1Happy the husband of a good wife;*
the number of his days will be doubled.a
2A loyal wife brings joy to her husband,
and he will finish his years in peace.
3A good wife is a generous gift
bestowed upon him who fears the Lord.b
4Whether rich or poor, his heart is content,
a smile ever on his face.
5There are three things I dread,
and a fourth which terrifies me:
Public slander, the gathering of a mob,
and false accusation—all harder to bear than death.
6A wife jealous of another wife is heartache and mourning;*
everyone feels the lash of her tongue.
7A wicked wife is a chafing yoke;
taking hold of her is like grasping a scorpion.
8A drunken wife arouses great anger,
for she does not hide her shame.
9By her haughty stare and her eyelids
an unchaste wife can be recognized.
10Keep a strict watch over an unruly wife,
lest, finding an opportunity, she use it;c
11Watch out for her impudent eye,
and do not be surprised if she betrays you:
12As a thirsty traveler opens his mouth
and drinks from any water nearby,
So she sits down before every tent peg
and opens her quiver for every arrow.
13A gracious wife delights her husband;
her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones.
14A silent wife is a gift from the Lord;
nothing is worth more than her self-discipline.
15A modest wife is a supreme blessing;
no scales can weigh the worth of her chastity.
16The sun rising in the Lord’s heavens—
the beauty of a good wife in her well-ordered home.
17The light which shines above the holy lampstand—*
a beautiful face on a stately figure.
18Golden columns on silver bases—
so her shapely legs and steady feet.†
Dangers to Integrity and Friendship
28* Two things bring grief to my heart,
and a third arouses my anger:
The wealthy reduced to want,
the intelligent held in contempt,
And those who pass from righteousness to sin—
the Lord prepares them for the sword.d
29A merchant can hardly keep from wrongdoing,
nor can a shopkeeper stay free from sin;
* [26:1–4, 13–18] A good wife is as a gift from God, bringing joy and peace, happiness and contentment to her husband (vv. 1–4) through her thoughtfulness, reserve, modesty and chastity, beauty, grace, and virtue (vv. 13–18).
† [26:18] Other ancient texts read as vv. 19–27:
19 My child, keep intact the bloom of your youth,
and do not give your strength to strangers.
20 Seek out a fertile field from all the land,
and sow it with your own seed, confident in your fine stock.
21 So shall your offspring prosper,
and grow great, confident in their good descent.
22 A woman for hire is regarded as spittle,
but a married woman is a deadly snare for her lovers.
23 A godless wife will be given to the lawless man as his portion,
but a godly wife will be given to the man who fears the Lord.
24 A shameless woman wears out reproach,
but a virtuous daughter will be modest even before her husband.
25 A headstrong wife is regarded as a bitch,
but the one with a sense of shame fears the Lord.
26 The wife who honors her husband will seem wise to everyone,
but if she dishonors him in her pride, she will be known to everyone as ungodly.
Happy is the husband of a good wife,
for the number of his years will be doubled.
27 A loud-mouthed and garrulous wife will be regarded
as a trumpet sounding the charge,
And every person who lives like this
will spend his life in the anarchy of war.
* [26:28–27:15] From proper conduct in family life, Ben Sira proceeds to social morality, warning especially against injustice in business (26:29–27:3), and perversity of speech in daily life (27:4–7). The pursuit of justice in these matters is all the more meritorious as it is difficult (27:8–10). The discourses of the godly are marked with wisdom, but the conversations of the wicked with offense, swearing, cursing, quarrels, and even bloodshed (27:11–15).