1. There are three things beautiful to see,
And they are beautiful before the Lord and men:
The harmony of brothers, friendship between neighbors,
And a wife and a husband well-adjusted together.+
2. My soul hates three kinds of men,
And I am very offended with their lifestyle:
A beggar who is arrogant, a rich man who is a liar,
And an old man who is an adulterer and lacks understanding.
*Wisdom of the Aged*
3. If you have gathered nothing in your youth,
How can you find anything in your old age?
4. Judgment is like beauty in gray hair,
And in elders, it is to know counsel.
5. Wisdom is like the beauty of old men,
And in those who are glorious, it is understanding and counsel.
6. The crown of old men is great experience,
For their boast is the fear of the Lord.
7. In my heart I have blessed nine suppositions,
And I will mention a tenth:
A father who delights in his children;
A man who lives to see the downfall of his enemies.+
8. A husband who is blessed to live with an understanding wife;
A man who does not slip with his tongue;
A man who has not served a man less worthy than himself;
9. A man who is blessed to find discernment;
A man who is blessed to speak to ears that listen;
10. And a man who has found wisdom - how blessed he is!
But there is no one greater than a man who fears the Lord.
11. The fear of the Lord is more important than anything.
To what will it be compared?
*An Evil Wife*
12. Any wound, but not a wound of the heart!
Any evil, but not an evil wife!
13. Any misery, but not the misery of those who hate me!
Any vengeance, but not the vengeance of enemies!
14. There is no head worse than the head of a snake,
And there is no anger worse than the anger of an enemy.
15. I would rather live with a lion or a snake than with an evil wife.+
16. The evil of a wife changes her appearance
And darkens her face like that of a bear.
17. Her husband will go to his neighbors for meals,
And he sighs bitterly and involuntarily.
18. Any evil is small compared to the evil of a wife.
May the portion of a sinner fall upon her!
19. A sandy hill of ascent for the feet of an old man-
Such is an overly talkative wife to a quiet husband.
20. Do not fall for the beauty of a woman,
And do no long for her beauty.
21. There is wrath, insolence, and great shame
When a wife supports her husband.+
22. A downcast heart, a sad face, and a wounded heart
Are caused by an evil wife.
Drooping hands and weakened knees
Are caused by a wife who does not make her husband happy.
23. Sin had its beginning from a wife,
And because of her we all die.
24. Do not give water an outlet,
Nor boldness to an evil wife.+
25. If she does not follow your good leadership,
Cut her off from yourself.+
+25:1-5 - Though these verses primarily describe those worthy of praise, they also include a denunciation of the unworthy (v. 2). It is interesting that one of the great celibate monks of the Church, St. John Chrysostom, should say of v. 1: "For there is no relationship between man and man so close as that between man and wife, if they be joined together as they should be...nothing whatever is more precious than to be...loved by a wife and to love her."
+25:7 - The Christian must love and pray for his enemies while rejoicing at the downfall of evil.
+25:15 - Ben Sirach continues his diatribe on the evil wife (vv. 15-25, and again in 26:5-12). Following each of these passages are sections praising a good wife (26:1-4, 13-18). Both vice and virtue are fair game for this outspoken author!
+25:21 - Historically, it was seen as disgraceful for a wife to financially support her husband. When necessity calls for the husband to stay at home with the children and keep the house while the wife earns the income, be aware of these warnings of Ben Sirach.
+25:24 - Just as neglecting a crack in a reservoir could cause a flood, so an emboldened evil wife can cause a torrent of wicked deeds.
+25:25 - The OT rules concerning divorce were less strict than those given by Jesus.