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Sirach 40Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Human Wretchedness

40 Much labor was created for every man,
    and a heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam,
from the day they come forth from their mother’s womb
    till the day they return to[a] the mother of all.
Their perplexities and fear of heart—
    their anxious thought is the day of death,
from the man who sits on a splendid throne
    to the one who is humbled in dust and ashes,
from the man who wears purple and a crown
    to the one who is clothed in burlap;
there is anger and envy and trouble and unrest,
    and fear of death, and fury and strife.
And when one rests upon his bed,
    his sleep at night confuses his mind.
He gets little or no rest,
    and afterward in his sleep, as though he were on watch,
he is troubled by the visions of his mind
    like one who has escaped from the battle-front;
at the moment of his rescue he wakes up,
    and wonders that his fear came to nothing.
With all flesh, both man and beast,
    and upon sinners seven times more,
are death and bloodshed and strife and sword,
    calamities, famine and affliction and plague.
10 All these were created for the wicked,
    and on their account the flood came.
11 All things that are from the earth turn back to the earth,
    and what is from the waters returns to the sea.

Injustice Will Not Prosper

12 All bribery and injustice will be blotted out,
    but good faith will stand for ever.
13 The wealth of the unjust will dry up like a torrent,
    and crash like a loud clap of thunder in a rain.
14 A generous man will be made glad;
    likewise transgressors will utterly fail.
15 The children of the ungodly will not put forth many branches;
    they are unhealthy roots upon sheer rock.
16 The reeds by any water or river bank
    will be plucked up before any grass.
17 Kindness is like a garden of blessings,
    and almsgiving endures for ever.

The Joys of Life

18 Life is sweet for the self-reliant and the worker,[b]
    but he who finds treasure is better off than both.
19 Children and the building of a city establish a man’s name,
    but a blameless wife is accounted better than both.
20 Wine and music gladden the heart,
    but the love of wisdom is better than both.
21 The flute and the harp make pleasant melody,
    but a pleasant voice is better than both.
22 The eye desires grace and beauty,
    but the green shoots of grain more than both.
23 A friend or a companion never meets one amiss,
    but a wife with her husband is better than both.
24 Brothers and help are for a time of trouble,
    but almsgiving rescues better than both.
25 Gold and silver make the foot stand sure,
    but good counsel is esteemed more than both.
26 Riches and strength lift up the heart,
    but the fear of the Lord is better than both.
There is no loss in the fear of the Lord,
    and with it there is no need to seek for help.
27 The fear of the Lord is like a garden of blessing,
    and covers a man[c] better than any glory.

The Disgrace of Begging

28 My son, do not lead the life of a beggar;
    it is better to die than to beg.
29 When a man looks to the table of another,
    his existence cannot be considered as life.
He pollutes himself with another man’s food,
    but a man who is intelligent and well instructed guards against that.
30 In the mouth of the shameless begging is sweet,
    but in his stomach a fire is kindled.

Footnotes:

  1. Sirach 40:1 Other authorities read are buried in
  2. Sirach 40:18 Cn: Gk self-reliant worker
  3. Sirach 40:27 Gk him
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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