Practical Notes Quotations

Farmers and Craftsmen Uphold the World

While the books commonly known as Apocrypha are not to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings (and while claims for their divine authority naturally meet with revulsion and even tend to discourage their use), like other human writings they have some worthwhile theological reflection, some poetic forms of expression, and some shrewd common sense. Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 38 & 39 deal with the value of the varying contributions that different sorts of people make to society. In between treating of physicians and intellectuals, there is this forceful and valuable statement:

Sirach 38:24-34

24: The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure: and he that hath little business shall become wise.
25: How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks?
26: He giveth his mind to make furrows; and is diligent to give the kine fodder.
27: So every carpenter and workmaster, that laboureth night and day: and they that cut and grave seals, and are diligent to make great variety, and give themselves to counterfeit imagery, and watch to finish a work:
28: The smith also 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: the noise of the hammer and the anvil is ever in his ears, and his eyes look still upon the pattern of the thing that he maketh; he setteth his mind to finish his work, and watcheth to polish it perfectly:
29: So doth the potter sitting at his work, and turning the wheel about with his feet, who is always carefully set at his work, and maketh all his work by number;
30: He fashioneth the clay with his arm, and boweth down his strength before his feet; he applieth himself to lead it over; and he is diligent to make clean the furnace:
31: All these trust to their hands: and every one is wise in his work.
32: Without these cannot a city be inhabited: and they shall not dwell where they will, nor go up and down:
33: They shall not be sought for in publick counsel, nor sit high in the congregation: they shall not sit on the judges’ seat, nor understand the sentence of judgment: they cannot declare justice and judgment; and they shall not be found where parables are spoken.
34: But they will maintain the state of the world, and [all] their desire is in the work of their craft.

There is no wealth apart from natural resources, the fruit of the earth, and the products made by skill and labor.

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