Don’t wish for a multitude
of worthless children,
and don’t be glad about sons and daughters if they are ungodly.
If they have children,
don’t rejoice over them
unless they respect the Lord.
Don’t be confident that they will live,
and don’t rely on their great number.[a]
One is better than a thousand,
and it’s better to die childless
than to have ungodly children.
A city will be populated
through one intelligent person,
but a tribe of lawless people
can transform it into a desert.
My eye has seen many such things,
and my ear has heard more extraordinary matters than these.
A fire will be kindled
in an assembly of sinners,
and wrath will flash forth
in a disobedient nation.
The Lord didn’t seek reconciliation
with the ancient giants[b]
who rebelled in their might.
He didn’t spare Lot’s neighbors,
whom he detested
because of their arrogance.
He showed no mercy on a nation
doomed to destruction,
on people who were driven off
because of their sins.[c]
10 So also he showed no mercy
to the six hundred thousand
foot soldiers
who gathered together
in their stubbornness.[d]
11 Even if there was one
stiff-necked person,
it would be amazing
if that one would go unpunished,
because mercy and wrath are with him,
the Lord who reconciles
and who pours out wrath.
12 His scrutiny is as severe
as his mercy is abundant;
he will judge people
according to their deeds.
13 A sinner won’t escape with plunder,
and the endurance of the godly
will never fail.
14 He will make allowance
for every act of charity;
everyone will receive their just reward.[e]
17 Don’t say, “I’ll be hidden from the Lord,”
and “Who from on high
will call me to mind?
Among a great many people,
I’ll never be recognized;
for what am I in such a vast creation?
18 Look at the heavens,
indeed the highest heavens;
the abyss and the earth
will tremble at the Lord’s visitation.[f]
19 All at once the mountains
and the foundations of the earth
will shake together, quaking,
when he looks upon them.
20 The mind cannot even think
about these things.
Who can ponder his ways?
21 Most of his deeds are hidden
like a hurricane that no one can see.[g]
22 Who will announce just actions?
Or who will endure,
since God’s covenant is far off?”[h]
23 Those who lack sense think this way;
a foolish and misguided person
thinks foolish things.

Wisdom and the creation of humans

24 Listen to me, my child: gain knowledge
and apply your mind to my words.
25 I will disclose instruction accurately,[i]
and with precision
I will declare knowledge.
26 The Lord’s works in creation
existed from the beginning,
and he defined their exact stations
when he made them.
27 He set their works in order forever,
and arranged their spheres of authority
for as long as they last.
They have never gotten hungry
or grown weary,
and they have never
abandoned their tasks.
28 None of them crowd out their neighbor,
and none will ever disobey his word.
29 Afterward, the Lord looked at the earth
and filled it with his good things.
30 He covered its surface
with every living being,
and they return into it.


  1. Sirach 16:3 LXXb adds You will lament in untimely mourning; you will suddenly learn of their end.
  2. Sirach 16:7 Heb princes
  3. Sirach 16:9 LXXb adds He did all these things to hard-hearted nations, and the multitude of his holy ones did not appease him.
  4. Sirach 16:10 Or hardness of their hearts; LXXb adds By flogging, showing mercy, striking, healing, the Lord watched carefully with compassion and discipline.
  5. Sirach 16:14 LXXb adds 16:15–16 The Lord hardened Pharaoh so that he didn’t know him, so that God’s works would be known everywhere under heaven. His mercy is evident to all creation, and his light and darkness he allotted to Adam.
  6. Sirach 16:18 LXXb adds The entire world, past and present, is in his will.
  7. Sirach 16:21 LXX uncertain; Heb If I sin, no one will see me; if I tell lies in complete secrecy, who will know?
  8. Sirach 16:22 LXXb adds: and everyone will be scrutinized in the end.
  9. Sirach 16:25 LXX by weight