Hurtful sins (Sir 21:1-21:3)

Have you sinned?

My child!

Do so no more!

Ask forgiveness

For your past sins!

Flee from sin

As from a snake!

If you approach sin,

It will bite you.

Its teeth are lion’s teeth.

They can destroy human lives.

All lawlessness is

Like a two-edged sword.

There is no healing

For the wounds it inflicts.”

Sirach uses his parental tone in reminding others about the sting of sin. If you have sinned, stop! Ask forgiveness! You should run away from sin like you would run away from a snake. Do not go near to sin or it will bite you like a snake. Sin has lion’s teeth that can destroy people. Breaking the law is like a sharp two edged sword because there is no healing the wounds that it inflicts. Stay away from sin or you will get hurt.

The loose woman (Prov 5:1-5:6)

“My child!

Be attentive to my wisdom!

Incline your ear to my understanding!

Thus you may hold on to prudence.

Thus your lips may guard knowledge.

The lips of a loose woman drip honey.

Her speech is smoother than oil.

But in the end

She is as bitter as wormwood.

She is as sharp as a two-edged sword.

Her feet go down to death.

Her steps follow the path to Sheol.

She does not keep straight on the path of life.

Her ways wander.

She does not know it.”

Once again, we have a parental warning, but this time it is about the loose or strange woman also mentioned in chapter 2. There is the usual admonition to pay attention and listen to his words of wisdom and understanding. He wanted his children to have prudence and knowledge. Then he went into a description of this loose or strange woman. Her lips were sweeter than honey and her speech smoother than oil. However she was bitter like wormwood, some kind of bitter plant. She also was a sharp two edged sword that would lead to death in Sheol. She did not keep to the straight and narrow path of life. She was a wanderer, but did not know it. There does not seem to be any sexual overtones, but a mere unflattering portrayal of this loose or strange woman.

Triumph of Israel (Ps 149:6-149:9)

“Let the high praises of God be in their throats!

Let the two-edged swords in their hands

Execute vengeance on the nations!

Let the two-edged swords in their hands

Punish the peoples!

Let them bind their kings with chains!

Let their bind their nobles with chains of iron!

Let them execute on them

The judgment decreed!

This is glory for all his faithful ones.

Praise Yahweh!”

Psalm 149 ends with the phrase “praise Yahweh,” another way of saying alleluia, the Hebrew “Hallelujah.” This is the triumph of Israel. They will have executed judgment on their enemies with the two edged sword. They will have punished people. They will have bound up the kings and nobles. They will have executed judgment on them. The faithful ones will live in glory. Thus they will praise Yahweh with an alleluia.