“Do not seek from the Lord a high office!
Do not seek the seat of honor from the king!
Do not assert your righteousness before the Lord!
Do not display your wisdom before the king!
Do not seek to become a judge!
You may be unable to root out injustice.
You may be partial to the powerful.
You may mar your integrity.
Commit no offense against the public!
Do not disgrace yourself among the people!”
Sirach then gave some instructions on how to conduct yourself in public places. First, you should not seek a high office or a seat of honor from the king. Second, do not claim to be righteous before the Lord. Third, do not display your wisdom before the king. Fourth, you should not seek to become a judge because you may not be able to get rid of evil injustice. You might be partial to the powerful people and mar your own integrity. Finally, do not commit any offense against the people so that you do not end up in disgrace.
“I passed by the field
Of a lazy person.
I passed by the vineyard
Of a stupid person.
It was all overgrown with thorns.
The ground was covered with nettles.
Its stone wall was broken down.
Then I saw it.
I considered it.
I received instruction.”
This wise person passed by the fields of a lazy person as well as the vineyards of a stupid person. These fields were overgrown with thorns and nettles. The stone wall fences were broken down. Once again, this indicates a strong agricultural society where there were general rules on how to keep up your farming fields. The wise one saw it, looked at it, considered it, and received instructions about it. This un-kept farm field was a big deal.
“Hatred stirs up strife.
But love covers all offenses.
On the lips of him who has understanding
Wisdom is found.
But a rod is for the back
Of one who lacks sense.
The wise lay up knowledge.
But the babbling of a fool brings ruin near.
The wealth of the rich is their fortress.
But the poverty of the poor is their ruin.
The wage of the righteous leads to life.
But the gain of the wicked is to sin.
Whoever heeds instruction is on the path to life,
But one who rejects a rebuke goes astray.
Lying lips conceal hatred.
But whoever utters slander is a fool.”
Hatred stirs up things. However, love covers all faults. Wise lips have understanding. However, for the senseless they need a rod slap on the back. The wise ones have knowledge, but the babbling fools have nothing but ruin. The rich use wealth as a fortress. The poverty of the poor brings them to ruin. The righteous will have life, while the wicked will simply sin. When you follow instructions, you are on the path to life. However, if you reject a rebuke, you are probably going astray. Lying lips conceal hatred, but fools are slanderers.
Listen to me!
Happy are those who keep my ways!
Do not neglect it!
Happy is the one who listens to me!
He watches daily at my gates.
He waits beside my doors.
Whoever finds me,
He obtains favor from Yahweh.
But those who miss me,
All who hate me,
This time wisdom wants the children to listen to her instructions in order to become wise. Happy are those who follow the wise ways. They will be wise and do not neglect this teaching. The listeners are the really happy ones. They would watch at the town gates and beside the doors. Whoever found wisdom, would find life. They would obtain favors from Yahweh. However, those who missed wisdom would injure themselves. Anyone who hated wisdom would love death.
“I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Be attentive to him and listen to his voice. Do not rebel against him. He will not pardon your transgression. For my name is in him. But if you listen attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.”
Yahweh is going to send an angel in front of the Israelites to guard them on the way to the Promised Land. Listen to him and Yahweh will be an enemy to your enemies.
“When my angel goes in front of you, and brings you in to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, I will blot them out. You shall not bow down to their gods, or worship them, or follow their practices. But you shall utterly demolish them and break their pillars in pieces. You shall worship Yahweh your God, and I will bless your bread and your water. I will take sickness away from among you. No one shall miscarry or be barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days. I will send my terror in front of you, and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come. I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. I will send the pestilence in front of you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, or the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply against you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you are increased and possess the land. I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates. I will hand over to you the inhabitants of the land. You shall drive them out before you. You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. They shall not live in your land, or they will make you sin against me. If you worship their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”
When you get to Canaan, Yahweh will blot out all the people there. You will have water and no sickness. No one will be barren or miscarry. Yahweh was going to send his terror in front of them, like a holy war. The border of the land would be from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates. This is a big area and a lot of people. They were to make no covenant with the inhabitants or their gods.
“That same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people, as well as well as their supervisors, ‘You shall no longer give the people straw to make bricks, as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves. But you shall require of them the same quantity of bricks as they have made previously. Do not diminish it, for they are lazy. That is why they cry, ‘Let us go and offer sacrifice to our God.’ Let heavier work be laid on them. Then they will labor at it and pay no attention to deceptive words.’”
Pharaoh gave orders that same day to his taskmasters and supervisors. Make those Israelites get their own straw to make bricks, but don’t lower their quota. The Israelites are lazy. That is why they want to go and offer sacrifice to God. Give them heavier work. The slave owners always think that their slaves are lazy.
“So the taskmasters and the supervisors or foremen of the people went out and said to the people, ‘Thus says Pharaoh, I will not give you straw. Go and get straw yourselves, wherever you can find it. But your work will not be lessened in the least.’ So the people were scattered throughout the land of Egypt, to gather stubble for straw. The taskmasters were pressing, saying, ‘Complete your work, the same daily assignment as when you were given straw.’ The supervisors or foremen of the Israelites, whom Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and were asked, ‘Why did you not finish the required quantity of bricks yesterday and today, as you did before?’”
Apparently, getting this straw for the bricks was a big deal. The supervisors were beaten because they were not getting the same amount of work out of them.