Beginning of Wisdom

Proverbs from the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East

On wealth (Aḥiqar 207; Sirach 5:1, 8)

Posted by jac/cdc on March 9, 2007


. . . אל יאמר עתירא בעתרי הדיר אנה


Let not the rich man say, “In my wealth I am glorious . . .”

break

. . .אל תשען על חילך ואל תאמר יש לאל ידי
אל תבטח על נכסי שקר כי לא יועילו ביום עברה


al-ti-sha-AYN al-chayl-KA v’-al-to-MAR YAYSH le-AYL ya-DEE . . .
al-tiv-TACH al-nich-say SHE-ker KEE lo yo-EE-lu b’-yom ev-ra


Do not rely upon your wealth, and do not say “I have the power!” . . .
Do not trust in deceptive wealth, for it will not profit on the day of wrath.

Here are some proverbs on wealth from Aḥiqar and Sirach. The Aḥiqar proverb points to the wide-spread caution in ANE wisdom literature about the vice of glorying in one’s wealth. Sirach speaks at length on this issue, but I’ve quoted only the first and last verses in the relevant section. The first parallels the sentiment in Aḥiqar quite closely (on the wording of the second part fo Sirach 5:1, cf. Gen 31:29, Prov 3:27, Mic 2:1). The second echoes both the ideas and some of the wording (יועילו) as Prov 10:2, though Sirach has a less ambiguous eschatological concern.

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