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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 40

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1 HARD work is the lot of every mortal, and a heavy yoke is laid on the children of Adam from the day when they come from their mothers' womb until the day of their return to the earth, the mother of all; 2troubled thoughts and fears are theirs, and anxious expectation of the day of their death. 3Whether someone sits in royal splendour on a throne or lies humbled in dust and ashes, 4whether he wears the purple and a crown or is clothed in sackcloth, 5his life is nothing but anger and envy, a troubled and anxious mind, fear of death, and guilt, and contention. Even at night when he goes to bed, sleep brings fresh confusion to his mind. 6There is little or no rest for him; he is as confused in his sleep as in the daytime. Disturbed by nightmares, he fancies himself a fugitive from the line of battle; 7and at the moment when he reaches safety, he wakes up, amazed to find his fears groundless.

8To all living creatures, human and animal— and seven times over to sinners— 9come death and bloodshed, quarrelling and the sword, disaster, famine, havoc, and plague. 10All these were created for the wicked, on whose account the flood came. 11All that is of earth returns to earth again, and all that is of water finds its way back to the sea.

12Bribery and injustice will vanish completely, but good faith will stand for ever. 13Wealth from wickedness will dry up like a wadi and die away like a clap of thunder in a storm; 14when the torrent rises, rocks are rolled away; yet suddenly it ceases for ever. 15The branches of an impious stock put out few shoots; their tainted roots are planted on sheer rock. 16The rush that grows on every river bank dries up before any other grass. 17But kindness is a paradise in its blessings, and almsgiving lasts for ever.

18To be employed and to be one's own master, both are sweet, but to find a treasure is better still. 19Offspring and the founding of a city perpetuate a name, but better still is a perfect wife. 20Wine and music gladden the heart, but better still is the love of wisdom. 21Flute and harp make pleasant melody, but better still is a pleasant voice. 22The eye likes to look on grace and beauty, but better still on the green shoots in a cornfield. 23A friend or companion is a welcome partner, but better still to be man and wife. 24Brothers and helpers are a stand-by in time of trouble, but better still is almsgiving. 25Gold and silver make a person stand firm, but better still is good advice. 26Wealth and strength uplift the heart, but better still is the fear of the Lord. To fear the Lord is to lack nothing, never to be in need of support. 27The fear of the Lord is a paradise in its blessings; it affords better protection than high position.

28My son, do not live the life of a beggar; better die than beg! 29When someone starts looking to another's table, his existence is not worth calling life. It is demoralizing to live on the food of another, and he who is wise and well disciplined will guard against it. 30He who has lost all shame speaks as if begging were sweet, but in his breast resentment burns.

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