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2002 11 11
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Chapter 21


1 My son, if you have sinned, do so no more, and for your past sins pray to be forgiven.


Flee from sin as from a serpent. that will bite you if you go near it; Its teeth are lion's teeth, destroying the souls of men.


Every offense is a two-edged sword; when it cuts, there can be no healing.


Violence and arrogance wipe out wealth; so too a proud man's home is destroyed.


Prayer from a poor man's lips is heard at once, and justice is quickly granted him.


He who hates correction walks the sinner's path, but he who fears the LORD repents in his heart.


Widely known is the boastful speaker but the wise man knows his own faults.


He who builds his house with another's money is collecting stones for his funeral mound.


A band of criminals is like a bundle of tow; they will end in a flaming fire.


2 The path of sinners is smooth stones that end in the depths of the nether world.


3 He who keeps the law controls his impulses; he who is perfect in fear of the LORD has wisdom.


He can never be taught who is not shrewd, but one form of shrewdness is thoroughly bitter.


A wise man's knowledge wells up in a flood, and his counsel, like a living spring;


A fool's mind is like a broken jar -  no knowledge at all can it hold.


When an intelligent man hears words of wisdom, he approves them and adds to them; The wanton hears them with scorn and casts them behind his back.


A fool's chatter is like a load on a journey, but there is charm to be found upon the lips of the wise.


The views of a prudent man are sought in an assembly, and his words are considered with care.


Like a house in ruins is wisdom to a fool; the stupid man knows it only as inscrutable words.


Like fetters on the legs is learning to a fool, like a manacle on his right hand.


A fool raises his voice in laughter, but the prudent man at the most smiles gently.


Like a chain of gold is learning to a wise man, like a bracelet on his right arm.


The fool steps boldly into a house, while the well-bred man remains outside;


A boor peeps through the doorway of a house, but a cultured man keeps his glance cast down.


It is rude for one to listen at a door; a cultured man would be overwhelmed by the disgrace of it.


The lips of the impious talk of what is not their concern, but the words of the prudent are carefully weighed.


Fools' thoughts are in their mouths, wise men's words are in their hearts.


4 When a godless man curses his adversary he really curses himself.


A slanderer besmirches himself, and is hated by his neighbors.



1 [1-10] Under various figures, the consequences of sin are described as destructive of wealth, and even of bodily life, and deserving of death and a place in the depths of the nether world ( Sirach 21:2-4, 6a, 8-10). Through prayer, forgiveness can be sought ( Sirach 21:1), and through fear of the Lord, repentance is achieved ( Sirach 1:5, 6b).

2 [10] The path of sinners . . . nether world: eternal retribution is not yet proposed in this reference. It became clearly revealed through the teaching of Christ; cf Matthew 7:13, 14; 25:1-46; Luke 16:19-31.

3 [11-28] The mind of the wise man is a fountain of knowledge ( Sirach 21:13, 15); his will is trained to keep the law ( Sirach 21:11); his words are gracious, valued, carefully weighed, sincere ( Sirach 21:16-17, 25-26); his conduct is respectful, cultured and restrained ( Sirach 21:20, 22-24). The fool's mind is devoid of knowledge and impenetrable to it ( Sirach 21:12, 14, 18, 19); his will rejects it ( Sirach 21:15); his talk is burdensome (16), his laughter unrestrained ( Sirach 21:20), his conversation shallow and meddlesome ( Sirach 21:25, 26); his conduct is bold and rude ( Sirach 21:22-24); his abuse of others redounds on himself ( Sirach 21:27-28).

4 [27] Adversary: this can be understood in the sense that, if a man curses one who led him into sin, he implicitly curses himself for having yielded to the sin; or in the sense that the enemy is the man's own sinful nature; or even in the sense that the enemy is the devil, since the Hebrew word used here is satan. Cf 1 Chron 21:1; Zechariah 3:2; 2 Peter 2:12, 13; Jude 1:9.

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