Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Sirach 46 – Celebrating Joshua, Moses’ successor and one “mighty in war” (46:1). “He himself waged the wars of the Lord” (46:3). This is not translated as “holy war” and the note to this line says the words really say that the Lord handed enemies over to him [Joshua]. Joshua’s name means Yahweh saves and the Greek for the name is Jesus. Interesting! The text says he “deserved his name” because he “was a great savior of the Chosen People (46:2). He was said to have stopped the sun in its place to keep the day longer.
Then comes Caleb who, with Joshua “did devoted service . . .by opposing the whole community” (46:7). He prevented the people from rebelling. Only he and Joshua were “brought into their inheritance” (46:8), into the land “where milk and honey flow” (46:9).
The Judges are celebrated next. They were men who responded to God’s call and “never turned their backs on the Lord” (46:11). “May their bones flower again from the tomb” (46:12).
Samuel is next. He was “the beloved of his Lord; prophet of the Lord, he instituted the kingdom, and anointed rulers over his people” (46:13). Even after his death, “he lifted up his voice from the earth in prophecy, to blot out the wickedness of the people” (46:20).
Sirach 47 – Nathan is the next great man, and then David. His victory against Goliath, his addition of music to worship and his many victories over the enemies his people are celebrated. In return the Lord “took away his sins, and exalted his horn forever; he gave him a royal covenant, and a glorious throne in Israel” (47:11).
Solomon was his wise son. He “reigned in a time of peace and God gave him peace all round so that he could raise a house to his name and prepare an everlasting sanctuary” (47:13). He was loved for the peace he brought. He brought much wealth in and gave his body over to women; he “became [a] slave to [his] appetites” (47:19), profaning his honor, and bringing wrath on his descendants (47:20). The kingdom was split but the Lord did not abandon the “line”.
Rehoboam, “stupidest member of the nation” (47:23) followed, and the people rebelled. Then Jeroboam “made Israel sin” to excess, finally resulting in their being exiled.
Acts 23:1-10 – Ananias, the High Priest, orders him struck [also against the Law in dealing with a Roman citizen]. The Sanhedrin is part Sadducee, part Pharisee. He tells of his Pharisee roots and tells them it “is for our hope in the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial” (23:6). Sadducees did not believe in angels, in the resurrection of the dead or in the retribution of God in the afterlife. The Pharisees do, though, and Paul gets them to support him.