A woman’s wound (Sir 25:13-25:15)

“Any wound,

But not a wound of the heart!

Any wickedness,

But not the wickedness of a woman!

Any suffering,

But not the suffering

From those who hate!

Any vengeance,

But not the vengeance of enemies!

There is no venom worse

Than a snake’s venom.

There is no wrath worse

Than a woman’s wrath.”

Once again, Sirach emphasizes the male point of view. These powerful females make the poor men suffer. The worst wound is to the heart. The worst wickedness comes from a woman. Hateful suffering is worse than any kind of suffering. The vengeance of enemies is bad. Just like the worse venom is that of a snake, so the worst wrath is that of a woman. Somehow, women do not seem to suffer, only the men, who suffer so much from these evil women.

The Egyptian experience and creation (Sir 16:15-16:16)

“The Lord hardened Pharaoh.

Thus he did not recognize him.

The result was

That his works might be known

Under heaven.

His mercy is manifest

To the whole of creation.

He divided

His light

And his darkness

With a plumb line.”

Sirach seems to say that the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh in order to show off his majesty. His great power was manifested in all his creation, including his mercy. The Lord has divided the world into light and darkness using a builder’s plumb line that measures things.

The heart (Sir 13:25-13:26)

“The heart changes the countenance,

Either for good or for evil.

The sign of a happy heart

Is a cheerful face.

Devising proverbs

Requires painful thinking.”

If you look at someone, you can tell whether they have a happy heart. The heart has an effect on how you look, whether for good or evil. A cheerful face is a sign of a happy heart. If you have a painful face, it may be than you are trying to formulate proverbs, like our friend Sirach. He may not have had a happy face.

The fear of the Lord (Sir 1:11-1:13)

“The fear of the Lord is glory.

The fear of the Lord is exultation.

The fear of the Lord is gladness.

The fear of the Lord is a crown of rejoicing.

The fear of the Lord delights the heart.

The fear of the Lord gives gladness.

The fear of the Lord gives joy.

The fear of the Lord gives long life.

Those who fear the Lord will have a happy end.

On the day of their death

They will be blessed.”

The beginning of wisdom is fear of God. Just like in all the other wisdom literature, everything starts with the fear of the Lord. This fear or reverential respect for God brings glory, exultation, and gladness. There will be a crown of rejoicing that delights the heart. They would experience gladness, joy, a long life, and a happy end to life. Those who fear God will be blessed on their death. Clearly there is a hint of an afterlife.

Wise and clever (Prov 27:11-27:12)

“Be wise!

My child!

Make my heart glad!

Thus I may answer whoever reproaches me.

The clever see danger.

They hide.

But the simple go on.

They suffer for it.”

Young people should be wise so that the heart of a parent will be happy. Thus the parent may respond to those who reproach him. The clever and wise ones see danger and hide. However, the simpletons go out and suffer. This is a repetition of the same proverb in chapter 22.

The consequences of non-action (Prov 24:11-24:12)

“If you hold back from rescuing

Those taken away to death,

Those who go staggering to the slaughter,

What are the consequences?

If you say.

‘Look!

We did not know this.’

Does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?

Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it?

Will he not repay all according to their deeds?”

If you do not try to rescue someone from death, what are the consequences? They were staggering to their slaughter, what were you to do? Can you say that I did not know what was going on? This was the case at the time of the holocaust roundup. The excuse for non-action was I didn’t know. However, it is important to note that God, who weighs the heart, perceives this. He watches over your soul and knows it. He will repay you according to your deeds.

Seven ugly vices (Prov 6:16-6:19)

“Yahweh hates six things.

But seven are an abomination to him.

They are haughty eyes.

They include a lying tongue.

They are hands that shed innocent blood.

They include a heart that devises wicked plans.

They are feet that hurry to run to evil.

They include a lying witness who testifies falsely.

They include anyone who sows discord in a family.”

This is a numerical listing of vices like the medieval 7 deadly sins. Although Yahweh hates 6 things, 7 are an abomination to him. Among these 7 mentioned, lying is mentioned twice. The first is haughty eyes. The second is the lying tongue. Thus eyes and mouths can create evil vices. Then there are hands that shed innocent blood and feet that run to evil. Thus hands and feet can do evil. Then there is the heart that devises wicked plans. There is then a second mention of lying, by being a false witness, which is somehow different than just a lying tongue. Finally, there is the 7th vice of sowing discord in a family.

Yahweh and the just law (Ps 19:7-19:10)

“The law of Yahweh is perfect.

It revives the soul.

The decrees of Yahweh are sure.

They make wise the simple.

The precepts of Yahweh are right.

They rejoice the heart.

The commandment of Yahweh is clear.

It enlightens the eyes.

The fear of Yahweh is pure.

It endures forever.

The ordinances of Yahweh are true.

They are righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold.

They are even much finer than gold.

They are sweeter also than honey.

They are sweeter than the drippings of the honeycomb.”

In order to counteract the preceding almost pagan eulogy to the sun, the Mosaic law of Yahweh gets special mention. It is the law of Yahweh, the decrees of Yahweh, the precepts of Yahweh, the commandments of Yahweh, the ordinances of Yahweh. There can be no mistake. This is the law of Yahweh that begins with the fear of Yahweh. They revive the soul. They make the simple wise. They rejoice the heart. They enlighten the eyes. They set righteous and endure forever. They are finer than gold and sweeter than honey. Clearly the law of Yahweh is central, not the sun.

The first night they encounter the fish in the Tigris River (Tob 6:1-6:6)

“The young man went out and angel went with him. The dog came out with him and went along with them. They both journeyed along. When the first night overtook them they camped by the Tigris River. Then the young man went down to wash his feet in the Tigris River. Suddenly, a large fish leaped up from the water. The fish tried to swallow the young man’s foot. He cried out. But the angel said to the young man.

‘Catch hold of the fish!

Hang on to him!’

So the young man grasped the fish. He drew it up on the land. Then the angel said to him.

‘Cut open the fish!

Take out its gall, heart and liver!

Keep them with you, but throw away the intestines!

Its gall, heart, and liver are useful as medicine.’  

So after cutting open the fish, the young man gathered together the gall, heart, and liver. Then he roasted and ate some of the fish. They kept some to be salted.”

Now the adventure begins. Tobias, the angel, and his dog went on their way. We seem to have a domesticated dog. There is no mention of a donkey or other animal for transportation or hauling stuff. The first night they camped at the Tigris River, not very far from Nineveh. However, it is west of Nineveh, and they would have wanted to go east. So this was not a direct route. As Tobias went down to the Tigris River to wash his feet, a large fish tried to bite the foot of Tobias. He cried out. The angel told him to grab the fish, which he did. He had the fish on land, when the angel told him to cut it open. He then took out the gall, the heart, and the liver, as medicine, as the angel had requested. Then they roasted it and ate some of the fish. They salted the rest of the fish to eat later. This was a very good old fishing story.