Wisdom of Ben Sira 15

Chapter 15

1 The one who fears the Lord will do this,
and he who follows the law will obtain wisdom.
2 She will come forth to meet him like a mother;
like a young bride she will receive him,
3 nourish him with the bread of understanding,
and give him the water of wisdom to imbibe.
4 He will lean on her and not fall,
rely on her and not be put to shame.
5 She will exalt him above his neighbors
and provide him with eloquence in the midst of the assembly.
6 He will experience happiness and a crown of joy
and inherit an everlasting name.
7 The foolish will never obtain her,
nor will sinners behold her.
8 She keeps herself distant from the arrogant,
and liars never call her to mind.
9 Praise is unseemly on the lips of a sinner,
for its source has not been God.
10 Praise is uttered only by the tongue of the wise,
and the Lord himself prompts it.

God’s Providence and Human Freedom[a]

God Created Man and Left Him Free[b]

11 Do not say, “God is responsible for my falling away,”
for you ought not do[c] what he hates.
12 Do not say, “It was he who led me astray,”
for he has no need of a sinner.
13 The Lord hates everything that is abominable,
and those who fear him love it not.
14 In the beginning, when God created man,
he left him free to make his own decisions.
15 If you choose, you can keep the commandments,
and to act faithfully is within your power.
16 He has set before you fire and water;
stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.
17 Before each man are life and death,
and whichever one he chooses will be given.
18 For great is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power and all-seeing.
19 His eyes are on those who fear him,
and he is aware of every human action.
20 He has not commanded anyone to be wicked,
and he has given no one permission to sin.


  1. Wisdom of Ben Sira 15:11 Sin infests life; it seems ineradicable. This is a mystery of the human condition.
  2. Wisdom of Ben Sira 15:11 The Lord is horrified by sin and cannot be the origin of evil. Even though human beings are created by God and none of their acts escapes God, they remain completely masters of their destiny (Gen 2:16f; Deut 30:15). Life and death, i.e., fidelity and impiety, are offered each day to the dramatic choice of humans.
  3. Wisdom of Ben Sira 15:11 You ought not do: some early MSS read: “he does not do.”

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