Things to be ashamed of (Sir 41:17-41:23)

“Be ashamed of sexual immorality before your father or mother!

Be ashamed of a lie before a prince or a ruler!

Be ashamed of a crime before a judge or a magistrate!

Be ashamed of a breach of the law before the congregation!

Be ashamed of a breach of the law before the people!

Be ashamed of unjust dealing before your partner!

Be ashamed of unjust dealing before or your friend!

Be ashamed of theft in the place where you live!

Be ashamed of breaking an oath before the truth of God!

Be ashamed of breaking an agreement before the truth of God!

Be ashamed of leaning on your elbow at meals!

Be ashamed of surliness in receiving!

Be ashamed of surliness in giving!

Be ashamed of silence before those who greet you!

Be ashamed of looking at a prostitute!

Be ashamed of rejecting the appeal of a relative!

Be ashamed of taking away someone’s portion!

Be ashamed of taking away someone’s gift!

Be ashamed of gazing at another man’s wife!

Be ashamed of meddling with his maidservant!

Do not approach her bed!

Be ashamed of abusive words before friends!

Do not be insulting after making a gift!

Be ashamed of repeating what you hear!

Be ashamed of revealing secrets!

Then you will show proper shame.

Then you will find favor with everyone.”

Sirach indicates a long list of things that you should really be ashamed of. They include sexual immorality, lying, crimes, law breaking, unjust dealings, theft, and breaking oaths before your parents, rulers, judges, congregations, friends, roommates, and God. Besides these actions, you should also be ashamed of bad manners at meals, surliness when giving and receiving gifts, being silent when greeted, looking at prostitutes, refusing your relatives, taking someone’s gift, gazing an someone’s wife, meddling with the female servants, abusive words among friends, insulting other’s gifts, repeating what you hear, and betraying secrets. These are the proper things to be ashamed of so that everyone will like you.

The death of the high priest Menelaus (2 Macc 13:3-13:8)

“Menelaus also joined King Antiochus and Lysias. With utter hypocrisy he urged King Antiochus on, not for the sake of his country’s welfare, but because he thought that he would be established in office. But the king of kings aroused the anger of King Antiochus against the scoundrel. When Lysias informed him that this man was to blame for all the trouble, he ordered them to take him to Beroea. He was to be put to death by the method which is customary in that place. There is a tower there, fifty cubits high, full of ashes. It has a rim running around it on all sides that inclines precipitously into the ashes. There they all push to destruction anyone guilty of sacrilege or notorious for other crimes. By such a fate it came about that Menelaus the lawbreaker died, without even burial in the earth. This was eminently just. He had committed many sins against the altar whose fire and ashes were holy. Thus he met his death in ashes.”

Menelaus was not mentioned in 1 Maccabees, but was the high priest in Jerusalem here during the time of Judas Maccabeus from 171-161 BCE. He had purchased the high priest by outbidding Jason under King Antiochus IV. Now, he was urging on King Antiochus V, his son, to make sure he stayed in office. Somehow, the king of kings, a reference to God, aroused the anger of the young King Antiochus V, after Lysias, his guardian, informed the king that Menelaus was the cause of all the problems in Jerusalem. They sent him to Beroea, which was in northern Syria. There they had a Persian execution plan with a tower about 75 foot high filled with ashes that had a rim around the top of it that leaned into the ashes. They would push people into the ashes, like a farm silo that would suffocate them to death. Thus Menelaus, the lawbreaker, justly died in ashes without a burial because he had committed many sins against the holy altar.