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Sirach 20 Good News Translation (GNT)

Knowing When to Talk

20 A person can be rebuked in the wrong way; it may be wiser to keep quiet than to speak. But it is much better to rebuke the person than to keep your anger bottled up. Admit when you are wrong, and you will avoid embarrassment. Using force to get a point across is like a castrated man trying to rape a young woman. Some people are thought to be wise because they don't talk much; others are disliked because they talk too much. Some people keep quiet because they don't have anything to say; others keep quiet because they know the right time to speak. A wise person will not speak until the right moment, but a bragging fool doesn't know when that time is. No one can stand a person who talks too long and will not give others a chance to speak.

Sudden Changes of Fortune

Bad luck can sometimes lead to success, and a stroke of good luck can sometimes lead to loss.

10 Generosity will sometimes do you no good, but at other times it will repay you double.

11 Honor can be followed by disgrace, but there are people who have risen from obscurity to places of honor.

12 Sometimes what seems like a real bargain can turn out to be a very expensive mistake.

13 When a person with good judgment speaks, he wins friends. A stupid person, though, can shower compliments on everybody, and it won't help him a bit. 14 If such a person gives you something, it won't do any good; it won't be as valuable as he thinks it is.[a] 15 He isn't generous with anything but criticism, which he will shout for all the world to hear. If he lends you something today, he'll want it back tomorrow. (Don't you hate people like that?) 16 Then that fool will say,

Nobody likes me. Nobody appreciates what I do for them. They'll take what I give them, but then talk about me behind my back. 17 And he's right—he's a constant joke to everyone.

Inappropriate Talk

18 A slip of the tongue is worse than a slip on the pavement; the wicked will go to ruin just as suddenly as a person slips and falls.

19 An impolite person is like one of those off-color stories that ignorant people are always telling.

20 Nobody takes a proverb seriously when some fool quotes it at the wrong time.

21 If a person is too poor to afford sin, he can rest without a guilty conscience.

22 You can lose all your self-respect by being reluctant to speak up in the presence of stupidity.

23 If you promise a friend something because you are too bashful to say no, you're needlessly making an enemy.

24 Lying is an ugly blot on a person's character, but ignorant people do it all the time. 25 A thief is better than a habitual liar, but both are headed for ruin. 26 A liar has no honor. He lives in constant disgrace.

Stewardship of Wisdom

27 Speak wisely, and you will get ahead in the world. Influential people appreciate good sense. 28 They will excuse your errors if they like you, so cultivate the soil and reap the harvest!

29 Gifts and bribes make even the wise blind to the truth, and prevent them from being honest in their criticism.

30 Wisdom that is not expressed is like a treasure that has been hidden—both are useless. 31 But a person who covers up his foolishness is better than one who keeps his wisdom to himself.

Footnotes:

  1. Sirach 20:14 it won't be...it is; or he only expects to be repaid.
Good News Translation (GNT)

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

Sirach 20 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

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 the 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]

Paradoxes

There may be good fortune for a person in adversity,
    and 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 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.

Lying

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 Favors 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]

Footnotes:

  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 (NRSV)

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 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.

Ben Sira 20 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 20

Conduct of the Wise and the Foolish

There is an admonition that is untimely,[a]
    but the silent person is the wise one.
It is much better to admonish than to lose one’s temper;
    one who admits a fault will be kept from disgrace.
Like a eunuch lusting to violate a young woman
    is the one who does right under compulsion.[b]
One is silent and is thought wise;
    another, for being talkative, is disliked.
One is silent, having nothing to say;
    another is silent, biding his time.
The wise remain silent till the right time comes,
    but a boasting fool misses the proper time.
Whoever talks too much is detested;
    whoever pretends to authority is hated.

There is the misfortune that brings success;[c]
    and there is the gain that turns into loss.
10 There is the gift that profits you nothing,
    and there is the gift that must be paid back double.
11 There is the loss for the sake of glory,
    and there is the one who rises above humble circumstances.
12 There is one who buys much for little,
    but pays for it seven times over.
13 The wise make themselves beloved by a few words,
    but the courtesies of fools are wasted.
14 A gift from a fool will do you no good,
    for in his eyes this one gift is equal to many.
15 He gives little, criticizes often,
    and opens his mouth like a town crier.
He lends today and asks for it tomorrow;
    such a person is hateful.
16 A fool says, “I have no friends
    nor thanks for my generosity.”
Those who eat his bread have a mocking tongue.
17 How many will ridicule him, and how often!

18 A slip on the floor is better than a slip of the tongue;[d]
    in like manner the downfall of the wicked comes quickly.
19 A coarse person, an untimely story;
    the ignorant are always ready to offer it.
20 A proverb spoken by a fool is unwelcome,
    for he does not tell it at the proper time.

21 There is a person whose poverty prevents him from sinning,
    but when he takes his rest he has no regrets.
22 There is a person who is destroyed through shame,
    and ruined by foolish posturing.
23 There is one who promises a friend out of shame,
    and so makes an enemy needlessly.

24 A lie is a foul blot in a person,
    yet it is always on the lips of the ignorant.
25 A thief is better than an inveterate liar,
    yet both will suffer ruin.
26 A liar’s way leads to dishonor,
    and his shame remains ever with him.

27 The wise gain promotion with few words,[e]
    the prudent please the great.
28 Those who work the land have abundant crops,
    and those who please the great are pardoned their faults.
29 Favors and gifts blind the eyes;
    like a muzzle over the mouth they silence reproofs.
30 Hidden wisdom and unseen treasure—
    what value has either?
31 Better are those who hide their folly
    than those who hide their wisdom.[f]

Footnotes:

  1. 20:1–8 The wise know the proper times for speech and silence, that is, the occasions when the most benefit can be gained from them. On the ambiguity of silences, see Prv 17:27–28.
  2. 20:4 Force can prevent an external act of sin or compel a good deed, but it does not eliminate the internal sin or desire of wrongdoing.
  3. 20:9–17 In a series of paradoxes the author indicates how much true and lasting values differ from apparent ones.
  4. 20:18–26 The ill-timed speech brings disaster (vv. 18–20); human respect may lead to rash promises and enmity (vv. 22–23); lies bring dishonor and lasting disgrace (vv. 24–26).
  5. 20:27–31 Through prudent speech the wise gain honor and esteem among the great (vv. 27–28). They must beware, however, of accepting bribes, lest they share in evil through silence when they should reprove (vv. 29–31).
  6. 20:31

    Other ancient texts read as v. 32:

    It is better to await the inevitable while serving the Lord

    than to be the ungoverned helmsman for the careening of one’s life.

New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Sirach 20 New 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]

Paradoxes

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.

Lying

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]

Footnotes:

  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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