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Prudence and Common Sense

Do not contend with a powerful man,
    lest you fall into his hands.
Do not quarrel with a rich man,
    lest his resources outweigh yours;
for gold has ruined many,
    and has perverted the minds of kings.
Do not argue with a chatterer,
    nor heap wood on his fire.

Do not jest with an ill-bred person,
    lest your ancestors be disgraced.
Do not reproach a man who is turning away from sin;
    remember that we all deserve punishment.
Do not disdain a man when he is old,
    for some of us are growing old.
Do not rejoice over any one’s death;
    remember that we all must die.

Do not slight the discourse of the sages,
    but busy yourself with their maxims;
because from them you will gain instruction
    and learn how to serve great men.
Do not disregard the discourse of the aged,
    for they themselves learned from their fathers;
because from them you will gain understanding
    and learn how to give an answer in time of need.

10 Do not kindle the coals of a sinner,
    lest you be burned in his flaming fire.
11 Do not get up and leave an insolent fellow,
    lest he lie in ambush against your words.
12 Do not lend to a man who is stronger than you;
    but if you do lend anything, be as one who has lost it.
13 Do not give surety beyond your means,
    but if you give surety, be concerned as one who must pay.

14 Do not go to law against a judge,
    for the decision will favor him because of his standing.
15 Do not travel on the road with a foolhardy fellow,
    lest he be burdensome to you;
for he will act as he pleases,
    and through his folly you will perish with him.
16 Do not fight with a wrathful man,
    and do not cross the wilderness with him;
because blood is as nothing in his sight,
    and where no help is at hand, he will strike you down.
17 Do not consult with a fool,
    for he will not be able to keep a secret.
18 In the presence of a stranger do nothing that is to be kept secret,
    for you do not know what he will divulge.[a]
19 Do not reveal your thoughts to every one,
    lest you drive away your good luck.[b]


  1. Sirach 8:18 Or it will bring forth
  2. Sirach 8:19 Heb: Gk let him not return a favor to you

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