1 My child, do not cheat the poor man of his livelihood,
or turn your back on one who is in need.
2 Do not grieve one who is hungry
or exasperate someone in distress.
3 Do not add to the problems of those who are desperate,
or keep them waiting for your charity.
4 Do not neglect a suppliant in distress,
or turn your face away from the poor.
5 Do not avert your eyes from the needy,
and give no one any reason to curse you.
6 For if in bitterness of soul someone should curse you,
the one who made him will hear his prayer.
7 Endear yourself to the community,
and bow your head in the presence of authority.
8 Pay attention to the entreaties of a poor man,
and return his greeting courteously.
9 Rescue the oppressed from the power of the oppressor,
and deliver your judgments with justice.
10 Be like a father to the fatherless,
and be like a husband to their mother.
You will then be like a son of the Most High,
and his love for you will surpass that of your own mother.[a]
Wisdom—Instructor of Human Beings[b]
11 Wisdom exalts her children
and helps those who seek her.
12 Whoever loves her loves life,
and those who seek her out diligently will be filled with joy.
13 Whoever regards her as of great value will inherit glory;
the Lord will bestow his blessings wherever she enters.
14 Those who serve her minister to the Holy One,
and the Lord loves those who love her.
15 Whoever obeys her will judge nations;
whoever listens to her will dwell securely.
16 Whoever entrusts himself to her will possess her,
and his descendants will also inherit her.
17 At first she will lead him along tortuous paths,
putting him to the test,
filling him with fear and dread
and trying him with her discipline
until he comes to fully trust her.
18 Then she returns to lead him along the straight path,
bring him happiness,
and reveal her secrets to him.
19 However, if he goes astray, she will abandon him
and hand him over to his own destruction.
Knowing How To Discern the True Values
Do Nothing That Will Make You Ashamed[c]
20 Take account of circumstances and beware of evil
so that you will have no cause to be ashamed.
21 There is a shame that leads to sin,
and a shame that is honorable and gracious.
22 Do not be the cause of your own downfall by showing favoritism,
or incur ruin by your deference to others.
23 Do not refrain from speaking at an opportune time,[d]
and do not conceal your wisdom.
24 For wisdom becomes known through the spoken word,
and learning through the words of the tongue.
25 Never attempt to speak what is contrary to the truth
but rather feel ashamed at your own ignorance.
26 Do not be ashamed to confess your sins,
and do not attempt to struggle against a river’s currents.[e]
27 Do not subject yourself to the foolish,
or show partiality to the powerful.
28 Fight to the death for truth,
and the Lord God will ally himself on your side.
29 Do not be impudent in your speech,
or careless and slack in your deeds.
30 Do not be like a lion[f] in your home,
or be suspicious of your servants.
31 Do not keep your hand outstretched to receive
but closed when it is time to repay.
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 4:10 The author uses the biblical imagery of father and mother to set forth God’s concern for the faithful. His language is metaphorical and does not imply that there is gender (male and female) in God. The Lord transcends all human categories, including sex. Furthermore, his relationship to creatures goes far beyond a father and mother to them.
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 4:11 Wisdom is here personified (see Prov 1:23-25; 8:12-21; 9:1-6) as a good teacher. She leads those who seek her to happiness for she knows how to temper the overzealous. By the word wisdom, the author evokes an idea and practice of life; it is by the quality and the effort of life that people render true worship to the Holy One (v. 14), that is, to God.
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 4:20 People must be true in their language, and their lives, ways of acting, and speech must be in accord.
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 4:23 Opportune time: or “time of salvation.”
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 4:26 Do not attempt to struggle against a river’s currents: it is as futile to attempt to conceal our sins from God as it is for us to try to prevent a river from flowing.
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 4:30 Do not be like a lion: i.e., do not be wild, relentless, and destructive.