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The Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus): Chapter 7

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Conduct in Public Life*

1Do no evil, and evil will not overtake you; 2avoid wickedness, and it will turn aside from you. 3Sow not in the furrows of injustice, lest you harvest it sevenfold. d Prv 22, 8 . 4Seek not from the LORD authority, nor from the king a place of honor. 5Parade not your justice before the LORD, and before the king flaunt not your wisdom. e Jb 9, 2; Ps 143, 2; Prv 25, 6; 1 Cor 4, 4 . 6Seek not to become a judge if you have not strength to root out crime, Or you will show favor to the ruler and mar your integrity. 7Be guilty of no evil before the city’s populace, nor disgrace yourself before the assembly. 8Do not plot to repeat a sin; not even for one will you go unpunished. 9Say not: “He will appreciate my many gifts; the Most High will accept my offerings.” f Sir 34, 18; 35, 12 . 10Be not impatient in prayers, and neglect not the giving of alms. 11Laugh not at an embittered man; be mindful of him who exalts and humbles.* 12Plot no mischief against your brother, nor against your friend and companion. 13Delight not in telling lie after lie, for it never results in good. 14Thrust not yourself into the deliberations of princes, g Sir 32, 7ff; Mt 6, 7 . and repeat not the words of your prayer.* 15Hate not laborious tasks, nor farming, which was ordained by the Most High. h Gn 2, 15; 3, 17 . 16Do not esteem yourself better than your fellows; remember, his wrath will not delay. 17More and more, humble your pride; what awaits man is worms. i Is 66, 24 .

Duties of Family Life, Religion and Charity*

18Barter not a friend for money, nor a dear brother for the gold of Ophir.* 19Dismiss not a sensible wife; a gracious wife is more precious than corals. 20Mistreat not a servant who faithfully serves, nor a laborer who devotes himself to his task. j Lv 19, 13; Dt 24, 14f; Jas 5, 4 . 21Let a wise servant be dear to you as your own self; refuse him not his freedom.* 22If you have livestock, look after them; if they are dependable, keep them. 23If you have sons, chastise them; bend their necks* from childhood. k Sir 30, 8–13; Prv 13, 24 . 24If you have daughters, keep them chaste, and be not indulgent to them. l Sir 42, 9ff . 25Giving your daughter in marriage ends a great task; but give her to a worthy man. m 1 Cor 7, 36ff . 26If you have a wife, let her not seem odious to you; but where there is ill-feeling, trust her not. 27With your whole heart honor your father; your mother’s birthpangs forget not. n Ex 20, 12 . 28Remember, of these parents you were born; what can you give them for all they gave you? 29With all your soul, fear God, revere his priests. 30With all your strength, love your Creator, forsake not his ministers. 31Honor God and respect the priest; give him his portion as you have been commanded: o Lv 7, 31; Nm 18, 18 . First fruits and contributions, due sacrifices and holy offerings.* 32To the poor man also extend your hand, that your blessing may be complete; 33Be generous to all the living, and withhold not your kindness from the dead.* 34Avoid not those who weep, but mourn with those who mourn; p Rom 12, 15 . 35Neglect not to visit the sick— for these things you will be loved. q Mt 25, 36 . 36In whatever you do, remember your last days, and you will never sin.


d: Prv 22, 8 .

e: Jb 9, 2; Ps 143, 2; Prv 25, 6; 1 Cor 4, 4 .

f: Sir 34, 18; 35, 12 .

g: Sir 32, 7ff; Mt 6, 7 .

h: Gn 2, 15; 3, 17 .

i: Is 66, 24 .

j: Lv 19, 13; Dt 24, 14f; Jas 5, 4 .

k: Sir 30, 8–13; Prv 13, 24 .

l: Sir 42, 9ff .

m: 1 Cor 7, 36ff .

n: Ex 20, 12 .

o: Lv 7, 31; Nm 18, 18 .

p: Rom 12, 15 .

q: Mt 25, 36 .

Text Commentary view alone

7, 1–17 :

In the conduct of social relations wisdom forbids evil and injustice (1ff), pride (5. 15ff), ambition and human respect ( 4, 6 ), public disorder (7), presumption and impatience toward God (9f), ridicule (11), mischief and deceit toward one’s neighbor ( 8, 12f ).

7, 11 :

Him who exalts and humbles: God; cf 1 Sm 2, 7; Ps 75, 8; Lk 1, 52 .

7, 14 :

Repeat not … prayer: brevity of speech in dealings with superiors and more especially with God is a sign of reverence and respect; cf Eccl 5, 1; Mt 6, 7 .

7, 18–36 :

The duties of respect and appreciation, justice and kindness should characterize relations toward members of the household (18–28), and also toward God and his priests (29ff), the poor and afflicted, the living and the dead (32–36).

7, 18 :

Ophir was the port, at present unidentified, to which the ships of Solomon sailed and from which they brought back gold and silver; cf note on Ps 45, 10 .

7, 21 :

After six years of service a Hebrew slave was entitled to freedom; cf Ex 21, 2; Dt 15, 12–15 .

7, 23 :

Bend their necks: keep them from rebellious pride; so with the Greek. Cf Sir 30, 12 . The present Hebrew text, which is probably not original here, reads: “Choose wives for them while they are young.”

7, 31 :

First fruits … holy offerings: cf Ex 29, 27; Lv 7, 31–34; Nm 18, 8–20; Dt 18, 1–5 .

7, 33 :

This seems to refer to the observances ordained toward the dead, that is, proper mourning and burial. Cf 2 Sm 21, 12ff; Tb 1, 20; 12, 12 . When this verse is read in the light of later teaching, prayers for the souls of the deceased would also be recommended. Cf 2 Mc 12, 43ff .

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