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reality admirably by its structure. Verses 8-12 and 16-18 refer quite naturally to the "enemy" (vv. 8, 9, 10, 16) whose "wickedness" (ponhria, v. 10) tarnishes all who

touch it like rusting copper. All this could have been said quite as easily in Proverbs. There is an interesting step in Sirach in the central section of verses 13-15.

Who will pity a snake charmer bitten by a serpent, or any who go near wild beasts? So no one will pity a man who associates with a sinner and becomes involved in his sins. He will stay with you for a time, but if you falter, he will not stand by you. Sirach 12:13-15

By placing the remarks about associations with snakes, wild beasts and the sinner in the center of this passage there is an implicit identification of the "enemy" (exqroj) with

the "sinner" (amartwloj). This is the first occasion

where a wisdom writer using a wisdom form has come so close to equating the enemy with the wicked.

Such dangers in friendship make it encumbent upon Sirach to urge caution in choosing one's companions. A sinner would disturb friends and inject enmity among folk who were at peace.214 "Rascals" (ponhreumenoi) are

about who are full of deceit (19:26). Hence, one simply could not bring just anybody home for dinner. The "crafty"

214

28:8-12,

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