Wisdom of Ben Sira 36

Chapter 36

Show Mercy, Lord, to the People Called by Your Name[a]

1 Have pity on us, Master, Lord of the universe,
2 and put the nations in dread of you.
3 Lift up your hand against the foreign nations,
and let them behold your mighty deeds.
4 As you have used us to display your holiness to them,
so now use them to show your glory to us.
5 Let them acknowledge[b] you, as we ourselves have acknowledged
that there is no God but you, O Lord.
6 Give new signs and work other wonders;
7 show forth the glorious splendor of your right hand and arm.
8 Rouse your anger and pour forth your wrath;
9 destroy the adversary and wipe out the foe.
10 Hasten the day and remember your oath;[c]
give people cause to recount your mighty deeds.
11 Let your burning wrath consume the survivors,
and let destruction be the fate of those who oppress your people.
12 Crush the heads of hostile rulers
who proclaim, “There is no one else but us.”
13 Gather all the tribes of Jacob,[d]
16 and grant them their inheritance as you did in earlier times.
17 Show mercy, Lord, to the people called by your name,
Israel, whom you treated as[e] your firstborn.
18 Have compassion on the holy city,
Jerusalem, your dwelling place.
19 Fill Zion with your majesty[f]
and your people with your glory.
20 Vindicate those whom you created in the beginning,[g]
and fulfill the prophecies spoken in your name.
21 Reward those who hope in you,
and let your prophets be proved true.
22 Hear, O Lord, the prayer of your servants,
according to the blessing of Aaron for[h] your people.
Thus, all who live on the earth will acknowledge
that you are the Lord, the God of the ages.

Giving Proof of Discernment[i]

23 The stomach takes in all kinds of food,
yet some foods are better than others.
24 As the palate discerns the types of meat,
so a discerning mind can recognize lying words.
25 A perverse mind causes grief,
but a man of experience knows how to pay such a one back.

Knowing How To Choose a Good Wife[j]

26 A woman will accept any man as a husband,
yet one daughter will be preferable to another.
27 A woman’s beauty causes a man’s face to light up,
and there is nothing a man desires more.
28 And if, perchance, her speech is kind and gentle,
her husband is the most fortunate of men.
29 A wife is her husband’s greatest treasure,
a suitable helper for him and a pillar to provide support.
30 Where there is no fence, the property will be plundered;
when a man has no wife, he wanders about aimlessly and in misery.
31 Who will trust an armed thief
who shifts quickly from city to city?
32 So it is with the man who has no nest
but lodges wherever night overtakes him.


  1. Wisdom of Ben Sira 36:1 This prayer, formulated some twenty years before the persecution of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the revolt of the Maccabees, is a moving one. It expresses the suffering of a people threatened in its national and religious traditions, in its deepest convictions. It vibrates with the hope—which until then had been absent from the writings of the sages—that the salvation announced by the Prophets and attained by Israel will come.
  2. Wisdom of Ben Sira 36:5 Let them acknowledge: Hebrew reads: “Then they will know.”
  3. Wisdom of Ben Sira 36:10 Your oath: Hebrew reads: “the appointed time.”
  4. Wisdom of Ben Sira 36:13 This chapter in the Greek lacks verse numbers 14 and 15 although there is no text missing.
  5. Wisdom of Ben Sira 36:17 You treated as: some early MSS read: “you have named.”
  6. Wisdom of Ben Sira 36:19 Your majesty: Greek reads: “with the celebration of your marvelous deeds.” People: Hebrew reads: “temple.”
  7. Wisdom of Ben Sira 36:20 Those whom you created in the beginning: i.e., the Patriarchs; the author may also be thinking of wisdom created “in the beginning” (see Sir 24:9).
  8. Wisdom of Ben Sira 36:22 According to the blessing of Aaron for: Hebrew reads: “according to your goodwill toward.”
  9. Wisdom of Ben Sira 36:23 After the moment of emotion, we rediscover the current teaching of the master who loves well-rhymed and beautiful images.
  10. Wisdom of Ben Sira 36:26 Certainly, the situation between men and women at this epoch is far from one of equality. Therefore, the elevated idea that the author—so distrustful at times—has of the good wife is most relevant (see Sir 26:1-4, 15-18).

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