The discipline of wisdom (Sir 6:18-6:22)

“My child!

From your youth,

Choose discipline.

When you have gray hair,

You will still find wisdom.

Come to her like one who plows.

Come to her like one who sows.

Wait for her good harvest.

When you cultivate her,

You will toil but little.

Soon you will eat of her produce.

She seems very harsh to the undisciplined.

Fools cannot remain with her.

She will be like a heavy stone to test them.

They will not delay in casting her aside.

Wisdom is like her name.

She is not really perceived by many.”

Once again, Sirach has a series of admonitions about wisdom. The young people should choose discipline. Even when they have gray hair, they should still seek wisdom. You have to have the discipline to plow and sow in order to get a good harvest of wisdom. You do not have to work too hard to eat of her products. However, this seems very harsh to the undisciplined since fools cannot remain with her. She seems to be a test like a heavy stone to these foolish undisciplined ones. The name of wisdom implies that only a few, not many people, will actually perceive her.

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The curse wish (Ps 58:6-58:9)

“O God!

Break the teeth in their mouths!

Tear out the fangs of the young lions!

Yahweh!

Let them vanish

Like water that runs away!

Let them be

Like grass trodden down and wither!

Let them be

Like the snail that dissolves into slime!

Let them be

Like the untimely birth that never sees the sun.

Sooner than your pots

Can feel the heat of thorns,

Whether green or ablaze,

May he sweep them away!”

If the description was harsh, so much more so is this brutal curse to the wicked. He wanted God, Yahweh, to do his dirty work. David wanted their teeth broken. He wanted their fangs taken out. He wanted the wicked to vanish like water than just flows away. He wanted them to be like grass that was trodden down and then withered away. He wanted them to be like a snail that turned to slime. He wanted them to be aborted or still born so that they would never see the sun. He wanted them swept away. This was no simple curse, but a demand for Yahweh to get rid of the wicked ones altogether.

Job is condemned by his own language (Job 15:1-15:6)

“Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered.

‘Should the wise men answer with windy knowledge?

Should the wise men fill themselves with the east wind?

Should they argue in unprofitable talk?

Should they argue in words with which they can do no good?

But you are doing away with the fear of God.

You are hindering meditation before God.

Your iniquity teaches your mouth.

You choose the tongue of the crafty.

Your own mouth condemns you!

Not I!

Your own lips testify against you.’”

This is now a second round of discourses, like a work of the Greek philosopher Plato. This time Eliphaz began again by ripping into Job, claiming that Job should be condemned by his own words. Wise men do not answer with windy knowledge. This was an unprofitable east wind talk that does no good. Job was doing away with the fear of God, hindering mediation about God. There was iniquity in the mouth of Job with his crafty tongue. He was condemned by his own mouth and lips. This was very harsh about Job after his original kind words in the first discourse.