Wisdom of Ben Sira 30

Chapter 30

The Training of Children[a]

1 A man who loves his son chastises him often
so that in his old age the son may be his joy.
2 The man who disciplines his son will reap the benefits
and boast of him to his acquaintances.
3 The man who educates his son will make his enemy envious
and will show his delight in him among his friends.
4 When the father dies, it will be as though he were not dead,
for he has left behind him a duplicate of himself,
5 whom he looked upon with joy during his life,
and about whom he felt no anxiety on his deathbed.
6 He has left behind him someone to exact vengeance from his enemies
and to repay his friends for their acts of kindness.
7 A man who coddles his son will bandage his wounds
and suffer heartbreak at every cry he unleashes.
8 An unbroken colt turns out stubborn,
and an unchecked son grows up headstrong.
9 Pamper your son, and he will terrorize you;
indulge him, and he will cause you grief.
10 Do not share in his laughter or you will share also in his sorrow,
and in the end you will gnash your teeth.
11 When he is young, do not give him any freedom,
and do not close your eyes to his errors.
12 Bend his neck in his youth,
and chastise him soundly while he is still a child,
or he may become stubborn and disobedient,
and you will experience deep sorrow.
13 Discipline your son and take pains with him,[b]
so that you may not have reason to be humiliated by some disgraceful act of his.

Health and Fitness Are Better than Gold[c]

14 You are better off to be poor and healthy and fit
than to be rich and tormented in one’s body.
15 Health and fitness are better than gold,
and a strong body[d] is better than countless riches.
16 There is no treasure to compare with health of body
and no happiness to surpass a joyful heart.
17 Death is better than a life of misery,
and eternal rest[e] is preferable to chronic illness.
18 Gourmet foods set before one who cannot eat
are like delicacies placed on a grave.
19 Of what use is a sacrifice to an idol
that can neither taste nor smell?
So it is with the man afflicted by the Lord;
20 he gazes and groans,
as a eunuch groans when embracing a maiden.
[So it is with the one who does right under obligation.][f]

Avoid Sorrow and Brooding

21 Do not abandon yourself to sorrow,
or torment yourself by brooding.[g]
22 [h]A joyful heart is a source of life,
and a cheerful disposition lengthens one’s life span.
23 Indulge yourself and take comfort,
and banish sorrow far from your heart.
For grief has brought about the death of many,
and no advantage has ever been gained as a result of it.
24 Envy and anger shorten one’s life,
and anxiety brings on premature old age.
25 [i]The man who is lighthearted and merry while dining
benefits from what he eats.

Footnotes

  1. Wisdom of Ben Sira 30:1 In the eyes of the ancients, a man who loves his son chastises him often; well-reared children are the joy and honor of their parents, who are thus assured of living on in a progeny that is worthy of them. The development and formation of the person from infancy always entails a responsibility that is full of requirements.
  2. Wisdom of Ben Sira 30:13 Take pains with him: Hebrew reads: “make his yoke heavy.”
  3. Wisdom of Ben Sira 30:14 Sickness is often regarded as a punishment from God (v. 19).
  4. Wisdom of Ben Sira 30:15 Strong body: Hebrew reads: “good spirit.”
  5. Wisdom of Ben Sira 30:17 The author was not aware of the huge value placed on suffering that was only fully revealed in the New Testament by Christ’s Passion and Death. Eternal rest: lacking in some early MSS.
  6. Wisdom of Ben Sira 30:20 Added by some early MSS.
  7. Wisdom of Ben Sira 30:21 This sound advice reminds us of the words of Christ: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough troubles of its own” (Mt 6:34).
  8. Wisdom of Ben Sira 30:22 These words have been validated by modern psychology and medicine, which have found that, for the most part, cheerfulness and joyfulness lengthen life while grief and resentment, as well as envy and anger, shorten it.
  9. Wisdom of Ben Sira 30:25 All the Greek MSS place 33:16—36:13 before 30:25—33:16, but the Syriac and Latin versions, as well as the Hebrew fragments, maintain the original order.

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