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Sirach 16Revised Standard Version (RSV)

God’s Punishment of Sinners

16 Do not desire a multitude of useless children,
    nor rejoice in ungodly sons.
If they multiply, do not rejoice in them,
    unless the fear of the Lord is in them.
Do not trust in their survival,
    and do not rely on their multitude;
for one is better than a thousand,[a]
    and to die childless is better than to have ungodly children.
For through one man of understanding a city will be filled with people,
    but through a tribe of lawless men it will be made desolate.
Many such things my eye has seen,
    and my ear has heard things more striking than these.

In an assembly of sinners a fire will be kindled,
    and in a disobedient nation wrath was kindled.
He was not propitiated for the ancient giants
    who revolted in their might.
He did not spare the neighbors of Lot,
    whom he loathed on account of their insolence.
He showed no pity for a nation devoted to destruction,
    for those destroyed in their sins;
10 nor for the six hundred thousand men on foot,
    who rebelliously assembled in their stubbornness.
11 Even if there is only one stiff-necked person,
    it will be a wonder if he remains unpunished.
For mercy and wrath are with the Lord;[b]
    he is mighty to forgive, and he pours out wrath.
12 As great as his mercy, so great is also his reproof;
    he judges a man according to his deeds.
13 The sinner will not escape with his plunder,
    and the patience of the godly will not be frustrated.
14 He will make room for every act of mercy;
    every one will receive in accordance with his deeds.[c]

17 Do not say, “I shall be hidden from the Lord,
    and who from on high will remember me?
Among so many people I shall not be known,
    for what is my soul in the boundless creation?
18 Behold, heaven and the highest heaven,
    the abyss and the earth, will tremble at his visitation.
19 The mountains also and the foundations of the earth
    shake with trembling when he looks upon them.
20 And no mind will reflect on this.
    Who will ponder his ways?
21 Like a tempest which no man can see,
    so most of his works are concealed.
22 Who will announce his acts of justice?
    Or who will await them? For the covenant is far off.”
23 This is what one devoid of understanding thinks;
    a senseless and misguided man thinks foolishly.

God’s Wisdom Seen in Creation

24 Listen to me, my son, and acquire knowledge,
    and pay close attention to my words.
25 I will impart instruction by weight,
    and declare knowledge accurately.

26 The works of the Lord have existed from the beginning by his creation,[d]
    and when he made them, he determined their divisions.
27 He arranged his works in an eternal order,
    and their dominion[e] for all[f] generations;
they neither hunger nor grow weary,
    and they do not cease from their labors.
28 They do not crowd one another aside,
    and they will never disobey his word.
29 After this the Lord looked upon the earth,
    and filled it with his good things;
30 with all kinds of living beings he covered its surface,
    and to it they return.


  1. Sirach 16:3 The text of this line is uncertain
  2. Sirach 16:11 Gk him
  3. Sirach 16:14 Other authorities add 15 The Lord hardened Pharaoh so that he did not know him; in order that his works might be known under heaven. 16 His mercy is manifest to the whole of creation, and he divided his light and darkness with a plumb line.
  4. Sirach 16:26 Heb: Gk judgment
  5. Sirach 16:27 Or elements
  6. Sirach 16:27 Gk their
Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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