The trial of the elders (Dan 13:50-13:51)

“So,

All the people

Hurried back.

The rest of the elders

Said to Daniel.

‘Come!

Sit among us!

Inform us!

God has given you

The standing

Of an elder.

Daniel said to them.

‘Separate them far

From each other.

I will examine them.’”

All the people hurried back to the house of Joakim and Susanna. The rest of the elders came up to Daniel. They asked him to sit among them as an elder, since they thought that God had given him standing as an elder. There had been no indication about other elders until this point. Suddenly, Daniel became important, as he told them to separate the two elder judges who had testified against Susanna. He was going to examine each one of them separately.

The proclamation of guilt (Lam 3:40-3:42)

Nun

“Let us test

Our ways!

Let us examine

Our ways!

Let us return

To Yahweh!

Let us lift up

Our hearts!

Let us lift up

Our hands To God

In heaven!

We have transgressed!

We have rebelled!

You have not

Forgiven us.”

This author admits his sinfulness. He wanted to examine and test all their ways of doing things. He and his friends wanted to return to Yahweh. Thus everyone should lift up their hearts and hands to the heavenly God. He and his comrades had transgressed and rebelled against Yahweh, their God in heaven. Thus Yahweh had not yet forgiven them. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Nun in this acrostic poem.

Warnings about health and sin (Sir 18:19-18:21)

“Before you speak,

Learn!

Before you fall ill,

Take care of your health!

Before judgment comes,

Examine yourself!

At the time of scrutiny,

You will find forgiveness.

Before falling ill,

Humble yourself!

When you have sinned,

Repent!”

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.

Be reflective (Sir 11:7-11:9)

“Do not find fault

Before you investigate!

Examine first!

Then criticize!

Do not answer

Before you listen!

Do not interrupt

When another is speaking!

Do not argue about a matter

That does not concern you!

Do not sit with sinners

When they judge a case!”

You should be reflective. Do not find fault before you investigate a situation. Consider and examine the case before you criticize. Listen before you speak. Do not interrupt others when they are speaking. Don’t butt into things that do not concern you. Do not sit with sinners when there is a case under review.

The fate of the children of the ungodly (Wis 4:3-4:6)

“But the prolific brood of the ungodly

Will be of no use.

None of their illegitimate seedlings

Will strike a deep root.

They will not take a firm hold.

Even if they put forth boughs for a while,

Standing insecurely,

They will be shaken

By the wind.

They will be uprooted

By the violence of the winds.

Their branches will be broken off

Before they come to maturity.

Their fruit will be useless.

It will not be ripe enough to eat.

It is good for nothing.

Children born of unlawful unions

Are witnesses of evil

Against their parents,

When God examines them.”

This author makes a comparison between the children of the ungodly (ἀσεβῶν) from unlawful unions and a tree. Even if they have a lot of children, they will be of no use. These children will not have deep roots so that they will not last. The strong winds will uproot them. The branches of these trees, if they survive, will break off before they reach maturity. They will have useless fruit that will not be ripe enough to eat. The children of these unlawful unions (ἀνόμων ὕπνων τέκνα) are witnesses to the evil (μάρτυρές εἰσι πονηρίας) of their parents. God will examine them. Just as in the preceding chapter, this is a very strong rebuke of the so-called bastard children of these ungodly unlawful unions.