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is urged so that it might not happen again (vv. 13-14). The alleged offense might be slanderous, and that possibility calls for caution in hearing (v. 15). Even if the charge is true, however, the question of intent may be raised.

A person may make a slip without intending it. Who has never sinned with his tongue? Question your neighbor before you threaten (apeilhsai) him and let the law of the Most High take its course. Sirach 19:16-17

The last line of this instruction (v. 17b) is intrigu- ing. Literally translated it reads, "And give place to the

law of the Most High."152 What does it mean to "give place"

to Torah? Is this a reference to a particular passage, or a more general allusion to some theme of Torah which is important to Sirach?

Most likely Sirach has in view a particular passage: You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason with your neighbor, lest you bear sin because of him. You shall not bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Yahweh.

Leviticus 19:17-18

The fourfold "Question!" (elegcon) in Sirach 19:13, 14, 15 and 17 recalls the "reason (LXX, elegceij) with

your neighbor" of Leviticus 19:17. The Hebrew text of Sirach has not been preserved in this passage, but there can

152

Kai doj topon nom& uyistou.

267

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