Joys and Miseries of Life*

1A great anxiety has God allotted,* and a heavy yoke, to the sons of men; d Gn 3, 17; Jb 7, 1; 14, 1; Eccl 2, 23 . From the day one leaves his mother’s womb to the day he returns to the mother of all the living,* 2His thoughts, the fear in his heart, and his troubled forebodings till the day he dies— 3Whether he sits on a lofty throne or grovels in dust and ashes, 4Whether he bears a splendid crown or is wrapped in the coarsest of cloaks— 5Are of wrath and envy, trouble and dread, terror of death, fury and strife. Even when he lies on his bed to rest, his cares at night disturb his sleep. 6So short is his rest it seems like none, till in his dreams he struggles as he did by day, Terrified by what his mind’s eye sees, like a fugitive being pursued; 7As he reaches safety, he wakes up astonished that there was nothing to fear. 8So it is with all flesh, with man and with beast, but for sinners seven times more. 9Plague and bloodshed, wrath and the sword, plunder and ruin, famine and death: e Sir 39, 28ff . 10For the wicked, these were created evil, and it is they who bring on destruction.

11All that is of earth returns to earth, and what is from above returns above.* 12All that comes from bribes or injustice will be wiped out, but loyalty remains for ages. 13Wealth out of wickedness is like a wadi in spate: like a mighty stream with lightning and thunder, 14Which, in its rising, rolls along the stones, but suddenly, once and for all, comes to an end. f Sir 23, 25; Wis 4, 3ff . 15The offshoot of violence will not flourish, for the root of the godless is on sheer rock; 16Or they are like reeds on the riverbank, withered before all other plants. 17But goodness will never be cut off, and justice endures forever.

Wealth or wages can make life sweet,* but better than either is finding a treasure. 18A child or a city will preserve one’s name, but better than either, attaining wisdom. g Prv 19, 14 . 19Sheepfolds and orchards bring flourishing health; but better than either, a devoted wife; 20Wine and music delight the soul, but better than either, conjugal love. h Ps 104, 15 . 21The flute and the harp offer sweet melody, but better than either, a voice that is true. 22Charm and beauty delight the eye, but better than either, the flowers of the field. i Mt 6, 28f . 23A friend, a neighbor, are timely guides, but better than either, a prudent wife. 24A brother, a helper, for times of stress; but better than either, charity that rescues. 25Gold and silver make one’s way secure, but better than either, sound judgment. 26Wealth and vigor build up confidence, but better than either, fear of God. Fear of the LORD leaves nothing wanting; he who has it need seek no other support: 27The fear of God is a paradise of blessings; its canopy, all that is glorious. j Is 4, 5 .

28My son, live not the life of a beggar,* better to die than to beg; 29When one has to look to another’s table, his life is not really a life. His neighbor’s delicacies bring revulsion of spirit to one who understands inward feelings: k Sir 29, 24 . 30In the mouth of the shameless man begging is sweet, but within him it burns like fire.


d: Gn 3, 17; Jb 7, 1; 14, 1; Eccl 2, 23 .

e: Sir 39, 28ff .

f: Sir 23, 25; Wis 4, 3ff .

g: Prv 19, 14 .

h: Ps 104, 15 .

i: Mt 6, 28f .

j: Is 4, 5 .

k: Sir 29, 24 .