1 So I again considered all the oppression that continually occurs on earth. This is what I saw: The oppressed were in tears, but no one was comforting them; no one delivers them from the power of their oppressors. 2 So I considered those who are dead and gone more fortunate than those who are still alive. 3 But better than both is the one who has not been born and has not seen the evil things that are done on earth.
Sirach 41:3Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus
1 O death, how bitter is the thought of you to the one at peace among possessions, who has nothing to worry about and is prosperous in everything, and still is vigorous enough to enjoy food! 2 O death, how welcome is your sentence to one who is needy and failing in strength, worn down by age and anxious about everything; to one who is contrary, and has lost all patience! 3 Do not fear death's decree for you; remember those who went before you and those who will come after. 4 This is the Lord's decree for all flesh; why then should you reject the will of the Most High? Whether life lasts for ten years or a hundred or a thousand, there are no questions asked in Hades.
Notes and References
"... Chapter 41:3-4 expresses Sirach's view of death in a nutshell ... This is Sirach's most definitive statement on the finality of death, and leaves no room for resurrection or a blessed afterlife. Sirach's views on this subject are no different than those of Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes), except that he holds them with resig nation, whereas Qoheleth chafes against them. Sirach recognizes that death can be bitter for one who is at peace among his possessions (40:1). But he also recognizes that death can be welcome "to one who is needy and failing in strength, worn down by age and anxious about everything" (41:2). The attractiveness of death in certain circumstances received classic expression in the Egyptian Dispute of a Man with His Ba (Soul) about 2000 B.C.E. Such sentiments are not common in the Hebrew Bible but occur more than once in Ben Sira. According to Sirach 30:17, 'Death is better than a futile life, and eternal sleep than chronic sickness.' (The repose of the dead is commonly called sleep in Jewish epitaphs of the Hellenistic and Roman periods.) The same sentiment is found in Tobit 3:6, 10, 13 in the prayers of Tobit and Sarah. (Compare also 1 Kings 19:4 (Elijah); Jonah 4:3; Job 3:11, 13, 17; Ecclesiastes 4:2) ..."
Collins, John J Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age (pp. 92-93) Westminster John Knox Press, 1997
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