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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 17


The LORD from the earth created man, and in his own image he made him.


Limited days of life he gives him and makes him return to earth again.


He endows man with a strength of his own, and with power over all things else on earth.


He puts the fear of him in all flesh, and gives him rule over beasts and birds.


He forms men's tongues and eyes and ears, and imparts to them an understanding heart.


With wisdom and knowledge he fills them; good and evil he shows them.


He looks with favor upon their hearts, and shows them his glorious works,


That they may describe the wonders of his deeds and praise his holy name.


He has set before them knowledge, a law of life as their inheritance;


1 An everlasting covenant he has made with them, his commandments he has revealed to them.


His majestic glory their eyes beheld, his glorious voice their ears heard.


He says to them, "Avoid all evil"; each of them he gives precepts about his fellow men.


Their ways are ever known to him, they cannot be hidden from his eyes.


2 Over every nation he places a ruler, but the LORD'S own portion is Israel.


All their actions are clear as the sun to him, his eyes are ever upon their ways.


Their wickedness cannot be hidden from him; all of their sins are before the LORD.


A man's goodness God cherishes like a signet ring, a man's virtue, like the apple of his eye.


Later he will rise up and repay them, and requite each one of them as they deserve.


3 But to the penitent he provides a way back, he encourages those who are losing hope!


Return to the LORD and give up sin, pray to him and make your offenses few.


Turn again to the Most High and away from sin, hate intensely what he loathes;


Who in the nether world can glorify the Most High in place of the living who offer their praise?


No more can the dead give praise than those who have never lived; they glorify the LORD who are alive and well.


How great the mercy of the LORD, his forgiveness of those who return to him!


The like cannot be found in men, for not immortal is any son of man.


4 Is anything brighter than the sun? Yet it can be eclipsed. How obscure then the thoughts of flesh and blood!


God watches over the hosts of highest heaven, while all men are dust and ashes.



1 [10] An everlasting covenant . . . his commandments: the various covenants which God entered into with mankind, e.g., Genesis 2:15-17; 17:1-22 especially on Mount Sinai where the people saw God's glory and heard his voice ( Exodus 19:16- 24:18).

2 [14] Ruler: this may refer to civil authority or to angels placed over nations as guardians; see note on Deut 32:8 and the cross references above.

3 [19-27] Exhorting the sinner to return to God ( Sirach 17:19-21, 24-26) the author implies that the Lord will postpone death for a repentant sinner so that he may fulfill his destiny of praising God on earth ( Sirach 17:22-23). In the light of Christian teaching, the gift of final penitence extends this divine purpose into life everlasting. See note on Psalm 6:6; cf also Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11-16.

4 [26] Obscure: literally, evil; compare Genesis 6:5. Though moral fault is not excluded, the thought here is the inability to understand the merciful designs of God. Cf Wisdom 9:14-18.

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