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her above gold, and forsake her not (vii. 19, 26); nothing is more beautiful than the life of a wedded pair who agree together (xxv. 1). But a bad wife must be treated with rigour and must be kept under strict control; otherwise she will cause her husband annoyance, spoil his happiness, embitter his temper, make weak hands and feeble knees, and may drive him to the last resource, even to cut her off from his flesh (xxv. 20-26). The Son of Sirach lays great store on friendship. Love thy friend, he says, and be faithful unto him (xxvii. 17, ix. 10), for he is a strong defence, a real treasure, shares and thus lessens thy troubles, is a gift of God to them that fear the Lord (vi. 14-17). Whether he be in high or poor estate cleave unto him ; for he is no true friend who hides his face in time of affliction and abides not in the day of trouble. But before making a friend prove him, test his stedfastness, and be not hasty to put your trust in him (vi. 7). At the same time you must not strain the cords of friendship too roughly. You may admonish your friend sternly, and yet retain his love; you may even in righteous anger threaten his life, and yet the good feeling between you may not be broken ; but treachery towards him and slander and revealing of secrets are fatal : the breach caused by such things cannot be repaired (xix. 13–17, xxii. 21, 22, xxvii. 16-18). In the treatment of enemies Siracides shews the inferiority of his code of morals to that of the Christian. An enemy is never to be trusted; you must always be looking for open or secret attack from him, and be ready to repel it (xii. 10-12); when he falls, you are right to exult;? but if you die before he is subdued, do not let him escape, leave the vendetta to your children (xxv. 7, xxx. 6). A master should treat his servants with kindness; they should be unto him as brethren, yea, even as himself (vii. 20-22, xxxiii. 30, 31); nor should he think scorn to learn wisdom of them (x. 25). But he must not give them too much liberty; he must see that they do their appointed work, and punish severely any neglect of duty (xxxiii. 24-28, xlii. 5). Sloth and laziness are disgraceful and infectious, and cannot be checked too carefully (xxii. 1, 2). The Jews, we must remember, at this time had turned their attention to agriculture and handicrafts, so that advice on such matters was very natural and acceptable. A man is exhorted not to hate laborious work, especially agriculture, which is appointed by God (vii. 15); to be active and diligent; for it is far better to feed yourself by your own manual toil than to take pride in idleness and want bread (xxxi. 22, x. 27), and the life of a hard-working and contented man is sweet (xl. 18). It is true that the labourer, the ploughman, the grazier, the smith, the artificer, cannot be expected to find time to study wisdom, or to practise statecraft; but they are useful in their own spheres, and maintain the state of things without which the social and physical life of man could not exist (xxxviii. 25–34). Such work too tends to health of body, which is better than infinite wealth ; indeed death itself is preferable to long continued sickness (xxx. 14-20). It is wise to take care of oneself before becoming ill (xviii. 19, 20); but if sickness increase the physician is to be summoned. It is a Divine appointment that there should be medicines in the world and persons skilled to apply them. Send for such in your illness, and grudge them not their fees. At the same time pray that the remedies may be efficacious, cleanse your heart of sin, and God will make you whole (xxxviii. 1-15). From intercourse with other nations the Hebrews had learned to.cultivate the art of healing as distinguished from the practice of the priesthood which had alone been recognised formerly; but the direction that both doctor and patient should pray for the success of the treatment issues from a pious mind, which looks to the Lord as the dispenser of life and death (xxxviii. 14).
1 But see viii. 7, quoted further on, where a more Christian sentiment is expressed.
Siracides' rules of social intercourse are wise and prudent, but oftentimes worldly and selfish. Of the former class are such as these : Strive not with a mighty or a rich man, lest he overweigh thee (viii. 1, 2); talk with the wise and do not consult a fool (ix. 15, viii. 17); consort not with sinners: he that toucheth pitch shall be defiled therewith (xii. 14, xiii. 1); learn to be independent and contented, for better is a poor man's life in a mean cottage than delicate fare in another man's house (xxix. 22 ff., xxxiii. 19 ff.); whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember the end, and thou shalt never do amiss (vii. 36). Of the selfish and worldly maxims which abound in the book, many are concerned with the use of money. The warnings in the Book of Proverbs against suretyship are repeated with emphasis by the Son of Sirach. Many a man of good estate hath been undone by suretyship; so dangerous and ruinous is it, that it may be regarded as one of the ways in which God punishes a wicked man (viii. 13, xxix. 18, 19). Never lend money to a man mightier than yourself, for you are sure to be the loser (viii. 12); help the good, for you are safe in their hands, and they will make you a recompense (xii. 2); be faithful to your neighbour in the time of his trouble, that thou mayest be heir with him in his heritage (xxii. 23). If a great man invite you to his house, do not be too eager to accept his hospitality, but put on an appearance of reluctance, and so much the more will he desire your company (xiii. 9); and at table be not greedy, lest you be hated by your host, or injure your own
bodily health (xxxi. 12-21). In such cases the advice is
* One cannot help contrasting the very different teaching of the Gospel (St. Luke vi. 30–36). The Jewish Law fully recognised the duty of helping the needy, and placed it under merciful regulations. Siracides, also, is quite in accord with this direction (xxix. 1, 2); but his worldly prudence steps in to modify and restrict the obligation,
1 On the art of eating to excess, as it has been termed, the Son of Sirach is
. Comp. Rom. xii. 15.
1 “One man beareth hatred against another, and doth he seek pardon from
2 Comp. John vii. 17.