“‘Will you still say
‘I am a god.’
In the presence
Of those who kill you?
You are but a mortal!
You are no god
In the hands of those
Who wound you!
You shall die
Of the uncircumcised,
By the hand
I have spoken.’
Says Yahweh God!”
Yahweh wanted to know if the prince of Tyre would still say that he was a god in the presence of those trying to kill him. The prince of Tyre was a mere human mortal and not a god. Those trying to wound him did not see him as a god. He was going to die the death of the uncircumcised ones at the hand of foreigners. Yahweh God had clearly spoken via Ezekiel. Some Christians have interpreted this as the fall of Lucifer or the fallen angel, the devil.
“Whoever betrays secrets
He will never find
A congenial friend.
Love your friend.
Keep faith with him.
But if you betray his secrets,
Do not follow after him.
As a person destroys
So you have destroyed
The friendship of your neighbor.
As you allow a bird to escape
From your hand,
So you have let your neighbor go.
You will not catch him again.
Do not go after him.
He is too far off.
He has escaped
Like a gazelle from a snare.
A wound may be bandaged.
There is reconciliation after abuse.
But whoever has betrayed secrets
Is without hope.”
Sirach is very harsh against those who betray secrets. When you betray a secret you destroy any confidence that another person has in you. You can never be their friend again. If you love your friend, you will not betray his secrets. Once you betray him, do not follow after him. Your friendship is destroyed. You have let the bird out of your hand that will never return. So too, your friendly neighbor is gone for good. He is like a gazelle that has escaped from a trap. You will never get him back. Then Sirach indicated how strong he felt about this. He said that it was easier to have a wound bandaged, and abusive behavior forgiven than making up after betraying a secret. There was no hope for the betrayer. Wow! Be careful when someone tells you a secret.
“Better is open rebuke
Than hidden love.
Are the wounds
A friend inflicts.
Profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
The sated appetite spurns honey.
But to a ravenous appetite
Even the bitter is sweet.”
Here we have a series of pithy sayings. It is better to rebuke someone than have a hidden love. A friend can inflict a wound also. The profuse kisses of an enemy are false. If you are filled and not hungry, you will turn away from honey. Apparently honey was a great delicacy. However, if you are hungry, even bitter things will seem sweet.
“One who sings songs to a heavy heart is
Like vinegar on a wound,
Like a moth in clothing,
Like a worm in wood,
Like one who takes off a garment on a cold day.
If your enemies are hungry,
Give them bread to eat.
If they are thirsty,
Give him water to drink.
You will thus heap coals of fire
On their heads.
Yahweh will reward you.
The north wind produces rain.
A backbiting tongue produces angry looks.”
If someone has a heavy heart, do not try to cheer them up with happy songs. That is like pouring vinegar on a wound or taking someone’s clothes on a cold day. You would be like a moth in clothing or a worm in wood. If your enemies are hungry or thirsty, give them bread and water. This will increase their punishment as you are heaping coal on their heads. Yahweh, on the other hand, will reward you for this. A backbiting tongue produces angry looks just like a north wind produces rain.
“It is a snare for one to say rashly.
‘It is holy.’
Then only begin to reflect after making a vow.
A wise king winnows the wicked.
He drives the wheel over them.
The human spirit is the lamp of Yahweh.
It searches every innermost part.
Loyalty and faithfulness preserve the king.
His throne is upheld by righteousness.
The glory of young men is their strength.
The beauty of the aged is their gray hair.
Blows that wound
Cleanse away evil.
Strokes make clean the innermost parts.”
Watch out for snares or traps. When someone thinks that something is holy and then makes a vow, they might be caught because only later do they think about what they just agreed to do. A wise king winnows or gets rid of the wicked ones. Then he drives a wheel over them. The human spirit is like God’s lamp that searches his most inner part. If the king is loyal and faithful he will preserve himself. Righteousness keeps the king on his throne. The glory of young people is their strength. However, the aged are beautiful because of their wonderful gray hair. Any blows that wound people clean up any evil in them. These strokes clean the innermost parts of their human bodies. This seems like an argument for corporal punishment.
“God will shoot his arrow at them.
They will be wounded suddenly.
Because of their tongue
He will bring them to ruin.
All who see them
Will shake with horror.
Then everyone will fear.
They will tell what God has brought about.
They will ponder what he has done.”
God will shoot the bow and arrow for David. God will suddenly wound his enemies. They will be ruined because of their evil tongues. Everyone who sees it will shake with horror. They will fear what God has done. They will then have second thoughts about doing evil things and God.