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Sirach 41Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Concerning Death

41 O death, how bitter is the reminder of you
    to one who lives at peace among his possessions,
to a man without distractions, who is prosperous in everything,
    and who still has the vigor to enjoy his food!
O death, how welcome is your sentence
    to one who is in need and is failing in strength,
very old and distracted over everything;
    to one who is contrary, and has lost his patience!
Do not fear the sentence of death;
    remember your former days and the end of life;
this is the decree from the Lord for all flesh,
    and how can you reject the good pleasure of the Most High?
Whether life is for ten or a hundred or a thousand years,
    there is no inquiry about it in Hades.

The Fate of the Wicked

The children of sinners are abominable children,
    and they frequent the haunts of the ungodly.
The inheritance of the children of sinners will perish,
    and on their posterity will be a perpetual reproach.
Children will blame an ungodly father,
    for they suffer reproach because of him.
Woe to you, ungodly men,
    who have forsaken the law of the Most High God!
When you are born, you are born to a curse;
    and when you die, a curse is your lot.
10 Whatever is from the dust returns to dust;
    so the ungodly go from curse to destruction.

11 The mourning of men is about their bodies,
    but the evil name of sinners will be blotted out.
12 Have regard for your name, since it will remain for you
    longer than a thousand great stores of gold.
13 The days of a good life are numbered,
    but a good name endures for ever.

14 My children, observe instruction and be at peace;
hidden wisdom and unseen treasure,
    what advantage is there in either of them?

A Series of Contrasts

15 Better is the man who hides his folly
    than the man who hides his wisdom.
16 Therefore show respect for my words:
For it is good to retain every kind of shame,
    and not everything is confidently esteemed by every one.

17 Be ashamed of immorality, before your father or mother;
    and of a lie, before a prince or a ruler;
18 of a transgression, before a judge or magistrate;
    and of iniquity, before a congregation or the people;
of unjust dealing, before your partner or friend;
19     and of theft, in the place where you live.
Be ashamed before the truth of God and his covenant.
    Be ashamed of selfish behavior at meals,[a]
of surliness in receiving and giving,
20     and of silence, before those who greet you;
of looking at a woman who is a harlot,
21     and of rejecting the appeal of a kinsman;
of taking away some one’s portion or gift,
    and of gazing at another man’s wife;
22 of meddling with his maidservant—
    and do not approach her bed;
of abusive words, before friends—
    and do not upbraid after making a gift;
23 of repeating and telling what you hear,
    and of revealing secrets.
Then you will show proper shame,
    and will find favor with every man.


  1. Sirach 41:19 Gk of fixing the elbow on the bread
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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