Selections from the Wisdom of Yehoshua ben Sira,
and Other Writings
devarim achadim mi-q’tsat ha-chokhmat yehoshua` ben sira

The complete collection of the 14 books of The Exhortations has now been published in one volume. It is available from Amazon-UK at £18.50, and from Amazon-US at $23.19

If you ever have any questions about what you read, or if you profoundly disagree with anything, please email me at shmuliq.parzal@googlemail.com

The Exhortations is our equivalent of the New Testament, but does not have any scriptural authority; the only scriptural authority for Talmidis is the Galilean canon of the Hebrew Bible; therefore you do not have to agree with the contents of The Exhortations in order to call oneself a Talmidi.

Note: Although the ‘Book of Ben Sira’ was not written by ancient Followers of the Way, a small selection of his writings were included in The Exhortations to represent all the Jewish wisdom writings that are so highly valued by ancient and modern Followers of the Way. I specifically chose sayings on those themes and topics which contained important values to ancient Followers.

The majority of the sayings in this translation are free translations, to give the sense and thrust of each saying. However, verses 1:3-5 are a modern addition, composed to explain why the book was included in The Exhortations. Also, by the time the Book of Ben Sira was written (early 2nd century BCE), Hellenised Jews had come to understand Wisdom as a created being, a daughter of God – this erroneous belief had come from Hellenist Greek philosophy. However, in Yahwist theology, Wisdom is an inseparable aspect of what God is (otherwise, if God needed to create Wisdom, this would imply that there was a point at which God had no wisdom)! Therefore, in passage 2 on Wisdom, whereas the original sayings treat Wisdom as a created being, separate from God, I have amended the original to accord more closely with Yahwist Israelite theology (that Wisdom is an inseparable part of what God is). Other than these 2 sections (1:3-5 & passage 2), all the rest of the sayings are faithful reproductions of the Greek and Hebrew (albeit free translations / adaptations).

Introduction

1. 1The Torah and the Prophets, and the latter writers have left us a treasure of precious teachings, and we should praise YHVH for the instruction and wisdom they provide. 2But it is not enough that those who read them gain understanding only for themselves; for anyone who values learning should help others by what they themselves say and write.

              3So in the days of the Prophet Yeshua`, Ya`aqov the Pious and Shim`on bar Qlofas, the holy ones read from many books of ancient wisdom passed down to them – such as the Book of Yeshua` ben Sira – in order to gain discernment, and seek guidance for the days to come, and so teach others what they learned. 4They sought inspiration from many teachers and sages, whose written words might lead them to an understanding of the Holy One of Israel. 5This book was therefore compiled in honour of the Heavenly Wisdom that they sought, which they did so that Israel – whom they loved – would be saved from the horrors of the tribulation, and the time of suffering be cut short.

 

On Wisdom

2.          1All wisdom emanates from YHVH;

                              it is an undivided part of God’s Being forever.

              2Who can number the sand-grains of the sea, or the drops of rain,

                              or the days of eternity?

              3Who can measure the width of the universe,

                              or the breadth of the realm of stars,

                              or the depth of sunlight,

                              or the boundaries of wisdom?

              4Wisdom existed in God before all things came into being,

                              and knowledge existed from everlasting.

              5The Message of God Most High is the fount of all wisdom;

                              and its ways are everlasting precepts.

 

              6To whom has the root of wisdom been revealed?

                              or who has known God’s wise counsels?

              7To whom has the knowledge of wisdom been made manifest?

                              and who has understood its great experience?

              8There is only One, wise and greatly to be revered –  

                              YHVH who reigns in holy majesty.

              9Wisdom is eternally with God, never to be separated or divided,

                              yet God pours it out upon all God’s works,

           10God’s wisdom is given to all flesh according to God’s gift,

                              and God has gifted it to those who love God.

 

              11God’s Wisdom elevates God’s children,

                              and embraces those who seek it.

           12Those who love it love life;

                              and they who seek it early shall be filled with joy.

           13Those who possess it shall inherit great honour;

                              and wherever wisdom is allowed to enter, YHVH will bless.

           14Those who serve wisdom minister to the Holy One,

                              and those who love it, YHVH loves in return.

           15Wisdom enables the poor to stand upright,

                              and gives to the poor a place among the great.

 

           16Whoever gives ear to God’s wisdom shall judge the nations,

                              and those who pay attention to it shall dwell secure.

           17If someone entrusts themselves to it, they shall inherit it;

                              and their descendants shall keep it as an eternal possession.

           18For it may take them along winding ways,

                              bringing fear and dread upon them,

                              and harassing them with its discipline,

                              and trying them by its laws,

                              until they may be safely trusted with wisdom.

           19Then it will return them to the straight path,

                              and comfort them, and reveal to them its secrets.

           20But if they should embrace wrong, wisdom will abandon them,

                              and give them over to their own ruin.

 

How the Pious and the Ignorant view Knowledge and Learning

           21Learning and education are like a gold ornament to the pious;

                              they treasure them like golden bracelets on their arms.

           22But to the foolish they are of as much use as a house in ruins;

                              to the ignorant, knowledge is nothing but useless chatter.

           23To the foolish, knowledge only fetters the feet,

                              and learning is like setting manacles on their wrists.

           24When the pious hear a wise maxim,

                              they praise it and respond with another;

           25but in the mouths of the ignorant it leaves a bad taste,

                              and they spit it out behind them.

           26Above all, the pious revere knowledge as a sacred gift from God;

                              to learn new things is as great as

                              receiving a prophetic vision from heaven.

 

On Right Speech and Guarding the Tongue

3.        1Winnow not in every wind, nor enquire down every side-road,

                              for this is what the sinner who is two-faced does.

           2Rather, be steadfast in your convictions,

                              and let your word be constant.

           3Be swift to listen, let your life be genuine,

                              and be deliberate when you give answer.

           4If you understand the issue, answer your neighbour;

                              if not, keep your hand over your mouth.

           5Both honour and shame come from talk;

                              and the tongue is its owner’s fall.

           6Don’t gain a reputation for rumour-mongering,

                              and don’t set snares with your tongue;

           7for as shame lies in store for the thief,

                              so does condemnation await the two-faced.

           8Avoid committing offences in both great and small matters,

                              and don’t exchange friendship for enmity;

           9For a bad reputation will earn you shame and reproach;

                              – just like a sinner who is two-faced.

 

           10Someone with an evil tongue is a danger to their home-town,

                              and those who are loose in their talk shall be despised.

           11Pitiless is the one who deals in gossip;

                              for they will not spare you either blows or shackles.

           12Be wary then, take very great care not to mix with them,

                              for you will be walking with your own ruin

 

           13Taking delight in evil-doing earns condemnation;

                              by hating gossip therefore, one avoids an evil.

           14Never repeat what you are told

                              and no harm will come to you;

           15Whether to friend or foe, don’t talk about it;

                              unless it would be sinful not to, don’t divulge it;

           16for then you would be caught out, and thereby mistrusted,

                              and in due course you would come to be hated.

           17Have you heard something? Let it die with you.

                              Have courage! It will not burst you apart!

           18A foolish person will suffer birth pangs over a piece of news,

                              like a woman labouring in childbirth.

           19Like an arrow stuck in the flesh of one’s thigh,

                              so is a piece of news in a fool’s mouth.

           20Better a slip on a pavement than a slip of the tongue;

                              this is how loose talk returns,

                              taking the wicked by surprise.

           21An abrasive person is like a careless tale,

                              interminably retold by the foolish.

          

           22A wise maxim is rejected when it comes from a fool’s mouth;

                              for he will not speak it at an appropriate time.

           23If a person is too poor to afford sin,

                              they can rest easy without a guilty conscience.

           24There are those who destroy their own self-respect,

                              reluctant to speak up against stupidity.

           25There are those who make unfulfillable promises out of weakness,

                              and pointlessly turn a friend into an enemy.

           26The wise promote themselves to honour with their words;

                              and those who are discerning will please the great.

 

           27Lying is a foul blot on a person’s soul,

                              yet is continually in the mouth of the undisciplined.

           28A thief is better than a person who is accustomed to lying;

                              but the inheritance of both is ruin.

           29The nature of a liar is dishonourable,

                              for their disgrace is ever with them.

 

           30Just as unwanted waste is left behind in a sieve;

                              so one’s speech shows the refuse in one’s mind.

           31Just as a furnace shows up the faults in a potter’s works,

                              so a person’s words show up the faults in their heart.

           32The well-tended orchard is judged by the fruits its trees bear;

                              so a person’s heart is judged by the words their mouth bears.

           33Praise no one before you hear them speak;

                              for a person’s words are the real test of the human heart.

 

           34Cursed be the rumour-monger and the two-faced;

                              for such have destroyed many that were otherwise at peace.

           35A backbiting tongue has broken the peace of many,

                              and driven them from nation to nation;

           36it has pulled down sturdy and fortified cities,

                              and overthrown the houses of great people.

           37Backbiting tongues have led virtuous women to be divorced,

                              and robbed them of everything they have worked for.

           38Those who pay attention to slander will never have peace of mind,

                              or ever dwell in peace again.

           39The stroke of the whip makes a welt on the skin;

                              but the stroke of the tongue breaks bones.

           40Many have fallen by the edge of the sword;

                              but not so many as have fallen by the tongue.

 

           41Just as careful owners fence in their property,

                              and lock up their silver and gold,

           42so also, guard what you say, and weigh every word,

                              and set a door with bolts across your mouth.

           43Take care that you don’t make a false step through it,

                              and so fall prey to those who lie in wait for you.

 

           44Who will place a guard over my mouth,

                              or a tight seal over my lips?

           45For such would keep me from making blunders,

                              and prevent my tongue from causing my own downfall!

           46O my Sovereign, my Father and Master of my life,

                              don’t abandon me to the mercy of my own words;

                              don’t let them be the cause of my downfall.

 

On Swearing false oaths, and using God’s Name falsely

4.        1Listen to these teachings on the discipline of the mouth;

                              those who keep it shall never be caught out by their lips.

           2The sinner is ensnared by their own foolish words;

                              both the abusive and the haughty are tripped up by them.

           3Don’t let your mouth get accustomed to swearing oaths;

                              nor get into the habit of freely naming the Holy One.

           4For just as a slave who is beaten will not be without bruises,

                              so those who swear and name God all the time

                              shall not be without the stain of sin.

           5Someone who needs to swear much shows themselves full of iniquity,

                              and retribution is never far from their house;

           6if they do wrong, their sin is upon them;

                              but if they don’t acknowledge their sin,

                              then they have sinned twice over.

           7If a person swears false oaths, they shall not be held innocent,

                              and their house shall be filled with calamities.

          

On foul language

           8There is a way of speaking that is attired with death;

                              God grant that it not be found in the heritage of Jacob;

           9Let all such things be far from the godly,

                              so that they don’t wallow in their own filth.

           10Don’t let your mouth get used to coarse language,

                              for such a foul habit is mired in sinful words.

           11Remember the honour of your father and your mother,

                              whenever you sit among important people;

           12Be vigilant in their company,

                              in case you, by your foul habits, let a coarse word slip;

           13for then you will wish that you had never been born,

                              and end up cursing the day of your birth.

           14Those who let themselves become steeped in shameful language

                              will never be reformed all the days of their life.

 

On Quarrelling

5.        1If you keep out of arguments, you will not sin as much;

                              for a hot temper will kindle strife.

           2A contentious person can break long-time friends apart,

                              and cause strife among those who are otherwise at peace.

           3The more flammable the fuel, the hotter the fire burns;

                              the greater someone’s stubbornness, the hotter the argument;

           4the richer someone is,

                              the more anger they can afford;

           5the greater the strength of the one who argues,

                              the more violently they will become inflamed.

           6A hasty quarrel can kindle a fire,

                              and a hasty dispute can lead to bloodshed.

           7If you blow on a spark, it will flare up;

                              if you spit on it, it will go out;

                              and both of these can come out the same mouth.

 

On Resentment and Forgiveness

6.        1Bitterness and a hot temper, these are foul things;

                              yet the sinful person has them both.

           2Don’t resent your neighbour’s every fault,

                              and never act in a fit of rage.

           3Those who take revenge shall receive vengeance from YHVH,

                              for God keeps a strict account of wrongdoing.

           4Forgive your neighbour the hurt that has been done to you,

                              thus shall your sins also be forgiven when you pray.

           5If one person nurses a grudge against another,

                              how then can they seek pardon from YHVH?

           6If someone shows no mercy to another like oneself,

                              how then can one ask forgiveness for one’s own sins?

           7If those who are but flesh nourish hatred with no remorse,

                              who then can plead pardon for their sins?

           8Remember your ultimate end, and let your enmity cease;

                              think on the death and decay of your body,

                              and be faithful to the commandments of YHVH.

           9Remember the commandments, and bear no malice to your neighbour;

                              remember the covenant of the Most High,

                              and overlook your neighbour’s faults.

 

On Deception and Hypocrisy

7.        1Those used to giving a sly wink are accustomed to works of mischief,

                              and those who know such people will swiftly depart from them.

           2To your face, they will speak words of honey,

                              and admire everything that you say;

           3but behind your back they will say something else,

                              and twist what you have said against you.

           4I have come to hate many things, but nothing like such people;

                              for even YHVH will hate such wicked people.

          

           5Throw a stone straight in the air and it will fall down on your own head;

                              so also a treacherous blow ends up wounding yourself.

           6Whoever digs a pit will fall into their own hole,

                              and whoever sets a trap will be caught by their own snare.

           7As for those who work mischief, their malice shall return to them,

                              and they won’t know where it has come from.

           8Sarcasm and abuse are the works of the arrogant,

                              but vengeance waits, like a lion, to pounce on them.

           9Those who rejoice at the downfall of the righteous

                              will themselves be taken by unseen snares;

                              pain and anguish will consume them before they die.

 

On Moderation in Dining

8.        1If you sit down at a plentiful table, don’t gorge yourself,

                              and don’t say, ‘What a lot of food!’

           2Remember that it is discourteous to have a greedy eye;

                              and what is greedier in all creation than the eye?

                              That is why it weeps at every occasion.

           3Don’t reach out for everything you see,

                              and don’t jostle others to get to the best dish.

           4Don’t judge your fellow-guests by your own bad habits,

                              and be thoughtful in your conduct with them.

           5Eat, as is becoming to a civilised person,

                              those dishes which are set before you;

                              don’t wolf or slurp – nobody will compliment you for that.

           6For the sake of politeness, be among the first to stop eating,

                              and don’t stuff yourself, in case you give offence.

           7If you are with a large group of dinner guests,

                              don’t rush to be the first to be served.

           8A small amount is enough for someone brought up well;

                              their breathing will not be hard when they lie in bed.

           9A moderate meal ensures sound sleep;

                              you will rise early, and be bright and alert;

           10but insomnia, heartburn, and stomach ache

                              are the regular rewards of the glutton.

 

On Generosity to the Afflicted

9.        1Give generously to the poor,

                              so that your blessing from God may be perfect.

           2Be generous in your giving to the living,

                              and gracious to the memory of the dead.

           3Don’t resent sitting with those who weep,

                              or mourning with those who mourn.

           4Don’t be reticent to visit the sick;

                              for these are the things which will endear you to others.

           5Whatever you come to do, think on the frailty of your own death,

                              and you will not be tempted to sin.

 

On Charity

10.      1Just as water can put out a blazing fire,

                              so also can almsgiving expiate sins.

           2Don’t defraud the poor of their living,

                              and don’t make the needy wait long for their wages.

           3Don’t heap up suffering on the hungry,

                              or cause problems for those in distress.

           4Don’t add more troubles to a heart that is already stressed;

                              nor put off giving to those who are in need.

           5Don’t reject the pleas of the afflicted;

                              nor turn your face away from the poor.

           6Don’t avert your eyes from the plight of the needy,

                              nor give them any reason to curse you;

           7For if they should curse you in the bitterness of their heart,

                              their prayers shall be heard by their Maker.

          

           8Let it not grieve you to incline your ear to the poor,

                              and give them a friendly answer with humility.

           9Deliver those who suffer wrong from the hands of their oppressors;

                              and be not fainthearted when you sit in judgment.

           10Be as a father to the fatherless;

                              like a husband, provide for their widowed mothers;

           11In this way you shall be as sons and daughters of the Most High,

                              and God will love you more than your own mother does.

 

           12A devout person will lend to their neighbour in their time of need;

                              by supporting them, they keep God’s commandments.

           13Be understanding towards those of low station,

                              and don’t make them wait for your kindness.

           14Help the poor in obedience to God’s commandments;

                              don’t turn them away empty-handed in their time of need.

           15Better to lose your money helping your friends and loved ones;

                              don’t let it rust under a stone and just rot away.

          

           16Use your treasures as the Most High has commanded,

                              and it shall bring you more profit than gold.

           17Stock up your storehouses for your future almsgiving;

                              it will save you from all kinds of misfortune.

           18It will defend you against your enemies,

                              better than a strong shield and a mighty spear.

 

           19The reeds that grow by every lake and every riverbank

                              are uprooted before any other grass;

           20But acts of charity are like a garden of paradise,

                              and almsgiving is like an orchard that lasts forever.

 

On Appearances

11.      1Don’t flatter others for their beauty,

                              nor despise a person for their outward looks.

           2See how small is the bee among creatures that fly;

                              but its produce is the greatest of all sweet things.

           3Don’t boast of how fine and expensive are your clothes,

                              nor swell your pride when honoured;

           4for although the works of YHVH are wonderful,

                              God’s greatest works among us are hidden.

           5Many haughty rulers have been brought down to the ground;

                              and people never before considered

                              have been raised to high honour.

           6Many mighty leaders have suffered disgrace;

                              and prominent people have fallen under the power of others.

 

On Pride

12.      1Whoever touches pitch will be soiled,

                              and whoever associates with the proud

                              will come to be just like them.

           2Don’t try and lift something too heavy for you,

                              and don’t try to be like those more powerful than you;

           3Why put a clay pot next to an iron cauldron?

                              It will only break when they bang against each other.

 

           4Pride is a hateful thing to God and mortal beings;

                              injustice is abhorrent to both.

           5Sovereignty passes from nation to nation

                              through injustice, arrogance and mammon.

           6What has dust and ashes to pride itself on?

                              Even in life its guts are repugnant.

           7A long illness makes a fool of the physician;

                              a ruler today is a corpse tomorrow.

           8For in death the lot of all alike

                              will be flies, maggots and worms.

 

           9The first stage of pride is in abandoning God’s values,

                              and turning one’s heart from the principles of one’s Maker.

           10For just as pride is in its origin a sin,

                              so also persisting in it is a well-spring of iniquity.

           11Therefore, YHVH delivers to the prideful a just retribution,

                              and brings their designs to utter ruin.

           12YHVH has unseated proud princes from their thrones,

                              and set up the humble in their stead.

           13YHVH has pulled up proud nations by the roots,

                              and planted humble ones in their place.

           14YHVH has overthrown nations with no values

                              and demolished them, right down to their foundations.

           15God took some of them away, and brought them to nought,

                              and has blotted out the memory of them from the earth.

           16Human beings were not created for pride,

                              nor were those born of woman made for violent anger.

 

On Pride and Humility

13.      1A stubborn heart will encounter only trouble in the end,

                              and those in love with danger will perish by it.

           2An obstinate heart will be weighed down with troubles;

                              and the wicked person merely heaps sin upon sin.

           3There is no remedy for the disease of the prideful;

                              for the cancer of wickedness has taken root in them.

           4But the sensible mind will appreciate a wise parable;

                              and the ear of a willing listener is a sage’s dream.

 

           5Therefore, go about your daily business with humility,

                              and you will be more loved than the most extravagant giver.

           6The greater your position, the humbler you should behave,

                              and in so doing, you will find favour before YHVH.

           7Many of the powerful and famous seek answers to life’s great questions,

                              but the mysteries of the universe are revealed only to the humble.

          

           8For the power of YHVH is great,

                              and God is honoured by the hearts of the lowly.

           9Don’t waste time seeking things

                              that are not your mission to understand,

                              nor squander your days on things far above your ability.

           10Rather, meditate with reverence on what God has commanded you;

                              in order to be a good person, it is not essential to know

                              all the hidden mysteries of God.

          

           11Don’t meddle with things that are unnecessary for your life;

                              for God has already shown you more things

                              than the minds of others can take in.

           12For many have been deceived by their own prideful opinions;

                              their misguided ideas have warped their judgment.

           13If you have no eyes, don’t waste time seeking out light;

                              and if you have no knowledge of a matter,

                              don’t engage in its complexities.

 

On Free Will

14.      1Don’t say, ‘My inclination to sin was from YHVH,’

                              for God does not cause what God hates.

           2Don’t say, ‘It was God who tempted me to sin,’

                              for God has no need of sinful people.

           3YHVH hates all forms of evil;

                              you cannot love wickedness

                              and still have reverence for God.

           4When God created human beings in the beginning,

                              God left us responsible for our own decisions.

           5If you wish to, you can keep God’s commandments;

                              it’s up to you to decide to be faithful to God’s values or not.

           6God has set fire and water before you;

                              stretch out your hand and take whichever you wish.

           7Before us all lie the ways of life and the ways of death;

                              and whichever we prefer is ours to take.

           8For the wisdom of YHVH is great,

                              and mighty is God’s power,

                              and God is able to see all things;

           9God keeps watch over those who revere God in awe;

                              and God knows every deed that humans do.

           10But God has commanded no one to do wicked things,

                              nor has God given anyone free licence to commit sin.

 

On Stable and Just Government

15.      1Just as work made by skilled hands garners praise,

                              so too the wisdom of a leader is proved by their works.

           2A ruler’s loud mouth is feared throughout their domain,

                              and reckless speech from a foolish leader is ridiculed.

 

           3A wise ruler will educate his people;

                              and the government of a prudent king is well ordered.

           4As a magistrate is, so are his court officers;

                              and whatever manner of person is the governor of a city,

                              so will the inhabitants of his city also be.

           5An unwise ruler is the ruin of his people;

                              a city prospers on the intelligence of its leaders.

           6The governance of the earth comes under the realm of YHVH,

                              all its leaders are subject to the laws of YHVH.

           7The success of your rule is the domain of YHVH;

                              for YHVH can either raise you up in your greatness,

                              or bring you down in your brutality;

           8remember that God has transferred control of nations before

                              from one people to another,

                              in order to punish unrighteous dealings, injuries,

                              and ill-gotten riches,

          

           9The leaders of the earth should love just governance,

                              and be properly disposed towards YHVH,

                              seeking God with simplicity of heart;

           10for God is found by those who don’t put God to the test,

                              and reveals Himself to those who don’t mistrust God.

           11Wisdom will never dwell in the soul of the corrupt ruler,

                              nor reside in the soul of one enslaved to wrongdoing.

           12For the Presence of God flees the deceitful ruler,

                              recoils from their unintelligent thoughts,

                              and backs away from the onset of their vices.

 

           13The ruler who speaks evil will not go undetected,

                              nor will God’s justice pass them by.

           14For the schemes of the unjust will be examined,

                              and a report of their deeds will reach YHVH.

           15An unjust ruler lives for death in their thoughts and words,

                              they count it a friend, and tire themselves in its pursuit.

           16They make a deal with death,

                              worthy as they are to count him as their master.

 

           17Hear then, O Rulers of the earth, and understand,

                              Kings of distant lands, be warned;

           18hear this, you who govern great populations,

                              you who take pride in the expanse of your subject peoples:

           19Sovereignty has been given to you by YHVH,

                              power from the Most High;

           20YHVH is the One who will probe your very actions,

                              and scrutinise your intentions.

           21If therefore as servants of God’s Kingdom you have not ruled justly,

                              nor observed the natural law of God,

                              nor followed the will of the Most High,

           22The Holiness of YHVH will fall on you swiftly and mightily,

                              even on the highest throne, a judgment shall fall;

           23For the Holy One judges the great with even greater discipline

                              than the lowliest citizen.

           24YHVH does not bow or kneel before anyone,

                              and is never awed by greatness;

           25A thorough trial awaits those who wield power,

                              piercing questions await you;

          

           26A wise ruler is honoured forever,

                              but an unjust ruler is already cursed during life,

                              and God’s judgment on him after death is assured.

           27A wise ruler is admired by the many,

                              young and old wait on their words.

           28The name of a just ruler is immortal,

                              and leaves an everlasting legacy to their successors.

 

Warnings Against Unwise Actions

16.      1Don’t bring litigation against powerful and influential people,

                              in case you fall into the clutches of their power.

           2It is pointless to contest someone with great riches,

                              in case they bring the weight of their wealth against you;

           3for gold has destroyed many,

                              and swayed the hearts of kings.

          

           4It is pointless to argue with someone who is loud-mouthed;

                              don’t heap more wood on their fire.

           5Don’t make fun of someone with a vulgar tongue,

                              in case they insult your ancestors.

 

           6Don’t rebuke someone who has already repented of their sin,

                              rather be mindful that we are all guilty of sin.

           7Don’t think any less of someone because of their old age;

                              after all, some of you are growing old as we speak!

           8Don’t take pleasure in the death of your greatest enemy,

                              rather be mindful that all of us will one day die.

          

           9Don’t kindle the coals of an angry sinner,

                              in case you are burnt in the flames of their fire.

           10Don’t let yourself be provoked against an insolent person;

                              they may already be lying in wait to trap you

                              with your own words.

 

           11Don’t lend to someone who is more powerful than yourself;

                              for if you do lend to them, consider it already lost.

           12Don’t guarantee a loan beyond your means to afford,

                              because if you do, you should be prepared to pay it.

           13Don’t enter into litigation with a judge;

                              for they will always win because of their position.

 

           14Don’t travel with someone who is reckless,

                              they will bring nothing but trouble for you;

           15for they will do whatever foolish things they so wish,

                              and you will perish alongside them in their folly.

           16Don’t argue with someone who is quick to anger,

                              and don’t go with them

                              to a place where there is no one around;

           17for shedding blood is nothing in their sight,

                              and in a place where there is no help,

                              they will overpower you.

 

           18Don’t consult a fool for advice,

                              since they cannot keep confidences.

           19Don’t do anything secret in front of a stranger,

                              for you don’t know what use they will make of it.

           20Don’t bare your heart to just anyone,

                              in case they repay you with cunning.

 

           21Don’t abandon a longstanding friend,

                              for the new one will not have the same value;

           22a new friend is like new wine;

                              you won’t enjoy drinking it until it has matured.

 

           23Don’t be envious of the successes of the wicked;

                              you have no idea of what lies in store at their end.

           24Nor take delight in the pleasures of the ungodly,

                              rather be mindful that they will not die unpunished.

 

           25Keep your distance from those who have the power to kill;

                              in so doing, you will not be haunted by the fear of death.

           26If approach them you must, then make no false move,

                              in case they decide to take your life.

           27Remember at all times that you are treading among hidden snares;

                              you are like an easy target on the battlements of a city,

 

On Self-Control

17.      1Don’t be guided by your lusts,

                              rather keep your appetites in check.

           2If you freely give your soul the desires that gratify it,

                              you will become a laughingstock

                              to your enemies who malign you.

           3Don’t indulge in luxurious living,

                              for the expense of it will bring you to ruin.

           4Become not a beggar by feasting on borrowed money,

                              especially when you have nothing in your own purse;

                              for in so doing you eat away your own life.

                             

           5A working man who is given to drunkenness will never be rich;

                              and the one who dismisses every small trouble

                              will sink slowly, little by little.

           6Wine and loose women will make even sensible men do foolish things;

                              and he that frequents prostitutes will become shameless.

           7Then moths and worms shall have him as their inheritance,

                              because his shamelessness will cost him his life.

 

           8As for women, don’t let yourself be fooled by a handsome face,

                              nor be deceived by a man because of his fine physique.

           9For if that man then strikes you, he is not a man,

                              and you have found a jackal to father your children.

           10When his sweet words have dissolved like ice in summer,

                              the smile of his former days will become the smile of death.

 

On Sexual Propriety

18.      1A man accustomed to loose living will make a faithless husband,

                              a man without shame will father godless children.

           2A man who doesn’t even know the women he sleeps with,

                              cannot then speak about faithfulness or loyalty.

           3A man who seeks the company of loose women each night,

                              cannot be set in charge over a host of people;

           4and a man who casts off his bedfellows like bedsheets,

                              cannot be trusted with great responsibilities.

 

           5Therefore, don’t seek the companionship of loose women,

                              in case you become entrapped by their snares.

           6Don’t seek out the company of dancing-girls,

                              in case you become enthralled by their wiles.

           7Don’t entertain thoughts of bedding virgins,

                              because you will be trapped into paying damages to their parents.

           8Don’t waste your life paying for prostitutes,

                              because you will only pour away your inheritance.

           9Don’t go hunting round the streets of the city,

                              nor frequent deserted places to satisfy your lusts.

 

           10Don’t let your eyes linger on the beauty of another man’s wife,

                              nor ogle at comeliness not yours to possess;

           11for many have been trapped by unattainable beauty too long admired;

                              the fire of forbidden love has consumed them.

           12Don’t sit down alone at table with another man’s wife,

                              nor join her by yourself in taking wine;

           13in case your heart falls for her,

                              and your desire pushes you to a bloody end.

 

On Wealth and Pride

19.      1Don’t place all your confidence in your wealth,

                              or say, ‘With my money I am self-sufficient.’

           2Don’t be led by your impulses and appetites,

                              or waste time running after every craving of your heart.

           3And don’t say, ‘Who can possibly have any authority over me?’

                              for YHVH will surely pay you back for your pride.

           4Don’t say, ‘I have sinned, but look – no harm has befallen me!’

                              for it is simply that YHVH is patient.

           5Don’t be so confident of forgiveness,

                              that you become unafraid to sin over and over again;

           6And don’t say, ‘God’s mercy is infinite!

                              God will always relent, despite the multitude of my sins!’

 

           7For mercy and retribution both come from God,

                              and God’s righteous anger will not bypass wrongdoers.

           8Therefore, don’t delay to return to YHVH,

                              and don’t think you can put off your repentance, day after day;

           9for the righteous anger of YHVH will suddenly rush forth –  

                              in your smug self-assurance you will be ruined,

                              and on the day of God’s coming you will perish.

           10Don’t place your confidence in ill-gotten wealth,

                              for it will not profit you on the day of destruction.

 

On the Sins of the Wealthy & Powerful

20.      1If you are useful to the rich, they will exploit you;

                              but if you fall on hard times, they will abandon you.

           2As long as you have funds, the rich will stick by you;

                              but they will drain you dry, without a hint of remorse.

           3They will deceive you, because they need you;

                              they will smile at you, and raise your hopes;

           4they will feign kindness and say,

                              ‘Is there anything you want?’

           5Then they will embarrass you with their lavish hospitality,

                              until they have drained you dry thrice over

                              as you try to repay their hospitality.

           6And when they are done with you, they will laugh you to scorn;

                              if they see you afterwards, they will shake their heads,

                              and look down their noses at you.

 

           7So beware that you are not deceived by the wealthy,

                              and are brought down by your own naivety.

           8For the more they speak, the more they are testing you;

                              they smile at you only to draw out your secrets.

           9Then they will be merciless in making you a laughing-stock;

                              they will spare you neither blows nor chains.

 

           10Just as wild, untamed beasts mix only with their own kind,

                              so also the rich and powerful mingle only with their own.

           11For what can a wolf have in common with a lamb?

                              As much as an unrepentant sinner with the pious!

           12What peaceful relations can a hyena have with a dog?

                              What peaceful relations can the rich have with the needy?

           13Just as a wild ass is the lion’s prey in the wilderness;

                              so too the rich devour the poor.

           14Just as humility is an abomination to the proud,

                              so too the poor are an abomination to the rich.

 

              15The rich do wrong, and threaten to sue their accusers;

                              but the poor are wronged,

                              and they are forced to apologise as well.

           16People throw money at a rich person who stumbles,

                              but if a poor person is in difficulty,

                              people look the other way and walk by.

           17When a rich person is in trouble, many are eager to help;

                              even if he has said bad things which ought not to be said,

                              people will trip over themselves to make excuses for him.

           18But if a poor person makes a mistake, they rebuke him without mercy;

                              even if he says something sensible, no one will listen.

           19When a rich person speaks, everyone falls silent,

                              and they extol his words to the skies.

           20But if a poor person should speak, all they can say is, ‘Who is that?’

                              and they will rip him apart for his smallest mistake.

           21Riches are only good to those who are without sin,

                              and poor people are spoken of as evil

                              in the mouths of the ungodly.

 

           22Those who love money will have no easy acquittal before God;

                              those whose life’s pursuit is profit will be utterly corrupted by it.

           23Love of money has been the ruin of many,

                              even though their destruction was staring them in the face.

           24Money is a stumbling block to those who are infatuated by it,

                              and foolish people will be felled by it.

           25Blessed is the rich person who is found blameless,

                              and has not spent his life lusting after money.

           26Show us such a person, and we will congratulate him;

                              such a person has performed a miracle among his people.

           27Has anyone been through this test, and been found perfect?

                              Then let him take pride in that!

           28Has anyone ever had it in their power to commit sin, and yet held back?

                              Or to do wrong, and yet has not done it?

           29Such a person is well-deserving of their fortune,

                              and the community will praise them for their benevolence.

 

Insincere Repentance

           30The sacrifice of an offering unjustly acquired is polluted;

                              the gifts of the immoral will not be accepted.

           31The Most High is not pleased with offerings from the ungodly,

                              offering endless blood-sacrifices will not gain pardon for sin.

           32Offering sacrifices taken from among the possessions of the poor,

                              is as bad as slaughtering a child before their parents’ eyes.

           33A loaf of bread is life to the needy;

                              to deprive them of it is to commit murder.

           34To rob your fellow human being of their livelihood is to kill them,

                              and to cheat a worker of their wages is to shed blood.

 

           35If one person builds up while another pulls down,

                              what will they gain from it but trouble?

           36If an oppressor prays and his victims call down a curse,

                              whose voice is YHVH going to listen to?

           37If someone washes after touching a corpse,

                              and then touches it again, what was the good of their washing?

           38So it is with someone who fasts for their sins,

                              but then goes and commits them again.

           39Who is going to hear that person’s prayer?

                              What is the good of afflicting their appetite?

 

God’s Mercy for the Poor and the Lowly

           40You rich – don’t try to bribe God with expensive gifts,

                              for God will not accept them.

           41And don’t put your faith in dishonest sacrifices,

                              for YHVH is a judge who is completely impartial.

           42God never shows partiality at the expense of the poor;

                              God listens to their plea when they are wronged.

           43God does not ignore the supplication of the orphan,

                              nor of the widow as she pours out her complaint.

           44Do the widow’s tears that run down her cheeks,

                              not cry out to accuse the man who has caused them?

           45Those who serve God with all their heart will be accepted;

                              their appeals will be carried to heaven.

           46The prayer of the lowly pierces heaven’s veil;

                              it does not rest until it reaches its destination.

           47Nor will it desist until the Most High takes notice of it,

                              acquits the upright and delivers just judgement.

 

           48And YHVH, the great Defender, will not be slow,

                              nor will God be still on their behalf,

           49until God has broken the backs of the merciless,

                              and exacted vengeance on the ruthless and corrupt;

           50until God has shattered the power of the unjust,

                              and broken the sceptres of the wicked;

           51until God has requited all peoples as their deeds deserve,

                              and repaid human actions as their intentions merit;

           52until God has defended the cause of God’s people,

                              and made them rejoice in his mercy.

           53For mercy will be welcomed in times of tribulation,

                              like rain clouds in times of drought.

 

On Temperance in Wealth and Fortune

21.      1Prosperity and adversity, life and death,

                              poverty and riches – all come from YHVH.

           2Wisdom, discernment and knowledge are from YHVH;

                              love, and the way of good works – all are from God.

           3The gifts of YHVH remain forever with the godly,

                              and God’s favour brings long-lasting prosperity.

 

           4Don’t say, ‘What more do I need?

                              What greater success can I have?’

           5And don’t say, ‘I have enough, and possess many things,

                              so from now on, what harm can come to me?’

           6Future hardships are cast out of mind in times of success,

                              and future achievements in times of affliction.

           7For it is an easy thing for YHVH, even on the day of our death,

                              to reward us according to our ways.

 

           8One hour’s misery makes a person forget all past delights,

                              and how a person ends reveals the sum of their life.

           9Call no one blessed therefore before their death;

                              for it is not until death that a person’s true legacy is known.

 

On Miserliness

           10There are those who grow rich by their stinginess and penny-pinching,

                              but what do they get for their trouble?

           11For at what point can they say to themselves, ‘Now I can rest easy;

                              now I can sit back and live off what I have saved!’

           12and yet they know not when their time to die shall come,

                              when they must leave what they have put by to others.

 

           13Wealth is therefore pointless for the niggardly;

                              what purpose is gold to the miserly?

           14Whoever hoards by skimping is only hoarding for others;

                              strangers will live lavishly on their unspent riches.

           15If someone is mean to themselves, whom do they benefit?

                              They don’t even enjoy what is their own!

           16No one is worse off than the one who is stingy with themselves;

                              this is how their meanness repays them.

           17For the true miser is grudging even over their food;

                              and so there is only famine at their table.

 

           18Before death comes, be generous to others;

                              let others share in your success.

           19And don’t turn aside from the good that God sends you,

                              or put by God’s blessings to gather dust.

           20Give of what you have, and share your bounty,

                              for you cannot enjoy any of it when you are dead.

           21What a person has built up often perishes with them,

                              but their good works and generosity will live on.

 

 

 

Large families are not always a sign of God’s favour

22.      1Don’t yearn for a large brood of worthless children,

                              and take no pleasure in having hordes of ungodly offspring.

           2Though they be many, take no delight in them,

                              unless the reverent awe of YHVH lives within them.

           3Don’t count on them having a long life,

                              nor put too much faith in their numbers;

           4for better one godly child than a thousand corrupt ones;

                              better indeed to die childless than have children who are ungodly.

 

              5Don’t say, ‘See how God favours me, for I have many children!’

                              Nor boast, ‘The size of my family proves I am no sinner!’

           6Through one wise person a city can be populated;

                              but through a clan of lawless people it will be ruined.

              7One wise child can build up a whole nation,

                              while a brood of unruly sinners can tear it down in flames.

           8By one wise child, a family can be made rich,

                              and by ten foolish offspring a household can be brought low.

 

           9An unruly son brings his father shame,

                              and a shameless daughter brings her mother only grief.

           10One godly child is an everlasting memorial to their parents,

                              but a clan of rebels becomes their everlasting curse.

          

Patience and Endurance in Times of Ordeal

23.      1Brothers and sisters, if you have chosen to serve YHVH,

                              prepare yourself for trials.

           2Fill your heart with resolve therefore, and patiently endure,

                              and keep calm in times of trouble.

           3Hold fast onto God, and don’t walk away from God,

                              so that your final days may be prosperous.

 

           4Bear your troubles with humility,

                              and be patient when you are brought low.

           5For just as gold is tried in fire,

                              so too are those whom God favours in the furnace of adversity.

           6Trust in God, and God will help you;

                              walk unswervingly in God’s ways, and put your hope in God.

 

           7You who revere YHVH in awe, wait patiently for God’s mercy;

                              and stray neither to the left or right, in case you should fall.

           8You who revere YHVH in awe, trust in God;

                              God will not hold back your reward.

           9You who revere YHVH in awe, put your hope in the good,

                              and in everlasting happiness and mercy.

 

           10Look back at the generations of old, and consider this:

                              did anyone ever trust in YHVH, and end up utterly lost?

           11Did anyone persevere in their reverent awe of God, and were abandoned?

                              Did God ever scorn those who called upon God?

           12This is because YHVH is full of compassion and mercy;

                              God forgives sins, and saves us in times of affliction.

 

           13Anguish alone awaits cowardly hearts, and weak hands,

                              and the sinner who tries to have it both ways!

           14Anguish alone awaits the fainthearted, for they have no faith;

                              for them therefore, there is no shield or shelter.

           15Anguish alone awaits those who have given up;

                              for what will you do at YHVH’s coming?

 

           16Those who revere YHVH greatly, don’t defy God’s Message,

                              and those who love God, keep God’s ways.

           17Those who revere YHVH greatly, always seek God’s will,

                              and those who love God, fill yourselves with God’s precepts.

           18Those who revere YHVH greatly are always ready in service of God,

                              and humble themselves in God’s sight, saying.

 

           19‘We put our fate into the care of YHVH,

                              and not into the hands of men;

           20for the greatness of YHVH’s majesty is equalled by God’s mercy;

                              God’s actions are in keeping with God’s Name.

 

True and False Shame: Loyalty to the Faith of Israel

24.      1Take advantage of opportunities, but guard against doing evil,

                              and don’t be ashamed of your own identity.

           2For there is one kind of shame that brings on the stain of sin;

                              and there is another which merits honour and dignity.

           3Don’t show deference to others while putting yourself to shame,

                              and don’t let anyone intimidate you to your own downfall.

           4Don’t hold back from speaking at the proper occasion,

                              and don’t hide away the wisdom of your faith.

           5For it is through speech that God’s Wisdom becomes known,

                              and learning is propagated by the tongue’s reply.

 

           6Never contradict Truth,

                              and don’t be ashamed of what you don’t know.

           7Don’t be ashamed to acknowledge your sins;

                              it is pointless to oppose the current of a river.

           8Don’t let yourself be dominated by an ignorant person,

                              nor show favouritism in the face of the powerful.

           9Strive to the death for what is right,

                              and YHVH will fight for you.

 

Righteous Conduct towards God and one’s Neighbour

25.      1Don’t be hasty with the words of your tongue,

                              while being slack and negligent in your deeds.

           2Don’t be a raging lion in your home,

                              nor be constantly suspicious of your servants.

           3Don’t let your hand be outstretched to receive,

                              while being shut tight when it comes to giving.

 

           4Do no evil, and evil cannot overtake you;

                              Avoid iniquity, and it will avoid you.

           5Sow not in the furrows of injustice,

                              in case you reap from them sevenfold yourself.

 

           6Seek not a position of power from YHVH,

                              nor a seat of honour from the king.

           7Don’t try to excuse your actions before YHVH,

                              or boast of your wisdom before the king.

 

           8Seek not to become a judge,

                              if you are unable to root out iniquity even in yourself;

           9for you may then become intimidated by those of high status,

                              and so compromise your integrity.

           10Commit no offences against the justice of the city court,

                              nor disgrace yourself before a righteous Sanhedrin.

 

           11Don’t scheme to commit the same sin twice,

                              because neither occasion will go unpunished.

           12You delude yourself if you say,

                              ‘God will appreciate the multitude of my blood-sacrifices;

                              when I make offerings to God Most High, God will accept them.’

           13Don’t be fast-talking when you make your prayer,

                              and in showing a kindness, don’t be slow.

 

           14Don’t laugh at someone who is embittered and humiliated,

                              for there is One greater than you who can humble and exalt.

           15Don’t plan any harm against your brothers and sisters,

                              nor plot any paybacks against friends or associates.

           16Don’t get used to telling lie after lie;

                              such a habit can never evolve into anything good.

 

           17Don’t be wordy amongst a gathering of elders,

                              nor prattle on at length when you pray.

           18Don’t despise strenuous work;

                              God ordained productive labour for the satisfaction of our souls.

 

           19Don’t strive to number yourself amongst a sinful majority,

                              remember that God’s righteous anger will not long delay.

           20Strive instead to become more humble,

                              for our common destiny are the worms of the grave.

 

           21Don’t exchange a friend for goods or money;

                              nor a loyal comrade for all the gold of Ophir.

           22Don’t dismiss a wise and sensible wife;

                              a gracious wife is more precious than rubies.

 

           23Don’t ill-treat a servant who serves you faithfully,

                              nor a hired labourer

                              who has devoted all his strength to your work.

           24Let a good servant be as dear to you as your own soul,

                              and don’t deprive him of his liberty.

 

           25Even a meagre diet is life to the needy;

                              to deprive them of it is to commit murder.

           26To take away a neighbour’s livelihood is to kill them;

                              to deprive a hired labourer of their wages is to shed blood.

 

           27Advise your neighbours as best as you can,

                              but above all learn from the wise yourself.

           28Let your conversation be with intelligent people,

                              and your talk be on the law of the Most High.

           29Choose righteous people as your table companions,

                              and let your chief pride be in your reverent awe of YHVH.

 

Miscellaneous Sayings – On What is Built up and Grows

26.      1To build up your house with money taken from other people

                              is like collecting stones for your own tomb.

           2A house built up through iniquity will fall,

                              and a life built up through cheating and deceit leads to death.

 

           3A tie-beam braced into a building

                              will not be dislodged by an earthquake;

           4so too, a mind resolved after careful reflection

                              will not be shaken in moments of ordeal.

           5A heart founded on intelligent reflection

                              is like a carved decoration on a smooth wall.

          

           6Just as small stones placed on a garden wall

                              will not stay put when the wind blows,

           7so too a weak resolve based on foolish plans

                              cannot withstand any kind of conflict.

 

           10The saplings of violence will not flourish,

                              for the roots of the ungodly stand on sheer rock.

           11They are like grass among reeds by the river’s edge,

                              which are the first plants to be uprooted in a flood.

           12But mercy, like eternity, will never be uprooted;

                              and righteousness shall grow tall forever.

 

On True and False Wisdom

27.      1The reverent awe of YHVH is the entirety of wisdom;

                              and the entirety of wisdom is in the fulfilment of God’s Teaching.

           2The knowledge of wickedness is no wisdom,

                              nor is there any prudence in the advice of sinners.

           3There is a certain kind of proud resourcefulness

                              which is in fact an abomination,

                              while some who lack knowledge can be free from sin.

           4Better those who have only a little understanding, and yet revere God,

                              than those who have great intelligence, and yet violate God’s Law.

 

           5There is a kind of shrewdness which is keen but dishonest,

                              and there are those who will be duplicitous

                              in order to win a favourable judgment.

           6There is a kind of wicked person who hangs their head in sadness,

                              but inwardly they are full of deceit,

           7With their head bowed, they pretend not to be listening,

                              but when unobserved they will turn your words against you.

           8And if lack of power hinders them from sinning,

                              be assured, when the opportunity arises, they will do harm.

 

           9A false personality may be known by the falsehood of their looks,

                              but you can tell a sensible person when you meet them.

           10The way they dress, the way they laugh and the way they walk

                              reveal each kind of person for what they are.

 

Wisdom and Temperance

           11Let words go before every enterprise,

                              and counsel precede every action.

           12The source of all conduct is the mind,

                              and it concerns itself with four things:

           13Good and evil, death and life;

                              but the tongue rules over them absolutely.

           14One type of sage may be wise enough to teach others,

                              and still not be of much use to themselves.

           15A clever speaker might have their words rejected,

                              and end up dying from starvation.

           16If YHVH has not given them the gift of charisma,

                              they will be deprived of the fruits of wise speech.

           17Another type is wise in the conduct of their own life;

                              the words of their mouth can be trusted.

 

           18When a sage is a benefit to their own people,

                              the fruits of their learning are long-lasting.

           19A wise person will be filled with blessing,

                              and all who see them will count them blessed.

           20A sage who uses wisdom to benefit their people inherits glory,

                              and their name shall live on forever.

           21Yet the days of a person’s life can be counted;

                              but the days of Israel are countless.

 

The Ideal Scribe

28.      1The pious scribe is devoted to the reverence of God;

                              his meditation is on the Torah of the Most High.

           2He spends time with the words of the Prophets,

                              and delves into the wisdom of all the Ancients.

           3He treasures the discourses of famous people of old;

                              he is at home with the nuances of maxims.

           4He searches into the hidden meanings of proverbs;

                              he ponders the enigmas of parables.

 

           5At dawn he rises early,

                              and turns to YHVH his Creator;

                              he pleads in the presence of the Most High.

           6He opens his mouth in prayer,

                              and asks for the forgiveness of his sins.

           7For if it then be the will of our great Sovereign,

                              he will be filled with the spirit of understanding;

           8he will pour forth words of wisdom,

                              and in prayer give thanks to YHVH.

 

           9He will put his knowledge and learning to upright purpose,

                              as he ponders YHVH’s hidden mysteries.

           10He will display the wisdom of what he has received,

                              and glory in the Torah of YHVH’s covenant.

           11He will enter the service of princes,

                              and be seen in the company of rulers.

           12He will travel among the people of foreign countries,

                              to learn about human good and evil.

 

           13Many will praise his intelligence;

                              his reputation will never be forgotten.

           14His memory will not fade;

                              throughout the generations his name will live on.

           15The congregation will proclaim his wisdom;

                              the assembly will celebrate his praises.

           16If he lives long, his life will be one in a thousand,

                              and when he dies, his name will be even greater.

 

On Medicine and Healing

29.      1Treat the physician with the respect that is their due,

                              for they too have been established in their profession by YHVH.

           2Their art of healing comes from the Most High,

                              and they are rewarded by kings.

           3The physician’s learning gives them high standing,

                              and the powerful have a high regard for them.

           4YHVH brings forth medicinal herbs from the earth,

                              and no one sensible will disparage them.

           5Did not a piece of wood once sweeten water,

                              so giving evidence of its properties?

           6God has thus given humans the knowledge of healing,

                              so that they may marvel in God’s mighty works.

           7The physician uses plants for healing and relieving pain;

                              the druggist makes up a mixture from them.

           8Thus, there is no end to the created works of YHVH;

                              through them God spreads healing throughout the world.

 

           9When you are ill, do not delay,

                              but pray to YHVH, for God is the Great Healer.

           10Renounce your faults, wash your hands of your wrongful ways,

                              and cleanse your heart of every sin.

           11Offer incense and a memorial of fine flour;

                              as generous an offering as you can afford.

           12But then let the physician take over – for YHVH created them too;

                              don’t turn them away, for you need them.

           13There are times when good health depends on physicians,

                              For they, in their turn, will pray to YHVH;

           14They will beseech God to grant them skill to relieve and heal;

                              to help them find a cure to save their patient’s life.

           15Only the sinner who is defiant against their Creator

                              will also turn against the skill of a physician!

 

On Those deserving of Honour

30.      1What race deserves honour? The human race.

                              What race have honour?

                              Those who have great reverence for YHVH.

           2What race deserves contempt? The human race.

                              What race are in contempt?

                              Those who break the commandments.

 

           3Just as a community honours its leader,

                              so those who have great reverence for YHVH

                              are honoured by God.

           4The rich, the noble, the poor and the alien –  

                              let their only boast be in the reverence of YHVH.

           5For the beginning of acceptance is in reverence of YHVH,

                              and the root of rejection is in arrogance and pride.

 

           6It is unjust to despise those who are poor but intelligent,

                              and wrong to honour those who are rich but immoral.

           7The prince, the judge and the ruler – all may be honoured,

                              but none is greater than the one who reveres YHVH in awe.

           8When a wise slave has free men waiting on him,

                              the enlightened among them will not resent it.

 

On Tradition and the Wisdom of Past Generations

31.      1Don’t despise what wise and learned people have said,

                              but acquaint yourself with their sayings;

           2In this way you will learn the art and skill

                              of how to stand with confidence

                              among people greater than yourself.

           3Don’t just dismiss what older people have to say,

                              because they too were taught by their parents.

           4In this way you will learn how to think,

                              and give thoughtful answers as the need arises.

 

On the Reverent Awe of God – an acrostic poem

32.

alef           1The reverent awe of YHVH is rewarded with honour and pride,

                              and a festive crown of gladness and joy.

beyt         2The reverent awe of YHVH makes a heart contented;

                              it brings pleasure and delight, and a long, fulfilled life.

gimel        3Whosoever reveres YHVH in awe,

                              it shall go well with them at their last;

                              they shall be blessed even on the day of their passing.

 

dalet         4To revere YHVH in great awe is the basis of all wisdom;

                              it is instilled into the faithful in the womb.

he            5God’s wisdom has dwelt with the godly from ancient times;

                              and generations to come will faithfully cling to it.

 

vav           6To revere YHVH in great awe is wisdom at its ripest;

                              it intoxicates people with its fruits.

zayin   7God’s wisdom fills their houses with great treasures,

                              and their storehouses with wisdom’s harvests.

 

cheyt   8The reverent awe of YHVH is the garland of wisdom,

                              with blossoms of peace and good health.

teyt          9God’s Wisdom rains down knowledge and understanding,

                              and increases the renown of those who take hold of it.

 

yodh    10The deep roots of wisdom lie in the reverent awe of YHVH,

                              and the branches of it are a fulfilled life.

kaf       11Like a medicinal plant, the awe of YHVH keeps away sin;

                              it shields the soul, and turns away wrath.

 

lamedh 12Unbridled anger will not make a wrong person right;

                              for the fire of their fury is their downfall.

mem        13A patient person will endure their burdens with dignity,

                              and afterwards joy will be their reward.

nun          14They keep their thoughts to themselves until the appropriate time,

                              and the lips of many declare their wisdom.

 

sameq    15Wisdom’s coffers contain the maxims of knowledge,

                              but to the sinner, knowledge is an abomination.

ayin          16If you desire wisdom, then keep God’s commandments,

                              and YHVH will bestow it on you.

peh     17The reverent awe of YHVH brings wisdom and self-discipline,

                              faithfulness and humility are God’s delight.

 

tsadey    18Don’t resist gaining a reverent awe of YHVH,

                              nor be disingenuous in the practise of your faith.

qof      19Don’t put on an act of false devotion to impress others,

                              and keep a careful watch over what you say.

reysh 20Don’t get too high and mighty with your faith,

                              in case you should fall and be disgraced;

 

shin     21YHVH would then reveal your deepest secrets,

                              and discredit you before the whole community;

tav      22for you practised your reverent awe of YHVH

                              with a heart full of deceit.

 

On God’s Coming in Kingship: No one can hide their sinful actions from God

33.      1Don’t say, “I can hide from YHVH;

                              who is going to single me out up there?

           2I won’t be noticed among so many people;

                              what am I in an infinite universe of souls?’

           3For see, the skies and the highest heaven,

                              the earth and the abyss tremble at YHVH’s coming.

           4The mountains and earth’s foundations alike –  

                              God merely looks at them, and they quake and tremble.

           5Compared to all that, who will pay me any mind?

                              Why would God concern Himself with my actions?

           6If I sin in secret, who can see me?

                              If my disloyalty is behind closed doors, who will know?

           7When I do the right thing, no one tells God about that!

                              So why should I bother about doing the wrong thing,

                              since the end is still a long way off!”

           8Such are the thoughts of those who have little sense;

                              only those who are foolish and misguided think this way.

 

           9Israel’s ways are always under God’s scrutiny,

                              they cannot be hidden from God’s sight.

           10Over every nation God has placed a ruler,

                              but Israel is YHVH’s own possession.

           11God raises us with firm guidance as God’s firstborn,

                              God shares with us the light of God’s love,

                              and is not in any way neglectful.

           12With God, our actions are all as plain as the sun,

                              and God’s careful gaze rests constantly on our conduct.

           13Our iniquities are never hidden from God;

                              all our sins are plain before YHVH.

           14Almsgiving is treasured like a precious signet ring by God;

                              God cherishes human kindness like the apple of God’s eye.

           15One day God will rise up and repay these things,

                              God will requite each person as they deserve.

           16But to those who repent, God provides a way back;

                              God encourages those who have lost hope.

 

           17Unbounded mercy and righteous anger both belong to God,

                              who wipes out all sin and forgives,

                              but pours out just anger as well.

           18Just as God’s mercy is great, so equally is God’s punishment;

                              God judges each person as their deeds deserve.

           19The plunderer will not escape with their ill-gotten gains,

                              nor will the patience of the devout count for nothing.

           20God takes note of every charitable deed,

                              and everyone is rewarded as they deserve.

           21The neighbours of Lot were not spared,

                              abominable in their corruption and wickedness;

           22But the citizens of Nineveh – they were spared,

                              humble as they were in their repentance.

           23Upon the deeds of the wicked, God does not fail to act;

                              but neither does God neglect to forgive the penitent.

           24God’s mercy can be seen by all God’s creatures;

                              the light of God’s compassion is always ready to forgive.

 

An Appeal to Repentance

34.      1Return to YHVH and abandon your sins;

                              plead in God’s Presence and diminish your offenses.

           2Turn back to the Most High, and away from iniquity,

                              and hold all that is profane in abhorrence.

           3Whose praises to the Most High can be heard in Sheol?

                              Are they louder than those of the living?

           4The dead cannot be heard any more than those who don’t exist;

                              only those who are alive and well can praise YHVH.

 

           5How great is the mercy of YHVH –

                              God’s forgiveness for those who return to God!

           6The like of such as this cannot be found in human beings,

                              for the children of Eve are not immortal.

           7Is anything brighter than the sun? And yet its light can fail!

                              How much more so the minds of mere flesh and blood!

           8God holds even the battalions of heaven accountable,

                              and even we, who are only dust and ashes.

 

The Better Way

           9Inform yourself in case you embarrass yourself,

                              and take care of yourself in case you fall ill.

           10Examine yourself before judgement comes,

                              and on the day of YHVH’s coming you will be acquitted.

           11Humble yourself before you fall,

                              and repent as soon as you have committed a sin.

           12Do not delay to abandon your sins;

                              don’t put off the matter until the time of tribulation.

           13Don’t set a time for turning from your sins;

                              remember that death will not be so sluggish.

 

           14Bear in mind the retribution of the last days,

                              the time of vengeance when God withdraws God’s Presence.

           15In a time of plenty remember times of hunger;

                              think of poverty and want when you are rich.

           16The time between dawn and dusk slips by swiftly,

                              all things are fleeting before YHVH.

           17The wise will be cautious in all things,

                              in sinful times, they take more care to avoid wrongdoing.

 

A Prayer for the Deliverance of Israel

35.      1Have mercy on us, O YHVH, Sovereign of all the peoples of the earth!

                              and come save us;

           2See the all the nations who oppress us,

                              and put them in dread of You.

           3Display Your power against the foreign nations who tyrannise us,

                              and let them see Your mighty deeds.

           4Just as You used us to show them how holy You are,

                              so now, use them to show us how great You are!

           5In this way they will know, just as we know,

                              that there is no God but You, O YHVH!

          

           6Send new portents, work fresh wonders,

                              magnify Your power and the demonstrations of Your might.

           7Rouse your fury, pour out your righteous anger –  

                              humble those who hate us,

                              and scatter those who despise us.

           8Hasten their end and the appointed season,

                              when Your mighty deeds shall be proclaimed!

           9Let the fire of Your glory consume the despot,

                              and destruction meet the subjugators of Your people.

           10Crush the power of tyrannical rulers who say,

                              ‘There is no one else besides me!’

 

           11Gather together all the tribes of Jacob,

                              and restore to them the Land of their heritage as in days of old.

           12Have mercy, O YHVH, on the people who are called by Your Name,

                              on Israel whom you have called Your first-born.

           13Have compassion on your holy city, on Jerusalem,

                              the city where you have placed Your Name forever.

           14Fill Zion up with your majesty,

                              and your sanctuary with Your Glory.

 

           15Bear witness to what You did in days of old,

                              and fulfil what was prophesied in Your Name.

           16Reward those who have placed their hope in You,

                              and let the words of Your prophets be proved true.

           17Hear, O YHVH, the prayer of your servants,

                              in the terms of Aaron’s blessing on Your people,

           18so that all the ends of the earth may come to know

                              that You and You alone are YHVH,

                              the One eternal God,

           19Who turns good fortune towards His people,

                              and grants us everlasting peace.

 

A Final Exhortation

36.         1Now therefore, bless the God of all things,

              who does wondrous things everywhere –  

2who exalts our days from the womb,

              and acts with mercy towards us.

3May God grant us joyfulness of heart,

              and bring about peace in our days –

              in Israel and the nations for ever!

4May God confirm His mercy with us,

              and deliver us in our own times!

 

5All knowledge, learning and wisdom is from YHVH,

              who pours it all like rain from heaven;

6Blessed is the one who devotes their time to these sayings –

              to the wisdom that has been written in this book,

              for they shall grow wise by taking them to heart.

7If they practise them they will have strength enough for anything,

              since the Light of YHVH is their path.

 

 

© Shmu’eil ben Naftali

‘Dvarim mi-Chokhmat ben Sira’

(Talmidi International Version,

First edition Nov 2018)

Sources:

from Ecclesiasticus / Book of the Wisdom of Yeshua` ben Sira

1. Introduction

2. (On Wisdom): 1:1-10, 4:11-14, 11:1, 4:15-19, 21:21, 21:18-19, 21:15; (the final verse is my own composition as a positive balance to the section)

3. (On Right Speech): 5:9-6:1; 9:18 (see D.Ch. verse 3:10), 13:12-13, 19:5-12, 20:18-20, 20:27, 20:21-26, 27:4-7, 28:13-18, 28:24-26, 22:27-23:1

4. (On Swearing): 23:7-15

5. (On Quarrelling): 28:8-12

6. (On Resentment and Forgiveness): 27:30, 10:6, 27:31-28:7

7. (On Hypocrisy): 27:22-29

8. (On Moderation in Dining): 31:12-20

9. (On Generosity to the Afflicted): 7:32-36

10. (On Charity): 3:30, 4:1-6, 4:8-10, 29:1-2a, 29:8-13, 40:16-17

11. (On Appearances): 11:2-6

12. (On Pride): 13:1-2, 10:7-18

13. (On Pride and Humility): 3:26-29, 17-25

14. (On Free Will): 15:11-20

15. (On Stable Government): 9:17-18, 10:1-5, 10:8;

                    Book of Wisdom 1:1-2, 4-5, 8-9, 6:1-8, 8:9-13

16. (On Prudent Actions): 8:1-7, 8:10-19, 9:10-13

17. (On Self-Control): 18:30-19:3

                    Modern saying – D.Ch. 17:8-10 is expanded from Sira 42:12a,

                    to make up for the misogyny found elsewhere in the Book of ben Sira

18. (On Sexual Propriety): {D.Ch 18:1-4 is a modern composition, to balance out the misogyny of the original Sirach} 9:3-9

19. (On Wealth and Pride): 5:1-8

20. (On the Sins of the Wealthy): 13:4-8, 13:11b-12, 13:16-20, 13:3, 13:21-24, 31:5-11, 34:18-26, 35:12-24

21. (On Temperance in Wealth and Fortune): 11:14-15, 11:23-28, 11:17-19, 14:3-6, 14:10; adaptations of: 14:13-14, 14:16, 14:19

22. (Large families are not always a sign of God’s favour): 16:1-4, 22:3a, 22:4b&5a {D.Ch. 22:9b is a conflation of 22:4b&5a} {D.Ch. 22:5, 7-8, 10 are modern compositions}

23. (In Times of Ordeal): 2:1-18

24. (True and False Shame: Loyalty to the Faith of Israel): 4:20-28

25. (Righteous Conduct towards God and one’s Neighbour): 4:29-31, 7:1-21, 34:21-22 (some versions number this as 34:25-27), 9:14-16

26. (Miscellaneous Sayings): 21:8 (D.Ch 26:2 is a modern composition to give 26:1 a second colon to form a couplet), 22:16-18, 40:15-17

27. (On True and False Wisdom): 19:20-30 (Sirach 19:20c & 19:21 are later glosses, so are not included here), 37:16-26

28. (The Ideal Scribe): 39:1-3, 5-8, 4, 9-11

29. (On Medicine and Healing): 38:1-15

30. (On Those to be Honoured): 10:19-20, 22, 21, 23-25

31. (On Tradition and the Wisdom of Past Generations): 8:8-9

32. (On the Reverence Awe of God – an acrostic poem): 1:11-30

33. (On God’s Coming: No one can hide from God): 16:17-23, 17:15-24, 16:11b-14, 16:8, 16:16 (D.Ch. vv xx are modern compositions, to give the final stanza 8 couplets)

34. (An Appeal to Repentance): 17:25-32

               (The Better Way): 18:19-21, 18:24-27

35. (A Prayer for the Deliverance of Israel): 36:1-17 (some versions number this as 36:1-22) (D.Ch. v.19 is a modern composition, based on the Priestly blessing mentioned in previous verses)

36. (A Final Exhortation): 50:22-24, 27-29

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