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265

not surprising to hear the advice,

Keep yourself far (diaxwrisqhti) from your enemies, and be on guard (prosexe) toward your friends. Sirach 6:15149

In spite of these risks in friendship, however, Sirach urges against forgetting (mh eplaq^) a friend or being

unmindful (mh amnhmonhshj) of him when a person is

wealthy (37:6) and might not. need the help which a true friend can give. Undoubtedly, Sirach prizes friendship. Its potential for intimacy poses great danger, but also life itself.

A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter: he that has found one has found a treasure. There is nothing so precious as a faithful friend and no scales can measure his excellence. A faithful friend is an elixir of life; and those who fear the Lord will find him. Whoever fears the Lord directs his friendship aright, for as he is, so is his neighbor also. Sirach 6:14-17

149 Cf. 12:10, 11 where Sirach says never to "trust" (mh pisteus^j) an enemy and to "watch oneself" (episthson thn yuxhn sou) and "be on guard" (fulacai) toward an enemy. This "enemy," however, is precisely the kind of person Sirach means in 37:1 who is a friend "only in name."

150 The Hebrew formulation of v. 17b (16a, Levi), vhfr Nk vhvmk yk, is a 3rd person allusion to

Lev. 19:181 jvmk jfrl tbhxv. Throughout this passage on friendship the Hebrew text speaks of the bhvx,

but fr appears in the final verse. V. 10 (Greek, v. 11) recalls the Leviticus passage ironically when it says of the false friend jvmk xvh jtbvFb ("In your prosperity he is as yourself").

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