1The wisdom of the poor lifts their head high
and sets them among princes.
2Do not praise anyone for good looks;
or despise anyone because of appearance.
3The bee is least among winged creatures,
but it reaps the choicest of harvests.
4Do not mock the one who wears only a loin-cloth,
or scoff at a person’s bitter day.
For strange are the deeds of the LORD,
hidden from mortals his work.*
5Many are the oppressed who rise to the throne;
some that none would consider wear a crown.*
6Many are the exalted who fall into utter disgrace,
many the honored who are given into the power of the few.
Moderation and Patience*
7Before investigating, do not find fault;
examine first, then criticize.
8Before listening, do not say a word,
interrupt no one in the midst of speaking.a
9Do not dispute about what is not your concern;
in the quarrels of the arrogant do not take part.
10My son, why increase your anxiety,
since whoever is greedy for wealth will not be blameless?
Even if you chase after it, you will never overtake it;
and by fleeing you will not escape.
11One may work and struggle and drive,
and fall short all the same.b
12Others go their way broken-down drifters,
with little strength and great misery—
Yet the eye of the LORD looks favorably upon them,
shaking them free of the stinking mire.
13He lifts up their heads and exalts them
to the amazement of the many.
14* Good and evil, life and death,c
poverty and riches—all are from the LORD.†
17The Lord’s gift remains with the devout;
his favor brings lasting success.
18Some become rich through a miser’s life,
and this is their allotted reward:
19When they say: “I have found rest,d
now I will feast on my goods,”
They do not know how long it will be
till they die and leave them to others.*
20My child, stand by your agreement and attend to it,
grow old while doing your work.
21Do not marvel at the works of a sinner,
but trust in the LORD and wait for his light;
For it is easy in the eyes of the LORD
suddenly, in an instant, to make the poor rich.
22God’s blessing is the lot of the righteous,
and in due time their hope bears fruit.
23Do not say: “What do I need?
What further benefits can be mine?”
24Do not say: “I am self-sufficient.
What harm can come to me now?”
25The day of prosperity makes one forget adversity;
the day of adversity makes one forget prosperity.e
26For it is easy for the Lord on the day of death*
to repay mortals according to their conduct.
27A time of affliction brings forgetfulness of past delights;
at the end of life one’s deeds are revealed.
28Call none happy before death,
for how they end, they are known.
Care in Choosing Friends
29Not everyone should be brought into your house,
for many are the snares of the crafty.
30Like a decoy partridge in a cage, so is the heart of the proud,
and like a spy they will pick out the weak spots.
31For they lie in wait to turn good into evil,
and to praiseworthy deeds they attach blame.
32One spark kindles many coals;
a sinner lies in wait for blood.
33Beware of scoundrels, for they breed only evil,
and they may give you a lasting stain.
34Admit strangers into your home, and they will stir up trouble
and make you a stranger to your own family.
* [11:4] The implication is similar to Eccl 7:13; 8:17: the mysterious work of God.
* [11:5] Cf. 1 Sm 2:8; Ps 75:8; 105:17–22; Lk 1:52.
* [11:7–28] Discretion should regulate conduct toward others (vv. 7–9); as regards personal interests, one should avoid solicitude for the passing external benefits of life and property (vv. 10–14, 18–19, 21, 23–25) and cultivate the lasting inward gifts of wisdom, virtue (vv. 20, 22), and patience (vv. 25–28).
* [11:14] In mysterious ways God ultimately governs the lives of men and women.
† [11:14] Other ancient texts read as vv. 15–16:
15 Wisdom and understanding and knowledge of the Law,
love and virtuous paths, are from the Lord.
16 Error and darkness were formed with sinners from their birth,
and evil grows old with those who exult in evil.
* [11:19] Cf. the parable of the rich man, Lk 12:16–21.
* [11:26–28] Ben Sira thought that divine retribution took place only in the present life, and even at the end of life; cf. 9:12; 14:16–17.
b. [11:11] Ps 127:2; Eccl 4:8.
d. [11:19] Eccl 4:8; 6:2; Lk 12:19.