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One set of derivative and traditional figures, however, does require some brief comment: businessmen.

A merchant can hardly keep from wrongdoing, and a tradesman will not be declared innocent from sin. Many have committed sin for a trifle, and whoever seeks to get rich will avert his eyes. As a stake is driven firmly into a fissure between stones so sin is wedged in between buying and selling. If a man is not steadfast and zealous in the fear of the Lord, his house will be quickly overthrown. Sirach 26:29-27:3


Sirach realizes that one need not be ashamed of turning a profit (42:5), but he is also aware that those who cus- tomarily make their living in trade are especially liable to various kinds of sin. The gap between cost and profit, buying and selling, is subject only to the scruples of the, merchant (and the acumen of the customer). Such intangible regulations of human acquisitiveness are hardly conducive to "fair trade." Sirach's only suggestion for one in such a precarious occupation is contained in the threat that should one not hold fast in all seriousness to the fear of the Lord

76 It is difficult to decide whether these characters fit more appropriately in the neutral group or the friends and kinfolk group of enemies, but the friends and kinfolk group seems more likely. Certainly, the lender and borrower stand in a neighbor relationship (Sir. 29:1). Whether the merchant-tradesman is a community figure or an outsider would determine their category. Here they are being taken as community figures.


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