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Chapter 42

Of repeating what you hear,
    of betraying any secret.(A)
Be ashamed of the right things,
    and you will find favor in the sight of all.

But of these things do not be ashamed,
    lest you sin to save face:(B)
Of the Law of the Most High and his precepts,
    or of justice that acquits the ungodly;
Of sharing the expenses of a business or a journey,
    of dividing an inheritance or property;
Of accuracy of scales and balances,
    of tested measures and weights;(C)
Of acquiring much or little,
    of bargaining in dealing with a merchant;
Of constant training of children,
    of beating the sides of a wicked servant;(D)
Of a seal to keep a foolish wife at home,
    of a key where there are many hands;
Of numbering every deposit,
    of recording all that is taken in and given out;
Of chastisement for the silly and the foolish,
    for the aged and infirm answering for wanton conduct.
Thus you will be truly refined
    and recognized by all as discreet.

A Father’s Care for His Daughter[a]

A daughter is a treasure that keeps her father wakeful,
    and worry over her drives away sleep:(E)
Lest in her youth she remain unmarried,
    or when she is married, lest she be childless;
10 While unmarried, lest she be defiled,
    or in her husband’s house, lest she prove unfaithful;
Lest she become pregnant in her father’s house,
    or be sterile in that of her husband.
11 My son, keep a close watch on your daughter,
    lest she make you a laughingstock for your enemies,
A byword in the city and the assembly of the people,
    an object of derision in public gatherings.(F)
See that there is no lattice in her room,
    or spot that overlooks the approaches to the house.
12 Do not let her reveal her beauty to any male,(G)
    or spend her time with married women;
13 For just as moths come from garments,
    so a woman’s wickedness comes from a woman.
14 Better a man’s harshness than a woman’s indulgence,
    a frightened daughter than any disgrace.

The Works of God in Nature[b]

15 Now will I recall God’s works;
    what I have seen, I will describe.
By the Lord’s word his works were brought into being;
    he accepts the one who does his will.(H)
16 As the shining sun is clear to all,
    so the glory of the Lord fills all his works;
17 Yet even God’s holy ones must fail
    in recounting the wonders of the Lord,
Though God has given his hosts the strength
    to stand firm before his glory.
18 He searches out the abyss and penetrates the heart;
    their secrets he understands.
For the Most High possesses all knowledge,
    and sees from of old the things that are to come.
19 He makes known the past and the future,
    and reveals the deepest secrets.
20 He lacks no understanding;
    no single thing escapes him.(I)
21 He regulates the mighty deeds of his wisdom;
    he is from all eternity one and the same,
With nothing added, nothing taken away;
    no need of a counselor for him!(J)
22 How beautiful are all his works,
    delightful to gaze upon and a joy to behold!
23 Everything lives and abides forever;
    and to meet each need all things are preserved.
24 All of them differ, one from another,
    yet none of them has he made in vain;
25 For each in turn, as it comes, is good;
    can one ever see enough of their splendor?(K)


  1. 42:9–14 Ben Sira considers a daughter to be a source of anxiety to her father, lest she fail to marry, or be defiled, or lest, marrying, she be childless, prove unfaithful, or find herself sterile (vv. 9–10). He is advised to keep a close watch on her and on her companions, lest he suffer on her account among the people (vv. 11–12). The exhortations, which take into account only a father’s concern, are quite unflattering to young women. The concluding statements (vv. 13–14) show the limitations of Ben Sira’s perspective in the male-oriented society of his day.
  2. 42:15–43:33 These verses comprise another hymn; cf. 16:24–18:14. In them Ben Sira contemplates God’s power, beauty, and goodness as manifested in the mighty work of creating and preserving the universe (42:15–17, 22–25; 43:1–26), his omniscience (42:18–20), perfect wisdom and eternity (42:21). The conclusion is a fervent hymn of praise (43:27–31).