1. Many have sinned to make a profit,
And he who seeks riches will turn away his eyes.
2. As a stake will be driven tightly between fitted stones,
So sin will be wedged between selling and buying.
3. If a man does not hold steadfastly to the fear of the Lord,
His house will be soon overturned.
*Tested by Reason*
4. When a sieve is shaken, the refuse remains;
So a man's filth remains in the way he reasons.+
5. As a furnace tests a potter's vessels,
So the test of a man is in the way he reasons.+
6. As fruit reveals how a tree is cultivated,
So a man's reasoning process reveals his heart.
7. Do not praise a man before he reveals the way he reasons,
For this is the way a man is tested.
8. If you pursue righteousness, you will attain it
And put it on like a glorious robe.+
9. As birds flock with their own kind,
So also truth will return to those who practice it.
10. As a lion lies in wait for his prey,
So sin lies in wait for those who do wrong.
11. The talk of a godly man is always wise,
But a fool changes like the moon.
12. Among senseless men, limit your time;
Instead, spend it with men of understanding.
13. The talk of fools is offensive,
And they laugh at the lewdness of sin.+
14. Speech filled with swearing will make one's hair stand on end,
And quarreling will make one stop his ears.
15. The quarreling of the arrogant leads to bloodshed,
And their abusive language is hard on the ears.
16. He who reveals secrets destroys his credibility,
And he will not find a friend for life.
17. Love your friend,
And be trustworthy with him;
But if you reveal his secrets, do not pursue him closely.
18. For as surely as a man has destroyed his enemy,
So you have destroyed the friendship of your neighbor.
19. As you might release a bird from your hand,
So you have let your neighbor go;
And you will not catch him.
20. Do not pursue him, for he has withdrawn far away
And has escaped like a deer from a snare.
21. For a wound can be bandaged and an insult forgiven,
But anyone who reveals secrets is without hope.
22. He who winks with his eye plots evil deeds,
And no one can draw him away from them.
23. His speech will be sweet in your presence,
And he will marvel at your words;
But later his speech will distort what you said,
And he will cause trouble with your words.
24. I hate many things, but none in comparison to him;
And the Lord will hate him.
*Consequences of Sin*
25. He who throws a stone into the air
Throws it on his head,
And a treacherous blow will distribute wounds.
26. He who digs a pit will fall into it,
And he who sets a snare will be caught in it.
27. He who does evil things will have it roll back on him,
And he will not know what hit him.+
28. Mockery and abuse come back on an arrogant man,
And vengeance lies in wait for him like a lion.
29. Those who rejoice at the fall of the godly
Will be caught in a trap,
And pain will consume them before their death.
30. Anger and wrath, these are also abominations,
And a sinful man shall possess both.
+27:4-7 - Jesus Christ must be the Lord of our reasoning process (v. 6), keeping our motives pure.
+27:5 - Cyprian of Carthage (martyred AD 258) sees this passage as the basis of St. Paul's and all Christian sufferings. "This, in short, is the difference between us and others who know not God, that in misfortune they complain and murmur, while adversity does not call us away from the truth of virtue and faith, but strengthens us by its suffering."
+27:8 - The Lord Jesus Christ confirmed and amplified this truth in His fourth Beatitude (Mt 5:6).
+27:13, 14 - Trash talk and swearing may make a man look tough, but Ben Sirach is right: it is offensive and gains no respect from others.
+27:27 - Moses told the children of Israel the same thing in different words: "You will know your sin when evils overtake you" (Nm 32:23).