injury (adikhma). Thus, at least some enemies have to be
forgiven (i.e., loved) if a person intends to abide in the commandments (emmene enolaij, Sir. 28:6). Of course,
this forgiveness does not extend to all enemies; gentiles are excluded from the neighborhood (cf. Sir. 36 33 :1-17). Yet, in his attention to Leviticus 19:18, Sirach is on a trajectory which must eventually transcend racial barriers.
The difference between Sirach's exegesis of Leviticus 19:18 and Jesus', however, does not lie in the failure to extend the impact of love for the neighbor to gentiles. Jesus' instruction to love the enemy probably has the Jewish neighbor for its primary focus, for his mission was "only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 10:6; 15:24),
not to the gentiles.164 The differences between Sirach's
and Jesus' extensions of Leviticus 19:18 to include enemies lie rather in their clarity, openness to new interpretation, and "center of gravity."
Jesus' use of the word "enemies" (exqrouj) is much
clearer than Sirach's reference to a "neighbor" (plhsion) who has done "wrong" (adikhma). Jesus' reference to
enemies without any modification165 leaves the instruction
164 This is not to say, of course, that Jesus would approve of hatred of Romans, Greeks, or other gentiles.
165 The only modifier is that the enemies are "your" enemies, but what would be the point in loving someone else's enemies? Presumably, "even the Gentiles do the same" (Matt. 5:47).