What is better? (Sir 40:21-40:25)

“The flute makes

A sweet melody.

The harp makes

A sweet melody,

But a pleasant voice is

Better than either.

The eye desires grace.

The eye desires beauty.

But the eye desires

Green shoots of grain

More than either.

A friend is always welcome

A companion is always welcome.

But a sensible wife is

Better than either.

Kindred are for a time of trouble.

Helpers are for a time of trouble.

But almsgiving rescues

Better than either.

Gold makes one stand firm.

Silver makes one stand firm.

But good counsel is

Esteemed more than either.”

Sirach continues with his questions about what is better. However, here the answer is not wisdom. While wine and music gladden the heart, the love of friends is actually better for a happy heart. While the flute and the harp make sweet melodies, a pleasant singing voice is sweeter than both. While the eye desires grace and beauty, the eye, especially of a farmer, prefers to see the green sprouts of grain in the fields. Everyone welcomes a friend or companion in their house, but a sensible wife in the house is much better. In troubled times, family members and helpers can be supportive, but actually almsgiving helps you better than both family and friends. While gold and silver can help you stand firm, good counsel is better than both gold and silver.

Numerical blessings (Sir 25:7-25:12)

“I can think of nine

Whom I should call blessed.

My tongue proclaims a tenth.

A blessed man can rejoice

In his children.

A blessed man lives

To see the downfall of his foes.

Happy the man

Who lives With a sensible wife.

Happy is the one

Who does not plow

With an ox and donkey together.

Happy is the one

Who does not sin with his tongue.

Happy is the one

Who has not served an inferior.

Happy is the one

Who finds a friend.

Happy is the one

Who speaks to attentive listeners.

How great is the one

Who finds wisdom!

But none is superior to the one

Who fears the Lord.

Fear of the Lord

Surpasses everything.

To whom can we compare

To the one who has it?

The fear of the Lord

Is the beginning of love

For him.

Faith is the beginning

Of clinging to him.”

Once again, Sirach has a numerical proverb. There are 9 kinds of blessed people and a 10th that is even better. He would consider you a blessed happy person if you rejoiced in your children (1). You would be blessed happy if you see your foes fail (2). You are blessed happy, if you live with a sensible wife (3). You are blessed happy, if you plow your field without mixing up your ox and your donkey (4). You should be blessed happy, if you never sin with your tongue (5). You should be blessed happy, if you never have to serve an inferior (6). You are blessed happy, if you have found a friend (7) and people willing to listen to you (8). However, you the great ones are blessed happy when you find wisdom (9). You are the people who fear the Lord (10), since that surpasses everything. Nothing can compare to you, the ones who have the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of love for the Lord. It is the beginning of faith in the Lord.

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