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Chapter 31

The Proper Attitude Toward Riches[a]

Wakefulness over wealth wastes away the flesh,
    and anxiety over it drives away sleep.
Wakeful anxiety banishes slumber;
    more than a serious illness it disturbs repose.
The rich labor to pile up wealth,
    and if they rest, it is to enjoy pleasure;
The poor labor for a meager living,
    and if they ever rest, they become needy.
The lover of gold will not be free from sin;
    whoever pursues money will be led astray by it.
Many have come to ruin for the sake of gold,
    yet destruction lay before their very eyes;(A)
It is a stumbling block for fools;
    any simpleton will be ensnared by it.

Happy the rich person found without fault,
    who does not turn aside after wealth.(B)
Who is he, that we may praise him?
    For he has done wonders among his people.
10 Who has been tested by gold and been found perfect?
    Let it be for him his glory;
Who could have sinned but did not,
    and could have done evil but did not?
11 So his good fortune is secure,
    and the assembly will recount his praises.(C)

Table Etiquette[b]

12 Are you seated at the table of the great?
    Bring to it no greedy gullet,
Nor say, “How much food there is here!”
13     Remember that the greedy eye is evil.
What has been created more greedy than the eye?
    Therefore, it weeps for any cause.(D)
15 Recognize that your neighbor feels as you do,
    and keep in mind everything you dislike.
14 Toward what he looks at, do not put out a hand;
    nor reach for the same dish when he does.
16 Eat, like anyone else, what is set before you,
    but do not eat greedily, lest you be despised.
17 Be the first to stop, as befits good manners;
    and do not gorge yourself, lest you give offense.(E)
18 If there are many with you at table,
    do not be the first to stretch out your hand.
19 Does not a little suffice for a well-bred person?
    When he lies down, he does not wheeze.(F)
20 Moderate eating ensures sound slumber
    and a clear mind on rising the next day.
The distress of sleeplessness and of nausea
    and colic are with the glutton!
21 Should you have eaten too much,
    get up to vomit[c] and you will have relief.

22 Listen to me, my child, and do not scorn me;
    later you will find my advice good.
In whatever you do, be moderate,
    and no sickness will befall you.
23 People bless one who is generous with food,
    and this testimony to his goodness is lasting.(G)
24 The city complains about one who is stingy with food,
    and this testimony to his stinginess is lasting.
25 Let not wine be the proof of your strength,
    for wine has been the ruin of many.
26 As the furnace tests the work of the smith,
    so does wine the hearts of the insolent.
27 Wine is very life to anyone,
    if taken in moderation.
Does anyone really live who lacks the wine
    which from the beginning was created for joy?(H)
28 Joy of heart, good cheer, and delight
    is wine enough, drunk at the proper time.
29 Headache, bitterness, and disgrace
    is wine drunk amid anger and strife.
30 Wine in excess is a snare for the fool;
    it lessens strength and multiplies wounds.
31 Do not wrangle with your neighbor when wine is served,
    nor despise him while he is having a good time;
Say no harsh words to him
    nor distress him by making demands.


  1. 31:1–11 Solicitude for acquiring wealth and anxiety over preserving it disturb repose and easily lead to sin and ruin (vv. 1–7). Cf. Mt 6:25–34. The rich who have not sinned or been seduced by wealth are worthy of highest praise (vv. 8–11).
  2. 31:12–32:13 Whoever observes etiquette at table avoids greed and selfishness (31:12–13), is considerate of a neighbor’s likes and dislikes and is generous toward him (31:15, 14, 23, 24), observes proper manners (31:16–18), is moderate in eating and drinking (31:19–20, 25–30). A good host is solicitous for the guests (32:1–2), provides conversation and diversion (32:3–6), is modest in speech (32:7, 8, 10), is respectful of elders (32:9), polite in comportment and grateful to God for his favors (32:11–13).
  3. 31:21 Get up to vomit: the practice of induced vomiting, well-known among Romans, and less well-known among the Jews, seems to be referred to here.