*Creation of Man*
1. The Lord created man from the earth
And returned him to it again.+
2. He gave them a certain number of days and an appointed time,
And He gave them authority over it.
3. He clothed them in strength like His own
And made them in His image.
4. He put the fear of man upon all flesh
And gave him dominion over wild animals and birds.
5. He gave mankind the ability to deliberate,
And a tongue, eyes and ears, and a heart to think wit.
6. He filled them with the skill of comprehension
And showed them good and evil.
7. He set His eye upon their hearts
To show them the majesty of His works.
8. They will praise His holy name
So as to fully describe the majesty of His works.
*The Covenant with Israel*
9. He added knowledge to them
And gave them the law of life as a heritage.+
10. He established an eternal covenant with them,
And He showed His judgments to them.
11. Their eyes saw His glorious majesty,
And their ears heard His glorious voice.
12. He said to them, "Beware of all unrighteousness,"
And He commanded each of them concerning his neighbor.
13. Their ways are before Him continually;
They will not be hidden from His eyes.
14. He appointed a ruler for every nation,
But Israel is the Lord's portion.
15. All His works are as the sun before Him,
And His eyes are continually on their ways.
16. Their wrongdoings are not hidden from Him,
And all their sins are before the Lord.
17. A man's almsgiving is like a seal with Him,
And He will treasure the kindness of a man like the pupil of His eye.
18. After this He will arise and repay them,
And He will reward them with retribution on their head.
19. But He provides a return to those who repent,
And He comforts those who lack endurance.
*Return to the Lord*
20. Turn to the Lord and forsake your sins,
And pray in His presence and reduce your offense.+
21. Return to the Most High and turn away from wrongdoing,
And hate an abomination exceedingly.
22. Who will praise the Most High in Hades,
As do the living and those who give thanks?
23. Thanksgiving ceases from a dead man since he is no longer alive;
Only the living and the healthy will praise the Lord.+
24. How great the mercy of the Lord is,
And His atonement for those who turn to Him.+
25. For all things are not possible for man,
Because a son of man is not immortal.
26. What shines brighter than the sun? Yet this light fails,
And so will flesh and blood when it lays evil to heart.+
27. He examines the host of the highest heaven,
But all men are earth and ashes.
+17:1-8 - In the previous verses Ben Sirach briefly sets forth the order and majesty of God's creation of the world. Now he begins a discourse on the grandeur of man made in the image of God. Consequently man is given authority and dominion over all the earth.
+17:9-19 - God intended Israel (v. 14) to be a tight-knit, unified nation. But He also intended her to have open and honorable relations with every nation (v. 14), that is, the Gentiles, ultimately becoming the instrument of their salvation. However, as a nation they did not fulfill this divine intent. Their unity became centered in their ethnicity rather than their relationship with God. They even grew to despise the Gentiles with no concern for their salvation. It is extremely important for us within the Church, the new Israel, not to fall into this same sin and incur the same judgment (see Rom 11:11-36). For the fulfilment of God's promises to Israel in the Church, see the following passages: Rom 4:9-16; 9:6; 8, 23-27; 11:7; 1Co 10:18; Gal 6:16; 1Pt 2:4-12; Rev 3:12; 21:2, 10.
+17:20-23 - This marvelous passage on repentance forms the basis for many prayers, litanies, and services of the ancient Church. This passage was used and paraphrased in the third-century treatise attributed to St. Cyprian entitled "Exhortation to Repentance."
+17:23 - This verse emphasizes the temporal existence of man. Death is seen as the destroyer of earthly praise to God. Augustine translated thanksgiving as "confession."
+17:24 - The mercy and atonement from the Lord anticipates the coming of the Son of God.
+17:26 - On earth nothing is brighter than the sun, yet even it can be eclipsed. So with mankind, the best of us can be darkened by evil.