Wisdom of Ben Sira 32

Chapter 32

The Proper Behavior at Banquets[a]

1 If you are chosen to preside at a banquet, do not become puffed up with your own importance;
mingle with the guests as one of them.
Do not sit down yourself until you have first taken care of them;
2 then, when you have discharged all of your duties, you may take your place,
so that you may share in their joy
and win praise for your service as an excellent host.
3 As you grow older, you may speak, for you are entitled to do so,
but do not flaunt your knowledge and do not interrupt the music.
4 When there is entertainment, do not pour out a stream of talk;
such is the wrong time to display your wisdom.
5 Like a jewel in a setting of gold
is a concert of music at which wine is served.
6 Like an emerald in a setting of gold
are the strains of music with superb wine.
7 You who are young, speak only if you are obliged to do so,
and no more than twice, and then only if asked.
8 Be brief, but say much in a few words;
convey the impression of knowledge but preferring to hold your tongue.
9 Among eminent people do not act as if you were their equal,
and do not continue to babble on when someone else is speaking.
10 As lightning flashes before thunder strikes,
so does esteem go ahead of a modest man.
11 Leave at an appropriate time, and do not be the last to depart;
go home quickly, without lingering.
12 There amuse yourself as you wish,
but do not sin by arrogant talk.
13 Above all, give praise to the one who made you
and has bestowed his favors on you so abundantly.

Trust in the Lord[b]

A Safe Way[c]

14 Whoever fears the Lord[d] will accept his discipline,
and whoever searches for him will gain his favor.
15 The man who seeks the law will be nourished by it,
but the hypocrite will regard it as a stumbling block.
16 The man who fears the Lord will win his approval,
and his righteous deeds will shine like a beacon.
17 However, the sinner pays no attention to reproof,
and he will devise specious arguments to justify his desires.
18 A man who is sensible will never ignore reasonable counsel,
whereas an arrogant and godless man will not be deterred by anything.
19 Never do anything without careful deliberation,
but once you have acted, do not regret your decision.
20 Do not choose to travel on a way beset with hazards,
and do not stumble on stony ground.[e]
21 Be cautious even when traversing a smooth way,
22 and beware also of your children.[f]
23 Trust yourself[g] in everything you do,
for in this way you will keep the commandments.
24 The man who keeps the law preserves himself,
and the man who trusts the Lord will never suffer loss.

Footnotes

  1. Wisdom of Ben Sira 32:1 Under the influence of the Greeks or the Romans, the custom took hold in Palestine of holding elaborate banquets with an organizing chairman or steward chosen by lot or by vote, who was responsible for preparing the menu, choosing the wine, seating the guests, and the like (see 2 Mac 2:27; Jn 2:8). Later, the rabbis warned against these customs. Here, the author is laying down the rules of good manners at such events.
  2. Wisdom of Ben Sira 32:14 As a good moralist, the author reassures the faithful, too easily at times: but he inculcates a deep trust in God. This will maintain the faithful in the difficult times that the author fails to mention.
  3. Wisdom of Ben Sira 32:14 People of the Old Testament find their essential directives in the practice and understanding of the law. It is a charter of life that guards them from preferring the changeable passions to true values. Those who regulate their life by it fear God (see Mt 5:19).
  4. Wisdom of Ben Sira 32:14 Whoever fears the Lord: Greek reads: “Whoever seeks God.”
  5. Wisdom of Ben Sira 32:20 On stony ground: Hebrew reads: “over its obstacles twice.”
  6. Wisdom of Ben Sira 32:22 And beware also of your children: Hebrew reads: “and watch carefully where you step.”
  7. Wisdom of Ben Sira 32:23 Trust yourself: Hebrew reads: “guard yourself.”

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