The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiasticus
A brood of disloyal sons, let not thy eye dwell on these with pleasure; the fear of God lacking, let not a multitude of children be thy comfort.
Not on such lives as these set thy hopes, little regard have thou for such doings as theirs;
better one son who fears God than a thousand who grow up rebellious;
better die childless than have rebels to succeed thee.
Through one man that is well-minded a whole country may thrive, and sinners, a whole race of them, may be extinguished;
much proof of this my own eyes have seen, and stronger proof yet are the tales that have come to my hearing,
of fire breaking out where sinners were met in company, fires of vengeance to consume a disobedient race.
Those giants of long ago who perished in the pride of their strength, did they find pardon of their guilt?
Lot’s neighbours, did God spare them? Did he not attest his hatred of their insolence,
destroying a whole nation without pity, for the sinfulness that defied him?
And what of those six hundred thousand that marched out into the desert, men of stubborn heart? Stiff-necked if he had been like the others, Caleb himself should not have had God’s pardon.✻
His to pity, his to punish; intercession avails with him, but in full flood comes his vengeance;
his severity, no less than his clemency, judges men by their deeds.
Never may sinner enjoy his ill-gotten gains in safety, nor the hope of the generous be disappointed.
No generous act but shall win God’s consideration; he weighs each man’s merits, knows how each passed his time on earth.
Never think to hide thyself away from God; never tell thyself, from that great height none shall regard thee;
that thou wilt pass unnoticed amidst the throng of humanity, thy soul a mere speck in the vast fabric of creation.
Why, the very heavens, and the heavens that are above the heavens, the great deep, and the whole earth with all it contains, shrink away at the sight of him;
mountains and hills and earth’s foundations tremble at his glance;
all these have a heart, though it be a heart void of reason,✻ and there is no heart but its secrets are known to him.
There is no fathoming his ways, no piercing the dark cloud man’s eyes have never seen;
Away with these fancies of shallow minds, these fond dreams of error!
Wilt thou but listen to me, my son, thou shalt learn a wiser lesson. Give me thy heart’s heeding,
and instruction thou shalt have in full measure, wisdom both profound and clear. Give me thy heart’s heeding, and thou shalt share with me knowledge of the wonderful endowments God gave his creatures when first he made them; all the lore I have shall be truly told thee.
From the first, all God’s creatures are at his beck and call; to each, when he first made it, he gave its own turn of service, the principle that determines its own nature.
To each, for all time, its own office is assigned, nor lack they, nor tire they, nor cease they from work,
nor, for all time, can any of them infringe upon its neighbour’s rights;
his word there is no gainsaying.✻
This done, on earth he let fall his regard, and filled earth with his blessings;
covered the face of it✻ with the living things that breathe there, and into its bosom bade them return.
The Holy Bible