Jeremiah Chapter 2 (Bible Marathon Day 418)

Jeremiah 2New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 2

Infidelity of Israel.[a] The word of the Lord came to me: Go, cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear!

I remember the devotion[b] of your youth,
    how you loved me as a bride,
Following me in the wilderness,
    in a land unsown.
Israel was dedicated to the Lord,
    the first fruits[c] of his harvest;
All who ate of it were held guilty,
    evil befell them—oracle of the Lord.
Listen to the word of the Lord, house of Jacob!
    All you clans of the house of Israel,
    thus says the Lord:
What fault did your ancestors find in me
    that they withdrew from me,
Went after emptiness,
    and became empty themselves?
They did not ask, “Where is the Lord
    who brought us up from the land of Egypt,
Who led us through the wilderness,
    through a land of wastes and ravines,
A land of drought and darkness,
    a land which no one crosses,
    where no one dwells?”
I brought you into the garden land
    to eat its fine fruits,
But you entered and defiled my land,
    you turned my heritage into an abomination.
The priests did not ask,
    “Where is the Lord?”
The experts in the law[d] did not know me:
    the shepherds rebelled against me.
The prophets prophesied by Baal,
    and went after useless idols.
Therefore I will again accuse you—oracle of the Lord
    even your children’s children I will accuse.
10 Cross to the coast of Cyprus and see,
    send to Kedar[e] and carefully inquire:
    Where has anything like this been done?
11 Does any other nation change its gods?—
    even though they are not gods at all!
But my people have changed their glory
    for useless things.
12 Be horrified at this, heavens;
    shudder, be appalled—oracle of the Lord.
13 Two evils my people have done:
    they have forsaken me, the source of living waters;
They have dug themselves cisterns,
    broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
14 Is Israel a slave, a house-born servant?[f]
    Why then has he become plunder?
15 Against him lions roar,
    they raise their voices.
They have turned his land into a waste;
    his cities are charred ruins, without an inhabitant.
16 Yes, the people of Memphis[g] and Tahpanhes
    shave the crown of your head.
17 Has not forsaking the Lord, your God,
    done this to you?
18 And now, why go to Egypt,[h]
    to drink the waters of the Nile?
Why go to Assyria,
    to drink the waters of the River?
19 Your own wickedness chastises you,
    your own infidelities punish you.
Know then, and see, how evil and bitter
    is your forsaking the Lord, your God,
And your showing no fear of me,
    oracle of the Lord, the God of hosts.
20 Long ago you broke your yoke,
    you tore off your bonds.
    You said, “I will not serve.”
On every high hill, under every green tree,
    you sprawled and served as a prostitute.[i]
21 But I had planted you as a choice vine,
    all pedigreed stock;
How could you turn out so obnoxious to me,
    a spurious vine?
22 Even if you scour it with lye,
    and use much soap,
The stain of your guilt is still before me,
    oracle of the Lord God.
23 How can you say, “I am not defiled,
    I have not pursued the Baals”?
Consider your conduct in the Valley,[j]
    recall what you have done:
A skittish young camel,
    running back and forth,
24     a wild donkey bred in the wilderness,
Sniffing the wind in her desire—
    who can restrain her lust?
None seeking her need tire themselves;
    in her time they will find her.
25 Stop wearing out your feet
    and parching your throat!
But you say, “No use! No!
    How I love these strangers,
    after them I must go.”
26 As the thief is shamed when caught,
    so shall the house of Israel be shamed:
They, their kings, their princes,
    their priests and their prophets;
27 They say to a piece of wood, “You are my father,”
    and to a stone, “You gave me birth.”
They turn their backs to me, not their faces;
    yet in their time of trouble they cry out,
    “Rise up and save us!”
28 Where are the gods you made for yourselves?
    Let them rise up!
    Will they save you in your time of trouble?
For as numerous as your cities
    are your gods, O Judah!
And as many as the streets of Jerusalem
    are the altars you have set up for Baal.
29 Why are you arguing with me?
    You have all rebelled against me—oracle of the Lord.
30 In vain I struck your children;
    correction they did not take.
Your sword devoured your prophets
    like a ravening lion.
31 You people of this generation,
    consider the word of the Lord:
Have I become a wilderness to Israel,
    a land of gloom?
Why then do my people say, “We have moved on,
    we will not come to you any more”?
32 Does a young woman forget her jewelry,
    a bride her sash?
Yet my people have forgotten me
    days without number.
33 How well you pick your way
    when seeking love!
In your wickedness,
    you have gone by ways unclean!
34 On your clothing is
    the life-blood of the innocent,
    you did not find them committing burglary;
35 Nonetheless you say, “I am innocent;
    at least, his anger is turned away from me.”
Listen! I will judge you
    on that word of yours, “I have not sinned.”
36 How frivolous you have become
    in changing your course!
By Egypt you will be shamed,
    just as you were shamed by Assyria.
37 From there too you will go out,
    your hands upon your head;
For the Lord has rejected those in whom you trust,
    with them you will have no success.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:1–3:5 These chapters may contain some of Jeremiah’s early preaching. He portrays Israel as the wife of the Lord, faithful only in the beginning, when she walked behind him (2:2–3, 5; 3:1). Consistent with the marriage metaphor, he describes her present unfaithfulness as adultery (2:20; 3:2–3); now she walks behind the Baals.
  2. 2:2 Devotion: Heb. hesed; Israel’s gratitude, fidelity, and love for God.
  3. 2:3 First fruits: the first yield of a harvest offered as a sign of dependence on and gratitude toward the Lord of the land, thus divine property. Israel, then, is a gift made to God, set apart for his use; cf. Ex 23:19.
  4. 2:8 Experts in the law: the priests. The shepherds: the kings and nobles.
  5. 2:10 Kedar: a nomadic tribe in north Arabia. Cyprus and Kedar represent west and east.
  6. 2:14 House-born servant: one born in the master’s house, in contrast to a slave acquired by purchase or as a captive; cf. Lv 22:11.
  7. 2:16 Memphis: the capital of Lower Egypt. Tahpanhes: a frontier city of Egypt, east of the Delta. Shave the crown of your head: an image for Egypt plundering Judah; perhaps a reference to the capture of King Jehoahaz in 609 B.C. (2 Kgs 23:34).
  8. 2:18 Egypt and Assyria were the competing foreign powers favored by rival parties within Judah. The desire for such foreign alliances is a further desertion of the Lord, the source of living waters (v. 13), in favor of the above-named powers, symbolized by the waters of the Nile and the Euphrates rivers.
  9. 2:20 Served as a prostitute: idolatry (because Israel is the “bride” of God); cf. vv. 2–3.
  10. 2:23 The Valley: probably Ben-hinnom, south of Jerusalem, site of the sanctuary of Topheth, where children were sacrificed to Molech; cf. 7:31.
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Isaiah Chapter 40 (Bible Marathon Day 404)

Isaiah 40New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

II. Isaiah 40—55[a]

A. The Lord’s Glory in Israel’s Liberation

Chapter 40

Promise of Salvation

[b]Comfort, give comfort to my people,
    says your God.
Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
    that her service[c] has ended,
    that her guilt is expiated,
That she has received from the hand of the Lord
    double for all her sins.

    A voice proclaims:[d]
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord!
    Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
The rugged land shall be a plain,
    the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together;
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

A voice says, “Proclaim!”
    I answer, “What shall I proclaim?”
“All flesh is grass,
    and all their loyalty like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
    when the breath of the Lord blows upon it.”
“Yes, the people is grass!
    The grass withers, the flower wilts,
    but the word of our God stands forever.”

Go up onto a high mountain,
    Zion, herald of good news![e]
Cry out at the top of your voice,
    Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Cry out, do not fear!
    Say to the cities of Judah:
    Here is your God!
10 Here comes with power
    the Lord God,
    who rules by his strong arm;
Here is his reward with him,
    his recompense before him.
11 Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
    in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
    leading the ewes with care.

Power of God and the Vanity of Idols

12 Who has measured with his palm the waters,
    marked off the heavens with a span,
    held in his fingers the dust of the earth,
    weighed the mountains in scales
    and the hills in a balance?[f]
13 Who has directed the spirit of the Lord,
    or instructed him as his counselor?
14 Whom did he consult to gain knowledge?
    Who taught him the path of judgment,
    or showed him the way of understanding?

15 See, the nations count as a drop in the bucket,
    as a wisp of cloud on the scales;
    the coastlands weigh no more than a speck.[g]
16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,[h]
    nor its animals be enough for burnt offerings.
17 Before him all the nations are as nought,
    as nothing and void he counts them.

18 To whom can you liken God?
    With what likeness can you confront him?
19 An idol? An artisan casts it,
    the smith plates it with gold,
    fits it with silver chains.[i]
20 Is mulberry wood the offering?
    A skilled artisan picks out
    a wood that will not rot,
    Seeks to set up for himself
    an idol that will not totter.

21 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
    Was it not told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood from the founding of the earth?
22 The one who is enthroned above the vault of the earth,
    its inhabitants like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a veil
    and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in,
23 Who brings princes to nought
    and makes the rulers of the earth as nothing.
24 Scarcely are they planted, scarcely sown,
    scarcely their stem rooted in the earth,
When he breathes upon them and they wither,
    and the stormwind carries them away like straw.

25 To whom can you liken me as an equal?
    says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high
    and see who created[j] these:
He leads out their army and numbers them,
    calling them all by name.
By his great might and the strength of his power
    not one of them is missing!
27 Why, O Jacob, do you say,[k]
    and declare, O Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord,
    and my right is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is God from of old,
    creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary,
    and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    abundant strength to the weak.
30 Though young men faint and grow weary,
    and youths stagger and fall,
31 They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength,
    they will soar on eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
    walk and not grow faint.

Footnotes:

  1. 40:1–55:13 Chapters 40–55 are usually designated Second Isaiah (or Deutero-Isaiah) and are believed to have been written by an anonymous prophet toward the end of the Babylonian exile. Isaiah, who is named frequently in chaps. 1–39, does not appear here; the Assyrians, the great threat during the eighth century, hardly appear; the Judeans are in Babylon, having been taken there by the victorious Babylonians; Cyrus, the Persian king, is named; he will defeat Babylon and release the captives. Second Isaiah, who sees this not as a happy circumstance but as part of God’s age-old plan, exhorts the Judeans to resist the temptations of Babylonian religion and stirs up hopes of an imminent return to Judah, where the Lord will again be acknowledged as King (52:7). Because the prophet proclaimed the triumph of Persia over Babylon, his message would have been considered seditious, and it is very likely for this reason that the collection would have circulated anonymously. At some point it was appended to Is 1–39 and consequently was long considered the work of Isaiah of Jerusalem of the eighth century. But the fact that it is addressed to Judean exiles in Babylon indicates a sixth-century date. Nevertheless, this eloquent prophet in many ways works within the tradition of Isaiah and develops themes found in the earlier chapters, such as the holiness of the Lord (cf. note on 1:4) and his lordship of history. Second Isaiah also develops other Old Testament themes, such as the Lord as Israel’s redeemer or deliverer (cf. Ex 3:8; 6:6; 15:13; 18:8).
  2. 40:1 The “voices” of vv. 3, 6 are members of the heavenly court addressing the prophet; then v. 1 can be understood as the Lord addressing them. It is also possible to translate, with the Vulgate, “Comfort, give comfort, O my people” (i.e., the exiles are called to comfort Jerusalem). The juxtaposition of “my people” and “your God” recalls the covenant formulary.
  3. 40:2 Service: servitude (cf. Jb 7:1) and exile.
  4. 40:3–5 A description of the return of the exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem (Zion). The language used here figuratively describes the way the exiles will take. The Lord leads them, so their way lies straight across the wilderness rather than along the well-watered routes usually followed from Mesopotamia to Israel. Mt 3:3 and gospel parallels adapt these verses to the witness of John the Baptizer to Jesus.
  5. 40:9 Herald of good news: i.e., of the imminent restoration of the people to their land. This theme of the proclamation of the good news occurs elsewhere in Second Isaiah; cf. also 41:27; 52:7.
  6. 40:12 The implicit answer is “the hand of the Lord” (v. 2). Waters…heavens…earth: together form the universe; cf. Gn 1:1–2. Span: the distance between the extended little finger and the thumb. Fingers: lit., “three fingers” (i.e., thumb, index, and middle).
  7. 40:15 Drop…wisp of cloud…a speck: the smallest constituent parts of the cosmic waters, heavens, and earth mentioned in v. 12.
  8. 40:16 Lebanon…fuel: the famed cedars would not be enough to keep the fires of sacrifice burning.
  9. 40:19 Chains: needed to hold the idol steady when carried in processions; cf. v. 20; Jer 10:4.
  10. 40:26 Created: see note on Gn 1:1–2:3. By name: for he is their Creator.
  11. 40:27–28 The exiles, here called Jacob-Israel (Gn 32:29), must not give way to discouragement: their Lord is the eternal God.

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.