The sinners pray (Bar 2:12-2:15)

“We have sinned!

We have been ungodly!

We have done wrong!

O Lord!

Our God!

Against all your ordinances!

Let your anger

Turn away

From us!

We are left,

Few in number,

Among the nations

Where you have

Scattered us.

Hear!

O Lord!

Our prayer!

Hear

Our supplication!

For your own sake

Deliver us!

Grant us favor

In the sight of those

Who have carried us

Into exile!

Thus all the earth

May know

That you are

The Lord our God!

For Israel

With his descendants,

You are

Called by your name.”

These sinners admit that they have been ungodly, doing wrong since they had disobeyed the ordinances of their Lord and God. They wanted him to turn his anger away from them, because they were only a few of them left. They had been scattered among the various nations, not just in one country. They wanted the Lord to hear their prayers and grant them favors among the people who carried them away into exile. Then the whole world would know what the God of Israel had done for his people and their descendants. They will call out his name to all.

 

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Yahweh’s punishment (Jer 23:15-23:15)

“Therefore thus says Yahweh of hosts

Concerning the prophets.

‘I am going to make them

Eat wormwood.

I give them poisoned water

To drink.

From the prophets of Jerusalem

Ungodliness has spread

Throughout the land.’”

The punishment of these Jerusalem prophets is clear, much like in chapter 9. Yahweh of hosts was going to feed these prophets, instead of his people as in chapter 9, with a bitter wormwood plant. He was going to make them drink poisoned water, since these ungodly prophets had spread evil throughout the whole land.

Things not to ashamed of (Sir 42:1-42:8)

“You should not be ashamed of the following things.

Do not sin to save face!

Do not be ashamed of the law of the Most High!

Do not be ashamed of his covenant!

Do not be ashamed of rendering judgment to acquit the ungodly!

Do not be ashamed of keeping accounts with a partner!

Do not be ashamed of keeping accounts with traveling companions!

Do not be ashamed of dividing the inheritance of friends!

Do not be ashamed of accuracy with scales!

Do not be ashamed of accuracy with weights!

Do not be ashamed of acquiring much!

Do not be ashamed of acquiring little!

Do not be ashamed of profit from dealing with merchants!

Do not be ashamed of frequent disciplining of children!

Do not be ashamed of drawing blood

From the back of a wicked servant!

Where there is an untrustworthy wife,

A seal is a good thing.

Where there are many hands,

Lock things up!

When you make a deposit,

Be sure it is counted!

Be sure it is weighed!

When you give put it all in a written record!

When you receive put it all in a written record!

Do not be ashamed to instruct the stupid!

Do not be ashamed to instruct the foolish!

Do not be ashamed to instruct the aged

Who are guilty of sexual immorality!

Then you will show your sound training.

You will be approved by all.”

Here Sirach points out the things that you should not be ashamed to do. However, in this listing, he shows his prejudice against strangers, slaves, women, and children. He has kind but cautious words for commerce and profit. You should not sin to save face. Obviously, you should not be ashamed of the law of the Most High God and his covenant. You should render judgment against the ungodly. You can keep accounts with your partners and traveling companions. You can divide the inheritance of your friends. You should not be ashamed of your balanced scales or making money with merchants. You should not be afraid to discipline your children, your wicked slaves, and your untrustworthy wife. Be careful when many people are around. When you make a deposit, make sure that everything is counted and weighed. Keep a written record of your dealings. Do not be ashamed to correct the stupid, foolish, or the immoral old guys. Thus you will show your good training. You will get approval from everyone.

The destiny of the impious and their children (Sir 41:5-41:10)

“The children of sinners

Are abominable children.

They frequent

The haunts of the ungodly.

The inheritance

Of the children of sinners

Will perish.

On their posterity

Will be a perpetual reproach.

Children will blame

An ungodly father.

They suffer disgrace

Because of him.

Woe to you!

The ungodly!

You have forsaken

The law of the Most High God!

If you have children,

Calamity will be theirs.

You will beget them

Only for groaning.

When you stumble,

There is lasting joy.

When you die,

A curse is your lot.

Whatever comes from earth,

Returns to earth.

Thus the ungodly go

From curse to destruction.”

Sirach draws a clear line from parent to child when it comes to sinners. The children of sinners are abominable. These children will live among the ungodly, since their inheritance will be lost. These children of sinners will blame their sinful ungodly father because they suffer a perpetual disgrace due to him. Then Sirach turns directly to these ungodly folks claiming that they have forsaken the law of the Most High God. Calamity and groaning will come to their children. When they stumble, everyone will be happy. When they die, they will receive a curse. Whatever comes from earth returns there. Thus the ungodly will go from a curse to total destruction.

The hypocrite (Sir 27:22-27:24)

“Whoever winks his eye

Plots mischief.

Those how know him

Will keep their distance.

In your presence,

His mouth is all sweetness.

He admires your words.

But later

He will twist his speech.

With your own words,

He will trip you up.

I have hated many things.

But I have hated him

Above all.

Even the Lord hates him.”

Sirach warns us about hypocrites. You can tell a hypocrite because he is always winking his eye, as he is plotting some mischief. Once you know who they are, keep your distance. When they are with you, they have pleasant sweet words for you. They admire your speech. However, they will later twist your words and trip you up. Sirach hates many things, but he really hates these hypocrites even more than the ungodly. He then tries to speak for God, saying that even the Lord hates hyprocrites.

Careful speech (Sir 23:12-23:15)

“There is a manner of speaking

Comparable to death.

May it never be found

In the inheritance of Jacob.

Such conduct will be far

From the godly.

They will not wallow in sins.

Do not accustom your mouth

To coarse foul language.

This involves sinful speech.

Remember your father!

Remember your mother!

Remember them

When you sit among the great ones!

Otherwise you might forget yourself

In their presence.

You might behave

Like a fool

Through bad habit.

Then you will wish

That you had never been born.

You will curse the day of your birth.

Whoever is accustomed

To use abusive language

Will never become disciplined

As long as they live.”

Sirach warns against the manner of speaking that brings death. This could be blasphemy or some profane sinful language that should never appear among the descendants of Jacob. Notice that is Jacob and not Israel. You should watch your language and not wallow in sin, since this is ungodly. Do not get accustomed to using coarse foul vulgar language. You should remember your parents whenever you are with great people. Otherwise, you might behave like a fool with bad habits. If you do, you will wish that you were never born. You will curse the day of your birth. If you get accustomed to using abusive language, you will never be disciplined in your life, no matter how long you live.

Mourning for the foolish (Sir 22:11-22:12)

“Weep for the dead!

They have left the light behind.

Weep for the foolish!

They have left intelligence behind.

Weep less bitterly for the dead!

They are at rest.

The life of the fool is

Worse than death.

Mourning for the dead

Lasts seven days.

But for the foolish ungodly,

It lasts all their lives.”

Sirach makes an interesting comparison between the foolish living persons and the dead people. You should weep for the dead because they no longer see the light of day. However, you should also weep for the foolish ones because they have left intelligence behind. At least the dead have rest, but the fools live a life worse than death. Mourning for the dead should last 7 days, but you should mourn a lifetime for the foolish and ungodly people because they have no intelligence.