December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 With three things I am delighted, for they are pleasing to the LORD and to men: Harmony among brethren, friendship among neighbors, and the mutual love of husband and wife.
- Three kinds of men I hate; their manner of life I loathe indeed: A proud pauper, a rich dissembler, and an old man lecherous in his dotage.
- What you have not saved in your youth, how will you acquire in your old age?
- How becoming to the gray-haired is judgment, and a knowledge of counsel to those on in years!
- How becoming to the aged is wisdom, understanding and prudence to the venerable!
- The crown of old men is wide experience; their glory, the fear of the LORD.
- There are nine who come to my mind as blessed, a tenth whom my tongue proclaims: The man who finds joy in his children, and he who lives to see his enemies' downfall.
- 2 Happy is he who dwells with a sensible wife, and he who plows not like a donkey yoked with an ox. Happy is he who sins not with his tongue, and he who serves not his inferior.
- Happy is he who finds a friend and he who speaks to attentive ears.
- He who finds wisdom is great indeed, but not greater than he who fears the LORD.
- Fear of the LORD surpasses all else. its possessor is beyond compare.
- 3 Worst of all wounds is that of the heart, worst of all evils is that of a woman.
- Worst of all sufferings is that from one's foes, worst of all vengeance is that of one's enemies:
- No poison worse than that of a serpent, no venom greater than that of a woman.
- With a dragon or a lion I would rather dwell than live with an evil woman.
- Wickedness changes a woman's looks, and makes her sullen as a female bear.
- When her husband sits among his neighbors, a bitter sigh escapes him unawares.
- There is scarce any evil like that in a woman; may she fall to the lot of the sinner!
- Like a sandy hill to aged feet is a railing wife to a quiet man.
- Stumble not through woman's beauty, nor be greedy for her wealth;
- The man is a slave, in disgrace and shame, when a wife supports her husband.
- Depressed mind, saddened face, broken heart--this from an evil wife. Feeble hands and quaking knees-- from a wife who brings no happiness to her husband.
- 4 In woman was sin's beginning, and because of her we all die.
- Allow water no outlet, and be not indulgent to an erring wife.
- If she walks not by your side, cut her away from you.
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1 [1-11] While praising brotherly love, love of neighbor, and conjugal love, the sage condemns their opposites in the arrogant pauper who despises his brother, the fraudulent rich man who cheats his neighbor, and the lecherous old man unfaithful to his wife (Sirach 25:1, 2). This last, sensual from his youth, lacks the mature blessings of judgment and wisdom in old age (Sirach 25:3-6) and the joy of a peaceful household, where honesty and dignity, friendship, wisdom and fear of God prevail (Sirach 25:7-11).
2  Like a donkey yoked with an ox: incompatibility between husband and wife.
3 [12-25] Wickedness in a woman is most grievous, painful and bitter to her husband. Through it she becomes vengeful, dangerous and intolerable, jealous, talkative, intemperate and unchaste. Even her very appearance is changed (Sirach 25:12-17). The worst of all evils, a source of grief, a snare and a disgrace to her husband, she depresses his mind, saddens and breaks his heart, destroys his strength (Sirach 25:18-22). She must not be indulged but made obedient or punished (Sirach 25:24, 25).
4  According to the account in Genesis 3 to which Ben Sirach refers, sin, the cause of death, originated in woman: Eve, the first human being to sin, induced Adam to follow her example. But it is through Adam, as head of the race, that original sin and its punishment of spiritual death are presented by St. Paul (Romans 5) as having entered the world, to become the occasion for the redemptive work of Christ our Lord.
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