More paradoxes (Sir 34:28-34:31)

“When one builds,

Another tears down.

What do they gain

But hard work?

When one prays,

Another curses.

To whose voice

Will the Lord listen?

If one washes

After touching a corpse,

Then touches it again,

What has he gained

By his washing?

So if one fasts

For his sins,

Then goes again

And does the same things,

Who will listen

To his prayer?

What has he gained

By humbling himself?”

Sirach cites various paradoxes in life. One man builds and another tears it down. What is this except a waste of time and labor for both of them? Who does the Lord listen to, if one person prays and the other curses? If you wash after touching a dead body, then you go and touch it again, what was the point of washing in the first place? If you fast for your sins, and then go out again and sin, who would listen to your prayers? What did you gain by humbling yourself?

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The power of the wise God (Job 12:13-12:25)

“With God are wisdom and strength.

God has counsel and understanding.

If God tears down,

No one can rebuild.

If God shuts someone in,

No one can open up.

If God withholds the waters,

They dry up.

If God sends them out,

They overwhelm the land.

With God are strength and wisdom.

The deceived and the deceiver are his.

God leads counselors away stupid.

God makes fools of judges.

God looses the sash of kings.

God binds a waistcloth on their loins.

God leads priests away stripped.

God overthrows the mighty.

God deprives speech of those who are trusted.

God takes away the discernment of the elders.

God pours contempt on princes.

God looses the belt of the strong.

God uncovers the profound out of darkness.

God brings deep darkness to light.

God makes nations great.

God then destroys them.

God enlarges nations.

God then leads them away.

God strips understanding from the leaders of the earth.

God makes them wander in a pathless waste.

They grope in the dark without light.

God makes them stagger like a drunkard.”

God has wisdom, strength, counsel, and understanding. He tears down. He shuts people out. He sends water. He sends people out to do battle successfully. He controls both the deceiver and the deceived. He makes fools of judges, kings, and priests. He overthrows the mighty. He has control of speakers, elderly, princes, and the strong. He can make light into darkness and vice versa. He makes nations great and then destroys them. He enlarges and then strips them down. He makes the leaders of earth grope in the dark, wander, and stagger like they were drunk. God is all powerful.