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be little doubt that it read Hkvh at this point, perhaps

even Hkvt Hkvh as it is constructed in Leviticus. The

alternating "friend" (filon) and "neighbor" (plhsion) following the fourfold instruction to "question" in Sirach 19:13-17 may even recall the shift from the rare tymf

("neighbor")153 in Leviticus 19:17 to the more common fr

("neighbor") in Leviticus 19:18. What it means, therefore, to "give place to the law of the Most High" (Sir. 19:17b) is to love one's neighbor as oneself—even in the face of the

possibility that the neighbor has acted as an enemy.154

The only offenses against a friend for which Sirach holds out no hope of reconciliation are "reviling, arrogance, disclosure of secrets, or a treacherous blow (oneidismou kai uperhfaniaj kai musthriou apokaluyewj kai plhghj dolwj

153

tymf occurs in the Hebrew Bible only in Lev.

5:21 (2x); 18:201 19:11, 15, 17; 24:19; 25:14 (2x), 15, 17; Zech. 13:7.

154 So also J. Smith, Ecclesiasticus or the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach (Cambridge: Cambridge University P. 1974), p. 17; Peters, p. 162, writes, "Das Gesetz gebietet genaue Untersuchmag vor der gerichtlichir Verurteialung (Dt. 13, 14f.; 17, 4; 19, 18) so soll es auch leder einzeine dem Nichsten gegenuber halten. Vgl. Lv. 19, 17.” The passage in Sirach more likely refers to a situation prior to litigation. If the law of the Most High (in this case Lev. 19:17-18) takes its course, the passages in Deuteronomy to which Peters refers would be irrelevant. Deut. 13:14 and 17:4 are irrelevant anyway for they refer to investigations into charges of leading Israel to worship other gods; Deut. 19:18 refers to investigation of false witnesses. None of the three are particularly relevant to Sir. 19:17b.

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