Wisdom of Ben Sira 14

Chapter 14

Blessed Is the Man Whose Conscience Does Not Reproach Him[a]

1 Blessed is the man who has not come to grief through careless speech
and who has no need to feel remorse for sin.
2 Blessed is the man whose conscience does not reproach him
and who has never lost hope.

Treat Yourself Well, and Be Generous[b]

3 Wealth serves no purpose for the stingy man;
of what use are riches to the covetous?
4 He deprives himself only to amass wealth for others,
and others will live luxuriously on his possessions.
5 To whom will a person be generous when he is stingy with himself?
He does not even enjoy his own riches.
6 There is nobody worse than the man who is grudging to himself;
in this way, he receives just recompense for his miserliness.
7 If he does any good, he does so by mistake,
and in the end his greed will be revealed.
8 Wicked is the eye of the miser,
looking the other way and despising the lives of others.
9 The eyes of a greedy man are not content with his share;
greed shrivels his soul.
10 The miser begrudges bread
and sets a table with scanty provisions.
11 My child, treat yourself as well as you can in accord with your means,
and present worthy offerings to the Lord.
12 Remember that death does not tarry
and that the decree of the netherworld[c] has not been revealed to you.
13 Be kind to your friend before you die
and give him a generous portion according to your ability.
14 Do not deprive yourself of the good things of today;
do not forgo your share of good things.
15 Will you not have to leave your riches to others,
with the fruit of your labors to be divided by lot?
16 Give and receive; enjoy life,
because no pleasures will be found in the netherworld.
17 As is true of a garment, all flesh wears away;
the age-old decree is: all must die.
18 [d]Like thick foliage on a spreading tree,
with some leaves falling and others sprouting,
so with the generations of flesh and blood:
one dies and another is born.
19 All work decays and ceases to exist,
and its author will pass away with it.[e]

Blessed Is the Man Who Meditates on Wisdom[f]

20 Blessed is the man who meditates on[g] Wisdom
and reasons with intelligence,
21 [h]who reflects on her ways in his heart
and ponders her secrets,
22 who pursues her like a hunter
and lies in watch by her paths,
23 who peers through her windows
and listens at her doors,
24 who lodges near her house
and drives his tent-peg into her walls,
25 who pitches his tent near her,
having found there an excellent lodging,
26 who places his children under her shade
and camps beneath her branches,
27 who is sheltered by her from the heat
and makes his home in her glory.[i]

Footnotes

  1. Wisdom of Ben Sira 14:1 True happiness may be found in the purity and truth of life; this is a teaching that the Bible repeats more than once. The Beatitudes of the Gospel will make more precise the completely unexpected conditions of this human happiness (Mt 5:1-12).
  2. Wisdom of Ben Sira 14:3 The thought of death should detach people from riches, for these do not follow them into the grave. It is far better for them to use their wealth profitably for themselves and their friends. The author was not yet aware of the promises of eternity; for him, the pact with the netherworld (v. 16)—i.e., with the place without hope where the dead sojourn—signals the end one day of all the pain that people give themselves.
  3. Wisdom of Ben Sira 14:12 Decree of the netherworld: most likely a reference to a decree that assigned the day of death (see Isa 28:15, 18).
  4. Wisdom of Ben Sira 14:18 These verses touch upon the precarious character of human existence (see also Sir 30:17; 41:1-4; Pss 39:5, 7, 12; 62:10; Eccl 6:12).
  5. Wisdom of Ben Sira 14:19 The Book of Revelation (Rev 14:13) modifies the notion that all human works will perish, indicating that a person’s works will follow after him into the glory of a new life: “They will find rest from their labors, for their deeds go with them.”
  6. Wisdom of Ben Sira 14:20 Wisdom, which teaches the real reasons for living, is not easy to attain. People must seek assiduously, scrutinizing the law and the sayings of the sages. But to those who pursue their quest unceasingly, she offers herself like a young bride and brings them happiness and renown.
  7. Wisdom of Ben Sira 14:20 Meditates on: some early MSS read: “dies in.”
  8. Wisdom of Ben Sira 14:21 The structure of these verses follows the Hebrew.
  9. Wisdom of Ben Sira 14:27 Glory: this may refer to the cloud that used to manifest the presence of Yahweh (see Ex 16:10; 24:16).

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