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Chapter 22

On Laziness and Foolishness

[a]The sluggard is like a filthy stone;[b]
    everyone hisses at his disgrace.
The sluggard is like a lump of dung;
    whoever touches it shakes it off the hands.

An undisciplined child is a disgrace to its father;
    if it be a daughter, she brings him to poverty.(A)
A thoughtful daughter obtains a husband of her own;
    a shameless one is her father’s grief.
A hussy shames her father and her husband;
    she is despised by both.

Like music at the time of mourning is ill-timed talk,[c]
    but lashes and discipline are at all times wisdom.[d]
Teaching a fool is like gluing a broken pot,(B)
    or rousing another from deep sleep.
10 Whoever talks with a fool talks to someone asleep;
    when it is over, he says, “What was that?”

11 Weep over the dead, for their light has gone out;
    weep over the fool, for sense has left him.
Weep but less bitterly over the dead, for they are at rest;
    worse than death is the life of a fool.
12 Mourning for the dead, seven days—(C)
    but for the wicked fool, a whole lifetime.

13 Do not talk much with the stupid,
    or visit the unintelligent.
Beware of them lest you have trouble
    and be spattered when they shake themselves off.
Avoid them and you will find rest
    and not be wearied by their lack of sense.
14 What is heavier than lead?
    What is its name but “Fool”?
15 Sand, salt, and an iron weight
    are easier to bear than the stupid person.(D)

16 A wooden beam firmly bonded into a building[e]
    is not loosened by an earthquake;
So the mind firmly resolved after careful deliberation
    will not be afraid at any time.
17 The mind solidly backed by intelligent thought
    is like a stucco decoration on a smooth wall.
18 Small stones lying on an open height
    will not remain when the wind blows;
So a timid mind based on foolish plans
    cannot stand up to fear of any kind.

The Preservation of Friendship[f]

19 Whoever jabs the eye brings tears;
    whoever pierces the heart bares its feelings.
20 Whoever throws a stone at birds drives them away;
    whoever insults a friend breaks up the friendship.
21 Should you draw a sword against a friend,
    do not despair, for it can be undone.
22 Should you open your mouth against a friend,
    do not worry, for you can be reconciled.
But a contemptuous insult, a confidence broken,
    or a treacherous attack will drive any friend away.

23 Win your neighbor’s trust while he is poor,
    so that you may rejoice with him in his prosperity.
In time of trouble remain true to him,
    so that you may share in his inheritance when it comes.
24 The billowing smoke of a furnace precedes the fire,
    so insults precede bloodshed.
25 I am not ashamed to shelter a friend,
    and I will not hide from him.
26 But if harm should come to me because of him,
    all who hear of it will beware of him.


27 Who will set a guard over my mouth,
    an effective seal on my lips,
That I may not fail through them,
    and my tongue may not destroy me?(E)


  1. 22:1–15 To Ben Sira, a lazy person and an unruly child are a cause of shame and disgrace; everyone wishes to be rid of them (vv. 1–5). Speaking with a wicked fool is as senseless as talking with someone who is asleep or dead (v. 10). The fool is an intolerable burden that merits a lifetime of mourning (v. 12). Seven days was the usual mourning period. Cf. Gn 50:10; Jdt 16:24.
  2. 22:1 Stone: used then and even today for wiping oneself after a bowel movement.
  3. 22:6 As a joyful song is out of place among mourners so a rebuke may be insufficient when corporal punishment is called for.
  4. 22:6

    Other ancient texts read as vv. 7–8:

    7Children whose upbringing leads to a wholesome life

    veil over the lowly origins of their parents.

    8Children whose pride is in scornful misconduct

    besmirch the nobility of their own family.

  5. 22:16–18 A prudent mind firmly resolved is undisturbed by violent and conflicting thoughts, whereas a foolish person is tossed about by the winds of fear, like small stones whipped about by high winds.
  6. 22:19–26 Disputes and violence weaken friendship, and disloyalty and abuse of confidence destroy it utterly (vv. 19–22, 24, 26); but kindness to a poor person in time of poverty and adversity builds up friendship and merits a share in his prosperity and inheritance (vv. 23, 25).
  7. 22:27–23:6 Ben Sira implores the divine assistance to preserve him through stern discipline from sins of the tongue (22:27; 23:1), from ignorance of mind and weakness of will (vv. 2–3), and from inclinations of the senses and the flesh, lest he fall into the hands of his enemies or become a prey of shameful desires (vv. 4–6).