Advice Concerning Women*
1Do not be jealous of the wife of your bosom,
lest you teach her to do evil against you.*
2Do not give a woman power over you
to trample on your dignity.a
3Do not go near a strange woman,
lest you fall into her snares.
4Do not dally with a singer,
lest you be captivated by her charms.
5Do not entertain any thoughts about a virgin,
lest you be enmeshed in damages for her.*
6Do not give yourself to a prostitute
lest you lose your inheritance.b
7Do not look around the streets of the city
or wander through its squares.
8Avert your eyes from a shapely woman;
do not gaze upon beauty that is not yours;
Through woman’s beauty many have been ruined,
for love of it burns like fire.c
9Never recline at table with a married woman,
or drink intoxicants with her,
Lest your heart be drawn to her
and you go down in blood* to the grave.
Choice of Friends*
10Do not abandon old friends;
new ones cannot equal them.
A new friend is like new wine—
when it has aged, you drink it with pleasure.
11Do not envy the wicked
for you do not know when their day will come.
12Do not delight in the pleasures of the ungodly;
remember, they will not die unpunished.
13Keep away from those who have power to kill,
and you will not be filled with the dread of death.
But if you come near them, do not offend them,
lest they take away your life.
Know that you are stepping among snares
and walking over a net.
14As best you can, answer your neighbor,
and associate with the wise.
15With the learned exchange ideas;
and let all your conversation be about the law of the Most High.
16Take the righteous for your table companions;
and let your glory be in the fear of God.
17Work by skilled hands will earn praise;
but the people’s leader is proved wise by his words.
18Loud mouths are feared in their city,
and whoever is reckless in speech is hated.
* [9:1–9] Ben Sira writes about women only from the androcentric viewpoint of his culture. Cf. 25:13–26:27.
* [9:1] Jealousy may lead to suspicion and may prompt a wife to those actions her husband fears.
* [9:5] Cf. Ex 22:15–16; Dt 22:28–29; Jb 31:1. Cf. note on Ex 22:16.
* [9:9] In blood: perhaps refers to blood revenge; cf. Lv 20:10.
* [9:10–16] The second of Ben Sira’s poems on friendship; cf. note on 6:5–17. In choosing friends, adherence to the law of the Lord should serve as a guide (v. 15). Associate with true friends (v. 10), with the righteous and the learned (vv. 14–16); avoid the company of the mighty and of sinners (vv. 11–13). Cf. 8:1–19.
* [9:17–10:5] Public office as conducted justly or unjustly benefits or destroys the people, according to the axiom, “as the prince, so the people.” God, however, has sovereignty over both.
b. [9:6] Prv 5:1–14; 6:24; 29:3.