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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 20


1 An admonition can be inopportune, and a man may be wise to hold his peace.


It is much better to admonish than to lose one's temper, for one who admits his fault will be kept from disgrace.


2 Like a eunuch lusting for intimacy with a maiden is he who does right under compulsion.


One man is silent and is thought wise, another is talkative and is disliked.


One man is silent because he has nothing to say; another is silent, biding his time.


A wise man is silent till the right time comes, but a boasting fool ignores the proper time.


He who talks too much is detested; he who pretends to authority is hated.


3 Some misfortunes bring success; some things gained are a man's loss.


4 Some gifts do one no good, and some must be paid back double.


Humiliation can follow fame, while from obscurity a man can lift up his head.


A man may buy much for little, but pay for it seven times over.


A wise man makes himself popular by a few words, but fools pour forth their blandishments in vain.


A gift from a rogue will do you no good, for in his eyes his one gift is equal to seven.


He gives little and criticizes often, and like a crier he shouts aloud. He lends today, he asks it back tomorrow; hateful indeed is such a man.


A fool has no friends, nor thanks for his generosity;


Those who eat his bread have an evil tongue. How many times they laugh him to scorn!


5 A fall to the ground is less sudden than a slip of the tongue; that is why the downfall of the wicked comes so quickly.


Insipid food is the untimely tale; the unruly are always ready to offer it.


A proverb when spoken by a fool is unwelcome, for he does not utter it at the proper time.


A man through want may be unable to sin, yet in this tranquility he cannot rest.


One may lose his life through shame, and perish through a fool's intimidation.


A man makes a promise to a friend out of shame, and has him for his enemy needlessly.


A lie is a foul blot in a man, yet it is constantly on the lips of the unruly.


Better a thief than an inveterate liar, yet both will suffer disgrace;


A liar's way leads to dishonor, his shame remains ever with him.


6 A wise man advances himself by his words, a prudent man pleases the great.


He who works his land has abundant crops, he who pleases the great is pardoned his faults.


Favors and gifts blind the eyes; like a muzzle over the mouth they silence reproof.


Hidden wisdom and unseen treasure -  of what value is either?


Better the man who hides his folly than the one who hides his wisdom.



1 [1-7] Wisdom indicates the proper times for speech and silence, that is, the occasions when the most benefit can be gained from them.

2 [3] The sense is that violence or force against a person can prevent an external act of sin or compel a good deed without eliminating the internal sin or desire of wrongdoing. Cf Sirach 20:20.

3 [8-16] In a series of paradoxes the author indicates how much true and lasting values differ from apparent ones.

4 [9] And some . . . double: or perhaps, "but some are doubly precious."

5 [17-25] The ill-timed speech of the wicked, the unruly and a fool is repulsive ( Sirach 20:17-19); human respect exposes one to intimidation, rash promises and enmity ( Sirach 20:21- 22); lies bring dishonor and lasting disgrace ( Sirach 20:23, 24, 25).

6 [26-30] Unlike the fool who invites disaster through misuse of his tongue, the sage through prudent speech gains in honor and esteem among the great ( Sirach 20:26-27). He must beware, however, of accepting bribes, lest he share in evil through silence when he should reprove ( Sirach 20:28-30).

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