Sirach chapter 12

The author thinks we should act charitably only when it benefits us personally. But the Lord Jesus calls us to a very different vision of charitable deeds.



The Book of Sirach is recognized as Deuterocanonical Scripture by the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Catholic Churches





VERSE 1. If you do good, know to whom you do it; And your good deeds will have thanks.

know to whom you do it. The author is very selective in deciding who to act charitably toward.

your good deeds will have thanks. The author thinks he should be thanked for his acts of charity. However, the Lord Jesus calls us to a very different vision of charitable deeds:

Matthew 6:3-4. But when you do merciful deeds, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand does, 4 so that your merciful deeds may be in secret, then your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.


VERSE 2. Do good to a godly man, and you will find a recompense; And if not from him, yet from the Most High.

you will find a recompense. The author thinks the point of doing charitable deeds is to be rewarded.


VERSE 3. There will no good come to him that continues to do evil, Nor to him that gives no alms.


VERSE 4. Give to the godly man, And help not the sinner.

help not the sinner. Unlike the author of this chapter, the Lord Jesus reached out to every person whether saint or sinner.


VERSE 5. Do good to one that is lowly, And give not to an ungodly man: Keep back his bread, and give it not to him, Lest he overmaster you by it: For you will receive twice as much evil For all the good you will have done to him.

Keep back his bread. The author calls people to withhold food from those who are starving.


VERSE 6. For the Most High also hates sinners, And will repay vengeance to the ungodly.

the Most High … hates sinners. In those days most people had a works-mindset. They felt God’s love had to be earned. Therefore God did not love people who had not earned his love.


VERSE 7. Give to the good man, And help not the sinner.


VERSE 8. A man’s friend will not be fully tried in prosperity; And his enemy will not be hidden in adversity.


VERSE 9. In a man’s prosperity his enemies are grieved; And in his adversity even his friend will be separated from him.


VERSE 10. Never trust your enemy: For like as the brass rusts, so is his wickedness.


VERSE 11. Though he humble himself, and go crouching, Yet take good heed, and beware of him, And you will be to him as one that has wiped a mirror, And you will know that he has not utterly rusted it.

a mirror. Or “a brazen mirror” (NAB translation).

he has not utterly rusted it. Or “it has not utterly rusted him.”


VERSE 12. Set him not by you, Lest he overthrow you and stand in your place; Let him not sit on your right hand, Lest he seek to take your seat, And at the last you acknowledge my words, And be pricked with my sayings.


VERSE 13. Who will pity a charmer that is bitten with a serpent, Or any that come near wild beasts?


VERSE 14. Even so who will pity him that goes to a sinner, And is associated with him in his sins?

goes to a sinner. Or “the companion of a proud man” (NAB translation).


VERSE 15. For a while he will stay with you, And if you give way, he will not hold out.


VERSE 16. And the enemy will speak sweetly with his lips, And in his heart take counsel how to overthrow you into a pit: The enemy will weep with his eyes, And if he find opportunity, he will not be satiated with blood.

the enemy. With regard to enemies, Jesus commands us to be as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves:

Matthew 10:16. Behold, I send you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.


VERSE 17. If adversity meet you, you will find him there before you; And as though he would help you, he will trip up your heel.


VERSE 18. He will shake his head, and clap his hands, And whisper much, and change his countenance.

whisper much. That is, “hiss repeatedly” (NAB translation).


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Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.


Author: todd

At Explore the Faith, I share insights into the Bible and theological writings. If you like what I write, become my partner by donating. Help me reach the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.