Introduction: Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Bible Marathon Day 384)

Introduction: Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Bible Marathon Day 384)

The Book of Isaiah reveals God’s judgment and salvation.
Isaiah is often referred to as “The Messianic Prophet”, because of his many prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus. The New Testament quotes and applies more scriptures from the book of Isaiah than any other Old Testament prophet.

Yet Isaiah’s work was not solely foretelling the future. A prophet of God was not primarily a future teller, but one who spoke God’s word to the people of his own day.

The regard in which Isaiah was held was so high that the book was frequently called “the Fifth Gospel”, the prophet who spoke more clearly of Christ and the Church than any others.

ISAIAH, THE MAN

His name (Isaiah) means “salvation of the Lord” or “the Lord is salvation”, and is certainly symbolic of his message. He is described as “the son of Amoz” (Isa 1:1; 2:1; 13:1), of whom the Bible reveals nothing.

Isaiah is widely regarded as one of the greatest prophets of the Bible. His name means “YHWH (the LORD) is salvation.” He lived in Jerusalem and the prophecies God gave him were directed toward Israel, Judah and other nations. Jewish tradition says he was of royal descent, and he may have been a cousin to King Uzziah. This may have given him access to the kings of Judah in Jerusalem.
The Date
The ministry of Isaiah extended from the death of Uzziah in 742 B.C. to Sennacherib’s siege of Jerusalem in 701 B.C., and it may have continued even longer, until after the death of Hezekiah in 687 B.C. Later legend (the Martyrdom and Ascension of Isaiah) claims that Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, executed Isaiah by having him sawed in two; cf. Hb 11:37.
The Book

The book of Isaiah can be divided into two major parts:

The Assyrian Period (chapters 1-39) – The prophet proclaims the Lord’s indictment against Judah and Jerusalem, and the coming judgment against them. He portrays the sovereign rule of the Lord of Hosts who judges not only Israel, but heathen nations as well. He prophesies that the Lord will use Assyria, Babylon, and the Medes to execute His purposes, and afterward judge each of these along other nations, bringing them to desolation because of their sins. (Harkrider)

The Babylonian Period (chapters 40-66) – Isaiah exhorts an afflicted people to have faith and patience. He describes the salvation and future blessings to come upon the true Israel of God. Though Isaiah did not live during the period of Babylonian captivity, through inspiration he was able to speak words of comfort to those who would experience that difficult time of Israel’s history. (ibid.)

Jesus Christ, The most important Theme

Almost one-third of the chapters of the book of Isaiah contain prophecies about Jesus Christ, addressing both His first and second comings. Isaiah provides more prophecy of the second coming of Christ than any other Old Testament prophet. The following are some prophecies about Christ in both His first and second comings:

“He shall judge between the nations” (Isaiah 2:4).
He was to be the “Branch of the Lord” (Isaiah 4:2; Isaiah 11:1).
He would be born of a virgin and be called “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 8:8, 10).
He would be a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (Isaiah 8:14).
An eternal “government will be upon His shoulder” and He would be called the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6-
7).
The Holy Spirit would “rest upon Him” (Isaiah 11:2).
He would be “a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation” (Isaiah 28:16).

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Sirach Chapter 51 (Bible Marathon Day 384)

Ben Sira 51New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 51

A Prayer of Thanksgiving

I give you thanks, Lord and King,[a]
    I praise you, God my savior!
I declare your name, refuge of my life,
    because you have ransomed my life from death;
You held back my body from the pit,
    and delivered my foot from the power of Sheol.

You have preserved me from the scourge of the slanderous tongue,
    and from the lips of those who went over to falsehood.
You were with me against those who rise up against me;
    You have rescued me according to your abundant mercy
From the snare of those who look for my downfall,
    and from the power of those who seek my life.

From many dangers you have saved me,
    from flames that beset me on every side,
From the midst of fire till there was not a whiff of it,[b]
    from the deep belly of Sheol,
From deceiving lips and painters of lies,
    from the arrows of a treacherous tongue.

I was at the point of death,
    my life was nearing the depths of Sheol;
I turned every way, but there was no one to help;
    I looked for support but there was none.
Then I remembered the mercies of the Lord,
    his acts of kindness through ages past;
For he saves those who take refuge in him,
    and rescues them from every evil.

So I raised my voice from the grave;
    from the gates of Sheol I cried for help.
10 I called out: Lord, you are my Father,
    my champion, my savior!
Do not abandon me in time of trouble,
    in the midst of storms and dangers.
11 I will always praise your name
    and remember you in prayer!

Then the Lord heard my voice,
    and listened to my appeal.
12 He saved me from every evil
    and preserved me in time of trouble.
For this reason I thank and praise him;
    I bless the name of the Lord.[c]

Ben Sira’s Pursuit of Wisdom

13 [d]When I was young and innocent,
    I sought wisdom.
14 She came to me in her beauty,
    and until the end I will cultivate her.

15 As the blossoms yielded to ripening grapes,
    the heart’s joy,
My feet kept to the level path
    because from earliest youth I was familiar with her.

16 In the short time I paid heed,
    I met with great instruction.
17 Since in this way I have profited,
    I will give my Teacher grateful praise.

18 I resolved to tread her paths;
    I have been jealous for the good and will not turn back.
19 I burned with desire for her,
    never relenting.
I became preoccupied with her,
    never weary of extolling her.

I spread out my hands to the heavens
    and I came to know her secrets.
20 For her I purified my hands;
    in cleanness I attained to her.

At first acquaintance with her, I gained understanding
    such that I will never forsake her.
21 My whole being was stirred to seek her;
    therefore I have made her my prize possession.
22 The Lord has rewarded me with lips,
    with a tongue for praising him.

23 Come aside to me, you untutored,
    and take up lodging in the house of instruction;[e]
24 How long will you deprive yourself of wisdom’s food,
    how long endure such bitter thirst?
25 I open my mouth and speak of her:
    gain wisdom for yourselves at no cost.

26 Take her yoke upon your neck;
    that your mind may receive her teaching.
For she is close to those who seek her,
    and the one who is in earnest finds her.

27 See for yourselves! I have labored only a little,
    but have found much.
28 Acquire but a little instruction,
    and you will win silver and gold through her.

29 May your soul rejoice in God’s mercy;
    do not be ashamed to give him praise.
30 Work at your tasks in due season,
    and in his own time God will give you your reward.

Footnotes:

  1. 51:1–30 This chapter contains two appendixes: a prayer (vv. 1–12) and an autobiographical poem praising wisdom (vv. 13–30).
  2. 51:4 So complete is the deliverance from fire that even the smell of smoke cannot be detected. Cf. Dn 3:27.
  3. 51:12After this verse the Hebrew text gives the litany of praise contained below. It is similar to Ps 136. Though not found in any versions, and therefore of doubtful authenticity, the litany seems from internal evidence to go back to the time of Ben Sira.

    Give praise to the Lord, for he is good, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to the God of glory, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to the Guardian of Israel, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to the creator of all things, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to the redeemer of Israel, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to God who gathers the dispersed of Israel, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to God who builds the city and sanctuary, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to God who makes a horn sprout forth for the house of David, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to God who has chosen the sons of Zadok as priests, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to the Shield of Abraham, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to the Rock of Isaac, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to the Mighty One of Jacob, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to God who has chosen Zion, for God’s love endures forever;

    Give praise to the King, the king of kings, for God’s love endures forever.

    He has lifted up the horn of his people! Let this be his praise from all the faithful,

    From Israel, the people near to him. Hallelujah! (Cf. Ps 148:14.)

  4. 51:13–30 A Hebrew manuscript from Qumran demonstrates the acrostic style of vv. 13–20. This is an elegant twenty-three-line alphabetic acrostic hymn that describes Ben Sira’s relationship to wisdom: (a) his approach to wisdom through prayer, persistent study, and instruction (vv. 13–17); (b) his purification from sin, his enlightenment, and ardent desire to possess wisdom (vv. 18–22). Ben Sira concludes with an urgent invitation to his students to receive instruction in wisdom from him, and to live by it, because wisdom gives herself to those who seek her (vv. 23–26); and for their labor, God will reward them in his own time (vv. 27–30). Cf. Mt 11:28; Eccl 12:14.
  5. 51:23 House of instruction: this may be a metaphor for Ben Sira’s teaching.

Sirach Chapter 50 (Bible Marathon Day 383)

Ben Sira 50New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 50

Simeon, Son of Jochanan

Greatest of his family, the glory of his people,
    was Simeon the priest, son of Jochanan,[a]
In whose time the house of God was renovated,
    in whose days the temple was reinforced.
In his time also the retaining wall was built
    with powerful turrets for the temple precincts.
In his time the reservoir was dug,
    a pool as vast as the sea.
He protected the people against brigands
    and strengthened the city against the enemy.
How splendid he was as he looked out from the tent,
    as he came from behind the veil!
Like a star shining among the clouds,
    like the full moon at the festal season;
Like sun shining upon the temple of the King,
    like a rainbow appearing in the cloudy sky;
Like blossoms on the branches in springtime,
    like a lily by running waters;
Like a green shoot on Lebanon in summer,
    like the fire of incense at sacrifice;
Like a vessel of hammered gold,
    studded with all kinds of precious stones;
10 Like a luxuriant olive tree heavy with fruit,
    a plant with branches abounding in oil;
11 Wearing his glorious robes,
    and vested in sublime magnificence,
As he ascended the glorious altar
    and lent majesty to the court of the sanctuary.
12 When he received the portions from the priests
    while he stood before the sacrificial wood,
His sons stood round him like a garland,
    like young cedars on Lebanon;
And like poplars by the brook they surrounded him,
13     all the sons of Aaron in their glory,
With the offerings to the Lord in their hands,
    in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel.
14 Once he had completed the service at the altar
    and arranged the sacrificial hearth for the Most High,
15 And had stretched forth his hand for the cup,
    to offer blood of the grape,
And poured it out at the foot of the altar,
    a sweet-smelling odor to God the Most High,
16 Then the sons of Aaron would sound a blast,
    the priests, on their trumpets of beaten metal;
A blast to resound mightily
    as a reminder before the Most High.
17 All the people with one accord
    would fall with face to the ground
In adoration before the Most High,
    before the Holy One of Israel.

18 Then hymns would re-echo,
    and over the throng sweet strains of praise resound.
19 All the people of the land would shout for joy,
    praying to the Merciful One,
As the high priest completed the service at the altar
    by presenting to God the fitting sacrifice.
20 Then coming down he would raise his hands
    over all the congregation of Israel;
The blessing of the Lord would be upon his lips,
    the name of the Lord would be his glory.
21 The people would again fall down
    to receive the blessing of the Most High.

22 And now, bless the God of all,[b]
    who has done wonders on earth;
Who fosters growth from the womb,
    fashioning it according to his will!
23 May he grant you a wise heart
    and abide with you in peace;
24 May his goodness toward Simeon last forever;
    may he fulfill for him the covenant with Phinehas
So that it may not be abrogated for him
    or his descendants while the heavens last.

Epilogue

25 My whole being loathes two nations,
    the third is not even a people:[c]
26 The inhabitants of Seir[d] and Philistia,
    and the foolish people who dwell in Shechem.

27 Wise instruction, appropriate proverbs,[e]
    I have written in this book—
I, Yeshua Ben Eleazar Ben Sira—
    as they poured forth from my heart’s understanding.
28 Happy those who meditate upon these things;
    wise those who take them to heart!
29 If they put them into practice, they can cope with anything,
    for the fear of the Lord is their lamp.

Footnotes:

  1. 50:1–21 Son of Jochanan: Simeon II, in whose time as high priest (219–196 B.C.) great works were accomplished for the benefit of public worship and welfare (vv. 1–4). Ben Sira, a contemporary, describes detailed liturgical action, perhaps pertaining to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, cf. Lv 16).
  2. 50:22–24 Ben Sira urges the reader to praise and bless God for his wondrous works and then invokes a blessing on all that they may enjoy peace and gladness of heart and the abiding goodness of the Most High.
  3. 50:25 Not even a people: the Samaritans.
  4. 50:26 Seir: Mount Seir in the territory of the Edomites. Shechem: a city in Samaria.
  5. 50:27 This colophon may have been the original ending of the book. It is unusual for a biblical writer to append his name.

Sirach Chapter 49 (Bible Marathon Day 383)

Ben Sira 49New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 49

Josiah and the Prophets[a]

The name Josiah is like blended incense,
    made lasting by a skilled perfumer.
Precious is his memory, like honey to the taste,
    like music at a banquet.
For he grieved over our betrayals,
    and destroyed the abominable idols.
He kept his heart fixed on God,
    and in times of lawlessness practiced virtue.
Except for David, Hezekiah, and Josiah,
    they all were wicked;
They abandoned the Law of the Most High,
    these kings of Judah, right to the very end.
So he gave over their power to others,
    their glory to a foreign nation
Who burned the holy city
    and left its streets desolate,
As foretold by Jeremiah. They mistreated him
    who even in the womb had been made a prophet,
To root out, pull down, and destroy,
    and then to build and to plant.
Ezekiel beheld a vision
    and described the different creatures of the chariot;
He also referred to Job,
    who always persevered in the right path.
10 Then, too, the Twelve Prophets
    may their bones flourish with new life where they lie!—
They gave new strength to Jacob
    and saved him with steadfast hope.

The Heroes After the Exile

11 How to extol Zerubbabel?[b]
    He was like a signet ring on the right hand,
12 And Jeshua, Jozadak’s son?
    In their time they rebuilt the altar
And erected the holy temple,
    destined for everlasting glory.
13 Exalted be the memory of Nehemiah!
    He rebuilt our ruined walls,
Restored our shattered defenses,
    and set up gates and bars.

The Earliest Patriarchs

14 Few on earth have been created like Enoch;[c]
    he also was taken up bodily.
15 Was ever a man born like Joseph?
    Even his dead body was provided for.
16 Glorious, too, were Shem and Seth and Enosh;
    but beyond that of any living being was the splendor of Adam.

Footnotes:

  1. 49:1–10 Ben Sira’s praise of King Josiah (vv. 1–3) and of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the minor prophets (vv. 7–10) derives from their spirit of fidelity to the Lord and his Law (vv. 4–6, 10).
  2. 49:11–13 The rebuilding of the Temple and the repair of the walls of the Holy City led to a restoration of religious worship and civil authority.
  3. 49:14–16 The patriarchs here mentioned were glorious because of their spirit of religion, i.e., their profound reverence for God and obedience to him. The splendor of Adam: suggests his direct origin from God (Gn 1:26–27; 2:7).

Sirach Chapter 48 (Bible Marathon Day 382)

Ben Sira 48New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 48

Until like fire a prophet appeared,
    his words a flaming furnace.
The staff of life, their bread, he shattered,
    and in his zeal he made them few in number.
By God’s word he shut up the heavens
    and three times brought down fire.
How awesome are you, Elijah!
    Whose glory is equal to yours?
You brought a dead body back to life
    from Sheol, by the will of the Lord.
You sent kings down to destruction,
    and nobles, from their beds of sickness.
You heard threats at Sinai,
    at Horeb avenging judgments.
You anointed the agent of these punishments,
    the prophet to succeed in your place.
You were taken aloft in a whirlwind,
    in a chariot with fiery horses.
10 You are destined, it is written, in time to come
    to put an end to wrath before the day of the Lord,
To turn back the hearts of parents toward their children,
    and to re-establish the tribes of Israel.
11 Blessed is the one who shall have seen you before he dies![a]

12     When Elijah was enveloped in the whirlwind,
Elisha was filled with his spirit;[b]
He worked twice as many marvels,
    and every utterance of his mouth was wonderful.
During his lifetime he feared no one,
    nor was anyone able to intimidate his will.
13 Nothing was beyond his power;
    and from where he lay buried, his body prophesied.[c]
14 In life he performed wonders,
    and after death, marvelous deeds.
15 Despite all this the people did not repent,
    nor did they give up their sins,
Until they were uprooted from their land
    and scattered all over the earth.

Judah

But Judah remained, a tiny people,
    with its ruler from the house of David.
16 Some of them did what was right,
    but others were extremely sinful.

Hezekiah and Isaiah[d]

17 Hezekiah fortified his city
    and had water brought into it;
With bronze tools he cut through the rocks
    and dammed up a mountain site for water.[e]
18 During his reign Sennacherib led an invasion
    and sent his adjutant;
He shook his fist at Zion
    and blasphemed God in his pride.
19 The people’s hearts melted within them,
    and they were in anguish like that of childbirth.
20 But they called upon the Most High God
    and lifted up their hands to him;
He heard the prayer they uttered,
    and saved them through Isaiah.
21 God struck the camp of the Assyrians
    and routed them with a plague.
22 For Hezekiah did what was right
    and held fast to the paths of David,
As ordered by the illustrious prophet
    Isaiah, who saw truth in visions.
23 In his lifetime he turned back the sun
    and prolonged the life of the king.
24 By his powerful spirit he looked into the future
    and consoled the mourners of Zion;
25 He foretold what would happen till the end of time,
    hidden things yet to be fulfilled.

Footnotes:

  1. 48:11 Verse 11b is not extant in the Hebrew; it is represented in the Greek tradition by “for we too shall certainly live.” But this can hardly be the original reading.
  2. 48:12–16 Elisha continued Elijah’s work (vv. 12–14), but the obstinacy of the people eventually brought on the destruction of the kingdom of Israel and the dispersion of its subjects. Judah, however, survived under the rule of Davidic kings, both good and bad (vv. 15–16).
  3. 48:13 The reference in v. 13b seems to be to 2 Kgs 13:21 where it is related that a dead man, thrown into Elisha’s grave, came back to life.
  4. 48:17–25 The fidelity of King Hezekiah (vv. 17, 22), the zeal of the prophet Isaiah, and the prayer of the people (v. 20) were effective. The Assyrian oppressors under Sennacherib withdrew (vv. 18–19, 21). The king’s life was prolonged. The people were consoled by Isaiah’s words about the future (vv. 23–25); the “consolations” refer to Is 40–66.
  5. 48:17 The reference is to the famous Siloam tunnel in present-day Jerusalem.

Sirach Chapter 47 (Bible Marathon Day 382)

Chapter 47

Nathan, David, and Solomon

After him came Nathan[a]
    who served in David’s presence.
Like the choice fat of sacred offerings,
    so was David in Israel.
He played with lions as though they were young goats,
    and with bears, like lambs of the flock.
As a youth he struck down the giant
    and wiped out the people’s disgrace;
His hand let fly the slingstone
    that shattered the pride of Goliath.
For he had called upon the Most High God,
    who gave strength to his right arm
To defeat the skilled warrior
    and establish the might of his people.
Therefore the women sang his praises
    and honored him for “the tens of thousands.”
When he received the royal crown, he battled
    and subdued the enemy on every side.
He campaigned against the hostile Philistines
    and shattered their power till our own day.
With his every deed he offered thanks
    to God Most High, in words of praise.
With his whole heart he loved his Maker
    and daily had his praises sung;
10 He added beauty to the feasts
    and solemnized the seasons of each year
09 With string music before the altar,
    providing sweet melody for the psalms
10 So that when the Holy Name was praised,
    before daybreak the sanctuary would resound.
11 The Lord forgave him his sins
    and exalted his strength forever;
He conferred on him the rights of royalty
    and established his throne in Israel.

12 Because of his merits he had as successor[b]
    a wise son, who lived in security:
13 Solomon reigned during an era of peace,
    for God brought rest to all his borders.
He built a house to the name of God,
    and established a lasting sanctuary.
14 How wise you were when you were young,
    overflowing with instruction, like the Nile in flood!
15 Your understanding covered the whole earth,
    and, like a sea, filled it with knowledge.
16 Your fame reached distant coasts,
    and you were beloved for your peaceful reign.
17 With song and proverb and riddle,
    and with your answers, you astounded the nations.
18 You were called by that glorious name
    which was conferred upon Israel.[c]
Gold you gathered like so much iron;
    you heaped up silver as though it were lead.
19 But you abandoned yourself to women
    and gave them dominion over your body.
20 You brought a stain upon your glory,
    shame upon your marriage bed,
Wrath upon your descendants,
    and groaning upon your deathbed.
21 Thus two governments came into being,
    when in Ephraim kingship was usurped.
22 But God does not withdraw his mercy,
    nor permit even one of his promises to fail.
He does not uproot the posterity of the chosen,
    nor destroy the offspring of his friends.
So he gave to Jacob a remnant,
    to David a root from his own family.

Rehoboam and Jeroboam

23 Solomon finally slept with his ancestors,
    and left behind him one of his sons,
Broad[d] in folly, narrow in sense,
    whose policy made the people rebel.
Then arose the one who should not be remembered,
    the sinner who led Israel into sin,
Who brought ruin to Ephraim
24     and caused them to be exiled from their land.

Elijah and Elisha

25 Their sinfulness grew more and more,
    and they gave themselves to every evil[e]

Footnotes:

  1. 47:1–11 An idealized portrait of David; cf. 1 Chronicles.
  2. 47:12–24 The standard view of Solomon is echoed by Ben Sira, but he affirms the divine promise (v. 22) to David’s line.
  3. 47:18 Cf. 2 Sm 12:25, where Solomon is called Jedidiah, “beloved of the Lord.” A similar term is used of Israel in Jer 11:15.
  4. 47:23 Broad: the name Rehoboam means “the people is broad, or expansive,” that is, widespread. The sinner: Jeroboam; cf. 1 Kgs 12:1, 20, 26–32.
  5. 47:25–48:11 The prophetic ministry of Elijah amid widespread idolatry is here described as a judgment by fire (48:1). Through his preaching, marvels, and acts of vengeance against God’s enemies, he succeeded for a time in restoring faith in and worship of the Lord (vv. 2–8). His mysterious departure from this life gave rise to the belief that he did not die but would return before the day of the Lord. Cf. Mal 3:23–24; Mt 17:9–13.

Sirach Chapter 46 (Bible Marathon Day 381)

Ben Sira 46New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 46

Joshua, Caleb, the Judges, and Samuel

Valiant warrior was Joshua,[a] son of Nun,
    aide to Moses in the prophetic office,
Formed to be, as his name implies,
    the great savior of God’s chosen ones,
To punish the enemy
    and to give to Israel their heritage.
What glory was his when he raised his hand,
    to brandish his sword against the city!
Who could withstand him
    when he fought the battles of the Lord?[b]
Was it not by that same hand the sun stopped,
    so that one day became two?
He called upon the Most High God
    when his enemies beset him on all sides,
And God Most High answered him
    with hailstones of tremendous power,
That rained down upon the hostile army
    till on the slope he destroyed the foe;
That all the doomed nations might know
    the Lord was watching over his people’s battles.
He was indeed a devoted follower of God
    and showed himself loyal in Moses’ lifetime.
He and Caleb,[c] son of Jephunneh,
    when they opposed the rebel assembly,
Averted God’s anger from the people
    and suppressed the wicked complaint.
Because of this, these two alone were spared
    from the six hundred thousand infantry,
To lead the people into their heritage,
    the land flowing with milk and honey.
The strength God gave to Caleb
    remained with him even in old age
Till he won his way onto the summits of the land;
    his family too received a heritage,
10 That all the offspring of Jacob might know
    how good it is to be a devoted follower of the Lord.

11 The Judges,[d] each one of them,
    whose hearts were not deceived,
Who did not abandon God—
    may their memory be ever blessed!
12 May their bones flourish with new life where they lie,
    and their names receive fresh luster in their children!
13 Beloved of his people, dear to his Maker,
    pledged in a vow from his mother’s womb,
As one consecrated to the Lord in the prophetic office,
    was Samuel, the judge who offered sacrifice.
At God’s word he established the kingdom
    and anointed princes to rule the people.
14 By the law of the Lord he judged the congregation,
    and visited the encampments of Jacob.
15 As a trustworthy prophet he was sought out
    and his words proved him to be a true seer.
16 He, too, called upon the mighty Lord
    when his enemies pressed him on every side,
    and offered up a suckling lamb.
17 Then the Lord thundered from heaven,
    and the tremendous roar of his voice was heard.
18 He brought low the rulers of the enemy
    and destroyed all the lords of the Philistines.
19 When Samuel neared the end of life,
    he testified before the Lord and his anointed prince,
“No bribe or secret gift have I taken from anyone!”
    and no one could accuse him.
20 Even after death his guidance was sought;
    he made known to the king his fate.
From the grave he spoke in prophecy
    to put an end to wickedness.

Footnotes:

  1. 46:1–6 Joshua: whose name means “the Lord is savior” (v. 1), was the instrument through which God delivered his people in marvelous ways (vv. 2–6) by destroying their enemies, whose land he gave to the Israelites as a heritage (v. 1).
  2. 46:3 The battles of the Lord: cf. Jos 6–11.
  3. 46:7–10 Caleb: with Joshua he advised Moses to enter Canaan, despite the counsel of their companion scouts and the rebellion of the people. He led the next generation of Israelites into the promised land. He received a portion of land which he himself had conquered; cf. Jos 15:13–14.
  4. 46:11–20 Of the judges praised and blessed for their fidelity to God in opposing idolatry, Samuel was the greatest (vv. 11–13, 19). He was judge, prophet, and priest. Through his sacrificial offering he obtained victory over the Philistines. He established the kingdom, anointed kings (vv. 13–18), and even after his death foretold the king’s fate (v. 20).

Sirach Chapter 45 (Bible Marathon Day 381)

Ben Sira 45New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 45

Praise of Moses, Aaron, and Phinehas

From him came the man[a]
    who would win the favor of all the living:
Dear to God and human beings,
    Moses, whose memory is a blessing.
God made him like the angels in honor,
    and strengthened him with fearful powers.
At his words God performed signs
    and sustained him in the king’s presence.
He gave him the commandments for his people,
    and revealed to him his glory.
Because of his trustworthiness and meekness
    God selected him from all flesh;
He let him hear his voice,
    and led him into the cloud,
Where he handed over the commandments,
    the law of life and understanding,[b]
That he might teach his precepts to Jacob,
    his judgments and decrees to Israel.

He also raised up, like Moses in holiness,[c]
    his brother Aaron, of the tribe of Levi.
He made his office perpetual
    and bestowed on him priesthood for his people;
He established him in honor
    and crowned him with lofty majesty.
He clothed him in splendid garments,
    and adorned him with glorious vestments:
Breeches, tunic, and robe
    with pomegranates at the hem
And a rustle of bells round about,
    whose pleasing sound at each step
Would make him heard within the sanctuary,
    a reminder for the people;
10 The sacred vestments of gold, violet,
    and crimson, worked with embroidery;
The breastpiece for decision, the ephod and cincture
11     with scarlet yarn, the work of the weaver;
Precious stones with seal engravings
    in golden settings, the work of the jeweler,
To commemorate in incised letters
    each of the tribes of Israel;
12 On his turban a diadem of gold,
    its plate engraved with the sacred inscription—
Majestic, glorious, renowned for splendor,
    a delight to the eyes, supremely beautiful.
13 Before him, no one had been adorned with these,
    nor may they ever be worn by any other
Except his sons and them alone,
    generation after generation, for all time.
14 His grain offering is wholly burnt
    as an established offering twice each day;
15 For Moses ordained him
    and anointed him with the holy oil,
In a lasting covenant with him and his family,
    as permanent as the heavens,
That he should serve God in the priesthood
    and bless the people in his name.
16 He chose him from all the living
    to sacrifice burnt offerings and choice portions,
To burn incense, sweet odor as a memorial,
    and to atone for the people of Israel.
17 He gave to him the laws,
    and authority to prescribe and to judge:
To teach precepts to the people,
    and judgments to the Israelites.
18 Strangers rose in anger against him,
    grew jealous of him in the desert—
The followers of Dathan and Abiram,
    and the band of Korah in their defiance.
19 When the Lord saw this he became angry,
    and destroyed them in his burning wrath.
He brought against them a marvel,
    and consumed them in flaming fire.
20 Then he increased the glory of Aaron
    and bestowed upon him his inheritance:
The sacred offerings he allotted to him,
    with the showbread[d] as his portion;
21 The oblations of the Lord are his food,
    a gift to him and his descendants.
22 But he holds no land among the people
    nor shares with them their heritage;
For the Lord himself is his portion and inheritance
    among the Israelites.

23 Phinehas too, the son of Eleazar,
    was the courageous third of his line
When, zealous for the God of all,
    he met the crisis of his people
And, at the prompting of his noble heart,
    atoned for the children of Israel.
24 Therefore, on him also God conferred the right,
    in a covenant of friendship, to provide for the sanctuary,
So that he and his descendants
    should possess the high priesthood forever.
25 For even his covenant with David,
    the son of Jesse of the tribe of Judah,
Was an individual heritage through one son alone;
    but the heritage of Aaron is for all his descendants.

So now bless[e] the Lord
    who has crowned you with glory!
26 May he grant you wisdom of heart
    to govern his people in justice,
Lest the benefits you confer should be forgotten,
    or your authority, throughout all time.

Footnotes:

  1. 44:23(end)–45:5 Moses manifested God’s power through marvels (vv. 1–3), God’s authority through the commandments and the Law (v. 5), and God’s mercy through the intimacy granted him by the Lord for his own faithfulness and meekness (v. 4).
  2. 45:5 On God’s intimacy with Moses, see Ex 33:11; Nm 12:8; Dt 34:10.
  3. 45:6–25 Ben Sira here expresses his reverence and esteem for the priesthood of the old covenant. He recalls God’s choice of Aaron and his sons for this sublime office (vv. 6–7), and describes in detail the beauty of the high priest’s vestments (vv. 8–13). He relates the ordination of Aaron at the hands of Moses (v. 15), and describes the priestly functions, namely, offering sacrifice to God (v. 16), and blessing (v. 15), teaching, governing, and judging the people (v. 17); the inheritance of the high priest (vv. 20–22); the punishment of those who were jealous of Aaron (vv. 18–19); and the confirmation of the covenant of the priesthood with Aaron’s descendants through Phinehas (vv. 23–25).
  4. 45:20 Showbread: cf. note on Ex 25:29–30.
  5. 45:25–26 So now bless: Ben Sira addresses the whole line of high priests, especially Simon II; cf. 50:1.

Sirach Chapter 44 (Bible Marathon Day 380)

Ben Sira 44New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 44

Praise of Israel’s Great Ancestors[a]

I will now praise the godly,
    our ancestors, in their own time,[b]
The abounding glory of the Most High’s portion,
    his own part, since the days of old.
Subduers of the land in kingly fashion,
    renowned for their might,
Counselors in their prudence,
    seers of all things in prophecy,
Resolute princes of the flock,
    lawgivers and their rules,
Sages skilled in composition,
    authors of sharp proverbs,
Composers of melodious psalms,
    writers of lyric poems;
Stalwart, solidly established,
    at peace in their own estates—
All these were glorious in their time,
    illustrious in their day.
Some of them left behind a name
    so that people recount their praises.
Of others no memory remains,
    for when they perished, they perished,
As if they had never lived,
    they and their children after them.
10 Yet these also were godly;
    their virtues have not been forgotten.
11 Their wealth remains in their families,
    their heritage with their descendants.
12 Through God’s covenant their family endures,
    and their offspring for their sake.
13 And for all time their progeny will endure,
    their glory will never be blotted out;
14 Their bodies are buried in peace,
    but their name lives on and on.
15 At gatherings their wisdom is retold,
    and the assembly proclaims their praises.

The Early Ancestors

16 [Enoch[c] walked with the Lord and was taken,
    that succeeding generations might learn by his example.]
17 Noah, found just and perfect,
    renewed the race in the time of devastation.
Because of his worth there were survivors,
    and with a sign to him the deluge ended.
18 A lasting covenant was made with him,
    that never again would all flesh be destroyed.
19 Abraham, father of many peoples,
    kept his glory without stain:
20 He observed the Most High’s command,
    and entered into a covenant with him;
In his own flesh he incised the ordinance,[d]
    and when tested was found loyal.
21 For this reason, God promised him with an oath
    to bless the nations through his descendants,
To make him numerous as grains of dust,
    and to exalt his posterity like the stars,
Giving them an inheritance from sea to sea,
    and from the River[e] to the ends of the earth.

22 For Isaac, too, he renewed the same promise
    because of Abraham, his father.
The covenant with all his forebears was confirmed,
23     and the blessing rested upon the head of Israel.
God acknowledged him as the firstborn,
    and gave him his inheritance.
He fixed the boundaries for his tribes
    and their division into twelve.

Footnotes:

  1. 44:1–50:24 As in the previous section God’s glory shone forth in the works of nature, so in these chapters it is revealed through the history of God’s people as seen in the lives of their ancestors, prophets, priests, and rulers. The example of these great people, whose virtues are recalled here, constitutes a high point of Ben Sira’s teaching.
  2. 44:1–15 The reader is here introduced to those people of Israel, later mentioned by name, who through various achievements and beneficial social activities have acquired great renown (vv. 1–8, 14–15); and also to those who, though forgotten, endure through the fruit of their virtues and through their families because of God’s covenant with them (vv. 9–15).
  3. 44:16 Enoch: because of his friendship with God and his unusual disappearance from the earth, this prophet’s renown was great among the chosen people, particularly in the two centuries just before the coming of Christ; cf. Gn 5:21–24; Hb 11:5. The present verse is an expansion of the original text; cf. 49:14.
  4. 44:20 In his own flesh…ordinance: the covenant of circumcision; cf. Gn 17:10–14. And when tested…loyal: Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac at the Lord’s command; cf. Gn 22:1–12.
  5. 44:21 The River: the Euphrates; cf. Gn 2:14.

Sirach Chapter 43 (Bible Marathon Day 380)

Ben Sira 43New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 43

The beauty of the celestial height and the pure firmament,
    heaven itself manifests its glory.
The sun at its rising shines at its fullest,
    a wonderful instrument, the work of the Most High!
At noon it scorches the earth,
    and who can bear its fiery heat?
Like a blazing furnace of solid metal,
    the sun’s rays set the mountains aflame;
Its fiery tongue consumes the world;
    the eyes are burned by its fire.
Great indeed is the Lord who made it,
    at whose orders it urges on its steeds.
It is the moon that marks the changing seasons,
    governing the times, their lasting sign.
By it we know the sacred seasons and pilgrimage feasts,
    a light which wanes in its course:
The new moon like its name[a] renews itself;
    how wondrous it is when it changes:
A military signal for the waterskins on high,
    it paves the firmament with its brilliance,
The beauty of the heavens and the glory of the stars,
    a shining ornament in the heights of God.
10 By the Lord’s command the moon keeps its appointed place,
    and does not fade as the stars keep watch.
11 Behold the rainbow! Then bless its Maker,
    for majestic indeed is its splendor;
12 It spans the heavens with its glory,
    the hand of God has stretched it out in power.

13 His rebuke marks out the path for the hail,
    and makes the flashes of his judgment shine forth.
14 For his own purposes he opens the storehouse
    and makes the rain clouds fly like vultures.
15 His might gives the clouds their strength,
    and breaks off the hailstones.
16 The thunder of his voice makes the earth writhe;
    by his power he shakes the mountains.
17 A word from him drives on the south wind,
    whirlwind, hurricane, and stormwind.
He makes the snow fly like birds;
    it settles down like swarms of locusts.
18 Its shining whiteness blinds the eyes,
    the mind marvels at its steady fall.
19 He scatters frost like salt;
    it shines like blossoms on the thornbush.
20 He sends cold northern blasts
    that harden the ponds like solid ground,
Spreads a crust over every body of water,
    and clothes each pool with a coat of armor.
21 When mountain growth is scorched by heat,
    and flowering plains as by fire,
22 The dripping clouds restore them all,
    and the scattered dew enriches the parched land.
23 His is the plan that calms the deep,
    and plants the islands in the sea.
24 Those who go down to the sea recount its extent,
    and when we hear them we are thunderstruck;
25 In it are his creatures, stupendous, amazing,
    all kinds of life, and the monsters of the deep.
26 For him each messenger succeeds,
    and at his bidding accomplishes his will.

27 More than this we need not add;
    let the last word be, he is the all![b]
28 Let us praise him the more, since we cannot fathom him,
    for greater is he than all his works;
29 Awesome indeed is the Lord,
    and wonderful his power.
30 Lift up your voices to glorify the Lord
    as much as you can, for there is still more.
Extol him with renewed strength,
    do not grow weary, for you cannot fathom him.
31 For who has seen him and can describe him?
    Who can praise him as he is?
32 Beyond these, many things lie hidden;
    only a few of his works have I seen.
33 It is the Lord who has made all things;
    to those who fear him he gives wisdom.

Footnotes:

  1. 43:8 Like its name: there is a play in the Hebrew text on the words for moon and renewal. Waterskins: clouds as source of rain.
  2. 43:27 The all: the perfections reflected in creation are found in a transcendent way in God, who alone is their source.