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Do Not be Ashamed of Rendering Judgment to Acquit the Wicked? On Sirach 42:2

In: Vetus Testamentum
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  • 1 Department of Biblical Studies, Tel Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
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Abstract

The literary unit Sir 42:1–8 opens with the instruction not to be ashamed of keeping the Torah and commandments (42:2), and proceeds to list a series of actions that one should perform without embarrassment. Oddly enough, the second half of 42:2 instructs not to be ashamed “of rendering judgment to acquit the wicked,” על משפט להצדיק רשע. While this verse cannot be explained by the hermeneutic maneuver of changing the simple meaning of the Hebrew term רשע or the syntactic function of the lamed in להצדיק, I propose employing a text-critical approach in order to resolve the difficulty it presents. The emendation suggested in this paper subsequently helps us identify the biblical verses that served as the source of inspiration for the verse in Sirach (Ps 82:2–3), and the midrashic interpretation this verse was given in a later text (Rom 4:5).

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