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Chapter 9

Advice Concerning Women[a]

Do not be jealous of the wife of your bosom,
    lest you teach her to do evil against you.[b]
Do not give a woman power over you
    to trample on your dignity.(A)
Do not go near a strange woman,
    lest you fall into her snares.
Do not dally with a singer,
    lest you be captivated by her charms.
Do not entertain any thoughts about a virgin,
    lest you be enmeshed in damages for her.[c]
Do not give yourself to a prostitute
    lest you lose your inheritance.(B)
Do not look around the streets of the city
    or wander through its squares.
Avert your eyes from a shapely woman;
    do not gaze upon beauty that is not yours;
Through woman’s beauty many have been ruined,
    for love of it burns like fire.(C)
Never recline at table with a married woman,
    or drink intoxicants with her,
Lest your heart be drawn to her
    and you go down in blood[d] to the grave.

Choice of Friends[e]

10 Do not abandon old friends;
    new ones cannot equal them.
A new friend is like new wine—
    when it has aged, you drink it with pleasure.
11 Do not envy the wicked
    for you do not know when their day will come.
12 Do not delight in the pleasures of the ungodly;
    remember, they will not die unpunished.

13 Keep away from those who have power to kill,
    and you will not be filled with the dread of death.
But if you come near them, do not offend them,
    lest they take away your life.
Know that you are stepping among snares
    and walking over a net.

14 As best you can, answer your neighbor,
    and associate with the wise.
15 With the learned exchange ideas;
    and let all your conversation be about the law of the Most High.
16 Take the righteous for your table companions;
    and let your glory be in the fear of God.

Concerning Rulers[f]

17 Work by skilled hands will earn praise;
    but the people’s leader is proved wise by his words.
18 Loud mouths are feared in their city,
    and whoever is reckless in speech is hated.


  1. 9:1–9 Ben Sira writes about women only from the androcentric viewpoint of his culture. Cf. 25:13–26:27.
  2. 9:1 Jealousy may lead to suspicion and may prompt a wife to those actions her husband fears.
  3. 9:5 Cf. Ex 22:15–16; Dt 22:28–29; Jb 31:1. Cf. note on Ex 22:16.
  4. 9:9 In blood: perhaps refers to blood revenge; cf. Lv 20:10.
  5. 9:10–16 The second of Ben Sira’s poems on friendship; cf. note on 6:5–17. In choosing friends, adherence to the law of the Lord should serve as a guide (v. 15). Associate with true friends (v. 10), with the righteous and the learned (vv. 14–16); avoid the company of the mighty and of sinners (vv. 11–13). Cf. 8:1–19.
  6. 9:17–10:5 Public office as conducted justly or unjustly benefits or destroys the people, according to the axiom, “as the prince, so the people.” God, however, has sovereignty over both.