The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 33


No evil can harm the man who fears the LORD; through trials, again and again he is safe.


He who hates the law is without wisdom, and is tossed about like a boat in a storm.


1 The prudent man trusts in the word of the LORD, and the law is dependable for him as a divine oracle.


Prepare your words and you will be listened to; draw upon your training, and then give your answer.


2 Like the wheel of a cart is the mind of a fool; his thoughts revolve in circles.


A fickle friend is like the stallion that neighs, no matter who the rider.


Why is one day more important than another, when it is the sun that lights up every day?


It is due to the LORD'S wisdom that they differ; it is through him the seasons and feasts come and go.


Some he dignifies and sanctifies, and others he lists as ordinary days.


So too, all men are of clay, for from earth man was formed;


Yet with his great knowledge the LORD makes men unlike; in different paths he has them walk.


Some he blesses and makes great, some he sanctifies and draws to himself. Others he curses and brings low, and expels them from their place.


Like clay in the hands of a potter, to be molded according to his pleasure, So are men in the hands of their Creator, to be assigned by him their function.


As evil contrasts with good, and death with life, so are sinners in contrast with the just;


See now all the works of the Most High: they come in pairs, the one the opposite of the other.


3 Now I am the last to keep vigil, like a gleaner after the vintage;


Since by the LORD'S blessing I have made progress till like a vintager I have filled my wine press,


I would inform you that not for myself only have I toiled, but for every seeker after wisdom.


4 Listen to me, O leaders of the multitude; O rulers of the assembly, give ear!


Let neither son nor wife, neither brother nor friend, have power over you as long as you live.


While breath of life is still in you, let no man have dominion over you. Give not to another your wealth, lest then you have to plead with him;


Far better that your children plead with you than that you should look to their generosity.


Keep control over all your affairs; let no one tarnish your glory.


When your few days reach their limit, at the time of death distribute your inheritance.


Fodder and whip and loads for an ass; the yoke and harness and the rod of his master.


Food, correction and work for a slave; and for a wicked slave, punishment in the stocks.


Make a slave work and he will look for his rest; let his hands be idle and he will seek to be free.


Force him to work that he be not idle, for idleness is an apt teacher of mischief.


Put him to work, for that is what befits him; if he becomes unruly, load him with chains.


But never lord it over any human being, and do nothing unjust.


If you have but one slave, treat him like yourself, for you have acquired him with your life's blood;


If you have but one slave, deal with him as a brother, for you need him as you need your life:


If you mistreat him and he runs away, in what direction will you look for him?



1 [3] Oracle: as the answer given through the Urim and Thummim to the high priest is true, so the law proves itself true to him who obeys it. Cf Exodus 28:30; Numbers 27:21.

2 [5-15] Contrasts observable in the physical universe as well as in the moral order serve the purposes of divine wisdom ( Sirach 33:5-9). All creatures are like clay. . . in the hands of their Creator - the fool and the wise man, the sinner, and the just ( Sirach 33:10-15). This does not imply that man is created to be a sinner: God is not the author of wickedness. Cf James 1:13-14.

3 [16-18] Here the author refers to himself as the most recent of the writers who have endeavored to present true wisdom to their readers.

4 [19-33] Public officials should reject every influence that would restrict their freedom in the management of their affairs. They must make their own household subservient to them rather than be subservient to it ( Sirach 33:19-24). Slaves are to be given food and work and correction but never to be treated unjustly ( Sirach 33:25-29). Great care should be taken of good slaves ( Sirach 33:30-33).

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