The oracle about Moab (Isa 15:1-15:1)

“An oracle concerning Moab.”

The kingdom of Moab was east of the Dead Sea, in what is today the country of Jordan. The Moabites and Israelites had been involved in many quarrels and battles since they had a strange biblical relationship. The Moabites were the descendents of Lot’s incest with his daughter in Genesis, chapter 19. Thus the Moabites had an on again, off again, relationships with the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. In the Book of Ruth, chapter 4, the Moabites are friendly, as Ruth, a Moabite, had a son named Obed, who turned out to be the grandfather of King David via his son Jesse.   For a while, Moab was part of the Kingdom of Israel, until they revolted.

Quarrels (Sir 28:8-28:12)

“Refrain from strife.

Your sins will be fewer.

The hot tempered kindle strife.

The sinner disrupts friendships.

The sinner sows discord

Among those who are at peace.

In proportion to the fuel,

So will the fire burn.

In proportion to the obstinacy,

So will strife increase.

In proportion to a person’s strength,

So will be his anger.

In proportion to his wealth,

So he will increase his wrath.

A hasty quarrel kindles a fire.

A hasty dispute sheds blood.

If you blow on a spark,

It will glow.

If you spit on it,

It will be put out.

Yet both come out of your mouth.”

Sirach reminds us of the problems with quarrels and arguments. If you refrain from conflicts, your sins will be less. Usually it is the hot tempered people who start disputes. Sinners disrupt friendships. They sow discord among peacemakers. Then Sirach has a number of proportional examples. The more fuel you have, the more the fire burns. The more stubborn you are, the more disagreements you create. The stronger you are, the more you will be angry. The more wealth that you have, the more fury you will have. Sometimes it is a hasty quarrel that starts a fire that leads to bloodshed. However, you have control with your mouth. You can either blow on the spark to increase the flame or spit on the spark to put it out. The choice is yours, spit or blow on the spark of a fire to increase or decrease the argument.

Conversations among fools (Sir 27:11-27:15)

“The conversation of the godly

Is always wise.

But the fool changes

Like the moon.

Among stupid people,

Limit your time.

But among thoughtful people

Linger on.

The talk of fools

Is offensive.

Their laughter

Is wantonly sinful.

Their cursing or swearing

Makes one’s hair stand on end.

Their quarrels make

Others stop their ears.

The strife of the proud

Leads to bloodshed.

Their abuse

Is grievous to hear.”

Sirach talks about the conversations of fools. Certainly, the conversations of the godly are always wise. However, the fools change their mind like the changes in the moon. You should stay away from stupid people, but linger with thoughtful people. If you listen to the talk of fools, you will see that it is offensive, with their random sinful cursing and swearing that will make your hair stand on end. You should not listen to their quarrels. The arguments of these proud fools will lead to bloodshed. It is very difficult to listen to these foolish conversations.

Whisperers (Prov 26:20-26:22)

“For lack of wood

The fire goes out.

Where there is no whisperer,

Quarreling ceases.

As charcoal is to hot embers,

As wood is to fire,

So a quarrelsome person is for kindling strife.

The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels.

They go down into the inner parts of the body.”

I guess that I never thought of whisperers as a problem. Clearly they are. These whisperers create quarrels. They are like wood to a fire, like charcoal on hot embers, or like kindling wood. These whisperers must be people who go around spreading rumors. Once again, almost word for word from chapter 18, the whisperer is compared to a delightful delicious morsel until you swallow it. Then it goes into the inner parts of your body and causes internal problems.

Stay out of trouble (Prov 26:17-26:19)

“Like somebody who takes a passing dog by the ears.

Is one who meddles in the quarrel of another.

Like a maniac

Who shoots deadly firebrands,

Who shoot arrows,

Is one who deceives a neighbor.

He says.

‘I am only joking!’”

If you meddle in someone else’s quarrels that is like picking up a passing dog by its ears. This could get you into a lot of trouble. Do not deceive you neighbor, and then tell him that you were only joking. You are then like a maniac who shoots deadly fires of arrows in all directions. Keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble.