1 It is better to have virtue, even if it means having no children. Your virtue will be recognized by other people and by God, and you will be remembered for it forever. 2 Virtue provides an example for people to follow; when it is not there, they miss it. It has always been the finest prize a person can win, and it always will be so. It is the noblest of all the good qualities a person can have.
3 No matter how many children are born of a forbidden union, none of them will ever amount to anything. They are illegitimate; they can never lay a firm foundation for themselves, never take deep root. 4 Like trees with shallow roots, they put out leaves for a while, but they sway in the wind, and storms uproot them. 5 Their branches snap off before they mature; their fruit never ripens, and it is good for nothing. 6 On Judgment Day children born of a forbidden union will testify to the sin of their parents and act as witnesses against them.
7 Righteous people, however, will find rest, even if they die young. 8 We honor old age, but not just because a person has lived a long time. 9 Wisdom and righteousness are signs of the maturity that should come with old age.
The Example of Enoch
10 Once there was a man named Enoch who pleased God, and God loved him. While Enoch was still living among sinners, God took him away, 11 so that evil and falsehood could not corrupt his mind and soul. ( 12 We all know that people can be so fascinated by evil that they cannot recognize what is good even when they are looking right at it. Innocent people can be so corrupted with desire that they can think of nothing but what they want.) 13 This man Enoch achieved in a few years' time a perfection that other people could never attain in a complete lifetime. 14 The Lord was pleased with Enoch's life and quickly took him out of this wicked world. People were aware of his departure but didn't understand. They never seemed to learn the lesson 15 that God is kind and merciful to his own people; he protects those whom he has chosen.
The Fate of the Wicked
16 Even when righteous people are dead and gone, they put to shame the wicked people who live on after them. In their old age the wicked will be disgraced by young people who have already achieved perfection. 17 The wise may die young, but the wicked will never understand that this is the Lord's way of taking them off to safety. 18 They make light of a wise person's death, but the Lord will soon be laughing at them. When they die, they will not be given an honorable burial. Even the dead will hold them in scorn and disgust forever. 19 God will throw them to the ground and make them speechless. Like buildings shaken from their foundations, they will be reduced to piles of ruins. They will be in torment. People will soon forget all about them. 20 They will come in fear to the Judgment, where their sins will be counted; they will stand condemned by their own lawless actions.