Pride (Sir 3:26-3:28)

“A stubborn mind will fare badly at the end.

Whoever loves danger will perish in it.

A stubborn mind will be burdened by troubles.

The sinner adds sin to sins.

When calamity befalls the proud,

There is no healing.

An evil plant has taken root in him.”

A stubborn prideful mind will not do well at the end. If you love danger, you will perish in danger. A stubborn prideful mind is always troubled. The sinner only adds to his sins. Bad things will happen to the proud. There is no healing the proud people, because they are like an evil plant that has bad roots.

Watch out for women (Eccl 7:26-7:29)

“I found that the woman,

Who is a trap,

Is more bitter than death.

Her heart is snares.

Her hear is nets.

Her hands are fetters.

‘One who pleases God escapes her.

But the sinner is taken by her.’

See!

This is what I found,

Says Qoheleth,

Adding one thing to another

To find the sum.

My mind has sought this repeatedly,

But I have not found it.

‘One man among a thousand

I found.

But a woman among all these

I have not found.’

See!

This alone I found.

God made human beings straightforward.

However they have devised many schemes.”

In this anti-feminine diatribe, Qoheleth believed that women were a trap, more bitter than death. Female hearts were like a snare and a net, while their hands were like chains. If you were pleasing to God, you escaped from this woman. However, the sinner could be taken by her. Qoheleth could find only one good man among 1,000, but he could not find even one good person among the women. He had found out that God made humans straight forward, but humans just devised many schemes.

Please God (Eccl 2:24-2:26)

“There is nothing better for mortals

Than to eat and drink.

They should find enjoyment in their toil.

This also,

I saw,

Is from the hand of God.

Apart from him,

Who can eat?

Who can have enjoyment?

To the one who pleases him,

God gives wisdom.

God gives knowledge.

God gives joy.

However to the sinner,

He gives the work of gathering.

He gives the work of heaping.

He only gives to one who pleases God.

This also is vanity.

This is a chasing after wind.”

Qoheleth continues his comments with the philosophical argument of Epicurus (341-270 BCE). You should enjoy your life in eating, drinking, and working. Qoheleth claims that this is from the hand of God. How can anything happen without God? God is the one who gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy. This was the typical idea that the sinner worked and gathered but was not pleasing to God. Therefore the poor sinner did not get rich. The poor person gave his harvest over to those who pleased God. Once again, this is vanity and like chasing the wind for the poor person.

The neighbor (Prov 14:20-14:22)

“The poor are disliked

Even by their neighbors.

But the rich have many friends.

Those who despise their neighbors are sinners.

But happy are those who are kind to the poor.

Do they not err when they plan evil?

Those who plan good things find loyalty,

Those who plan good things find faithfulness.”

Neighbors do not like poor people beside them. However, people love to be friends with rich people. If you despise your neighbor, you are a sinner. You will be happy if you are kind to the poor. If you are planning evil, you are erring. People who plan good things will find loyalty and faithfulness.

Inheritance (Prov 13:22-13:25)

“The good leave an inheritance to their children’s children.

But the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous.

The field of the poor may yield much food.

But it is swept away through injustice.

Those who spare the rod

Hate their children.

But those who love them

Are diligent to discipline them.

The righteous have enough

To satisfy their appetite.

But the belly of the wicked

Is empty.”

Good people leave an inheritance to their children and grandchildren. However, the sinner’s wealth is taken over by the righteous. There is no indication how this is done. The fields of the poor have a good yield, but someone unjustly takes it away. This sounds strange, but once again there is no explanation as to how this is done. Then there is the famous phrase about sparing the rod. If you did not use the stick on your children it meant that you disliked your children. If you loved them, you disciplined them. The righteous would always have enough to satisfy their appetites. However, the wicked will have an empty belly.

David is a sinner (Ps 51:3-51:5)

“I know my transgressions.

My sin is ever before me.

Against you,

You alone,

Have I sinned against.

I have done what is evil in your sight.

Thus you are justified

In your sentence.

You are blameless when you pass judgment.

Indeed,

I was born guilty.

I was a sinner

When my mother conceived me.”

David knew that he had sinned. His transgression was in front of him. He knew that he had done evil in the sight of God. He recognized that the sin was against God alone, as he did not see the human implications of his sin. This was evil in the sight of God. Thus God was justified and blameless in passing judgment on him. Then David hid behind the fact that he was born guilty. He was a sinner from his conception. Somehow he was throwing his sinfulness back to his mother and sex in general. Perhaps he was alluding to the human condition to be prone to sin or something akin to human original sin.

God’s mediator is an angel (Job 33:23-33:28)

“Then, if there should be for one of them an angel,

He would be a mediator.

One of a thousand,

This angel declares a person upright.

He is gracious to that person.

He says.

‘Deliver him from going down into the Pit!

I have found a ransom.

Let his flesh become fresh with youth!

Let him return to the days of his youthful vigor.’

Then he prays to God.

It is accepted by him.

He comes into his presence with joy.

God repays him for his righteousness.

That person sings to others.

He says.

‘I sinned.

I perverted what was right.

It was not paid back to me.

He has redeemed my soul from going down to the pit.

My life shall see the light.’”

An angel was sent from God to redeem or interpret God’s words. Later Christians might call him the guardian angel. However, only 1 in 1,000 had this redeeming angel. Somehow the redeeming angel of God ransomed this sinner. Instead of death, this person received their youthful vigor. God had answered this person’s prayer so that he went before God with joy. He was repaid for his righteousness. Then he sang to others that he was a sinner. He was saved from going down into the pit, death. He was redeemed through the light from the angel of God. Obviously this is a view of a special afterlife here on earth with a special emphasis on that guarding angel.

The prayer of Tobit (Tob 3:1-3:6)

“Then with much grief and anguish of heart, I wept. With groaning I began to pray.

‘You are righteous, O Lord

All your deeds are just.

All your ways are mercy and truth.

You judge the world.

Now, O Lord, remember me.

Look favorably upon me.

Do not punish me for my sins.

Do not punish me for my unwitting offences.

Do not punish me for those offences

That my ancestors committed before you.

They sinned against you.

They disobeyed your commandments.

So you gave us over to plunder, exile, and death.

We became the talk, the byword, an object of reproach,

Among all the nations,

Among whom you have dispersed us.

Now your many judgments are true

In exacting penalty from me for my sins.

We have not kept your commandments.

We have not walked in accordance with truth before you.

Now deal with me as you will.

Command my spirit to be taken from me.

So that I may be released from the face of the earth and become dust.

For it is better for me to die than to live,

Because I have had to listen to undeserved insults.

Great is the sorrow within me.

Command, O Lord,

That I be released from this distress.

Release me to go to the eternal home.

Do not, O Lord,

Turn your face away from me.

For it is better to die

Than to see so much distress in my life

And to listen to insults.”

This is a prayer of despair and distress, yet a hope for eternal life. Tobit admitted that he was a sinner and that his ancestors have sinned. He believed that God was just, truthful, and merciful. He and his people were in exile, plundered, and dying because they had failed to keep the commandments of God. They were an object of reproach scattered among the various countries. After admitting that God is just, Tobit then wanted out of this life with its undeserved insults. He said the words of despair that it is better to die than to live. He wanted his eternal home, not this life of sorrow and distress. Better to die than continue all this distress and insults. Suddenly this righteous man is now depressed.