The priests and the idols (Bar 6:48-6:52)

“When war

Or calamity

Comes upon them,

The priests consult together

As to where

They can

Hide themselves

With their gods.

How then can anyone

Fail to see

That these are not gods?

They cannot save themselves

From war

Or calamity.

They are made of wood,

Overlaid

With gold

Or silver.

It will afterward

Be known

That they are false.

It will be manifest

To all the nations,

To all the kings,

That they are not gods

But the work of human hands.

There is no work

Of God

In them.

Who then can fail

To know

That they are not gods?”

What happens when war or calamity comes to these priests and their idol gods? The priests consult together on where they can hide themselves with their gods. All can see that these are not gods. They cannot save themselves from either war or calamity, since they are made of wood, overlaid with gold or silver. Afterwards, everyone will know that these were false gods. It is will be clear to all the nations and all the kings that they are not gods. As they were the work of human hands, there is no work of God in them. This author asked the question, who would not recognize that these idols are not gods?

Introduction to this wisdom poem (Bar 3:9-3:14)

“Hear the commandments of life!

O Israel!

Give ear!

Learn wisdom!

Why is it?

O Israel!

Why is it

That you are

In the land

Of your enemies?

Why are you growing old

In a foreign country?

Why are you defiled

With the dead?

Why are you counted

Among those in Hades?

You have forsaken

The fountain of wisdom.

If you had walked

In the way of God,

You would be living

In peace forever.

Learn

Where there is wisdom!

Learn

Where there is strength!

Learn

Where there is understanding!

Thus you may

At the same time

Discern!

Where is there length of days?

Where is there life?

Where is there light for the eyes?

Where is there peace?”

Now we have an introduction to a poem about wisdom. Israel was to hear about the commandments of life. They were to listen to learn about wisdom. Why were they growing old in the land of their enemies? Why were they defiled like dead people in Hades. Why were they forgotten, when they could have had wisdom if they had walked in the ways of God. They could be living in everlasting peace. They had to learn where wisdom, strength, and understanding were. Thus they could have a peaceful long life, with light for their eyes.

Johanan asks Jeremiah for help (Jer 42:1-42:3)

“Then all the commanders

Of the forces,

With Johanan,

The son of Kareah,

Also with Azariah,

The son of Hoshaiah,

All the people,

From the least

To the greatest,

Approached

The prophet Jeremiah.

They said to him.

‘Be good enough

To listen

To our plea!

Pray to Yahweh!

Your God!

For us!

For all this remnant!

There are only a few

Of us left

Out of the many,

As you can see.

Let Yahweh

Your God

Show us

Where we should go!

What we should do!’”

Apparently this small group of Judeans, with the leaders Johanan and Azariah decided to approach Jeremiah. As he had been released to the protection of Governor Gedaliah, he probably was at Mizpah while the attack of Ishmael had taken place. Thus he was with the freed group at Gibeon. Interesting enough, they referred to Yahweh as Jeremiah’s God not their God. They wanted Jeremiah to intercede for them with Yahweh, as Moses had done centuries earlier. They were only a small group or remnant of what had been many people. They wanted to know where they should go and what to do. Like the preceding chapter, this section has a different numbered chapter in the Greek translation of the Septuagint, chapters 49 and 50, not chapter 42 as here.

Isaiah confronts King Hezekiah (Isa 39:3-39:4)

“Then the prophet Isaiah

Came to King Hezekiah.

He said to him.

‘What did these men say?

From where did they come to you?’

King Hezekiah answered.

‘They have come to me

From a far country,

From Babylon.’

He said.

‘What have they seen in your house?’

King Hezekiah answered.

‘They have seen all

That is in my house.

There is nothing in my storehouses

That I did not show them.’”

Once again, this is almost word for word from 2 Kings, chapter 20. King Hezekiah had been very generous to these Babylonian envoys. He had showed them all the treasures of his realm, when they came to see him about his recovery from an illness. Isaiah wanted to know who these visitors were and where they came from. King Hezekiah explained that they were from the far country of Babylon. Then Isaiah wanted to know what they saw. King Hezekiah replied that he had showed them just about everything in his house.

Wisdom at creation (Sir 24:3-24:7)

“‘I came forth

From the mouth of the Most High.

I covered the earth like a mist.

I dwelt in the highest heaven.

My throne was in a pillar of cloud.

Alone,

I compassed the vault of heaven.

I traversed the depths of the abyss.

Over waves of the sea,

Over all the earth,

Over every people,

Over every nation,

I have held sway.

Among all these,

I sought a resting place.

In whose territory

Should I abide?’”

Sirach has wisdom personally speak in the first person singular. She seems to come directly from the mouth of the Most High God, like the spirit of God, what Christians would later call the Holy Spirit. She covered the earth like a mist. She was in the highest heaven on a throne in a cloud pillar. She was alone in the vault of heaven and walked in the depths of the sea. She was in charge of everything, earth and sea, peoples and nations. She was looking for a resting place where she might live. She wanted to know where this might be.

The lover is gone (Song 6:1-6:1)

Chorus

“Where has your beloved gone?

O fairest among women!

Which way has your beloved turned?

We may seek him with you.”

This chorus of the Jerusalem daughters wanted to know where her lover had gone. They wanted to help her find him, since she was the fairest among all women. However, they needed some guidance.

Found lover (Song 3:4-3:4)

Female lover

“Scarcely had I passed the sentinels,

When I found him

Whom my soul loves.

I held him.

I would not let him go

Until I had brought him

Into my mother’s house.

I brought him

Into the chamber

Of her that conceived me.”

This female lover finds her male lover but does not say where he was found. It was right after she had met the sentinel watchmen. However, she would not let him go. She brought him to her mother’s house into the room where she had been conceived. This is a strong move by woman driven by love.