The Holy See
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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 26


1 Happy the husband of a good wife, twice-lengthened are his days;


2 A worthy wife brings joy to her husband, peaceful and full is his life.


A good wife is a generous gift bestowed upon him who fears the LORD;


Be he rich or poor, his heart is content, and a smile is ever on his face.


There are three things at which my heart quakes, a fourth before which I quail: Though false charges in public, trial before all the people, and lying testimony are harder to bear than death,


3 A jealous wife is heartache and mourning and a scourging tongue like the other three.


A bad wife is a chafing yoke; he who marries her seizes a scorpion.


A drunken wife arouses great anger, for she does not hide her shame.


By her eyelids and her haughty stare an unchaste wife can be recognized.


Keep a strict watch over an unruly wife, lest, finding an opportunity, she make use of it;


Follow close if her eyes are bold, and be not surprised if she betrays you:


As a thirsty traveler with eager mouth drinks from any water that he finds, So she settles down before every tent peg and opens her quiver for every arrow.


A gracious wife delights her husband, her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones;


A gift from the LORD is her governed speech, and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth.


Choicest of blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste person.


Like the sun rising in the LORD'S heavens, the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home.


4 Like the light which shines above the holy lampstand, are her beauty of face and graceful figure.


5 Golden columns on silver bases are her shapely limbs and steady feet.


These two bring grief to my heart, and the third arouses my horror: A wealthy man reduced to want; illustrious men held in contempt; And the man who passes from justice to sin, for whom the LORD makes ready the sword.


6 A merchant can hardly remain upright, nor a shopkeeper free from sin;



1 [1-4, 13-18] A good wife is as a gift from God, bringing joy and peace, happiness and contentment to her husband ( Sirach 26:1-4) through her thoughtfulness, reserve, modesty and chastity, beauty, grace and virtue ( Sirach 26:13-18).

2 [2] Worthy: gifted spiritually, mentally and physically. Cf Proverb 31:10.

3 [6-12] A repetition of the thought expressed in 25:12-25.

4 [17-18] The holy lampstand and the golden columns stood in the holy place of the ancient Tabernacle ( Exodus 25:31-40; 26:32).

5 [18] Among the additions found here in some manuscripts are the following lines: "My son, take care in the prime of life not to surrender your strength to strangers; Single out from the land a goodly field and there with confidence sow the seed of your increase; So shall you have your offspring around you, and in confidence shall they grow up.

"Through a woman for hire be thought of as a trifle, a married woman is a deadly snare for those who embrace her. [Cf Proverb 6:26] "A wife's complaint should be made in meekness, and show itself in a slight flush; But a loud-mouthed, scolding wife is a trumpet signaling for battle: Any human being who answers that challenge will spend his life amid the turbulence of war."

6 [ 26:20- 27:15] From proper conduct in family life, the author proceeds to social morality, warning especially against injustice in commerce ( Sirach 26:20- 27:3), and perversity of speech in business ( Sirach 26:4-7). The pursuit of justice in these matters is all the more meritorious as it is difficult ( Sirach 26:8-10). The discourses of the devout are marked with wisdom, but the conversations of the wicked, with offense, swearing, cursing, quarrels and even bloodshed ( Sirach 26:11-15).

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