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Sirach 20New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

Silence and Speech

20 There is a rebuke that is untimely,
    and there is the person who is wise enough to keep silent.
How much better it is to rebuke than to fume!
And one who admits his fault will be kept from failure.
Like a eunuch lusting to violate a girl
    is the person who does right under compulsion.
Some people keep silent and are thought to be wise,
    while others are detested for being talkative.
Some people keep silent because they have nothing to say,
    while others keep silent because they know when to speak.
The wise remain silent until the right moment,
    but a boasting fool misses the right moment.
Whoever talks too much is detested,
    and whoever pretends to authority is hated.[a]


There may be good fortune for a person in adversity,
    but a windfall may result in a loss.
10 There is the gift that profits you nothing,
    and the gift to be paid back double.
11 There are losses for the sake of glory,
    and there are some who have raised their heads from humble circumstances.
12 Some buy much for little,
    but pay for it seven times over.
13 The wise make themselves beloved by only few words,[b]
    but the courtesies of fools are wasted.
14 A fool’s gift will profit you nothing,[c]
    for he looks for recompense sevenfold.[d]
15 He gives little and upbraids much;
    he opens his mouth like a town crier.
Today he lends and tomorrow he asks for it back;
    such a one is hateful to God and humans.[e]
16 The fool says, ‘I have no friends,
    and I get no thanks for my good deeds.
    Those who eat my bread are evil-tongued.’
17 How many will ridicule him, and how often![f]

Inappropriate Speech

18 A slip on the pavement is better than a slip of the tongue;
    the downfall of the wicked will occur just as speedily.
19 A coarse person is like an inappropriate story
    continually on the lips of the ignorant.
20 A proverb from a fool’s lips will be rejected,
    for he does not tell it at the proper time.

21 One may be prevented from sinning by poverty;
    so when he rests he feels no remorse.
22 One may lose his life through shame,
    or lose it because of human respect.[g]
23 Another out of shame makes promises to a friend,
    and so makes an enemy for nothing.


24 A lie is an ugly blot on a person;
    it is continually on the lips of the ignorant.
25 A thief is preferable to a habitual liar,
    but the lot of both is ruin.
26 A liar’s way leads to disgrace,
    and his shame is ever with him.

Proverbial Sayings[h]

27 The wise person advances himself by his words,
    and one who is sensible pleases the great.
28 Those who cultivate the soil heap up their harvest,
    and those who please the great atone for injustice.
29 Favours and gifts blind the eyes of the wise;
    like a muzzle on the mouth they stop reproofs.
30 Hidden wisdom and unseen treasure,
    of what value is either?
31 Better are those who hide their folly
    than those who hide their wisdom.[i]


  1. Sirach 20:8 Other ancient authorities add How good it is to show repentance when you are reproved, for so you will escape deliberate sin!
  2. Sirach 20:13 Heb: Gk by words
  3. Sirach 20:14 Other ancient authorities add so it is with the envious who give under compulsion
  4. Sirach 20:14 Syr: Gk he has many eyes instead of one
  5. Sirach 20:15 Other ancient authorities lack to God and humans
  6. Sirach 20:17 Other ancient authorities add for he has not honestly received what he has, and what he does not have is unimportant to him
  7. Sirach 20:22 Other ancient authorities read his foolish look
  8. Sirach 20:27 This heading is included in the Gk text.
  9. Sirach 20:31 Other ancient authorities add 32 Unwearied endurance in seeking the Lord is better than a masterless charioteer of one’s own life.
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 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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