The ruin of the vineyard (Isa 5:5-5:6)

“Now I will tell you

What I will do

To my vineyard.

I will remove its hedge.

It shall be devoured.

I will break down its wall.

It shall be trampled down.

I will make it a waste.

It shall not be pruned.

It shall not be hoed.

It shall be overgrown

With briers.

It shall be overgrown

With thorns.

I will also command the clouds

That they rain no rain upon it.”

Now Isaiah carries this metaphor forward. What should he do with this wild grape vineyard? He decided to remove the hedges and walls that protected this vineyard from other animals and wild growth. He wanted this vineyard to be devoured and trampled on, so that it would go to waste. He was not going to prune or hoe it. He wanted it to be overgrown with wild briers and thorns. He even was going so far as to command the clouds not to rain on this vineyard. That was a stretch.

The high priest Simon the builder (Sir 50:1-50:4)

“Simon the high priest,

Son of Onias,

Was the leader

Of his brothers.

He was

The pride of his people.

In his life

He repaired the house.

In his time,

He fortified the temple.

He laid the foundations

For the high double walls.

These were

The high retaining walls

For the temple enclosure.

In his days,

A water cistern was dug.

He made a reservoir

Like the sea in circumference.

He considered

How to save his people

From ruin.

He fortified the city

Against any siege.”

Sirach ends his work with a whole chapter about the high priest Simon, son of Onias. Who is this guy and why is he important? This high priest Simon is Simeon the just or the righteous one. He may have been one of the last members of the questionable Great Assembly. There is a question whether he was Simeon I (310-273) or Simeon II (220-195) since both their fathers were called Onias. The general consensus today is that it is the later which would make him a contemporary of Sirach. Maybe that is why he got so much ink. He certainly was a leader among his fellow priests and a source of pride for the people. He repaired and fortified the Temple, always a good thing to do. He put down some foundations to make the walls higher around the Temple. He helped to build a large reservoir of water for the city. He tried to save his people from ruin so that he fortified the city against any kind of siege.

The happy wise person (Sir 14:20-14:27)

“Happy is the person

Who meditates on wisdom,

Who reasons intelligently,

Who reflects in his heart on her ways,

Who ponders her secrets,

Who pursues wisdom like a hunter,

Who lies in wait on her paths,

Who peers through her windows,

Who listens at her doors,

Who encamps near her house,

Who fastens his tent peg to her walls,

Who pitches his tent near her,

Who so occupies an excellent lodging place,

Who places his children under her shelter,

Who lodges under her boughs,

Who is sheltered by her from the heat,

Who dwells in the midst of her glory.”

Sirach describes the happy person who has a relationship to wisdom. These happy people will meditate on wisdom. They will reason intelligently. They will reflect on wisdom. They will ponder the secrets of wisdom. They will pursue wisdom like a hunter who lies in wait for wisdom. They will look through the windows and listen at the doors of wisdom. They will camp near the house of wisdom. They will have tent pegs on the walls of the house of wisdom. They will have pitched a tent next to the house of wisdom, which is an excellent lodging place. They will place their children under the shelter of wisdom. They will live under the branches of wisdom, so that they will be sheltered by wisdom from the midday sun. They will live in the glory of wisdom. These happy people will really like wisdom.

Lack of self control (Prov 25:26-25:28)

“Like a muddied spring,

Or a polluted fountain,

Is the righteous

Who give way before the wicked.

It is not good

To eat much honey.

It is not good

To seek honor on top of honor.

Like a city breached without walls,

Is one who lacks self control.”

The righteous who give into the wicked are like muddied spring water or polluted fountains. Do not eat too much honey. Do not seek too many honors. You need self control. Otherwise you are like an open city where there are no gates and no walls. Self control is important.

Yahweh gave us the holy land (Ps 80:8-80:13)

“You brought a vine out of Egypt.

You drove out the nations.

You planted it.

You cleared the ground for it.

It took deep root.

It filled the land.

The mountains were covered with its shade.

The mighty cedars were covered with its branches.

It sent out its branches to the sea.

It sent out its shoots to the River.

Why then have you broken down its walls?

Thus all who pass along the way pluck its fruit.

The boar from the forest ravages it.

All that move in the field feed on it.”

This is a great parable about the vine and Israel that was so familiar to all. The vine was taken from Egypt. Then the ground was prepared for it and planted. Thus nations were cleared out to let the vine grow as it took deep root. This vine spread all over the land as it covered the mountains and the trees. Its branches went from the Mediterranean Sea to the Euphrates River. However, then its walls were broken down. Now anyone can come along and pluck its fruit. All the wild animals and any animals come to feed on it. Israel was being ravaged by all sets of animals and people.

The wicked city (Ps 55:8-55:11)

“‘I would hurry to find a shelter for myself,

From the raging wind and tempest.’

Confuse them!

Yahweh!

Confound their speech!

I see violence and strife in the city.

Day and night they go around it

On its walls.

Iniquity and trouble are within it.

Ruin is in its midst.

Oppression and fraud

Do not depart from its marketplace.”

David wanted to find a shelter for himself in the wilderness that would protect him from the raging wind and stormy rain.  At the same time, he wanted Yahweh to confuse the speech of those in the city.  Like today, he said that there was so much violence and strife in the city.  Does that sound like the good old days?  Violence in the cities has been around for over 2,500 years.  So what is new?  There was iniquity and trouble within the city both day and night, around the walls of the city.  Ruin was coming to them because of the oppression and fraud of their marketplace.  Those old fashioned business men were cheating in the marketplace.  Wow!  That is strange to hear.

Beautiful Mount Zion (Ps 48:1-48:3)

A song, a psalm of the Korahites

“Great is Yahweh!

Greatly to be praised

In the city of our God!

His holy mountain,

Beautiful in elevation,

Is the joy of all the earth.

Mount Zion is

In the far north,

In the city of the great king.

Within its citadels

God has shown himself

A sure defense.”

Psalm 48 is yet another of the 11 psalms of the sons of the Korah, like the preceding ones. There is a glorification of Mount Zion, the northern mountain in Jerusalem, where the Temple and the palace of David were built. Yahweh was great and thus greatly praised. His holy beautiful mountain was a joy to the whole world. This Mount Zion was in the far northern part of the city of the great king, the city of David. Within its walls, God had shown himself to be a great defender of this mountain.