*When to Speak*
1. There is a rebuke which is not timely,
And there is he who is silent but has discernment.
2. How much better it is to rebuke than to seethe with anger.
3. He who confesses his fault will be kept from loss.+
4. Like the desire of a eunuch to violate a maiden,
So is the man who executes justice by violence.+
5. There is a man who is silent but is found to be wise,
And there is a man who is hateful because he talks too much.+
6. There is a man who is silent because he has no answer,
And there is a man who is silent because he knows when to speak.
7. A wise man will keep silent until it is the right time to speak,
But an arrogant and undiscerning man will speak out of turn.
8. The man who talks too much will be detested,
And the man who stands on his rights will be hated.
*Buying and Selling*
9. There is prosperity in the midst of adversities,
But there is also a sum realized by a sale for a loss.+
10. There is a gift that will not profit you,
And there is a gift where the repayment is double.
11. There is a loss because of glory,
And there is a man who raises his head from a humble state.
12. There is a man who buys much with little,
But pays for it sevenfold.
13. A wise man will make himself beloved through his words,
But the kindness of fools will be forgotten.
14. The gift of a senseless man will not benefit you,
For his eyes are many instead of one.+
15. He will give little but insult much,
And he will open his mouth like a herald.
Today he will lend but tomorrow he will demand it back;
Such a man is hateful.
*A Man without Grace*
16. A fool will say, "I have no friend,
And I get no thanks for my good deeds.+
17. Those who eat my bread are worthless in their speech."+
How many will laugh scornfully at him, and how often?
18. A slip on the ground is better than a slip of the tongue;
Thus the downfall of evil will come speedily.
19. A man without grace is like a story told at the wrong time;
It will continue on the lips of the ignorant.+
20. A parable from the lips of a fool will be rejected,
For he does not tell it at its proper time.
*Commentary on Sinners*
21. There is one who is hindered from sinning because of his poverty,
So when he rests, he will not be pierced with sorrow.
22. There is one who may lose his life through shame,
Or lose it because of his foolish countenance.
23. There is one who makes a promise to a friend because of shame,
And needlessly gains him as an enemy.
24. A lie is an evil disgrace in a man;
it will continue on the lips of the ignorant.
25. A thief is preferable to a continual liar;
Both, however, will inherit destruction.
26. The character of a liar brings dishonor,
And his shame is continually with him.
*Ways of the Wise*
27. A wise man will advance himself with his words,
And a man with discernment will please great men.
28. A man who works the earth will raise up his harvest,
And he who pleases great men will atone for wrongdoing.
29. Presents and gifts will blind the eyes of the wise,
And like a muzzle on the mouth they turn aside rebukes.
30. Wisdom hidden and unseen treasure;
What profit is there in either of them?
31. Better is the man who hides his foolishness
Than a man who hides his wisdom.
+20:3 - The martyr Cyprian (200-258), in a passage attributed to him calling this book by its nickname "Ecclesiasticus," meaning "Church Book," places Sirach on a par with Scripture. Many church fathers also quoted from Sirach. In his treatise, Cyprian quotes first from 17:24-26 and then from 20:3. This document includes a great many scripture quotes, mostly from the LXX but also a few from the NT, and is worthy to be studied by all Christians.
+20:4 - A eunuch is a castrated man who serves as an attendant to a sovereign in his bedchamber or harem. The analogy here is that a man who uses senseless violence to bring about justice is impotent in producing justice.
+20:5-8 - The church fathers insist that the most difficult discipline for most of us is learning to keep silent. "Now what ought we to learn before everything else, but to be silent, that we may be able to speak? Lest my voice should condemn me, before that of another acquit me, it is written: 'By thy words thou shalt be condemned'" (AmbM).
+20:9-12 - These verses employ contrasting terms to show that things are not always as they appear to be.
+20:14, 15 - Beware of fools bearing gifts!
+20:16, 17 - The foolish man is awash in self-pity complaints about being friendless and unappreciated. His world revolves around himself, and he becomes a laughingstock to all.
+20:19 - This definition of a fool as a man without grace serves as a reminder to Christians to rely on the grace of God in their speech instead of merely on their own understanding.