A drunken worker[a]
won’t become rich,
and whoever neglects the little things
will fail little by little.
Wine and women
will mislead an intelligent person,
and the one who has sex with prostitutes will become more reckless.
Decay and worms will possess him,
and his reckless soul will be carried away.
Those who trust others too quickly
have empty heads,
and those who sin injure themselves.
Those who rejoice in wickedness
will be condemned.[b]
And those who are reticent to speak
diminish wickedness.
Never repeat something that you’ve heard,
and you will not lose anything.
Don’t report it to a friend or an enemy,
and, as long as it wouldn’t be a sin for you, don’t reveal it.
People might hear you or observe you,
and in time they will hate you.
10 Have you heard some word?
Let it perish along with you.
Have courage!
It won’t make you burst.
11 Because of something spoken,
a fool will suffer labor pains
like those caused by a baby
about to be delivered.
12 Like an arrow stuck in a thigh,
so is a word in the belly of a fool.
13 Question a friend;
perhaps he didn’t do it.
And if he did, question him
so he doesn’t do it again.
14 Question a neighbor;
perhaps she didn’t say it.
And if she did say it,
question her so that she doesn’t repeat it.
15 Question a friend, because it often
turns out to be a false accusation.
Don’t trust everything that is said.
16 There are those who slip,
and it wasn’t intentional.
Who hasn’t sinned with the tongue?
17 Question your neighbor
before issuing a threat,
and give the Law of the Most High
its place.[c]

Wisdom and cleverness

20 Fearing the Lord is the whole of wisdom,
and all wisdom involves
doing the Law.[d]
22 The knowledge of wickedness
isn’t wisdom,
and there is no prudence
in the advice that sinners give.
23 There is a kind of cleverness
that is detestable,
and there is a senseless person
who lacks wisdom.
24 Someone who fears God
but who has inferior intelligence
is better than someone
who abounds in intelligence
but who violates the Law.
25 There is cleverness that is precise
but unjust,
and there are people who abuse favors
in order to get a favorable decision.[e]
26 And there are people who act wickedly, bowed down gloomily,
and their insides are full of treachery.
27 They hide their faces,
and they pretend they can’t hear;
when you aren’t paying attention,
they will outrun you.
28 If they are prevented from sinning,
it’s because they lack the strength.
If they find an occasion,
they will do evil.
29 People are known by their appearance,
and sensible people are recognized
in a face-to-face meeting.
30 A person’s clothing,
their vigorous laughter,
and the way they walk
will proclaim things about them.


  1. Sirach 19:1 Heb Whoever does this
  2. Sirach 19:5 LXXb adds 19:5b-6a but those who withstand pleasures bring glory to their life. Those who control their tongue will live without conflict.
  3. Sirach 19:17 LXXb adds 19:18-19 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of acceptance, and wisdom secures affection from him. Knowledge of the Lord’s commandments is education for life, and those who do things that are pleasing to him will harvest the fruit of the tree of immortality.
  4. Sirach 19:20 LXXb adds 19:20c-21 and there is knowledge of his omnipotence. When household slaves say to the master,I won’t do what pleases you,and if after this they do those things, they still anger the one who provides for them.
  5. Sirach 19:25 LXXb adds and whoever treats others justly is wise in judgment.