The problems in lending money (Sir 29:4-29:7)

“Many persons regard a loan

As a windfall.

This causes trouble

To those who help them.

One kisses another’s hands

Until he gets a loan.

He is very deferential

In speaking of his neighbor’s money.

But at the time

For repayment,

He delays.

He pays back

With empty promises.

He finds fault with the time.

If he can pay,

His creditor

Will hardly get back half.

The borrower will regard

That as a windfall.

If he cannot pay,

The borrower has robbed

The other of his money.

He has needlessly

Made him an enemy.

He will repay him

With curses.

He will repay him

With reproaches.

Instead of glory,

He will repay him

With dishonor.

Many refuse to lend,

Not because of meanness,

But from fear of being defrauded needlessly.”

Sirach says that this ideal of lending money to your neighbor as giving a helping hand has a few hiccups. Some people think that the loan is a gift, so that they never pay it back. They go around being very deferential to the people with money, kissing their hands. However, when it comes time to repay the loan all they give back are empty promises. They say that they need more time. Sometimes they only pay half of it back, since they think the rest of it was a gift to them. If they do not pay it back, they have robbed their neighbor. They have needlessly made him an enemy. Curses and reproaches will follow with dishonor and anger on all sides. This had led many people to refuse to lend money because they are afraid of being defrauded. Thus there are less and less no interest loans happening.

The prayer of Sarah (Tob 3:11-3:15)

“At that same time, with hands outstretched toward the window, she prayed and said.

‘Blessed are you,

Merciful God!

Blessed is your name forever!

Let all your works praise you forever!

Now, Lord,

I turn my face to you.

Command that I be released from the earth

And not listen to such reproaches any more.

You know, O Lord,

That I am innocent of any defilement with a man.

I have not disgraced my name

Or the name of my father in the land of my exile.

I am my father’s only child.

He has no other child to be his heir.

He has no close relative or other kindred,

For whom I should keep myself as wife.

Already seven husbands of mine have died.

Why should I live?

But if it is not pleasing to you,

O Lord, to take my life,

Hear me in my disgrace.’”

This is s classical Jewish prayer. The merciful God is asked to intercede in a difficult situation. God is blessed and his name shall last forever. Sarah wants to be released from this earth. She is tired of listening to reproaches. She has not defiled herself. She has not disgraced herself or her father. She is an only child and there will be no heir. There is no kinsman to marry since 7 have died in trying to marry her. Why should she live? She wanted God to take her life because she was in disgrace.

The distress of Sarah (Tob 3:10-3:10)

“On that day, she was grieved in spirit and wept. When she had gone up to her father’s upper room, she intended to hang herself. But she thought it over and said.

‘Never shall they reproach my father, saying to him.

‘You had only one beloved daughter

But she hanged herself because of her distress.’

I shall bring my father in his old age down in sorrow to Hades.

It is better for me not to hang myself.

Rather I will pray to the Lord that I may die,

So that I will not listen to these reproaches anymore.’”

Like Tobit, she is distressed and depressed. She even thought of hanging herself. However, she was an only child and did not want to disgrace her father. She did not want to make him sad in his old age and thus send him to Hades. She decided that she would pray to the Lord instead of listening to these reproaches. This work has a lot of talk about the afterlife, eternal life, and Hades.