Numbers 16:35

Hebrew Bible

33 They and all that they had went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed over them. So they perished from among the community. 34 All the Israelites who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “What if the earth swallows us too?” 35 Then a fire went out from the Lord and devoured the 250 men who offered incense. 36 (17:1) The Lord spoke to Moses: 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to pick up the censers out of the flame, for they are holy, and then scatter the coals of fire at a distance.

Sirach 16:6

Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus

4 For through one intelligent person a city can be filled with people, but through a clan of outlaws it becomes desolate. 5 Many such things my eye has seen, and my ear has heard things more striking than these. 6 In an assembly of sinners a fire is kindled, and in a disobedient nation wrath blazes up. 7 He did not forgive the ancient giants who revolted in their might. 8 He did not spare the neighbors of Lot, whom he loathed on account of their arrogance.

 Notes and References

"... Ben Sira begins his treatment of human moral responsibility with an examination of the disposition of the foolish person, i.e., the one who rejects the way toward wisdom embodied above all in God’s commandments and seeks another goal (compare 15:11–20). Ben Sira asserts that such a person is still responsible because, like all persons, he has the power to follow God’s commandments, but instead chooses to follow a way of life marked by self-reliance and pride, and this so distorts the fool’s thinking that he actually attributes his sinful behavior to God. Ben Sira then turns his attention to God’s relationship with such fools and how God consistently deals with them by requiting their deeds as they deserve (compare 16:1–16). This description includes both concrete historical examples of God’s punishment of the wicked (verses 7–10 and 15–16) and clear dogmatic formulations of the principle that everyone is judged according to their deeds (verses 12–14). Thus, Ben Sira comes quite close to a theology of retribution that is found elsewhere in the OT, intertwining general formulations of retribution found in sapiential thought (compare Psalms 7:15; 9:15; 57:6; Proverbs 1–8) with historical examples of retribution found in the traditions of Israel in which God is described as directly punishing those who are stubborn and rebellious (Numbers 11:3 [compare Sirach 16:6]; 16:32 [compare Sirach 16:6a]; Genesis 19:24–25 [compare Sirach 16:8]; Deuteronomy 7:1–4 [compare Sirach 16:9]; Exodus 14:5–31 [compare Sirach 16:15]) ..."

Schmidt, Andrew Jordan Wisdom, Cosmos, and Cultus in the Book of Sirach (p. 48) De Gruyter, 2019

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