The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiasticus
A man may be lowly born, and yet rise high through the wisdom that is in him, till at last he takes his seat among men of rank.
Esteem no man for his good looks, nor for his outward show despise him;
yonder bee is an inconsiderable creature, and yet there is a world of sweetness in the harvest she wins.
Plume not thyself when thou goest bravely clad, nor pride thyself in thy brief hour of greatness. Of wonder and of praise what else is worthy, but the doings of the most High? And these, how hedged about with secrecy!
Kings a many have lost their thrones,✻ to pretenders they never dreamed of;
great ones a many have fallen full low, and their glory has passed to others.
Blame not, till thou hast heard the excuse; more just thy reproof shall be when thou hast learnt all.
Listen first, then answer, never breaking in when the tale is half told.
Quarrel not, where thou thyself art not concerned; leave judgement of the offender to others.
Do not be entangled, my son, in too many enterprises. The rich man pays forfeit, chasing what overtake he may not, or fleeing what he may not shun.
Some men’s lives are all toil and haste and anxiety; yet the more they toil, the less advantage they win, for want of piety.
And others are backward folk, that cannot hold their gains, men of little power and much poverty;
and yet such a man the Lord will look upon with favour, rescue him from neglect and greatly advance him, to the world’s amazement, and the greater honour of God.
From God all comes, good fortune and ill, life and death, poverty and riches;
in God’s keeping are wisdom and temperance and knowledge of the law, charity and the good life.
Error and darkness are sinful man’s birthright; it is by making evil their delight that men grow hardened in evil.
No momentary blessing it is, God’s largesse to his faithful servants; that seed that bears an eternal crop.
No such boast has the man of thrift, that by his own effort wins wealth.
Does he tell himself that he has found security at last; nothing remains but to glut, with his own earnings, his own greed?
He forgets that time flies, and death draws near; die he must, and leave all he has to another.
Be true to thy covenant with God; its words to thy own ears repeat; to that, and thy enjoined duty, inure thyself.
Wouldst thou stand there gaping at the doings of sinners? Nay, trust in God, and keep to thy appointed task.
Dost thou think God finds it hard to enrich the beggar, and in a moment?
Swift, swift comes the blessing that rewards faithful service; in one short hour its fruits ripen.
Never tell thyself, need thou hast none, there is no more good can befall thee;
never flatter thyself, thou art master of thy own lot, no harm can touch thee now.
Rather, bethink thyself of foul weather in fair, of fair weather in foul;
on the very day of a man’s death God can give him his deserts.
One hour of misery, how it can efface in the memory long years of ease! Only a man’s death-bed brings the full history of his fortunes to light.
Never call a man happy until he is dead; his true epitaph is written in his children.
Do not keep thy house open to every comer; knaves have many shifts.
Foul breath lurks in a diseased body; the partridge a hidden lure awaits, a hidden snare the doe; so there be unquiet hearts, ever on the watch for a neighbour’s downfall,
ready to interpret good things amiss, and cast blame on the innocent.
One spark is enough to spread a fire, and one man’s treachery may be the cause of bloodshed; such villains as these plot against life itself.
Against such a plague be thou timely on thy guard, or it may prove thy eternal disgrace.
Alien let in is whirlwind let in, that shall alienate from thee all thou hast.✻
The Holy Bible