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Sirach 22:6-22 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Like music in time of mourning is ill-timed conversation,
    but a thrashing and discipline are at all times wisdom.[a]

Wisdom and Folly

Whoever teaches a fool is like one who glues potsherds together,
    or who rouses a sleeper from deep slumber.
10 Whoever tells a story to a fool tells it to a drowsy man;
    and at the end he will say, “What is it?”
11 Weep for the dead, for he has left the light behind;
    and weep for the fool, for he has left intelligence behind.
Weep less bitterly for the dead, for he is at rest;
    but the life of the fool is worse than death.
12 Mourning for the dead lasts seven days,
    but for the foolish or the ungodly it lasts all the days of their lives.

13 Do not talk much with a senseless person
    or visit an unintelligent person.[b]
Stay clear of him, or you may have trouble,
    and be spattered when he shakes himself off.
Avoid him and you will find rest,
    and you will never be wearied by his lack of sense.
14 What is heavier than lead?
    And what is its name except “Fool”?
15 Sand, salt, and a piece of iron
    are easier to bear than a stupid person.

16 A wooden beam firmly bonded into a building
    is not loosened by an earthquake;
so the mind firmly resolved after due reflection
    will not be afraid in a crisis.
17 A mind settled on an intelligent thought
    is like stucco decoration that makes a wall smooth.
18 Fences[c] set on a high place
    will not stand firm against the wind;
so a timid mind with a fool’s resolve
    will not stand firm against any fear.

The Preservation of Friendship

19 One who pricks the eye brings tears,
    and one who pricks the heart makes clear its feelings.
20 One who throws a stone at birds scares them away,
    and one who reviles a friend destroys a friendship.
21 Even if you draw your sword against a friend,
    do not despair, for there is a way back.
22 If you open your mouth against your friend,
    do not worry, for reconciliation is possible.
But as for reviling, arrogance, disclosure of secrets, or a treacherous blow—
    in these cases any friend will take to flight.


  1. Sirach 22:6 Other ancient authorities add Children who are brought up in a good life, conceal the lowly birth of their parents. Children who are disdainfully and boorishly haughty stain the nobility of their kindred.
  2. Sirach 22:13 Other ancient authorities add For being without sense he will despise everything about you
  3. Sirach 22:18 Other ancient authorities read Pebbles
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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