JB SIRACH Chapter 1


1:1 Many and wonderful are the gifts we have been granted by means of the Law and the Prophets

1:2 and the others that followed them,

1:3 an education in wisdom on which Israelis indeed to be complimented.

1:4 But it is not enough merely for those who read the scriptures to be learned in them;

1:5 students should also be able to be of use to people outside

1:6 by what they say and write.

1:7 So it was that my grandfather Jesus,

1:8 having devoted himself more and more to reading the Law

1:9 and the prophets and

1:10 the other volumes of the fathers,

1:11 and having gained ability enough in these matters,

1:12 was brought to the point of himself writing down of the things that have a bearing on education and wisdom,

1:13 in order that those studiously inclined and with obligations in these maters

1:14 might make all the more progress in living according to the Law.

1:15 You are therefore asked

1:16 to read this book

1:17 with good will and attention :

1:18 and to show indulgence

1:19 in those places where, notwithstanding our efforts at interpretation, we may seem

1:20 to have failed ,to give an adequate rendering of this or that expression;

1:21 the fact is that you cannot find an equivalent

1:22 for things originally written in Hebrew when you come to translate them into another language;

1:23 what is more,

1:24 you will find on examination that the Law itself, the Prophets

1:25 and the other books

1:26 differ considerably in translation from what appears in the original text.

1:27 It was in the thirty-eighth year of the late King Euergetes[*a],

1:28 when after my arrival in Egypt I had already spent some time there,

1:29 that I found a work of more than common instructional worth,

1:30 which convinced me of the urgency of applying myself in my turn with pains and diligence to the translation of the book that follows;

1:31 and I spent much time and learning on it

1:32 in the course of this period,

1:33 to complete the work and to publish the book

1:34 for the benefit especially of those who, domiciled abroad, wish to study how to fit themselves

1:35 and their manners for living according to the Law.

JB SIRACH Chapter 2


The mystery of wisdom

2:1 All wisdom is from the Lord, and it is his own for ever.

2:2 The sand of the sea and the raindrops, and the days of eternity, who can assess them?

2:3 The height of the sky and the breadth of the earth, and the depth of the abyss, who can probe them?

2:4 Before all other things wisdom was created, shrewd understanding is everlasting.

2:6 For whom has the root of wisdom ever been uncovered? Her resourceful ways, who knows them?

2:8 Only the wise, terrible indeed, seated on his throne,

2:9 the Lord. He himself has created her, looked on her and assessed her, and poured her out on all his works

2:10 to be with all mankind as his gift, and he conveyed her to those who love him.

The fear of God

2:11 The fear of the Lord is glory and pride, and happiness and a crown of joyfulness.

2:12 The fear of the Lord will gladden the heart giving happiness and joy and long life.

2:13 With him who fears the Lord it will be well at the last, and he will be blessed on the day of his death.

2:14 To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, she was created with the faithful in their mothers’ womb;

2:15 she has made a nest among men, an age-old foundation, and to their offspring she will cling faithfully.

2:16 To fear the Lord is the perfection of wisdom; she intoxicates them with her fruits;

2:17 she fills their whole house with their heart’s desire, and their storerooms with her produce.

2:18 The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom; it makes peace and health to flourish.

2:19 The Lord has looked on her and assessed her, he has showered down learning and discernment, and exalted the renown of those who hold her close.

2:20 To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom, and her branches are long life.

Patience and self-control

2:22 The rage of the wicked man cannot justify him, for the weight of his rage is his downfall.

2:23 The patient man will hold out till the time comes, but his joy will break out in the end.

2:24 He will hide his words till the time comes, and stories of his discernment will be on many lips.

Wisdom and uprightness

2:25 In wisdom’s treasuries there are learned sayings, but reverence for God is loathsome to the sinner.

2:26 If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the Lord will convey her to you.

2:27 For wisdom and instruction mean the fear of the Lord, and what pleases him is faithfulness and gentleness.

2:28 Do not be unsubmissive to the fear of the Lord, do not practise it with a double heart.

2:29 Do not act a part in public, and keep a watch over your lips.

2:30 Do not raise yourself up, in case you fall and bring disgrace on yourself, for the Lord would then reveal your secrets and humiliate you before the whole community for not having attained the fear of the Lord, and for having a heart full of deceit.

The fear of God in time of ordeal

2:1 My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal.

2:2 Be sincere of heart, be steadfast, and do not be alarmed when disaster comes.

2:3 Cling to him and do not leave him, so that you may be honoured at the end of your days.

2:4 Whatever happens to you, accept it, and in the uncertainties of your humble state, be patient,

2:5 since gold is tested in the fire, and chosen men in the furnace of humiliation.

2:6 Trust him and he will uphold you, follow a straight path and hope in him.

2:7 You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy; do not turn aside in case you fall

2:8 You who fear the Lord, trust him, and you will not be baulked of your reward

2:9 You who fear the Lord hope for good things, for everlasting happiness and mercy.

2:10 Look at the generations of old and see: who ever trusted in the Lord put to shame? Or who ever feared him steadfastly and was left forsaken? Or who ever called out to him, and was ignored?

2:11 For the Lord is compassionate and merciful he forgives sins, and saves in days of distress.

2:12 Woe to faint hearts and listless hands, and to the sinner who treads two paths.

2:13 Woe to the listless heart that has no faith, for such will have no protection.

2:14 Woe to you who have lost the will to endure; what will you do at the Lord’s visitation?

2:15 Those who fear the Lord do not disdain his words, and those who love him keep his ways.

2:16 Those who fear the Lord do their best to please him, and those who love him find satisfaction in his Law.

2:17 Those who fear the Lord keep their hearts prepared and humble themselves in his presence.

2:18 Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, not into the hands of men; for as his majesty is, so too is his mercy.

JB SIRACH Chapter 3

Duties towards parents

3:1 Children, listen to me your father, do what I tell you, and so be safe;

3:2 for the Lord honours the father in his children, and upholds the rights of a mother over her sons.

3:3 Whoever respects his father is atoning for his sins,

3:4 he who honours his mother is like someone amassing a fortune.

3:5 Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own, he shall be heard on the day when he prays.

3:6 Long life comes to him who honours his father, he who sets his mother at ease is showing obedience to the Lord.

3:7 He serves his parents as he does his Lord.

3:8 Respect your father in deed as well as word, so that blessing may come on you from him;

3:9 since a father’s blessing makes the houses of his children firm, while a mother’s curse tears up their foundations.

3:10 Do not make a boast of disgrace overtaking your father, your father’s disgrace reflects no honour on you;

3:11 for a man’s honour derives from the respect shown to his father, and a mother held in dishonour is a reproach to her children.

3:12 My son, support your father in his old age, do not grieve him during his life.

3:13 Even if his mind should fail, show him sympathy, do not despise him in your health and strength;

3:14 for kindness to a father shall not be forgotten but will serve as reparation for your sins.

3:15 In the days of your affliction it will be remembered of you, like frost in sunshine, your sins will melt away.

3:16 The man who deserts his father is no better than a blasphemer, and whoever angers his mother is accursed of the Lord.


3:17 My son, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be better loved than a lavish giver.

3:18 The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favour with the Lord;

3:20 for great though the power of the Lord is, he accepts the homage of the humble.

3:21 Do not try to understand things that are too difficult for you, or try to discover what is beyond your powers.

3:22 Concentrate on what has been assigned you, you have no need to worry over mysteries.

3:23 Do not meddle with matters that are beyond you; what you have been taught already exceeds the scope of the human mind.

3:24 For many have been misled by their own presumption, and wrong-headed opinions have warped their ideas.


3:26 A stubborn heart will come to a bad end at last, and whoever loves danger will perish in it.

3:27 A stubborn heart is weighed down with troubles, the sinner heaps sin on sin.

3:28 There is no cure for the proud man’s malady, since an evil growth has taken root in him.

3:29 The heart of a sensible man will reflect on parables, an attentive ear is the sage’s dream.

Charity to the poor

3:30 Water quenches a blazing fire, almsgiving atones for sins.

3:31 Whoever gives favours in return is mindful of the future; at the moment of his fall he will find support.

JB SIRACH Chapter 4

4:1 My son, do not refuse the poor a livelihood, do not tantalise the needy.

4:2 Do not add to the sufferings of the hungry, do not bait a man in distress.

4:3 Do not aggravate a heart already angry, nor keep the destitute waiting for your alms.

4:4 Do not repulse a hard-pressed beggar, nor turn your face from a poor man.

4:5 Do not avert your eyes from the destitute, give no man occasion to curse you;

4:6 for if a man curses you in the bitterness of his soul, his maker will hear his imprecation.

4:7 Gain the love of the community, bow your head to a man of authority.

4:8 To the poor man lend an ear, and return his greeting courteously.

4:9 Save the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor, and do not be mean-spirited in your judgements.

4:10 Be like a father to orphans, and as good as a husband to widows. And you will be like a son to the Most High, whose love for you will surpass your mother’s.

Wisdom as educator

4:11 Wisdom brings up her own sons, and cares for those who seek her.

4:12 Whoever loves her loves life, those who wait on her early will be filled with happiness.

4:13 Whoever holds her close will inherit honour, and wherever he walks the Lord will bless him.

4:14 Those who serve her minister to the Holy One, and the Lord loves those who love her.

4:15 Whoever obeys her judges aright, and whoever pays attention to her dwells secure.

4:16 If he trusts himself to her he will inherit her, and his descendants will remain in possession of her;

4:17 for though she takes him at first through winding ways, bringing fear and faintness on him, plaguing him with her discipline until she can trust him, and testing him with her ordeals,

4:18 in the end she will lead him back to the straight road, and reveal her secrets to him.

4:19 If he wanders away she will abandon him, and hand him over to his fate.

Shame and human respect

4:20 My son, bide your time and be on your guard against evil, and have no cause to be ashamed of yourself;

4:21 for there is a shame that leads to sin, as well as a shame that is honourable and gracious.

4:22 Do not show partiality, to your own detriment, or deference, to your own downfall.

4:23 Do not refrain from speech at an opportune time, and do not hide your wisdom;

4:24 for wisdom shall be recognised in speech, and instruction by what the tongue utters.

4:25 Do not contradict the truth, rather blush for your own ignorance.

4:26 Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, do not strive against the current of a river.

4:27 Do not grovel to a foolish man, do not show partiality to a man of influence.

4:28 Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side.

4:29 Do not be bold of tongue, yet idle and slack in deed;

4:30 do not be like a lion at home, or a coward before your servants.

4:31 Do not let your hands be outstretched to receive, yet closed when the time comes to give back.

4:1 My son, do not refuse the poor a livelihood, do not tantalise the needy.

4:2 Do not add to the sufferings of the hungry, do not bait a man in distress.

4:3 Do not aggravate a heart already angry, nor keep the destitute waiting for your alms.

4:4 Do not repulse a hard-pressed beggar, nor turn your face from a poor man.

4:5 Do not avert your eyes from the destitute, give no man occasion to curse you;

4:6 for if a man curses you in the bitterness of his soul, his maker will hear his imprecation.

4:7 Gain the love of the community, bow your head to a man of authority.

4:8 To the poor man lend an ear, and return his greeting courteously.

4:9 Save the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor, and do not be mean-spirited in your judgements.

4:10 Be like a father to orphans, and as good as a husband to widows. And you will be like a son to the Most High, whose love for you will surpass your mother’s.

Wisdom as educator

4:11 Wisdom brings up her own sons, and cares for those who seek her.

4:12 Whoever loves her loves life, those who wait on her early will be filled with happiness.

4:13 Whoever holds her close will inherit honour, and wherever he walks the Lord will bless him.

4:14 Those who serve her minister to the Holy One, and the Lord loves those who love her.

4:15 Whoever obeys her judges aright, and whoever pays attention to her dwells secure.

4:16 If he trusts himself to her he will inherit her, and his descendants will remain in possession of her;

4:17 for though she takes him at first through winding ways, bringing fear and faintness on him, plaguing him with her discipline until she can trust him, and testing him with her ordeals,

4:18 in the end she will lead him back to the straight road, and reveal her secrets to him.

4:19 If he wanders away she will abandon him, and hand him over to his fate.

Shame and human respect

4:20 My son, bide your time and be on your guard against evil, and have no cause to be ashamed of yourself;

4:21 for there is a shame that leads to sin, as well as a shame that is honourable and gracious.

4:22 Do not show partiality, to your own detriment, or deference, to your own downfall.

4:23 Do not refrain from speech at an opportune time, and do not hide your wisdom;

4:24 for wisdom shall be recognised in speech, and instruction by what the tongue utters.

4:25 Do not contradict the truth, rather blush for your own ignorance.

4:26 Do not be ashamed to confess your sins, do not strive against the current of a river.

4:27 Do not grovel to a foolish man, do not show partiality to a man of influence.

4:28 Fight to the death for truth, and the Lord God will war on your side.

4:29 Do not be bold of tongue, yet idle and slack in deed;

4:30 do not be like a lion at home, or a coward before your servants.

4:31 Do not let your hands be outstretched to receive, yet closed when the time comes to give back.
JB SIRACH Chapter 5

Wealth and presumption

5:1 Do not give your heart to your money, or say, ‘With this I am self-sufficient’.

5:2 Do not be led by your appetites and energy to follow the passions of your heart.

5:3 And do not say, ‘Who has authority over me?’ for the Lord will certainly be avenged on you.

5:4 Do not say, ‘I sinned, and what happened to me?’ for the Lord’s forbearance is long.

5:5 Do not be so sure of forgiveness that you add sin to sin.

5:6 And do not say, ‘His compassion is great, he will forgive me my many sins’; for with him are both mercy and wrath, and his rage bears heavy on sinners.

5:7 Do not delay your return to the Lord, do not put it off day after day; for suddenly the Lord’s wrath will blaze out, and at the time of vengeance you will be utterly destroyed.

5:8 Do not set your heart on ill-gotten gains, they will be of no use to you on the day of disaster.

Straightforwardness and self-possession

5:9 Do not winnow in every wind, or walk along every by-way (such is the practice of the deceitful sinner).

5:10 Be steady in your convictions, sincere in your speech.

5:11 Be quick to listen, and deliberate in giving an answer.

5:12 If you understand the matter, give your neighbour an answer, if not, put your hand over your mouth.

5:13 Both honour and disgrace come from talking, a man’s tongue can cause his downfall.

5:14 Do not get a name for scandal-mongering, do not set traps with your tongue; for as shame lies in store for the thief, so harsh condemnation awaits the deceitful.

5:15 Avoid offences in great as in small matters, and do not become an enemy where you should stay a friend;

JB SIRACH Chapter 6

6:1 for a bad name will earn you shame and reproach, as happens to the deceitful sinner.

6:2 Do not give in to the promptings of your temper, in case it gores your soul like a mad bull;

6:3 in case it gobbles up your leaves and you lose your fruits, and are left like a withered tree.

6:4 An evil temper destroys the man who has it and makes him the laughing-stock of his enemies.


6:5 A kindly turn of speech multiplies a man’s friends, and a courteous way of speaking invites many a friendly reply.

6:6 Let your acquaintances be many, but your advisers one in a thousand.

6:7 If you want to make a friend, take him on trial, and be in no hurry to trust him;

6:8 for one kind of friend is only so when it suits him but will not stand by you in your day of trouble.

6:9 Another kind of friend will fall out with you and to your dismay make your quarrel public,

6:10 and a third kind of friend will share your table, but not stand by you in your day of trouble:

6:11 when you are doing well he will be your second self, ordering your servants about;

6:12 but if ever you are brought low he will turn against you and will hide himself from you.

6:13 Keep well clear of your enemies, and be wary of your friends.

6:14 A faithful friend is a sure shelter, whoever finds one has found a rare treasure.

6:15 A faithful friend is something beyond price, there is no measuring his worth.

6:16 A faithful friend is the elixir of life, and those who fear the Lord will find one.

6:17 Whoever fears the Lord makes true friends, for as a man is, so is his friend.

Apprenticeship to wisdom

6:18 My son, from your earliest youth choose instruction, and till your hair is white you will keep finding wisdom.

6:19 Cultivate her like the ploughman and the sower, and wait for her fine harvest, for in tilling her you will toil a little while, but very soon you will be eating her crops.

6:20 How very harsh she is to the undisciplined! The senseless man does not stay with her for long:

6:21 she will weigh on him like a heavy stone, and he will lose no time in throwing her off;

6:22 for discipline is true to her name, she is not accessible to many.

6:23 Listen, son, and take my warning, do not reject my advice:

6:24 put your feet into her fetters, and your neck into her harness;

6:25 give your shoulder to her yoke, do not be restive in her reins;

6:26 court her with all your soul, and with all your might keep in her ways;

6:27 go after her and seek her; she will reveal herself to you; once you hold her, do not let her go.

6:28 For in the end you will find rest in her and she will take the form of joy for you:

6:29 her fetters you will find are a strong defence, her harness, a robe of honour.

6:30 Her yoke will be a golden ornament, her reins, purple ribbons;

6:31 you will wear her like a robe of honour, you will put her on like a crown of honour.

6:32 If you wish, my son, you can acquire instruction, if you give your mind to it, subtlety will be yours.

6:33 If you love listening you will learn, if you lend an ear, wisdom will be yours.

6:34 Attend the gathering of elders; if there is a wise man there, attach yourself to him.

6:35 Listen willingly to any discourse coming from God, do not let shrewd proverbs escape you.

6:36 If you see a man of understanding, visit him early, let your feet wear out his doorstep.

6:37 Reflect on the injunctions of the Lord, busy yourself at all times with his commandments. He will strengthen your mind, and the wisdom you desire will be granted you.

JB SIRACH Chapter 7

Miscellaneous advice

7:1 Do no evil, and evil will not befall you;

7:2 shun wrong, and it will avoid you.

7:3 Son, do not sow in the furrows of wrong-doing, or you may reap it seven times over.

7:4 Do not ask the Lord for the highest place, or the king for a seat of honour.

7:5 Do not parade your virtue before the Lord, or your wisdom before the king.

7:6 Do not scheme to be appointed judge, in case you are not strong enough to stamp out injustice, in case you let yourself be swayed by an influential man, and so risk the loss of your integrity.

7:7 Do not wrong the general body of citizens and so lower yourself in popular esteem.

7:8 Do not be drawn to sin twice over, for you will not go unpunished even once.

7:9 Do not say, ‘God will consider the great number of my gifts; when I make my offerings to the Most High God he will accept them’.

7:10 Do not be impatient in prayer; do not neglect to give alms.

7:11 Do not laugh at a man when he is sad of heart, for he who brings him low can lift him high.

7:12 Do not draw up a lying indictment against your brother, do not do it against a friend either.

7:13 Mind you tell no lies, for no good can come of it.

7:14 Do not make long-winded speeches in the gathering of elders, and do not repeat yourself at your prayers.

7:15 Do not shirk wearisome labour, or farm work, which the Most High created.

7:16 Do not swell the ranks of the sinners, remember that the wrath will not delay.

7:17 Be very humble, since the punishment for the godless is fire and worms.

7:18 Do not barter a friend for profit, nor a real brother for the gold of Ophir.

7:19 Do not turn against a wise and good wife, for her charm is worth more than gold.

7:20 Do not ill-treat a slave who is an honest worker, or a wage-earner who does his best for you.

7:21 Love an intelligent slave like your own self, and do not deny him his freedom.


7:22 Have you cattle? Look after them; if they are making you a profit, keep them.

7:23 Have you children? Educate them, make them bow the neck from childhood.

7:24 Have you daughters? Take care of their bodies, but do not be over-indulgent.

7:25 Marry a daughter off, and you have finished a great work; but give her to a man of sense.

7:26 Have you a wife to your liking? Do not turn her out; but if you dislike her, never trust her.


7:27 With all your heart honour your father, never forget the birthpangs of your mother.

7:28 Remember that you owe your birth to them; how can you repay them for what they have done for you?


7:29 With all your soul hold the Lord in awe, and revere his priests.

7:30 With all your might love him who made you, and do not abandon his ministers.

7:31 Fear the Lord and honour the priest and give him the portion enjoined on you: first-fruits and sacrifices of reparation and the shoulder-gift, the sacrifice of sanctification, and first-fruits of the holy things.

The poor and afflicted

7:32 Stretch your hand out also to the poor man, that your blessing may be perfect.

7:33 Be generous in your gifts to all the living, do not withhold your favour even from the dead.

7:34 Do not fail those who weep, but share the grief of the grief-stricken.

7:35 Do not shrink from visiting the sick; in this way you will make yourself loved.

7:36 In everything you do, remember your end, and you will never sin.

JB SIRACH Chapter 8

Prudence and common-sense

8:1 Do not try conclusions with an influential man, in case you later fall into his clutches.

8:2 Do not quarrel with a rich man, in case he turns the scales against you; for gold has destroyed many, and has swayed the hearts of kings.

8:3 Do not quarrel with a man of quick tongue, do not pile logs on his fire.

8:4 Do not jest with an ill-mannered man, in case you hear your ancestry insulted.

8:5 Do not revile a repentant sinner; remember that we all are guilty.

8:6 Do not despise a man in his old age; after all, some of us too are growing old.

8:7 Do not gloat over a man’s death; remember that we all must die.


8:8 Do not ignore the talk of the wise, be conversant with their proverbs, since from these you will learn the theory and art of serving the great.

8:9 Do not underrate the talk of old men, after all, they themselves learned it from their fathers; from them you will learn how to think, and the art of the timely answer.


8:10 Do not kindle the coals of the sinner, in case you scorch yourself in his blaze.

8:11 Refuse to be drawn by an arrogant man, for fear he tries to trap you in your words.

8:12 Do not lend to anyone who is stronger than you are – if you do lend, resign yourself to loss.

8:13 Do not stand surety beyond your means; if you do stand surety, be prepared to pay up.

8:14 Do not go to law with a judge, since judgement will be given in his favour.

8:15 Do not travel with a reckless fellow, in case he imposes on you; he will act as the whim takes him, and you will both be ruined by his folly.

8:16 Do not argue with a quick-tempered man, or travel with him through the wilderness; since blood counts for nothing in his eyes, and where no help is to be had, he will strike you down.

8:17 Do not ask a fool for advice, since he will not be able to keep a confidence.

8:18 In a stranger’s presence do nothing that should be kept secret, since you cannot tell what use he will make of it.

8:19 Do not open your heart to every man, or solicit favours from all comers.

JB SIRACH Chapter 9


9:1 Do not be jealous of the wife you love, or teach her lessons in evil to your detriment.

9:2 Do not give your soul to a woman, for her to trample on your strength.

9:3 Do not keep company with a harlot, in case you get entangled in her snares.

9:4 Do not dally with a singing girl, in case you get caught by her wiles.

9:5 Do not stare at a virgin, in case you and she incur the same punishment.

9:6 Do not give your soul to whores, or you will ruin your inheritance.

9:7 Keep your eyes to yourself in the streets of a town, do not prowl about its unfrequented quarters.

9:8 Turn your eyes away from a handsome woman, do not stare at the beauty that belongs to someone else. Woman’s beauty has led many astray; it kindles desire like a flame.

9:9 Never sit down with a married woman, or sit at table with her drinking wine, in case you succumb to her charms, and in your ardour you slide down to your ruin.

Relations with men

9:10 Do not desert an old friend; the new one will not be his match. New friend, new wine; when it grows old, you drink it with pleasure.

9:11 Do not envy the sinner his success; you do not know what turn his career will take.

9:12 Do not take pleasure in what pleases the godless; remember they will not go unpunished to their grave.

9:13 Keep your distance from the man who has the power to put to death, and you will not be haunted by the fear of dying. If you do approach him, make no false move, or he may take your life. Realise that you are treading among trip-lines, that you are strolling on the battlements.

9:14 Cultivate your neighbours as far as you can, and consult with wise men.

9:15 For conversation seek intelligent men, let all your discussions bear on the law of the Most High.

9:16 Have virtuous men for your table companions, and let your pride be in fearing the Lord.

9:17 Work from skilled hands will earn its praise, but a leader of the people must be shrewd of speech.

9:18 A phrase-maker is a terror to his town, a loose talker is detested.

JB SIRACH Chapter 10


10:1 The wise magistrate will be strict with his people, and the government of a prudent man will be well-regulated.

10:2 As the magistrate is, so will his officials be, as the governor is, so will be the inhabitants of his city.

10:3 An uneducated king will be the ruin of his people, a city owes its prosperity to the intelligence of its leading men.

10:4 The government of the earth is in the hands of the Lord, he sets the right man over it at the right time.

10:5 A man’s success is in the hands of the Lord, it is he who invests the lawgiver with honour.

Against pride

10:6 Do not resent your neighbour’s every offence, and never act in a fit of passion.

10:7 Pride is hateful to God and man, and injustice is abhorrent to both.

10:8 Empire passes from nation to nation because of injustice, arrogance and money.

10:9 What has dust and ashes to pride itself on? Even in life its guts are repellent.

10:10 A long illness mocks the doctor; a king today is a corpse tomorrow.

10:11 When a man comes to die, his inheritance will be creeping things, beasts of prey, worms.

10:12 The beginning of human pride is to desert the Lord, and to turn one’s heart away from one’s maker.

10:13 Since the beginning of pride is sin, whoever clings to it will pour forth filth. For which reason the Lord inflicted extraordinary punishments on them and utterly overthrew them.

10:14 The Lord has thrown down rulers’ thrones, and seated the humble in their place.

10:15 The Lord has plucked up proud men by the roots, and planted the lowly in their place.

10:16 The Lord has overthrown the lands of the heathens and destroyed them to the very foundations of the earth.

10:17 He has taken some of them away and destroyed them, and blotted out their memory from the earth.

10:18 Pride was not created for men, nor furious rage for those born of woman.

Persons deserving honour

10:19 What race deserves honour? The human race. What race deserves honour? Those who fear the Lord. What race deserves contempt? The human race. What race deserves contempt? Those who break the commandments.

10:20 Among brothers the leader of them deserves honour, and those who fear the Lord deserve honour in his sight.

10:22 Let rich and noble and poor take pride in fearing the Lord.

10:23 It is not right to despise a poor but intelligent man, and it is not good to honour a man who is a sinner.

10:24 Ruler, magistrate, influential man, all are to be honoured, but none of them is greater than him who fears the Lord.

10:25 A wise slave will have free men waiting on him, and the man of sense will not grumble.

Frankness and humility

10:26 Do not try to be smart when you do your work, do not put on airs when you are in difficulties.

10:27 Better a hardworking man who has plenty of everything, than a pretentious man at a loss for a meal.

10:28 My son, be modest in your self-esteem, and value yourself at your proper worth.

10:29 Who can justify a man who runs himself down, or respect a man who despises himself?

10:30 A poor man is honoured for his wits, and a rich man for his wealth.

10:31 Honoured in poverty, how much the more in wealth! Dishonoured in wealth, how much the more in poverty!

JB SIRACH Chapter 11

Do not go by appearances

11:1 The poor man’s wisdom keeps his head erect, and gives him a place with the great.

11:2 Do not praise a man for his good looks, nor dislike anybody for his appearance.

11:3 Small among winged creatures is the bee but her produce is the sweetest of the sweet.

11:4 Do not preen yourself on your fine clothes, nor be swollen headed on your day of glory; for the Lord’s deeds are marvellous, though hidden from mankind.

11:5 Many monarchs have been made to sit on the ground, and the man nobody thought of has worn the crown.

11:6 Many influential men have been utterly disgraced, and prominent men have fallen into the power of others.

Deliberation and reflection

11:7 Do not find fault before making thorough inquiry; first reflect, then give a reprimand.

11:8 Listen before you answer, and do not interrupt a speech in the middle.

11:9 Do not wrangle about something that does not concern you, nor interfere in the squabbles of sinners.

11:10 My son, do not take on a great amount of business; if you multiply your interests, you are bound to suffer for it; hurry as fast as you can, yet you will never arrive, nor will you escape by running away.

11:11 A man labours and toils and forges ahead, only to find himself the more out-distanced.

Trust in God alone

11:12 Another man is a poor creature begging for assistance, badly off for support, but rich in poverty, and the Lord turns a favourable eye on him, sets him on his feet out of his abject condition,

11:13 and enables him to hold his head high, to the utter amazement of many.

11:14 Good and bad, life and death, poverty and wealth, all come from the Lord.

11:17 The Lord’s gift remains constant to the devout, and his goodwill means a good journey for ever.

11:18 A man grows rich by his sharpness and grabbing, and here is the reward he receives. for it:

11:19 he says, ‘I have found rest, and now I can enjoy my goods’; but he does not know how long this will last; he will have to leave his goods for others and die.

11:20 Persevere at your duty, take pleasure in doing it, and grow old at your work.

11:21 Do not be astonished at the sinner’s achievements; trust the Lord and keep to your duty; since it is a trifle in the eyes of the Lord, in a moment, suddenly to make a poor man rich.

11:22 The devout man receives the Lord’s blessing as his reward, in a moment God brings his blessing to flower.

11:23 Do not say, ‘What are my needs, what will be my profits in future?’

11:24 And do not say, ‘I am self-supporting, what losses can I suffer in future?’

11:25 In a time of profit, losses are forgotten, and in a time of loss, no one remembers profits.

11:26 Yet it is a trifle for the Lord on the day a man dies to repay him as his conduct deserves.

11:27 A moment’s adversity, and pleasures are forgotten; in a man’s last hour his deeds will stand revealed.

11:28 Call no man fortunate before his death; it is by his end that a man will be known.

Distrust the wicked

11:29 Do not bring every man home with you, for many are the traps of the crafty.

11:30 Like a decoy partridge in a basket, such is the proud man’s heart; like a spy he watches for your downfall.

11:31 The slanderer twists good into evil, will cast a slur on what deserves most praise.

11:32 A hearthful of glowing coals starts from a single spark, and the sinner lurks for the chance to spill blood.

11:33 Beware of a scoundrel and his evil contrivances, in case he puts a smear on you for ever.

11:34 Bring a stranger home with you and he will start trouble, and estrange you from your own family.

JB SIRACH Chapter 12

Rules for doing good[*a]

12:1 If you do a good turn, know for whom you are doing it, and your good deeds will not go to waste.

12:2 Do good to a devout man, and you will receive a reward, if not from him, then certainly from the Most High.

12:3 No good will come to a man who persists in evil, or who refuses to give alms.

12:4 Give to a devout man, do not go to the help of a sinner.

12:5 Do good to a humble man, give nothing to a godless one. Refuse him bread, do not give him any, it might make him stronger than you are; then you would be repaid evil twice over for all the good you had done him.

12:6 For the Most High himself detests sinners, and will repay the wicked with a vengeance.

12:7 Give to the good man, and do not go to the help of a sinner.

True and false friends

12:8 In prosperity you cannot always tell a true friend, but in adversity you cannot mistake an enemy.

12:9 When a man is doing well his enemies are sad, when he is doing badly, even a friend will keep his distance.

12:10 Do not ever trust an enemy; as bronze tarnishes, so does his malignity.

12:11 Even if he behaves humbly and comes bowing and scraping, maintain your reserve and be on your guard against him. Behave towards him as if you were polishing a mirror, you will find that his tarnish cannot last.

12:12 Do not stand him beside you in case he thrusts you out and takes your place. Do not seat him at your right hand, or he will be after your position, and you will end up by admitting the truth of my words, and feeling the sting in them.

12:13 Who feels sorry for a snake-charmer bitten by a snake, or for those who take risks with savage animals?-

12:14 just so for someone consorting with a sinner, and being accomplice to his sins.

12:15 As long as you maintain your stand he will not reveal himself, but if you once give way he will press his advantage.

12:16 An enemy may have sweetness on his lips, and in his heart a scheme to throw you in the ditch. An enemy may have tears in his eyes, but if he gets a chance not even blood will satisfy him.

12:17 If you meet with misfortune, you will find him there before you, and, pretending to help you, he will trip you up.

12:18 He will wag his head and clap his hands, he will whisper a lot and his expression will change.

JB SIRACH Chapter 13

Mix with your equals

13:1 Whoever touches pitch will be defiled, and anyone who associates with a proud man will come to be like him.

13:2 Do not try to carry a burden too heavy for you, do not associate with someone more powerful and wealthy than yourself. Why put the clay pot next to the iron cauldron? It will only break when they collide.

13:3 The rich man wrongs a man and puts on airs, while the poor man is wronged and apologises.

13:4 If you are useful he will exploit you, if you cannot keep up with him he will desert you.

13:5 Are you well off?-he will live with you, he will clean you out without a single qualm.

13:6 Does he need you?-he will hoodwink you, smile at you and raise your hopes; he will speak to you with smooth words and say, ‘I wonder what you would like?’

13:7 And he will put you to shame with his grand dinners, until he has cleaned you out two or three times over, and he will finish by making you ridiculous. When he sees you afterwards he will snub you, and wag his head about you.

13:8 Take care you are not hoodwinked and thus humiliated through your own stupidity.

13:9 When an influential man invites you, show reluctance, and he will press his invitation all the more.

13:10 Do not thrust yourself forward, in case you are pushed aside, but do not stand aloof, or you will be overlooked.

13:11 Do not affect to treat him as an equal, do not trust his flow of words; since all this talking is expressly meant to test you, under cover of geniality he will be weighing you up.

13:12 Pitiless is the man who is too free with his words, he will not spare you either blows or chains.

13:13 Be wary, take very great care, because you are walking with your own downfall.

13:15 Every living thing loves its own sort, and every man his neighbour.

13:16 Every creature mixes with its kind, and man sticks to his own sort.

13:17 How can a wolf and lamb agree? – Just so with sinner and devout.

13:18 What peace can there be between hyena and dog? And what peace between rich man and poor?

13:19 Wild donkeys are the prey of desert lions; so too, the poor are the quarry of the rich.

13:20 The proud man thinks humility abhorrent; so too, the rich abominate the poor.

13:21 When the rich man stumbles he is supported by friends; when the poor man falls, his friends push him away.

13:22 When the rich man slips, there are many hands to catch him, if he talks nonsense he is congratulated.

13:27 The poor man slips, and is blamed for it, he may talk good sense, but no room is made for him.

13:23 The rich man speaks and everyone stops talking, and then they praise his discourse to the skies. The poor man speaks and people say, ‘Who is this?’ and if he staggers they push him down.

13:24 Wealth is good where there is no sin, poverty is evil, the godless say.

13:25 A man’s heart moulds his expression whether for better or worse.

13:26 The mark of a good heart is a cheerful expression; inventing proverbs is weary work.

JB SIRACH Chapter 14

True happiness

14:1 Happy the man who has not sinned in speech and who need feel no remorse for sins.

14:2 Happy the man whose own soul does not accuse him, and who has never given up hope.

Envy and greed

14:3 Wealth is not the right thing for a niggardly man, and what use are possessions to a covetous one?

14:4 A man who hoards by stinting himself is hoarding for others, and others will live sumptuously on his riches.

14:5 If a man is mean to himself, to whom will he be good? He does not even enjoy what is his own.

14:6 No one is meaner than the man who is mean to himself, and this is how his wickedness pays him back.

14:7 If he does good at all, he does it without intending to, and in the end he himself reveals his wickedness.

14:8 Evil is the man who has a grudging eye, averting his face, and careless of others’ lives.

14:9 The eye of the grasping man is not content with his portion, greed shrivels up the soul

14:10 The miser is grudging of bread, there is famine at his table.

14:11 My son, treat at yourself as well as you can afford and bring worthy offerings to the Lord.

14:12 Remember that death will not delay and that the covenant of Sheol[*a] has not been revealed to you.

14:13 Be kind to your friend before you die treat him as generously as you can afford.

14:14 Do not refuse yourself the good things of today, do not let your share of what is lawfully desired pass you by.

14:15 Will you not have to leave your fortune to another, and the fruit of your labour to be divided by lot?

14:16 Then give and receive, and take your ease, for in Sheol you cannot look for pleasure.

14:17 Every living thing grows old like a garment, the age-old law is ‘Death must be’.

14:18 Like foliage growing on a bushy tree, some leaves falling, others growing, so are the generations of flesh and blood: one dies, another is born.

14:19 Every achievement rots away and perishes, and with it goes its author.

The happiness of the sage

14:20 Happy the man who meditates on wisdom, and reasons with good sense,

14:21 who studies her ways in his heart, and ponders her secrets.

14:22 He pursues her like a hunter, and lies in wait by her path;

14:23 he peeps in at her windows, and listens at her doors;

14:24 he lodges close to her house, and fixes his peg in her walls;

14:25 he pitches his tent at her side, and lodges in an excellent lodging;

14:26 he sets his children in her shade, and camps beneath her branches;

14:27 he is sheltered by her from the heat, and in her glory he makes his home.

JB SIRACH Chapter 15

15:1 Whoever fears the Lord will act like this, and whoever grasps the Law will obtain wisdom.

15:2 She will come to meet him like a mother, and receive him like a virgin bride.

15:3 She will give him the bread of understanding to eat, and the water of wisdom to drink.

15:4 He will lean on her and will not fall, he will rely on her and not be put to shame.

15:5 She will raise him high above his neighbours, and in full assembly she will open his mouth.

15:6 He will find happiness and a crown of joy, he will inherit an everlasting name.

15:7 Foolish men will not gain possession of her, nor will sinful men set eyes on her.

15:8 She stands remote from pride, and liars cannot call her to mind

15:9 Praise is unseemly in a sinner’s mouth, since it has not been put there by the Lord.

15:10 For praise should only be uttered in wisdom, and the Lord himself then prompts it.

Man is free

15:11 Do not say, ‘The Lord was responsible for my sinning’, for he is never the cause of what he hates.

15:12 Do not say, ‘It was he who led me astray’, for he has no use for a sinner.

15:13 The Lord hates all that is foul, and no one who fears him will love it either.

15:14 He himself made man in the beginning, and then left him free to make his own decisions.

15:15 If you wish, you can keep the commandments, to behave faithfully is within your power.

15:16 He has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever you prefer.

15:17 Man has life and death before him; whichever a man likes better will be given him.

15:18 For vast is the wisdom of the Lord; he is almighty and all-seeing.

15:19 His eyes are on those who fear him, he notes every action of man.

15:20 He never commanded anyone to be godless, he has given no one permission to sin.

JB SIRACH Chapter 16

Curses reaped by the wicked

16:1 Do not long for a brood of worthless children, and take no pleasure in godless sons.

16:2 However many you have, take no pleasure in them, unless the fear of the Lord lives among them.

16:3 Do not count on their having long life, do not put too much faith in their future; for better have one than a thousand, better die childless than have godless ones.

16:4 One man of sense can populate a city, but the race of lawless men will be destroyed.

16:5 My eyes have seen many such things, my ears have heard things still more impressive.

16:6 Fire will be kindled in a community of sinners; the wrath was kindled in a disobedient nation.

16:7 God did not pardon the giants of old who, confident in their strength, rebelled.

16:8 He did not spare the people with whom Lot lived, whom he abhorred for their pride.

16:9 He had no pity on that people doomed to destruction, who were wiped out in their sins,

16:10 nor on the six hundred thousand men on the march who banded together in their obstinacy[*a].

16:11 Had there been even only one stubborn man, it would have been astonishing if he had escaped unpunished, since mercy and wrath alike belong to the Lord who is mighty to forgive and to pour out wrath.

16:12 His mercy is great, but his severity is as great; he judges every man as his deeds deserve:

16:13 the sinner shall not escape with his ill-gotten gains, nor the devout man’s patience go for nothing.

16:14 He allows free play to his mercy; yet every man shall be treated as his deeds deserve.

Certainty of retribution

16:17 Do not say, ‘I will hide from the Lord, who will remember me up there? I shall certainly not be noticed among so many; what am I in the immensity of creation?’

16:18 Why look, the sky and the heavens above the sky, the deep and the earth tremble at his visitation.

16:19 The mountains and the base of the earth together quail and tremble when he looks at them.

16:20 But who bothers his head about such things? Who attempts to understand the way he moves?

16:21 The storm wind itself is invisible, and most of what he does goes undetected.

16:22 ‘Who will report whether justice has been done? Who will be expecting it? The covenant is far away.’

16:23 Such are the thoughts of the man of little sense, the rash misguided man, who loves his illusions.

Man in creation

16:24 Listen to me, my son, and learn knowledge, and give your whole mind to my words.

16:25 I will expound discipline to a nicety, and proclaim knowledge with precision.

16:26 When God created his works in the beginning, he allotted them their portions as soon as they were made.

16:27 He determined his works for all time, from their beginnings to their distant future. They know neither hunger nor weariness, and they never desert their duties.

16:28 None has ever jostled its neighbour, they will never disobey his word[*b].

16:29 And afterwards the Lord looked at the earth, and filled it with his good things.

16:30 He covered its surface with every kind of animal, and to it they will return.

JB SIRACH Chapter 17

17:1 The Lord fashioned man from the earth, to consign him back to it.

17:2 He gave them so many days’ determined time, he gave them authority over everything on earth.

17:3 He clothed them with strength like his own, and made them in his own image.

17:4 He filled all living things with dread of man, making him master over beasts and birds.

17:6 He shaped for them a mouth and tongue, eyes and ears, and gave them a heart to think with.

17:7 He filled them with knowledge and understanding, and revealed to them good and evil.

17:8 He put his own light in their hearts to show them the magnificence of his works.

17:10 They will praise his holy name, as they tell of his magnificent works.

17:11 He set knowledge before them, he endowed them with the law of life.

17:12 He established an eternal covenant with them, and revealed his judgements to them.

17:13 Their eyes saw his glorious majesty, and their ears heard the glory of his voice.

17:14 He said to them, ‘Beware of all wrong doing’; he gave each a commandment concerning his neighbour.

The divine judge

17:15 Their ways are always under his eye, they cannot be hidden from his sight.

17:17 Over each nation he has set a governor, but Israel is the Lord’s own portion.[*a]

17:19 All their works are as the sun to him, and his eyes rest constantly on their ways.

17:20 Their iniquities are not hidden from him, all their sins are before the Lord.

17:22 A man’s almsgiving is like a signet ring to him, he cherishes a man’s generosity like the pupil of his eye.

17:23 One day he will rise and reward them, he will pay back their deserts on their own heads.

17:24 But to those who repent he permits return, and he encourages those who were losing hope.

Exhortation to repentance

17:25 Return to the Lord and leave sin behind, plead before his face and lessen your offence.

17:26 Come back to the Most High and turn away from iniquity, and bold in abhorrence all that is foul.

17:27 Who will praise the Most High in Sheol, if the living do not do so by giving glory to him?

17:28 To the dead, as to those who do not exist, praise is unknown, only those with life and health can praise the Lord.

17:29 How great is the mercy of the Lord, his pardon on all those who turn towards him!

17:30 Man cannot have everything, since the son of man is not immortal.

17:31 What is brighter than the sun? Yet it suffers eclipse. Flesh and blood think of nothing but evil.

17:32 He surveys the armies of the lofty sky, while all men are no more than dust and ashes.

JB SIRACH Chapter 18

The greatness of God

18:1 He who lives for ever created all the universe.

18:2 The Lord alone will be found righteous.

18:4 He has given no one the power to proclaim his works, and who can fathom his magnificent deeds?

18:5 Who can assess his magnificent strength, and who can go further and tell of his mercies?

18:6 Nothing can be added to them, nothing subtracted, it is impossible to fathom the marvels of the Lord.

18:7 When a man finishes he is only beginning, and when he stops he is as puzzled as ever.

The nothingness of man

18:8 What is man, what purpose does he serve? What is the good in him, and what the bad?

18:9 Take the number of a man’s days; a hundred years is very long.

18:10 Like a drop of water from the sea, or a grain of sand, such are these few years compared with eternity.

18:11 For this reason the Lord shows them forbearance, and pours out his mercy on them.

18:12 He sees and recognises how wretched their end is, and so he makes his forgiveness the greater.

18:13 Man’s compassion extends to his neighbour, but the compassion of the Lord extends to everything that lives; rebuking, correcting and teaching, bringing them back as a shepherd brings back a flock.

18:14 He has compassion on those who accept correction, who fervently look for judgements.

The art of giving

18:15 My son, do not temper your favours with disparagement, nor any of your gifts with words that hurt.

18:16 Does not dew relieve the heat? In the same way a word is worth more than a gift.

18:17 Why surely, a word is better than a good present, but a generous man is ready with both.

18:18 A fool will offer nothing but insult, and a grudging man’s gift makes the eyes smart.

Reflection and foresight

18:19 Learn before you speak, take care of yourself before you fall ill.

18:20 Examine yourself before judgement comes, and on the day of visitation you will find yourself acquitted.

18:21 Humble yourself before you fall ill, and when you sin, repent.

18:22 Let nothing prevent your discharging a vow in good time, and do not wait till death before setting matters to rights.

18:23 Prepare yourself before making a vow, and do not be like a man who tempts the Lord.

18:24 Bear the wrath of the last days in mind, the time of vengeance when God averts his face.

18:25 In a time of plenty remember times of famine, poverty and want in days of wealth.

18:26 The time slips by between dawn and dusk, all things pass swiftly in the presence of the Lord.

18:27 A wise man will be cautious in everything, and in sinful days he will take care not to offend.

18:28 Every man of sense recognises wisdom, and will respect anyone who has found her.

18:29 Those who understand sayings have themselves grown wise and have poured out apt proverbs.


18:30 Do not follow your lusts, restrain your desires.

18:31 If you allow yourself to satisfy your desires, this will make you the laughing-stock of your enemies.

18:32 Do not indulge in luxurious living, nor get involved in such society.

18:33 Do not beggar yourself by banqueting on credit when there is nothing in your pocket.

JB SIRACH Chapter 19

19:1 Behave like that and you will never grow rich; he who despises trifles will sink down little by little.

19:2 Wine and women corrupt sensible men, the customer of whores loses all sense of shame.

19:3 Grubs and worms will have him as their legacy, and the man who knows no shame shall lose his life.

Against loose talk

19:4 Being too ready to trust shows shallowness of mind, by committing sin a man does wrong to himself.

19:5 Taking pleasure in evil earns condemnation,

19:6 by hating gossip a man avoids evil.

19:7 Never repeat what you are told and you will come to no harm;

19:8 whether to friend or foe, do not talk about it, unless it would be sinful not to, do not reveal it;

19:9 you would be heard out, then mistrusted, and in due course you would be hated.

19:10 Have you heard something? Let it die with you. Courage! It will not burst you!

19:11 A fool will suffer birthpangs over something told him, like a woman labouring with child.

19:12 Like an arrow stuck in the flesh of the thigh, such is a piece of news inside a fool.

Do not trust everything you hear

19:13 Question your friend, he may have done nothing at all, and if he has done anything, he will not do it again.

19:14 Question your neighbour, he may have said nothing at all, and if he has said anything, he will not say it again.

19:15 Question your friend, for slander is very common, do not believe all you hear.

19:16 A man sometimes makes a slip, without meaning what he says; and which of us has never sinned by speech?

19:17 Question your neighbour before you threaten him, and leave scope for the Law of the Most High.

True and false wisdom

19:20 Wisdom consists entirely in fearing the Lord, and wisdom is entirely constituted by the fulfilling of the Law.

19:22 But being learned in evil is not wisdom, and there is no shrewd judgement in the advice of sinners.

19:23 There is a cleverness that is foul, he who does not have wisdom is a fool.

19:24 Better be short of sense and full of fear, than abound in shrewdness and violate the Law.

19:25 There is an adroit sort of cleverness promoting injustice, there is the man who will abuse favours to establish his case.

19:26 There is the man who will walk bowed down with grief, when inwardly this is nothing but deceit:

19:27 he hides his face and pretends to be deaf, and when you are off your guard he takes advantage of you.

19:28 This man may think he lacks the power to sin, but he will do wrong when he gets the chance.

19:29 You can tell a man by his appearance, you can tell a thinking man by the look on his face.

19:30 A man’s dress tells you what he does, and a man’s walk tells you what he is.

JB SIRACH Chapter 20

Silence and speech

20:1 There is the rebuke that is untimely, and there is the man who keeps quiet, and he is the shrewd one.

20:2 But how much better to rebuke than to fume!

20:3 The man who acknowledges a fault wards off punishment.

20:4 Like a eunuch longing to take a girl’s virginity so is he who uses force to argue cases.

20:5 There is the man who keeps quiet and is considered wise, another incurs hatred for talking too much.

20:6 There is the man who keeps quiet, not knowing how to answer, another keeps quiet, because he knows when to speak.

20:7 A wise man will keep quiet till the right moment, but a garrulous fool will always misjudge it.

20:8 The man who talks too much will get himself disliked, and the self-appointed oracle will make himself hated.


20:9 There is the man who finds misfortune the saving of him, and the lucky find that may turn to loss.

20:10 There is the gift that affords you no profit, and the gift that repays you double.

20:11 There is the honour that leads to humiliation, and there are men in a low state who raise their heads.

20:12 There is the man who buys much for little; yet pays for it seven times over.

20:13 The wise man will win love by his words, while fools may shower favours in vain.

20:14 A stupid man’s gift will bring you no advantage, his eyes look for seven times as much in return.

20:15 He gives little and reviles much, he opens his mouth like the town crier, he lends today and demands payment tomorrow; he is a detestable fellow.

20:16 The fool will say, ‘I have no friends, I get no gratitude for my good deeds;

20:17 those who eat my bread have malicious tongues’. How often he will be laughed at, and by how many!

Inappropriate talk

20:18 Better a slip on the pavement than a slip of the tongue; this is how ruin takes the wicked by surprise.

20:19 A coarse-grained man is like an indiscreet story endlessly retold by the ignorant.

20:20 A maxim is rejected when coming from a fool, since he does not utter it on the apt occasion.

20:21 Take a man who is prevented from sinning by poverty; no qualms of conscience disturb his rest.

20:22 Take a man who destroys himself out of false shame, destroys himself for the sake of a fool’s opinion.

20:23 Take a man who, out of false shame, makes promises to a friend, and so makes an enemy for nothing.


20:24 Lying is an ugly blot on a man, and ever on the lips of the ignorant.

20:25 A thief is preferable to an inveterate liar, but both are heading for ruin.

20:26 Lying is an abominable habit, so that disgrace is the liar’s for ever.

The wise man: his dignity and his dangers

20:27 A wise man advances himself by his words, a shrewd man will please princes.

20:28 He who tills the soil will have a full harvest, he who pleases princes will secure pardon for his offences.

20:29 Presents and gifts blind wise men eyes and stifle rebukes like a muzzle on the mouth.

20:30 Wisdom concealed, and treasure undiscovered, what use is either of these?

20:31 Better a man who conceals his folly than a man who conceals his wisdom.

JB SIRACH Chapter 21

Various sins

21:1 My son, have you sinned? Do not do it again, and ask forgiveness for your previous faults.

21:2 Flee from sin as from a snake, if you approach it, it will bite you; its teeth are lion’s teeth, they deprive men of their lives.

21:3 All law-breaking is like a two-edged sword, the wounds it inflicts are beyond cure.

21:4 Panic and violence make havoc of palaces, similarly, desolation overtakes the houses of the proud.

21:5 A plea from a poor man’s mouth goes straight to the ear of God, whose judgement comes without delay.

21:6 Whoever resents reproof walks in the sinner’s footsteps; the man who fears the Lord bears repentance in his heart.

21:7 The glib speaker is known far and wide, but when he makes a slip the thinking man detects it.

21:8 To build your house on other people’s money is like collecting stones for your own tomb.

21:9 A meeting of lawless men is like a heap of tow: they will end in a blazing fire.

21:10 The sinner’s road is smoothly paved, but it ends at the pit of Sheol.

The wise man and the fool

21:11 Whoever keeps the Law will master his instincts; the fear of the Lord is made perfect in wisdom.

21:12 The man who lacks intelligence cannot be taught, but intelligence can increase a man’s bitterness.

21:13 The wise man’s knowledge will increase like a flood, and his advice is like a living spring.

21:14 The heart of a fool is like a broken jar, it will not hold any knowledge.

21:15 If a cultured man hears a wise saying, he praises it and caps it with another; if an imbecile hears it, he laughs at it, and tosses it behind his back.

21:16 The talk of a fool is like a load on a journey, but it is a pleasure to listen to an intelligent man.

21:17 The shrewd man’s utterance will be eagerly awaited in the assembly, what he says will be given serious consideration.

21:18 The wisdom of a fool is like the wreckage of a house, the knowledge of a dolt is incoherent talk.

21:19 To the senseless fellow instruction is like fetters on his feet, like manacles on his right hand.

21:20 A fool laughs at the top of his voice, but a man of intelligence quietly smiles.

21:21 To the shrewd man instruction is like a golden ornament, like a bracelet on his right arm.

21:22 The foot of a fool goes straight into a house, but a man of much experience is respectful in his approach;

21:23 a stupid man peeps inside through the door, a well-bred man waits outside.

21:24 Listening at doors is a sign of bad upbringing, a perceptive man would be ashamed to do so.

21:25 The lips of gossips repeat the words of others, the words of wise men are carefully weighed.

21:26 The heart of fools is exposed in their words; the words of wise men reveal their heart

21:27 When a godless man curses his enemy, he is cursing himself.

21:28 The scandal-monger sullies himself and earns the hatred of the neighbourhood.

JB SIRACH Chapter 22

The idler

22:1 An idler is comparable to a stone covered in filth, everyone whistles at his disgrace.

22:2 An idler is comparable to a lump of dung, anyone picking it up shakes it off his hand.

Degenerate children

22:3 It is a disgrace to have fathered a badly brought-up son, and the birth of a daughter is a loss.

22:4 A sensible daughter is a treasure to her husband, but a shameless one is a grief to her father.

22:5 An insolent daughter puts father and mother to shame, and will be disowned by both.

22:6 An untimely remonstrance is like music at a funeral, but a thrashing and correction are wisdom at all times.

Wisdom and folly

22:9 You are gluing the broken pieces of a pot together if you try to teach a fool, you are rousing a man who is besotted with sleep.

22:10 A fool is the same as a drowsing man if you have to explain anything to him, when you have finished he will say, ‘What is it all about?’

22:11 Shed tears for the dead man, since he has left the light behind; shed tears for the fool, since he has left his wits behind; Shed quieter tears for the dead, since he is at rest. For the fool, life is sadder than death.

22:12 Mourning for the dead lasts seven days, for the foolish and ungodly all the days of their lives.

22:13 Do not waste many words on a stupid man, do not go near a dolt. Beware of him, or he will give you trouble; and will leave you soiled by contact with him. Avoid him, and you will find rest and not be exasperated by his folly.

22:14 What is heavier than lead, and what is its name if not ‘fool’?

22:15 Sand, and salt, and a lump of iron are all easier to bear than a dolt.

22:16 A tie-beam bonded into a building will not be dislodged by an earthquake; so too, a heart resolved after due reflection will not flinch at the critical moment.

22:17 A heart founded on intelligent reflection is like a stucco decoration on a smooth wall.

22:18 Pebbles placed on top of a wall will not stand up to the wind; no more can the heart of a fool frightened at his own thoughts stand up to fear.


22:19 Prick an eye and you will draw a tear, prick a heart and you bring its feelings to light.

22:20 Throw stones at birds and you scare them away, revile a friend and you break up friendship.

22:21 If you have drawn your sword on a friend, do not despair; there is a way back.

22:22 If you have opened your mouth against your friend, do not worry; there is hope for reconciliation; but insult, arrogance, betrayal of secrets, and the stab in the back – in these cases any friend will run away.

22:23 Win your neighbour’s confidence when he is poor, so that you may enjoy his later good fortune with him; stand by him in times of trouble, in order to have your share when he comes into a legacy.

22:24 Fire is heralded by the reek of the furnace and smoke, so too bloodshed by insults.

22:25 I will not be ashamed to shelter a friend, nor will I hide from his face;

22:26 and if evil comes to me through him, everyone who hears about it will beware of him.


22:27 Who will set a guard on my mouth, and a seal of prudence on my lips to keep me from falling, and my tongue from causing my ruin?

JB SIRACH Chapter 23

23:1 Lord, father and master of my life, do not abandon me to their whims, do not let me fall because of them.

23:2 Who will lay whips to my thoughts, and the discipline of wisdom to my heart, to be unmerciful to my errors, and let none of my sins go unchecked

23:3 in case my errors multiply, and my sins increase in number, and I fall before my adversaries, and my enemy gloats over me?

23:4 Lord, father and God of my life, do not give me proud eyes,

23:5 turn lust away from me,

23:6 do not let lechery and lust grip me, do not give me over to shameless desire.


23:7 Listen, children, to the instruction I have to give; whoever keeps it will not be caught out.

23:8 The sinner is ensnared by his own lips, both the abusive and the proud man are tripped by them.

23:9 Do not accustom your mouth to swearing, nor get into the habit of naming the Holy One;

23:10 for just as a slave who is constantly overseen will never be without bruises, so too the man who is continually swearing oaths and uttering the name will not be exempt from sin.

23:11 A man forever swearing is full of iniquity, and the scourge will not depart from his house. If he offends, his sin will be on him, if he swears lightly, he sins twice over; if he swears a false oath, he will not be treated as innocent, for his house will be filled with calamities.

Foul talk

23:12 There is a manner of talking that is fraught with death; let it not be found in the inheritance of Jacob, for devout men will keep all that far from them, they will not wallow in sin.

23:13 Do not habituate your mouth to coarseness and foul language, for this means sinful talk.

23:14 Remember your father and mother when you are sitting among princes, in case you forget yourself in their presence, and behave like a fool, and then wish you had not been born, and curse the day of your birth.

23:15 A man in the habit of using improper words will never break himself of it however long he lives.

Incest and adultery

23:16 Two kinds of men multiply sins, and a third draws down wrath:

23:17 there is a desire that, blazing like a furnace, cannot be quenched until it is slaked; there is the man who lusts for his own flesh: he will not give up until the fire consumes him; to a fornicator all food is sweet, and he will not weary of it until he dies:

23:18 The man who sins against his own marriage bed, and says to himself, ‘Who can see me? There is darkness all round me, the walls hide me, nobody sees me; why should I worry? The Most High will not call my sins to mind’: what he fears is the eyes of men,

23:19 he does not realise that the eyes of the Lord are ten thousand times brighter than the sun, observing every aspect of human behaviour, seeing into the most secret corners.

23:20 All things were known to him before they were created, and are still, now that they are finished.

23:21 This man will be punished in view of the whole town, and will be seized where he least expects it.

The adulteress

23:22 Similarly the woman who deserts her husband, and provides him with an heir by another man:

23:23 first, she has disobeyed the Law of the Most High; secondly, she has been false to her husband; and thirdly, she has gone whoring in adultery and conceived children by another man.

23:24 She will be led before the assembly, an enquiry will be held about her children.

23:25 Her children will strike no root, her branches will bear no fruit.

23:26 She will leave an accursed memory behind her, her shame will never be wiped out.

23:27 And those who survive her will recognise that nothing is better than fearing the Lord, and nothing sweeter than adherence to the Lord’s commandments.

JB SIRACH Chapter 24

Discourse of Wisdom

24:1 Wisdom speaks her own praises, in the midst of her people she glories in herself.

24:2 She opens her mouth in the assembly of the Most High, she glories in herself in the presence of the Mighty One;

24:3 ‘I came forth from the mouth of the Most High, and I covered the earth like mist.

24:4 I had my tent in the heights, and my throne in a pillar of cloud.

24:5 Alone I encircled the vault of the sky, and I walked on the bottom of the deeps.

24:6 Over the waves of the sea and over the whole earth, and over every people and nation I have held sway.

24:7 Among all these I searched for rest, and looked to see in whose territory I might pitch camp.

24:8 Then the creator of all things instructed me, and he who created me fixed a place for my tent. He said, “Pitch your tent in Jacob, make Israel your inheritance”.

24:9 From eternity, in the beginning, he created me, and for eternity I shall remain.

24:10 I ministered before him in the holy tabernacle, and thus was I established on Zion.

24:11 In the beloved city he has given me rest, and in Jerusalem I wield my authority.

24:12 I have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord’s property, in his inheritance.

24:13 I have grown tall as a cedar on Lebanon, as a cypress on Mount Hermon;

24:14 I have grown tall as a palm in Engedi, as the rose bushes of Jericho; as a fine olive in the plain, as a plane tree I have grown tall.

24:15 I have exhaled a perfume like cinnamon and acacia, I have breathed out a scent like choice myrrh, like galbanum, onycha and stacte, like the smoke of incense in the tabernacle.

24:16 I have spread my branches like a terebinth, and my branches are glorious and graceful.

24:17 I am like a vine putting out graceful shoots, my blossoms bear the fruit of glory and wealth.

24:19 Approach me, you who desire me, and take your fill of my fruits,

24:20 for memories of me are sweeter than honey, inheriting me is sweeter than the honeycomb.

24:21 They who eat me will hunger for more, they who drink me will thirst for more.

24:22 Whoever listens to me will never have to blush, whoever acts as I dictate will never sin’.

Wisdom and the Law

24:23 All this is no other than the book of the covenant of the Most High God, the Law that Moses enjoined on us, an inheritance for the communities of Jacob.

24:25 That is what makes wisdom brim like the Pishon[*a], like the Tigris in the season of fruit,

24:26 what makes understanding brim over like the Euphrates, like the Jordan at harvest time

24:27 and makes discipline flow like the Nile, like the Gihon at the time of vintage.

24:28 The first man never managed to grasp her entirely, nor has the most recent one fully comprehended her

24:29 for her thoughts are wider than the sea, and her designs more profound than the abyss.

24:30 And I, like a conduit from a river, like a watercourse running into a garden,

24:31 I said, ‘I am going to water my orchard, I intend to irrigate my flower beds’ And see, my conduit has grown into a river, and my river has grown into a sea.

24:32 Now I shall make discipline shine out, I shall send its light far and wide.

24:33 I shall pour out teaching like prophecy, as a legacy to all future generations.

24:34 Observe that I have not toiled for myself alone, but for all who are seeking wisdom.

JB SIRACH Chapter 25


25:1 There are three things my soul delights in, and which are delightful to God and to men: concord between brothers, friendship between neighbours, and a wife and husband who live happily together.

25:2 There are three sorts of people my soul hates, and whose existence I consider an outrage: a poor man swollen with pride, a rich man who is a liar and an adulterous old man who has no sense.

Old men

25:3 If you have gathered nothing in your youth, how can you find anything in your old age?

25:4 How fine a thing: sound judgement with grey hairs, and for greybeards to know how to advise!

25:5 How fine a thing: wisdom in the aged, and considered advice coming from men of distinction!

25:6 The crown of old men is ripe experience, their true glory, the fear of the Lord.

Numerical proverbs

25:7 There are nine things I can think of which strike me as happy, and a tenth which is now on my tongue: a man whose joy is in his children, he who lives to see the downfall of his enemies;

25:8 happy the man who keeps house with a sensible wife; he who does not toil with ox and donkey[*a]; he who has never sinned with his tongue; he who does not serve a man less worthy than himself;

25:9 happy the man who has acquired good sense and can find attentive ears for what he has to say;

25:10 how great the man is who has acquired wisdom; but no one excels the man who fears the Lord.

25:11 The fear of the Lord surpasses everything; what can compare with a man who has mastered that?


25:13 Any wound rather than a wound of the heart! Any spite rather than the spite of woman!

25:14 Any evil rather than an evil caused by an enemy! Any vengeance rather than the vengeance of a foe!

25:15 There is no poison worse than the poison of a snake, there is no fury worse than the fury of an enemy.

25:16 I would sooner keep house with a lion or a dragon than keep house with a spiteful wife.

25:17 A woman’s spite changes her appearance and makes her face as grim as any bear’s.

25:18 When her husband goes out to dinner with his neighbours, he cannot help heaving bitter sighs.

25:19 No wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman, may a sinner’s lot be hers!

25:20 As climbing up a sandhill is for elderly feet such is a garrulous wife for a quiet husband.

25:21 Do not be taken in by a woman’s beauty, never lose your head over a woman.

25:22 Bad temper, insolence and shame hold sway where the wife supports the husband.

25:23 Low spirits, gloomy face, stricken heart: such the achievements of a spiteful wife. Slack hands and sagging knees indicate a wife who makes her husband wretched.

25:24 Sin began with a woman, and thanks to her we all must die.

25:25 Do not let water find a leak, do not allow a spiteful woman free rein for her tongue.

25:26 If she will not do as you tell her, get rid of her[*b].

JB SIRACH Chapter 26

26:1 Happy the husband of a really good wife; the number of his days will be doubled.

26:2 A perfect wife is the joy of her husband, he will live out the years of his life in peace.

26:3 A good wife is the best of portions, reserved for those who fear the Lord; rich or poor,

26:4 they will be glad of heart, cheerful of face, whatever the season.

26:5 There are three things my heart dreads, and a fourth which terrifies me: slander by a whole town, the gathering of a mob, and a false accusation-these are all worse than death;

26:6 but a woman jealous of a woman means heartbreak and sorrow, and all this is the scourge of the tongue.

26:7 A bad wife is a badly fitting ox yoke, trying to master her is like grasping a scorpion.

26:8 A drunken wife will goad anyone to fury, she makes no effort to hide her degradation.

26:9 A woman’s wantonness shows in her bold look, and can be recognised by her sidelong glances.

26:10 Keep a headstrong daughter under firm control, or she will abuse any indulgence she receives.

26:11 Keep a strict watch on her shameless eye, do not be surprised if she disgraces you.

26:12 Like a thirsty traveller she will open her mouth and drink any water she comes across; she will sit in front of every peg, and open her quiver to any arrow.

26:13 The grace of a wife will charm her husband, her accomplishments will make him the stronger.

26:14 A silent wife is a gift from the Lord, no price can be put on a well-trained character.

26:15 A modest wife is a boon twice over, a chaste character cannot be weighed on scales.

26:16 Like the sun rising over the mountains of the Lord is the beauty of a good wife in a well-kept house.

26:17 Like the lamp shining on the sacred lamp-stand is a beautiful face on a well-proportioned body.

26:18 Like golden pillars on a silver base are shapely legs on firm-set heels.

Depressing things

26:28 There are two things which grieve my heart and a third arouses my anger: a warrior wasting away through poverty, intelligent men treated with contempt, a man turning back from virtue to sin-the Lord marks this man out for a violent death.


26:29 It is difficult for a merchant to avoid doing wrong and for a salesman not to incur sin.

JB SIRACH Chapter 27

27:1 Many have sinned for the sake of profit, he who hopes to be rich must be ruthless.

27:2 A peg will stick in the joint between two stones, and sin will wedge itself between selling and buying.

27:3 If a man does not hold earnestly to the fear of the Lord, his House will soon be overthrown.


27:4 In a shaken sieve the rubbish is left behind, so too the defects of a man appear in his talk.

27:5 The kiln tests the work of the potter, the test of a man is in his conversation.

27:6 The orchard where the tree grows is judged on the quality of its fruit, similarly a man’s words betray what he feels.

27:7 Do not praise a man before he has spoken, since this is the test of men.


27:8 If you pursue justice you will achieve it and put it on like a festal gown.

27:9 Birds consort with their kind, justice comes home to those who practise it.

27:10 The lion lies in wait for its prey, so does sin for those who do wrong.

27:11 The devout man’s conversation is wisdom at all times, but the fool is as changeable as the moon.

27:12 Among stupid people look for your opportunity to leave, but among thoughtful men take your time.

27:13 The conversation of fools is disgusting, raucous their laughter at their sinful orgies.

27:14 The talk of hard-swearing men makes your hair stand on end, their brawls make you stop your ears.

27:15 A quarrel between proud men leads to bloodshed, their abuse is painful to hear.


27:16 A betrayer of secrets forfeits all esteem and will never find the kind of friend he wants.

27:17 Be fond of a friend and keep faith with him, but if you have betrayed his secrets, do not pursue him any more;

27:18 for as a man destroys his enemy, so you have destroyed the friendship of your neighbour,

27:19 and as you let a bird slip through your fingers, so you have let your friend go, and will not catch him

27:20 Do not go after him – he is far away, he has fled like a gazelle from the snare.

27:21 For a wound can be bandaged and abuse forgiven, but for the man who has betrayed a secret there is no hope.


27:22 The man with a sly wink is plotting mischief, no one can dissuade him from it.

27:23 Honey-tongued to your face, he is lost in admiration at your words; but behind your back he has other things to say, and makes your own words sound offensive.

27:24 I have found many things to hate, but nothing to equal this man, and the Lord hates him too.

27:25 The man who throws a stone in the air, throws it on to his own head; a treacherous blow cuts both ways.

27:26 The man who digs a pit falls into it, he who sets a snare will be caught by it.

27:27 On the man who does evil, evil will recoil, though where it came from he will not know.

27:28 Sarcasm and abuse are the mark of an arrogant man, but vengeance lies in wait like a lion for him.

27:29 The trap will close on all who rejoice in the downfall of the devout, and pain will eat them up before they die.


27:30 Resentment and anger, these are foul things too, and both are found with the sinner.

JB SIRACH Chapter 28

28:1 He who exacts vengeance will experience the vengeance of the Lord, who keeps strict account of sin.

28:2 Forgive your neighbour the hurt he does you, and when you pray, your sins will be forgiven.

28:3 If a man nurses anger against another, can he then demand compassion from the Lord?

28:4 Showing no pity for a man like himself, can he then plead for his own sins?

28:5 Mere creature of flesh, he cherishes resentment; who will forgive him his sins?

28:6 Remember the last things, and stop hating, remember dissolution and death, and live by the commandments.

28:7 Remember the commandments, and do not bear your neighbour ill-will; remember the covenant of the Most High, and overlook the offence.


28:8 Avoid quarrelling and you will sin less; for a hot-tempered man provokes quarrels,

28:9 a sinner sows trouble between friends, introducing discord among men at peace.

28:10 The way a fire burns depends on its fuel, a quarrel spreads in proportion to its violence; a man’s rage depends on his strength, his fury grows fiercer in proportion to his wealth.

28:11 A sudden quarrel kindles fire, a hasty dispute leads to bloodshed.

28:12 Blow on a spark and up it flares, spit on it and out it goes; both are the effects of your mouth.

The tongue

28:13 A curse on the scandal-monger and the deceitful, he has ruined many who lived in concord.

28:14 That third tongue has shaken many,[*a] and driven them from nation to nation; it has pulled down fortified cities, and overturned the houses of princes.

28:15 The third tongue has driven virtuous wives out of house and home, and deprived them of the due reward for their hard work.

28:16 Anyone who listens to it will never know peace of mind, will never live in peace again.

28:17 A stroke of the whip raises a weal, but a stroke of the tongue breaks bones.

28:18 Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but many more have fallen by the tongue.

28:19 Happy the man who has been sheltered from it, and has not experienced its fury, who has not dragged its yoke about, or been bound in its chains;

28:20 for its yoke is an iron yoke, its chains are bronze chains;

28:21 the death it inflicts is a miserable death, Sheol is preferable to it.

28:22 It cannot gain a hold over the devout, they are not burnt by its flames.

28:23 Those who desert the Lord will fall into it, it will flare up inextinguishably among them, it will be let loose against them like a lion, it will tear them like a leopard.

28:24 Look, fence your property round with a quickthorn hedge, lock away your silver and gold;

28:25 then make scales and weights for your words, then make and put a door with bolts across your mouth.

28:26 Take care you take no false step through it, in case you fall a prey to him who lies in wait.

JB SIRACH Chapter 29


29:1 Making your neighbour a loan is an act of mercy, to lend him a helping hand is to keep the commandments.

29:2 Lend to your neighbour in his time of need, and in your turn repay your neighbour on time.

29:3 Be as good as your word and keep faith with him, and you will find your needs met every time.

29:4 Many treat a loan as a windfall, and embarrass those who have come to their rescue.

29:5 Until he gets something, a man will kiss his neighbour’s hand, and refer to his wealth in respectful tones; but when the loan falls due, he puts this off, he repays with offhand words, and pleads the inconvenience of the time.

29:6 Even if he can be made to pay, his creditor will barely recover half, and consider even that a windfall. But otherwise he will be cheated of his money, and undeservedly gain himself an enemy; the man will pay him back in curses and recriminations, and instead of respect will have contempt for him.

29:7 Many, not out of malice, refuse to lend; they are merely anxious not to be cheated for nothing.


29:8 Nevertheless, be patient with those who are badly-off, do not keep them waiting on your generosity.

29:9 For the commandment’s sake go to the poor man’s help, do not turn him away empty-handed in his need.

29:10 Better let your silver go on brother or friend, do not let it go to waste, rusting under a stone.

29:11 Invest your treasure as the Most High orders, and you will find it more profitable than gold.

29:12 Deposit generosity in your storerooms and it will release you from every misfortune.

29:13 Better than sturdy shield or weighty spear, it will fight for you against the enemy.


29:14 A good man will go surety for his neighbour; a man has lost all shame if he fails him.

29:15 Do not forget the favour your guarantor has done you; he has given his life for you.

29:16 A sinner is careless of his guarantor’s prosperity, an ungrateful man forgets the one who saved him.

29:17 Going surety has ruined many prosperous men and rocked them like a wave of the sea.

29:18 It has driven powerful men from home to wander among foreign nations.

29:19 The sinner who involves himself with guarantees, in pursuit of a deal, will find himself involved in lawsuits.

29:20 Come to your neighbour’s help as far as you can, but take care not to fall into the same plight.

Home and hospitality

29:21 The first thing in life is water, and bread, and clothing, and a house for the sake of privacy.

29:22 Better a poor man’s life under a roof of planks, than lavish fare in the house of another.

29:23 Whether you have little or much, be content with it, and you will not be dubbed an intruder.

29:24 It is a miserable life, going from house to house; wherever you stay, not daring to open your mouth;

29:25 you are a stranger, you know the taste of humiliation, not to mention the sound of embittering words,

29:26 ‘Come along, stranger, lay the table, if you have anything with you, give it to me to eat’.

29:27 ‘Go away, stranger, make room for someone important; my brother is coming to stay, I need the house.’

29:28 It is hard for a cultured man to hear himself begrudged hospitality and treated like an undischarged debtor.

JB SIRACH Chapter 30

Bringing up children

30:1 A man who loves his son will beat him frequently so that in after years the son may be his comfort.

30:2 A man who is strict with his son will reap the benefit, and be able to boast of him to his acquaintances.

30:3 A man who educates his son will be the envy of his enemy, and will be proud of him among his friends.

30:4 Even when the father dies, he might well not be dead, since he leaves his likeness behind him.

30:5 In life he has had the joy of his company, dying, he has no anxieties.

30:6 He leaves an avenger against his enemies, and a rewarder of favours for his friends.

30:7 A man who coddles his son will bandage his wounds, his heart will turn over at every shout.

30:8 A horse badly broken-in turns out stubborn, an uncontrolled son turns out headstrong.

30:9 Pamper your child, and he will give you a fright, play with him, and he will bring you sorrow.

30:10 Do not share his laughter, if you do not wish to share his sorrow and to end by grinding your teeth.

30:11 Allow him no independence in childhood, and do not wink at his mistakes.

30:12 Bend his neck in youth, bruise his ribs while he is a child, or else he will grow stubborn and disobedient, and hurt you very deeply.

30:13 Be strict with your son, and persevere with him, or you will rue his insolence.


30:14 Better a poor man healthy and fit than a rich man tormented in body.

30:15 Health and strength are better than any gold, a robust body than untold wealth.

30:16 No riches can outweigh bodily health, no enjoyment surpass a cheerful heart.

30:17 Better death than a wretched life, and everlasting rest than chronic illness.

30:18 Good things lavished on a closed mouth are like food offerings put on a grave.

30:19 What use is an offering to an idol which can neither eat nor smell? How describe a man pursued by the Lord’s displeasure?[*a]

30:20 He looks and sighs as a eunuch embracing a virgin sighs.


30:21 Do not abandon yourself to sorrow, do not torment yourself with brooding.

30:22 Gladness of heart is life to a man, joy is what gives him length of days.

30:23 Beguile your cares, console your heart, chase sorrow far away; for sorrow has been the ruin of many, and is no use to anybody.

30:24 Jealousy and anger shorten your days, and worry brings premature old age.

30:25 A genial heart makes a good trencherman, one who benefits from his food.

JB SIRACH Chapter 31


31:1 The sleeplessness brought by wealth makes a man lose weight, the worry it causes drives away sleep.

31:2 The worries of the daytime interfere with slumber, as a serious illness drives away sleep.

31:3 The rich man toils, piling up money, and when he leaves off, he stuffs himself with luxuries;

31:4 the poor man toils, his livelihood dwindling, and when he leaves off, is destitute.

31:5 The man who loves gold will not be reckoned virtuous, the man who chases after profit will be caught out by it.

31:6 Many have gone to their ruin for the sake of gold, though their destruction stared them in the face;

31:7 it is a snare for those who sacrifice to it, and every fool will be caught in it.

31:8 Happy the rich man who is found to be blameless and does not go chasing after gold.

31:9 Who is he, for us to congratulate him, since he has achieved wonders among his kind?

31:10 Who has been through this test and emerged perfect? He may well be proud of that! Who has had the power to sin and has not sinned, to wrong another and not done it?

31:11 His fortune will be firmly based and the assembly will acclaim his generosity.

Dinner parties

31:12 Have you sat down at a lavish table? Do not gape at it, do not say, ‘What a feast!’

31:13 Remember how bad it is to have a greedy eye; is anything in creation greedier than the eye? That is why it waters on every occasion.

31:14 Do not reach out for anything your host has his eye on, do not jostle him at the dish.

31:15 Judge your fellow guest’s needs by your own, be thoughtful in every way.

31:16 Eat what is offered you like a well brought-up person, do not wolf your food or you will earn dislike.

31:17 For politeness’ sake be the first to stop; do not act the glutton, or you will give offence,

31:18 and if you are sitting with a large party, do not help yourself before the others do.

31:19 A little is quite enough for a well-bred person; his breathing is easy when he gets to bed.

31:20 A moderate diet ensures sound sleep, a man gets up early, in the best of spirits. Sleeplessness, biliousness and gripe are what the glutton has to endure.

31:21 If you are forced to eat too much, get up, go and be sick, and you will feel better.

31:22 Listen to me my son, do not disregard me, eventually you will see the force of my words. Be moderate in all your activities and illness will never overtake you.

31:23 People praise the man who keeps a splendid table, and their opinion of his munificence is sound;

31:24 similarly, the man who keeps a mean table will be notorious throughout the town, and their opinion of his meanness is not doubtful either.


31:25 Do not play the valiant at your wine, for wine has been the undoing of many.

31:26 The furnace proves the temper of steel, and wine proves hearts in the drinking bouts of braggarts.

31:27 Wine is life for man if drunk in moderation. What is life worth without wine? It was created to make men happy.

31:28 Drunk at the right time and in the right amount, wine makes for a glad heart and a cheerful mind.

31:29 Bitterness of soul comes of wine drunk to excess out of temper or bravado.

31:30 Drunkenness excites the stupid man to a fury to his own harm, it reduces his strength while leading to blows.

31:31 Do not rebuke your neighbour at a wine feast, do not slight him when he is enjoying himself, do not speak reproachfully to him, or annoy him by reclaiming money owing.

JB SIRACH Chapter 32


32:1 Have they made you president?[*a] Do not let it go to your head, behave like everyone else in the party, see that they are happy and then sit down yourself.

32:2 Having discharged your duties, take your place and enjoy yourself with the others, and receive the crown for your competence.

32:3 Speak, old men, it is proper that you should; but know what you are talking about, and do not interrupt the music.

32:4 If entertainment is provided, do not keep up a running commentary, and do not play the sage at the wrong moment.

32:5 A carbuncle seal on a precious stone, such is a concert of music at a wine feast.

32:6 An emerald seal in a golden setting, such are strains of music with a vintage wine.

32:7 Speak, young men, if you have to; but twice at most, and then only if questioned.

32:8 Keep to the point, say much in few words; give the impression of knowing but not wanting to speak.

32:9 Among eminent men do not behave as though you were their equal; do not make frivolous remarks when someone else is speaking.

32:10 Lightning comes before the thunder, favour goes ahead of a modest man.

32:11 Rise in good time to take your leave, do not bring up the rear; hurry home without loitering.

32:12 There amuse yourself, and do what you have a mind to, but do not sin by arrogant talk.

32:13 And for all this bless him who made you and plies you with his good things.

The fear of God

32:14 The man who fears the Lord will accept his correction; those who eagerly look for him will win his favour.

32:15 The man who seeks the Law will be nourished by it, the hypocrite will find it a stumbling-block.

32:16 Those who fear the Lord will have justice done them, and make their good deeds shine like a light.

32:17 The sinner waves reproof aside, he finds excuses to do what he wants.

32:18 A sensible man never scorns a suggestion; a proud and godless man will be immune to fear.

32:19 Never act without reflection, and you will have nothing to regret when you have done it.

32:20 Do not venture on a rough road, for fear of stumbling over the stones.

32:21 Do not be over confident on an even road,

32:22 and beware of your own children.

32:23 Watch yourself in everything you do, this is what keeping the commandments means.

32:24 The man who trusts in the Law pays attention to the commandments, the man who has confidence in the Lord will come to no harm.

JB SIRACH Chapter 33

33:1 If a man fears the Lord, evil will not come his way, again and again he will be rescued in his trials.

33:2 The man who hates the Law is not wise, if hypocritical in observance, he is like a ship in a storm.

33:3 A man of understanding will put his faith in the Law, for him the Law is as dependable as an oracle.

33:4 Prepare what you have to say and you will get a hearing, marshal your information before you answer.

33:5 The feelings of a fool are like a cart-wheel, his thought revolves like a turning axle.

33:6 A rutting stallion is like a sarcastic friend; he neighs, whoever rides him.


33:7 Why is one day better than another, when each day’s light throughout the year comes from the sun?

33:8 They have been differentiated in the mind of the Lord, who has diversified the seasons and feasts;

33:9 some he has made more important and hallowed, others he has made ordinary days.

33:10 All men come from the ground, Adam himself was formed out of earth;

33:11 in the fulness of his wisdom the Lord has made distinctions between them, and diversified their conditions.

33:12 Some he has blessed and made more important, some he has hallowed and set near him; others he has cursed and humiliated by degrading them from their positions.

33:13 Like clay in the hands of the potter to mould as it pleases him, so are men in the hands of their Maker to reward as he judges right.

33:14 Opposite evil stands good, opposite death, life; so too, opposite the devout man stands the sinner.

33:15 This is the way to view all the works of the Most High; they go, in pairs, by opposites.

33:16 I myself have been the last to keep watch, like a gleaner following the vintagers.

33:17 By the blessing of the Lord I have come in first, and, like a vintager, filled the winepress.

33:18 Observe that I have not toiled for myself only, but for all who seek instruction.

33:19 Listen to me, you princes of the people, leaders of the assembly, lend ear.


33:20 Neither to son nor wife, brother nor friend, give power over yourself during your own lifetime. And do not give your property to anyone else, in case you regret it and have to ask for it back.

33:21 As long as you live and there is breath in your body, do not yield power over yourself to anyone;

33:22 since it is better for your children to be your suppliants, than for you to have to look to the generosity of your sons.

33:23 In all you do be the master, and do not spoil the honour that is rightly yours.

33:24 The day your life draws to a close, when death is approaching, is the time to distribute your inheritance.


33:25 Fodder, the stick and burdens for a donkey, bread, discipline and work for a slave.

33:26 Work your servant hard, and you will know peace of mind; leave his hands idle, and he will start thinking of his freedom.

33:27 Yoke and harness will bow the neck, for a criminal slave there is the rack and torture.

33:28 Keep him occupied, or he will idle; idleness teaches all sorts of mischief.

33:29 Keep him at his duties, where he should be, if he is disobedient, clap him in irons.

33:30 But do not be over-exacting with anyone, and do nothing contrary to justice.

33:31 You have only one slave? Treat him like yourself, since you have acquired him with blood.

33:32 You have only one slave? Treat him as a brother, since you need him as you need yourself.

33:33 If you ill-treat him and he runs away, which way will you go to look for him?

JB SIRACH Chapter 34


34:1 Vain and deceptive hopes are for the foolish, and dreams put fools in a flutter.

34:2 As well clutch at shadows and chase the wind as put any faith in dreams.

34:3 Mirror and dream are similar things: confronting a face, the reflection of that face.

34:4 What can be cleansed by uncleanness, what can be verified by falsehood?

34:5 Divinations, auguries and dreams are nonsense, like the delirious fancies of a pregnant woman.

34:6 Unless sent as emissaries from the Most High, do not give them a thought;

34:7 for dreams have led many astray, and those building their hopes on them have been disappointed.

34:8 Fulfilling the Law requires no such falsehood, and wisdom is most perfectly expressed by truthful lips.


34:9 A much travelled man knows many things, and a man of great experience will talk sound sense.

34:10 Someone who has never had his trials knows little; but the travelled man is master of every situation.

34:11 I have seen many things on my travels, I have understood more than I can put into words.

34:12 I have often been in danger of death, but I have been spared, and this is why:

34:13 the spirit of those who fear the Lord can survive, for their hope is in someone with power to save them.

34:14 The man who fears the Lord will not be faint-hearted, will not be daunted since the Lord is his hope.

34:15 Happy the soul of the man who fears the Lord. On whom does he rely? Who supports him?

34:16 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who love him, he is their powerful protection and their strong support, their screen from the desert wind, their shelter from the midday sun, a guard against stumbling, an assurance against a fall.

34:17 He revives the spirit and brightens the eyes, he gives healing, life and blessing.


34:18 The sacrifice of an offering unjustly acquired is a mockery; the gifts of impious men are unacceptable.

34:19 The Most High takes no pleasure in offerings from the godless, multiplying sacrifices will not gain his pardon for sin.

34:20 Offering sacrifice from the property of the poor is as bad as slaughtering a son before his father’s very eyes.

34:21 A meagre diet is the very life of the poor, he who withholds it is a man of blood.

34:22 A man murders his neighbour if he robs him of his livelihood, sheds blood if he withholds an employee’s wages.

34:23 If one man builds while another pulls down, what else do they gain but trouble?

34:24 If one man prays and another calls down a curse, whose voice will the master listen to?

34:25 If a man washes after touching a corpse, and then touches it again, what is the good of his washing?

34:26 Just so with a man who fasts for his sins, and then goes off and commits them again. Who will listen to his prayers? What is the good of his self-abasement?

JB SIRACH Chapter 35

The Law and sacrifices

35:1 A man multiplies offerings by keeping the Law; he offers communion sacrifices by following the commandments.

35:2 By showing gratitude he makes an offering of fine flour, by giving alms he offers a sacrifice of praise.

35:3 Withdraw from wickedness and the Lord will be pleased, withdraw from injustice and you make atonement.

35:4 Do not appear empty-handed in the Lord’s presence; for all these things are due under the commandment.

35:5 A virtuous man’s offering graces the altar, and its savour rises before the Most High.

35:6 A virtuous man’s sacrifice is acceptable, its memorial will not be forgotten.

35:7 Honour the Lord with generosity, do not stint the first-fruits you bring.

35:8 Add a smiling face to all your gifts, and be cheerful as you dedicate your tithes.

35:9 Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously as your means can afford;

35:10 for the Lord is a good rewarder, he will reward you seven times over.

The justice of God

35:11 Offer him no bribe, he will not accept it, do not put your faith in an unvirtuous sacrifice;

35:12 since the Lord is a judge who is no respecter of personages.

35:13 He shows no respect of personages to the detriment of a poor man, he listens to the plea of the injured party.

35:14 He does not ignore the orphan’s supplication, nor the widow’s as she pours out her story.

35:15 Do the widow’s tears not run down her cheeks, as she cries out against the man who caused them?

35:16 The man who with his whole heart serves God will be accepted, his petitions will carry to the clouds.

35:17 The humble man’s prayer pierces the clouds, until it arrives he is inconsolable,

35:18 nor will he desist until the Most High takes notice of him, acquits the virtuous and delivers judgement.

35:19 And the Lord will not be slow, nor will he be dilatory on their behalf,

35:20 until he has crushed the loins of the merciless and exacted vengeance on the nations,

35:21 until he has eliminated the hordes of the arrogant and broken the sceptres of the wicked,

35:22 until he has repaid each as his deeds deserve and human actions as their intentions merit,

35:23 until he has judged the case of his people and made them rejoice in his mercy.

35:24 Mercy is welcome in time of trouble, like rain clouds in time of drought.

JB SIRACH Chapter 36

Prayer for the deliverance and restoration of Israel

36:1 Have mercy on us, Master, Lord of all, and look on us, cast the fear of yourself over every nation.

36:2 Raise your hand against the foreign nations and let them see your might.

36:3 As in their sight you have proved yourself holy before us, so now in our sight prove yourself great before them.

36:4 Let them acknowledge you, just as we have acknowledged that there is no God but you, Lord.

36:5 Send new portents, do fresh wonders, win glory for your hand and your right arm.

36:6 Rouse your fury, pour out your rage, destroy the opponent, annihilate the enemy.

36:7 Hasten the day, remember the oath, and let men tell of your mighty deeds.

36:8 Let fiery wrath swallow up the survivor, and destruction overtake those who use your people badly.

36:9 Crush the heads of hostile rulers who say, ‘There is nobody else but us!’

36:10 Gather together all the tribes of Jacob, restore them their inheritance as in the beginning.[*a]

36:11 Have mercy, Lord, on the people who have invoked your name, on Israel whom you have treated as a first-born.

36:12 Show compassion on your holy city, on Jerusalem the place of your rest.

36:13 Fill Zion with songs of your praise, and your sanctuary with your glory.

36:14 Bear witness to those you created in the beginning, and bring about what has been prophesied in your name.

36:15 Give those who wait for you their reward, and let your prophets be proved worthy of belief.

36:16 Grant, Lord, the prayer of your servants, in accordance with Aaron’s blessing on your people,

36:17 so that all the earth’s inhabitants may acknowledge that you are the Lord, the everlasting God.


36:18 The stomach takes in all kinds of food but some foods are better than others.

36:19 As the palate discerns the flavour of game, so a shrewd man detects lying words.

36:20 A perverse heart causes sorrow, an experienced man knows how to pay him back.


36:21 A woman will accept any husband, but some daughters are better than others.

36:22 A woman’s beauty delights the beholder, a man likes nothing better.

36:23 If her tongue is kind and gentle, her husband has no equal among the sons of men.

36:24 The man who takes a wife has the makings of a fortune, a helper that suits him, and a pillar to lean on.

36:25 If a property has no fence, it will be plundered. When a man has no wife, he is aimless and querulous.

36:26 Will anyone trust a man carrying weapons who flits from town to town?

36:27 So it is with the man who has no nest, and lodges wherever night overtakes him.

JB SIRACH Chapter 37

False friends

37:1 Any friend will say, ‘I am your friend too’, but some friends are only friends in name.

37:2 Is it not a deadly sorrow, when a comrade or a friend turns enemy?

37:3 O evil inclination, why were you created, to cover the earth with deceit?

37:4 One sort of comrade takes advantage of his friend’s good fortune, but in time of trouble turns against him.

37:5 Another sort of comrade shares his friend’s hardships out of concern, when it comes to a fight, he springs to arms.

37:6 Do not forget the friend who fought your battles, do not put him out of mind once you are rich.


37:7 Any adviser will offer advice, but some are governed by self-interest.

37:8 Beware of a man who offers advice, first find out what he wants himself-since his advice coincides with his own interest-in case he has designs on you

37:9 and tells you, ‘You are on the right road’, but stands well clear to see what will happen to you.

37:10 Do not consult a man who looks at you askance, conceal your plans from people jealous of you.

37:11 Do not consult a woman about her rival, or a coward about war, a merchant about prices, or a buyer about selling, a mean man about gratitude, or a selfish man about kindness, a lazy fellow about any sort of work, or a casual worker about finishing a job, an idle servant about a major undertaking-do not rely on these for any advice.

37:12 But constantly have recourse to a devout man, whom you know to be a keeper of the commandments, whose soul matches your own, and who, if you go wrong, will be sympathetic.

37:13 Finally, stick to the advice your own heart gives you, no one can be truer to you than that;

37:14 since a man’s soul often forewarns him better than seven watchmen perched on a watchtower.

37:15 And besides all this beg the Most High to guide your steps in the truth.

True and false wisdom

37:16 Reason must be the beginning of every activity, reflection must come before any undertaking.

37:17 Thoughts are rooted in the heart, and this sends out four branches:

37:18 good and evil, life and death, and always mistress of them all is the tongue.

37:19 Think of a clever man who teaches many people, but does no good at all to himself.

37:20 Think of a man, a ready enough speaker, yet he is detested and will end up by starving,

37:21 not having won the favour of the Lord, and being destitute of all wisdom.

37:22 Think of a man who is wise in his own eyes, and the fruits of his understanding are, if you take his word for it, certain.

37:23 The truly wise will instruct his own people, the fruits of his understanding are certain.

37:24 This wise man will be filled with blessing, and those who see him will call him happy.

37:25 A man’s life lasts a number of days, but the days of Israel are beyond counting.

37:26 The wise man will earn confidence among his people, his name will live for ever.


37:27 My son, in the course of your life test your constitution, and do not allow it what you see is harmful to it;

37:28 for everything does not suit everybody, nor does everybody take pleasure in everything.

37:29 Do not be insatiable over any delicacy, do not be greedy over food,

37:30 for overeating leads to sickness, and gluttony brings on biliousness.

37:31 Many have died of gluttony; beware of this and you will prolong your life.

JB SIRACH Chapter 38

Medicine and illness

38:1 Honour the doctor with the honour that is his due in return for his services; for he too has been created by the Lord.

38:2 Healing itself comes from the Most High, like a gift from a king.

38:3 The doctor’s learning keeps his head high, he is regarded with awe by potentates.

38:4 The Lord has brought medicines into existence from the earth, and the sensible man will not despise them.

38:5 Did not a piece of wood once sweeten the water, thus giving proof of its virtue?[*a]

38:6 He has also given men learning so that they may glory in his mighty works.

38:7 He uses them[*b] to heal and to relieve pain, the chemist makes up a mixture from them.

38:8 Thus there is no end to his activities, and through him health extends across the world.

38:9 My son, when you are ill, do not be depressed, but pray to the Lord and he will heal you.

38:10 Renounce your faults, keep your hands unsoiled, and cleanse your heart from all sin.

38:11 Offer incense and a memorial of fine flour, and make as rich an offering as you can afford.

38:12 Then let the doctor take over-the Lord created him too-and do not let him leave you, for you need him.

38:13 Sometimes success is in their hands,

38:14 since they in turn will beseech the Lord to grant them the grace to relieve and to heal, that life may be saved.

38:15 If a man sins in the eyes of his Maker, may he fall under the care of the doctor.


38:16 My son, shed tears over a dead man, and intone the lament to show your own deep grief; bury his body with due ceremonial, and do not neglect to honour his grave.

38:17 Weep bitterly, wail most fervently; observe the mourning the dead man deserves, one day, or two, to avoid comment, and then be comforted in your sorrow;

38:18 for grief can lead to death, a grief-stricken heart undermines your strength.

38:19 Let grief end with the funeral; a life of grief oppresses the mind.

38:20 Do not abandon your heart to grief, drive it away, bear your own end in mind.

38:21 Do not forget, there is no going back; you cannot help the dead, and you will harm yourself.

38:22 ‘Remember my doom, since it will be yours too; yesterday was my day, today is yours.’

38:23 Once the dead man is laid to rest, let his memory rest too, do not fret for him, once his spirit departs.

Trades and crafts

38:24 Leisure is what gives the scribe the opportunity to acquire wisdom; the man with few business affairs grows wise.

38:25 How can the ploughman become wise, whose sole ambition is to wield the goad; driving his oxen, engrossed in their work, his conversation is of nothing but cattle?

38:26 His mind is fixed on the furrows he traces, and his evenings pass in fattening his heifers.

38:27 So it is with every workman and craftsman, toiling day and night; those who engrave seals, always trying to think of new designs: they set their heart on producing a good likeness, and stay up perfecting the work.

38:28 So it is with the blacksmith sitting by his anvil; he considers what to do with the pig-iron, the breath of the fire scorches his skin, as he contends with the heat of the furnace; he batters his ear with the din of the hammer, his eyes are fixed on the pattern; he sets his heart on completing his work, and stays up putting the finishing touches.

38:29 So it is with the potter, sitting at his work, turning the wheel with his feet; constantly on the alert over his work, each flick of the finger premeditated;

38:30 he pummels the clay with his arm, and puddles it with his feet; he sets his heart on perfecting the glaze, and stays up cleaning the kiln.

38:31 All these put their trust in their hands, and each is skilled at his own craft.

38:32 A town could not be built without them, there would be no settling, no travelling.

38:33 But they are not required at the council, they do not hold high rank in the assembly. They do not sit on the judicial bench, and have no grasp of the law.

38:34 They are not remarkable for culture or sound judgement, and are not found among the inventors of maxims. But they give solidity to the created world, while their prayer is concerned with what pertains to their trade.

JB SIRACH Chapter 39

The scholar

39:1 It is otherwise with the man who devotes his soul to reflecting on the Law of the Most High. He researches into the wisdom of all the Ancients, he occupies his time with the prophecies.

39:2 He preserves the discourses of famous men, he is at home with the niceties of parables.

39:3 He researches into the hidden sense of proverbs, he ponders the obscurities of parables.

39:4 He enters the service of princes, he is seen in the presence of rulers. He travels in foreign countries, he has experienced human good and human evil.

39:5 At dawn and with all his heart he resorts to the Lord who made him; he pleads in the presence of the Most High, he opens his mouth in prayer and makes entreaty for his sins.

39:6 If it is the will of the great Lord, he will be filled with the spirit of understanding, he will shower forth words of wisdom, and in prayer give thanks to the Lord.

39:7 He will grow upright in purpose and learning, he will ponder the Lord’s hidden mysteries.

39:8 He will display the instruction he has received, taking his pride in the Law of the Lord’s covenant.

39:9 Many will praise his understanding, and it will never be forgotten. His memory will not disappear, generation after generation his name will live.

39:10 Nations will proclaim his wisdom, the assembly will celebrate his praises.

39:11 If he lives long, his name will be more glorious than a thousand others, and if he dies, that will satisfy him just as well.

Invitation to praise God

39:12 I wish to develop my reflections further, they fill me as full as the moon at the full.

39:13 Listen to me, devout children, and blossom like the rose that grows on the bank of a watercourse.

39:14 Give off a sweet smell like incense, flower like the lily, spread your fragrance abroad, sing a song of praise blessing the Lord for all his works.

39:15 Declare the greatness of his name, proclaim his praise with song and with lyre, and this is how you must sing his praises:

39:16 how wonderful they are, all the works of the Lord! All that he orders is promptly carried out. You must not say, ‘What is this? Why is that?’ All will be studied in due time.

39:17 At his word water stops running and piles up, waters are stored at a word from his mouth.

39:18 At his bidding, all his pleasure is accomplished, no one can diminish his power to save.

39:19 The actions of every creature are before him, there is no hiding from his eyes;

39:20 his gaze stretches from eternity to eternity, and nothing can astonish him.

39:21 You must not say, ‘What is this? Why is that?’ All things have been created for their proper functions.

39:22 As his blessing covers the dry land like a river and soaks it like a flood,

39:23 so wrath is his legacy to the nations, just as he has turned fresh waters to salt.

39:24 His ways are as smooth for devout men, as they are full of obstacles for the wicked.

39:25 Good things were created from the beginning for good men, as evils were for sinners.

39:26 The prime needs of mankind for living are water and fire, iron and salt, wheat-flour, milk and honey, the juice of the grape, oil and clothing.

39:27 All these things are good for people who are good, just as they turn into bad for sinners.

39:28 Some winds were created to punish; he has made them the scourge of his anger; on the day of doom they unleash their force, and appease the anger of him who made them.

39:29 Fire and hail, famine and death, all these were created to punish.

39:30 The teeth of savage animals, scorpions, adders, and the avenging sword to destroy the godless,

39:31 all these exult in obeying his orders, they are ready on earth when he requires, and when the time comes they will not disobey his order.

39:32 That is why I was determined from the outset, I have pondered and I have written it down,

39:33 ‘All the works of the Lord are good, and he will supply every want in due time.

39:34 You must not say, “This is worse than that”, for everything will prove its value in its time.

39:35 So now, sing with all your heart and voice, and bless the name of the Lord!’

JB SIRACH Chapter 40

The wretchedness of man

40:1 Much hardship has been made for every man, a heavy yoke lies on the sons of Adam from the day they come out of their mother’s womb, till the day they return to the mother of them all.

40:2 What fills them with brooding and their hearts with fear is dread of the day of death.

40:3 From the man who sits on a glorious throne to the wretch on dust and ashes,

40:4 from the man who wears purple and a crown to the man clothed in sacking, all is fury and jealousy, turmoil and unrest, fear of death, rivalry, strife.

40:5 And even at night while he rests on his bed his sleep only gives a new twist to his worries:

40:6 scarcely has he lain down to rest, than in his sleep, as if in broad daylight, he is shaken by terrible sights like a man running away from a battle.

40:7 At the moment of rescue he awakens, astonished that his fear was imaginary.

40:8 For all creatures, from men to animals-and seven times more for sinners-

40:9 there is death and blood and strife and the sword, disasters, famine, affliction, plague.

40:10 All these were created for the godless, through them came the Flood.

40:11 All that comes from the earth returns to the earth, what comes from the water returns to the sea.

Various maxims

40:12 All bribery and injustice will be blotted out, but good faith will stand for ever.

40:13 The wealth of wrong-doers will dry up like a torrent, will crash like a clap of thunder in a downpour.

40:14 When he opens his hands he rejoices, by the same token defaulters will come to utter ruin.

40:15 The offshoots of the godless will not have many branches, unclean roots only find hard rock.

40:16 The reeds by every lake and river’s edge will be pulled up before any other grass.

40:17 Graciousness is like a paradise of blessing, and generosity stands firm for ever.


40:18 For the man of private means and the man who works hard, life is pleasant, better off than either, he who finds a treasure.

40:19 Children and the building of a city make a man’s reputation; better than either, the discovery of wisdom. Cattle and vineyards make you well known; better valued than either, a perfect wife.

40:20 Wine and music cheer the heart; better than either, the love of wisdom.

40:21 Flute and harp add sweetness to a song; better than either, a sweet voice.

40:22 The eye longs for grace and beauty; better than either, the green of spring corn.

40:23 Friend or comrade – it is always well met; better than either, a wife and husband.

40:24 Brothers and allies are good in times of trouble; better than either, generosity to the rescue.

40:25 Gold and silver will steady your feet; better valued than either, good advice.

40:26 Money and strength make a confident heart; better than either, the fear of the Lord. With the fear of the Lord a man lacks nothing; with that he need seek no ally.

40:27 The fear of the Lord is like a paradise of blessing, it clothes a man with more than glory.

On begging

40:28 My son, do not live by begging from others, better be dead than a beggar.

40:29 The life of a man ever eyeing the table of another cannot be reckoned as a life at all. He defiles his gullet with other people’s food; a man of culture and breeding will never do this.

40:30 Begging comes easily to the lips of the shameless man, but eventually it will set fire to his belly.

JB SIRACH Chapter 41


41:1 O death, how bitter it is to remember you for a man at peace among his goods, to a man without worries, who prospers in everything, and still has the strength to feed himself.

41:2 O death, your sentence is welcome to a man in want, whose strength is failing, to a man worn out with age, worried about everything, disaffected and beyond endurance.

41:3 Do not dread death’s sentence; remember those who came before you and those who will come after.

41:4 This is the sentence passed on all living creatures by the Lord, so why object to what seems good to the Most High? Whether your life lasts ten or a hundred or a thousand years, its length will not be held against you in Sheol.

The fate of the wicked

41:5 Hateful brats, such are the children of sinners, who forgather in the haunts of the godless.

41:6 The inheritance of sinners’ children is doomed to perish, their posterity will endure lasting reproach.

41:7 A godless father will be blamed by his children for the reproach he has brought on them.

41:8 A bad outlook for you, godless men, who have forsaken the Law of God Most High.

41:9 When you were born, you were born to be accursed, and when you die, that curse will be your portion.

41:10 All that comes from the earth returns to the earth, so too the wicked proceed from curse to destruction.

41:11 Men go into mourning for their dead, but the worthless name of sinners will be blotted out.

41:12 Be careful of your reputation, for it will last you longer than a thousand great hoards of gold.

41:13 A good life lasts a certain number of days, but a good reputation lasts for ever.

A sense of shame

41:14 Keep my instructions and be at peace, my children. Wisdom hidden away and treasure undisplayed, what use are either of these?

41:15 Better a man who hides his folly than one who hides his wisdom.

41:16 Now, keep your sense of shame with respect to what I am going to say, for not every kind of shame is right to harbour, nor is every situation correctly appraised by all.

41:17 Be ashamed, before father and mother, of licentious behaviour, and before prince or potentate of telling lies;

41:18 of wrong-doing before judge or magistrate, and of impiety before the assembly of the people;

41:19 of sharp practice before your companion and your friend, and of theft before the neighbourhood you live in.

41:20 Before the truth and covenant of God, be ashamed of leaning elbows on the table,

41:21 of making gifts before those who despise them, and of ignoring those who greet you:

41:22 of gazing at a loose woman and of turning your back on a relation,

41:23 of misappropriating another’s portion or gift, of paying court to another man’s wife,

41:24 of carrying on with his servant-girl do not go near her bed-

41:25 of words of abuse before your friends-do not follow up a gift with a taunt-

41:26 of repeating and retailing gossip and of betraying confidences.

41:27 Then you will know what true shame is, and you will find yourself in every man’s graces.

JB SIRACH Chapter 42

42:1 These are the things you should not be ashamed of, and do not sin from fear of what others think:

42:2 of the Law of the Most High and the covenant, of a verdict that acquits the godless,

42:3 of keeping strict accounts with a travelling companion, of settling property on your friends,

42:4 of being accurate over scales and weights, of making small and large profits,

42:5 of gaining from commercial transactions, of disciplining your children strictly, of lashing a wicked slave till you draw blood.

42:6 With an interfering wife, it is as well to use your seal, and where there are many hands, lock things up.

42:7 Whatever stores you issue, do it by number and weight, spendings and takings, put everything in writing.

42:8 Do not be ashamed to correct a stupid man or a fool, or an old dotard who bickers with young people. Then you will show yourself really educated and win the approval of everyone.

The cares of a father over his daughter

42:9 Unknown to her, a daughter keeps her father awake, the worry she gives him drives away his sleep: in her youth, in case she never marries, married, in case she should be disliked,

42:10 as a virgin, in case she should be defiled and found with child in her father’s house, having a husband, in case she goes astray, married, in case she should be barren.

42:11 Your daughter is headstrong? Keep a sharp look-out that she does not make you the laughing-stock of your enemies, the talk of the town, the object of common gossip, and put you to public shame.


42:12 Do not stare at any man for his good looks, do not sit down with the women;

42:13 for moth comes out of clothes, and woman’s spite out of woman.

42:14 A man’s spite is preferable to a woman’s kindness; women give rise to shame and reproach.



42:15 Next, I will remind you of the works of the Lord, and tell of what I have seen. By the words of the Lord his works come into being and all creation obeys his will.

42:16 As the sun in shining looks on all things, so the work of the Lord is full of his glory.

42:17 The Lord has not granted to the holy ones[*a] to tell of all his marvels which the Almighty Lord has solidly constructed for the universe to stand firm in his glory.

42:18 He has fathomed the deep and the heart, and seen into their devious ways; for the Most High knows all the knowledge there is, and has observed the signs of the times.

42:19 He declares what is past and what will be, and uncovers the traces of hidden things.

42:20 Not a thought escapes him, not a single word is hidden from him.

42:21 He has imposed an order on the magnificent works of his wisdom, he is from everlasting to everlasting, nothing can be added to him, nothing taken away, he needs no one’s advice.

42:22 How desirable are all his works, how dazzling to the eye!

42:23 They all live and last for ever, whatever the circumstances all obey him.

42:24 All things go in pairs, by opposites, and he has made nothing defective;

42:25 the one consolidates the excellence of the other, who could ever be sated with gazing at his glory?

JB SIRACH Chapter 43

The sun

43:1 Pride of the heights, shining vault, so, in a glorious spectacle, the sky appears.

43:2 The sun, as he emerges, proclaims at his rising, ‘A thing of wonder is the work of the Most High!’

43:3 At his zenith he parches the land, who can withstand his blaze?

43:4 A man must blow a furnace to produce any heat, the sun burns the mountains three times as much; breathing out blasts of fire, flashing his rays he dazzles the eyes.

43:5 Great is the Lord who made him, and whose word speeds him on his course.

The moon

43:6 And then the moon, always punctual, to mark the months and make division of time:

43:7 the moon it is that signals the feasts, a luminary that wanes after her full.

43:8 The month derives its name from hers, she waxes wonderfully in her phases, banner of the hosts on high, shining in the vault of heaven.

The stars

43:9 The glory of the stars makes the beauty of the sky, a brilliant decoration to the heights of the Lord.

43:10 At the words of the Holy One they stand as he decrees, and never grow slack at their watch.

The rainbow

43:11 See the rainbow and praise its maker, so superbly beautiful in its splendour.

43:12 Across the sky it forms a glorious arc drawn by the hands of the Most High.

The wonders of nature

43:13 By his command he sends the snow, he speeds the lightning as he orders.

43:14 In the same way, his treasuries open and the clouds fly out like birds.

43:15 In his great might he banks up the clouds, and shivers them into fragments of hail.

43:16a At sight of him the mountains rock,

43:17a at the roar of his thunder the earth writhes in labour.

43:16b At his will the south wind blows,

43:17b or the storm from the north and the whirlwind.

43:18 He sprinkles snow like birds alighting, it comes down like locusts settling. The eye marvels at the beauty of its whiteness, and the mind is amazed at its falling.

43:19 Over the earth, like salt, he also pours hoarfrost, which, when it freezes, bristles like thorns.

43:20 The cold wind blows from the north, and ice forms on the water, settling on every watery expanse, and water puts it on like a breastplate.

43:21 He swallows up the mountains and scorches the desert, like a fire he consumes the vegetation.

43:22 But the mist heals everything in good time, after the heat falls the reviving dew.

43:23 By his own resourcefulness he has tamed the abyss, and planted it with islands.

43:24 Those who sail the sea tell of its dangers, their accounts fill our ears with amazement:

43:25 for there too there are strange and wonderful works, animals of every kind and huge sea creatures.

43:26 Thanks to him all ends well, and all things hold together by means of his word.

43:27 We could say much more and still fall short; to put it concisely, ‘He is all’.

43:28 Where shall we find sufficient power to glorify him, since he is the Great One, above all his works,

43:29 the awe-inspiring Lord, stupendously great, and wonderful in his power?

43:30 Exalt the Lord in your praises as high as you may-still he surpasses you. Exert all your strength when you exalt him, do not grow tired-you will never come to the end.

43:31 Who has ever seen him to give a description? Who can glorify him as he deserves?

43:32 Many mysteries remain even greater than these, for we have seen only a few of his works,

43:33 the Lord himself having made all things-and having given wisdom to devout men.

JB SIRACH Chapter 44


Eulogy of the ancestors

44:1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors in their successive generations.

44:2 The Lord has created an abundance of glory, and displayed his greatness from earliest times.

44:3 Some wielded authority as kings and were renowned for their strength; others were intelligent advisers and uttered prophetic oracles.

44:4 Others directed the people by their advice, by their understanding of the popular mind, and by the wise words of their teaching;

44:5 others composed musical melodies, and set down ballads;

44:6 others were rich and powerful, living peacefully in their homes.

44:7 All these were honoured by their contemporaries, and were the glory of their day.

44:8 Some of them left a name behind them, so that their praises are still sung.

44:9 While others have left no memory, and disappeared as though they had not existed, they are now as though they had never been, and so too, their children after them.

44:10 But here is a list of generous men whose good works have not been forgotten.

44:11 In their descendants there remains a rich inheritance born of them.

44:12 Their descendants stand by the covenants and, thanks to them, so do their children’s children.

44:13 Their offspring will last for ever, their glory will not fade.

44:14 Their bodies have been buried in peace, and their name lives on for all generations.

44:15 The peoples will proclaim their wisdom, the assembly will celebrate their praises.


44:16 Enoch pleased the Lord and was taken up, an example for the conversion of all generations.


44:17 Noah was found perfectly virtuous, in the time of wrath he became the scion: because of him a remnant was preserved for the earth at the coming of the Flood.

44:18 Everlasting covenants were made with him that never again should every living creature perish by flood.


44:19 Abraham, the great forefather of a host of nations, no one was ever his equal in glory.

44:20 He observed the Law of the Most High, and entered into a covenant with him. He confirmed the covenant in his own flesh, and proved himself faithful under ordeal.

44:21 The Lord therefore promised him on oath to bless the nations through his descendants, to multiply him like the dust on the ground, to exalt his descendants like the stars, and give them the land for their inheritance, from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.

Isaac and Jacob

44:22 To Isaac too, for the sake of Abraham his father, he assured

44:23 the blessing of all mankind; he caused the covenant to rest on the head of Jacob. He confirmed him in his blessings and gave him the land for his inheritance; he divided it into portions, and shared it out among the twelve tribes.

JB SIRACH Chapter 45


45:1 From him he produced a generous man who found favour in the eyes of all mankind,[*a] beloved by God and men, Moses, of blessed memory.

45:2 He made him the equal of the holy ones in glory and made him strong, to the terror of his enemies.

45:3 At the word of Moses he made the miracles stop, he raised him high in the respect of kings; he gave him commandments for his people, and showed him something of his glory.

45:4 For his loyalty and gentleness he sanctified him, choosing him alone out of all mankind;

45:5 he allowed him to hear his voice, and led him into the darkness; he gave him the commandments face to face, the law of life and knowledge, to teach Jacob his ordinances and Israel his decrees.


45:6 He raised up Aaron, a holy man like Moses, his brother, of the tribe of Levi.

45:7 He made an everlasting covenant with him, and gave him the priesthood of the people. He adorned him with impressive vestments, he dressed him in a robe of glory.

45:8 He clothed him in glorious perfection and invested him with emblems of authority: the breeches, the long robe, the ephod.

45:9 To go round the robe he gave him pomegranates, and many gold bells all round to chime at every step, for their sound to be heard in the Temple as a reminder to the sons of his people;

45:10 and a sacred vestment of gold and purple, violet shade and red, the work of an embroiderer; the pectoral of judgement, the Urim and Thummim,[*b] of plaited crimson, the work of a craftsman;

45:11 precious stones cut like seals mounted in gold, the work of a jeweller, as a reminder with their engraved inscriptions of the number of the tribes of Israel;

45:12 and a golden diadem on his turban, engraved with the seal of consecration; superb ornamentation, magnificent work, adornment to delight the eye.

45:13 There had never been such lovely things before him, and no one else has ever put them on, but only his own sons, and his descendants for all time.

45:14 His sacrifices were to be burnt entirely, twice each day and for ever.

45:15 Moses consecrated him and anointed him with holy oil; and this was an everlasting covenant for him, and for his descendants as long as the heavens endure, that he should preside over worship, act as priest, and bless his people in the name of the Lord,

45:16 who chose him out of all the living to offer sacrifice to the Lord, incense and an appeasing fragrance as a memorial to make atonement for the people.

45:17 He entrusted him with his commandments, committed to him the statutes of the Law to teach Jacob his decrees, and enlighten Israel on his Law.

45:18 Others joined forces against him, they were jealous of him in the wilderness, Dathan and Abiram and their men, Korah and his crew in fury and rage.

45:19 The Lord saw it and was displeased, his raging fury made an end of them; he overwhelmed them with miracles and consumed them with his flaming fire.

45:20 And he added to Aaron’s glory, he gave him an inheritance; he allotted him the prime of the first-fruits, before all else ensured him bread in abundance.

45:21 Thus they eat the sacrifices of the Lord which he gave to him and his posterity.

45:22 But of the people’s territory he inherits nothing, he alone of all the people has no share, the Lord is his share and inheritance.


45:23 Phinehas son of Eleazar is third in glory because of his zeal in the fear of the Lord, because he stood firm when the people revolted, with a staunch and courageous heart; and in this way atoned for Israel.

45:24 Hence a covenant of peace was sealed with him, making him governor of both sanctuary and people, and securing to him and his descendants the high priestly dignity for ever.

45:25 There was also a covenant with David son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah, a royal succession from father to one son exclusively, but the succession of Aaron passes to all his descendants.

45:26 May God endow your hearts with wisdom[*c] to judge his people virtuously, so that the virtues of your ancestors may never fade, and their glory may pass to all their descendants.

JB SIRACH Chapter 46


46:1 Mighty in war was Joshua son of Nun, successor to Moses in the prophetic office, who well deserved his name,[*a] and was a great saviour of the Chosen People, wreaking vengeance on the enemies who opposed him, and so bringing Israel into its inheritance.

46:2 How splendid he was when he raised his arms to brandish his sword against cities!

46:3 Who had ever shown such determination as his? He himself waged the wars of the Lord.

46:4 Was not the sun held back by his hand, and one day drawn out into two?

46:5 He called on God the Most High, as he pressed the enemy on every side; and the great Lord answered him with hard and violent hailstones.

46:6 He fell on that enemy nation, and at the Descent he destroyed all resistance; that the nations might acknowledge his warlike prowess and know that their foe was the Lord.


46:7 For he was a follower of the Mighty One, and in the time of Moses he did devoted service, he and Caleb son of Jephunneh, by opposing the whole community, by preventing the people from sinning, and by silencing the mutters of rebellion.

46:8 Hence these two alone were preserved out of six hundred thousand men on the march, and brought into their inheritance, into a land where milk and honey flow.

46:9 The Lord gave Caleb the strength-which he retained right into old age-to tread the highlands of the country which his descendants still hold as their inheritance,

46:10 for all the sons of Israel to see that it is good to follow the Lord

The judges

46:11 The judges too, each when he was called, all men whose hearts were never disloyal, who never turned their backs on the Lord-may their memory be blessed!

46:12 May their bones flower again from the tomb, and may the names of those illustrious men live again in their sons.


46:13 Samuel was the beloved of his Lord; prophet of the Lord, he instituted the kingdom, and anointed rulers over his people.

46:14 In the Law of the Lord he judged the assembly, and the Lord watched over Jacob.

46:15 By his loyalty he was recognised as a prophet, by his words he was known to be a trustworthy seer.

46:16 He called on the Lord, the Mighty One, when his enemies pressed him on every side, by offering a sucking lamb.

46:17 And the Lord thundered from heaven, and made his voice heard in a rolling peal;

46:18 he massacred the leaders of the enemy, and all the rulers of the Philistines.

46:19 Before the time of his everlasting rest he bore witness before the Lord and his anointed, ‘Of no property, not even a pair of sandals, have I ever deprived a soul’. Nor did anyone accuse him.

46:20 And after he fell asleep he prophesied again, warning the king of his death; he lifted up his voice from the earth in prophecy, to blot out the wickedness of the people.

JB SIRACH Chapter 47


47:1 After him arose Nathan, to prophesy in the time of David.


47:2 As the fat is set apart from the communion sacrifice, so David was chosen out of all the sons of Israel.

47:3 He played with lions as though with kids, and with bears as though with lambs of the flock.

47:4 While still a boy, did he not slay the giant, and relieve the people of their shame, by putting out a hand to sling a stone which brought down the arrogance of Goliath?

47:5 For he called on the Lord Most High, who gave strength to his right arm to put a mighty warrior to death, and lift up the horn of his people.

47:6 Hence they gave him credit for ten thousand, and praised him while they blessed the Lord, by offering him a crown of glory;

47:7 for he massacred enemies on every side, he annihilated his foes the Philistines, and crushed their horn to this very day.

47:8 In all his activities he gave thanks to the Holy One, the Most High, in words of glory;[*a] he put all his heart into his songs out of love for his Maker.

47:9 He placed harps before the altar to make the singing sweeter with their music;

47:10 he gave the feasts their splendour, the festivals their solemn pomp, causing the Lord’s holy name to be praised and the sanctuary to resound from dawn.

47:11 The Lord took away his sins, and exalted his horn for ever; he gave him a royal covenant, and a glorious throne in Israel.


47:12 A wise son succeeded him, who lived spaciously, thanks to him.

47:13 Solomon reigned in a time of peace, is and God gave him peace all round so that he could raise a house to his name and prepare an everlasting sanctuary.

47:14 How wise you were in your youth, brimming over with understanding like a river!

47:15 Your mind ranged the earth, you filled it with mysterious sayings.

47:16 Your name reached the distant islands, and you were loved for your peace.[*b]

47:17 Your songs, your proverbs, your sayings and your retorts made you the wonder of the world.

47:18 In the name of the Lord God, of him who is called the God of Israel, you amassed gold like so much tin, and made silver as common as lead.

47:19 You abandoned your body to women, you became the slave of your appetites.

47:20 You stained your honour, you profaned your stock, so bringing wrath on your children and grief on your posterity:

47:21 the sovereignty was split in two, from Ephraim arose a rebel kingdom.

47:22 But the Lord would not go back on his mercy, or undo any of his words, he would not obliterate the issue of his elect, nor destroy the stock of the man who loved him; and so he granted a remnant to Jacob, and to David a root springing from him.


47:23 Solomon rested with his ancestors, leaving one of his stock as his successor, the stupidest member of the nation, brainless Rehoboam, whose policy drove the nation to rebel.


47:24 Next, Jeroboam son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, and set Ephraim on the way of evil; from then on their sins multiplied so excessively as to drive them out of their country;

47:25 for they tried out every kind of wickedness, until vengeance overtook them.

JB SIRACH Chapter 48


48:1 Then the prophet Elijah arose like a fire, his word flaring like a torch.

48:2 It was he who brought famine on them, and who decimated them in his zeal.

48:3 By the word of the Lord, he shut up the heavens, he also, three times, brought down fire.

48:4 How glorious you were in your miracles, Elijah! Has anyone reason to boast as you have?-

48:5 rousing a corpse from death, from Sheol by the word of the Most High;

48:6 dragging kings down to destruction, and high dignitaries from their beds;

48:7 hearing reproof on Sinai, and decrees of punishment on Horeb;

48:8 anointing kings as avengers, and prophets to succeed you;

48:9 taken up in the whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses;

48:10 designated in the prophecies of doom to allay God’s wrath before the fury breaks, to turn the hearts of fathers towards their children,[*a] and to restore the tribes of Jacob,

48:11 Happy shall they be who see you, and those who have fallen asleep in love; for we too will have life.


48:12 Elijah was shrouded in the whirlwind, and Elisha was filled with his spirit; throughout his life no ruler could shake him, and no one could subdue him.

48:13 No task was too hard for him, and even in death his body prophesied.

48:14 In his lifetime he performed wonders, and in death his works were marvellous.

Infidelity and punishment

48:15 Despite all this the people did not repent, nor did they give up their sins, until they were herded out of their country and scattered all over the earth;

48:16 only a few of the people were left, with a ruler of the House of David. Some of them did what pleased the Lord, others piled sin on sin.


48:17 Hezekiah fortified his city, and laid on a water supply inside it; with iron he tunnelled through the rock and constructed cisterns.

48:18 In his days Sennacherib invaded and sent Rabshakeh;[*b] he lifted his hand against Zion, and boasted loudly in his arrogance.

48:19 Then their hearts and hands trembled, they felt the pangs of a woman in labour,

48:20 but they called on the merciful Lord, stretching out their hands towards him. Swiftly the Holy One heard them from heaven, and delivered them by the hand of Isaiah,

48:21 he struck the camp of the Assyrians and his angel massacred them.


48:22 For Hezekiah did what is pleasing to the Lord, and was steadfast in the ways of David his father, enjoined on him by the prophet Isaiah, a great man trustworthy in his vision.

48:23 In his days the sun moved back; he prolonged the life of the king.

48:24 In the power of the spirit he saw the last things, he comforted the mourners of Zion,

48:25 he revealed the future to the end of time, and hidden things long before they happened.

JB SIRACH Chapter 49


49:1 The memory of Josiah is like blended incense prepared by the perfumer’s art; it is as sweet as honey to all mouths, and like music at a wine feast.

49:2 He took the right course, of converting the people, he rooted out the iniquitous abominations,

49:3 he set his heart on the Lord, in godless times he upheld the cause of religion.

The last kings and prophets

49:4 Apart from David, Hezekiah and Josiah, they all heaped wrong on wrong; since they disregarded the Law of the Most High, the kings of Judah disappeared;

49:5 since they gave their strength to others and their honour to a foreign nation.

49:6 The holy, chosen city was burnt down, her streets were left deserted,

49:7 as Jeremiah had predicted; for they had ill-treated him though consecrated a prophet in his mother’s womb to tear up and afflict and destroy, but also to build up and to plant.[*a]

49:8 Ezekiel it was who saw a vision of glory which God showed to him above the chariot of the Cherubs,

49:9 for he remembered the enemies with torrential rain[*b] to the advantage of those who follow the right way.

49:10 As for the twelve prophets, may their bones flower again from the tomb, since they have comforted Jacob and redeemed him in faith and hope.

Zerubbabel and Joshua

49:11 How shall we extol Zerubbabel? He was like a signet ring on the right hand,

49:12 so too was Jeshua son of Jozadak; they who in their days built the Temple, and raised to the Lord a holy people, destined to everlasting glory.


49:13 Great too is the memory of Nehemiah, who rebuilt our walls which lay in ruins, erected the gates and bars and rebuilt our houses.


49:14 No one else has ever been created on earth to equal Enoch, for he was taken up from earth.

49:15 And no one else ever born has been like Joseph, the leader of his brothers, the prop of his people; his bones were honoured.

49:16 Shem and Seth were honoured among men, but above every living creature is Adam.

JB SIRACH Chapter 50

Simon the high priest

50:1 It was the High Priest Simon son of Onias who repaired the Temple during his lifetime and in his day fortified the sanctuary.

50:2 He laid the foundations of the double height, the high buttresses of the Temple precincts.

50:3 In his day the water cistern was excavated, a reservoir as huge as the sea.

50:4 Anxious to save the people from ruin, he fortified the city against siege.

50:5 How splendid he was with the people thronging round him, when he emerged from the curtained shrine,[*a]

50:6 like the morning star among the clouds, like the moon at the full,

50:7 like the sun shining on the Temple of the Most High, like the rainbow gleaming against brilliant clouds,

50:8 like roses in the days of spring, like lilies by a freshet of water, like a sprig of frankincense in summer-time,

50:9 like fire and incense in the censer, like a vessel of beaten gold encrusted with every kind of precious stone,

50:10 like an olive tree loaded with fruit, like a cypress soaring to the clouds;

50:11 when he put on his splendid vestments, and clothed himself in glorious perfection, when he went up to the holy altar, and filled the sanctuary precincts with his grandeur;

50:12 when he received the portions from the hands of the priests, himself standing by the altar hearth, surrounded by a crowd of his brothers, like a youthful cedar of Lebanon as though surrounded by the trunks of palm trees.

50:13 When all the sons of Aaron in their glory, with the offerings of the Lord in their hands, stood before the whole assembly of Israel,

50:14 while he completed the rites at the altars, presenting in due order the offering for the Most High, the Almighty,

50:15 reaching out his hand to the cup,[*b] and pouring a libation of the juice of the grape, pouring it at the foot of the altar, an appeasing fragrance to the Most High, the King of all,

50:16 then the sons of Aaron would shout and blow their trumpets of beaten metal, making a mighty sound ring out as a reminder before the Most High;

50:17 and immediately the people all together would fall on their faces to the ground, in adoration of their Lord, the Almighty, God Most High,

50:18 and with the cantors chanting their hymns of praise: sweet was the melody of all these voices,

50:19 as the people pleaded with the Lord Most High, and prayed in the presence of the Merciful, until the service of the Lord was completed and the ceremony at an end.

50:20 Then he would come down and raise his hands over the whole concourse of the sons of Israel, to give them the Lord’s blessing from his lips, being privileged to pronounce his name;[*c]

50:21 and once again the people would bow low to receive the blessing from the Most High.


50:22 And now bless the God of all things, the doer of great deeds everywhere, who has exalted our days from the womb and acted towards us in his mercy.

50:23 May he grant us cheerful hearts and bring peace in our time, in Israel for ages on ages.

50:24 May his mercy be faithfully with us, may he redeem us in our time.

Numerical proverb

50:25 There are two nations that my soul detests, the third is not a nation at all:

50:26 the inhabitants of Mount Seir, and the Philistines, and the stupid people living at Shechem.[*d]


50:27 Instruction in wisdom and knowledge has been committed to writing in this book by Jesus son of Sira, Eleazar, of Jerusalem, who has rained down wisdom from his heart.

50:28 Happy is he who busies himself with these things, and grows wise by taking them to heart.

50:29 If he practises them he will be strong enough for anything, since the light of the Lord is his path.

JB SIRACH Chapter 51


A hymn of thanksgiving

51:1 I will give thanks to you, Lord and King, and praise you, God my saviour, I give thanks to your name;

51:2 for you have been protector and support to me, and redeemed my body from destruction, from the snare of the lying tongue, from lips that fabricate falsehood; and in the presence of those around me you have been my support, you have redeemed me,

51:3 true to the greatness of your mercy and of your name, from the fangs of those who would devour me, from the hands of those seeking my life, from the many ordeals which I have endured,

51:4 from the stifling heat which hemmed me in, from the heart of a fire which I had not kindled,

51:5 from deep in the belly of Sheol, from the unclean tongue and the lying word-

51:6 the perjured tongue slandering me to the king. My soul has been close to death, my life had gone down to the brink of Sheol.

51:7 They were surrounding me on every side, there was no one to support me; I looked for someone to help-in vain.

51:8 Then I remembered your mercy, Lord, and your deeds from earliest times, how you deliver those who wait for you patiently, and save them from the clutches of their enemies.

51:9 And I sent up my plea from the earth, I begged to be delivered from death,

51:10 I called on the Lord, the father of my Lord, ‘Do not desert me in the days of ordeal, in the time of my helplessness against the proud. I will praise your name unceasingly, and gratefully sing its praises.’

51:11 And my plea was heard, for you saved me from destruction, you delivered me from that time of evil.

51:12 And therefore I will thank you and praise you, and bless the name of the Lord.

A poem on the quest for wisdom[*a]

51:13 When I was still a youth, before I went travelling, in my prayers I asked outright for wisdom.

51:14 Outside the sanctuary I would pray for her, and to the last I will continue to seek her.

51:15 From her blossoming to the ripening of her grape my heart has taken its delight in her. My foot has pursued a straight path, I have been following her steps ever since my youth.

51:16 By bowing my ear a little I have received her, and have found much instruction.

51:17 Thanks to her I have advanced; the glory be to him who has given me wisdom!

51:18 For I am determined to put her into practice, I have earnestly pursued what is good, I will not be put to shame.

51:19 My soul has fought to possess her, I have been scrupulous in keeping the Law; I have stretched out my hands to heaven and bewailed my ignorance of her;

51:20 I have directed my soul towards her, and in purity have found her; having my heart fixed on her from the outset, I shall never be deserted;

51:21 my very core having yearned to discover her, I have now acquired a good possession.

51:22 In reward the Lord has given me a tongue with which I shall sing his praises.

51:23 Come close to me, you uninstructed, take your place in my school.

51:24 Why complain about lacking these things when your souls are so thirsty for them?

51:25 I have opened my mouth and spoken: ‘Buy her without money,

51:26 put your necks under her yoke, and let your souls receive instruction; she is not far to seek.

51:27 See for yourselves: how slight my efforts have been to win so much peace.

51:28 Buy instruction with a large sum of silver, thanks to her you will gain much gold.

51:29 May your souls rejoice in the mercy of the Lord, may you never be ashamed of praising him.

51:30 Do your work before the appointed time and he in his time will give you your reward.’

(Subscript:) Wisdom of Jesus son of Sira.

END OF JB SIRACH [51 Chapters].

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