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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 6


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.



1 [1] "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 [23] 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 [31] Some forms of the text speak also of the "yoke" of wisdom under the imagery of golden ornaments.

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