The female adulterer (Sir 23:22-23:27)

“So it is with a woman

Who leaves her husband.

She presents him

With an heir

By another man.

First of all,

She has disobeyed

The law of the Most High.

Second,

She has committed an offense

Against her husband.

Third,

Through her fornication

She has committed adultery.

She has brought forth children

By another man.

She herself will be brought

Before the assembly.

Her punishment will extent

To her children.

Her children will not take root.

Her branches will not bear fruit.

She will leave behind

An accursed memory.

Her disgrace will never

Be blotted out.

Those who survive her

Will recognize

That nothing is better

Than the fear of the Lord.

Nothing is sweeter

Than to heed

The commandments of the Lord.”

There seems to be a worse punishment for the female adulterer. She has left her husband and had a child with another man. It is not clear that if she did not have a child, whether she would be punished. She has done 3 things wrong. She disobeyed the law of the Most High God. She has offended her husband. She has committed adultery. Instead of seizing her in the streets, like the male adulterer, she is brought before the assembly for a humiliating action of some sort. Her children will be punished. They apparently will not have heirs. She will leave behind a cursed memory that will never be blotted out. Everyone should recognize that there is nothing better than the fear of the Lord. There is nothing sweeter than to follow the commandments of the Lord.

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Male adulterer (Sir 23:18-23:21)

“Whoever sins

Against his marriage bed,

Says to himself.

‘Who can see me?

Darkness surrounds me.

The walls hide me.

No one sees me.

Why should I worry?

The Most High

Will not remember my sins.’

His fear is confined

To human eyes.

He does not realize

That the eyes of the Lord

Are ten thousand times

Brighter than the sun.

They look upon

Every aspect of human behavior.

They see into hidden corners.

Before the universe was created,

it was known to him.

So it is since its completion.

This man will be punished

In the streets of the city.

Where he least suspects it,

He will be seized.”

Sirach shows that the male adulterer thinks that no one sees him since it is dark and the walls protect him. Why should he worry? The Most High God will not remember his sins. He is only worried about human eyes catching him. However, he should realize that the eyes of the Lord are 10,000 times brighter than the sun. They see every aspect of human behavior, even the hidden corners. Before the universe was created, God had pre-knowledge of everything. Thus God knows everything. This man will be punished in the city streets at a time when he least suspects it.