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Prudence and Common Sense

Do not contend with the powerful,
    or you may fall into their hands.
Do not quarrel with the rich,
    in case their resources outweigh yours;
for gold has ruined many,
    and has perverted the minds of kings.
Do not argue with the loud of mouth,
    and do not heap wood on their fire.

Do not make fun of one who is ill-bred,
    or your ancestors may be insulted.
Do not reproach one who is turning away from sin;
    remember that we all deserve punishment.
Do not disdain one who is old,
    for some of us are also growing old.
Do not rejoice over anyone’s death;
    remember that we must all die.

Do not slight the discourse of the sages,
    but busy yourself with their maxims;
because from them you will learn discipline
    and how to serve princes.
Do not ignore the discourse of the aged,
    for they themselves learned from their parents;[a]
from them you learn how to understand
    and to give an answer when the need arises.

10 Do not kindle the coals of sinners,
    or you may be burned in their flaming fire.
11 Do not let the insolent bring you to your feet,
    or they may lie in ambush against your words.
12 Do not lend to one who is stronger than you;
    but if you do lend anything, count it as a loss.
13 Do not give surety beyond your means;
    but if you give surety, be prepared to pay.

14 Do not go to law against a judge,
    for the decision will favor him because of his standing.
15 Do not go traveling with the reckless,
    or they will be burdensome to you;
for they will act as they please,
    and through their folly you will perish with them.
16 Do not pick a fight with the quick-tempered,
    and do not journey with them through lonely country,
because bloodshed means nothing to them,
    and where no help is at hand, they will strike you down.
17 Do not consult with fools,
    for they cannot keep a secret.
18 In the presence of strangers do nothing that is to be kept secret,
    for you do not know what they will divulge.[b]
19 Do not reveal your thoughts to anyone,
    or you may drive away your happiness.[c]


  1. Sirach 8:9 Or ancestors
  2. Sirach 8:18 Or it will bring forth
  3. Sirach 8:19 Heb: Gk and let him not return a favor to you

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