Wisdom of Ben Sira 3

Chapter 3

Honor Your Father and Mother[a]

1 My children, listen to me, for I am your father;
do this to be saved.
2 For the Lord desires that a father be honored by his children,
and he confirms a mother’s rights over her children.
3 He who honors his father atones for sins,
4 and he who respects his mother stores up riches.
5 He who honors his father will rejoice in his own children,
and when he prays he will be heard.
6 He who respects his father will be blessed with a long life,
and he who gives comfort to his mother obeys the Lord.
7 He who fears the Lord honors his father
and submits to his parents as his masters.
8 Honor your father by word and deed,
so that his blessing may come upon you;
9 for a father’s blessing strengthens the houses of his children,
but a mother’s curse uproots their foundations.
10 Do not revel in any disgrace that may affect your father,
for your father’s dishonor will not be a source of honor to you.
11 The honor of a father is one’s own honor as well,
and the dishonor of a mother is a disgrace to her children.[b]
12 My child, look after your father when he is old;
do nothing to cause him grief as long as he lives.
13 Even if his mind fails, be sympathetic toward him;
do not despise him simply because you yourself are healthy and strong.
14 Kindness[c] shown to a father will never be forgotten,
and it will be credited to you as reparation for your sins.
15 In the time of your tribulation it will not be forgotten
and like frost in warm weather your sins will melt away.
16 If you forsake your father, you are no better than one who blasphemes,
and if you anger your mother, you will be accursed by the Lord.

Do Not Seek To Learn What Is Too Sublime for You[d]

17 My child, carry out your duties with humility,
and you will be loved more than a benefactor.
18 The greater you are, the greater should be your humility;
in this way, you will find favor with the Lord.
[19 Many are the lofty and the renowned,
but it is to the humble that he makes known his secrets.][e]
20 For great is the power of the Lord,
yet he is glorified by the humble.
21 Do not seek to learn what is too sublime for you;
investigate not those things that are beyond your scope.
22 Concentrate on what you have been commanded,
for what is hidden is not your concern.
23 Do not meddle in matters that are beyond you,
for much has been revealed to you that is beyond your comprehension.
24 Many have been led astray by their own presumptions,
and false deductions have impaired their judgments.
25 Where there are no eyes, there is no light,
and where there is no knowledge, there is no wisdom.
26 A stubborn person will come to a bad end,
and the one who loves danger will perish in it.
27 A stubborn man will be burdened by troubles;
a sinner heaps sin upon sin.
28 When calamity befalls the proud, there is no cure,
for an evil growth has taken root there.
29 The mind of the intelligent meditates on proverbs,
and an attentive ear is the desire of the wise.[f]

Do Not Avert Your Eyes from the Needy[g]

30 As water extinguishes a blazing fire,
so almsgiving atones for sins.
31 He who repays a favor is mindful of the future;
when he falls, he will find support.


  1. Wisdom of Ben Sira 3:1 Filial piety is the sign of a generous heart and a source of blessing. The author seems to allude (vv. 8-10) to the accounts of the sons of Noah and those of Jacob, which nicely illustrate the importance of the paternal blessing in the Old Testament.
  2. Wisdom of Ben Sira 3:11 And the dishonor . . . to her children: an alternative reading is: “and you multiply sin when you demean your mother.”
  3. Wisdom of Ben Sira 3:14 Kindness: literally, “righteousness” or “almsgiving.” One of the greatest signs of righteousness was considered to be almsgiving (see Tob 1:3; 2:10; 4:7-11; 14:9-11). It obtained God’s forgiveness for sins.
  4. Wisdom of Ben Sira 3:17 Hellenistic culture could salve one’s spirit. What good are all the refinements of civilization if pride corrupts them. Wisdom consists above all in meditating on the law and the teachings of the past.
  5. Wisdom of Ben Sira 3:19 Added by some early MSS.
  6. Wisdom of Ben Sira 3:29 And an attentive ear is the desire of the wise: or “and to an attentive ear, wisdom is a joy.”
  7. Wisdom of Ben Sira 3:30 Those who are attentive to the misery of others draw down upon themselves the Lord’s benevolence, for they regard all human beings as brothers and sisters born of the same Father—God.

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