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Sirach 19Revised Standard Version (RSV)

19 A workman who is a drunkard will not become rich;
    he who despises small things will fail little by little.
Wine and women lead intelligent men astray,
    and the man who consorts with harlots is very reckless.
Decay and worms will inherit him,
    and the reckless soul will be snatched away.

Against Loose Talk

One who trusts others too quickly is lightminded,
    and one who sins does wrong to himself.
One who rejoices in wickedness[a] will be condemned,[b]
    and for one who hates gossip evil is lessened.
Never repeat a conversation,
    and you will lose nothing at all.
With friend or foe do not report it,
    and unless it would be a sin for you, do not disclose it;
for some one has heard you and watched you,
    and when the time comes he will hate you.
10 Have you heard a word? Let it die with you.
    Be brave! It will not make you burst!
11 With such a word a fool will suffer pangs
    like a woman in labor with a child.
12 Like an arrow stuck in the flesh of the thigh,
    so is a word inside a fool.

13 Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it;
    but if he did anything, so that he may do it no more.
14 Question a neighbor, perhaps he did not say it;
    but if he said it, so that he may not say it again.
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 never sinned with his tongue?
17 Question your neighbor before you threaten him;
    and let the law of the Most High take its course.[c]

True and False Wisdom

20 All wisdom is the fear of the Lord,
    and in all wisdom there is the fulfilment of the law.[d]
22 But the knowledge of wickedness is not wisdom,
    nor is there prudence where sinners take counsel.
23 There is a cleverness which is abominable,
    but there is a fool who merely lacks wisdom.
24 Better is the God-fearing man who lacks intelligence,
    than the highly prudent man who transgresses the law.
25 There is a cleverness which is scrupulous but unjust,
    and there are people who distort kindness to gain a verdict.
26 There is a rascal bowed down in mourning,[e]
    but inwardly he is full of deceit.
27 He hides his face and pretends not to hear;
    but where no one notices, he will forestall you.
28 And if by lack of strength he is prevented from sinning,
    he will do evil when he finds an opportunity.
29 A man is known by his appearance,
    and a sensible man is known by his face, when you meet him.
30 A man’s attire and open-mouthed laughter,
    and a man’s manner of walking, show what he is.


  1. Sirach 19:5 Other authorities read heart
  2. Sirach 19:5 Other authorities add but he who withstands pleasures crowns his life. He who controls his tongue will live without strife,
  3. Sirach 19:17 Other 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.
  4. Sirach 19:20 Other authorities add and the knowledge of his omnipotence. 21 When a servant says to his master, “I will not act as you wish,” even if later he does it, he angers the one who supports him.
  5. Sirach 19:26 Gk blackness
Revised Standard Version (RSV)

Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 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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