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Sirach 22Revised Standard Version (RSV)

The Idler

22 The indolent may be compared to a filthy stone,
    and every one hisses at his disgrace.
The indolent may be compared to the filth of dunghills;
    any one that picks it up will shake it off his hand.

Degenerate Children

It is a disgrace to be the father of an undisciplined son,
    and the birth of a daughter is a loss.
A sensible daughter obtains her husband,
    but one who acts shamefully brings grief to her father.
An impudent daughter disgraces father and husband,
    and will be despised by both.
Like music in mourning is a tale told at the wrong time,
    but chastising and discipline are wisdom at all times.

Wisdom and Folly

He who teaches a fool is like one who glues potsherds together,
    or who rouses a sleeper from deep slumber.
He who tells a story to a fool tells it to a drowsy man;
    and at the end he will say, “What is it?”[a]
11 Weep for the dead, for he lacks the light;
    and weep for the fool, for he lacks intelligence;
weep less bitterly for the dead, for he has attained rest;
    but the life of the fool is worse than death.
12 Mourning for the dead lasts seven days,
    but for a fool or an ungodly man it lasts all his life.

13 Do not talk much with a foolish man,
    and do not visit an unintelligent man;
guard yourself from him to escape trouble,
    and you will not be soiled when he shakes himself off;
avoid him and you will find rest,
    and you will never be wearied by his madness.
14 What is heavier than lead?
    And what is its name except “Fool”?
15 Sand, salt, and a piece of iron
    are easier to bear than a stupid man.

16 A wooden beam firmly bonded into a building
    will not be torn loose by an earthquake;
so the mind firmly fixed on a reasonable counsel
    will not be afraid in a crisis.
17 A mind settled on an intelligent thought
    is like the stucco decoration on the wall of a colonnade.[b]
18 Fences set on a high place
    will not stand firm against the wind;
so a timid heart with a fool’s purpose
    will not stand firm against any fear.

The Preservation of Friendship

19 A man who pricks an eye will make tears fall,
    and one who pricks the heart makes it show feeling.
20 One who throws a stone at birds scares them away,
    and one who reviles a friend will break off the friendship.
21 Even if you have drawn your sword against a friend,
    do not despair, for a renewal of friendship is possible.
22 If you have opened your mouth against your friend,
    do not worry, for reconciliation is possible;
but as for reviling, arrogance, disclosure of secrets, or a treacherous blow—
    in these cases any friend will flee.

23 Gain the trust of your neighbor in his poverty,
    that you may rejoice with him in his prosperity;
stand by him in time of affliction,
    that you may share with him in his inheritance.[c]
24 The vapor and smoke of the furnace precede the fire;
    so insults precede bloodshed.
25 I will not be ashamed to protect a friend,
    and I will not hide from him;
26 but if some harm should happen to me because of him,
    whoever hears of it will beware of him.

A Prayer for Help against Sinning

27 O that a guard were set over my mouth,
    and a seal of prudence upon my lips,
that it may keep me from falling,
    so that my tongue may not destroy me![d]


  1. Sirach 22:8 Other authorities add Children who are brought up in a good life, conceal the lowly birth of their parents. 10 Children who are disdainfully and boorishly haughty stain the nobility of their kindred.
  2. Sirach 22:17 Or on a smooth wall
  3. Sirach 22:23 Other authorities add For one should not always despise restricted circumstances, nor admire a rich man who is stupid.
  4. Sirach 22:27 Or Who will set a guard . . . destroy me?
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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