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The Prologue

Many great teachings have been given to us through the Law and the Prophets and the others* that followed them, and for these we should praise Israel for instruction and wisdom. Now, those who read the scriptures must not only themselves understand them, but must also as lovers of learning be able through the spoken and written word to help the outsiders. So my grandfather Jesus, who had devoted himself especially to the reading of the Law and the Prophets and the other books of our ancestors, and had acquired considerable proficiency in them, was himself also led to write something pertaining to instruction and wisdom, so that by becoming familiar also with his book* those who love learning might make even greater progress in living according to the law.

You are invited therefore to read it with goodwill and attention, and to be indulgent in cases where, despite our diligent labour in translating, we may seem to have rendered some phrases imperfectly. For what was originally expressed in Hebrew does not have exactly the same sense when translated into another language. Not only this book, but even the Law itself, the Prophecies, and the rest of the books differ not a little when read in the original.

When I came to Egypt in the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Euergetes and stayed for some time, I found opportunity for no little instruction.* It seemed highly necessary that I should myself devote some diligence and labour to the translation of this book. During that time I have applied my skill day and night to complete and publish the book for those living abroad who wished to gain learning and are disposed to live according to the law.

In Praise of Wisdom

1All wisdom is from the Lord,
   and with him it remains for ever.
2 The sand of the sea, the drops of rain,
   and the days of eternity—who can count them?
3 The height of heaven, the breadth of the earth,
   the abyss, and wisdom*—who can search them out?
4 Wisdom was created before all other things,
   and prudent understanding from eternity.*
6 The root of wisdom—to whom has it been revealed?
   Her subtleties—who knows them?*
8 There is but one who is wise, greatly to be feared,
   seated upon his throne—the Lord.
9 It is he who created her;
   he saw her and took her measure;
   he poured her out upon all his works,
10 upon all the living according to his gift;
   he lavished her upon those who love him.*

Fear of the Lord Is True Wisdom

11 The fear of the Lord is glory and exultation,
   and gladness and a crown of rejoicing.
12 The fear of the Lord delights the heart,
   and gives gladness and joy and long life.*
13 Those who fear the Lord will have a happy end;
   on the day of their death they will be blessed.

14 To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
   she is created with the faithful in the womb.
15 She made* among human beings an eternal foundation,
   and among their descendants she will abide faithfully.
16 To fear the Lord is fullness of wisdom;
   she inebriates mortals with her fruits;
17 she fills their* whole house with desirable goods,
   and their* storehouses with her produce.
18 The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom,
   making peace and perfect health to flourish.*
19 She rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension,
   and she heightened the glory of those who held her fast.
20 To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom,
   and her branches are long life.*

22 Unjust anger cannot be justified,
   for anger tips the scale to one’s ruin.
23 Those who are patient stay calm until the right moment,
   and then cheerfulness comes back to them.
24 They hold back their words until the right moment;
   then the lips of many tell of their good sense.

25 In the treasuries of wisdom are wise sayings,
   but godliness is an abomination to a sinner.
26 If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments,
   and the Lord will lavish her upon you.
27 For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and discipline,
   fidelity and humility are his delight.

28 Do not disobey the fear of the Lord;
   do not approach him with a divided mind.
29 Do not be a hypocrite before others,
   and keep watch over your lips.
30 Do not exalt yourself, or you may fall
   and bring dishonour upon yourself.
The Lord will reveal your secrets
   and overthrow you before the whole congregation,
because you did not come in the fear of the Lord,
   and your heart was full of deceit.

Duties towards God

2My child, when you come to serve the Lord,
   prepare yourself for testing.*
2 Set your heart right and be steadfast,
   and do not be impetuous in time of calamity.
3 Cling to him and do not depart,
   so that your last days may be prosperous.
4 Accept whatever befalls you,
   and in times of humiliation be patient.
5 For gold is tested in the fire,
   and those found acceptable, in the furnace of humiliation.*
6 Trust in him, and he will help you;
   make your ways straight, and hope in him.

7 You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy;
   do not stray, or else you may fall.
8 You who fear the Lord, trust in him,
   and your reward will not be lost.
9 You who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
   for lasting joy and mercy.*
10 Consider the generations of old and see:
   has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?
Or has anyone persevered in the fear of the Lord* and been forsaken?
   Or has anyone called upon him and been neglected?
11 For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;
   he forgives sins and saves in time of distress.

12 Woe to timid hearts and to slack hands,
   and to the sinner who walks a double path!
13 Woe to the faint-hearted who have no trust!
   Therefore they will have no shelter.
14 Woe to you who have lost your nerve!
   What will you do when the Lord’s reckoning comes?

15 Those who fear the Lord do not disobey his words,
   and those who love him keep his ways.
16 Those who fear the Lord seek to please him,
   and those who love him are filled with his law.
17 Those who fear the Lord prepare their hearts,
   and humble themselves before him.
18 Let us fall into the hands of the Lord,
   but not into the hands of mortals;
for equal to his majesty is his mercy,
   and equal to his name are his works.*

Duties towards Parents

3Listen to me your father, O children;
   act accordingly, that you may be kept in safety.
2 For the Lord honours a father above his children,
   and he confirms a mother’s right over her children.
3 Those who honour their father atone for sins,
4   and those who respect their mother are like those who lay up treasure.
5 Those who honour their father will have joy in their own children,
   and when they pray they will be heard.
6 Those who respect their father will have long life,
   and those who honour* their mother obey the Lord;
7   they will serve their parents as their masters.*
8 Honour your father by word and deed,
   that his blessing may come upon you.
9 For a father’s blessing strengthens the houses of the children,
   but a mother’s curse uproots their foundations.
10 Do not glorify yourself by dishonouring your father,
   for your father’s dishonour is no glory to you.
11 The glory of one’s father is one’s own glory,
   and it is a disgrace for children not to respect their mother.

12 My child, help your father in his old age,
   and do not grieve him as long as he lives;
13 even if his mind fails, be patient with him;
   because you have all your faculties do not despise him.
14 For kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
   and will be credited to you against your sins;
15 in the day of your distress it will be remembered in your favour;
   like frost in fair weather, your sins will melt away.
16 Whoever forsakes a father is like a blasphemer,
   and whoever angers a mother is cursed by the Lord.


17 My child, perform your tasks with humility;*
   then you will be loved by those whom God accepts.
18 The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself;
   so you will find favour in the sight of the Lord.*
20 For great is the might of the Lord;
   but by the humble he is glorified.
21 Neither seek what is too difficult for you,
   nor investigate what is beyond your power.
22 Reflect upon what you have been commanded,
   for what is hidden is not your concern.
23 Do not meddle in matters that are beyond you,
   for more than you can understand has been shown to you.
24 For their conceit has led many astray,
   and wrong opinion has impaired their judgement.

25 Without eyes there is no light;
   without knowledge there is no wisdom.*
26 A stubborn mind will fare badly at the end,
   and whoever loves danger will perish in it.
27 A stubborn mind will be burdened by troubles,
   and the sinner adds sin to sins.
28 When calamity befalls the proud, there is no healing,
   for an evil plant has taken root in him.
29 The mind of the intelligent appreciates proverbs,
   and an attentive ear is the desire of the wise.

Alms for the Poor

30 As water extinguishes a blazing fire,
   so almsgiving atones for sin.
31 Those who repay favours give thought to the future;
   when they fall they will find support.

Duties towards the Poor and the Oppressed

4My child, do not cheat the poor of their living,
   and do not keep needy eyes waiting.
2 Do not grieve the hungry,
   or anger one in need.
3 Do not add to the troubles of the desperate,
   or delay giving to the needy.
4 Do not reject a suppliant in distress,
   or turn your face away from the poor.
5 Do not avert your eye from the needy,
   and give no one reason to curse you;
6 for if in bitterness of soul some should curse you,
   their Creator will hear their prayer.

7 Endear yourself to the congregation;
   bow your head low to the great.
8 Give a hearing to the poor,
   and return their greeting politely.
9 Rescue the oppressed from the oppressor;
   and do not be hesitant in giving a verdict.
10 Be a father to orphans,
   and be like a husband to their mother;
you will then be like a son of the Most High,
   and he will love you more than does your mother.

The Rewards of Wisdom

11 Wisdom teaches* her children
   and gives help to those who seek her.
12 Whoever loves her loves life,
   and those who seek her from early morning are filled with joy.
13 Whoever holds her fast inherits glory,
   and the Lord blesses the place she* enters.
14 Those who serve her minister to the Holy One;
   the Lord loves those who love her.
15 Those who obey her will judge the nations,
   and all who listen to her will live secure.
16 If they remain faithful, they will inherit her;
   their descendants will also obtain her.
17 For at first she will walk with them on tortuous paths;
   she will bring fear and dread upon them,
and will torment them by her discipline
   until she trusts them,*
and she will test them with her ordinances.
18 Then she will come straight back to them again and gladden them,
   and will reveal her secrets to them.
19 If they go astray she will forsake them,
   and hand them over to their ruin.

20 Watch for the opportune time, and beware of evil,
   and do not be ashamed to be yourself.
21 For there is a shame that leads to sin,
   and there is a shame that is glory and favour.
22 Do not show partiality, to your own harm,
   or deference, to your downfall.
23 Do not refrain from speaking at the proper moment,*
   and do not hide your wisdom.*
24 For wisdom becomes known through speech,
   and education through the words of the tongue.
25 Never speak against the truth,
   but be ashamed of your ignorance.
26 Do not be ashamed to confess your sins,
   and do not try to stop the current of a river.
27 Do not subject yourself to a fool,
   or show partiality to a ruler.
28 Fight to the death for truth,
   and the Lord God will fight for you.

29 Do not be reckless in your speech,
   or sluggish and remiss in your deeds.
30 Do not be like a lion in your home,
   or suspicious of your servants.
31 Do not let your hand be stretched out to receive
   and closed when it is time to give.

Precepts for Everyday Living

5Do not rely on your wealth,
   or say, ‘I have enough.’
2 Do not follow your inclination and strength
   in pursuing the desires of your heart.
3 Do not say, ‘Who can have power over me?’
   for the Lord will surely punish you.

4 Do not say, ‘I sinned, yet what has happened to me?’
   for the Lord is slow to anger.
5 Do not be so confident of forgiveness*
   that you add sin to sin.
6 Do not say, ‘His mercy is great,
   he will forgive* the multitude of my sins’,
for both mercy and wrath are with him,
   and his anger will rest on sinners.
7 Do not delay to turn back to the Lord,
   and do not postpone it from day to day;
for suddenly the wrath of the Lord will come upon you,
   and at the time of punishment you will perish.
8 Do not depend on dishonest wealth,
   for it will not benefit you on the day of calamity.

9 Do not winnow in every wind,
   or follow every path.*
10 Stand firm for what you know,
   and let your speech be consistent.
11 Be quick to hear,
   but deliberate in answering.
12 If you know what to say, answer your neighbour;
   but if not, put your hand over your mouth.

13 Honour and dishonour come from speaking,
   and the tongue of mortals may be their downfall.
14 Do not be called double-tongued*
   and do not lay traps with your tongue;
for shame comes to the thief,
   and severe condemnation to the double-tongued.
15 In great and small matters cause no harm,*

61and do not become an enemy instead of a friend;
for a bad name incurs shame and reproach;
   so it is with the double-tongued sinner.

2 Do not fall into the grip of passion,*
   or you may be torn apart as by a bull.*
3 Your leaves will be devoured and your fruit destroyed,
   and you will be left like a withered tree.
4 Evil passion destroys those who have it,
   and makes them the laughing-stock of their enemies.

Friendship, False and True

5 Pleasant speech multiplies friends,
   and a gracious tongue multiplies courtesies.
6 Let those who are friendly with you be many,
   but let your advisers be one in a thousand.
7 When you gain friends, gain them through testing,
   and do not trust them hastily.
8 For there are friends who are such when it suits them,
   but they will not stand by you in time of trouble.
9 And there are friends who change into enemies,
   and tell of the quarrel to your disgrace.
10 And there are friends who sit at your table,
   but they will not stand by you in time of trouble.
11 When you are prosperous, they become your second self,
   and lord it over your servants;
12 but if you are brought low, they turn against you,
   and hide themselves from you.
13 Keep away from your enemies,
   and be on guard with your friends.

14 Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter:
   whoever finds one has found a treasure.
15 Faithful friends are beyond price;
   no amount can balance their worth.
16 Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
   and those who fear the Lord will find them.
17 Those who fear the Lord direct their friendship aright,
   for as they are, so are their neighbours also.

Blessings of Wisdom

18 My child, from your youth choose discipline,
   and when you have grey hair you will still find wisdom.
19 Come to her like one who ploughs and sows,
   and wait for her good harvest.
For when you cultivate her you will toil but little,
   and soon you will eat of her produce.
20 She seems very harsh to the undisciplined;
   fools cannot remain with her.
21 She will be like a heavy stone to test them,
   and they will not delay in casting her aside.
22 For wisdom is like her name;
   she is not readily perceived by many.

23 Listen, my child, and accept my judgement;
   do not reject my counsel.
24 Put your feet into her fetters,
   and your neck into her collar.
25 Bend your shoulders and carry her,
   and do not fret under her bonds.
26 Come to her with all your soul,
   and keep her ways with all your might.
27 Search out and seek, and she will become known to you;
   and when you get hold of her, do not let her go.
28 For at last you will find the rest she gives,
   and she will be changed into joy for you.
29 Then her fetters will become for you a strong defence,
   and her collar a glorious robe.
30 Her yoke* is a golden ornament,
   and her bonds a purple cord.
31 You will wear her like a glorious robe,
   and put her on like a splendid crown.*

32 If you are willing, my child, you can be disciplined,
   and if you apply yourself you will become clever.
33 If you love to listen you will gain knowledge,
   and if you pay attention you will become wise.
34 Stand in the company of the elders.
   Who is wise? Attach yourself to such a one.
35 Be ready to listen to every godly discourse,
   and let no wise proverbs escape you.
36 If you see an intelligent person, rise early to visit him;
   let your foot wear out his doorstep.
37 Reflect on the statutes of the Lord,
   and meditate at all times on his commandments.
It is he who will give insight to* your mind,
   and your desire for wisdom will be granted.

Miscellaneous Advice

7Do no evil, and evil will never overtake you.
2 Stay away from wrong, and it will turn away from you.
3 Do* not sow in the furrows of injustice,
   and you will not reap a sevenfold crop.

4 Do not seek from the Lord high office,
   or the seat of honour from the king.
5 Do not assert your righteousness before the Lord,
   or display your wisdom before the king.
6 Do not seek to become a judge,
   or you may be unable to root out injustice;
you may be partial to the powerful,
   and so mar your integrity.
7 Commit no offence against the public,
   and do not disgrace yourself among the people.

8 Do not commit a sin twice;
   not even for one will you go unpunished.
9 Do not say, ‘He will consider the great number of my gifts,
   and when I make an offering to the Most High God, he will accept it.’
10 Do not grow weary when you pray;
   do not neglect to give alms.
11 Do not ridicule a person who is embittered in spirit,
   for there is One who humbles and exalts.
12 Do not devise* a lie against your brother,
   or do the same to a friend.
13 Refuse to utter any lie,
   for it is a habit that results in no good.
14 Do not babble in the assembly of the elders,
   and do not repeat yourself when you pray.

15 Do not hate hard labour
   or farm work, which was created by the Most High.
16 Do not enrol in the ranks of sinners;
   remember that retribution does not delay.
17 Humble yourself to the utmost,
   for the punishment of the ungodly is fire and worms.*

Relations with Others

18 Do not exchange a friend for money,
   or a real brother for the gold of Ophir.
19 Do not dismiss* a wise and good wife,
   for her charm is worth more than gold.
20 Do not abuse slaves who work faithfully,
   or hired labourers who devote themselves to their task.
21 Let your soul love intelligent slaves;*
   do not withhold from them their freedom.

22 Do you have cattle? Look after them;
   if they are profitable to you, keep them.
23 Do you have children? Discipline them,
   and make them obedient* from their youth.
24 Do you have daughters? Be concerned for their chastity,*
   and do not show yourself too indulgent with them.
25 Give a daughter in marriage, and you complete a great task;
   but give her to a sensible man.
26 Do you have a wife who pleases you?* Do not divorce her;
   but do not trust yourself to one whom you detest.

27 With all your heart honour your father,
   and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother.
28 Remember that it was of your parents* you were born;
   how can you repay what they have given to you?

29 With all your soul fear the Lord,
   and revere his priests.
30 With all your might love your Maker,
   and do not neglect his ministers.
31 Fear the Lord and honour the priest,
   and give him his portion, as you have been commanded:
the first fruits, the guilt-offering, the gift of the shoulders,
   the sacrifice of sanctification, and the first fruits of the holy things.

32 Stretch out your hand to the poor,
   so that your blessing may be complete.
33 Give graciously to all the living;
   do not withhold kindness even from the dead.
34 Do not avoid those who weep,
   but mourn with those who mourn.
35 Do not hesitate to visit the sick,
   because for such deeds you will be loved.
36 In all you do, remember the end of your life,
   and then you will never sin.

Prudence and Common Sense

8Do not contend with the powerful,
   or you may fall into their hands.
2 Do not quarrel with the rich,
   in case their resources outweigh yours;
for gold has ruined many,
   and has perverted the minds of kings.
3 Do not argue with the loud of mouth,
   and do not heap wood on their fire.

4 Do not make fun of one who is ill-bred,
   or your ancestors may be insulted.
5 Do not reproach one who is turning away from sin;
   remember that we all deserve punishment.
6 Do not disdain one who is old,
   for some of us are also growing old.
7 Do not rejoice over anyone’s death;
   remember that we must all die.

8 Do not slight the discourse of the sages,
   but busy yourself with their maxims;
because from them you will learn discipline
   and how to serve princes.
9 Do not ignore the discourse of the aged,
   for they themselves learned from their parents;*
from them you learn how to understand
   and to give an answer when the need arises.

10 Do not kindle the coals of sinners,
   or you may be burned in their flaming fire.
11 Do not let the insolent bring you to your feet,
   or they may lie in ambush against your words.
12 Do not lend to one who is stronger than you;
   but if you do lend anything, count it as a loss.
13 Do not give surety beyond your means;
   but if you give surety, be prepared to pay.

14 Do not go to law against a judge,
   for the decision will favour him because of his standing.
15 Do not go travelling with the reckless,
   or they will be burdensome to you;
for they will act as they please,
   and through their folly you will perish with them.
16 Do not pick a fight with the quick-tempered,
   and do not journey with them through lonely country,
because bloodshed means nothing to them,
   and where no help is at hand they will strike you down.
17 Do not consult with fools,
   for they cannot keep a secret.
18 In the presence of strangers do nothing that is to be kept secret,
   for you do not know what they will divulge.*
19 Do not reveal your thoughts to anyone,
   or you may drive away your happiness.*

Advice Concerning Women

9Do not be jealous of the wife of your bosom,
   or you will teach her an evil lesson to your own hurt.
2 Do not give yourself to a woman
   and let her trample down your strength.
3 Do not go near a loose woman,
   or you will fall into her snares.
4 Do not dally with a singing-girl,
   or you will be caught by her tricks.
5 Do not look intently at a virgin,
   or you may stumble and incur penalties for her.
6 Do not give yourself to prostitutes,
   or you may lose your inheritance.
7 Do not look around in the streets of a city,
   or wander about in its deserted sections.
8 Turn away your eyes from a shapely woman,
   and do not gaze at beauty belonging to another;
many have been seduced by a woman’s beauty,
   and by it passion is kindled like a fire.
9 Never dine with another man’s wife,
   or revel with her at wine;
or your heart may turn aside to her,
   and in blood* you may be plunged into destruction.

Choice of Friends

10 Do not abandon old friends,
   for new ones cannot equal them.
A new friend is like new wine;
   when it has aged, you can drink it with pleasure.

11 Do not envy the success of sinners,
   for you do not know what their end will be like.
12 Do not delight in what pleases the ungodly;
   remember that they will not be held guiltless all their lives.

13 Keep far from those who have power to kill,
   and you will not be haunted by the fear of death.
But if you approach them, take no false step,
   or they may rob you of your life.
Know that you are stepping among snares,
   and that you are walking on the city battlements.

14 As much as you can, aim to know your neighbours,
   and consult with the wise.
15 Let your conversation be with intelligent people,
   and let all your discussion be about the law of the Most High.
16 Let the righteous be your dinner companions,
   and let your glory be in the fear of the Lord.

Concerning Rulers

17 A work is praised for the skill of the artisan;
   so a people’s leader is proved wise by his words.
18 The loud of mouth are feared in their city,
   and the one who is reckless in speech is hated.

10A wise magistrate educates his people,
   and the rule of an intelligent person is well ordered.
2 As the people’s judge is, so are his officials;
   as the ruler of the city is, so are all its inhabitants.
3 An undisciplined king ruins his people,
   but a city becomes fit to live in through the understanding of its rulers.
4 The government of the earth is in the hand of the Lord,
   and over it he will raise up the right leader for the time.
5 Human success is in the hand of the Lord,
   and it is he who confers honour upon the lawgiver.*

The Sin of Pride

6 Do not get angry with your neighbour for every injury,
   and do not resort to acts of insolence.
7 Arrogance is hateful to the Lord and to mortals,
   and injustice is outrageous to both.
8 Sovereignty passes from nation to nation
   on account of injustice and insolence and wealth.*
9 How can dust and ashes be proud?
   Even in life the human body decays.*
10 A long illness baffles the physician;*
   the king of today will die tomorrow.
11 For when one is dead
   he inherits maggots and vermin* and worms.
12 The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord;
   the heart has withdrawn from its Maker.
13 For the beginning of pride is sin,
   and the one who clings to it pours out abominations.
Therefore the Lord brings upon them unheard-of calamities,
   and destroys them completely.
14 The Lord overthrows the thrones of rulers,
   and enthrones the lowly in their place.
15 The Lord plucks up the roots of the nations,*
   and plants the humble in their place.
16 The Lord lays waste the lands of the nations,
   and destroys them to the foundations of the earth.
17 He removes some of them and destroys them,
   and erases the memory of them from the earth.
18 Pride was not created for human beings,
   or violent anger for those born of women.

Persons Deserving Honour

19 Whose offspring are worthy of honour?
   Human offspring.
Whose offspring are worthy of honour?
   Those who fear the Lord.
Whose offspring are unworthy of honour?
   Human offspring.
Whose offspring are unworthy of honour?
   Those who break the commandments.
20 Among family members their leader is worthy of honour,
   but those who fear the Lord are worthy of honour in his eyes.*
22 The rich, and the eminent, and the poor—
   their glory is the fear of the Lord.
23 It is not right to despise one who is intelligent but poor,
   and it is not proper to honour one who is sinful.
24 The prince and the judge and the ruler are honoured,
   but none of them is greater than one who fears the Lord.
25 Free citizens will serve a wise servant,
   and an intelligent person will not complain.

Concerning Humility

26 Do not make a display of your wisdom when you do your work,
   and do not boast when you are in need.
27 Better is the worker who has goods in plenty
   than the boaster who lacks bread.

28 My child, honour yourself with humility,
   and give yourself the esteem you deserve.
29 Who will acquit those who condemn* themselves?
   And who will honour those who dishonour themselves?*
30 The poor are honoured for their knowledge,
   while the rich are honoured for their wealth.
31 One who is honoured in poverty, how much more in wealth!
   And one dishonoured in wealth, how much more in poverty!

The Deceptiveness of Appearances

11The wisdom of the humble lifts their heads high,
   and seats them among the great.
2 Do not praise individuals for their good looks,
   or loathe anyone because of appearance alone.
3 The bee is small among flying creatures,
   but what it produces is the best of sweet things.
4 Do not boast about wearing fine clothes,
   and do not exalt yourself when you are honoured;
for the works of the Lord are wonderful,
   and his works are concealed from humankind.
5 Many kings have had to sit on the ground,
   but one who was never thought of has worn a crown.
6 Many rulers have been utterly disgraced,
   and the honoured have been handed over to others.

Deliberation and Caution

7 Do not find fault before you investigate;
   examine first, and then criticize.
8 Do not answer before you listen,
   and do not interrupt when another is speaking.
9 Do not argue about a matter that does not concern you,
   and do not sit with sinners when they judge a case.

10 My child, do not busy yourself with many matters;
   if you multiply activities, you will not be held blameless.
If you pursue, you will not overtake,
   and by fleeing you will not escape.
11 There are those who work and struggle and hurry,
   but are so much the more in want.
12 There are others who are slow and need help,
   who lack strength and abound in poverty;
but the eyes of the Lord look kindly upon them;
   he lifts them out of their lowly condition
13 and raises up their heads
   to the amazement of many.

14 Good things and bad, life and death,
   poverty and wealth, come from the Lord.*
17 The Lord’s gift remains with the devout,
   and his favour brings lasting success.
18 One becomes rich through diligence and self-denial,
   and the reward allotted to him is this:
19 when he says, ‘I have found rest,
   and now I shall feast on my goods!’
he does not know how long it will be
   until he leaves them to others and dies.

20 Stand by your agreement and attend to it,
   and grow old in your work.
21 Do not wonder at the works of a sinner,
   but trust in the Lord and keep at your job;
for it is easy in the sight of the Lord
   to make the poor rich suddenly, in an instant.
22 The blessing of the Lord is* the reward of the pious,
   and quickly God causes his blessing to flourish.
23 Do not say, ‘What do I need,
   and what further benefit can be mine?’
24 Do not say, ‘I have enough,
   and what harm can come to me now?’
25 In the day of prosperity, adversity is forgotten,
   and in the day of adversity, prosperity is not remembered.
26 For it is easy for the Lord on the day of death
   to reward individuals according to their conduct.
27 An hour’s misery makes one forget past delights,
   and at the close of one’s life one’s deeds are revealed.
28 Call no one happy before his death;
   by how he ends, a person becomes known.*

Care in Choosing Friends

29 Do not invite everyone into your home,
   for many are the tricks of the crafty.
30 Like a decoy partridge in a cage, so is the mind of the proud,
   and like spies they observe your weakness;*
31 for they lie in wait, turning good into evil,
   and to worthy actions they attach blame.
32 From a spark many coals are kindled,
   and a sinner lies in wait to shed blood.
33 Beware of scoundrels, for they devise evil,
   and they may ruin your reputation for ever.
34 Receive strangers into your home and they will stir up trouble for you,
   and will make you a stranger to your own family.

12If you do good, know to whom you do it,
   and you will be thanked for your good deeds.
2 Do good to the devout, and you will be repaid—
   if not by them, certainly by the Most High.
3 No good comes to one who persists in evil
   or to one who does not give alms.
4 Give to the devout, but do not help the sinner.
5   Do good to the humble, but do not give to the ungodly;
hold back their bread, and do not give it to them,
   for by means of it they might subdue you;
then you will receive twice as much evil
   for all the good you have done to them.
6 For the Most High also hates sinners
   and will inflict punishment on the ungodly.*
7 Give to one who is good, but do not help the sinner.
8 A friend is not known* in prosperity,
   nor is an enemy hidden in adversity.
9 One’s enemies are friendly* when one prospers,
   but in adversity even one’s friend disappears.
10 Never trust your enemy,
   for like corrosion in copper, so is his wickedness.
11 Even if he humbles himself and walks bowed down,
   take care to be on your guard against him.
Be to him like one who polishes a mirror,
   to be sure it does not become completely tarnished.
12 Do not put him next to you,
   or he may overthrow you and take your place.
Do not let him sit at your right hand,
   or else he may try to take your own seat,
and at last you will realize the truth of my words,
   and be stung by what I have said.

13 Who pities a snake-charmer when he is bitten,
   or all those who go near wild animals?
14 So no one pities a person who associates with a sinner
   and becomes involved in the other’s sins.
15 He stands by you for a while,
   but if you falter, he will not be there.
16 An enemy speaks sweetly with his lips,
   but in his heart he plans to throw you into a pit;
an enemy may have tears in his eyes,
   but if he finds an opportunity he will never have enough of your blood.
17 If evil comes upon you, you will find him there ahead of you;
   pretending to help, he will trip you up.
18 Then he will shake his head, and clap his hands,
   and whisper much, and show his true face.

Caution Regarding Associates

13Whoever touches pitch gets dirty,
   and whoever associates with a proud person becomes like him.
2 Do not lift a weight too heavy for you,
   or associate with one mightier and richer than you.
How can the clay pot associate with the iron kettle?
   The pot will strike against it and be smashed.
3 A rich person does wrong, and even adds insults;
   a poor person suffers wrong, and must add apologies.
4 A rich person* will exploit you if you can be of use to him,
   but if you are in need he will abandon you.
5 If you own something, he will live with you;
   he will drain your resources without a qualm.
6 When he needs you he will deceive you,
   and will smile at you and encourage you;
   he will speak to you kindly and say, ‘What do you need?’
7 He will embarrass you with his delicacies,
   until he has drained you two or three times,
   and finally he will laugh at you.
Should he see you afterwards, he will pass you by
   and shake his head at you.

8 Take care not to be led astray
   and humiliated when you are enjoying yourself.*
9 When an influential person invites you, be reserved,
   and he will invite you more insistently.
10 Do not be forward, or you may be rebuffed;
   do not stand aloof, or you will be forgotten.
11 Do not try to treat him as an equal,
   or trust his lengthy conversations;
for he will test you by prolonged talk,
   and while he smiles he will be examining you.
12 Cruel are those who do not keep your secrets;
   they will not spare you harm or imprisonment.
13 Be on your guard and very careful,
   for you are walking about with your own downfall.*

15 Every creature loves its like,
   and every person a neighbour.
16 All living beings associate with their own kind,
   and people stick close to those like themselves.
17 What does a wolf have in common with a lamb?
   No more has a sinner with the devout.
18 What peace is there between a hyena and a dog?
   And what peace between the rich and the poor?
19 Wild asses in the wilderness are the prey of lions;
   likewise the poor are feeding-grounds for the rich.
20 Humility is an abomination to the proud;
   likewise the poor are an abomination to the rich.

21 When the rich person totters, he is supported by friends,
   but when the humble* falls, he is pushed away even by friends.
22 If the rich person slips, many come to the rescue;
   he speaks unseemly words, but they justify him.
If the humble person slips, they even criticize him;
   he talks sense, but is not given a hearing.
23 The rich person speaks and all are silent;
   they extol to the clouds what he says.
The poor person speaks and they say, ‘Who is this fellow?’
   And should he stumble, they even push him down.
24 Riches are good if they are free from sin;
   poverty is evil only in the opinion of the ungodly.

25 The heart changes the countenance,
   either for good or for evil.*
26 The sign of a happy heart is a cheerful face,
   but to devise proverbs requires painful thinking.

14Happy are those who do not blunder with their lips,
   and need not suffer remorse for sin.
2 Happy are those whose hearts do not condemn them,
   and who have not given up their hope.

Responsible Use of Wealth

3 Riches are inappropriate for a small-minded person;
   and of what use is wealth to a miser?
4 What he denies himself he collects for others;
   and others will live in luxury on his goods.
5 If one is mean to himself, to whom will he be generous?
   He will not enjoy his own riches.
6 No one is worse than one who is grudging to himself;
   this is the punishment for his meanness.
7 If ever he does good, it is by mistake;
   and in the end he reveals his meanness.
8 The miser is an evil person;
   he turns away and disregards people.
9 The eye of the greedy person is not satisfied with his share;
   greedy injustice withers the soul.
10 A miser begrudges bread,
   and it is lacking at his table.

11 My child, treat yourself well, according to your means,
   and present worthy offerings to the Lord.
12 Remember that death does not tarry,
   and the decree* of Hades has not been shown to you.
13 Do good to friends before you die,
   and reach out and give to them as much as you can.
14 Do not deprive yourself of a day’s enjoyment;
   do not let your share of desired good pass by you.
15 Will you not leave the fruit of your labours to another,
   and what you acquired by toil to be divided by lot?
16 Give, and take, and indulge yourself,
   because in Hades one cannot look for luxury.
17 All living beings become old like a garment,
   for the decree* from of old is, ‘You must die!’
18 Like abundant leaves on a spreading tree
   that sheds some and puts forth others,
so are the generations of flesh and blood:
   one dies and another is born.
19 Every work decays and ceases to exist,
   and the one who made it will pass away with it.

The Happiness of Seeking Wisdom

20 Happy is the person who meditates on* wisdom
   and reasons intelligently,
21 who* reflects in his heart on her ways
   and ponders her secrets,
22 pursuing her like a hunter,
   and lying in wait on her paths;
23 who peers through her windows
   and listens at her doors;
24 who camps near her house
   and fastens his tent-peg to her walls;
25 who pitches his tent near her,
   and so occupies an excellent lodging-place;
26 who places his children under her shelter,
   and lodges under her boughs;
27 who is sheltered by her from the heat,
   and dwells in the midst of her glory.

15Whoever fears the Lord will do this,
   and whoever holds to the law will obtain wisdom.*
2 She will come to meet him like a mother,
   and like a young bride she will welcome him.
3 She will feed him with the bread of learning,
   and give him the water of wisdom to drink.
4 He will lean on her and not fall,
   and he will rely on her and not be put to shame.
5 She will exalt him above his neighbours,
   and will open his mouth in the midst of the assembly.
6 He will find gladness and a crown of rejoicing,
   and will inherit an everlasting name.
7 The foolish will not obtain her,
   and sinners will not see her.
8 She is far from arrogance,
   and liars will never think of her.
9 Praise is unseemly on the lips of a sinner,
   for it has not been sent from the Lord.
10 For in wisdom must praise be uttered,
   and the Lord will make it prosper.

Freedom of Choice

11 Do not say, ‘It was the Lord’s doing that I fell away’;
   for he does not do* what he hates.
12 Do not say, ‘It was he who led me astray’;
   for he has no need of the sinful.
13 The Lord hates all abominations;
   such things are not loved by those who fear him.
14 It was he who created humankind in the beginning,
   and he left them in the power of their own free choice.
15 If you choose, you can keep the commandments,
   and to act faithfully is a matter of your own choice.
16 He has placed before you fire and water;
   stretch out your hand for whichever you choose.
17 Before each person are life and death,
   and whichever one chooses will be given.
18 For great is the wisdom of the Lord;
   he is mighty in power and sees everything;
19 his eyes are on those who fear him,
   and he knows every human action.
20 He has not commanded anyone to be wicked,
   and he has not given anyone permission to sin.

God’s Punishment of Sinners

16Do not desire a multitude of worthless* children,
   and do not rejoice in ungodly offspring.
2 If they multiply, do not rejoice in them,
   unless the fear of the Lord is in them.
3 Do not trust in their survival,
   or rely on their numbers;*
for one can be better than a thousand,
   and to die childless is better than to have ungodly children.
4 For through one intelligent person a city can be filled with people,
   but through a clan of outlaws it becomes desolate.

5 Many such things my eye has seen,
   and my ear has heard things more striking than these.
6 In an assembly of sinners a fire is kindled,
   and in a disobedient nation wrath blazes up.
7 He did not forgive the ancient giants
   who revolted in their might.
8 He did not spare the neighbours of Lot,
   whom he loathed on account of their arrogance.
9 He showed no pity on the doomed nation,
   on those dispossessed because of their sins;*
10 or on the six hundred thousand foot-soldiers
   who assembled in their stubbornness.*
11 Even if there were only one stiff-necked person,
   it would be a wonder if he remained unpunished.
For mercy and wrath are with the Lord;*
   he is mighty to forgive—but he also pours out wrath.
12 Great as is his mercy, so also is his chastisement;
   he judges a person according to his or her deeds.
13 The sinner will not escape with plunder,
   and the patience of the godly will not be frustrated.
14 He makes room for every act of mercy;
   everyone receives in accordance with his or her deeds.*

17 Do not say, ‘I am hidden from the Lord,
   and who from on high has me in mind?
Among so many people I am unknown,
   for what am I in a boundless creation?
18 Lo, heaven and the highest heaven,
   the abyss and the earth, tremble at his visitation!*
19 The very mountains and the foundations of the earth
   quiver and quake when he looks upon them.
20 But no human mind can grasp this,
   and who can comprehend his ways?
21 Like a tempest that no one can see,
   so most of his works are concealed.*
22 Who is to announce his acts of justice?
   Or who can await them? For his decree* is far off.’*
23 Such are the thoughts of one devoid of understanding;
   a senseless and misguided person thinks foolishly.

God’s Wisdom Seen in Creation

24 Listen to me, my child, and acquire knowledge,
   and pay close attention to my words.
25 I will impart discipline precisely*
   and declare knowledge accurately.

26 When the Lord created* his works from the beginning,
   and, in making them, determined their boundaries,
27 he arranged his works in an eternal order,
   and their dominion* for all generations.
They neither hunger nor grow weary,
   and they do not abandon their tasks.
28 They do not crowd one another,
   and they never disobey his word.
29 Then the Lord looked upon the earth,
   and filled it with his good things.
30 With all kinds of living beings he covered its surface,
   and into it they must return.

17The Lord created human beings out of earth,
   and makes them return to it again.
2 He gave them a fixed number of days,
   but granted them authority over everything on the earth.*
3 He endowed them with strength like his own,*
   and made them in his own image.
4 He put the fear of them* in all living beings,
   and gave them dominion over beasts and birds.*
6 Discretion and tongue and eyes,
   ears and a mind for thinking he gave them.
7 He filled them with knowledge and understanding,
   and showed them good and evil.
8 He put the fear of him into* their hearts
   to show them the majesty of his works.*
10 And they will praise his holy name,
9   to proclaim the grandeur of his works.
11 He bestowed knowledge upon them,
   and allotted to them the law of life.*
12 He established with them an eternal covenant,
   and revealed to them his decrees.
13 Their eyes saw his glorious majesty,
   and their ears heard the glory of his voice.
14 He said to them, ‘Beware of all evil.’
   And he gave commandment to each of them concerning a neighbour.
15 Their ways are always known to him;
   they will not be hid from his eyes.*
17 He appointed a ruler for every nation,
   but Israel is the Lord’s own portion.*
19 All their works are as clear as the sun before him,
   and his eyes are ever upon their ways.
20 Their iniquities are not hidden from him,
   and all their sins are before the Lord.*
22 One’s almsgiving is like a signet ring with the Lord,*
   and he will keep a person’s kindness like the apple of his eye.*
23 Afterwards he will rise up and repay them,
   and he will bring their recompense on their heads.
24 Yet to those who repent he grants a return,
   and he encourages those who are losing hope.

A Call to Repentance

25 Turn back to the Lord and forsake your sins;
   pray in his presence and lessen your offence.
26 Return to the Most High and turn away from iniquity,*
   and hate intensely what he abhors.
27 Who will sing praises to the Most High in Hades
   in place of the living who give thanks?
28 From the dead, as from one who does not exist, thanksgiving has ceased;
   those who are alive and well sing the Lord’s praises.
29 How great is the mercy of the Lord,
   and his forgiveness for those who return to him!
30 For not everything is within human capability,
   since human beings are not immortal.
31 What is brighter than the sun? Yet it can be eclipsed.
   So flesh and blood devise evil.
32 He marshals the host of the height of heaven;
   but all human beings are dust and ashes.

The Majesty of God

18He who lives for ever created the whole universe;
2   the Lord alone is just.*
4 To none has he given power to proclaim his works;
   and who can search out his mighty deeds?
5 Who can measure his majestic power?
   And who can fully recount his mercies?
6 It is not possible to diminish or increase them,
   nor is it possible to fathom the wonders of the Lord.
7 When human beings have finished, they are just beginning,
   and when they stop, they are still perplexed.
8 What are human beings, and of what use are they?
   What is good in them, and what is evil?
9 The number of days in their life is great if they reach one hundred years.*
10 Like a drop of water from the sea and a grain of sand,
   so are a few years among the days of eternity.
11 That is why the Lord is patient with them
   and pours out his mercy upon them.
12 He sees and recognizes that their end is miserable;
   therefore he grants them forgiveness all the more.
13 The compassion of human beings is for their neighbours,
   but the compassion of the Lord is for every living thing.
He rebukes and trains and teaches them,
   and turns them back, as a shepherd his flock.
14 He has compassion on those who accept his discipline
   and who are eager for his precepts.

The Right Spirit in Giving Alms

15 My child, do not mix reproach with your good deeds,
   or spoil your gift by harsh words.
16 Does not the dew give relief from the scorching heat?
   So a word is better than a gift.
17 Indeed, does not a word surpass a good gift?
   Both are to be found in a gracious person.
18 A fool is ungracious and abusive,
   and the gift of a grudging giver makes the eyes dim.

The Need for Reflection and Self-Control

19 Before you speak, learn;
   and before you fall ill, take care of your health.
20 Before judgement comes, examine yourself;
   and at the time of scrutiny you will find forgiveness.
21 Before falling ill, humble yourself;
   and when you have sinned, repent.
22 Let nothing hinder you from paying a vow promptly,
   and do not wait until death to be released from it.
23 Before making a vow, prepare yourself;
   do not be like one who puts the Lord to the test.
24 Think of his wrath on the day of death,
   and of the moment of vengeance when he turns away his face.
25 In the time of plenty think of the time of hunger;
   in days of wealth think of poverty and need.
26 From morning to evening conditions change;
   all things move swiftly before the Lord.

27 One who is wise is cautious in everything;
   when sin is all around, one guards against wrongdoing.
28 Every intelligent person knows wisdom,
   and praises one who finds her.
29 Those who are skilled in words become wise themselves,
   and pour forth apt proverbs.*

Self-Control *

30 Do not follow your base desires,
   but restrain your appetites.
31 If you allow your soul to take pleasure in base desire,
   it will make you the laughing-stock of your enemies.
32 Do not revel in great luxury,
   or you may become impoverished by its expense.
33 Do not become a beggar by feasting with borrowed money
   when you have nothing in your purse.*

19One who does this* will not become rich;
   one who despises small things will fail little by little.
2 Wine and women lead intelligent men astray,
   and the man who consorts with prostitutes is reckless.
3 Decay and worms will take possession of him,
   and the reckless person will be snatched away.

Against Loose Talk

4 One who trusts others too quickly has a shallow mind,
   and one who sins does wrong to himself.
5 One who rejoices in wickedness* will be condemned,*
6   but one who hates gossip has less evil.
7 Never repeat a conversation,
   and you will lose nothing at all.
8 With friend or foe do not report it,
   and unless it would be a sin for you, do not reveal it;
9 for someone may have heard you and watched you,
   and in time will hate you.
10 Have you heard something? Let it die with you.
   Be brave, it will not make you burst!
11 Having heard something, the fool suffers birth-pangs
   like a woman in labour with a child.
12 Like an arrow stuck in a person’s thigh,
   so is gossip inside a fool.

13 Question a friend; perhaps he did not do it;
   or if he did, so that he may not do it again.
14 Question a neighbour; perhaps he did not say it;
   or if he said it, so that he may not repeat it.
15 Question a friend, for often it is slander;
   so do not believe everything you hear.
16 A person may make a slip without intending it.
   Who has not sinned with his tongue?
17 Question your neighbour before you threaten him;
   and let the law of the Most High take its course.*

True and False Wisdom

20 The whole of wisdom is fear of the Lord,
   and in all wisdom there is the fulfilment of the law.*
22 The knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom,
   nor is there prudence in the counsel of sinners.
23 There is a cleverness that is detestable,
   and there is a fool who merely lacks wisdom.
24 Better are the God-fearing who lack understanding
   than the highly intelligent who transgress the law.
25 There is a cleverness that is exact but unjust,
   and there are people who abuse favours to gain a verdict.
26 There is the villain bowed down in mourning,
but inwardly he is full of deceit.
27 He hides his face and pretends not to hear,
   but when no one notices, he will take advantage of you.
28 Even if lack of strength keeps him from sinning,
   he will nevertheless do evil when he finds the opportunity.
29 A person is known by his appearance,
   and a sensible person is known when first met face to face.
30 A person’s attire and hearty laughter,
   and the way he walks, show what he is.

Silence and Speech

20There is a rebuke that is untimely,
   and there is the person who is wise enough to keep silent.
2 How much better it is to rebuke than to fume!
3 And one who admits his fault will be kept from failure.
4 Like a eunuch lusting to violate a girl
   is the person who does right under compulsion.
5 Some people keep silent and are thought to be wise,
   while others are detested for being talkative.
6 Some people keep silent because they have nothing to say,
   while others keep silent because they know when to speak.
7 The wise remain silent until the right moment,
   but a boasting fool misses the right moment.
8 Whoever talks too much is detested,
   and whoever pretends to authority is hated.*


9 There may be good fortune for a person in adversity,
   but a windfall may result in a loss.
10 There is the gift that profits you nothing,
   and the gift to be paid back double.
11 There are losses for the sake of glory,
   and there are some who have raised their heads from humble circumstances.
12 Some buy much for little,
   but pay for it seven times over.
13 The wise make themselves beloved by only few words,*
   but the courtesies of fools are wasted.
14 A fool’s gift will profit you nothing,*
   for he looks for recompense sevenfold.*
15 He gives little and upbraids much;
   he opens his mouth like a town crier.
Today he lends and tomorrow he asks for it back;
   such a one is hateful to God and humans.*
16 The fool says, ‘I have no friends,
   and I get no thanks for my good deeds.
   Those who eat my bread are evil-tongued.’
17 How many will ridicule him, and how often!*

Inappropriate Speech

18 A slip on the pavement is better than a slip of the tongue;
   the downfall of the wicked will occur just as speedily.
19 A coarse person is like an inappropriate story
   continually on the lips of the ignorant.
20 A proverb from a fool’s lips will be rejected,
   for he does not tell it at the proper time.

21 One may be prevented from sinning by poverty;
   so when he rests he feels no remorse.
22 One may lose his life through shame,
   or lose it because of human respect.*
23 Another out of shame makes promises to a friend,
   and so makes an enemy for nothing.


24 A lie is an ugly blot on a person;
   it is continually on the lips of the ignorant.
25 A thief is preferable to a habitual liar,
   but the lot of both is ruin.
26 A liar’s way leads to disgrace,
   and his shame is ever with him.

Proverbial Sayings *

27 The wise person advances himself by his words,
   and one who is sensible pleases the great.
28 Those who cultivate the soil heap up their harvest,
   and those who please the great atone for injustice.
29 Favours and gifts blind the eyes of the wise;
   like a muzzle on the mouth they stop reproofs.
30 Hidden wisdom and unseen treasure,
   of what value is either?
31 Better are those who hide their folly
   than those who hide their wisdom.*

Various Sins

21Have you sinned, my child? Do so no more,
   but ask forgiveness for your past sins.
2 Flee from sin as from a snake;
   for if you approach sin, it will bite you.
Its teeth are lion’s teeth,
   and can destroy human lives.
3 All lawlessness is like a two-edged sword;
   there is no healing for the wound it inflicts.

4 Panic and insolence will waste away riches;
   thus the house of the proud will be laid waste.*
5 The prayer of the poor goes from their lips to the ears of God,*
   and his judgement comes speedily.
6 Those who hate reproof walk in the sinner’s steps,
   but those who fear the Lord repent in their heart.
7 The mighty in speech are widely known;
   when they slip, the sensible person knows it.

8 Whoever builds his house with other people’s money
   is like one who gathers stones for his burial mound.*
9 An assembly of the wicked is like a bundle of tow,
   and their end is a blazing fire.
10 The way of sinners is paved with smooth stones,
   but at its end is the pit of Hades.

Wisdom and Foolishness

11 Whoever keeps the law controls his thoughts,
   and the fulfilment of the fear of the Lord is wisdom.
12 One who is not clever cannot be taught,
   but there is a cleverness that increases bitterness.
13 The knowledge of the wise will increase like a flood,
   and their counsel like a life-giving spring.
14 The mind* of a fool is like a broken jar;
   it can hold no knowledge.

15 When an intelligent person hears a wise saying,
   he praises it and adds to it;
when a fool* hears it, he laughs at* it
   and throws it behind his back.
16 A fool’s chatter is like a burden on a journey,
   but delight is found in the speech of the intelligent.
17 The utterance of a sensible person is sought in the assembly,
   and they ponder his words in their minds.

18 Like a house in ruins is wisdom to a fool,
   and to the ignorant, knowledge is talk that has no meaning.
19 To a senseless person education is fetters on his feet,
   and like manacles on his right hand.
20 A fool raises his voice when he laughs,
   but the wise* smile quietly.
21 To the sensible person education is like a golden ornament,
   and like a bracelet on the right arm.

22 The foot of a fool rushes into a house,
   but an experienced person waits respectfully outside.
23 A boor peers into the house from the door,
   but a cultivated person remains outside.
24 It is ill-mannered for a person to listen at a door;
   the discreet would be grieved by the disgrace.

25 The lips of babblers speak of what is not their concern,*
   but the words of the prudent are weighed in the balance.
26 The mind of fools is in their mouth,
   but the mouth of the wise is in* their mind.
27 When an ungodly person curses an adversary,*
   he curses himself.
28 A whisperer degrades himself
   and is hated in his neighbourhood.

The Idler

22The idler is like a filthy stone,
   and everyone hisses at his disgrace.
2 The idler is like the filth of dunghills;
   anyone that picks it up will shake it off his hand.

Degenerate Children

3 It is a disgrace to be the father of an undisciplined son,
   and the birth of a daughter is a loss.
4 A sensible daughter obtains a husband of her own,
   but one who acts shamefully is a grief to her father.
5 An impudent daughter disgraces father and husband,
   and is despised by both.
6 Like music in time of mourning is ill-timed conversation,
   but a thrashing and discipline are at all times wisdom.*

Wisdom and Folly

9 Whoever teaches a fool is like one who glues potsherds together,
   or who rouses a sleeper from deep slumber.
10 Whoever tells a story to a fool tells it to a drowsy man;
   and at the end he will say, ‘What is it?’
11 Weep for the dead, for he has left the light behind;
   and weep for the fool, for he has left intelligence behind.
Weep less bitterly for the dead, for he is at rest;
   but the life of the fool is worse than death.
12 Mourning for the dead lasts seven days,
   but for the foolish or the ungodly it lasts all the days of their lives.

13 Do not talk much with a senseless person
   or visit an unintelligent person.*
Stay clear of him, or you may have trouble,
   and be spattered when he shakes himself.
Avoid him and you will find rest,
   and you will never be wearied by his lack of sense.
14 What is heavier than lead?
   And what is its name except ‘Fool’?
15 Sand, salt, and a piece of iron
   are easier to bear than a stupid person.

16 A wooden beam firmly bonded into a building
   is not loosened by an earthquake;
so the mind firmly resolved after due reflection
   will not be afraid in a crisis.
17 A mind settled on an intelligent thought
   is like stucco decoration that makes a wall smooth.
18 Fences* set on a high place
   will not stand firm against the wind;
so a timid mind with a fool’s resolve
   will not stand firm against any fear.

The Preservation of Friendship

19 One who pricks the eye brings tears,
   and one who pricks the heart makes clear its feelings.
20 One who throws a stone at birds scares them away,
   and one who reviles a friend destroys a friendship.
21 Even if you draw your sword against a friend,
   do not despair, for there is a way back.
22 If you open your mouth against your friend,
   do not worry, for reconciliation is possible.
But as for reviling, arrogance, disclosure of secrets, or a treacherous blow—
   in these cases any friend will take to flight.

23 Gain the trust of your neighbour in his poverty,
   so that you may rejoice with him in his prosperity.
Stand by him in time of distress,
   so that you may share with him in his inheritance.*
24 The vapour and smoke of the furnace precede the fire;
   so insults precede bloodshed.
25 I am not ashamed to shelter a friend,
   and I will not hide from him.
26 But if harm should come to me because of him,
   whoever hears of it will beware of him.

A Prayer for Help against Sinning

27 Who will set a guard over my mouth,
   and an effective seal upon my lips,
so that I may not fall because of them,
   and my tongue may not destroy me?

23O Lord, Father and Master of my life,
   do not abandon me to their designs,
   and do not let me fall because of them!
2 Who will set whips over my thoughts,
   and the discipline of wisdom over my mind,
so as not to spare me in my errors,
   and not overlook my* sins?
3 Otherwise my mistakes may be multiplied,
   and my sins may abound,
and I may fall before my adversaries,
   and my enemy may rejoice over me.*
4 O Lord, Father and God of my life,
   do not give me haughty eyes,
5   and remove evil desire from me.
6 Let neither gluttony nor lust overcome me,
   and do not give me over to shameless passion.

Discipline of the Tongue *

7 Listen, my children, to instruction concerning the mouth;
   one who observes it will never be caught.
8 Sinners are overtaken through their lips;
   by them the reviler and the arrogant are tripped up.
9 Do not accustom your mouth to oaths,
   nor habitually utter the name of the Holy One;
10 for as a servant who is constantly under scrutiny
   will not lack bruises,
so also the person who always swears and utters the Name
   will never be cleansed* from sin.
11 One who swears many oaths is full of iniquity,
   and the scourge will not leave his house.
If he swears in error, his sin remains on him,
   and if he disregards it, he sins doubly;
if he swears a false oath, he will not be justified,
   for his house will be filled with calamities.

Foul Language

12 There is a manner of speaking comparable to death;*
   may it never be found in the inheritance of Jacob!
Such conduct will be far from the godly,
   and they will not wallow in sins.
13 Do not accustom your mouth to coarse, foul language,
   for it involves sinful speech.
14 Remember your father and mother
   when you sit among the great,
or you may forget yourself in their presence,
   and behave like a fool through bad habit;
then you will wish that you had never been born,
   and you will curse the day of your birth.
15 Those who are accustomed to using abusive language
   will never become disciplined as long as they live.

Concerning Sexual Sins

16 Two kinds of individuals multiply sins,
   and a third incurs wrath.
Hot passion that blazes like a fire
   will not be quenched until it burns itself out;
one who commits fornication with his near of kin
   will never cease until the fire burns him up.
17 To a fornicator all bread is sweet;
   he will never weary until he dies.
18 One who sins against his marriage bed
   says to himself, ‘Who can see me?
Darkness surrounds me, the walls hide me,
   and no one sees me. Why should I worry?
   The Most High will not remember sins.’
19 His fear is confined to human eyes
   and he does not realize that the eyes of the Lord
   are ten thousand times brighter than the sun;
they look upon every aspect of human behaviour
   and see into hidden corners.
20 Before the universe was created, it was known to him,
   and so it is since its completion.
21 This man will be punished in the streets of the city,
   and where he least suspects it, he will be seized.

22 So it is with a woman who leaves her husband
   and presents him with an heir by another man.
23 For first of all, she has disobeyed the law of the Most High;
   second, she has committed an offence against her husband;
and third, through her fornication she has committed adultery
   and brought forth children by another man.
24 She herself will be brought before the assembly,
   and her punishment will extend to her children.
25 Her children will not take root,
   and her branches will not bear fruit.
26 She will leave behind an accursed memory
   and her disgrace will never be blotted out.
27 Those who survive her will recognize
   that nothing is better than the fear of the Lord,
and nothing sweeter than to heed the commandments of the Lord.*

The Praise of Wisdom *

24Wisdom praises herself,
   and tells of her glory in the midst of her people.
2 In the assembly of the Most High she opens her mouth,
   and in the presence of his hosts she tells of her glory:
3 ‘I came forth from the mouth of the Most High,
   and covered the earth like a mist.
4 I dwelt in the highest heavens,
   and my throne was in a pillar of cloud.
5 Alone I compassed the vault of heaven
   and traversed the depths of the abyss.
6 Over waves of the sea, over all the earth,
   and over every people and nation I have held sway.*
7 Among all these I sought a resting-place;
   in whose territory should I abide?

8 ‘Then the Creator of all things gave me a command,
   and my Creator chose the place for my tent.
He said, “Make your dwelling in Jacob,
   and in Israel receive your inheritance.”
9 Before the ages, in the beginning, he created me,
   and for all the ages I shall not cease to be.
10 In the holy tent I ministered before him,
   and so I was established in Zion.
11 Thus in the beloved city he gave me a resting-place,
   and in Jerusalem was my domain.
12 I took root in an honoured people,
   in the portion of the Lord, his heritage.

13 ‘I grew tall like a cedar in Lebanon,
   and like a cypress on the heights of Hermon.
14 I grew tall like a palm tree in En-gedi,*
   and like rose-bushes in Jericho;
like a fair olive tree in the field,
   and like a plane tree beside water* I grew tall.
15 Like cassia and camel’s thorn I gave forth perfume,
   and like choice myrrh I spread my fragrance,
like galbanum, onycha, and stacte,
   and like the odour of incense in the tent.
16 Like a terebinth I spread out my branches,
   and my branches are glorious and graceful.
17 Like the vine I bud forth delights,
   and my blossoms become glorious and abundant fruit.*

19 ‘Come to me, you who desire me,
   and eat your fill of my fruits.
20 For the memory of me is sweeter than honey,
   and the possession of me sweeter than the honeycomb.
21 Those who eat of me will hunger for more,
   and those who drink of me will thirst for more.
22 Whoever obeys me will not be put to shame,
   and those who work with me will not sin.’

Wisdom and the Law

23 All this is the book of the covenant of the Most High God,
   the law that Moses commanded us
   as an inheritance for the congregations of Jacob.*
25 It overflows, like the Pishon, with wisdom,
   and like the Tigris at the time of the first fruits.
26 It runs over, like the Euphrates, with understanding,
   and like the Jordan at harvest time.
27 It pours forth instruction like the Nile,*
   like the Gihon at the time of vintage.
28 The first man did not know wisdom* fully,
   nor will the last one fathom her.
29 For her thoughts are more abundant than the sea,
   and her counsel deeper than the great abyss.

30 As for me, I was like a canal from a river,
   like a water channel into a garden.
31 I said, ‘I will water my garden
   and drench my flower-beds.’
And lo, my canal became a river,
   and my river a sea.
32 I will again make instruction shine forth like the dawn,
   and I will make it clear from far away.
33 I will again pour out teaching like prophecy,
   and leave it to all future generations.
34 Observe that I have not laboured for myself alone,
   but for all who seek wisdom.*

Those Who Are Worthy of Praise

25I take pleasure in three things,
   and they are beautiful in the sight of God and of mortals:*
agreement among brothers and sisters, friendship among neighbours,
   and a wife and husband who live in harmony.
2 I hate three kinds of people,
   and I loathe their manner of life:
a pauper who boasts, a rich person who lies,
   and an old fool who commits adultery.

3 If you gathered nothing in your youth,
   how can you find anything in your old age?
4 How attractive is sound judgement in the grey-haired,
   and for the aged to possess good counsel!
5 How attractive is wisdom in the aged,
   and understanding and counsel in the venerable!
6 Rich experience is the crown of the aged,
   and their boast is the fear of the Lord.

7 I can think of nine whom I would call blessed,
   and a tenth my tongue proclaims:
a man who can rejoice in his children;
   a man who lives to see the downfall of his foes.
8 Happy the man who lives with a sensible wife,
   and one who does not plough with ox and ass together.*
Happy is one who does not sin with the tongue,
   and one who has not served an inferior.
9 Happy is one who finds a friend,*
   and one who speaks to attentive listeners.
10 How great is one who finds wisdom!
   But none is superior to one who fears the Lord.
11 Fear of the Lord surpasses everything;
   to whom can we compare one who has it?*

Some Extreme Forms of Evil

13 Any wound, but not a wound of the heart!
   Any wickedness, but not the wickedness of a woman!
14 Any suffering, but not suffering from those who hate!
   And any vengeance, but not the vengeance of enemies!
15 There is no venom* worse than a snake’s venom,*
   and no anger worse than a woman’s* wrath.

The Evil of a Wicked Woman

16 I would rather live with a lion and a dragon
   than live with an evil woman.
17 A woman’s wickedness changes her appearance,
   and darkens her face like that of a bear.
18 Her husband sits* among the neighbours,
   and he cannot help sighing* bitterly.
19 Any iniquity is small compared to a woman’s iniquity;
   may a sinner’s lot befall her!
20 A sandy ascent for the feet of the aged—
   such is a garrulous wife to a quiet husband.
21 Do not be ensnared by a woman’s beauty,
   and do not desire a woman for her possessions.*
22 There is wrath and impudence and great disgrace
   when a wife supports her husband.
23 Dejected mind, gloomy face,
   and wounded heart come from an evil wife.
Drooping hands and weak knees
   come from the wife who does not make her husband happy.
24 From a woman sin had its beginning,
   and because of her we all die.
25 Allow no outlet to water,
   and no boldness of speech to an evil wife.
26 If she does not go as you direct,
   separate her from yourself.

The Joy of a Good Wife

26Happy is the husband of a good wife;
   the number of his days will be doubled.
2 A loyal wife brings joy to her husband,
   and he will complete his years in peace.
3 A good wife is a great blessing;
   she will be granted among the blessings of the man who fears the Lord.
4 Whether rich or poor, his heart is content,
   and at all times his face is cheerful.

The Worst of Evils: A Wicked Wife

5 Of three things my heart is frightened,
   and of a fourth I am in great fear:*
Slander in the city, the gathering of a mob,
   and false accusation—all these are worse than death.
6 But it is heartache and sorrow when a wife is jealous of a rival,
   and a tongue-lashing makes it known to all.
7 A bad wife is a chafing yoke;
   taking hold of her is like grasping a scorpion.
8 A drunken wife arouses great anger;
   she cannot hide her shame.
9 The haughty stare betrays an unchaste wife;
   her eyelids give her away.

10 Keep strict watch over a headstrong daughter,
   or else, when she finds liberty, she will make use of it.
11 Be on guard against her impudent eye,
   and do not be surprised if she sins against you.
12 As a thirsty traveller opens his mouth
   and drinks from any water near him,
so she will sit in front of every tent-peg
   and open her quiver to the arrow.

The Blessing of a Good Wife

13 A wife’s charm delights her husband,
   and her skill puts flesh on his bones.
14 A silent wife is a gift from the Lord,
   and nothing is so precious as her self-discipline.
15 A modest wife adds charm to charm,
   and no scales can weigh the value of her chastity.
16 Like the sun rising in the heights of the Lord,
   so is the beauty of a good wife in her well-ordered home.
17 Like the shining lamp on the holy lampstand,
   so is a beautiful face on a stately figure.
18 Like golden pillars on silver bases,
   so are shapely legs and steadfast feet.

Other ancient authorities add verses 19-27: +a

19 My child, keep sound the bloom of your youth,
   and do not give your strength to strangers.
20 Seek a fertile field within the whole plain,
   and sow it with your own seed, trusting in your fine stock.
21 So your offspring will prosper,
   and, having confidence in their good descent, will grow great.
22 A prostitute is regarded as spittle,
   and a married woman as a tower of death to her lovers.
23 A godless wife is given as a portion to a lawless man,
   but a pious wife is given to the man who fears the Lord.
24 A shameless woman constantly acts disgracefully,
   but a modest daughter will even be embarrassed before her husband.
25 A headstrong wife is regarded as a dog,
   but one who has a sense of shame will fear the Lord.
26 A wife honouring her husband will seem wise to all,
   but if she dishonours him in her pride she will be known to all as ungodly.
   Happy is the husband of a good wife,
   for the number of his years will be doubled.

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From the oremus Bible Browser v2.9.2 30 June 2021.