Sirach 20

Please or start a free trial to access this content.

Sirach 20

Silence and Speech

1There is a reproof which is not timely;

and there is a man who keeps silent but is wise.

2How much better it is to reprove than to stay angry!

And the one who confesses his fault will be kept from loss.a

4Like a eunuch's desire to violate a maiden

is a man who executes judgments by violence.

5There is one who by keeping silent is found wise,

while another is detested for being too talkative.

6There is one who keeps silent because he has no answer,

while another keeps silent because he knows when to speak.

7A wise man will be silent until the right moment,

but a braggart and fool goes beyond the right moment.

8Whoever uses too many words will be loathed,

and whoever usurps the right to speak will be hated.

Paradoxes

9There may be good fortune for a man in adversity,

and a windfall may result in a loss.

10There is a gift that profits you nothing,

and there is a gift that brings a double return.

11There are losses because of glory,

and there are men who have raised their heads from humble circumstances.

12There is a man who buys much for a little,

but pays for it seven times over.

13The wise man makes himself beloved through his words,

but the courtesies of fools are wasted.

14A fool's gift will profit you nothing,

for he has many eyes instead of one.

15He gives little and upbraids much,

he opens his mouth like a herald;

today he lends and tomorrow he asks it back;

such a one is a hateful man.

16A fool will say, "I have no friend,

and there is no gratitude for my good deeds;

those who eat my bread speak unkindly."

17How many will ridicule him, and how often!

Inappropriate Speech

18A slip on the pavement is better than a slip of the tongue;

so the downfall of the wicked will occur speedily.

19An ungracious man is like a story told at the wrong time,

which is continually on the lips of the ignorant.

20A proverb from a fool's lips will be rejected,

for he does not tell it at its proper time.

21A man may be prevented from sinning by his poverty,

so when he rests he feels no remorse.

22A man may lose his life through shame,

or lose it because of his foolish look.

23A man may for shame make promises to a friend,

and needlessly make him an enemy.

Lying

24A lie is an ugly blot on a man;

it is continually on the lips of the ignorant.

25A thief is preferable to a habitual liar,

but the lot of both is ruin.

26The disposition of a liar brings disgrace,

and his shame is ever with him.

27He who speaks wisely will advance himself,

and a sensible man will please great men.

28Whoever cultivates the soil will heap up his harvest,

and whoever pleases great men will atone for injustice.

29Presents and gifts blind the eyes of the wise;

like a muzzle on the mouth they avert reproofs.

30Hidden wisdom and unseen treasure,

what advantage is there in either of them?

31Better is the man who hides his folly

than the man who hides his wisdom.b