Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Honour and pay, Proverbs viii. 9. (Calmet) — Greek adds, “with his fees.” (Haydock) — The health of body and soul must be regarded. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. King. Physicians were formerly kept at the king’s expense. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxix. 1.)
Ver. 4. Them, as he will all superstitious remedies. (Calmet) — “A crowd of physicians killed Cęsar,” said Adrian, on his death-bed. They often try experiments, and kill with impunity, (Pliny xxix. 1.) — Yet we must not condemn the prudent use of medicine. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Wood, of various sorts. (Grotius) — Many suppose that he alludes to the miracle of Moses, (Exodus xv. 25.) who thus was supernaturally informed (Calmet) of the effects of a certain wood. (Tirinus) (Menochius) (St. Augustine, q. lvii. in Ex.)
Ver. 6. The. Greek, “that his or its virtue might be known by man.”
Ver. 7. These plants. — And of. Greek, “Of these the maker of ointments shall compose a mixture and his works are not yet finished, when peace (health) from him appears on the face of the earth.” (Haydock) — Diseases flee before him; so powerful are his medicines, that the very smell effects a cure.
Ver. 9. Thee. We must neither trust too much in physicians, (2 Paralipomenon xvi. 12.) nor despise them, as this would be tempting God.
Ver. 10. Sin. All diseases are in consequence of original sin, and many are inflicted for actual transgressions, John ix. 2., and 1 Corinthians xi. 30., and Numbers xii. 10. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Then. Greek, “as being no longer. Yet give,” &c. (Haydock) — Be converted and offer sacrifice, as if there were no hopes of life. Still do not despair. (Calmet)
Ver. 13. Thou. Greek, “a sweet smell (success) shall be in their hands.” (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Physician. This state is very troublesome, and a punishment of sin, ver. 10.
Ver. 16. Burial. Thus we must shew our respect for the deceased. The Jews also prayed for them, 2 Machabees xii. 42. (Calmet) — “The care….and pomp of funerals are rather the consolations of survivors than of service to the dead.” (St. Augustine, cura 2.)
Ver. 17. For. Greek, “and shed burning tears of mourning, (18.) and lament for,” &c. (Haydock) — Sorrow would be unsuitable for the saints, and useless for the damned, who being rebellious to God do not deserve our lamentations. Yet nature dictates, and people expect we should allow something to the first emotions of sorrow, (Calmet) for a day or two; and we may receive the consolatory visits of our friends, during the seven days of mourning, chap. xxii. 13., and John xi. 19. (St. Paulin. ad Pam.) — To avoid the evil reports of men, we must shew ourselves to be really sorry; yet we must not suffer grief to hurt our health. (Worthington)
Ver. 19. And the, &c., is not in Greek. Excessive sorrow brings on sickness, and renders us unfit for any thing.
Ver. 20. Aside, in solitude. — Substance; or what the poor has to live on, will seem sweet or bitter according as he is affected with joy or grief.
Ver. 21. End. This is the chief utility derived from attending funerals.
Ver. 23. Thee. A man on his death-bed, or already dead, is introduced speaking. (Calmet)
Ver. 24. Him. Greek, “thyself.” He is at rest, we hope; (Haydock) be thou so too. (Calmet)
Ver. 25. A scribe; that is, a doctor of the law, or a learned man. (Challoner) — Sorrow (Haydock) and too much employment, are injurious to learning. (Calmet) — Sapientię otia negotia sunt. (St. Bernard, ser. 85. Cant.) — When pastors have leisure, they would do well to write, in imitation of St. Paul, &c. (Worthington)
Ver. 28. Work: engraving on gold, or silver, or on precious stones.
Ver. 29. Sitting. Such was the ancient custom of smiths, (Calmet) who carried all their implements with them, and laboured with much pain. (Chardin.)
Ver. 34. Glazing. The earthen vessel would otherwise spoil all but oil and water. (Calmet)
Ver. 37. Dwell. Greek, “travel,” to get a livelihood, (Grotius) or to acquire wisdom, (chap. xxxiv. 9., and xxxix. 5.) and walk about like the ancient philosophers. They shall not be chosen magistrates. (Calmet)
Ver. 38. Spoken. They have not leisure to attend the lectures of sages; (Haydock) nor are they ever quoted by them.
Ver. 39. World, giving children to the commonwealth, (Menochius) and employing themselves in useful arts. The Jews would not allow magicians, players, &c., to reside in their country. — Craft. They pray that they may succeed in their employment, while some also strive to comply with their religious duties. (Calmet) — Applying. Greek refers this to the following chapter, “As for him who applies his soul and meditates on the law of the Most High, he will,” &c. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Of physicians and medicines: what is to be done in sickness, and how we are to mourn for the dead. Of the employments of labourers and artificers.
1 Honour the physician for the need thou hast of him: for the Most High hath created him.
2 For all healing is from God, and he shall receive gifts of the king.
3 The skill of the physician shall lift up his head, and in the sight of great men he shall be praised.
4 The Most High hath created medicines out of the earth, and a wise man will not abhor them.
5 *Was not bitter water made sweet with wood?
6 The virtue of these things is come to the knowledge of men, and the Most High hath given knowledge to men, that he may be honoured in his wonders.
7 By these he shall cure and shall allay their pains, and of these the apothecary shall make sweet confections, and shall make up ointments of health, and of his works there shall be no end.
8 For the peace of God is over all the face of the earth.
9 *My son, in thy sickness neglect not thyself, but pray to the Lord, and he shall heal thee.
10 Turn away from sin, and order thy hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from all offence.
11 Give a sweet savour, and a memorial of fine flour, and make a fat offering, and then give place to the physician.
12 For the Lord created him: and let him not depart from thee, for his works are necessary.
13 For there is a time when thou must fall into their hands:
14 And they shall beseech the Lord, that he would prosper what they give for ease and remedy, for their conversation.
15 He that sinneth in the sight of his Maker, shall fall into the hands of the physician.
16 My son, shed tears over the dead, and begin to lament as if thou hadst suffered some great harm, and according to judgment cover his body, and neglect not his burial.
17 And for fear of being ill spoken of, weep bitterly for a day, and then comfort thyself in thy sadness.
18 And make mourning for him according to his merit, for a day or two, for fear of detraction.
19 *For of sadness cometh death, and it overwhelmeth the strength, and the sorrow of the heart boweth down the neck.
20 In withdrawing aside, sorrow remaineth: and the substance of the poor is according to his heart.
21 Give not up thy heart to sadness, but drive it from thee: and remember the latter end.
22 Forget it not: for there is no returning, and thou shalt do him no good, and shalt hurt thyself.
23 Remember my judgment: for thine also shall be so: yesterday for me, and to-day for thee.
24 *When the dead is at rest, let his remembrance rest, and comfort him in the departing of his spirit.
25 The wisdom of a scribe cometh by his time of leisure: and he that is less in action, shall receive wisdom.
26 With what wisdom shall he be furnished that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad, that driveth the oxen therewith, and is occupied in their labours, and his whole talk is about the offspring of bulls?
27 He shall give his mind to turn up furrows, and his care is to give the kine fodder.
28 So every craftsman and workmaster that laboureth night and day, he who maketh graven seals, and by his continual diligence varieth the figure: he shall give his mind to the resemblance of the picture, and by his watching shall finish the work.
29 So doth the smith sitting by the anvil, and considering the iron-work. The vapour of the fire wasteth his flesh, and he fighteth with the heat of the furnace:
30 The noise of the hammer is always in his ears, and his eye is upon the pattern of the vessel he maketh.
31 He setteth his mind to finish his work, and his watching to polish them to perfection.
32 So doth the potter sitting at his work, turning the wheel about with his feet, who is always carefully set to his work, and maketh all his work by number:
33 He fashioneth the clay with his arm, and boweth down his strength before his feet.
34 He shall give his mind to finish the glazing, and his watching to make clean the furnace.
35 All these trust to their hands, and every one is wise in his own art.
36 Without these a city is not built.
37 And they shall not dwell nor walk about therein, and they shall not go up into the assembly.
38 Upon the judges’ seat they shall not sit, and the ordinance of judgment they shall not understand, neither shall they declare discipline and judgment, and they shall not be found where parables are spoken:
39 But they shall strengthen the state of the world, and their prayer shall be in the work of their craft, applying their soul, and searching in the law of the Most High.
5: Exodus xv. 25.
9: Isaias xxxviii. 3.
19: Proverbs xv. 13. and xvii. 22.
24: 2 Kings xii. 21.