Lamentations over broken Moab (Jer 48:38-48:39)

“‘On all the housetops

Of Moab,

In the squares,

There is nothing

But lamentation.

I have broken Moab

Like a vessel

That no one wants.’

Says Yahweh.

How it is broken!

How they wail!

How Moab

Has turned his back

In shame!

So Moab has become

A derision,

A horror,

To all his neighbors.”

There is nothing but lamentations in Moab, whether on the housetops or in the town squares. Yahweh has broken Moab like a broken jar. The Moabites have turned their backs in shame. They have become a derision and horror to all their neighbors.

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The foolish ones (Sir 21:14-21:17)

“The mind of a fool is

Like a broken jar.

It can hold no knowledge.

When an intelligent person

Hears a wise saying,

He praises it.

He adds to it.

When a fool hears it,

He laughs at it.

He throws it behind his back.

A fool’s chatter is

Like a burden on a journey.

But delight is found

In the speech of the intelligent.

The utterance of a sensible person

Is sought in the assembly.

They ponder his words in their minds.”

Sirach says that the mind of a fool is like a broken jar that cannot hold any knowledge in it. This was the common idea of the mind as an empty jar that knowledge fills up. When an intelligent person hears a wise saying, he or she praises it and adds to it. On the contrary, when the fool hears the same thing, he laughs at it, throwing it behind his back. The fool’s chatter on a long journey is burdensome, but the speech of an intelligent person is delightful. Thus in an assembly, the presentations of a sensible person is often sought after, so that others might ponder his words.