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Sirach 20 Common English Bible (CEB)

On speech

20 There is a bad time
to rebuke someone.
    Those who keep silent
    are the prudent ones.
How much better to investigate
than to be angry!
And those who confess openly
will be kept from loss.
Like eunuchs desiring to violate a girl,
    so are those who make decisions
    by force.
There are people who are silent
and are found to be wise,
    and there are those who are hated
    because they talk a lot.
There are those who keep silent
because they have nothing to say
in response,
    and there are those who keep silent
    because they know the right time.
Wise people keep silent
until the proper moment,
    but those who swagger and are senseless will miss the right moment.
Those who talk excessively will be loathed,
    and those who pretend
    to have authority will be hated.[a]

Some people have success
in bad circumstances,
    and there’s a windfall that results
    in loss.
10 There’s a gift that won’t profit you,
    and there’s a gift that will bring
    twice the return.
11 There are losses suffered
for the sake of one’s reputation,
    and there are people who have raised
    their heads from humiliation.
12 There are those who buy a lot for a little,
    and they pay for it seven times over.
13 Wise people make themselves
dearly loved by means of words,[b]
    but fools pour out gifts.
14 Gifts from senseless people
won’t profit you,[c]
    because they look for a lot
    rather than a little in return.[d]
15 They will give a little and reproach a lot,
    and they will open their mouths
    like a town crier.
    Today they will lend
    and tomorrow ask for it back;
    such people are hateful.
16 Fools say, “I don’t have a friend,
    and there’s no gratitude
    for my good deeds.”
    Those who eat the bread of such people
    have mean tongues.
17 How many will ridicule them,
and how often?[e]

18 A slip on the pavement is preferable
to a slip of the tongue;
    so the downfall of evil people
    will come quickly.
19 A disagreeable person, an untimely story—
    it will always be
    in the mouth of the uneducated.
20 Proverbs told by fools will be rejected,
    because they’ll never tell them
    at their proper time.

21 Some are prevented from sinning
because of poverty,
    and their conscience won’t be pained
    when they rest.
22 Some destroy their life through shame,
    and they destroy it
    because of foolish appearances.
23 Some promise a favor to a friend
out of shame,
    and they create an enemy for no reason.

24 A lie is a bad blemish on a person;
    ignorant people tell them incessantly.
25 A thief is preferable to someone
who continuously lies,
    but both will inherit destruction.
26 The character of liars is dishonorable;
    their shame is continuously
    with them.

Proverbial sayingsl[f]

27 Wise people distinguish themselves
by their words,
    and prudent people will please
    the powerful.
28 Those who work the soil
will pile up their harvest,
    and those who please the powerful
    will secure reconciliation for injuries.
29 Friendly relationships and gifts
will blind the eyes of the wise;
    like a muzzle on a mouth,
    they turn away reproof.
30 Hidden wisdom and unseen treasure—
    of what benefit is either?
31 Better are those who hide
their foolishness
    than those who hide their wisdom.[g]


  1. Sirach 20:8 LXXb How good it is when someone who is reproved shows a changed heart and mind! In this way, you will escape sinning voluntarily.
  2. Sirach 20:13 Heb a few things
  3. Sirach 20:14 LXXb adds and neither will the gift of a grudging person who’s forced to give.
  4. Sirach 20:14 LXX for their eyes are many rather than one
  5. Sirach 20:17 LXXb adds They haven’t received what they have with real feeling, and what they don’t have is similarly indifferent to them.
  6. Sirach 20:27 The title appears in Gk manuscripts.
  7. Sirach 20:31 LXXb adds 20:32 Better is unmovable endurance when seeking the Lord than a charioteer of one’s life that has no master.
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible


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