Lot’s wife (Lk 17:32-17:32)

“Remember Lot’s wife!”

 

μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ

 

Luke was the only gospel writer to have Jesus remark about remembering Lot’s wife (μνημονεύετε τῆς γυναικὸς Λώτ).  This was is a reference to Genesis, chapter 19:26.  There Yahweh had rained down on both Sodom and Gomorrah sulfur and fire, so that all who lived in those two towns and the plains around it were destroyed.  Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.  Luke and Jesus did not elaborate on the circumstances of her death, just remember it as if it was well known.  This was quite a striking biblical image, since they were in the plains by the Dead Sea that was also called the Salt Sea.  Have you ever looked back with regret?

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Remain in this land (Jer 42:9-42:10)

“Jeremiah said to them.

‘Thus says Yahweh,

The God of Israel,

To whom you sent me

To present your plea

Before him.

‘If you will remain in this land,

Then I will build you up.

I will not pull you down.

I will plant you.

I will not pluck you up.

I am sorry for the disaster

That I have brought upon you.’”

Jeremiah then reported back to the people that Yahweh, the God of Israel, had spoken to him after 10 days. In a surprising response from Yahweh, he says that he is sorry for the disaster that he brought upon them. It is odd to hear God say that he was sorry. Most times, the opposite is true. Humans are sorry. Yahweh said that if they remained in this land, he would build them up and not pull them down. He would plant them and not pluck them up. Yahweh seems to show some regret for the Babylonian attack and captivity.

Sensible person (Sir 32:18-32:23)

“A sensible person

Will not overlook

A thoughtful suggestion.

An insolent proud person

Will not be deterred

By fear.

Do nothing

Without deliberation.

But when you have acted,

Do not regret it!

Do not go on a path

Full of hazards!

Do not stumble

On stony ground!

Do not stumble

At an obstacle twice!

Do not be overconfident

On an unexplored smooth way!

Give good heed

To your paths!

Guard yourself

In every act!

This is the keeping of the commandments.”

Sirach says that a sensible person will not overlook thoughtful suggestions. At the same time, the insolent and proud person is not deterred by fear, so that they do not fear the Lord. You should deliberate before you act. After your action, you should not regret it. Stay away from hazardous paths. Be careful on stony ground. Don’t stumble on the same obstacle twice. Don’t be overconfident on unexplored smooth paths. Be careful in all that you do. Then you will be keeping the commandments of the Lord.

Watch your mouth (Sir 23:7-23:8)

“My children!

Listen to instruction

Concerning the mouth!

Whoever observes it

Will never be caught.

Sinners are overtaken

Through their lips.

By them,

The reviler is tripped up.

By them,

The arrogant are tripped up.”

Sirach wanted his readers to listen to his instructions about their mouths. Do not get caught up by saying something you might regret. It is usually the words that you utter from your mouth that causes problems for sinners, revilers, and the arrogant.

Instructions for men concerning women (Sir 9:1-9:9)

“Do not be jealous of the wife of your bosom!

You will teach her an evil lesson

To your own hurt.

Do not give yourself to a woman!

Do not let her trample down your strength!

Do not go near a loose woman!

You will fall into her snares.

Do not associate with a singing girl!

You will be caught by her tricks.

Do not look intently at a virgin!

You may stumble.

You may incur penalties for her.

Do not give yourself to prostitutes!

You may lose your inheritance.

Do not look around in the streets of a city!

Do not wander about in its deserted sections!

Turn away your eyes from a shapely woman!

Do not gaze at beauty belonging to another!

Many have been seduced by a woman’s beauty.

By beauty

Passion is kindled

Like a fire.

Never dine with another man’s wife!

Never revel with her at wine!

Your heart may turn aside to her.

In blood,

You may be plunged into destruction.”

In a series of reprimands for men concerning women, Sirach says that men should not be jealous of their wife. Your jealousy might teach her an evil lesson that you might regret since she might be jealous of you. Do not let women take away your strength. Stay away from loose women and singing women because they might trick you. Don’t stare at virgins. Obviously, don’t go to prostitutes because you could lose all your money. Do not go wandering around deserted parts of the city. Don’t let your eyes be caught looking at a beautiful shapely women. Beauty quickly seduces into passion. Don’t eat or drink with another man’s wife. Your heart could turn towards her. You might be plunged into destruction. Thus we see the proper and improper conduct of men towards women in the 2nd century BCE.