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in these cases any friend will flee" (22:22cd).155 Violent

actions against a friend like drawing a sword (22:21a) or even opening one's mouth against a friend (22:22a) need not cause undue alarm, "for reconciliation is possible" (22:22b). There remain, however, a few things which render reconciliation impossible.

Sirach 22:19-22 and 21:16-21 are instructions directed to an offender who wishes to seek reconciliation. Sirach 19:13-17, on the other hand, addresses the offended party in a friendship. It urges caution in allowing allegations to rupture a fundamentally sound friendship. The charges should be carefully assessed, and the law (i.e., Lev. 19:17-18) should be given its proper role. Sirach is able to draw even more implications from the law in Leviticus. The love of neighbor must ultimately involve forgiveness.

Anger (mhnij) and wrath (orgh), these also are abominations, and the sinful man will possess them, He that takes vengeance (o ekdikwn) will suffer vengeance from the Lord, and he will firmly establish his sins. Forgive (afej) your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned (lu- qhsontai) when you pray.

155 Sir. 27:16-21 also speaks of betrayal of confi- dentiality as a hopeless situation. V. 21 explains, "For a wound (trauma) may be bandaged, and there is reconcilia- tion after abuse (loidoriaj), but whoever has betrayed secrets is without hope (o de apokaluyaj musthria afhlpisen).

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