Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

Again, king Seleucus, smitten on his way to Jerusalem by disease, vowed unto the Sovereign Lord, saying on this wise :

“ That the holy city to which he was going in haste, to lay it even with the ground, and to make it a common graveyard, he would declare free: and, as touching the Jews whom he had decided not even to count worthy of burial, but to cast them out to the beasts, with their infants, for the birds to devour, he would make them all equal to citizens of Athens; and the holy sanctuary, which before he had spoiled, he would adorn with goodliest offerings, and would restore all the sacred vessels many times multiplied, and out of his own revenues would defray the charges that were required for the sacrifices; and, besides all this, that he would become a Jew, and would visit every inhabited place, publishing abroad the might of God.” 1

1 2 Macc. ix. 14. 17.

2

Yet another charitable action is attributed to Judas Maccabeus, who, on discovering that his Jewish followers had acted wrongly in touching dead bodies of idolaters, exhorted the multitude to keep themselves from sin. “And when he had made a collection, man by man, to the sum of two thousand drachmas of silver, he sent into Jerusalem to offer a sacrifice for sin, doing therein right well and honourably."

If now we pass from alleged facts, to principles, or exhortations concerning religious giving, we have Tobit saying: “Give of thy bread to the hungry, and of thy garments to them that are naked : of all thine abundance give alms." ;

It is also clear that the author of the book of Tobit regarded the giving of alms as pleasing to God, and a means of obtaining the divine blessing.

2 2 Macc. xii. 38. 43.

3 Tobit iv. 16.

He also thought that giving should be done with discrimination, and in proportion to a man's income. Exhorting his young son as to his manner of life,

Tobit says:

2 Tobit iv.

“Give alms of thy substance ; and when thou givest alms, let not thine eye be envious: turn not away thy face from any poor man, and the face of God shall not be turned away from thee. As thy substance is, give alms of it according to thine abundance: if thou have little, be not afraid to give alms according to that little ; for thou layest up a good treasure for thyself against the day of necessity: because alms delivereth from death, and suffereth

not to come into darkness. Alms is a good gift in the 1 Tobit iv. 7-11. sight of the Most High for all that give it.” 1

And to show that almsgiving should be performed with discrimination, he added : “ Pour out thy bread on the burial of the just, and give nothing to sinners.”

Later on in life Tobit advised his son Tobias thus: “Good is prayer with fastings and alms, and righteous

A little with righteousness is better than much with unrighteousness. It is better to give alms than to lay up gold : alms doth deliver from death, and it shall purge

away all sin. They that do alms and righteousness shall 3 Tobit xii. 8-10. be filled with life." 3

It is noteworthy also that the principles practised during early life, Tobit could recommend still in old age; for we read that on recovering his sight, at threescore and six," he gave alms, and feared the Lord more and more," whilst the concluding words of his deathbed sayings were : “And now,

my children, consider what alms doeth, and how 4 Tobit xiv. 3-11. righteousness doth deliver.” H

ness.

These principles, taught in Tobit, are re-echoed and enlarged upon in Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, wherein we read, concerning gifts to God and His ministers, “My son, according as thou hast, do well unto thyself, and bring offerings unto the Lord worthily.”. More 1 Ecclus. xiv. 11. fully this same writer says : “He that keepeth the law multiplieth offerings; He that taketh heed to the commandments sacrificeth a

peace offering.
He that requiteth a good turn offereth fine flour :
And he that giveth alms sacrificeth a thank offering.
To depart from wickedness is a thing pleasing to the Lord;
And to depart from unrighteousness is a propitiation.
See that thou appear not in the presence of the Lord

empty.
For all these things are to be done because of the com-

mandment.
The offering of the righteous maketh the altar fat;
And the sweet savour thereof is before the Most High.
The sacrifice of a righteous man is acceptable ;
And the memorial thereof shall not be forgotten.
Glorify the Lord with a good eye,
And stint not the firstfruits of thine hands.
In every gift show a cheerful countenance,
And dedicate thy tithes with gladness.
Give unto the Most High according as He hath given;
And as thy hand hath found, give with a good eye.
For the Lord recompenseth,
And He will recompense thee sevenfold.” 2

The following is much to the same effect : “Fear the Lord with all thy soul;

And reverence His priests.
With all thy strength love Him that made thee:
And forsake not His ministers.

2 Ecclus. XXXV. I-II.

1 Ecclus, vii. 2932.

% Ecclus. iii. 30.

3 Ecclus. vii. 10.

Fear the Lord and glorify the priest :
And give him his portion, even as it is commanded thee:
The firstfruits, and the trespass offering, and the gift of

the shoulders,
And the sacrifice of sanctification, and the firstfruits of

holy things.
Also to the poor man stretch out thy hand,
That thy blessing may be perfected.” 1

This last sentence takes our thoughts from
religious offerings to God, to almsgiving to men,
concerning which the son of Sirach says:
“Water will quench a flaming fire ;

And almsgiving will make atonement for sins.” ?
Again :
“Be not faint-hearted in thy prayer ;

And neglect not to give alms.”3
Once more:
“ With Him the alms of a man is as a signet ;

And He will keep the bounty of a man as the apple of 4 Ecclus xvii. 22. the eye."

But, at the same time, alms were not recom-
mended to be given to all alike, as the following
shows :
“There shall no good come to him that continueth to do

evil,
Nor to him that giveth no alms.
Give to the godly man,
And help not the sinner.
Do good to one that is lowly,
And give not to an ungodly man:
Keep back his bread, and give it not to him,
Lest he overmaster thee thereby :
For thou shalt receive twice as much evil
For all the good thou shalt have done unto him.

1 Ecclus. xii. 3-7.

% Ecclus. xxix. 12-13

For the Most High also hateth sinners,
And will repay vengeance unto the ungodly.
Give to the good man,
And help not the sinner.” 1
There yet remain to be noticed a few

passages

in
Ecclesiasticus, some of which look at almsgiving
from quite a lofty point of view. Thus:
"Shut up alms in thy store-chambers [i.e. for beneficent

purposes],
And it shall deliver thee out of all affliction :
It shall fight for thee against thine enemy
Better than a mighty shield and a ponderous spear."
Once more :
“He that sacrificeth of a thing wrongfully gotten,
His offering is made in mockery.
And the mockeries of wicked men are not well pleasing.
The Most High hath no pleasure in the offerings of the

ungodly,
Neither is He pacified for sins by the multitude of

sacrifices. As one that killeth the son before his father's eyes Is he that bringeth a sacrifice from the goods of the poor.”S 3 Ecclus. xxxiv.

If now we summarize what we have gathered upon our subject from the Apocrypha, we notice first, and negatively, that we have found no passages implying that the payment of tithes and other offerings was repealed, or fell into disuse, during the period succeeding the return of the Jews from captivity, to the final destruction of their temple, or, say, during the three centuries preceding the Christian era.

On the contrary, we have met with historical incidents and allusions showing that the temple

18-20.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »