you stay away from them, you will not be weary of their senseless talk. A fool is heavier to bear than lead. Practically everything is easier to live with than a stupid person. Thus sand, salt, and iron is better than these stupid senseless fools.

Spring visit (Song 2:8-2:9)

Female lover

“The voice of my beloved!

Look!

He comes

Leaping upon the mountains,

Bounding over the hills.

My beloved is

Like a gazelle,

Like a young stag.

Look!

There he stands

Behind our wall,

Gazing in at the windows,

Looking through the lattice.”

This female lover cries out that her beloved has come leaping over the mountains and bounding over hills, like a super hero. Her beloved is like a gazelle or antelope. He is like a young deer, a young stag. Suddenly he is behind the wall, gazing in at her window through the lattice, like our venetian blinds. This young stud has come to pay a visit, but stands outside peeking in, like a peeping Tom.

The prayer of the innocent (Ps 17:3-17:5)

“If you try my heart,

If you visit me by night,

If you test me,

You will find no wickedness in me.

My mouth does not transgress.

As for what others do,

By the word of your lips,

I have avoided the ways of the violent.

My steps have held fast to your paths.

My feet have not slipped.”

David, or the psalmist, proclaims his innocence. His heart is true. Even if you were to visit him at night or test him, no one would find wickedness in him. His mouth does not transgress, even when others do. He has avoided violent ways and held to the path of Yahweh. His feet have not slipped.

King Antiochus IV reverses himself about the Jews (2 Macc 9:13-9:18)

“Then the abominable fellow made a vow to the Lord, who would no longer have mercy on him. He stated that the holy city, which he was hastening to level to the ground in order to make it a cemetery, was now declared to be free. He had not considered the Jews worth burying. He had planned to throw them out with their children for the wild animals and for the birds to pick on. However, now he would make all of them equal to citizens of Athens. The holy sanctuary, which he had formerly plundered, he would adorn with the finest offerings. All the holy vessels he would give back many times over. The expenses, incurred for the sacrifices, he would provide from his own revenues. In addition to all this he also would become a Jew. He would visit every inhabited place to proclaim the power of God. However, when his sufferings did not in any way abate, for the judgment of God had justly come upon him, he gave up all hope for himself.”

This deathbed reversal of King Antiochus IV goes into greater detail here than in 1 Maccabees, chapter 6. For Jerusalem, the city that he was going to make into a cemetery, now he was declaring it a free city. For the Jews themselves, instead of letting their bodies lay in the open for the wild animals and birds, he was making them citizens like the people in Athens. He was going to give fine offerings for the sanctuary he had plundered. He was going to return all the holy vessels that he took and more. He would pay for the expenses of the sacrifices out of his own revenue. He also was willing to become a Jew. He was going to go every place to proclaim God. However, his own just sufferings did not stop. He gave up all hope for himself. Thus this born again conversion of the king included the idea of becoming a Jew, which was extraordinary.

Queen Esther calls for a fast (Esth 4:15-4:17)

“Then Queen Esther gave the messenger this answer to take back to Mordecai.

‘Go!

Gather all the Jews who are in Susa.

Fast on my behalf!

Neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day.

My maids and I will also go without food.

After that I will go to the king.

Contrary to the law,

Even if I must die, I die.’

Mordecai went away. He did what Queen Esther had told him to do.”

Queen Esther called for a fast among the Jews led by Mordecai on her behalf. She and her maids were going to keep a fast for 3 days. After the 3 days were over, she would visit the king, whether or not he would kill her. If she had to die, so be it. Mordecai did what she asked for.

Queen Esther sends a message to Mordecai (Esth 4:9-4:11)

“Hachratheus went in and told Queen Esther all these things that Mordecai had said. Then Queen Esther said to him.

‘Go to Mordecai and say.

‘All nations of the empire know

That if any man or woman goes to the king

Inside the inner court without being called,

There is no escape for that person.

All alike are to be put to death.

Only the one to whom the king stretches out the golden scepter is safe.

It is now thirty days since I was called to go to the king.’”

Hachratheus, the eunuch, went to Queen Esther and told her everything that Mordecai had said. Then she sent him back with another message. She told him that everyone knew that you just cannot stop in and visit with the king. If anyone shows up without being requested, they would die. Only when the king stretches out his golden scepter was it safe to visit with him. She had not seen the king in 30 days.