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Better than this is childlessness with virtue,
for in the memory of virtue[a] is immortality,
because it is known both by God and by men.
When it is present, men imitate[b] it,
and they long for it when it has gone;
and throughout all time it marches crowned in triumph,
victor in the contest for prizes that are undefiled.
But the prolific brood of the ungodly will be of no use,
and none of their illegitimate seedlings will strike a deep root
or take a firm hold.
For even if they put forth boughs for a while,
standing insecurely they will be shaken by the wind,
and by the violence of the winds they will be uprooted.
The branches will be broken off before they come to maturity,
and their fruit will be useless,
not ripe enough to eat, and good for nothing.
For children born of unlawful unions
are witnesses of evil against their parents when God examines them.[c]

But the righteous man, though he die early, will be at rest.
For old age is not honored for length of time,
nor measured by number of years;
but understanding is gray hair for men,
and a blameless life is ripe old age.

10 There was one who pleased God and was loved by him,
and while living among sinners he was taken up.
11 He was caught up lest evil change his understanding
or guile deceive his soul.
12 For the fascination of wickedness obscures what is good,
and roving desire perverts the innocent mind.
13 Being perfected in a short time, he fulfilled long years;
14 for his soul was pleasing to the Lord,
therefore he took him quickly from the midst of wickedness.
15 Yet the peoples saw and did not understand,
nor take such a thing to heart,
that God’s grace and mercy are with his elect,
and he watches over his holy ones.

The Triumph of the Righteous

16 The righteous man who has died will condemn the ungodly who are living,
and youth that is quickly perfected[d] will condemn the prolonged old age of the unrighteous man.
17 For they will see the end of the wise man,
and will not understand what the Lord purposed for him,
and for what he kept him safe.
18 They will see, and will have contempt for him,
but the Lord will laugh them to scorn.
After this they will become dishonored corpses,
and an outrage among the dead for ever;
19 because he will dash them speechless to the ground,
and shake them from the foundations;
they will be left utterly dry and barren,
and they will suffer anguish,
and the memory of them will perish.

The Final Judgment

20 They will come with dread when their sins are reckoned up,
and their lawless deeds will convict them to their face.


  1. Wisdom 4:1 Gk it
  2. Wisdom 4:2 Other ancient authorities read honor
  3. Wisdom 4:6 Gk at their examination
  4. Wisdom 4:16 Or ended

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