The weakened king of Babylon (Jer 50:41-50:43)

“Look!

A people

Is coming

From the north.

A mighty nation

With many kings

Is stirring

From the farthest parts

Of the earth.

They lay hold of bow.

They have spears.

They are cruel.

They have no mercy.

Their sound is

Like the roaring sea.

They ride on horses.

They are equipped

Like a warrior for battle,

Against you.

O daughter!

Babylon!

The king of Babylon

Heard news of them.

His hands fall helpless.

Anguish seized him.

He had pain

Like a woman in labor.’”

This section is almost word for word from chapter 6 of this work about the coming invasion of Israel. Yahweh here tells the Babylonians that an invasion is coming from the northern country, but it was actually the eastern Persians. This invader was a great nation coming from far away, but it actually was right next to them. They had bows and arrows along with spears. They were a cruel merciless well equipped group whose horses made the sounds of a roaring sea. When the king of the Babylonians heard the news of this invasion, he felt helpless and anguished. He had pains like a woman in labor. Yahweh called Babylon “daughter,” a name that he had called Israel earlier in this work.

The day of destruction is near (Isa 13:6-13:8)

“Wail!

The day of Yahweh is near!

It will come

Like destruction

From the Almighty Shaddai!

Therefore all hands

Will be feeble.

Every human heart

Will melt.

They will be dismayed.

Pangs will seize them.

Agony will seize them.

They will be in anguish

Like a woman in labor.

They will look aghast

At one another.

Their faces will be aflame.”

It is hard to tell from the text itself if this is a reference to the destruction of Babylon or some general end of the world destruction. The context, however, leans towards the fall of Babylon. This destructive day of Yahweh, the Lord, is near since there is a mention of God as the almighty Shaddai. Everyone’s hands will be weak as their hearts will melt. They will be dismayed with pangs and agony. They will be in anguish like a woman in labor at childbirth. They will get no comfort from each other as they will have fiery faces. This does not sound good.

Foolish chatter (Sir 19:6-19:12)

“One who hates gossip

Has less evil.

Never repeat a conversation.

You will lose nothing at all.

With a friend,

With a foe,

Do not report it.

Unless it would be a sin for you,

Do not reveal it.

Someone may have heard you.

Someone may have watched you.

In time,

They will hate you.

Have you heard something?

Let it die with you!

Be brave!

It will not make you burst.

Having heard something,

The fool suffers birth pangs

Like a woman in labor with a child.

Like an arrow stuck in a person’s thigh,

So is gossip inside a fool.”

Gossip or idle chatter appears to be an evil. Sirach reminds you that you should not repeat a conversation with another person, whether it was your friend or your foe. The only reason for repeating a conversation would be if it was a sin not to do so. You should not reveal your conversations since somebody may have heard or seen you doing it. This then can turn into hatred. If you have heard something, just let it die. A fool, on the other hand, hears something and immediately wants to let everyone know about it. This foolish gossip person is like a woman in labor trying to deliver her baby. This fool is like someone who has an arrow stuck in his leg. He just can’t wait to get it out.