- 1 Say nothing harmful, small or great; be not a foe instead of a friend; A bad name and disgrace will you acquire: "That for the evil man with double tongue!"
- Fall not into the grip of desire, lest, like fire, it consume your strength;
- Your leaves it will eat, your fruits destroy, and you will be left a dry tree,
- For contumacious desire destroys its owner and makes him the sport of his enemies.
- 2 A kind mouth multiplies friends, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.
- Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.
- When you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him
- For one sort of friend is a friend when it suits him, but he will not be with you in time of distress.
- Another is a friend who becomes an enemy, and tells of the quarrel to your shame.
- Another is a friend, a boon companion, who will not be with you when sorrow comes.
- When things go well, he is your other self, and lords it over your servants;
- But if you are brought low, he turns against you and avoids meeting you.
- Keep away from your enemies; be on your guard with your friends.
- A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.
- A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.
- A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds;
- For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself.
- 3 My son, from your youth embrace discipline; thus will you find wisdom with graying hair.
- As though plowing and sowing, draw close to her; then await her bountiful crops.
- For in cultivating her you will labor but little, and soon you will eat of her fruits.
- How irksome she is to the unruly! The fool cannot abide her.
- She will be like a burdensome stone to test him, and he will not delay in casting her aside.
- 4 For discipline is like her name, she is not accessible to many.
- Listen, my son, and heed my advice; refuse not my counsel.
- Put your feet into her fetters, and your neck under her yoke.
- Stoop your shoulders and carry her and be not irked at her bonds.
- With all your soul draw close to her; with all your strength keep her ways.
- Search her out, discover her; seek her and you will find her. Then when you have her, do not let her go;
- Thus will you afterward find rest in her, and she will become your joy.
- Her fetters will be your throne of majesty; her bonds, your purple cord.
- 5 You will wear her as your robe of glory, bear her as your splendid crown.
- My son, if you wish, you can be taught; if you apply yourself, you will be shrewd.
- If you are willing to listen, you will learn; if you give heed, you will be wise.
- Frequent the company of the elders; whoever is wise, stay close to him.
- Be eager to hear every godly discourse; let no wise saying escape you.
- If you see a man of prudence, seek him out; let your feet wear away his doorstep!
- Reflect on the precepts of the LORD, let his commandments be your constant meditation; Then he will enlighten your mind, and the wisdom you desire he will grant.
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Footnotes1 "That . . . double tongue!": people will say this against the man whose deceitful tongue has brought him to disgrace.
2 [5-17] True friends are discerned not by prosperity (Sirach 6:11), but through the trials of adversity: distress, quarrels (Sirach 6:9), sorrow (Sirach 6:10) and misfortune (Sirach 6:12). Such friends are rare and their value is beyond estimation, a gift from God (Sirach 6:14-17).
3 [18-37] The various figures in each of the three strophes urge the search for wisdom through patience (Sirach 6:19-23), docility (Sirach 6:32-37), and perseverance in trials (Sirach 6:25-27), promising rich rewards (Sirach 6:28-31). Cf Sirach 4:11-19.
4 Discipline (musar, in the sense of wisdom) is a perfect homonym for musar, "removed, withdrawn"; thus the path of discipline is inaccessible to many.
5 Some forms of the text speak also of the "yoke" of wisdom under the imagery of golden ornaments.
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