The Sirach on Women

A good wife is the best thing a man can have in life.  But evil women are conducive to ћә11.

Readership: Men; Married women; Women who are serious about marriage;
Length: 2,480 words;
Reading Time: 9 minutes;

Introduction

Σ Frame: What is a woman’s desire for her husband according to Genesis 3:16? (2020 October 23)

Back when the comments were pouring in on this post, I decided to look up other books of wisdom from antiquity, to find out what they have to say about women, and whether we might gain any further understanding of the ancient Hebrew beliefs about creation, the fall, and the nature of men and women in relationship.

One book I found was the Sirach, also called Ecclesiasticus.  Interestingly, the Sirach was translated as part of the KJV, and was included in the Bible for 274 years until it was removed in 1885 A.D.

The following excerpts cover all that the Sirach has to say about women.  (…except about raising daughters.  I want to save this topic for a separate post.)  The Sirach draws a sharp contrast between the good wife and evil wimmin, and gives specific admonitions about how to deal with women.  So I’ve separated these passages into three sections, respectively.

The Good Wife

19 Forego not a wise and good woman: for her grace is above gold.

Sirach 7:19 (KJV)

Forego not has a couple possible meanings. One is that you should be considerate and courteous. The other is that you shouldn’t ignore her or disregard her.

1 In three things I was beautified, and stood up beautiful both before God and men: the unity of brethren, the love of neighbours, a man and a wife that agree together.

Sirach 25:1 (KJV)

Find an agreeable woman to wife, duly noted.

7 There be nine things which I have judged in mine heart to be happy, and the tenth I will utter with my tongue: A man that hath joy of his children; and he that liveth to see the fall of his enemy.
8 Well is him that dwelleth with a wife of understanding, and that hath not slipped with his tongue, and that hath not served a man more unworthy than himself.

Sirach 25:7-8 (KJV)

Click on the link to read the remaining five sources of happiness.

1 Blessed is the man that hath a virtuous wife, for the number of his days shall be double.
2 A virtuous woman rejoiceth her husband, and he shall fulfil the years of his life in peace.
3 A good wife is a good portion, which shall be given in the portion of them that fear the Lord.

Sirach: 26:1-3 (KJV)

13 The grace of a wife delighteth her husband, and her discretion will fatten his bones.
14 A silent and loving woman is a gift of the Lord; and there is nothing so much worth as a mind well instructed.
15 A shamefaced and faithful woman is a double grace, and her continent mind cannot be valued.
16 As the sun when it ariseth in the high heaven; so is the beauty of a good wife in the ordering of her house.
17 As the clear light is upon the holy candlestick; so is the beauty of the face in ripe age.
18 As the golden pillars are upon the sockets of silver; so are the fair feet with a constant heart.

Sirach: 26:13-18 (KJV)

21 A woman will receive every man, yet is one daughter better than another.
22 The beauty of a woman cheereth the countenance, and a man loveth nothing better.
23 If there be kindness, meekness, and comfort, in her tongue, then is not her husband like other men.
24 He that getteth a wife beginneth a possession, a help like unto himself, and a pillar of rest.
25 Where no hedge is, there the possession is spoiled: and he that hath no wife will wander up and down mourning.

Sirach 36:21-25 (KJV)

19 Children and the building of a city continue a man’s name: but a blameless wife is counted above them both.

Sirach 40:19 (KJV)

23 A friend and companion never meet amiss: but above both is a wife with her husband.

Sirach 40:23 (KJV)

Evil Wimmin

26 Hast thou a wife after thy mind? forsake her not: but give not thyself over to a light woman.

Sirach 7:26 (KJV)

Here, the word light is apparently entendre with multiple meanings. I reviewed some common definitions, and found some revealing metaphorical descriptions which may apply. These are summarized/paraphrased here in order of increasing relevancy.

  1. She is glorified – spiritual illumination or awareness; enlightenment.
  2. She’s physically bright and emotionally buoyant – to cause (the face, surroundings, etc.) to brighten, especially with joy, animation, or the like; a gleam or sparkle in the eyes; the sensation produced by stimulating the organs of sight; something that makes things visible or affords illumination.
  3. She’s educated – mental insight; understanding.
  4. She tries to assert/impose Frame – The aspect in which a thing appears or is regarded.
  5. She’s dominant – a person who is an outstanding leader, celebrity, or example; luminary.
  6. She draws attention to herself – Revealing; the state of being visible, exposed to view, or revealed to public notice or knowledge; limelight.
  7. She’s sexually alluring – to turn on; to set burning.
  8. She’s flaky – avoiding serious thought; eschewing respectable behavior.
  9. She’s disrespectful – to make light is to insult, mock, taunt, or tease.

22 Thus shall it go also with the wife that leaveth her husband, and bringeth in an heir by another.
23 For first, she hath disobeyed the law of the most High; and secondly, she hath trespassed against her own husband; and thirdly, she hath played the whore in adultery, and brought children by another man.
24 She shall be brought out into the congregation, and inquisition shall be made of her children.
25 Her children shall not take root, and her branches shall bring forth no fruit.
26 She shall leave her memory to be cursed, and her reproach shall not be blotted out.
27 And they that remain shall know that there is nothing better than the fear of the Lord, and that there is nothing sweeter than to take heed unto the commandments of the Lord.

Sirach 23:22-27 (KJV)

6 But a grief of heart and sorrow is a woman that is jealous over another woman, and a scourge of the tongue which communicateth with all.
7 An evil wife is a yoke shaken to and fro: he that hath hold of her is as though he held a scorpion.
8 A drunken woman and a gadder abroad [1] causeth great anger, and she will not cover her own shame.
9 The whoredom of a woman may be known in her haughty [2] looks and eyelids [3].
10 If thy daughter be shameless, keep her in straitly, lest she abuse herself through overmuch liberty.
11 Watch over an impudent [4] eye: and marvel not if she trespass [5] against thee.
12 She will open her mouth, as a thirsty traveller when he hath found a fountain, and drink of every water near her: by every hedge will she sit down, and open her quiver against every arrow [6].

Sirach: 26:6-12 (KJV)

[1] Gad is an old word that means to move restlessly or aimlessly from one place to another.  Gadfly is a related word that the reader may have heard before.  In a modern context, a gadder abroad could be construed to mean a woman who travels frequently and/or extensively.
[2] Haughty is an old word that means disdainfully proud; snobbish; scornfully arrogant; supercilious.
[3] I am sure that the reference to eyelids means that she mockingly exaggerates her expressions with her eyelids.  We’ve all seen women do this.  This is a red flag I’ve never heard of before.
[4] I would interpret impudent as being essentially the same thing as the Manospherian descriptor, indignant.
[5] In addition to what is spelled out in verse 12, I also interpret trespass to mean that she feels entitled to rifle through your stuff (e.g. take things that she wants, trashes things she doesn’t like, etc.), and go digging into your private matters (e.g. reading your e-mail, text messages, private diary, financial documents, etc.).
[6] The language in verse 12 are metaphors for sexual promiscuity.

How to Deal with Women

1 Be not jealous over the wife of thy bosom, and teach her not an evil lesson against thyself.
2 Give not thy soul unto a woman to set her foot upon thy substance.
3 Meet not with an harlot, lest thou fall into her snares.
4 Use not much the company of a woman that is a singer, lest thou be taken with her attempts.
5 Gaze not on a maid, that thou fall not by those things that are precious in her.
6 Give not thy soul unto harlots, that thou lose not thine inheritance.
7 Look not round about thee in the streets of the city, neither wander thou in the solitary place thereof.
8 Turn away thine eye from a beautiful woman, and look not upon another’s beauty; for many have been deceived by the beauty of a woman; for herewith love is kindled as a fire.
9 Sit not at all with another man’s wife, nor sit down with her in thine arms, and spend not thy money with her at the wine; lest thine heart incline unto her, and so through thy desire thou fall into destruction.

Sirach 9:1-9 (KJV)

13 Give me any plague, but the plague of the heart: and any wickedness, but the wickedness of a woman:
14 And any affliction, but the affliction from them that hate me: and any revenge, but the revenge of enemies.
15 There is no head above the head of a serpent; and there is no wrath above the wrath of an enemy.
16 I had rather dwell with a lion and a dragon, than to keep house with a wicked woman.
17 The wickedness of a woman changeth her face, and darkeneth her countenance like sackcloth.
18 Her husband shall sit among his neighbours; and when he heareth it [7] shall sigh bitterly.
19 All wickedness is but little to the wickedness of a woman: let the portion of a sinner fall upon her.
20 As the climbing up a sandy way is to the feet of the aged, so is a wife full of words to a quiet man.
21 Stumble not at the beauty of a woman, and desire her not for pleasure.
22 A woman, if she maintain [8] her husband, is full of anger, impudence, and much reproach.
23 A wicked woman abateth the courage, maketh an heavy countenance and a wounded heart: a woman that will not comfort her husband in distress maketh weak hands and feeble knees.
24 Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die.
25 Give the water no passage [9]; neither a wicked woman liberty to gad abroad [1].
26 If she go not as thou wouldest have her, cut her off from thy flesh, and give her a bill of divorce, and let her go.

Sirach 25:13-26 (KJV)

[7] Presumably her voice, or any other characteristic sound of her presence.
[8] I presume the word maintain means to assert; declare; stubbornly defend one’s argument. In other words, she’s being a contentious termagant.
[9] By a mythical/prophetic interpretation, I sense this would mean that you shouldn’t admit her argument, and not let her rant and rave without constraints being imposed.

Verse 26 – Wow!  An admonition in favor of divorce!  Presumably for her distrust or unsubmissiveness.  And this is in the Catholic Bible!

19 My son, keep the flower of thine age sound; and give not thy strength to strangers.
20 When thou hast gotten a fruitful possession through all the field, sow it with thine own seed, trusting in the goodness of thy stock.
21 So thy race which thou leavest shall be magnified, having the confidence of their good descent.

Sirach: 26:19-21 (KJV)

I interpret this passage as meaning that a successful man should be confident in his genetic superiority, and should not hesitate to have children.

6 Sure keeping is good, where an evil wife is; and shut up, where many hands are.

Sirach 42:6 (KJV)

In other words, if you have a wife with an evil will, then you’ll have to constantly watch your back and hide everything important or of value.

Conclusions

The Sirach has a few verses that compare good and evil women.

22 An harlot shall be accounted as spittle; but a married woman is a tower against death to her husband.
23 A wicked woman is given as a portion to a wicked man: but a godly woman is given to him that feareth the Lord.
24 A dishonest woman contemneth shame: but an honest woman will reverence her husband.
25 A shameless woman shall be counted as a dog; but she that is shamefaced will fear the Lord.
26 A woman that honoureth her husband shall be judged wise of all; but she that dishonoureth him in her pride shall be counted ungodly of all.
27 A loud crying woman and a scold shall be sought out to drive away the enemies.

Sirach: 26:22-27 (KJV)

Verse 27 is hilarious!

Overall, almost half of the verses about women describe them as good.  Of the other half, about 2/3 describe women as evil, and 1/3 that compares those that are good and evil.  That is 20, 14, and 7 verses, respectively.  That’s probably a healthy balance to maintain one’s attitude towards women in general.

Finally, I’ll compile all of this into two concise lists of green flags and red flags.

Good women are described as…

  • a friend and companion
  • a hedge of protection and resource conservation
  • a pillar of rest
  • a prized possession
  • agreeable
  • beautiful
  • blameless
  • discreet
  • godly
  • good
  • graceful
  • helpful
  • honest
  • one who honors her husband
  • one who possesses a tongue that is kind, meek, and gives comfort
  • peaceful
  • quiet
  • shamefaced
  • understanding
  • virtuous
  • wise

Evil women are described as…

  • a drunkard
  • angry
  • barren
  • being full of words
  • being hated by others
  • being like a scorpion
  • churlish
  • defiled
  • haughty (disdainfully proud; snobbish; scornfully arrogant; supercilious)
  • impudent (indignant)
  • jealous
  • light (annoyingly and disrespectfully honest; unwilling to suffer or sacrifice)
  • misbehaving
  • one who abandons her husband
  • one who has a scourging tongue
  • one who has children out of wedlock, or by more than one man
  • one who moves restlessly or aimlessly from one place to another, or one who travels abroad frequently
  • promiscuous in her youth, and adulterous as an adult
  • one who rouses anger
  • one who spoils or wastes possessions
  • one who uses her eye lids over expressively
  • one who will not comfort others
  • shameful
  • the laughingstock of the community
  • the subject of gossip and reproach
  • trespassing
  • wicked, and thinking nothing of it

Related

About Jack

Jack is a world traveling artist, skilled in trading ideas and information, none of which are considered too holy, too nerdy, nor too profane to hijack and twist into useful fashion. Sigma Frame Mindsets and methods for building and maintaining a masculine Frame
This entry was posted in Choosing a Partner or Spouse, Discernment, Wisdom, IOI's, Models of Failure, Models of Success, Personal Presentation, Sanctification & Defilement, Vetting Women. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Sirach on Women

  1. cameron232 says:

    “Verse 26 – Wow! An admonition in favor of divorce! Presumably for her distrust or unsubmissiveness. And this is in the Catholic Bible!”

    Just a note. From a Catholic (and I would assume Orthodox perspective) marriages prior to Christ are natural not sacramental marriages, and thus, dissoluble. Since we are new creations upon conversion, the nature of our marriages is different.

    Like

  2. Ed Hurst says:

    I applaud your use of Sirach. I won’t call it Scripture, but very good Hebrew literature. In his own day, Sirach was calling for a return to the ancient Hebrew mystical ways, something already quickly fading from a century of exposure to Hellenism. Would it seem like boasting for me to say my wife fits the picture he draws of a good woman? I’ll boast of it only because she was a gift from God that marks His favor on me.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. lastmod says:

    Isn’t this book considered not “divinely inspired”. I remember quoting Esdras (book one) once on Dalrock and was pretty much told “not biblical” / “strawman” / “not an argument”

    I know in the Catholic tradition, its in the Bible and in many early Protestant Bibles it is there. Let me guess “because chivalry” 😉

    Like

    • cameron232 says:

      It’s a Catholic/Orthodox vs. Protestant thing (Anglicans held it to be authoritative). I think one of the arguments for it is that the Jews shouldn’t be in the position of defining what’s Christian scripture.

      Like

  4. ramman3000 says:

    I’ll take a moment out of my extended blogosphere hiatus to say how much I appreciate this post. I believe I was the one who explicitly asked for someone to present such analysis. It is very interesting. This, in particular, resonates with me:

    “A friend and companion never meet amiss: but above both is a wife with her husband.”

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s