Responsibilities to Parents*
1Children, listen to me, your father;
act accordingly, that you may be safe.
2For the Lord sets a father in honor over his children
and confirms a mother’s authority over her sons.
3Those who honor their father atone for sins;
4they store up riches who respect their mother.
5Those who honor their father will have joy in their own children,
and when they pray they are heard.
6Those who respect their father will live a long life;
those who obey the Lord honor their mother.
7Those who fear the Lord honor their father,
and serve their parents as masters.
8In word and deed honor your father,
that all blessings may come to you.a
9A father’s blessing gives a person firm roots,
but a mother’s curse uproots the growing plant.b
10Do not glory in your father’s disgrace,
for that is no glory to you!
11A father’s glory is glory also for oneself;
they multiply sin who demean their mother.c
12My son, be steadfast in honoring your father;
do not grieve him as long as he lives.d
13Even if his mind fails, be considerate of him;
do not revile him because you are in your prime.
14Kindness to a father will not be forgotten;
it will serve as a sin offering—it will take lasting root.
15In time of trouble it will be recalled to your advantage,
like warmth upon frost it will melt away your sins.
16Those who neglect their father are like blasphemers;
those who provoke their mother are accursed by their Creator.e
17My son, conduct your affairs with humility,
and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
18Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,
and you will find mercy in the sight of God.† f
20For great is the power of the Lord;
by the humble he is glorified.
21What is too sublime for you, do not seek;
do not reach into things that are hidden from you.g
22What is committed to you, pay heed to;
what is hidden is not your concern.
23In matters that are beyond you do not meddle,
when you have been shown more than you can understand.
24Indeed, many are the conceits of human beings;
evil imaginations lead them astray.
25Without the pupil of the eye, light is missing;
without knowledge, wisdom is missing.
26A stubborn heart will fare badly in the end;
those who love danger will perish in it.
27A stubborn heart will have many a hurt;
adding sin to sin is madness.
28When the proud are afflicted, there is no cure;
for they are offshoots of an evil plant.h
29The mind of the wise appreciates proverbs,
and the ear that listens to wisdom rejoices.
Alms for the Poor
30As water quenches a flaming fire,
so almsgiving atones for sins.i
31The kindness people have done crosses their paths later on;
should they stumble, they will find support.
* [3:1–16] Besides the virtues that must characterize our conduct toward God, special duties are enjoined, such as honor and respect toward parents, with corresponding blessings (vv. 1–9). By showing such respect especially to old and infirm parents (vv. 10–13), the sins of children are pardoned (vv. 14–15). Failure to honor father and mother is blasphemy and merits a curse from God (v. 16). Cf. Ex 20:12; Eph 6:2–3.
* [3:17–24] Humility gives you a true estimate of yourself (vv. 17–20; cf. 10:28), so that you will do what should be done, and avoid what is beyond your understanding and strength (vv. 21–23). Intellectual pride, however, leads you astray (v. 24). Ben Sira is perhaps warning his students against the perils of Greek philosophy.
† [3:18] Other ancient texts read as v. 19:
Many are lofty and famous,
but to the humble he reveals his plan.
* [3:25–29] The antidote for stubbornness is to be found in the search for knowledge and wisdom.
a. [3:8] Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16; Mt 15:4; 19:19; Mk 7:10; 10:19; Lk 18:20; Eph 6:2–3.
b. [3:9] Gn 27:27–29; 49:2–27.
e. [3:16] Prv 19:26; 30:11, 14, 17.
f. [3:18] Mt 23:12; Lk 1:52; 14:11; 18:14.
h. [3:28] Dt 32:32; Wis 12:10.
i. [3:30] Sir 7:32–36; 29:8–13; Dt 15:7–11; Tb 12:9; Dn 4:24.