Manual work versus wisdom (Sir 38:24-38:26)

“The wisdom of the scribe

Depends on the opportunity

Of leisure.

Only the one who has little business

Can become wise.

How can one become wise

Who handles the plow?

How can one become wise

Who glories in the shaft of a goad?

How can one become wise

Who drives oxen?

How can one become wise

Who is occupied with their work?

How can one become wise

Whose talk is about bulls?

He sets his heart on plowing furrows.

He is careful about fodder

For the heifers.”

Sirach recognizes that you cannot be a wise writer if you do not have leisure time. If you are doing business deals, you do not have time for wisdom. Most people were too busy with getting their oxen moving a plow, in the good old days before John Deere tractors. If you are occupied with your work in the fields, and taking care of bulls and heifers, how would you have any leisure time to be wise?