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Caution Regarding Associates

13 Whoever touches pitch will be defiled,
    and whoever associates with a proud man will become like him.
Do not lift a weight beyond your strength,
    nor associate with a man mightier and richer than you.
How can the clay pot associate with the iron kettle?
    The pot will strike against it, and will itself be broken.
A rich man does wrong, and he even adds reproaches;
    a poor man suffers wrong, and he must add apologies.
A rich man[a] will exploit you if you can be of use to him,
    but if you are in need he will forsake you.
If you own something, he will live with you;
    he will drain your resources and he will not care.
When he needs you he will deceive you,
    he will smile at you and give you hope.
He will speak to you kindly and say, “What do you need?”
He will shame you with his foods,
    until he has drained you two or three times;
    and finally he will deride you.
Should he see you afterwards, he will forsake you,
    and shake his head at you.

Take care not to be led astray,
    and not to be humiliated in your feasting.[b]
When a powerful man invites you, be reserved;
    and he will invite you the more often.
10 Do not push forward, lest you be repulsed;
    and do not remain at a distance, lest you be forgotten.
11 Do not try to treat him as an equal,
    nor trust his abundance of words;
for he will test you through much talk,
    and while he smiles he will be examining you.
12 Cruel is he who does not keep words to himself;
    he will not hesitate to injure or to imprison.
13 Keep words to yourself and be very watchful,
    for you are walking about with your own downfall.[c]

15 Every creature loves its like,
    and every person his neighbor;
16 all living beings associate by species,
    and a man clings to one like himself.
17 What fellowship has a wolf with a lamb?
    No more has a sinner with a godly man.
18 What peace is there between a hyena and a dog?
    And what peace between a rich man and a poor man?
19 Wild asses in the wilderness are the prey of lions;
    likewise the poor are pastures for the rich.
20 Humility is an abomination to a proud man;
    likewise a poor man is an abomination to a rich one.

21 When a rich man totters, he is steadied by friends,
    but when a humble man falls, he is even pushed away by friends.
22 If a rich man slips, his helpers are many;
    he speaks unseemly words, and they justify him.
If a humble man slips, they even reproach him;
    he speaks sensibly, and receives no attention.
23 When the rich man speaks all are silent,
    and they extol to the clouds what he says.
When the poor man speaks they say, “Who is this fellow?”
    And should he stumble, they even push him down.

24 Riches are good if they are free from sin,
    and poverty is evil in the opinion of the ungodly.
25 A man’s heart changes his countenance,
    either for good or for evil.[d]
26 The mark of a happy heart is a cheerful face,
    but to devise proverbs requires painful thinking.


  1. Sirach 13:4 Gk He
  2. Sirach 13:8 Other authorities read folly
  3. Sirach 13:13 Other authorities add When you hear these things in your sleep, wake up! 14 During all your life love the Lord, and call on him for your salvation.
  4. Sirach 13:25 Other authorities add and a glad heart makes a cheerful countenance

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