Buildings and sinners (Sir 21:8-21:10)

“Whoever builds his house

With other people’s money is

Like one who gathers stones

For his burial mound.

An assembly of the wicked is

Like a bundle of tow.

Their end is a blazing fire.

The way of sinners is

Paved with smooth stones.

But at its end is

The pit of Hades.”

Building your house with borrowed money is like gathering stones to build a burial mound. This is a fool’s task. You should probably wait until you have your own money to start building. Next Sirach warns us against “tow”, which is a kind of hemp or flax. He compares a bundle of this crop to an assembly of wicked people. They both will end up in a blazing fire. Then we have the expression about the sinner’s path that is paved with smooth stones that lead to hell or Hades, the afterlife underworld.