Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sirach 6

Okay, the beginning of Sirach 6 is actually a continuation of the end of Sirach 5, so I'm including that portion again, so it can be read as a whole.

(*Control of the Tongue*
9. Do not winnow with every wind
And do not follow every road;
For a double-tongued sinner is of such a kind.+

10. Be established in your understanding
And let your word be consistent.

11. Be quick to listen
And give your answer with patience.

12. If you have understanding, answer your neighbor,
But if not, let your hand be over your mouth.

13. There is glory and dishonor in speech,
And a man's tongue may cause him to fall.

14. Do not be called a slanderer,
And do not lie in ambush with your tongue;
For shame awaits a thief,
And a grievous condemnation will come upon
A double-tongued man.

15. In a great or in a small matter, do not go wrong.)

1. Do not be an enemy instead of a friend;
For a bad name brings disgrace,
And a double-tongued sinner is of such a kind.

2. Do not exalt yourself with your own counsel,
Lest your soul be torn in pieces as by a bull.+

3. You will devour your leaves and lose your fruit,
And be left like a withered tree.

4. An evil soul will destroy him who possesses it
And make him an object of malignant joy to his enemies.

5. Pleasant speech will multiply his friends,
And a gracious tongue will multiply many kind greetings.+

6. Let those who live at peace with you be many,
But let your counselors be one in a thousand.

7. If you gain a friend, gain him in testing,
And do not be in a hurry to trust him.

8. For there is a friend who is such to his own advantage,
But he will not remain beside you in the day of your affliction.

9. There is also a friend who changes into an enemy
And will reveal a quarrel to your disgrace.

10. Again, there is a friend who is a companion at table,
But will not stand by you in your day of trouble.

11. Further, when you prosper, he will be like you,
And speak boldly to your servants.

12. But if you are brought low, he will be against you,
And will hide himself from your presence.

13. Stay away from your enemies
And hold onto your friends.

14. A faithful friend is a strong shelter,
And he who finds one finds a treasure.

15. There is nothing that can take the place of a faithful friend,
And there is no way to measure his worth.

16. A faithful friend is a medicine of life,
And those who fear the Lord will find him.

17. He who fears the Lord guides his friendship rightly,
Because as he is, so also is his neighbor.

*Instruction Brings Wisdom*
18. My son, from your youth up, choose instruction,
And you will find wisdom also into old age.+

19. Come to her as one who plows and sows,
And wait expectantly for her good fruits;
For in her work you will labor a little while,
Then you will quickly eat of her fruit.

20. She is very harsh on the undisciplined
And on the one who lacks the heart to continue with her.+

21. She will be like a heavy stone of trial upon him,
And he will not delay to throw her off.

22. For wisdom is like her name and is not manifest to many.

23. Listen, my son, and accept my judgment,
And do not reject my advice.

24. Put your feet into her fetters and your neck into her collar.

25. Put your shoulder under her and carry her,
And do not be angry with her bonds.

26. Come to her with all your soul,
And keep her ways with all your strength.

27. Search for her and seek her out,
And she will become known to you;
And when you become self-controlled, do not let her go.

28. For in he end you will find her rest,
And she will turn to you in gladness.

29. Then her fetters will be as strong protection for you,
And her collar a glorious robe.

30. For there is a golden adornment upon her,
And her bonds are a blue thread.

31. You will wear her as a glorious robe
And put her on yourself as a crown of exceeding joy.

32. If you are willing, my son, you will be taught,
And if you apply yourself, you will be prudent.+

33. If you love to listen, you will wait with anticipation,
And if you incline your ear, you will be wise.

34. Stand in an assembly of elders,
And who is wise? Attach yourself to him.

35. Desire to listen to every divine narrative,
And do not let proverbs of understanding escape you.

36. If you see a man who has understanding,
Rise early in the morning
And let your foot wear out the threshold of his door.

37. Set your mind on the ordinances of the Lord
And practice His commandments.
He will strengthen your heart continually,
And the desire for wisdom will be given to you.

(+5:9 - 6:1 - The double-tongued man is one who "talks out of both sides of his mouth" and brings shame and disgrace (6:1))

+6:2-4 - In ancient agrarian societies where fences were few, a young bull would be forced from his herd and would wander about looking for a herd where he was strong enough to assert dominance. But in doing so he was in danger of encountering stronger bulls and being torn in pieces. So is a man who looks only to himself for counsel and wisdom. One Orthodox saint teaches, "He is a fool who has himself as a spiritual father."

+6:5-17 - There are also those who are fair-weather friends and appear to be especially close when one is prosperous. But if things turn for the worse, these false friends will become enemies (v. 13). Faithful friends are a great treasure (v. 14). Such friendships are beyond worth (v. 15) and are like a good and healing medicine (v. 16).

+6:18, 19 - Lifelong instruction is essential to gaining wisdom. As a farmer patiently plows and sows in order to produce good fruit, so is the one who gains the fruit of wisdom.

+6:20 - To the undisciplined and spiritually ignorant, the gaining of wisdom seems to be harsh and overly demanding. But the person seeking wisdom will gladly continue with her because of the great good she will bring into his or her life.

+6:32-37 - The requirements for gaining wisdom: (1) be willing to be taught - have a teachable spirit; (2) love to listen (v. 33) rather than persistently talking; (3) attach ourselves (v. 34) to those older and wiser; (4) listen carefully to divine narrative and wise proverbs (v. 35); (5) continuously practice the commandments (v. 37) of the Lord. As we do these things, He will grant our desire for wisdom. Remember, the early church fathers saw the Wisdom of the Proverbs and Sirach as speaking of the preincarnate Christ. We find Him in the complete personification of Wisdom.


  1. So many good things. I love that final explanation about gaining wisdom. And the part about friendships was fantastic! I love

    14. A faithful friend is a strong shelter,
    And he who finds one finds a treasure.

    15. There is nothing that can take the place of a faithful friend,
    And there is no way to measure his worth.

    16. A faithful friend is a medicine of life,
    And those who fear the Lord will find him.

    Such a wonderful chapter and a half. Thanks for sharing Sirach!

  2. Susanne,

    Sirach is just *full* of wisdom that's applicable today. :)


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