Looming death (Sir 14:11-14:14)

“My child!

Treat yourself well,

According to your means.

Present worthy offerings

To the Lord.

Remember

That death does not tarry.

The decree of Hades

Has not been shown to you.

Do good to your friends

Before you die.

Reach out!

Give to them

As much as you can.

Do not deprive yourself

Of a day’s enjoyment.

Do not let your share of desired goods

Pass you by.”

Sirach wants you to take care of yourself as much as you can. Make worthy offerings to the Lord. Remember, that death will come soon enough, since you do not know the day of your death. Be nice to your friends before you die. Give them as much as you can, but don’t deprive yourself of enjoyment. Keep your share of goods.

Enjoy your wealth (Eccl 5:18-5:20)

“This is what I have seen to be good.

It is fitting is to eat and drink.

It is fitting to find enjoyment

In all the toil

With which one toils under the sun

The few days of the life

That God gives us.

This is our lot.

Likewise,

God gives wealth.

God gives possessions.

He enables them to enjoy them.

They should accept their lot.

They should find enjoyment

In their toil.

This is the gift of God.

They will scarcely brood

Over the days of their life

Because God keeps them occupied

With joy in their hearts.”

Qoheleth finally found something good. It was appropriate to eat and drink. You should find enjoyment in your work when you toil under the sun. God has given you a few days to enjoy all this. This is your lot in life, accept it. You may have wealth and possession, so enjoy them. Enjoy your work and any wealth that comes with it as a gift from God. Do not brood over the few days you have here on earth because God can keep you occupied with joy in your heart.

Epilogue (2 Macc 15:38-15:39)

“If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired. If it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. Just as it is harmful to drink wine alone or to drink water alone, but wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious. It enhances one’s enjoyment. So also I hope the style of this story delights the ears of those who read the work. Here will be the end.”

This biblical author is somewhat apologetic for not writing a better book. This was rare and even rarer today. If you like it fine, but otherwise it was the best that I could do, a rare hint of humility. It was the custom to read aloud even when reading alone because so few people had books anyway. Thus the hearing of the story is so important. The illusion to wine and water may be an attempt to speak about the Greek language of his work. Despite the opposition to Hellenization, the book was written not in Hebrew, but in Greek. Nevertheless, a little Hebrew water would add to the taste and enjoyment of all.