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Wine and women lead intelligent men astray, and the man who consorts with harlots is very reckless. Sirach 19:283

These two may also be good things in human life. Especially in the case of wine, Sirach affirms its goodness by using it as a metaphor for a friend (9:10).84 Its ambiguity is expansively articulated in Sirach 34(31):25-30.

Do not aim to be valiant over wine, for wine has destroyed many. Fire and water prove the temper of steel, so wine tests hearts in the strife of the proud. Wine is like life to men, if you drink it in moderation. What is life to a man who is without wine? It has been created to make men glad. Wine drunk in season and temperately is rejoicing of heart and gladness of soul. Wine drunk to excess is bitterness of soul, with provocation and stumbling. Drunkenness increases the anger of a fool to his injury, reducing his strength and adding wounds. Both wine and gold are treated as penultimate goods.

This is seen most clearly when they are compared to some- thing which is unambiguously good.

Wine and music gladden the heart, but the love of wisdom is better than both. Gold and silver make the foot stand sure, but good counsel is esteemed more than both. Sirach 40:20, 25 85

83 84 Cf. also 8:2; 9:9. Other metaphorical uses of wine may be seen at 35(32):5, 6 and 49:1. Cf. also 7:18, 19; 30:15; 41:12. 85

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