The English term gospel comes from the Old English ‘godspel.’ There was a 1971 musical play with the name “Godspell.” Like the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, gospel means good news or good tidings. This term originally meant the Christian message itself. However, in the second century, it came to be used for the books in which this message was set out. Thus, the gospels became known as the written accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. These books are the basis of our knowledge about Jesus Christ. They present a somewhat coherent picture of the life of Christ with different emphasis from each author. We also have the phrase, “That’s the gospel truth.”
Do not lead
The life of a beggar!
It is better to die
Than to beg.
When one looks
To the table of another,
One’s way of life
Cannot be considered a life.
One loses self-respect
With another person’s food.
One who is intelligent,
One who is well instructed
Guards against that.
In the mouth of the shameless
Begging is sweet.
But it kindles
a fire inside him.”
Sirach has a very strong condemnation of begging. He clearly says with very strong words that it is better to die than to beg. He did not want anyone to take up the life of a beggar. Yet he was very strong on almsgiving. If you have to continually eat at someone’s table, he does not consider that to be a worthwhile existence. You lose your self-respect, if you have to eat another person’s food. The intelligent and instructed ones guard against begging. Only the shameless think that begging is a sweet thing to do. However, their begging will lead to a kindling fire in their stomachs. Stay away from beggars. Usually the biblical writers talk about compassion for those in need, but not here.
“Scoffers set a city aflame.
But the wise turn away wrath.
If the wise go to law with fools,
There is ranting.
There is ridicule without relief.
The bloodthirsty hate the blameless.
They seek the life of the upright.
A fool gives full vent to his anger.
But the wise quietly hold it back.”
The scoffers or the cynics will set a city in flames with their comments. The wise, on the other hand, will turn away or stay away from anger. If there is a dispute about the law, the wise will win out because the fools will be ranting away and ridiculed non-stop. The bloodthirsty evil men hate the blameless since they seek the life of the upright ones. Fools give vent to their anger but the wise ones hold back quietly.
“Yet God prolongs the life of the mighty by his power.
They rise up when they despair of life.
He gives them security.
They are supported.
His eyes are upon their ways.
They are exalted a little while.
Then they are gone.
They wither and fade like the mallow.
They are cut off like the heads of grain.
If it is not so,
Who will prove me a liar?
Who will show that there is nothing in what I say?”
Once again, these verses are not in the Jerusalem Bible. However, here it seems like the argument of Eliphaz but assigned to Job. He maintained that God prolonged the life of the mighty. He gave them support and security. However, they were only exalted for a little while. Then they were gone. They faded away. They were like grain stalks with their heads cut off. Who was going to prove him a liar?