On physicians

Honor doctors for their services,[a]
since indeed the Lord created them.
Healing comes from the Most High,
and the king will reward them.
The skill of doctors will make
them eminent,
and they will be admired
in the presence of the great.
The Lord created medicines
out of the earth,
and a sensible person
won’t ignore them.
Wasn’t water made sweet
by means of wood
so that the Lord’s[b] strength
might be known?
And he endowed human beings
with skill
so that he would be glorified
through his marvelous deeds.
With those medicines,
the doctor cures and takes away pain.
Those who prepare ointments
will make a compound out of them,
and their[c] work will never be finished,
and well-being spreads
over the whole world from them.
My child, when you are sick,
don’t look around elsewhere,
but pray to the Lord,
and he will heal you.
10 Stay far from error,
direct your hands rightly,
and cleanse your heart from all sin.
11 Offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice
and a memorial of fine flour,
and pour an offering of oil,
using what you can afford.[d]
12 And give doctors a place,
because the Lord created them also,
and don’t let them leave you,
because you indeed need them.
13 There’s a time when success
is in their hands as well.
14 They will also ask the Lord
so that he might grant them rest[e]
and healing in order to preserve life.
15 May those who sin against their creator
fall into the hands of a doctor.

On mourning

16 My child, let your tears flow for the dead;
as one who is suffering terribly,
give voice to your sorrow.
Lay out their bodies in accordance
with their wishes,
and don’t neglect their burial.
17 Let your crying be bitter
and express your sorrow fervently,
and make your mourning
worthy of them.
Mourn for one day or two
so that there can be no criticism,
and then be comforted from your grief.
18 Too much grief can lead to death,
and grief in one’s heart
will sap one’s strength.
19 Grief also lingers in misery,
and the life of the poor
is a curse upon the heart.
20 Don’t give your heart over to grief;
stay away from it,
remembering your own end.
21 Don’t forget that there’s no coming back;
you won’t do them any good,
and you will hurt yourself.
22 Remember their sentence,
because it’s yours also:
“Yesterday it was I, and today it’s you!”
23 When the dead are at rest,
put their memory to rest,
and be comforted for them
when their spirit has left.

The scribe’s superiority

24 The scribe’s wisdom depends
on the opportunity for leisure,
and whoever lacks busyness
will become wise.
25 How will people become wise
when they take hold of a plow
or pride themselves
in how well they handle an ox prod,
when they drive cattle
and are absorbed with their work,
and their conversation is about bulls?
26 Their hearts are given over
to plowing furrows,
and they lose sleep
because they’re concerned
about supplying heifers with food.
27 So it is also with every craftsperson
and master artisan
who carries over the day’s work
into the night,
who carves figures on seals
and works diligently
to make diverse ornamentations.
They will devote themselves
to producing a lifelike painting,
and they lose sleep
in order to finish their work.
28 So it is with smiths who sit near an anvil
and who closely examine works of iron.
The blast of the fire
will melt their flesh,
and they will struggle
with the heat of the furnace.
The sound of the hammer
will strike their ears again and again,
and their eyes are focused
on the pattern of the object.
They will devote themselves
to finishing the work,
and they lose sleep
in order to complete its decoration.
29 So it is with potters sitting at their work,
turning the wheel at their feet.
They lie down always feeling anxiety
about their work,
and every product of theirs is valued.
30 They will mold the clay with their hands
and work the wheel with their feet.
They will devote themselves
to finishing the glazing,
and they lose sleep
in order to clean the kiln.
31 All of these have relied on their hands,
and each one is skilled in their work.
32 Without them a city can’t be inhabited,
and they neither go abroad to live
as immigrants nor travel about.
However, they aren’t sought out
when the people hold a council,
33 and they won’t gain prominence
in the assembly.
They won’t sit in the judge’s seat,
and they won’t understand
the disposition of a legal case.
They will never shed light
on instruction and judgment,
and their words
won’t be memorialized in proverbs.[f]
34 But they support the world
from its foundations,
and their prayer is concerned
with their craft.
But those who devote themselves
and think about the Law of the
Most High are the exception.


  1. Sirach 38:1 Heb Make friends with a physician before you need one.
  2. Sirach 38:5 LXX his; possibly its
  3. Sirach 38:8 The referent of the pronouns in these two clauses and the next could possibly be God.
  4. Sirach 38:11 Heb; LXX uncertain
  5. Sirach 38:14 Heb a diagnosis
  6. Sirach 38:33 LXX among parables