Ben Sira 11
New American Bible (Revised Edition)
1 The wisdom of the poor lifts their head high
and sets them among princes.
2 Do not praise anyone for good looks;
or despise anyone because of appearance.
3 The bee is least among winged creatures,
but it reaps the choicest of harvests.
4 Do not mock the one who wears only a loin-cloth,
or scoff at a person’s bitter day.
For strange are the deeds of the Lord,
hidden from mortals his work.[a]
5 Many are the oppressed who rise to the throne;
some that none would consider wear a crown.[b]
6 Many are the exalted who fall into utter disgrace,
many the honored who are given into the power of the few.
Moderation and Patience[c]
7 Before investigating, do not find fault;
examine first, then criticize.
8 Before listening, do not say a word,
interrupt no one in the midst of speaking.(A)
9 Do not dispute about what is not your concern;
in the quarrels of the arrogant do not take part.
10 My son, why increase your anxiety,
since whoever is greedy for wealth will not be blameless?
Even if you chase after it, you will never overtake it;
and by fleeing you will not escape.
11 One may work and struggle and drive,
and fall short all the same.(B)
12 Others go their way broken-down drifters,
with little strength and great misery—
Yet the eye of the Lord looks favorably upon them,
shaking them free of the stinking mire.
13 He lifts up their heads and exalts them
to the amazement of the many.
14 [d]Good and evil, life and death,(C)
poverty and riches—all are from the Lord.[e]
17 The Lord’s gift remains with the devout;
his favor brings lasting success.
18 Some become rich through a miser’s life,
and this is their allotted reward:
19 When they say: “I have found rest,(D)
now I will feast on my goods,”
They do not know how long it will be
till they die and leave them to others.[f]
20 My child, stand by your agreement and attend to it,
grow old while doing your work.
21 Do not marvel at the works of a sinner,
but trust in the Lord and wait for his light;
For it is easy in the eyes of the Lord
suddenly, in an instant, to make the poor rich.
22 God’s blessing is the lot of the righteous,
and in due time their hope bears fruit.
23 Do not say: “What do I need?
What further benefits can be mine?”
24 Do not say: “I am self-sufficient.
What harm can come to me now?”
25 The day of prosperity makes one forget adversity;
the day of adversity makes one forget prosperity.(E)
26 For it is easy for the Lord on the day of death[g]
to repay mortals according to their conduct.
27 A time of affliction brings forgetfulness of past delights;
at the end of life one’s deeds are revealed.
28 Call none happy before death,
for how they end, they are known.
Care in Choosing Friends
29 Not everyone should be brought into your house,
for many are the snares of the crafty.
30 Like a decoy partridge in a cage, so is the heart of the proud,
and like a spy they will pick out the weak spots.
31 For they lie in wait to turn good into evil,
and to praiseworthy deeds they attach blame.
32 One spark kindles many coals;
a sinner lies in wait for blood.
33 Beware of scoundrels, for they breed only evil,
and they may give you a lasting stain.
34 Admit strangers into your home, and they will stir up trouble
and make you a stranger to your own family.
- 11:4 The implication is similar to Eccl 7:13; 8:17: the mysterious work of God.
- 11:5 Cf. 1 Sm 2:8; Ps 75:8; 105:17–22; Lk 1:52.
- 11:7–28 Discretion should regulate conduct toward others (vv. 7–9); as regards personal interests, one should avoid solicitude for the passing external benefits of life and property (vv. 10–14, 18–19, 21, 23–25) and cultivate the lasting inward gifts of wisdom, virtue (vv. 20, 22), and patience (vv. 25–28).
- 11:14 In mysterious ways God ultimately governs the lives of men and women.
Other ancient texts read as vv. 15–16:
15Wisdom and understanding and knowledge of the Law,
love and virtuous paths, are from the Lord.
16Error and darkness were formed with sinners from their birth,
and evil grows old with those who exult in evil.
- 11:19 Cf. the parable of the rich man, Lk 12:16–21.
- 11:26–28 Ben Sira thought that divine retribution took place only in the present life, and even at the end of life; cf. 9:12; 14:16–17.