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Sirach 40 Good News Translation (GNT)

The Misery of Human Life

40 Every person has been given a great deal of work to do. A heavy burden lies on all of us from the day of our birth until the day we go back to the earth, the mother of us all. We are confused and fearful, dreading the day of our death— 3-4 all of us from the king on his splendid throne wearing royal robes and a crown, to the humblest person dressed in burlap and living in poverty. All through our lives we meet anger, jealousy, and trouble. Things disturb us; we live with furious conflicts and with the fear of death. Even when we go to bed, we think up new troubles in our sleep. We get little rest, if any at all. When we sleep, it is as if we were awake, disturbed by our imaginations. If we dream that we are running from an enemy, just as we are about to be caught,[a] we wake up and are relieved to find there is nothing to be afraid of.

Here is what all creatures, both human and animal, must face (but it is seven times worse for sinners): death, violence, conflict, murder, disaster, famine, sickness, epidemic. 10 All these things were created because of the wicked; they are the ones who have caused destruction.[b] 11 Everything that comes from the earth goes back to the earth, just as all water flows into the sea.

The Results of Evil

12 Nothing that comes from bribery or injustice will last, but the effects of loyalty will remain forever. 13 Wealth that has been obtained dishonestly is like a stream that runs full during a thunderstorm, 14 tumbling rocks along as it flows, but then suddenly goes dry.[c] 15 The children of ungodly people will not leave large families; they are like plants trying to take root on rock, 16 like reeds along a river bank, withering[d] before any other plant. 17 Acts of kindness and charity are as lasting as eternity.[e]

The Joys of Human Life

18 Being independently wealthy or working for a living—both can make life pleasant, but it is better to find a treasure.

19 Your name can be preserved if you have children or if you establish a city, but finding Wisdom is a better way.

Owning livestock and orchards will make you famous,[f] but it is better to have a wife you love.[g]

20 Wine and music can make you happy, but a happy marriage[h] is even better.

21 Flutes and harps make fine music, but a pleasant voice is better than either.

22 Gracefulness and beauty please the eye, but not as much as new growth in the spring.

23 You can't go wrong with a good friend or neighbor, but an intelligent wife is[i] better than either.

24 Relatives and helpers are good to have in times of trouble, but it will be an even greater help if you have made a practice of giving to the poor.

25 Gold and silver provide security, but good advice is better.

26 Wealth and strength give confidence, but the fear of the Lord can give you even greater confidence. When you fear the Lord you need nothing more; it is all the support you need. 27 The fear of the Lord is like a rich garden of blessings; you could not want a more glorious shelter.


28 My child, don't live the life of a beggar; it is better to die than to beg. 29 If you have to depend on someone else for your food, you are not really living your own life. You pollute yourself by accepting food from another. Begging is torture to the soul of any sensitive person.[j] 30 A shameless person can make begging sound sweet, but something inside him burns.


  1. Sirach 40:7 Probable text caught; Greek rescued.
  2. Sirach 40:10 Hebrew have caused destruction; Greek caused the flood.
  3. Sirach 40:14 Verses 13-14 are translated from Hebrew; verse 14 in Greek is unclear.
  4. Sirach 40:16 Hebrew withering; Greek pulled up.
  5. Sirach 40:17 Hebrew Acts...eternity; Greek Kindness is a blessed garden, and charity lasts forever.
  6. Sirach 40:19 Hebrew but finding Wisdom...famous; Greek does not have these words.
  7. Sirach 40:19 Hebrew wife you love; Greek blameless wife.
  8. Sirach 40:20 Hebrew a happy marriage; Greek the love of Wisdom.
  9. Sirach 40:23 Hebrew an intelligent wife is; Greek a wife and a husband are.
  10. Sirach 40:29 Hebrew Begging...person; Greek An intelligent and understanding person will avoid it.
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Sirach 40 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Human Wretchedness

40 Hard work was created for everyone,
    and a heavy yoke is laid on the children of Adam,
from the day they come forth from their mother’s womb
    until the day they return to[a] the mother of all the living.[b]
Perplexities and fear of heart are theirs,
    and anxious thought of the day of their death.
From the one who sits on a splendid throne
    to the one who grovels in dust and ashes,
from the one 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;
    he struggles in his sleep as he did by day.[c]
He is troubled by the visions of his mind
    like one who has escaped from the battlefield.
At the moment he reaches safety he wakes up,
    astonished that his fears were groundless.
To all creatures, human and animal,
    but to sinners seven times more,
come death and bloodshed and strife and sword,
    calamities and famine and ruin and plague.
10 All these were created for the wicked,
    and on their account the flood came.
11 All that is of earth returns to earth,
    and what is from above returns above.[d]

Injustice Will Not Prosper

12 All bribery and injustice will be blotted out,
    but good faith will last forever.
13 The wealth of the unjust will dry up like a river,
    and crash like a loud clap of thunder in a storm.
14 As a generous person has cause to rejoice,
    so lawbreakers will utterly fail.
15 The children of the ungodly put out few branches;
    they are unhealthy roots on sheer rock.
16 The reeds by any water or river bank
    are plucked up before any grass;
17 but kindness is like a garden of blessings,
    and almsgiving endures forever.

The Joys of Life

18 Wealth and wages make life sweet,[e]
    but better than either is finding a treasure.
19 Children and the building of a city establish one’s name,
    but better than either is the one who finds wisdom.
Cattle and orchards make one prosperous;[f]
    but a blameless wife is accounted better than either.
20 Wine and music gladden the heart,
    but the love of friends[g] is better than either.
21 The flute and the harp make sweet melody,
    but a pleasant voice is better than either.
22 The eye desires grace and beauty,
    but the green shoots of grain more than either.
23 A friend or companion is always welcome,
    but a sensible wife[h] is better than either.
24 Kindred and helpers are for a time of trouble,
    but almsgiving rescues better than either.
25 Gold and silver make one stand firm,
    but good counsel is esteemed more than either.
26 Riches and strength build up confidence,
    but the fear of the Lord is better than either.
There is no want 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 person better than any glory.

The Disgrace of Begging

28 My child, do not lead the life of a beggar;
    it is better to die than to beg.
29 When one looks to the table of another,
    one’s way of life cannot be considered a life.
One loses self-respect with another person’s food,
    but one who is intelligent and well instructed guards against that.
30 In the mouth of the shameless begging is sweet,
    but it kindles a fire inside him.


  1. Sirach 40:1 Other Gk and Lat authorities read are buried in
  2. Sirach 40:1 Heb: Gk of all
  3. Sirach 40:6 Arm: Meaning of Gk uncertain
  4. Sirach 40:11 Heb Syr: Gk Lat from the waters returns to the sea
  5. Sirach 40:18 Heb: Gk Life is sweet for the self-reliant worker
  6. Sirach 40:19 Heb Syr: Gk lacks but better . . . prosperous
  7. Sirach 40:20 Heb: Gk wisdom
  8. Sirach 40:23 Heb Compare Syr: Gk wife with her husband
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 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.

Sirach 40 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

40 Great labour is created for all men, and a heavy yoke is upon the children of Adam, from the day of their coming out of their mother's womb, until the day of their burial into the mother of all.

Their thoughts, and fears of the heart, their imagination of things to come, and the day of their end:

From him that sitteth on a glorious throne, unto him that is humbled in earth and ashes:

From him that weareth purple, and beareth the crown, even to him that is covered with rough linen: wrath, envy, trouble, unquietness, and the fear of death, continual anger, and strife,

And in the time of rest upon his bed, the sleep of the night changeth his knowledge.

A little and as nothing is his rest, and afterward in sleep, as in the day of keeping watch.

He is troubled in the vision of his heart, as if he had escaped in the day of battle. In the time of his safety he rose up, and wondereth that there is no fear:

Such things happen to all flesh, from man even to beast, and upon sinners are sevenfold mere.

Moreover, death, and bloodshed, strife, and sword, oppressions, famine, and affliction, and scourges:

10 All these things are created for the wicked, and for their sakes came the flood.

11 All things that are of the earth, shall return to the earth again, and all waters shall return to the sea.

12 All bribery, and injustice shall blotted out, and fidelity shall stand for ever.

13 The riches of the unjust shall be dried up like a river, and shall pass sway a noise like a great thunder in rain.

14 While he openeth his hands he shall rejoice: but transgressors shall pine away in the end.

15 The offspring of the ungodly shall not bring forth many branches, and make a noise as unclean roots upon the top of a rock.

16 The weed growing over every water, and at the bank of the river, shall be pulled up before all grass.

17 Grace is like a paradise in blessings, and mercy remaineth for ever.

18 The life of a labourer that is content with what he hath, shall be sweet, and in it thou shalt find a treasure.

19 Children, and the building of a city shall establish a name, but a blameless wife shall be counted above them both.

20 Wine and music rejoice the heart, but the love of wisdom is above them both.

21 The flute and the psaltery make a sweet melody, but a pleasant tongue is above them both.

22 Thy eye desireth favour and beauty, but more than these green sown fields.

23 A friend and companion meeting together in season, but above them both is a wife with her husband.

24 Brethren are a help in the time of trouble, but mercy shall deliver more than they.

25 Gold and silver make the feet stand sure: but wise counsel is above them both.

26 Riches and strength lift up the heart: but above these is the fear of the Lord.

27 There is no want in the fear of the Lord, and it needeth not to seek for help.

28 The fear of the Lord is like a paradise of blessing, and they have covered it above all glory.

29 My son, in thy lifetime be not indigent: for it is better to die than to want.

30 The life of him that looketh toward another man's table is not to be counted a life: for he feedeth his soul with another man's meat.

31 But a man, well instructed and taught, will look to himself.

32 Begging will be sweet in the mouth of the unwise, but in his belly there shall burn a fire.

Ben Sira 40 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 40

Joys and Miseries of Life

A great anxiety has God allotted,[a]
    and a heavy yoke, to the children of Adam,
From the day they leave their mother’s womb
    until the day they return to the mother of all the living.[b]
Troubled thoughts and fear of heart are theirs
    and anxious foreboding until death.
Whether one sits on a lofty throne
    or grovels in dust and ashes,
Whether one wears a splendid crown
    or is clothed in the coarsest of garments—
There is wrath and envy, trouble and dread,
    terror of death, fury and strife.
Even when one lies on his bed to rest,
    his cares disturb his sleep at night.
So short is his rest it seems like none,
    till in his dreams he struggles as he did by day,
Troubled by the visions of his mind,
    like a fugitive fleeing from the pursuer.
As he reaches safety, he wakes up,
    astonished that there was nothing to fear.
To all flesh, human being and beast,
    but for sinners seven times more,
Come plague and bloodshed, fiery heat and drought,
    plunder and ruin, famine and death.
10 For the wicked evil was created,
    and because of them destruction hastens.

11 All that is of earth returns to earth,
    and what is from above returns above.[c]
12 All that comes from bribes or injustice will be wiped out,
    but loyalty remains forever.
13 Wealth from injustice is like a flooding wadi,
    like a mighty stream with lightning and thunder,
14 Which, in its rising, rolls along the stones,
    but suddenly, once and for all, comes to an end.
15 The offshoot of violence will not flourish,
    for the root of the godless is on sheer rock.
16 They are like reeds on riverbanks,
    withered before all other plants;
17 But goodness, like eternity, will never be cut off,
    and righteousness endures forever.

18 Wealth or wages can make life sweet,[d]
    but better than either, finding a treasure.
19 A child or a city will preserve one’s name,
    but better than either, finding wisdom.
Cattle and orchards make a person flourish;
    but better than either, a devoted wife.
20 Wine and strong drink delight the soul,
    but better than either, love of friends.
21 Flute and harp offer sweet melody,
    but better than either, a pure tongue.
22 Grace and beauty delight the eye,
    but better than either, the produce of the field.
23 A friend and a neighbor are timely guides,
    but better than either, a sensible wife.
24 Relatives and helpers for times of stress;
    but better than either, charity that rescues.
25 Gold and silver make one’s way secure,
    but better than either, sound judgment.
26 Wealth and vigor make the heart exult,
    but better than either, fear of God.
In the fear of the Lord there is no want;
    whoever has it need seek no other support.
27 The fear of God is a paradise of blessings;
    its canopy is over all that is glorious.

28 My son, do not live the life of a beggar;[e]
    better to die than to beg.
29 When one has to look to a stranger’s table,
    life is not worth living.
The delicacies offered bring revulsion of spirit,
    and to the intelligent, inward torture.
30 In the mouth of the shameless begging is sweet,
    but within him it burns like fire.


  1. 40:1–17 The former idyllic description of the universe is contrasted with the picture of the evils afflicting humanity. Every person, high or low, is burdened from birth to death with fears, anxieties, and troubles, by day and often by night, the time appointed for rest (vv. 1–7). For sinners, the suffering is much greater (vv. 8–10). What they gained by violence and injustice is quickly destroyed; but righteousness will prevail (vv. 14–17).
  2. 40:1 Mother of all the living: the earth from which human beings were taken. Cf. Gn 2:7; 3:19–20; Jb 1:21; Ps 139:15.
  3. 40:11 All that is of earth…returns above: a reference to bodily mortality and to the divine origin of life. Cf. 41:10; Gn 2:7; 3:19; Jb 34:14–15; Ps 104:29–30; 146:4; Eccl 12:7. The Greek and the Latin render the second half of the verse: “all waters shall return to the sea.”
  4. 40:18–27 Of the many treasures making life sweet, such as children, friends, music, vigor, the best are called true married love, wisdom, and above all, fear of God; cf. 25:6–11.
  5. 40:28–30 Among the Jews, begging was considered degrading to human dignity; it was agreeable only to the shameless, who had lost their sense of honor. Cf. 29:22–23.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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