“Before you speak,
Before you fall ill,
Take care of your health!
Before judgment comes,
At the time of scrutiny,
You will find forgiveness.
Before falling ill,
When you have sinned,
In the ancient world, there was a correlation between sin and ill health. People got sick because they had sinned. Sirach says that you should learn before you speak out. You should take care of your health before you get sick. Before a judgment comes upon you, examine yourself so that if you have done anything wrong, you can ask for forgiveness. You should humble yourself. If you have sinned, repent so that the chances of better health will increase. We still see this stigma of bad health and sin with mental illness today. The general feeling is that you must have done something wrong. In fact, we tend to incarcerate mentally ill people rather than try to cure them.
“The proverbs of Solomon”
This is the main part of this work after the previous introduction. Obviously this is a reference to Solomon, the son of David, and King of Israel, as described in 1 Kings, chapters 1-11. One of the attributes of Solomon was his wisdom. These proverbs are poetic wisdom sayings without any real order. In general, as we have already seen, there is a correlation between the wise and the righteous against the foolish and the wicked on the other side. Just like the so-called psalms of David, not every proverb is directly from Solomon. However, these are ancient Hebrew poetic sayings.
“Some were sick through their sinful ways.
Because of their iniquities,
They endured affliction.
They loathed any kind of food.
They drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to Yahweh in their trouble.
He saved them from their distress.
He sent out his word.
He healed them.
He delivered them from destruction.
Let them thank Yahweh
For his steadfast love!
Let them thank Yahweh
For his wonderful works to humankind!
Let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices!
Let them tell of his deeds in songs of joy!”
Once again we have the correlation between sin and sickness. They were sick because they had sinned. These sick people could not eat any kind of food, as they were near death. They cried out to Yahweh as the other groups had done. Guess what? Yahweh saved them as he sent out word to heal them. Thus they were delivered from destruction. Therefore, just like the others, they should give thanks to Yahweh for his steadfast love and his wondrous deeds. However, they also had to offer thanksgiving sacrifices and tell others in songs of joy about what had happened to them. The other groups did not have to do that.