Instructions for men concerning women (Sir 9:1-9:9)

“Do not be jealous of the wife of your bosom!

You will teach her an evil lesson

To your own hurt.

Do not give yourself to a woman!

Do not let her trample down your strength!

Do not go near a loose woman!

You will fall into her snares.

Do not associate with a singing girl!

You will be caught by her tricks.

Do not look intently at a virgin!

You may stumble.

You may incur penalties for her.

Do not give yourself to prostitutes!

You may lose your inheritance.

Do not look around in the streets of a city!

Do not wander about in its deserted sections!

Turn away your eyes from a shapely woman!

Do not gaze at beauty belonging to another!

Many have been seduced by a woman’s beauty.

By beauty

Passion is kindled

Like a fire.

Never dine with another man’s wife!

Never revel with her at wine!

Your heart may turn aside to her.

In blood,

You may be plunged into destruction.”

In a series of reprimands for men concerning women, Sirach says that men should not be jealous of their wife. Your jealousy might teach her an evil lesson that you might regret since she might be jealous of you. Do not let women take away your strength. Stay away from loose women and singing women because they might trick you. Don’t stare at virgins. Obviously, don’t go to prostitutes because you could lose all your money. Do not go wandering around deserted parts of the city. Don’t let your eyes be caught looking at a beautiful shapely women. Beauty quickly seduces into passion. Don’t eat or drink with another man’s wife. Your heart could turn towards her. You might be plunged into destruction. Thus we see the proper and improper conduct of men towards women in the 2nd century BCE.

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Secrets (Sir 8:17-8:19)

“Do not consult with fools!

They cannot keep a secret.

In the presence of strangers,

Do nothing that is to be kept secret!

You do not know

What they will divulge.

Do not reveal your thoughts to anyone!

You may drive away your happiness.”

Sirach’s recommendations continue with some words about secrets. Do not consult with fools, which is obvious. They cannot keep a secret. Do not let strangers know what you are doing. You have no idea who or what they will tell about your actions. Do not let anyone know your thoughts because that could lead to your unhappiness.

Quarrels and travels (Sir 8:14-8:16)

“Do not go to law against a judge!

The decision will favor him

Because of his standing.

Do not go traveling with the reckless!

They will be burdensome to you.

They will act as they please.

Through their folly

You will perish with them.

Do not pick a fight with the quick-tempered!

Do not journey with them through lonely country!

Bloodshed means nothing to them.

Where no help is at hand,

They will strike you down.”

Do not go to the law against a judge because the decision will favor him due to his position as a judge. Do not travel with reckless people because they will be a burden to you. They will do whatever they want. They will draw you into their folly and you will perish with them. Do not pick a fight with someone who has a quick temper. Do not go traveling with them either. Killing people means nothing to them. They are liable to kill you when there is no one to help you. Be careful with who you travel with.

How to get along with people (Sir 8:10-8:13)

“Do not kindle the coals of sinners!

You may be burned in their flaming fire.

Do not let the insolent bring you to your feet!

They may lie in ambush against your words.

Do not lend

To one who is stronger than you!

If you do lend anything,

Count it as a loss.

Do not give surety

Beyond your means!

If you give surety,

Be prepared to pay.”

Do not provoke sinners or you may be burned by their flames. Do not get involved with the insolent or they might ambush you. Do not lend money to someone stronger than you. If you do, write it off as a loss. Do not offer surety or guarantees for others. If you do, do not offer more than you can pay. You should be prepared to pay whatever you guarantee.

The wise old sages (Sir 8:8-8:9)

“Do not slight the discourse of the sages.

Busy yourself with their maxims.

Because from them

You will gain discipline.

You will learn how to serve princes.

Do not ignore the discourse of the aged.

They themselves learned from their parents.

From them

You learn how to understand.

You learn how to give an answer

When the need arises.”

Like many of the biblical writings, there is a respect for the past. In particular, there is a great respect for the oral tradition of those with great experience. Therefore you should listen to the maxims and sayings of the wise old sages. You will learn disciple and how to serve the various rulers. Do not ignore the conversations of the old people since they have learned many of these things from their parents. From them, you should learn how to understand and give an answer at the appropriate time.

Respect for others (Sir 8:4-8:7)

“Do not make fun of one

Who is ill-bred.

Otherwise your ancestors may be insulted.

Do not reproach one

Who is turning away from sin.

Remember that we all deserve punishment.

Do not disdain one

Who is old.

Some of us are also growing old.

Do not rejoice over any one’s death.

Remember that we all must die.”

Sirach reminds us that we should respect other people. We should not make fun of ill bred people because some of our ancestors might be insulted. We should not criticize a penitent, since all of us deserve punishment. We should not make fun of old people because some of us are getting old. We should not rejoice over the death of anyone because we too are going to die.

Prudence (Sir 8:1-8:3)

“Do not contend with the powerful.

Otherwise you may fall into their hands.

Do not quarrel with the rich.

Otherwise their resources may outweigh yours.

Gold has ruined many.

Gold has perverted the minds of kings.

Do not argue with the loud of mouth.

Do not heap wood on their fire.”

Sirach has some common sense prudent statements about life. Do not argue with powerful people or you might fall into their hands. Do not quarrel with the rich because they have more resources than you have. Don’t let your life be ruined by gold, as some kings have. Don’t argue with loud-mouthed people because you are only putting more wood on their fire.