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277

Nevertheless, be patient with a man in humble circumstances, and do not make him wait for your alas,

Help a poor man for the commandment's sake,171 and because of his need do not send him away empty. Lose your silver for the sake of a brother or friend, and do not let it rust under a stone and be lost. Lay up treasure according to the commandments of the Most High, and it will profit you more than gold. Store up almsgiving in your treasury, and it will rescue you from all affliction (kakwsewj); more than a mighty shield and more than a heavy spear, it will fight (polemhsei) on your behalf

against your enemy (exqrou). Sirach 29:8-13172

The most dangerous attacks of all come not from external opposition, however, but rather from within one's own person. The only responses to these attacks are religious responses. Confession of one's faults safeguards against loss (20:2). If someone has already become involved in sin, Sirach counsels that they stop sinning and start praying (deomai) about former sins (21:1). For sinners,

repentance is always a fitting response to the self-enmity which sin entails (17:25-26; 21:6).

Sirach's finest pedagogical method with this theme is surely his allowing others to see what he means by these

171 Deut. 15:7-11 is probably the commandment in view here; so also Peters, p. 237; and Snaith, p. 144.

172

Cf. Sir. 17:22-24.

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