The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiasticus
My son, do not cheat a poor man of the alms he asks, nor pass him by, with averted look, in his need.
Wouldst thou despise his hungry glance, and add to the burden of his distress?
Wouldst thou disappoint him in his bitter need by bidding him wait for the gift?
Nay, spurn thou never the plea of the afflicted; look thy suppliant in the face,
and of his poverty take good heed; shall his baffled rage curse thee behind thy back?
The curse of an embittered man does not go unheard; his Maker is listening.
To the common sort of men give friendly welcome; before an elder abate thy pride; and to a man of eminence bow meekly thy head.
If a poor man would speak to thee, lend him thy ear without grudging; give him his due, and let him have patient and friendly answer.
If he is wronged by oppression, redress thou needs must win him, nor be vexed by his importunity.
When thou sittest in judgement, be a father to the orphans, a husband to the widow that bore them;
so the most High an obedient son shall reckon thee, and shew thee more than a mother’s kindness.
New life wisdom breathes into her children, befriends all that have recourse to her, and guides them in the right way.
Love her, as thou lovest life; wait early at her doors, if thou wouldst win her sweet embrace.
Life the prize, if thou hold her fast; come she in at the door, God’s blessing comes with her;
court paid to her, worship paid to the Holy One; love given to her, God’s love made thine in return for it!
A word from her, and the world is at thy feet, a sight of her face, and thou shalt dwell ever secure;
trust her, and she will be thy inheritance, settled on the heirs of thy body.
When first she chooses a man out, she does but make trial of his company;
she puts him to the proof, threatening him with her frown, teasing him with her difficult lore, until at last she has proved whether his thoughts are hers, and can trust him perfectly.
Then she gives him confidence, coming out openly to meet him; gladdens him with her smile,
and tells him all her secrets; makes him rich with store of true knowledge, and enables him to discern the right.
Only if he strays away from her does she abandon him, and leave him at the mercy of his foes.
My son, study well what the time needs, ever on thy guard against wrong-doing;
though life itself were in peril, never be ashamed to speak the truth.
Deference, that is the grace and glory of a man, may yet make a sinner of him.
Wouldst thou hold another man’s honour dearer than thy own, and swear the lie at thy soul’s peril?
Nay, speak out without shame, though thy own neighbour should be threatened with ruin.
Withhold not thy counsel while safety may yet be won; thy wisdom is not to be hidden away like a veiled beauty.
Wisdom still needs a tongue to disclose it; no discernment or knowledge or shrewd counsel but waits on the apt word; how else should men be encouraged in well doing?
Speak thou never against the known truth; and if thy ignorance has erred, own thy error.
Be never ashamed to confess thy faults, nor, for thy fault, put thyself in any man’s power.
Wouldst thou defy, and openly, a ruler’s authority? Thou hadst better swim against the stream’s force.✻
Do battle for the right, all thy life long, and with thy last breath do battle for the right still; God, in thy cause, will overcome thy enemies.
A glib tongue, and hands that hang down idle; such be not thine.
Lion if thou must be, let not thy own house feel the brunt of it, thy own servants harried, thy own slaves beaten to the earth.
Open hand when the word is Take, shut when the word is Give; such be not thine.
The Holy Bible