Wisdom of Sirach

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Illustration of the high priest Jesus Sirach in the Secret Book of Honour of the Fugger by Jörg Breu the Younger, 1545–1549

The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, also called the Wisdom of Sirach, Book of Sirach, Ben Sira, or simply Sirach (and also known as the Book of Ecclesiasticus (abbreviated Ecclus.), is a Jewish work, originally in Hebrew, of ethical teachings, from approximately 200 to 175 BC, written by the Jewish scribe Ben Sira of Jerusalem, on the inspiration of his father Joshua son of Sirach, sometimes called Jesus son of Sirach or Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira. It is a book of profound proverbs of the Apocrypha included by some churches in the Bible.

Quotes[edit]

  • All wisdom comes from the Lord and endures with him forever. The fear of the Lord is our glory and honor, it is joy and a triumphant crown. The fear of the Lord gladdens the heart; it gives joy, gaiety and long life. For the one who fears the Lord all will go well at the end of his life, and he will be blessed on the day of his death. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; he put wisdom into the hearts of his faithful ones before their birth. The fear of the Lord is the fullness of wisdom. It will fill you with its fruits. It will fill your whole house with desirable things. It will fill your houses with its riches. The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom. Wherever it is, peace and good health flourish; knowledge and prudence rain down. Wisdom exalts those who possess her. The fear of the Lord is the root of wisdom. Its branches are long life. The fear of the Lord driveth away sins: and where it is present, it turneth away wrath. Do you desire wisdom? Keep the commandments and the Lord will give her to you without measure; for fear of the Lord is wisdom and learning; what pleases him is faithfulness and gentleness. Do not put aside fear of the Lord; approach him with a sincere heart.
  • My son, if you have decided to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials. Keep your heart upright and remain resolute; do not be upset in the time of adversity. Hold fast to the Lord, do not separate yourself from him so that you may be successful to the end of your days. Accept all that happens to you, be patient when you are humbled, for as gold is tested in the fire, so those acceptable to God are tested in the crucible of humiliation. Have confidence in him and he will take care of you; follow the right path and hope in him. You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy and do not turn away lest you fall. You who fear the Lord, trust him and you will not lose your reward. You who fear the Lord, hope for all good things; hope for eternal joy and mercy. Remember what happened to your ancestors. Who has ever trusted in the Lord and been confounded? Who has persevered in fear of the Lord and been abandoned? Who has called upon him and not been heard? For the Lord is compassion and loving-kindness; he forgives our sins and saves us in time of distress.
  • Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his commandments; those who love him faithfully keep his laws. Those who fear the Lord seek to please him; those who love him are filled with his law. Those who fear the Lord keep their hearts ready and humble themselves in his presence saying, “Let us fall into the hands of the Lord and not into the hands of mortals, for great as his power is his mercy.”
  • For the Lord established that children should respect their father; he confirmed the right of the mother over her children. Whoever honors his father atones for his sins; he who gives glory to his mother prepares a treasure for himself. Whoever honors his father will receive joy from his own children and will be heard when he prays. Whoever glorifies his father will have a long life. Whoever obeys the Lord gives comfort to his mother. He serves those who brought him to birth as he would serve the Lord. Honor your father in word and deed so that his blessing may come on you. For a father’s blessing secures the future of his children, but a mother’s curse destroys them at their roots. Do not rejoice at the humiliation of your father because his dishonor is no glory for you. For a man’s glory comes from his father’s reputation; a mother who is not respected is a disgrace to her children. My child, take care of your father in his old age, do not cause him sorrow as long as he lives. Even if he has lost his mind, have patience; do not be disrespectful to him while you are in full health. For kindness done to one’s father will never be forgotten, it will serve as reparation for your sins. In the day of adversity the Lord will remember it to your advantage; for just as ice melts in the heat, so will your sins melt away. The man who abandons his father is like a blasphemer; he who annoys his mother is cursed by the Lord.
  • Many are in high place, and of renown: but mysteries are revealed unto the meek. For great is the power of the Lord and it is the humble who give him glory.
  • Do not tire yourself in resolving useless questions since the knowledge you already have goes beyond human understanding. For many have been led astray by their personal theories and false pretension has undermined reason.
  • As water extinguishes the burning flames, almsgiving obtains pardon for sins. The man who responds by doing good prepares for the future, at the moment of his downfall he will find support.
  • My son, do not deny the poor his food and do not make the man who looks at you with pleading eyes wait. Do not sadden the hungry person nor annoy anyone who is in need. Do not exasperate an angry man nor withhold alms from the beggar. Do not drive away the beggar who is weighed down with afflictions, nor turn away your face from the poor; do not snub the needy nor give anyone a reason to curse you. If someone curses you in the bitterness of his heart, the Creator will hear his prayer.
  • Deliver the oppressed from the hands of the oppressor. Do not be weak when you administer justice. Be like a father towards orphans and like a husband towards their mothers. Then you will be like a son of the Most High and he will love you more than your own mother.
  • Wisdom brings up her children and takes care of those who look for her. Whoever loves her loves life. Those who rise early in the morning in search of her will be filled with joy. Whoever possesses her will have glory and wherever he goes blessings will follow. Those who serve her are ministers of the Holy One; those who love her are loved of the Lord. He who listens to her will have good judgment. He who obeys her will rest in safety. Whoever trusts in her will possess her and his children after him will inherit her. For in the beginning she will lead him by rough paths, causing him to fear and be terrified; she will plague him with her discipline until she can count on him; and she will put him to the test by her demands. Then she will lead him on a level path, give him joy and reveal her secrets to him. But if he wanders from the path, she will abandon him and allow him to be lost.
  • Do not remain silent when it is necessary to speak. Do not, through pride, hide your wisdom. It is in speech that wisdom is recognized and learning in the spoken discourse.
  • Fight for the truth till death and the Lord will fight for you. Do not be daring in your speech, but lazy and negligent in works.
  • Do not rely on your wealth. Do not say, “I am self-sufficient.” Do not let yourself be carried away by greed and violence; they would make you their slave. Do not say, “Who can stop me?” For the Lord has power to punish you.
  • Do not say, “I have sinned and nothing has happened!” For the Lord bides his time. Do not be so sure of pardon when you are heaping sin upon sin. Do not say, “His compassion is great! He will forgive the vast number of my sins!” For with him is mercy but also anger; his fury will be poured out on sinners.
  • If you know what you are saying, answer your neighbor; if not, it is better to say nothing. Your words can bring you honor and dishonor; a man’s tongue brings about his downfall.
  • Just as the wicked man inherits confusion and shame so will the sinner accustomed to lying. Do not give yourself over to your passions; they will turn against you and, like a bull, tear you to pieces. They will devour the foliage and destroy the fruit, leaving you like a dry stump. An evil passion will destroy the one who is held in its power; it will make him the laughingstock of his enemies. A gentle word makes many friends, an agreeable tongue calls forth gracious replies.
  • The faithful friend is a secure refuge; whoever has found one has found a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond all price; hold him as priceless. A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, and those who fear the Lord will find one. Whoever fears the Lord will make true friends for, as a man is, such will his friend be.
  • My son, dedicate yourself to learning from your youth, and you will grow in wisdom until old age. Work at it like the worker and the sower, cultivate wisdom and wait for her excellent fruits. For in cultivating her you will have some trouble, but soon you will enjoy her fruits.
  • For wisdom brings her own honor, she does not reveal herself to everyone. Listen, my son, and receive my teaching, do not reject my counsel. Put her constraints on your feet and her yoke on your neck. Put your shoulder to the burden and bear her yoke; do not rebel against her chains. Come to her with all your soul and with all your strength observe her ways. Pursue her, search for her, she will make herself known to you; when you have her, do not let her go. For, in the end, you will find in her your rest and she will become your joy.
  • Meditate on the precepts of the Lord and apply yourself unceasingly to his commandments. He will strengthen your heart and the wisdom you desire will be given to you.
  • Do no evil and evil will not take hold of you. Keep away from wrongdoing and it will leave you alone.
  • Do not seek a position of responsibility lest you not be powerful enough to root out injustice and, overawed by a powerful man, you lose your integrity.
  • Do not despise a man when he is downcast, for there is one who casts down and who raises up.
  • Do not join the company of sinners, remember that the wrath of God will not be delayed.
  • Remain humble, because the godless are punished with fire and worms.
  • Do not separate yourself from a wise and good woman, because a gracious wife is worth more than gold.
  • Have you children? Educate them and teach them to obey from their childhood. Have you any daughters? Guard their virginity and do not be indulgent towards them. If you marry off your daughter you will have accomplished something of importance, but give her to an intelligent man.
  • Honor your father with your whole heart and do not be forgetful of the sufferings of your mother. Remember that they gave you birth. How can you repay them for what they have done for you?
  • Stretch out your hand to the poor and you will receive a blessing from the Lord. May your gifts benefit the living and do not forget the dead. Do not turn away from those who weep, and grieve with those who are in sorrow. Do not neglect to visit the sick because it is for such acts that you will be loved.
  • In all your actions remember your last end and you will never sin.
  • Do not offend the man who repents of his sins, remember that we are all deserving punishment.
  • Do not despise a man in his old age, because we ourselves will grow old. Do not rejoice at the death of any man, remember that we shall all die. Do not neglect the teaching of the wise, apply yourself well to their precepts. Through them you will learn how to live and how to serve the great. Do not set aside the teachings of the elders for they also learnt it from their forebears; they will open up your understanding and enable you to reply at the right moment.
  • Do not be jealous of your own wife; do not give her reason to disgrace you. Do not put yourself into the power of any woman to the point where she can dominate you. Do not go near a woman of ill-repute for fear of falling into her nets. Do not dally with a singing girl for fear of being caught in her snare. Do not fix your gaze on a young girl for fear of being involved in her condemnation. Do not deliver yourself into the power of prostitutes lest you lose your inheritance. Do not glance about you in the streets of the town; do not loiter in lonely places.
  • Turn your eyes away from a good-looking woman and do not stare at a beautiful foreigner. For the beauty of a woman has caused many to fall; in her presence love blazes up like a fire.

  • Never sit near a married woman or drink wine with her, for fear that your feelings towards her be roused and that in your passion you slide towards your downfall.
  • Do not abandon an old friend, for a new one has not the same value.
  • Do not envy the success of the sinner, you do not know what his end will be. Do not take pleasure in what pleases the godless, remember that they will be punished before they die.
  • Love to speak with intelligent men and let all your discourses be about the law of the Most High. Let just men be your companions at table; take pride in your fear of the Lord.
  • A king without wisdom will ruin his people; a city will prosper through the wisdom of its rulers. The government of the earth is in the hands of the Lord; in his own time he will raise up the right leader.Human success is in the hands of the Lord and he clothes the rulers with his glory.
  • Pride is odious to both God and man; injustice is abhorrent to both of them.
  • Sovereignty passes from one nation to another because of injustice, violence and wealth.
  • How can there be such pride in someone who is nothing but dust and ashes? Even while he is living, man’s bowels are full of rottenness.
  • The illness lasts while the doctor makes light of it; and one who is king today will die tomorrow.
  • The Lord has overturned the thrones of princes and set up the meek in their place. The Lord has torn up the proud by the roots and has planted the humble in their place. The Lord has overturned the land of the pagans and totally destroyed them. He has devastated several of them, destroyed them and removed all remembrance of them from the face of the earth.
  • Which race is worthy of honor? The human race.
    Which race is worthy of honor? Those who fear the Lord.
    Which race is despicable? The human race.
    Which race is despicable? Those who break the commandments.
  • The leader is worthy of respect in the midst of his brethren, but he has respect for those who fear the Lord. Whether they be rich, honored or poor, their pride should be in fearing the Lord. It is not right to despise the poor man who keeps the law; it is not fitting to honor the sinful man.
  • The leader, the judge, and the powerful man are worthy of honor, but no one is greater than the man who fears the Lord.
  • Do not be proud because of the clothes you wear; do not be proud when people honor you. Do you know what the Lord is preparing in a mysterious way? Many tyrants have been overthrown and someone unknown has received the crown. Many powerful men have been completely disgraced and famous men handed over into the power of others.
  • Do not reprehend anyone unless you have first been fully informed, consider the case first and thereafter make your reproach. Do not reply before you have listened; do not interrupt the one who is speaking. Do not interfere in what is not your business; do not meddle in the disputes of sinners.
  • Good and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, all come from the Lord. The just can count on the generosity of the Lord and his goodness will guide them forever. A man may become rich through being careful and miserly and this is his reward. The day on which he thinks, “I have earned my rest, now I can live on my possessions,” he does not know how long he is going to live. He will have to die and leave his goods to others.
  • Do not be disconcerted at the success of sinners but have confidence in God and persevere in your own efforts. It is easy for the Lord in an instant to make the poor man rich.
  • Do not say, “What do I need? What more could I have or desire?” Do not say, “I have all that is necessary, what misfortune can harm me now?” On good days, one forgets the bad; and on bad days one forgets the good. Even when the end draws near, it is easy for the Lord to reward a man according to the way he has lived. The hour of adversity makes one forget pleasure; at the end of a man’s life his deeds will be revealed.
  • Do good to the godly man and you will receive a reward, if not from the man himself, at least from the Most High.
  • Give to the godly man, do not help the sinner; do good to the humble, do not give to the ungodly; deny him bread, do not give it to him lest he eventually dominate you. He will repay you with a double evil for all the good that you have done for him. For the Most High himself detests sinners and carries out his vengeance on the ungodly. Give to the good man but do not help the sinner.
  • A friend does not become an enemy in the time of prosperity, nor does an enemy remain hidden in the time of adversity. When a man is doing well, his enemies are sad; when he is suffering misfortune, even his friends hasten to abandon him.
  • Who will have pity on the snakecharmer bitten by a snake or on those who go near wild beasts? It is the same for the man who joins company with a sinner and finds himself involved in his wrongdoing. The sinner will remain quietly with you for an hour but when you are distracted he will throw away his mask.
  • He who touches tar will be soiled; he who associates with an arrogant man will become like him. Do not carry too heavy a load; do not make friends with someone stronger and richer than you. Why put the earthen pot near the iron one? One will bang the other and break it. The rich man does wrong and is unconcerned; the poor man is insulted and apologizes. The rich man uses you as long as you are useful to him; when you have nothing left he deserts you. He will stay with you as long as you have something; he will drain you without a second thought.
  • The proud man hates humility; so, also, the poor man is detestable to the rich. When the rich man stumbles, his friends support him, but when the poor man falls, his friends desert him. When the rich man gets into trouble, there are many who come to his rescue; if he speaks nonsense, they congratulate him. When the poor man makes a mistake, they criticize him; if he speaks sensibly, they pay no attention. When the rich man speaks, all are silent and they praise his words to the skies. The poor man speaks and people ask, “Who is this?” And if he stumbles, they push him down.
  • Wealth is good if there is no sin in it and poverty is evil when it is the reward for godlessness.
  • Happy the one who has not sinned in speech or who feels no remorse for his faults. Happy is he whose own conscience does not condemn him and who has not fallen from his ideals.
  • My son, use well whatever you have and give worthy offerings to the Lord. Remember that death will not delay and your time has not yet been revealed to you.
  • All living things grow old like clothing. This is the eternal law: “You will die.” Like green leaves on a bushy tree: some sprout and others fall off, so are the generations of flesh and blood: one dies and another is born. All finite things pass away and their maker with them.
  • ..the one who fears the Lord, embraces the Law will obtain wisdom. She will come out to meet him like a mother and greet him like a virgin bride; she will feed him with the bread of understanding and give him the water of wisdom to drink. He will rely on her and will not waver; he will lean on her and will not be let down. Wisdom will make him greater than his friends and he will be able to speak in the full assembly. He will be crowned with happiness and joy. He will inherit an everlasting name.
  • Do not say, “It was God who made me sin.” God does not cause what he hates. Do not say, “He made me do wrong,” for he has nothing to do with a sinner. The Lord hates all evil and those who fear him hate it as well.
  • When he created man in the beginning, he left him free to make his own decisions. If you wish, you can keep the commandments and it is in your power to remain faithful. He has set fire and water before you; you stretch out your hand to whichever you prefer. Life and death are set before man: whichever a man prefers will be given him.
  • How magnificent is the wisdom of the Lord! He is powerful and all-seeing. His eyes are on those who fear him. He knows all the works of man. He has commanded no one to be godless and has given no one permission to sin.
  • Do not long for a brood of worthless children, and take no joy in godless sons. However many you have, do not rejoice in them if they have no fear of God. Do not depend on their having a long life, or trust in their number, because one is better than a thousand and their death is preferable to their being godless.
  • A city can arise from one man who is prudent. Yet, even though the wicked become a great tribe, they will be destroyed. I have seen such things with my own eyes and my ears have heard of still greater things. Fire has come upon the meeting of sinners and God’s wrath is kindled against rebellious people. God did not pardon the leaders of old who rebelled in their pride of strength. He did not spare the city where Lot lived; he detested their pride. He showed no pity on the people doomed to destruction; they were annihilated for their sins.
  • In the same way, he dealt with the six hundred thousand men who, in the hardness of their hearts, had revolted. Had there been only one stubborn man it would have been amazing if he had escaped unpunished, since mercy and anger belong to the Lord who is powerful both in forgiveness and in punishment. His justice is as great as his mercy and he judges people by their deeds.
  • Just as the sinner will not escape with his booty, the patience of the upright man will not go unrewarded. God will reward every act of mercy; each person will be treated according to his deeds.
  • Do not say, “I will hide from the Lord; who will remember me up there? I will not be recognized in the midst of so many. What am I in the immensity of creation?” Look: the sky and the heavens above the sky, the sea and the earth tremble when he comes. The mountains, together with the foundations of the earth, are filled with dread before his sight. But nobody thinks of such things: who is interested in the ways of God? Most of his works go unnoticed and man does not see where the storm originates.
  • The Lord created man from the earth and let him return to earth. He settled a fixed time for them and a set number of days, giving them power over everything on earth. He endowed them with a strength like his own, making them in his own image. He put the fear of them in all living things, thus they had mastery over the animals and birds. He endowed them with knowledge; he gave them tongue and eyes, ears and a mind to think with. He filled them with wisdom and knowledge; he taught them good and evil. He put his own eye in their hearts so they would understand the greatness of his works. They will praise his holy Name and relate the magnificence of his creation. He gave them revealed knowledge as well and handed over to them the Law of life. He established an everlasting covenant with them and let them know his judgments. Human eyes saw the splendor of the Glory of God; their ears heard the grandeur of his voice. He said to them, “Keep yourselves from all wrongdoing,” and to each of them he gave commands regarding his neighbor. Their conduct is always before the Lord; they cannot escape his sight. He has placed a leader over each nation, but Israel is the Lord’s own portion. Their deeds are as clear as the sun to him, he always observes their ways. Their misdeeds cannot be hidden from him, all their sins are before the Lord.
  • He holds a man’s almsgiving dear as a priceless signet ring; he cherishes a good deed like the apple of his eye. One day he will rise and reward them; he will place their prize on their heads.
  • He allows those who repent to return; he comforts those whose hopes are fading. Be converted to the Lord and give up your sins, plead with him to lessen your offense. Return to the Almighty, turn aside from wrongdoing and totally detest evil. For who in the grave will praise the Almighty, if the living do not give him glory? The dead man is as if he did not exist and cannot give praise; he who has life and health can praise the Lord. How great is the mercy of the Lord and his forgiveness for those who turn to him!
  • What is brighter than the sun? Yet it disappears. Man is no more than flesh and blood, yet he thinks of doing evil. While the sun surveys the stars in the lofty sky, human beings remain dust and ashes.
  • What is man? What is his purpose? What is the good in him and what the bad? Take the length of his life: a hundred years is long. Like a drop of water from the sea, a grain of sand, such are his few years compared with eternity. For this reason, the Lord has patience with them and pours out his mercy on them. He sees and realizes how miserable their end is and so he heaps his forgiveness upon them. Man’s mercy is for his neighbor but the compassion of the Lord reaches all people; he rebukes, corrects, teaches and brings back his flock like a shepherd. He takes pity on those who accept correction and eagerly seek his will.
  • Find out the facts before you speak; look after yourself before you become ill.
  • Let nothing prevent you from fulfilling your vow on time; do not wait until death to put things in order.
  • Prepare yourself before praying and do not be one of those who tempt the Lord. Keep in mind the justice of the last days; God will turn his face from you on the day of vengeance.
  • When you experience abundance, remember the days of famine; when you enjoy riches, think of poverty and misery. Time slips by between morning and evening, all things pass quickly before the Lord.
  • The prudent man is cautious in everything; when sin abounds he will keep away from wrongdoing. Every sensible man recognizes wisdom and respects those who obtain her. Those who speak sensibly are wise, and marvelous sayings flow from them.
  • Do not let your passions rule you and restrain your desires. If you satisfy your lusts you will make yourself the laughingstock of your enemies.
  • Do not take pleasure in great luxury, lest you become impoverished by its expense. Do not impoverish yourself by feasting on credit when you have nothing in your pocket.


  • Wine and women corrupt the best of men; whoever frequents prostitutes loses all sense of shame.
  • hating gossip will save one from evil. Never repeat what you are told and you will come to no harm. Report nothing to friend or foe and, unless silence is sinful, reveal it to no one. They will listen, distrust you and you will end up being hated. Have you heard something? Let it die with you, remain calm; you will not burst with it. A fool suffers like a woman in childbirth over something he is told. Like an arrow stuck in his thigh, such is a secret inside a fool.
  • Speak with your neighbor before you heap accusations on him; then leave room for the Law of the Almighty.
  • All wisdom is in the fear of the Lord; in all wisdom is the fulfillment of the Law. Knowledge of evil is not wisdom, and prudence is not found in the advice of sinners. There is a cleverness that is loathsome; it belongs to the evildoer who lacks wisdom. Better to lack sense and be full of the fear of the Lord, than to be clever in violating the Law.
  • A man’s way of dressing reveals who he is, as does his manner of laughing and walking.


  • One keeps silent and is thought to be wise, the other makes himself hated because of his gossiping. One remains silent because he does not know how to reply; the other keeps quiet, waiting for the right moment. The wise man keeps silent until the right moment; the chatterer and fool speak out of turn.
  • Better to stumble on the ground than to make a slip with the tongue; this is how easily the wicked fall.
  • Lying is a shameful defect in a man; fools are used to it. Better to be a thief than a liar, yet both are heading for disaster. Habitual lying is detestable; disgrace never leaves the liar.
  • Presents and gifts blind a wise man’s eyes; like a muzzle they silence the conscientious.
  • Concealed wisdom and hidden treasure: what good are these? The man who conceals his stupidity is better than one who conceals his wisdom.
  • Have you sinned, my son? Do not do it again and beg forgiveness for your past sins. Escape from sin as you would from a snake; if you go near, it will bite you. Its teeth are like those of a lion and destroy human lives.
  • Whoever hates correction goes the way of sinners; he who fears the Lord turns to him in his heart.
  • The meeting of sinners is like a pile of rope which will go up in fire and flames. The path of sinners is well paved but it ends in the fiery abyss.
  • He who keeps the Law is in control of his thoughts; the fear of the Lord brings wisdom.
  • The man who is not clever will never be taught; but there is a cleverness which leads to bitterness. The wise man’s knowledge spreads out like a flood and his advice is like a spring.
  • If an educated man hears a wise saying he values it and adds another. If the good-for nothing hears it he is annoyed and tosses it over his shoulder.
  • Listening outside doors reveals a bad upbringing, the upright man would be ashamed of doing so.
  • Strangers speak thoughtlessly of everything, while wise men’s words are carefully weighed. The heart of fools is in their mouth, but the mouth of the wise is in their heart.
  • When the godless man curses his opponent, the curse descends on himself. The slanderer taints himself and makes himself hated by all around him.
  • Weep for the dead man since the light has deserted him, weep for the fool because understanding has deserted him. Cry less for the dead man; he has found his rest but the fool’s life is worse than death.
  • Mourning the dead lasts seven days, but it lasts a lifetime for the fool and godless man.
  • Win your neighbor’s confidence when he is poor so that you may enjoy his goods with him when he grows rich; be loyal in his hour of trouble and you will win, in the end, a share in his inheritance.
  • Children, learn how to control your language; if you are able to watch over it, you will not be taken by surprise.
  • The sinner will be caught in his own words, as happens to the proud man and to him who curses.
  • Remember your father and mother when you are sitting in the company of the great, lest you forget yourself in their presence and act like a fool. Then you would wish you had never been born, and curse the day of your birth.
  • Those who obey me will not be put to shame; those who serve me will not fall into sin. All this is in the Bible, the Testament of the Most High God, the book of the Law which Moses entrusted to us, the inheritance of the congregations of Israel. This Law feeds the springs of wisdom, like the Pishon or Tigris in the season of fruit. Waters overflowing with understanding come from it, as from the Euphrates and Jordan at harvest time; the floods of instruction run like the Nile or the Gihon in time of vintage.
  • Three things delight me and are delightful to God and people: agreement between brothers, friendship between neighbors, and perfect harmony between husband and wife.
  • There are three kinds of persons whom I detest and whose existence I cast away from me: a poor man full of pride, a rich man who is a liar, and an adulterous old man who is a fool.
  • I think of nine things which I consider happy and a tenth to which I will also refer: the man who finds his happiness in his children; the man who sees the ruin of his enemies in his lifetime. Happy the man who lives with a sensible wife; he who does not plow with a donkey and ox; he who has done no wrong in speech; he who does not serve an unworthy master. Happy he who has acquired good sense and is able to speak before an attentive audience! Great is he who has gained wisdom, but no one surpasses the man who fears the Lord. Since the fear of the Lord excels everything, who can compare with the one who possesses it?
  • Better to live with a lion and a snake than to share a house with a wicked woman. Wickedness disfigures a woman’s appearance, it saddens the face, making her look like a bear. When her husband dines with his neighbor, he sighs bitterly, in spite of himself. All wickedness is nothing compared with a woman’s wickedness. Let her lot be that of a sinner! As a sandhill is to an old man’s feet, so is the talkative woman to her quiet husband. Do not be fooled by a woman’s beauty or fall in love with her. Expect anger, reproach and plenty of shame when the wife rules the husband. Dejected spirits, a sad face and unseen wounds, these are the work of a wicked woman. Idle hands and unsteady knees are found when a wife brings her husband no happiness. For sin began with woman and we all die because of the inheritance of the congregations of Israel. Do not let water leak out or give free rein to a wicked woman. If she does not do as you tell her, get rid of her.


  • Happy the husband of a good wife, the number of his days will be doubled. A woman of character is her husband’s joy, he will live in peace all the years of his life. A good wife is the best of gifts, reserved for those who fear the Lord; rich or poor, he will have a serene heart and a happy face.
  • Guard against the provocative woman and do not be surprised if she wishes to drag you into disgrace. She opens her mouth like a thirsty traveler to drink any water coming her way; she sits by any pole and opens her quiver to every arrow.
  • A wife’s grace gladdens her husband and her prudence refreshes his body. A wife who knows how to be silent is a gift from the Lord; the well-trained wife is invaluable. A modest wife is a favor among favors; the chaste wife is priceless. Like the sun rising over the mountains of the Lord, such is the enchantment of a good wife in a well-kept house. Like the light which shines from the sacred lampstand, such is a beautiful face in a well-shaped body. Like pillars of gold on a silver base, such are beautiful legs on sturdy feet. ( )
  • Many sin for love of gain, he who desires riches silences his conscience. Just as the stake is settled between two stones, so sin wedges itself between buying and selling. The house of him who does not keep himself firmly in the fear of the Lord will soon be knocked to the ground.
  • The wise man’s conversation follows wisdom all the time. In contrast, the fool changes like the moon. When among fools, be sparing with your time; among thoughtful people, be lavish with it.
  • He who betrays a secret is no longer trusted; he will no longer find reliable friends. Love your friend and be loyal; if you have revealed his secrets, go with him no longer. It is like having lost some of your relatives: his friendship to you has died.
  • Like a bird, you have let your friend go, you will not get him back. When you open your hand, the bird flies off; do not pursue him: he is far away and has fled like a gazelle from the snare. For a wound can be bandaged and an insult forgiven, but if you betray a secret there is no hope.
  • If you do evil, evil will befall you and you will not know from where it comes. The proud man makes use of mockery and insults, but vengeance lies in wait for him like a lion.
  • Those who gloat over the downfall of good men will fall into the snare; suffering will consume them before they die.
  • Grudge and wrath, these also are abominations in which sinful people excel.
  • Cursed be the gossiper with his spiteful tongue. He has destroyed many who lived peacefully. The vicious tongue has demolished many and hounded them from nation to nation. It has ruined powerful cities and laid low great households. The vicious tongue has cast out wives who were beyond reproach, depriving them of the fruit of their work. Whoever listens to it will never find rest or be able to live in peace. The whip leaves a mark but the lash of the tongue shatters bones. Many have been felled by the sword but many more have perished by the tongue. Happy he who has escaped it and has not been exposed to its fury, who has not been weighed down by its yoke or been tied up in its chains.
  • Lending to your neighbor is an act of mercy, going to his aid fulfills the commandments. Learn to lend to your neighbor when he is in need and, in turn, repay him any loan on time.
  • Keep your word, remain faithful and you will find what you need on every occasion.
  • Many a good person refuses to lend, not for any malicious reason: he is afraid of being cheated without cause. Nevertheless, be kind to those who have fallen on hard times, do not keep them waiting for your help. For the commandments’ sake, help the poor man; see his need and do not turn him away empty-handed.
  • Better to spend your money on a brother or friend than to let it rust under a stone, to your discredit.
  • Use your money according to the commandments of the Most High and you will find it more valuable than gold. Fill your barns with good deeds and these will rescue you from misfortune. They will fight for you against your enemy better than any strong shield and mighty spear.
  • Some things you cannot live without: water, bread, clothes and a house for shelter. Better a poor man’s life in his wooden shack than lavish banquets in another man’s house. Be content with whatever you have, be it great or small; this is better than to go elsewhere and be reproached as an outsider.|
  • The man who loves his son makes use of the rod; later on he will be proud of him. The man who corrects his son will reap the benefit and be proud of him among his acquaintances. By instructing his son he makes his enemy envious; he will be well pleased with him in the company of his friends. If such a father dies it is as if he had not died, for he leaves behind him another man like himself. In life he had the joy of his company and he is not sorrowful when death comes. He leaves it to his family to take revenge on his enemies and to return gifts to his friends.
  • The man who coddles his son will be constantly bandaging his wounds; at his every cry he will be troubled. Just as a badly broken-in horse cannot be mounted, so a spoiled son becomes insolent. Pamper your child and later he will terrify you; play with him and he will bring you sorrow. Do not laugh at him lest you have to suffer and grind your teeth. Do not let him be independent as a child, but rather bruise his ribs while he is still young, lest he grow stubborn and refuse to obey. Be strict with your son and persevere in this, so as not to suffer because of his misconduct.
  • Better a poor man healthy and fit, than a rich man tormented in body. Health and vigor are worth more than gold, a robust body, more than great wealth. No riches are preferable to physical wellbeing, and no joy is greater than a cheerful heart. Death is better than a wretched life and eternal rest preferable to lasting sickness.
  • He who loves gold cannot be righteous; whoever runs after gain will be led astray. Many have been ruined because of gold; disgrace went to meet them. Gold is a snare for those who are possessed by love of it. The senseless will be caught in it.
  • Happy is the rich man who has not sinned in this way and has not gone after gold! Who is he? Let us say: Fortunate man! For he has given a wonderful example. Who has been tested in this and found perfect? He has reason to be proud. Who could have sinned but resisted, who could have done wrong and did not do it? His fortune is firmly established and the assembly will acknowledge his generosity.
  • Are you seated at a lavish banquet? Don’t be over-ready to eat and don’t say, “What a feast!” Remember that a greedy eye is an evil thing. What is worse than such an eye? That is why it was condemned to weep. Do not stretch out your hand to everything you see or be quick in reaching for a dish. Judge the needs of your fellow guest by your own and in all things act prudently. Eat what is set before you like an educated person and don’t be a glutton, lest you be detested. Like a well-mannered man, be the first to stop; don’t be voracious if you are to avoid difficulties. If important people are present, do not be the first to serve yourself. A little is sufficient for a well-bred person; your breathing moreover will be easier when you go to bed. Healthy sleeping is for the moderate eater. He rises early and feels fit! Sleeplessness and stomach trouble attend the overindulgent. If you are obliged to eat too much, go off and vomit and you will be at ease. Listen to me, my friend, and do not neglect what I say; in the end you will see the truth of it. Be moderate in all that you do and you will be without illness.
  • Do not try to show how much wine you can take, for wine has been the ruin of many. As the furnace tests the temper of steel, so wine proves hearts and makes proud men quarrel. Wine is life for man if taken in moderation. What is life without wine? Wine makes for a glad heart and a cheerful mind, if taken moderately and at the right time. But if taken to excess it brings bitterness of soul, excitement and a fumbling step. Drunkenness inflames the anger of a stupid person to the point of scandal. It reduces his strength and brings him blows. Do not reproach a neighbor during a wine feast, and don’t look down on him when he is merry; do not speak harshly to him or annoy him by asking him to settle a debt.
  • Whoever fears the Lord will accept his correction, and those who rise at dawn will win his favor. The man who follows his Law will be nourished by it, but the hypocrite will find it a stumbling block. Those who fear the Lord will please him and their good deeds will shine as a light.
  • The sinner refuses correction and excuses himself for doing what he wants.
  • A person of judgment reflects beforehand; the stubborn and proud man goes ahead without worrying about anything. Never act without first reflecting, and you will have no regrets.
  • Be careful in whatever you do. In so doing you keep the commandments. Those who trust in the Law will keep the commandments and those who obey the Lord will come to no harm.
  • Evil will not go to meet the one who fears the Lord; if he is in danger he will be rescued. The wise man never departs from the Law; he who only pretends to keep it is like a storm-tossed boat. An intelligent man has faith in the Law, which for him is as trustworthy as an oracle.
  • If you want people to listen to you, prepare what you have to say; recall what you have learned before you give an answer.
  • Why is one day holier than another, when the light of the sun shines on every day of the year? By the Lord’s decision they were made different; he arranged the different seasons and feasts. Some of these he chose to make holy, others he made ordinary days. All human beings come from clay just as Adam himself was formed. In the fullness of his wisdom the Lord made each one unique and diversified his conditions. Some he made holy, keeping them near to himself. Others he cursed and humiliated, removing them from where they were. As clay in the hand of the potter to be molded as he pleases, so are all in the hands of the Creator to be dealt with as he sees fit.
  • The spirit of those who fear the Lord will live, for their hope is placed in the One who saves. He who fears the Lord is in dread of nothing. He will not be cowardly for he is his hope. He who fears the Lord is a happy person. To whom does he turn? Who is his support? The eyes of the Lord are on those who love him. For them he is powerful protection, strong support, shelter against scorching wind and the midday sun. He is a safeguard against stumbling and assurance against a fall. He lifts up the soul and gives a sparkle to the eyes; he gives healing, life and blessing.
  • Offering to God from what belongs to the poor is like slaughtering a son in the presence of his father. Bread is life to the poor; he who takes it from them is a murderer. He who deprives others of a livelihood kills them, and whoever withdraws the salary of a worker is guilty of blood. If one builds and the other destroys, what do they gain besides trouble? If one prays and the other curses, whose voice will the Master listen to?
  • If a man is cleansed after touching a corpse and then touches it again, what good was there in his cleansing? If anyone fasts for his sins and then commits the same sins, who will hear his prayer? What value is there in his fasting?
  • Keeping the Law is worth many offerings. Being faithful to the commandments is like a peace offering. Returning kindness is an offering of fine flour; giving alms is a sacrifice of praise. Renouncing sin pleases the Lord, and shunning injustice is a sacrifice of atonement.
  • Give to the Most High as he has given to you; give generously to the Lord according to what you have; the Lord will repay, he will reward you sevenfold.
  • The Lord is judge and shows no partiality. He will not disadvantage the poor, he who hears the prayer of the oppressed. He does not disdain the plea of the orphan, nor the complaint of the widow. When tears flow down her cheeks, is she not crying out against the one who caused her to weep?
  • The one who serves God wholeheartedly will be heard; his petition will reach the clouds. The prayer of the humble person pierces the clouds, and he is not consoled until he has been heard. His prayer will not cease until the Most High has looked down, until justice has been done in favor of the righteous.
  • A woman will accept any husband but some daughters are better than others. Woman’s beauty rejoices people and is beyond all that could be wished for. If she is kindly-spoken and gentle he is the most fortunate of men. When a man marries he acquires a fortune, someone who understands him and who will help and support him. When there is no hedge the property will be destroyed; and when a man has no wife he is a fretful wanderer. Who would trust a clever robber flitting from town to town? And who would trust a man without a nest, who lodges wherever nightfall finds him?
  • Every friend says, “I am your friend, too,” but some friends are only friends in name. Is it not a deadly grief when a companion or friend turns into an enemy? O evil intention! From where have you sprung, to cover the earth with deceit? One kind of comrade takes advantage of his friend’s good fortune; in time of trouble he turns against him. Another kind shares his friend’s suffering, for the sake of a meal; when it comes to a fight, he thinks only of saving himself. Do not neglect a friend or forget him once you are wealthy.
  • Do not seek advice from one who looks at you suspiciously; hide your plans from those who envy you.
  • Do not consult a woman about her rival, or a coward about war, or a merchant about exchange rates, or a buyer about selling, or a jealous man about gratitude, or a selfish person about generosity, or an idler about any kind of work, or a casual worker about finishing a job, or a lazy servant about an important task. Do not rely on these people for any advice.
  • In the end, keep to your own heart’s advice, since no one deserves to be trusted more than your heart. For a man’s soul often gives better advice than seven watchmen placed on a height. Besides all this, implore the Almighty to guide your steps in the truth. A plan must be at the beginning of all work; reflection comes before every action. When you decide, four ways are open before you: good, evil, life and death. Your own decision makes the choice.
  • The truly wise man teaches his people, and they benefit by his knowledge. The wise man is full of blessings; those who see him call him happy.
  • My son, test yourself during the course of your life; see what is harmful and avoid it. For everything does not suit everybody, nor is everyone satisfied with all things. Do not be insatiable in every pleasure, or be excessive in what you eat; for overeating leads to sickness and gluttony brings indigestion. Many have died because of gluttony; he who takes care prolongs his life.
  • A law student acquires wisdom during his leisure hours; free from business he is capable of becoming wise. How can the man who guides a plow become wise, he whose pride lies in snapping a whip and driving a bullock, who works continually and talks of nothing but cattle? His heart is set on plowing furrows and all his attention is given to fattening heifers.
  • Quite different is it with the person who spends his life reflecting on the Law of the Most High. He examines the wisdom of the sages in times past and in his free time he studies prophecies. He keeps in mind what people of renown have said and penetrates the mystery of parables. He searches for the inner meaning of proverbs and is interested in the secret of parables. He is at the service of the great and is seen in the company of leaders. He travels in foreign lands and has experience of both the good and the evil in mankind. Early in the morning his heart is set on turning to the Lord, his Maker, and raising his being to the Most High. He opens his mouth in prayer and makes supplication because of his sins. If such is the will of the great Lord he will be filled with the spirit of discernment. He will then speak words of wisdom and celebrate the Lord in prayer. He will acquire just judgment and knowledge and reflect on the Lord’s hidden mysteries.
  • How magnificent are the works of the Lord! All his commands are appropriately timed and satisfy every need. No one should say: “What is this? Why is that?” All must be studied in its time. At his word the waters ceased to flow and piled up, his voice caused the reservoir of water to open; at his order his every wish is fulfilled, and no one hinders his work of salvation. The deeds of all are before him, nothing is hidden from his eyes; he sees all from eternity to eternity and nothing surprises him.
  • No one must say: “What is that? Why is it so?” for everything is created for a purpose.
  • For that reason I reflected and from the beginning I decided to write: All the works of the Lord are good and he will satisfy every need in due time. You must not say: This is less good than that, for in its time everything will serve a purpose. So now, with all your heart and in full voice, sing and bless the Name of the Lord.
  • Painful is the lot of all humans, a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam from the day they leave their mother’s womb to the day they return to the mother of us all. What is on their mind, what they fear in their heart, is the day of their death. From the king, glorious on his throne, robed in purple and wearing a crown, to the lowliest person sitting in dust and ashes and covered with sackcloth, there is anger, envy, trouble and unrest, fear of death, rivalry and quarrels.
  • Everything that comes from the earth goes back to the earth, and what comes from the waters returns to the sea.
  • All bribery, all injustice will disappear but good faith will last forever.
  • The unjust riches will vanish like a stream that dries up; they will crash like a clap of thunder during a downpour. A generous man has reason to rejoice, whereas sinners go to their ruin.
  • The name of a man who has children or who has established a town will live on, but to have found wisdom is a greater good. Owning cattle and plantations brings fame, but a perfect wife is a richer blessing.
  • It is always good for friends and companions to meet, better still for husband and wife.
  • Brothers and protectors are useful in hard times, but it will be of greater help to have been a giver of alms.
  • Gold and silver make for security but good advice is better. Wealth and strength give confidence, but good counsel is more esteemed than either. You cannot suffer loss when you fear the Lord, with it you have all the support you need. The fear of the Lord is like a garden of blessings; it clothes a person better than any glory.
  • Death! What a bitter thought for someone who lives happily among his possessions, a prosperous and successful man who is still able to enjoy his food! Your sentence, Death, is welcome to a needy person whose strength is failing, who is old, worn out, and full of worries; to one who is angry and without hope! Do not be afraid of Death’s sentence; think of those who have gone before you and those who will follow. The Lord has decreed it for every living creature; why should you rebel against the good pleasure of the Most High? Whether you live for ten, a hundred or a thousand years, no one in the netherworld is concerned.
  • Abominable people, such are the children of sinners who gather in the houses of the ungodly. The inheritance of sinners will perish; their prosperity will be a lasting reproach. An ungodly father will be insulted by his children, for they hold him responsible for their disgrace.
  • Woe to you, wicked people who have forsaken the law of the Most High! At birth you are born to be cursed and you will be cursed at death. All that comes from the earth returns to the earth, and the ungodly go from curse to ruin.
  • Have regard for your reputation, for it will live on, of greater value than a thousand hoards of gold. Few perhaps are the days of the just man’s life but an honored name endures forever.
  • My children, keep my teaching and live in peace. Of what use is hidden wisdom and unseen treasure? It is better for a man to hide his foolishness than to hide his wisdom.
  • Therefore, feel shame according to what I say. It is not always fitting to feel shame, but this is not understood by everyone. Be ashamed of licentiousness before your father and mother, and of a lie before a ruler or an important person. Be ashamed of criminal behavior before a judge, and of iniquity before an assembly of people. Feel ashamed of dishonesty before your partner or friend, and of a theft in the place where you live. Be ashamed before the truth of God and his covenant. Be ashamed of keeping the loaves for yourself, of being unable to give and to receive, of not returning a greeting, of staring at a prostitute, of rejecting a compatriot, of depriving someone of what is his, of gazing at another man’s wife, of being too familiar with your maidservant– keep away from her bed! of insulting words to a friend – do not follow up a gift with a reproach! of repeating what you have heard and betraying secrets. On these occasions feel genuine shame and you will be respected by all.
  • Do not be ashamed of correcting someone who is foolish or stupid or an old man who has become childish. Doing that, you prove that you are a well-educated person and you will be generally respected.
  • Do not be taken by human beauty and do not sit down in the company of women; for just as a moth comes out of a garment, woman’s wickedness comes out of a woman. Better a man’s wickedness than a woman’s kindness; women bring shame and disgrace.
  • He penetrates both the depth of the abyss and the human heart and knows their secrets. For the Most High has full knowledge and ordains the signs of the heavens. He knows the past and foretells the future and reveals the traces of the world’s mysteries. No thought escapes him, no word is hidden from him.
  • Thanks be to God, all turns out well and everything is held together by his word. We shall not give further examples; one last word: He is everything. Where shall we find the strength to glorify him? For he is the Mighty One, greater than all his works. The Lord is awesome and sovereignly great, and admirable in his power. Let your praise exalt the Lord as best you can, he is greater than you could even express. Honor him with all your strength and do not tire, for you can never praise him enough. Who has seen him and can describe what he has seen? Who can glorify him as he merits? Many mysteries greater than these still remain, for we have only seen a fraction of his works.
  • The Lord has created all things and to the godly he has given wisdom.
  • But now consider the godly men whose good deeds have not been forgotten. Those who came after them benefited from the rich legacy they left; their race remained faithful to the Covenant, their children followed their example. Their family will endure forever and never will its glory be tarnished. Their bodies were buried in peace but their memory lives through generations. People will speak of their wisdom and the assembly will celebrate their praise.
  • No one has been found to equal Abraham in glory, the great ancestor of many nations. He was faithful to the Law of the Most High who made a covenant with him, a covenant that was marked on his flesh, and on the day he was tested he was found faithful. That is why God promised by oath to bless all the nations through his descendants, that he would make them as numerous as the dust of the earth and exalt his posterity like the stars. He promised that their land would stretch from sea to sea, from the River to the ends of the earth.
  • No one on earth was created to equal Enoch for he was taken up from the earth. And never was there a man like Joseph, the greatest among his brothers, the leader of his people; his bones were honored. Shem and Seth were exalted among men, but Adam’s glory was greater than any other living being.
  • Instruction in understanding and knowledge, that is what Jesus the son of Sira, the son of Eleazar of Jerusalem, has written in this book as he poured out the wisdom of his heart. Happy the one who pays attention to this teaching and gains wisdom by taking it to heart. Doing that, he will be strong in all circumstances, for the light of the Lord is his path.
  • Be instructed, whatever the cost, and you will gain what is better than gold. Let your soul find joy in the mercy of the Lord, and do not be ashamed to praise him. Do your work within the appointed time, and the Lord in his time will give you your reward.


See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource
Wikisource has original text related to: