The useless tongue (Sir 37:16-37:21)

“Discussion

Is at the beginning of every work.

Counsel precedes every undertaking.

The mind

Is the root of all conduct.

It sprouts four branches,

Good and evil,

Life and death.

The tongue continually rules them.

Some people may be

Clever enough to teach many.

Yet they may be

Useless to themselves.

A skilful speaker may be hated.

He will be destitute of all food.

The Lord has withheld

The gift of charm.

He is lacking in all wisdom.”

Sirach points out that some discussion precedes all actions. Thus counsel and advice precede any undertaking. The mind is the source of all conduct. There are 4 branches to the mind, good, evil, life, and death. This is hard to figure out. I am not sure how the mind controls life and death, except spiritually. Good and evil are easy to see. The tongue rules over all 4 branches. Once again, it is hard to see how the tongue controls life and death other than in a spiritual way. Some people are clever enough to teach others, but not worth much to themselves. You can be a skilled but hated speaker, so that you might end up with not much food. The Lord may have withheld charm from this speaker, since he is lacking in wisdom.

Fear Yahweh (Prov 31:28-31:31)

Shin

“Charm is deceitful.

Beauty is vain.

But a woman

Who fears Yahweh

Is to be praised.

Tav

Give her a share

In the fruit of her hands.

Let her works praise her

In the city gates.”

Although charm and beauty are deceitful and vain, a woman who fears Yahweh is to be praised. She should share in the fruits of her hands. She should be praised at the city gates among the elders of the village. So Proverbs comes to an end with this eulogy to the perfect hard working wife. It is interesting to note that this author says that charm and beauty are not what makes a good wife.