The clever ones (Sir 19:23-19:30)

“There is cleverness

That is detestable.

There is a fool

Who merely lacks wisdom.

Better are the God-fearing

Who lacks understanding

Than the highly intelligent

Who transgresses the law.

There is cleverness

That is exact

But unjust.

There are people

Who abuse favors

To gain a verdict.

There is a villain

Bowed down in mourning.

But inwardly

He is full of deceit.

He hides his face.

He pretends not to hear.

But when no one notices,

He will take advantage of you.

Even if he lacks strength

It does not keep him from sinning.

He will nevertheless do evil

When he finds the opportunity.

A person is known

By his appearance.

A sensible person is known

When first met,

Face to face.

A person’s attire shows what he is.

His hearty laughter shows what he is.

The way he walks shows what he is.”

Sirach then attacks the clever ones with their cleverness, who are really detestable fools who lack wisdom. It is better to be a God fearing person without intelligence than an intelligent transgressor of the law. There are exacting clever people who are unjust. These clever people use the legal system to avoid a bad verdict. They pretend to bow down before you, but there is only deceit in their hearts. They pretend not to hear and not to care, until the right time comes along. Then they take advantage of you. Even if these clever fools are not strong, they will try to do as much evil as they can. They will find any opportunity to be wicked. Look at the appearances of people. See what clothes they are wearing. See how they laugh and walk. Thus you can spot these clever wicked fools.

The atheist is a fool (Ps 14:1-14:1)

To the choirmaster leader, of David.

“Fools say in their hearts.

‘There is no God.’

They are corrupt.

They do abominable deeds.

There is no one who does good.”

Psalm 14 is another short psalm, much like the later Psalm 53. The title is simple with a mention of the choirmaster leader and David. Here the question is posed what if there is no God. The answer was simple. Only a fool would say such a thing. There was a common belief in some kind of higher power. Actually they only say it in their hearts since they are practical atheists. They act as if there is no God. They are the corrupt people who do terrible deeds. None of them do good deeds.

Some Jews decide to die (Macc 1:62-1:64)

“However, many in Israel stood firm. They were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. They chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant. They did die. Very great wrath came upon Israel.”

Here we have an instance of Jewish martyrs. They were willing to die rather than to eat unclean food. They refused to abuse the holy Mosaic covenant. For that they were killed.