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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 18


1 The Eternal is the judge of all things without exception; the LORD alone is just.


Whom has he made equal to describing his works, and who can probe his mighty deeds?


Who can measure his majestic power, or exhaust the tale of his mercies?


One cannot lessen, nor increase, nor penetrate the wonders of the LORD.


When a man ends he is only beginning, and when he stops he is still bewildered.


What is man, of what worth is he? the good, the evil in him, what are these?


The sum of a man's days is great if it reaches a hundred years:


Like a drop of sea water, like a grain of sand, so are these few years among the days of eternity.


That is why the LORD is patient with men and showers upon them his mercy.


He sees and understands that their death is grievous, and so he forgives them all the more.


Man may be merciful to his fellow man, but the LORD'S mercy reaches all flesh,


Reproving, admonishing, teaching, as a shepherd guides his flock;


Merciful to those who accept his guidance, who are diligent in his precepts.


2 My son, to your charity add no reproach, nor spoil any gift by harsh words.


Like dew that abates a burning wind, so does a word improve a gift.


Sometimes the word means more than the gift; both are offered by a kindly man.


Only a fool upbraids before giving; a grudging gift wears out the expectant eyes.


Be informed before speaking; before sickness prepare the cure.


3 Before you are judged, seek merit for yourself, and at the time of visitation you will have a ransom.


Before you have fallen, humble yourself; when you have sinned, show repentance.


Delay not to forsake sins, neglect it not till you are in distress.


4 Let nothing prevent the prompt payment of your vows; wait not to fulfill them when you are dying.


Before making a vow have the means to fulfill it; be not one who tries the LORD.


Think of wrath and the day of death, the time of vengeance when he will hide his face.


Remember the time of hunger in the time of plenty, poverty and want in the day of wealth.


Between morning and evening the weather changes; before the LORD all things are fleeting.


A wise man is circumspect in all things; when sin is rife he keeps himself from wrongdoing.


5 Any learned man should make wisdom known, and he who attains to her should declare her praise;


Those trained in her words must show their wisdom, dispensing sound proverbs like life-giving waters.


6 Go not after your lusts, but keep your desires in check.


If you satisfy your lustful appetites they will make you the sport of your enemies.


Have no joy in the pleasures of a moment which bring on poverty redoubled;


Become not a glutton and a winebibber with nothing in your purse.



1 [1-13] Not only are God's justice and power beyond man's understanding ( Sirach 18:1-5), his mercy also is boundless and surpasses all human compassion ( Sirach 18:6-13).

2 [14-27] The practice of charity is an art which avoids every offense to the recipient ( Sirach 18:14-18). Prudence directs the changing circumstances of daily life toward the attainment of its reward at the time of visitation, i.e., the day of reckoning ( Sirach 18:19-27).

3 [19] Merit . . . ransom: almsgiving is often portrayed in the Bible as a means of approach to the forgiving mercy of God. Cf Sirach 3:29-30; 29:11-12; Tobit 12:12-13; Daniel 4:24; Luke 16:9; Acts 10:31.

4 [22-23] The usual object of a vow in Old Testament times was the offering of a bloody sacrifice.

5 [28-29] A general statement on the teaching of wisdom, serving either as a conclusion to the preceding section or as an introduction to the following one. The neighbors of the wise man are regarded as the field into which he channels the waters of wisdom to encourage growth. Cf Sirach 24:28-31.

6 [ 18:30- 19:4] Inordinate gratification of the senses makes a man unreasonable, the slave of passion, the sport of his enemies. In the end it destroys him physically and spiritually.

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