Begging (Sir 40:28-40:30)

“My child!

Do not lead

The life of a beggar!

It is better to die

Than to beg.

When one looks

To the table of another,

One’s way of life

Cannot be considered a life.

One loses self-respect

With another person’s food.

One who is intelligent,

One who is well instructed

Guards against that.

In the mouth of the shameless

Begging is sweet.

But it kindles

a fire inside him.”

Sirach has a very strong condemnation of begging. He clearly says with very strong words that it is better to die than to beg. He did not want anyone to take up the life of a beggar. Yet he was very strong on almsgiving. If you have to continually eat at someone’s table, he does not consider that to be a worthwhile existence. You lose your self-respect, if you have to eat another person’s food. The intelligent and instructed ones guard against begging. Only the shameless think that begging is a sweet thing to do. However, their begging will lead to a kindling fire in their stomachs. Stay away from beggars. Usually the biblical writers talk about compassion for those in need, but not here.

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The good wife (Prov 18:22-18:24)

“He who finds a wife

Finds happiness.

He obtains favor from Yahweh.

The poor use entreaties.

But the rich answer roughly.

Some friends play at friendship.

But a true friend sticks closer

Than one’s nearest relative.”

You will be happy if you find a good wife. Yahweh will favor you. Even though the poor use entreaties to beg, the rich usually answer roughly. Some people play at friendship, but a true friend stays closer to you than your own relatives.

Haman pleads with Queen Esther (Esth 7:7-7:7)

“The king rose from the feast in wrath. He went into the palace garden. However, Haman stayed to beg for his life from Queen Esther. He saw that the king had determined to destroy him.”

The king was angry and went into the garden. Then Haman saw that his only chance was the queen. He asked her to save his life because he knew the king would probably not forgive him.