Sirach 12 and Proverbs 25


Hi everyone,
Sirach 12:3-4 says “No good ever comes to a person who gives comfort to the wicked; it is not a righteous act.Give to religious people, but don’t help sinners.” However, Proverbs 25:21-22 says something quite different “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head and the Lord will reward you.”

I know I’m probably missing something obvious. It’s just that these seem to contradict each other. Sirach says this give to the wicked will never receive a reward whereas Proverbs says to help your enemy (who I would presume to be wicked) and God will reward you. Thanks ahead of time.


Sirach 11:29–12:18 is about the care we ought to exercise in choosing our friends. The verses you quoted should be understood in that context. Helping the needy is discussed earlier in Sirach 3:29–4:10.


Might you be misreading that?

RSV-CE: No good will come to the man who persists in evil
or to him who does not give alms.
Give to the godly man, but do not help the sinner.

D-R 1899: For there is no good for him that is always occupied in evil, and that giveth no alms: for the Highest hateth sinners, and hath mercy on the penitent.
Give to the merciful and uphold not the sinner: God will repay vengeance to the ungodly and to sinners, and keep them against the day of vengeance.

In context, it seems Jesus ben Sirach is saying that helping our enemies to remain in their enmity with God will only bring more trouble than good. It could be thought you’re helping them, and they can remain as they are, and that’s OK.

Whereas, Solomon says that to help your enemy who does not expect you to help can cause them to wonder whether you are his enemy or not.

It can go either way. It depends on the enemy, and how he is to be read.


I know one passage that could help. I just don’t know the exact passage and text so forgive me. It goes something like:

“Do not befriend sinners so that you won’t learn their ways”

Probably someone more knowledgeable can shed more light on this.


Ok thanks. I think Sirach is saying not to give to and help the wicked because it will only cause more evil. Sirach 12:5 explains this: “refresh the downtrodden but give nothing to the proud. No arms for combat should you give them lest they use these against you;Twofold evil you will obtain for every good deed you do for them.”

On the other hand, Romans 12 references the passage in Proverbs and verse 21 says “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

So I guess it all comes down to the outcome of the action. Sirach is saying that we shouldn’t help the wicked if that just causes more evil whereas Romans/Proverbs is saying to give to your enemies so as to overcome evil with good.


Your enemy may be quite righteous, and is your enemy not by his will but by someone else’s.
Similarly, some of your friends can be wicked.
I don’t know how the original language reads, but at least in English you can make the distinction between what a wicked person is, and an enemy.


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