Almsgiving (Sir 29:8-29:13)

“Be patient with someone

In humble circumstances.

Do not keep him waiting

For your alms.

Help the poor man

For the commandment’s sake.

In their need,

Do not send them away

Empty-handed.

Lose your silver

For the sake of a brother.

Lose your silver

For the sake of a friend.

Do not let your silver rust

Under a stone.

Do not let your silver be lost.

Lay up your treasure

According to the commandments

Of the Most High.

It will profit you

More than gold.

Store up almsgiving

In your treasury.

It will rescue you

From every disaster.

Better than a stout shield,

Better than a sturdy spear,

It will fight for you

Against the enemy.”

You should be patient with people in humble poor circumstances. You should not make them wait for your almsgiving gift. You are only following the commandments when you give to the poor. You should not send the needy away empty-handed. You should give your silver to a brother or a friend. Do not let your silver rust or get lost under a stone. Circulate money. Your treasure should be in the commandments of the Most High God that are more profitable than gold. Your treasury should be filled with almsgiving, so that it can rescue you from any disaster that might come your way. Almsgiving is better than a strong shield or spear in the fight against your enemy.

Lending (Sir 29:1-29:3)

“The merciful lend

To their neighbors.

By holding out

A helping hand,

They keep the commandments.

Lend to your neighbor

In his time of need.

Repay your neighbor

When a loan falls due.

Keep your promise.

Be honest with him.

On every occasion

You will find

What you need.”

Sirach says that lending to your neighbors is nothing more than giving them a helping hand. When you lend to others you are following the commandments. You lend to your neighbor with no interest in his time of need. However, if you borrowed the money, you should repay the loan when it is due. You should keep your promise and be honest. Thus on every occasion helping each other will work out.

Divine commands (Sir 28:6-28:7)

“Remember the end of your life!

Set enmity aside!

Remember corruption!

Remember death!

Be true to the commandments!

Remember the commandments!

Do not be angry with your neighbor!

Remember the covenant of the Most High!

Overlook faults!”

Sirach then reminds us of things to do with a series of divine commands. You have to remember a lot of things, especially the end of your lives with death. You ought to remember that there is corruption in this life. You should not have any hostility or antagonism towards others. You have to remember and be true to the commandments of the Lord. You should not be angry with your neighbor. Instead overlook their faults. You should remember the covenant with the Most High God.

The female adulterer (Sir 23:22-23:27)

“So it is with a woman

Who leaves her husband.

She presents him

With an heir

By another man.

First of all,

She has disobeyed

The law of the Most High.

Second,

She has committed an offense

Against her husband.

Third,

Through her fornication

She has committed adultery.

She has brought forth children

By another man.

She herself will be brought

Before the assembly.

Her punishment will extent

To her children.

Her children will not take root.

Her branches will not bear fruit.

She will leave behind

An accursed memory.

Her disgrace will never

Be blotted out.

Those who survive her

Will recognize

That nothing is better

Than the fear of the Lord.

Nothing is sweeter

Than to heed

The commandments of the Lord.”

There seems to be a worse punishment for the female adulterer. She has left her husband and had a child with another man. It is not clear that if she did not have a child, whether she would be punished. She has done 3 things wrong. She disobeyed the law of the Most High God. She has offended her husband. She has committed adultery. Instead of seizing her in the streets, like the male adulterer, she is brought before the assembly for a humiliating action of some sort. Her children will be punished. They apparently will not have heirs. She will leave behind a cursed memory that will never be blotted out. Everyone should recognize that there is nothing better than the fear of the Lord. There is nothing sweeter than to follow the commandments of the Lord.

Human freedom (Sir 15:14-15:17)

“The Lord created humankind

In the beginning.

He left them

With the power

Of their own free choice.

If you chose,

You can keep the commandments.

To act faithfully

Is a matter of your own choice.

He has placed before you fire.

He had placed before you water.

Stretch out your hand

For whichever you wish.

Before each person

Is life and death.

Whichever one chooses

Will be given.”

God created us humans. He left us with a free choice. We can choose to follow the commandments faithfully or not. It is our choice, like fire and water. Which do we want? We have the choice of life or death. Whichever we choose, we will receive. The choice is ours.

Honor (Sir 10:19-10:25)

“Whose offspring are worthy of honor?

Human offspring.

Whose offspring are worthy of honor?

Those who fear the Lord.

Whose offspring are unworthy of honor?

Human offspring.

Whose offspring are unworthy of honor?

Those who break the commandments.

Among family members

Their leader is worthy of honor.

Those who fear the Lord

Are worthy of honor in his eyes.

The rich find their glory

In the fear of the Lord.

The eminent find their glory

In the fear of the Lord.

The poor find their glory

In the fear of the Lord.

It is not right to despise

An intelligent poor person.

It is not proper

To honor a sinful person.

The prince is honored.

The judge is honored.

The ruler is honored.

But none of them is greater

Than the one who fears the Lord.

Free citizens will serve

A wise servant.

An intelligent person will not complain.”

Sirach poses a series of questions and answers about honor. Humans are worthy of both honor and dishonor. Those who fear the Lord are worthy of honor, but those who do not follow the commandments are worthy of dishonor. The leader in a family is worthy of honor, but so are those who fear the Lord. Whether you are rich, eminent, or poor, your glory is in the fear of the Lord. You should not despise intelligent poor people, but you should not honor sinners. You may honor a prince, a judge, or a ruler, but none of them is greater than the one who fears the Lord. Free citizens may serve a wise servant, so that the intelligent people will not complain.

The righteous and the wicked (Prov 10:6-10:11)

“Blessings are on the head of the righteous.

But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.

The memory of the righteous is a blessing.

But the name of the wicked will not be a blessing.

The wise of heart will heed commandments.

But a babbling fool will come to ruin.

Whoever walks in integrity walks securely.

But whoever follows perverse ways will be found out.

Whoever winks the eye causes trouble.

But the one who rebukes boldly makes peace.

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life.

But the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.”

This constant contrast of the righteous and the wicked continues. The righteous ones will be blessed, because the wicked ones conceal violence. The righteous memory is a blessing, but the name of the wicked ones will not get a blessing. The wise ones follow the commandments, but the babbling fools come to ruin. If you walk with integrity, you will be secure. However, if you follow perverse ways, you will be found out. If you wink your eye and let evil happen, you cause more problems. If you rebuke evil things, then you will bring about peace. The righteous mouth is a fountain of life, while the mouth of the wicked conceals its violent ways.

Let me live (Ps 119:169-119:176)

Tav

“Let my cry come before you!

Yahweh!

Give me understanding

According to your word!

Let my supplication come before you!

Deliver me

According to your word!

My lips will pour forth praise.

Because you teach me your statutes.

My tongue will sing of your promise.

All your commandments are right.

Let your hand be ready to help me!

I have chosen your precepts.

I long for your salvation.

Yahweh!

Your law is my delight!

Let me live!

Thus I may praise you.

Let your ordinances help me!

I have gone astray

Like a lost sheep.

Seek out your servant!

I do not forget your commandments.”

This long psalm concludes with the last or twenty-second consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Tav. This psalmist wanted to live and be saved. He, on his part, would not forget the commandments of Yahweh. He wanted his cry to come before Yahweh. He wanted to understand the word and law of Yahweh. He, on his part, would give praise to Yahweh with his lips and tongue. He will sing of his praises because Yahweh has taught him his statutes and commandments. All he wanted was help in salvation. He delighted in the law. Thus his ordinances would help him. However, the psalmist admitted that even though he had gone astray like a lost sheep, he still had not forgotten Yahweh’s commandments. Thus we have a fitting end to this long psalm about the importance and beauty of the law.

Praise Yahweh (Ps 119:161-119:168)

Shin

“Princes persecute me without cause.

But my heart stands in awe of your words.

I rejoice at your word,

Like one who finds great spoil.

I hate falsehood.

I abhor falsehood.

But I love your law.

Seven times a day,

I praise you

For your righteous ordinances.

Those who love your law have great peace.

Nothing can make them stumble.

I hope for your salvation.

Yahweh!

I fulfill your commandments.

My soul keeps your decrees.

I love them exceedingly.

I keep your precepts.

I keep your decrees.

All my ways are before you.”

Princes persecute the psalmist without cause, but his heart is in awe of Yahweh. He rejoiced at the word of Yahweh like one who had found great spoil after a victory. He loved the law. He hated and abhorred falsehood. He prayed 7 times a day, much like the later Christian choral prayers. He praised God for his righteous ordinances. He wanted peace for those who loved the law because nothing could make them stumble. He fulfilled the commandments of Yahweh. He kept his commandments, decrees, and precepts. Everything was laid out for Yahweh to see. So ends this section on the twenty-first consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Shin.

Your servant (Ps 119:121-119:128)

Ain

“I have done what is just.

I have done what is right.

Do not leave me to my oppressors.

Guarantee your servant’s well being.

Do not let the godless oppress me.

My eyes fail from watching

For your salvation.

My eyes fail from watching

For the fulfillment of your righteous promise.

Deal with your servant

According to your steadfast love.

Teach me your statutes.

I am your servant.

Give me understanding.

Thus I may know your decrees.

It is time for Yahweh to act.

Your law has been broken.

Truly I love your commandments

More than gold,

More than fine gold.

Truly I direct my steps by all your precepts.

I hate every false way.”

The psalmist believes that he is the servant of God. He has always done what is just and right. As usual, he did not want to be left to his oppressors. He wanted to be protected against the godless men. His eyes were beginning to fail because he has been waiting for salvation and righteous promises. Of course, he wanted to feel the steadfast love of Yahweh. He wanted to learn and understand about the decrees of Yahweh. He wanted Yahweh to act now because his laws were broken. The psalmist loved the commandments of Yahweh more than even fine gold. He wanted all his steps to follow the precepts of Yahweh. He hated false ways. So ends this section on the sixteenth consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Ain.