“If thou be made the master of a Feast, lift not thyself up, but be among them as one of the rest; take diligent care for them, and so sit down. And when thou hast done all thy office, take thy place, that thou mayest be merry with them, and receive a crown for thy well ordering of the feast. Speak, thou that art the elder, for it becometh thee, but with sound judgment; and hinder not musick. Pour not out words where there is a musician, and shew not forth wisdom out of time. A concert of musick in a banquet of wine is as a signet of carbuncle set in gold. As a signet of an emerald set in a work of gold, so is the melody of musick with pleasant wine. Speak, young man, if there be need of thee: and yet scarcely when thou art twice asked. Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in few words; be as one that knoweth and yet holdeth his tongue. If thou be among great men, make not thyself equal with them; and when ancient men are in place, use not many words. Before the thunder goeth lightning; and before a shamefaced man shall go favour. Rise up betimes, and be not the last; but get thee home without delay. There take thy pastime, and do what thou wilt: but sin not by proud speech. And for these things bless him that made thee, and hath replenished thee with his good things.” ~Ecclesiasticus
Master of a Feast
Ecclesiasticus is saying that simply because you have been made the master of a feast, doesn’t mean you are the master of those attending the feast. You should not act as if you are superior to the other, but be one with them. Sit down and enjoy the feast and the company. Be careful of being rude or arrogant towards someone at the feast, for he may turn out to be someone rather important and teach you to regret such arrogance. Even if the person is not someone really important, he may one day be the master of a feast that you are attending, so treat him as you wish to be treated when the shoe is on the other foot.
We must also understand that these rules that Ecclesiasticus has given for behavior as the master of a feast applies to other events as well. Whether it is a concert, a play, a pool party, whatever, the master of the event should be one with the people attending the event. And you will probably enjoy the event more if you are.
Hinder not the Music
The quote says music, but I am taking that as an outdated spelling of music. Some online dictionaries define “musick” as composing music, but by the way he uses the word, I think music is what is meant by Ecclesiaticus in the quote.
So he tells us that when the musicians are performing, we should listen to the music and not be conversing with others at the event. It is not only rude to the musician(s), but also to those who want to listen but can’t because of the conversations going on all around them. Today, there are exceptions to this. In some rock concerts, the performers encourage the audience members to dance and sing along. But that is still not the same as holding conversations, or more often today, being on your cellphone when someone is performing.
Master of the Spiritual
You might be asking at this point what any of this has to do with being Spiritual. Perhaps not a lot, but it is related. Much of what the quote is talking about is having humility. Those who have humility do the job without acting rude or arrogant. And humility is strongly encouraged in spiritual students. An arrogant student doesn’t listen to the master and do the tasks recommended for spiritual growth. The students with humility listen and grow.
The Master of a Feast could be master of a spiritual feast rather than a physical one. A spiritual feast being one in which it is Spiritual Light that is consumed rather than material food. The master of a feast that is spiritual need to follow those rules of proper behavior just as does the master of the physical feast. The master does need to have control of his students to a degree, but as a master of a feast, he must be one with them. He must understand their problems and difficulties and sympathize with them. He shouldn’t get angry when a student learns more slowly than others or asks a lot of questions. In the long run, such students may end up being the most accomplished ones and become Masters of a Feast of spiritual knowledge themselves.
Wine, Carbuncle, and Emerald
We can understand why the Master of a Feast would need to be concerned about the wine, but what about carbuncles and Emeralds? The type of carbuncle here is an obsolete usage meaning a red stone or gem, particularly garnet. Since all of these have spiritual significance, this tells us that it is really a spiritual banquet under discussion.
Wine can be a symbol of friendship and happiness, but in spiritual matters, it generally represents transformation. Specifically, it represents the transformation of a materialistic man into a spiritual man. That is what Jesus was really doing in the allegory of changing water into wine. It symbolized human transformation.
Garnet is a symbol of love. It was also used for protection from harm. The emerald was a symbol of fertility and immortality. So this Master of a Feast was really a spiritual master dealing with human transformation and spiritual immortality.