Lie with the uncircumcised in Sheol (Ezek 32:19-32:21)

“‘Whom do you surpass

In beauty?

Go down!

Be laid to rest

With the uncircumcised!’

They shall fall

Among those

Who are killed

By the sword.

Egypt has been

Handed over

To the sword.

Carry away

Both it

With its hordes!

The mighty chiefs

Shall speak of them,

With their helpers,

Out of the midst of Sheol.

‘They have come down!

They lie still!

The uncircumcised,

Killed by the sword.’”

This section opens with a sarcastic question about who is more beautiful. The response is that they are to go down and lie with the uncircumcised people and those killed by the sword. Egypt with the multitude of their inhabitants has been handed over to death. The mighty chiefs with their helpers will speak to them in the middle of Sheol, the shadowy underworld of the afterlife. They will say that the Egyptians have come down to lie quietly with the uncircumcised and those killed by the sword, which is the worst place in Sheol.

What is better? (Sir 40:21-40:25)

“The flute makes

A sweet melody.

The harp makes

A sweet melody,

But a pleasant voice is

Better than either.

The eye desires grace.

The eye desires beauty.

But the eye desires

Green shoots of grain

More than either.

A friend is always welcome

A companion is always welcome.

But a sensible wife is

Better than either.

Kindred are for a time of trouble.

Helpers are for a time of trouble.

But almsgiving rescues

Better than either.

Gold makes one stand firm.

Silver makes one stand firm.

But good counsel is

Esteemed more than either.”

Sirach continues with his questions about what is better. However, here the answer is not wisdom. While wine and music gladden the heart, the love of friends is actually better for a happy heart. While the flute and the harp make sweet melodies, a pleasant singing voice is sweeter than both. While the eye desires grace and beauty, the eye, especially of a farmer, prefers to see the green sprouts of grain in the fields. Everyone welcomes a friend or companion in their house, but a sensible wife in the house is much better. In troubled times, family members and helpers can be supportive, but actually almsgiving helps you better than both family and friends. While gold and silver can help you stand firm, good counsel is better than both gold and silver.