The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 4


1 My son, rob not the poor man of his livelihood; force not the eyes of the needy to turn away.


A hungry man grieve not, a needy man anger not;


Do not exasperate the downtrodden; delay not to give to the needy.


A beggar in distress do not reject; avert not your face from the poor.


From the needy turn not your eyes, give no man reason to curse you;


For if in the bitterness of his soul he curse you, his Creator will hear his prayer.


Endear yourself to the assembly; before a ruler bow your head.


Give a hearing to the poor man, and return his greeting with courtesy;


Deliver the oppressed from the hand of the oppressor; let not justice be repugnant to you.


To the fatherless be as a father, and help their mother as a husband would; Thus will you be like a son to the Most High, and he will be more tender to you than a mother.


2 Wisdom instructs her children and admonishes those who seek her.


He who loves her loves life; those who seek her out win her favor.


He who holds her fast inherits glory; wherever he dwells, the LORD bestows blessings.


Those who serve her serve the Holy One; those who love her the LORD loves.


He who obeys her judges nations; he who hearkens to her dwells in her inmost chambers.


If one trusts her, he will possess her; his descendants too will inherit her.


She walks with him as a stranger, and at first she puts him to the test; Fear and dread she brings upon him and tries him with her discipline; With her precepts she puts him to the proof, until his heart is fully with her.


Then she comes back to bring him happiness and reveal her secrets to him.


But if he fails her, she will abandon him and deliver him into the hands of despoilers.


3 Use your time well; guard yourself from evil, and bring upon yourself no shame.


There is a sense of shame laden with guilt, and a shame that merits honor and respect.


Show no favoritism to your own discredit; let no one intimidate you to your own downfall.


Refrain not from speaking at the proper time, and hide not away your wisdom;


For it is through speech that wisdom becomes known, and knowledge through the tongue's rejoinder.


Never gainsay the truth, and struggle not against the rushing stream.


Be not ashamed to acknowledge your guilt, but of your ignorance rather be ashamed.


Do not abase yourself before an impious man, nor refuse to do so before rulers.


Even to the death fight for truth, and the LORD your God will battle for you.


Be not surly in your speech, nor lazy and slack in your deeds.


Be not a lion at home, nor sly and suspicious at work.


Let not your hand be open to receive and clenched when it is time to give.



1 [1] Eyes of the needy: when they look for help; cf Sirach 18:17.

2 [11-19] The Hebrew text presents wisdom speaking in the first person, as in Sirach 24. The precious fruits of wisdom: life, favor, glory, blessings, God's love, are intended to arouse desire for her ( Sirach 4:11-14). Her disciples are like priests ( Sirach 4:14) and judges ( Sirach 4:15), even partners who possess her for themselves and their descendants ( Sirach 4:16). They enjoy happiness and penetrate her profound secrets after surviving her tests ( Sirach 4:17, 18). Those who fail her are abandoned to destruction ( Sirach 4:19).

3 [20-31] Besides the interior trials of discipline and precept, the disciple of wisdom is warned against external dangers to his sincerity and justice, namely evil, human respect ( Sirach 4:20, 21), compromise of liberty in speech and action ( Sirach 4:22-25), false shame, and ignorance ( Sirach 4:26). He must fight for the truth ( Sirach 4:28), and avoid cynicism and laziness ( Sirach 4:29), and inconsistency in his conduct ( Sirach 4:30).

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