The Training of Children*

1Whoever loves a son will chastise him often,

that he may be his joy when he grows up.a

2Whoever disciplines a son will benefit from him,

and boast of him among acquaintances.

3Whoever educates a son will make his enemy jealous,

and rejoice in him among his friends.

4At the father’s death, he will seem not dead,

for he leaves after him one like himself,

5Whom he looked upon through life with joy,

and in death, without regret.

6Against his enemies he has left an avenger,

and one to repay his friends with kindness.

7Whoever spoils a son will have wounds to bandage,

and will suffer heartache at every cry.

8An untamed horse turns out stubborn;

and a son left to himself grows up unruly.

9Pamper a child and he will be a terror for you,

indulge him, and he will bring you grief.

10Do not laugh with him lest you share sorrow with him,

and in the end you will gnash your teeth.

11Do not give him his own way in his youth,

and do not ignore his follies.

12Bow down his head in his youth,

beat his sides while he is still young,

Lest he become stubborn and disobey you,

and leave you disconsolate.b

13Discipline your son and make heavy his yoke,

lest you be offended by his shamelessness.

Health and Cheerfulness*

14Better the poor in vigorous health

than the rich with bodily ills.

15I would rather have bodily health than any gold,

and contentment of spirit than pearls.

16No riches are greater than a healthy body;

and no happiness than a joyful heart.

17Better is death than a wretched life,c

everlasting sleep than constant illness.

18Good things set before one who cannot eat

are like food offerings placed before a tomb.* d

19What good is an offering to an idol

that can neither eat nor smell?

So it is with the one being punished by the Lord,

20who groans at what his eyes behold.

21Do not give in to sadness,

or torment yourself deliberately.e

22Gladness of heart is the very life of a person,

and cheerfulness prolongs his days.

23Distract yourself and renew your courage,

drive resentment far away from you;

For grief has killed many,f

and nothing is to be gained from resentment.

24Envy and anger shorten one’s days,

and anxiety brings on premature old age.

25Those who are cheerful and merry at table

benefit from their food.* g

* [30:113] Sound discipline (which would include physical beating) and careful education of children correct self-indulgence and stubbornness, prevent remorse and humiliation, and bring to parents lasting joy and delight, prestige among friends, jealousy of enemies, perpetuation and vindication of themselves through their offspring (vv. 16). Lack of discipline and overindulgence of children bring sorrow and disappointment, terror and grief (vv. 713).

* [30:1425] Health of mind and body and joy of heart Ben Sira judges to be more precious than wealth (vv. 1416), whereas bitterness, constant illness, and affliction are more difficult to bear than death (vv. 1720). Sadness, resentment, anxiety, envy, and anger shorten days; they should be dispelled by cheerfulness and gladness of heart, which help to prolong one’s days (vv. 2125).

* [30:18] The saying ridicules the practice of putting food and drink on the tombs of the dead.

* [30:25(27)] Because of the dislocation of the Greek text, the numbering of this verse follows Ziegler’s edition. There are no verses 25–26.

a. [30:1] Prv 13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13; 29:15; Heb 12:7.

b. [30:12] Sir 7:23; Prv 23:14.

c. [30:17] Sir 41:2.

d. [30:18] Tb 4:17.

e. [30:21] Prv 12:25; 15:13; 17:22.

f. [30:23] Sir 38:1819.

g. [30:25] Prv 15:15.

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