The good Levite priest (Mal 2:6-2:7)

“True instruction was

In his mouth.

No wrong was

Found on his lips.

He walked with me

In integrity,

In uprightness.

He turned many

From iniquity.

The lips of a priest

Should guard knowledge.

People should seek instruction

From his mouth.

He is the messenger

Of Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh, via Malachi, explained what a good Levite priest should be.  The good Levite priests would have true instruction on their lips.  They would walk with Yahweh in integrity and uprightness.  They would turn many people away from iniquity.  Their lips would guard knowledge.  The people would seek instruction from them.  Their mouths were the messengers of Yahweh.

Public conduct (Sir 7:4-7:7)

“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.

A faithful man (Prov 28:18-28:20)

“Whoever walks in integrity

Will be safe.

But whoever follows crooked ways will fall into the pit.

Anyone who tills his land

Will have plenty of bread.

But one who follows worthless pursuits

Will have plenty of poverty.

The faithful will abound with blessings.

But whoever is in a hurry to be rich

Will not go unpunished.”

If you walk in integrity, you will be safe. However, if you follow the crooked ways, you will fall into the pit of death. Then repeating a phrase from chapter 12, if you till the land you will have plenty of bread. On the other hand, if you pursue worthless pursuits, you will end up with plenty of poverty. The faithful will have many blessings, but those who are in a hurry to become rich will not go unpunished.

The poor (Prov 28:6-28:7)

“Better to be poor

Walking in integrity

Than to be crooked

In one’s ways

As a rich person.

Whoever keeps the law

Is a wise child.

But companions of gluttons

Shames their parents.”

It is better to be a poor man with integrity than a rich man with crooked ways as was indicated in chapter 19. If you keep the law, you are a wise child. However, if you are a companion of gluttons, you bring shame to your parents.

Righteous humans (Prov 20:7-20:10)

“The righteous walk in integrity.

Happy are the children who follow them!

A king who sits on the throne of judgment

Winnows all evil with his eyes.

Who can say?

‘I have made my heart clean.

I am pure from my sin’

Diverse weights

Are an abomination to Yahweh.

Likewise diverse measures

Are an abomination to Yahweh.”

The righteous people walk with integrity. Any children who follow the ways of the righteous with their integrity will be happy children. The king on his throne will be righteous if he removes or winnows all evil from his eyes. However, it is doubtful if anyone has a pure and clean heart. Yahweh does not like diverse weights and measures. There should be one standard, otherwise it is an abomination.

The poor (Prov 19:1-19:7)

“Better the poor walking in integrity

Than one perverse in speech

Who is a fool!

Desire without knowledge is not good.

Whoever moves too hurriedly misses the way.

One’s own folly leads to ruin.

Yet the heart rages against Yahweh.

Wealth brings many new friends.

But the poor are left friendless.

A false witness will not go unpunished.

A liar will not escape.

Many seek the favor of the generous.

Everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts.

If the poor are hated by their relatives,

How much more are they shunned by their friends.

When they call after them,

They are not there.”

This is a mixed bag for the poor. It is better to be poor if you are honest and have integrity. However later on, you are without friends and relatives if you are poor. The poor never catch a break. Of course, it is better to be poor than be a perverse fool in your speech. Desire is not good enough. You need knowledge. Don’t go too fast or you will get lost. Foolishness will lead to ruin. The foolish heart rages against Yahweh. Wealth, as noted, brings friends, while the poor are stuck without friends. Liars will not escape from punishment. They will die. The reason the rich have so many friends is that many seek their favor, hoping to get a gift or two from the wealthy. The poor have a problem with relatives and friends who do not stand up for them when they call. It is not good to be poor, even if you are honest.

The foolish children (Prov 17:21-17:28)

“The one who begets a fool gets trouble.

The parent of a fool has no joy.

A cheerful heart is a good medicine.

But a downcast spirit dries up the bones.

The wicked accept a concealed bribe.

They pervert the ways of justice.

The discerning person looks to wisdom.

But the eyes of a fool look to the ends of the earth.

Foolish children are

A grief to their father.

Foolish children are

Bitterness to her who bore them.

To impose a fine on the innocent

Is not right.

To flog the noble for their integrity

Is not right.

Whoever spares words is knowledgeable.

Whoever is cool in spirit has understanding.

Even fools who keep silent

Are considered wise.

When they closes their lips,

They are deemed intelligent.”

Foolish children are trouble. There is no joy in dealing with them. A cheerful heart is good medicine for you, while a downcast spirit will dry up your bones. The wicked judges, when they accept a concealed bribe, are perverting justice. A discerning person looks for wisdom, but fools try to go to the ends of the earth in search of something or other. Foolish children are a grief to their father and bitterness to their mother. You should not impose a fine on the innocent ones. You should not flog the noblemen for their integrity. If you do not speak too much you give the impression of being knowledgeable. If you appear cool, people assume you understand things. Thus even fools who keep silent are sometimes considered wise. Some people appear to be more intelligent when they never open their mouth or move their lips.

The ruler king (Prov 14:28-14:35)

“The glory of a king

Is a multitude of people.

Without people

A prince is ruined.

Whoever is slow to anger

Has great understanding.

But one who has a hasty temper

Exalts folly.

A tranquil mind

Gives life to the flesh.

But passion

Makes the bones rot.

Those who oppresses the poor

Insult their maker.

But those who are kind to the needy

Honor him.

The wicked are overthrown

By their evildoing.

But the righteous find

A refuge in their integrity.

Wisdom is at home

In the mind of one who has understanding.

But it is not known

In the heart of fools.

Righteousness exalts a nation.

But sin is a reproach to any people.

A servant who deals wisely has the king’s favor.

But his wrath falls on one who acts shamefully.”

The great kings rule over a large amount of people. Without people, there cannot be any ruling princes. Those who are slow to anger have great understanding. Those with a hasty temper are foolish. Tranquility gives life to your body, while passion rots your bones. If you oppress the poor, you insult the creator. If you are kind to the needy, then you honor your creator. The wicked will be overthrown by their own evildoing. The righteous will always have integrity. Wisdom belongs to those who have understanding. There is no wisdom in the heart of fools. Righteousness will exalt a nation, but sin can be a reproach to a whole group of people. A wise servant gains the king’s favor, while wrath falls on those servants who act shamefully.

Integrity (Prov 11:1-11:4)

“A false balance is an abomination to Yahweh.

But an accurate weight is his delight.

When pride comes,

Then disgrace comes.

But wisdom is with the humble.

The integrity of the upright guides them.

But the crookedness of the treacherous

Destroys them.

Riches do not profit in the day of wrath.

But righteousness delivers from death.”

Yahweh wants integrity in humans. They should not use a false scale, but have accurate weights in their business dealings. Pride brings disgrace while humility is wise. Integrity should be your guide, as it is for the upright, because the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them. On the day of wrath, riches will not be worth much, but righteousness will deliver you from death.

The righteous and the wicked (Prov 10:6-10:11)

“Blessings are on the head of the righteous.

But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

The memory of the righteous is a blessing.

But the name of the wicked will not be a blessing.

The wise of heart will heed commandments.

But a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely.

But whoever follows perverse ways will be found out.

Whoever winks the eye causes trouble.

But the one who rebukes boldly makes peace.

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.

But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”

This constant contrast of the righteous and the wicked continues. The righteous ones will be blessed, because the wicked ones conceal violence. The righteous memory is a blessing, but the name of the wicked ones will not get a blessing. The wise ones follow the commandments, but the babbling fools come to ruin. If you walk with integrity, you will be secure. However, if you follow perverse ways, you will be found out. If you wink your eye and let evil happen, you cause more problems. If you rebuke evil things, then you will bring about peace. The righteous mouth is a fountain of life, while the mouth of the wicked conceals its violent ways.