263 Caution is Sirach's watchword in at least three con- texts. Within the home he counsels fathers to "Keep strict
watch (sterewson fulakhn) over a headstrong daughter,"142
for she may pose several threats. She could ruin his reputation (42:11) and sin against him by sexual promiscuity (26:11b-12). A father must "Be on guard (fulacai) against
her impudent eye" (26:11a). Such a daughter is the occasion of many sleepless nights (42:9-10).
Another context in which caution is appropriate is in the company of strangers (allotrion, 8:18). In their
presence, Sirach recommends against doing anything which demands confidentiality. Who can know where a stranger's loyalties lie? He might well generate (tecetai)
unimagined dangers.143 The following verse (8:19) also has a bearing on this cautious response.144 Sirach widens the scope and counsels
142 143 26:10 = 42:11. 8:18b, ou gar ginwskeij ti tecetai, might be translated "for you do not know what it will bring forth" (RSV margin); in that case, the act of taking a stranger into confidence poses the unknown hazard, rather than the stranger himself. With either translation, however, caution in the presence of a stranger is enjoined.
144 Actually, Sir. 8:1-19 is composed of independent prohibitions, each one of which is intelligible without reference to any of the others. It appears, however, that vv. 18 and 19 are linked topically, although no paronomastic devices are in evidence. V. 18 exhibits paronomasia in its
use of rz ("stranger") and zr ("secret"), but there are no links between the verses.