Acknowledgment of sins (Isa 63:17-63:19)

“Yahweh!

Why do you make us stray

From your ways?

Why do you harden our hearts,

So that we do not fear you?

Return

For the sake of your servants!

Return

For the tribes of your heritage!

Your holy people took possession

For a little while.

But now our adversaries

Have trodden down your sanctuary.

We have long been

Like those whom you do not rule.

We have long been

Like those who are not called

By your name.”

The prophet acknowledges that they are sinners. However, he seems to put the blame on Yahweh who let this happen. Yahweh seems to have let them stray from his ways and harden their hearts, so that they do not fear Yahweh any longer. This prophet wanted Yahweh to return for the sake of Yahweh’s servants and the tribal heritage. His people had possession of the sanctuary for a short time, but now Yahweh’s adversaries trampled down this holy place. In the end, he admitted that they have been too long without Yahweh’s rule. They have not called Yahweh by his name.

The headstrong daughter (Sir 26:10-26:12)

“Keep strict watch

Over a headstrong daughter.

Otherwise when she finds liberty,

She will make use of it.

Be on guard

Against her impudent eye.

Do not be surprised

If she sins against you.

As a thirsty traveler

Opens his mouth to drink

From any water near him,

So she will sit

In front of every tent peg.

She will open her quiver

To the arrow.”

Sirach has some advice on how to handle a headstrong daughter. Notice that there is no mention of a headstrong son. This daughter will try to exercise her freedom. However, the father is warned against this, because she may have an impudent eye. In fact, she may sin not against God, but this father, as if he were God. She is like a thirsty traveler who opens his mouth to drink any kind of water. She will sit in front of the tent by the pegs that hold it down. There she will open her archery quiver so that others may put their arrows into it. This sounds like a sexual allusion. Thus there is a need to keep an eye on all young daughters, so that they do not stray from their father’s wishes.

Hope (Sir 2:7-2:9)

“You who fear the Lord,

Wait for his mercy!

Do not stray!

Otherwise you may fall.

You who fear the Lord,

Trust in him!

Your reward will not be lost.

You who fear the Lord,

Hope for good things!

Hope for lasting joy!

Hope for mercy!”

These are some reprimands for those who fear the Lord. You need to have hope. You should wait for his mercy. You should not stray. Otherwise, you will fall. You should trust in the Lord. Your reward will not be lost. You should hope for good things like everlasting joy and mercy.

Good friends (Prov 27:8-27:10)

“Like a bird that strays from its nest,

Is one who strays from home.

Perfume makes the heart glad.

Incense makes the heart glad.

But the soul is torn by trouble.

Do not forsake your friend!

Do not forsake the friend of your parents!

Do not go to the house of your kindred

In the day of your calamity.

Better is a neighbor who is nearby

Than kindred who are far away.”

Good friends are important. You should not stray from home just as a bird does not leave its nest. Perfume and incense make the heart glad, but trouble tears apart the soul. Do not give up on your friends or the friends of your parents. If something goes wrong, do not go to your far away family relatives but to your nearby friends and neighbors.

Be careful (Prov 22:5-22:8)

“Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse.

The cautious will keep far from them.

Train children in the right way.

Then when they are old,

They will not stray.

The rich rule over the poor.

The borrower is the slave of the lender.

Whoever sows injustice

Will reap calamity,

The rod of anger will fail.”

The way of the perverse is full of thorns and snares, so keep away from them. If you train children correctly, they will not stray when they are old. The rich will rule over the poor. The borrower becomes the slave of the lender. If you sow injustice, you will harvest calamity. Beatings in anger will fail.

The violent children (Prov 19:26-19:27)

“Any children who do violence to their father

Are children who cause shame.

They bring reproach.

Any children who chase away their mother

Are children who cause shame.

They bring reproach.

Cease straying!

My child!

Listen to the instruction!

Do not stray from the words of knowledge!”

Any child who does violence to his father or chases away his mother causes shame to the family. These children bring on a reproach. These children should not stray from the words of knowledge. They should listen to their instructions.

The house of death (Prov 7:24-7:27)

“Now!

My children!

Listen to me!

Be attentive to the words of my mouth!

Do not let your hearts turn aside to her ways.

Do not stray into her paths.

Many are those she has laid low.

Numerous are her victims.

Her house is the way to Sheol.

You will be going down to the chambers of death.”

This chapter ends with the death of the simpleton. Once again, there is the parental warning to pay attention to his words. They should not turn away from his warnings. They were not to listen to the smooth and seductive words of the prostitute. The adulteress had laid low many. They were to stay the path and not stray into her paths. Her house was the way to hell, Sheol, the dark underworld of death. Going into that house would lead to death. It is not clear how she actually killed them. This is a very strong warning against adultery and prostitution with the punishment as death.