The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiasticus
Wouldst thou rather be thy neighbour’s enemy than his friend? Wouldst thou earn, by ill nature, an ill name, and be despised for such faults as these, envy and hypocrisy?
Wilt thou toss thy head, bull-fashion, and glory in thy own strength? What if that strength should be brought down by thy own folly?
Then wilt thou be no better than some dry tree-stump out in the desert, its leaves withered, its hope of fruit all gone.
Ill nature brings a man to an ill end, the scorn of his enemies and a prey to iniquity.
Gentleness of speech, how it wins friends everywhere, how it disarms its enemies! Never was a good man wanting for a gracious word.
Be on good terms with all, but for thy trusted counsellor, choose one in a thousand.
Tried friends be the friends thou makest; do not bestow thy confidence lightly;
some men are but fair-weather friends, and will not stand the test of adversity.
Some will veer from friend to foe, and lay bare old grudges, old quarrels, to reproach thee;
some will be thy boon companions, but desert thee when trouble is afoot.
Fast and faithful friend there is, that will be even as thyself, and have thy servants at his beck and call;
let him behave modestly, and rid thee of his presence, and there shall be true and tried friendship between you.✻
From enemies thou mayst keep thy distance; against friends be on thy guard.
True friendship, sure protection and rare treasure found;
true friendship, a thing beyond compare, its tried loyalty outweighing gold and silver;
true friendship, elixir of life, and of life eternal! Only those who fear God will come by it;
the fear of God gives friendship evenly shared, friend matched with friend.
My son, learn the lessons of youth, and garner wisdom against thy grey hairs;
ploughman and sower thou must come to the task, and wait patiently for the harvest;
how light the toil wisdom claims, the fruits of her how soon enjoyed!
Only to undisciplined minds she seems an over-hard task-mistress; not for long will the fool endure her company;
here is a weight (says he) that tries my strength too much, and away he casts it.
The enlightenment which comes with wisdom is true to its name; known to so few, yet where men are acquainted with it, it waits to light them into the presence of God.✻
My son, give good heed to the warnings of experience, do not spurn this counsel of mine.
Yield foot of thine to wisdom’s fetters, neck of thine to her collar,
shoulder of thine to her yoke; do not chafe at her bonds.
Make her thy whole heart’s quest, follow, as best thou canst, the path she makes known to thee;
search, and thou wilt find her, hold fast, and never let her go;
in good time, thou shalt repose in her, and find her all delight.
In time, those fetters of hers shall prove a strong protection, a sure support, that halter of hers a badge of honour about thy neck;
there is life in those trappings, healing virtue in those bonds.
Robe is none shall do thee more honour, crown is none shall rest more radiant on thy brow.
My son, mark well and learn, take heed and be wise;
here is true knowledge for the listening, here is wisdom if thou wilt lend an ear.
Where older men than thou are met, and wiser, take thou thy place, and give thy whole heart to their teaching; old tales of God’s wonders thou shalt hear, and sayings of much renown.
A man of discernment if thou find, wait on him at day-break, and wear out his door-step with thy frequent visiting.
Think ever upon God’s commandments, and be constant in the following of his will; be sure he will give thee perseverance, and all thy desire for wisdom shall be granted thee.
The Holy Bible