The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiasticus
Great is the anxiety all men are doomed to, heavy the yoke each son of Adam must bear, from the day when he leaves his mother’s womb to the day when he is buried in the earth, that is mother of all.
What solicitude is his, what fears catch at his heart; how quick his mind runs out to meet coming events! And the term of it all is death.
What matter, whether a man sit on a throne, or grovel in dust and ashes;
whether he goes clad in purple and wears a crown, or has but coarse linen to wear? Anger he shall know, and jealousy, and concern, and bewilderment, and the fear of death, and the grudge that rankles, and rivalry.
Rest he on his bed at night, sleep comes to fashion his thinking anew;
even there, the rest he wins is but little or none at all, and thereupon, in his dreams, he is anxious as sentry waiting to be relieved,
his are such whirling thoughts as fugitive has, just escaped from the battle. Then, at the moment of deliverance, comes waking; and he marvels to find his fears all vain.
This lot he shares with all living things; beast has it as well as man, but for the sinner it is multiplied sevenfold.
There is more besides, mortal sickness, bloodshed, quarrelling, the sword, oppression, famine, devastation and plague;
all such things are designed for the punishing of the wicked; was it not from wickedness the flood came?
All that is of earth, to earth must needs return, and all waters find their way back to the sea;
what shall become of bribery and oppression? The memory of them shall vanish; faithfulness will endure for ever.
All the riches of the wrong-doer will disappear, like stream that runs dry, will die away, like roll of thunder in a storm-cloud;
open-handed is merry-hearted, the sinners it is that shall pine away at the last.
Never a branch will the posterity of the wicked put forth; dead roots they are that rattle on the wind-swept rock.
How green yonder rushes grow by the river’s bank! But they shall be plucked up before hay-harvest.
But kindliness, like the garden trees, lasts on, remembered in blessing; charity remains unforgotten.
Sweet is his lot, that toils and is contented; here is hidden treasure for thy finding.✻
Children born, and a city founded, will bring thee a great name; best of all, a woman without spot.
Wine and music make heart glad; best of all, the love of wisdom.
Flute and harp make sweet melody; best of all a kindly tongue.
Grace and beauty charm the eye; best of all, the green wheat.
Friend and friend, gossip and gossip, are well met; best of all, man and wife.
Kinsmen …✻ will help thee in hard times; best of all thy alms-deeds to deliver thee.
Gold and silver give thee sure vantage-ground; best of all, right counsel.
Riches and strength make the heart beat high; best of all, the fear of the Lord.
Fear the Lord, lack thou shalt have none, help need none;
the fear of the Lord is a garden that yields blessing … and in splendour above all splendour they have clothed him.✻
Long as thou livest, my son, never turn beggar; die is better than beg.
Look thou for thy meat to another’s table, I count thy life no life at all; what, owe thy very being to another man’s larder?
From such a chance, good teaching and good training shall keep thee safe.
Poverty, on a fool’s lips, will pass for a thing desirable; but trust me, he has a fire raging within.
The Holy Bible