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Sirach 19:13-30 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

13 Question a friend; perhaps he did not do it;
    or if he did, so that he may not do it again.
14 Question a neighbor; perhaps he did not say it;
    or if he said it, so that he may not repeat it.
15 Question a friend, for often it is slander;
    so do not believe everything you hear.
16 A person may make a slip without intending it.
    Who has not sinned with his tongue?
17 Question your neighbor before you threaten him;
    and let the law of the Most High take its course.[a]

True and False Wisdom

20 The whole of wisdom is fear of the Lord,
    and in all wisdom there is the fulfillment of the law.[b]
22 The knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom,
    nor is there prudence in the counsel of sinners.
23 There is a cleverness that is detestable,
    and there is a fool who merely lacks wisdom.
24 Better are the God-fearing who lack understanding
    than the highly intelligent who transgress the law.
25 There is a cleverness that is exact but unjust,
    and there are people who abuse favors to gain a verdict.
26 There is the villain bowed down in mourning,
but inwardly he is full of deceit.
27 He hides his face and pretends not to hear,
    but when no one notices, he will take advantage of you.
28 Even if lack of strength keeps him from sinning,
    he will nevertheless do evil when he finds the opportunity.
29 A person is known by his appearance,
    and a sensible person is known when first met, face to face.
30 A person’s attire and hearty laughter,
    and the way he walks, show what he is.


  1. Sirach 19:17 Other ancient authorities add and do not be angry. 18 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of acceptance, and wisdom obtains his love. 19 The knowledge of the Lord’s commandments is life-giving discipline; and those who do what is pleasing to him enjoy the fruit of the tree of immortality.
  2. Sirach 19:20 Other ancient authorities add and the knowledge of his omnipotence. 21 When a slave says to his master, “I will not act as you wish,” even if later he does it, he angers the one who supports him.
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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