False tongue (Sir 28:22-28:26)

“A false tongue

Has no power

Over the godly.

They will not be burned

In its flame.

Whoever forsakes the Lord

Will fall into its power.

It will burn among them.

It will not be put out.

It will be sent out against them

Like a lion.

Like a leopard,

It will mangle them.

As you fence in your property

With thorns,

So make a door.

Make a bolt

For your mouth.

As you lock up your silver,

So make balances

For your words.

As you lock up your gold,

So make scales

For your words.

Take care!

Do not err

With your tongue.

Otherwise you will fall victim

To one lying in wait.”

Sirach says that this false tongue does not have any power over the godly. They will not be burned by its flames. However, those who forsake the Lord will fall under the power of these false tongues. The fire will burn in them so that they will not be able to put out this fire. They will feel like they are being attacked by a lion or mauled by a leopard. You need to put a door and a bolt on your mouth just as you fence in your property with thorn bushes to keep you from false speech. You should weigh what you say and balance your words, just as you protect your silver and gold. Do not make mistakes with your tongue by falling victim to those who are waiting to catch you.

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The cruel painful illness of King Antiochus IV (2 Macc 9:5-9:10)

“But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him an incurable and unseen blow. As soon as he stopped speaking he was seized with a pain in his bowels with sharp internal tortures, for which there was no relief. That was very just, for he had tortured the bowels of others with many and strange inflictions. Yet he did not in any way stop his insolence. He was even more filled with arrogance, breathing fire in his rage against the Jews. He gave orders to drive even faster. So it came about that he fell out of his chariot as it was rushing along. The fall was so hard as to torture every limb of his body. Thus only a little while before, he had thought in his super human arrogance that he could command the waves of the sea. He imagined that he could weigh the high mountains in a balance. Finally, he was brought down to earth. He was carried in a litter, making the power of God manifest to all. Worms swarmed all over the ungodly man’s body. While he was still living in anguish and pain, his flesh rotted away. Because of the stench, the whole army felt revulsion at his decay. Because of his intolerable stench, no one was able to carry the man who a little while before had thought that he could touch the stars of heaven.”

Here the cause of the illness of King Antiochus IV was not depression but the God of Israel who struck him down. Notice that it is the God of Israel not the almighty Shaddai God who struck him down. This biblical author went into great detail about his illness. The king had a bowel problem because he had tortured others with infliction of various stomach disorders. He still wanted to get to Jerusalem so he asked his chariot to go faster. However, then he fell out of the chariot causing him even more pain. King Antiochus IV had been arrogant so that he thought that he could command the sea waves, measure the height of mountains, and touch the stars. However, his body swarmed with worms as it rotted away. There was a terrible smell about him that kept people away from him. The great king was reduced to a smelly sick pain filled old man.