The Bible in Its Traditions

Sirach 23:1–38


Lord, Father and Ruler of my life: may you not abandon me to their counsel, nor permit me to fall by them.

O Lord, Father and Governor of all my whole life, leave me not to their counsels, and let me not fall by them.

They would impose scourges over my thoughts and over the discipline of wisdom in my heart. And they would not spare me from their ignorances, nor would they allow their own offenses to become apparent.

Who will set scourges over my thoughts, and the discipline of wisdom over mine heart? that they spare me not for mine ignorances, and it pass not by my sins

And they intend that my ignorances would increase, and my offenses be multiplied, and my sins abound. And so I would fall in the sight of my adversaries, and be rejoiced over by my enemy.

Lest mine ignorances increase, and my sins abound to my destruction, and I fall before mine adversaries, and mine enemy rejoice over me, whose hope is far from thy mercy.

Lord, Father and God of my life: may you not abandon me to their plans.

O Lord, Father and God of my life, give me not a proud look, but turn away from thy servants always a haughty mind.

Do not leave me with the haughtiness of my eyes. And avert all desire from me.

Turn away from me vain hopes and concupiscence, and thou shalt hold him up that is desirous always to serve thee.

Take the desire of the body from me, and do not allow sexual desire to take hold of me, and do not permit an irreverent and senseless mind within me.

Let not the greediness of the belly nor lust of the flesh take hold of me; and give not over me thy servant into an impudent mind.

O sons: listen to the doctrine of my mouth. For those who observe it will not perish by the lips, nor be scandalized into wicked works.

Hear, O ye children, the discipline of the mouth: he that keepeth it shall never be taken in his lips.

A sinner is held by his own emptiness. And the arrogant and those who speak evil will be scandalized by these things.

The sinner shall be left in his foolishness: both the evil speaker and the proud shall fall thereby.

Do not allow your mouth to become accustomed to swearing oaths. For in this, there are many pitfalls.

Accustom not thy mouth to swearing; neither use thyself to the naming of the Holy One.


10  Truly, do not allow the naming of God to be continually in your mouth, and do not treat as if common the names of the holy ones. For you will not escape punishment by them.


11  Just as a servant, continually interrogated, will not be without a bruise, so everyone who swears oaths and takes God’s name will not be entirely free from sin.

Sir23:10  For as a servant that is continually beaten shall not be without a blue mark: so he that sweareth and nameth God continually shall not be faultless.

12  A man who swears many oaths will be filled with iniquity, and scourges will not depart from his house.

Sir23:11  A man that useth much swearing shall be filled with iniquity, and the plague shall never depart from his house: if he shall offend, his sin shall be upon him: and if he acknowledge not his sin, he maketh a double offence: and if he swear in vain, he shall not be innocent, but his house shall be full of calamities.


13  And if he fails to fulfill it, his offense will be over him, and if he pretends he fulfilled it, he offends doubly.

14  And if he swears an oath insincerely, he will not be justified. For his house will be filled with retribution for him.


15  There is yet another kind of talk which faces death; let it not be found in the inheritance of Jacob.

Sir23:12  There is a word that is clothed about with death: God grant that it be not found in the heritage of Jacob; for all such things shall be far from the godly, and they shall not wallow in their sins.


16  For all these things will be taken away from the merciful, and they shall not wallow in offenses.


17  Do not allow your mouth to become accustomed to undisciplined speech. For in this, there is the sin of words.

Sir23:13  Use not thy mouth to intemperate swearing, for therein is the word of sin.

18  When you sit in the midst of great men, remember your father and mother.

Sir23:14  Remember thy father and thy mother, when thou sittest among great men. Be not forgetful before them, and so thou by thy custom become a fool, and wish that thou hadst not been born, and curse they day of thy nativity.


19  Otherwise, God may forget you, when you are in their sight, and then you would be repeatedly ridiculed and would suffer disgrace, and you might wish that you had never been born, and you might curse the day of your nativity.


20  The man who is accustomed to disgraceful words will not accept instruction, all the days of his life.

Sir23:15  The man that is accustomed to opprobrious words will never be reformed all the days of his life.

21  Two kinds of persons abound in sins, and a third adds wrath and perdition.

Sir23:16  Two sorts of men multiply sin, and the third will bring wrath: a hot mind is as a burning fire, it will never be quenched till it be consumed: a fornicator in the body of his flesh will never cease till he hath kindled a fire.


22  A desirous soul is like a burning fire, it will not be quenched, until it devours something.

23  And a man who is wicked in the desires of his flesh will not desist until he has kindled a fire.


24  To a man of fornication, all bread is sweet; he will not tire of transgression, to the very end.

Sir23:17  All bread is sweet to a whoremonger, he will not leave off till he die.

25  Every man who transgresses his own bed has contempt for his own soul. And so he says: “Who can see me?

Sir23:18  A man that breaketh wedlock, saying thus in his heart, Who seeth me? I am compassed about with darkness, the walls cover me, and no body seeth me; what need I to fear? the most High will not remember my sins

26  Darkness surrounds me, and the walls enclose me, and no one catches sight of me. Whom should I fear? The Most High will not remember my offenses.”

Sir23:19  Such a man only feareth the eyes of men, and knoweth not that the eyes of the Lord are ten thousand times brighter than the sun, beholding all the ways of men, and considering the most secret parts.


27  And he does not understand that God’s eye sees all things. For fear within a man such as this drives away from him both the fear of God and the eyes of those men who fear God.

28  And he does not acknowledge that the eyes of the Lord are much brighter than the sun, keeping watch over all the ways of men, even to the depths of the abyss, and gazing into the hearts of men, even to the most hidden parts.


29  For all things, before they were created, were known to the Lord God. And even after their completion, he beholds all things.

Sir23:20  He knew all things ere ever they were created; so also after they were perfected he looked upon them all.

30  This man will be punished in the streets of the city, and he will be chased like a young horse. And in a place that he does not suspect, he will be captured.

Sir23:21  This man shall be punished in the streets of the city, and where he suspecteth not he shall be taken.


31  And because he did not understand the fear of the Lord, he will be in disgrace before all men,


32  as will be every woman, too, who abandons her husband and establishes an inheritance by marriage to another man.

Sir23:22  Thus shall it go also with the wife that leaveth her husband, and bringeth in an heir by another.

33  For first, she was unbelieving of the law of the Most High. Second, she offended against her husband. Third, she fornicated by adultery, and so established her children by another man.

Sir23:23  For first, she hath disobeyed the law of the most High; and secondly, she hath trespassed against her own husband; and thirdly, she hath played the whore in adultery, and brought children by another man.

34  This woman will be led into the assembly, and she will be stared at by her children.

Sir23:24  She shall be brought out into the congregation, and inquisition shall be made of her children.

35  Her children will not take root, and her branches will not produce fruit.

Sir23:25  Her children shall not take root, and her branches shall bring forth no fruit.

36  She will leave behind her memory as a curse, and her infamy will not be wiped away.

Sir23:26  She shall leave her memory to be cursed, and her reproach shall not be blotted out.

37  And those who are left behind will acknowledge that there is nothing better than the fear of God, and that there is nothing sweeter than to have respect for the commandments of the Lord.

Sir23:27  And they that remain shall know that there is nothing better than the fear of the Lord, and that there is nothing sweeter than to take heed unto the commandments of the Lord.

38  It is a great glory to follow the Lord. For length of days will be received from him.

Sir23:28  It is great glory to follow the Lord, and to be received of him is long life.