Numerical saying (Sir 26:5-26:6)

“Of three things,

My heart is frightened.

I am in great fear of a fourth.

The three are

Slander in the city,

The gathering of a mob,

And false accusations.

All these are worse

Than death.

But it is heartache.

It is a sorrow

When a wife

Is jealous of a rival.

A tongue-lashing

Makes it known to all.”

Sirach once again imitates the numerical sayings of Proverbs. Sirach was frightened of three things, (1) slander in the city, (2) a gathering mob, and (3) false accusations. All of these 3 were worse than death itself. However, the greatest fear was the heartache and sorrow of a wife who was jealous of a rival. This may be a reference to polygamy where one wife was jealous of another wife. Apparently, this became known to everybody when the wife issued a tongue-lashing.

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