A woman’s wound (Sir 25:13-25:15)

“Any wound,

But not a wound of the heart!

Any wickedness,

But not the wickedness of a woman!

Any suffering,

But not the suffering

From those who hate!

Any vengeance,

But not the vengeance of enemies!

There is no venom worse

Than a snake’s venom.

There is no wrath worse

Than a woman’s wrath.”

Once again, Sirach emphasizes the male point of view. These powerful females make the poor men suffer. The worst wound is to the heart. The worst wickedness comes from a woman. Hateful suffering is worse than any kind of suffering. The vengeance of enemies is bad. Just like the worse venom is that of a snake, so the worst wrath is that of a woman. Somehow, women do not seem to suffer, only the men, who suffer so much from these evil women.

Luxurious wealth (Eccl 2:4-2:8)

“I made great works.

I built houses.

I planted vineyards for myself.

I made myself gardens.

I made myself parks.

I planted in them

All kinds of fruit trees.

I made myself pools from which

To water the forest of growing trees.

I bought male slaves.

I bought female slaves.

I had slaves who were born in my house.

I had great possessions of herds.

I also had great possessions of flocks.

More than any

Who had been before me in Jerusalem.

I also gathered for myself

Silver and gold

From the treasure of kings and provinces.

I got singers,

Both men and women.

I enjoyed the delights of the flesh

With many concubines.”

Qoheleth continued his first person singular narrative. Was it all about him? He built great houses and vineyards just for himself. He made his own gardens and parks, all full of great fruit trees. He put in ponds besides the trees for irrigation. He bought both male and female servants. He created his own slaves by having them procreate in his house. He had great herds and flocks of animals and birds. He was richer than any man who had ever lived in Jerusalem. He gathered gold and silver from the various kings and provinces. He had male and female singers. Of course, he had many concubines to delight him. This was the life of luxury of a rich powerful self indulgent king of Jerusalem.

The servant prayer (Ps 123:1-123:2)

A song of ascents

“To you I lift up my eyes.

O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

As the eyes of servants

Look to the hand of their master,

As the eyes of a maid

Look to the hand of her mistress,

So our eyes look to Yahweh our God,

Until he has mercy upon us.”

Psalm 123 is another very short psalm, or song, sung on the ascending way to Jerusalem in a pilgrimage. However, the tone is more somber as there is a cry for help against enemies. Both the male and female servants look to Yahweh to help them. They lift up their eyes to the heavens, like servants looking to the hands of their masters. Their eyes cry for mercy towards Yahweh, their God.

Job never mistreated his slaves (Job 31:13-31:15)

“If I have rejected the cause

Of my male or female slaves,

When they brought a complaint against me,

What then shall I do when God rises up?

When he makes inquiry?

What shall I answer him?

Did not he who made me in the womb make them?

Did not one fashion us in the womb?”

In an odd sort of way, Job maintained that he was respectful to his male and female slaves. There never was a question of the right or wrong of slavery itself. This is about the idea, that slave or free persons, they were all God’s children. One should be a benevolent slave owner. Even in the height of American segregation in the USA in the 1960s, people like George Wallace always maintained that the Negro was a child of God, just a different kind of child. Did Job listen to his slave complaints? He said that God could look into it and find that he tried his best. He treated them like fellow humans who came from the womb like himself.

The intervention of Judith (Jdt 16:5-16:10)

“But the Lord Almighty has foiled them

By the hand of a woman.

For their mighty one did not fall by the hands of the young men.

The sons of the Titans did not strike him down.

The tall giants did not set upon him.

But Judith,

Daughter of Merari,

With the beauty of her countenance,

She undid him.

She put away her widow’s clothing.

To exalt the oppressed in Israel.

She anointed her face with perfume.

She fastened her hair with a tiara.

She put on a linen gown to beguile him.

Her sandal ravished his eyes.

Her beauty captivated his mind.

The sword severed his neck.

The Persians trembled at her boldness,

The Medes were daunted at her daring.”

Suddenly the canticle is about Judith rather than Judith praying to God. The almighty God struck down the enemy with a female, almost to say, even a woman got him because he was so weak. It was not a young strong male soldier, nor some giant that brought him down. No, it was the beautiful widow who put away her widow’s clothing, anointed her face, fastened her hair, and wore a linen gown. She ravished his eyes, captivated his mind, and severed his neck. General Holofernes was not a Persian but an Assyrian. Medes was associated with the Persians, once again indicating some inconsistent details.