Teaching from Ecclesiasticus

  1. Pride: Do not boast of your wealth or your ability. Do not say, "I have sinned but the Lord took no heed. I can add sin to sin." Do not be over-confident of His forgiveness, for wrath as well as forgiveness and mercy are with Him and He will surely punish you.
  2. Speech: Be consistent, quick to hear but deliberate in answering. If you know what to answer, do so. If you do not, put your hand over your mouth. Honour and dishonour come from speaking and the tongue may be your downfall.
  3. Friends: Pleasant speech multiplies friends and a gracious tongue multiplies courtesies. Have many friends but let your advisors be one in a thousand. Gain your friends through the testing of them, and don't trust them hastily. Make sure they will stand by you in time of trouble. Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter beyond price. Those who fear the Lord will find such and direct their friendship aright.

The foregoing words of advice are very close to the words and spirit of earlier (e.g. "Solomon's Wisdom" and scattered Old Testament Proverbs and warnings in the Old Testament.)

As for "Forgive your neighbour any wrong he has done you; then, when you pray, your sins will be forgiven", is a striking and important parallel to the New Testament sentence; "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us" and helps us to date Ben Sirach's closeness to the New Testament in date and context, (i.e. 132 - 110 BC). As the writer continues his description of Wisdom, we see a process developing of personification of Wisdom such as is to be seen in other similar writings where Wisdom is extolled as the "Helpmeet" or "Handmaid" of the Almighty, c.f. Proverbs 8 22.

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