Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Evils. Greek, “injustice.” Evil communications corrupt good manners, (Haydock) or the punishment of sin follows its commission. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Not. Greek, “not in.” (Haydock) — Seven-fold: more abundantly, Osee x. 11., Job iv. 5., and Galatians vi. 7. (Calmet) — The wicked shall receive the fruit of their wickedness. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Honour. Ambition is the source of ruin to men and empires, James iii. 1. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. God. Greek, “the Lord, and affect not wisdom (sophizou) before the king.” (Haydock) — Of ourselves we are despicable; and kings love not those whose superior talents seem to eclipse their own. David’s valour excited the hatred of Saul, and Alexander “was indignant that Antipater (his general; Haydock) had conquered, thinking his own glory was diminished by that which another acquired.” (Curt. vi.)
Ver. 6. Integrity. A judge is exposed to many dangers, 2 Paralipomenon xix. 6. (Calmet) — “He must be prudent and firm.” (Plato, 2 Republic) — What will become of those who push themselves forward? (St. Chrysostom, hom. xxxiv. in Hebrews xiii.)
Ver. 8. To sin. Correct not thy severity by too great indulgence, nor entangle thyself with the sins of othres, as with a chain, Isaias v. 18.
Ver. 9. Mind. If thou hast committed a fault, despair not, but pray, (ver. 10.) avoiding presumption, ver. 14.
Ver. 12. Soul. Whether the person have incurred a fault or not, we ought to shew pity, reflecting on our own frailty, 1 Corinthians x. 12.
Ver. 13. Devise. Literally, “plough.” But Hebrew Charasch, means also to machinate. — Brother. We cannot hence infer, with Grotius, that the Jews allowed themselves to deceive strangers. (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Good, but very pernicious, (Matthew v. 37., and Apocalypse xxi. 8.; St. Augustine, Mend.) though some have thought that lies might be told to prevent evil. (Origen, &c.) (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Repeat not. Make not much babbling by repetition of words, but aim more at fervour of heart. (Challoner) — A supplication ought to be drawn up in a concise manner. (Haydock) — Judges and orators should speak with due reserve. Prayer must be unceasing: yet many words must not be used to inform God of our wants. Our Saviour seems to allude to this text, Matthew vi. 7.
Ver. 16. High. Genesis ii. 15., and iii. 18. The patriarchs and the most famous Roman generals followed this employment.
Ver. 19. On the flesh, is not in Greek. Christ appears to have had this passage in view, Mark ix. 44. Many suppose that both allude to the fire which burnt dead bodies, &c., in the vale of Hinnon. But all allow that the inextinguishable flames of hell are meant. Whether the fire and worms be corporeal or not has been questioned: the Greek Fathers, and the Church of Florence, generally maintain the negative, and the Latins assert it on better grounds. St. Thomas Aquinas adopts the opinion of many of the Fathers, who explain the worm to denote the remorse of conscience. Yet many take it to be a worm, though not like those with which we are acquainted. Horreo vermem mendacem et mortem vivacem. (St. Bernard, cons. v.) See St. Jerome; Isaias lxvi.; Cornelius a Lapide; St. Gregory, Dial. iv. 29.; St. Augustine, City of God xx. 10.; St. Ambrose vii. in Luke xiv.) (Calmet) — Fire and the worm of conscience are both eternal. (Worthington) — The punishment at least is such, and more intense than we can conceive.
Ver. 21. Wife. The virtuous never approved of divorcing any but the incorrigible. (Calmet, Dis.)
Ver. 27. Man. The Jews in general embraced the married state in their youth. St. Paul prefers virginity, 1 Corinthians vii. 8.
Ver. 28. Hateful. To marry such a one would be an occasion of divorce, which is always odious.
Ver. 29. Groanings, in child-bed, and (Calmet) during thy infancy. (Menochius) (Job iv. 4.)
Ver. 33. Priests. Greek, “priest, and give him the portion which is enjoined thee, the first-fruit, and for negligence, and the gift of the shoulders, and the,” &c., ver. 35. (Haydock) — Arms. That is, with all thy power: or else by arms (brachiis) are here signified the right shoulders of the victims, which by the law fell to the share of the priests. See ver. 35., (Challoner) Exodus xxix. 28., and Leviticus vii. 22.
Ver. 34. Few offerings, if thou be poor. (Sa) — Be alone with the priest when thou dost confess, and imitate the small number.
Ver. 36. Poor. They and Levites are always to be invited, Deuteronomy xii. 19., and xiv. 26.
Ver. 37. Dead: detained in purgatory. (Worthington) — And restrain not grace from the dead. Withhold not from them the benefit of alms, prayers, and sacrifices. Such was the doctrine and practice of the Church of God, even in the time of the Old Testament. And the same has always been continued from the days of the apostles in the Church of the New Testament. (Challoner) — Meat was also placed on the tombs of the deceased, for the benefit of the poor, Tobias iv. 18. (St. Augustine, Confessions vi. 2.)
Ver. 38. Walk. Greek, “mourn.” (Haydock) — It was customary to join those who mourned for the dead, and to offer them meat, and endeavour to comfort them. (Calmet, Diss.)
Ver. 39. Love, being approved both by God and man.
Ver. 40. End. Greek, “things;” death, judgment, and either hell or heaven. (Haydock) — This consideration is a powerful preservative against sin. (Worthington) — For who would dare to offend his judge, if he believed that the next moment he would be arraigned before his dreadful tribunal? (Calmet) — “We die daily,” &c. (St. Jerome, ad Heliod.)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Religious and moral duties.
1 Do no evils, and no evils shall lay hold of thee.
2 Depart from the unjust, and evils shall depart from thee.
3 My son, sow not evils in the furrows of injustice, and thou shalt not reap them seven-fold.
4 Seek not of the Lord a pre-eminence, nor of the king the seat of honour.
5 *Justify not thyself before God, for he knoweth the heart: and desire not to appear wise before the king.
6 Seek not to be made a judge, unless thou have strength enough to extirpate iniquities: least thou fear the person of the powerful, and lay a stumbling-block for thy integrity.
7 Offend not against the multitude of a city, neither cast thyself in upon the people,
8 *Nor bind sin to sin: for even in one thou shalt not be unpunished.
9 Be not faint-hearted in thy mind:
10 Neglect not to pray, and to give alms.
11 Say not: God will have respect to the multitude of my gifts, and when I offer to the most high God, he will accept my offerings.
12 Laugh no man to scorn in the bitterness of his soul: *for there is one that humbleth and exalteth, God who seeth all.
13 Devise not a lie against thy brother: neither do the like against thy friend.
14 Be not willing to make any manner of lie: for the custom thereof is not good.
15 Be not full of words in a multitude of ancients, and repeat not the word in thy prayer.
16 Hate not laborious works, nor husbandry ordained by the Most High.
17 Number not thyself among the multitude of the disorderly.
18 Remember wrath, for it will not tarry long.
19 Humble thy spirit very much: for the vengeance on the flesh of the ungodly is fire and worms.
20 Do not transgress against thy friend, deferring money, nor despise thy dear brother for the sake of gold.
21 Depart not from a wise and good wife, whom thou hast gotten in the fear of the Lord: for the grace of her modesty is above gold.
22 *Hurt not the servant that worketh faithfully, nor the hired man that giveth thee his life.
23 Let a wise servant be dear to thee as thy own soul, defraud him not of liberty, nor leave him needy.
24 Hast thou cattle? have an eye to them: and if they be for thy profit, keep them with thee.
25 Hast thou children? instruct them, and bow down their neck from their childhood.
26 Hast thou daughters? have a care of their body, and shew not thy countenance gay towards them.
27 Marry thy daughter well, and thou shalt do a great work, and give her to a wise man.
28 If thou hast a wife according to thy soul, cast her not off: and to her that is hateful, trust not thyself. With thy whole heart,
29 *Honour thy father, and forget not the groanings of thy mother:
30 Remember that thou hadst not been born but through them: and make a return to them as they have done for thee.
31 With all thy soul fear the Lord, and reverence his priests.
32 With all thy strength love him that made thee: and forsake not his ministers.
33 *Honour God with all thy soul, and give honour to the priests, and purify thyself with thy arms.
34 Give them their portion, *as it is commanded thee, of the first-fruits, and of purifications: and for thy negligences purify thyself with a few.
35 Offer to the Lord the gift of thy shoulders, and the sacrifice of sanctification, and the first-fruits of the holy things:
36 And stretch out thy hand to the poor, that thy expiation and thy blessing may be perfected.
37 A gift hath grace in the sight of all the living, and restrain not grace from the dead.
38 *Be not wanting in comforting them that weep, and walk with them that mourn.
39 *Be not slow to visit the sick: for by these things thou shalt be confirmed in love.
40 In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.
5: Job ix. 2.; Psalm cxlii. 2.; Ecclesiastes vii. 7.[17?]; Luke xviii. 11.
8: Ecclesiasticus xii. 7.
12: 1 Kings ii. 7.
22: Leviticus xix. 13.
29: Tobias iv. 3.
33: Deuteronomy xii. 18.
34: Leviticus ii. 3.; Numbers xviii. 15.
38: Romans xii. 15.
39: Matthew xxv. 36.