Sirach’s qualifications (Sir 33:16-33:18)

“I was the last

To keep vigil.

I was like a gleaner

Following the grape-pickers.

By the blessing of the Lord,

I arrived first.

Like a grape-picker,

I filled my wine press.

Consider that I have not labored

For myself alone.

But I labored

For all who seek instruction.

Hear me!

You!

Who are great among the people!

You!

Leaders of the congregation!

Pay heed!”

This biblical book takes a very personal tone as Sirach defends his position as a teacher. He was the last one to keep the vigil in his congregation. He compared his position to the gleaners who came after the grape-pickers. The mostly poor gleaners picked up the leftover grapes after the good grapes had been picked. However, by the grace of God, Sirach was able to fill up his wine press with all his grapes. In other words, he was not originally a major figure in his religious assembly, but he has progressed. He was not working for himself, but for all those who wanted further instruction about the law. Thus he proclaimed in the assembled congregation that they should listen to him. They should pay attention to him.

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