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Chapter 15

Whoever fears the Lord will do this;
    whoever is practiced in the Law will come to Wisdom.
She will meet him like a mother;
    like a young bride she will receive him,
[a]She will feed him with the bread of learning,
    and give him the water of understanding to drink.(A)
He will lean upon her and not fall;
    he will trust in her and not be put to shame.
She will exalt him above his neighbors,
    and in the assembly she will make him eloquent.
Joy and gladness he will find,
    and an everlasting name he will inherit.(B)
The worthless will not attain her,
    and the haughty will not behold her.
She is far from the impious;
    liars never think of her.
[b]Praise is unseemly on the lips of sinners,
    for it has not been allotted to them by God.
10 But praise is uttered by the mouth of the wise,
    and its rightful owner teaches it.

Free Will[c]

11 Do not say: “It was God’s doing that I fell away,”
    for what he hates he does not do.
12 Do not say: “He himself has led me astray,”
    for he has no need of the wicked.(C)
13 Abominable wickedness the Lord hates
    and he does not let it happen to those who fear him.

14 God in the beginning created human beings
    and made them subject to their own free choice.(D)
15 If you choose, you can keep the commandments;
    loyalty is doing the will of God.
16 Set before you are fire and water;
    to whatever you choose, stretch out your hand.
17 Before everyone are life and death,
    whichever they choose will be given them.(E)

18 Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
    mighty in power, he sees all things.
19 The eyes of God behold his works,
    and he understands every human deed.(F)
20 He never commands anyone to sin,
    nor shows leniency toward deceivers.[d]


  1. 15:3–6 In this role reversal Woman Wisdom teaches, nourishes, supports, and protects the vulnerable man. For similar imagery cf. Prv 8:4–21, 34–35; 9:1–5; 31:10–31.
  2. 15:9–10 There is an intimate association between wisdom and praise of the Lord.
  3. 15:11–20 Here Ben Sira links freedom of the will with human responsibility. God, who sees everything, is neither the cause nor the occasion of sin. We have the power to choose our behavior and we are responsible for both the good and the evil we do (vv. 15–17).
  4. 15:20 Deceivers: those who hold the Lord responsible for their sins.

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