Sirach 8:4/5 Meaning? Application?


#1

DRB Ecclesiasticus 8:5
Communicate not with an ignorant man, lest he speak ill of thy family.
NABRE Sirach 8:4
Do not associate with the senseless, lest your ancestors be insulted.

What is the correct translation of this verse? How do we apply it to our lives?

My initial thought reading the DRB was that if you associate with foolish people, they may come to learn of your personal life and family and defame you later on (e.g. misrepresenting reality due to their foolishness, or sharing unnecessary details better left unsaid).

But since we are to help everyone, what are we to do if we encounter a foolish person who is also lonely and in need of companionship? Or will a foolish person always have foolish friends, so they don’t need our companionship?


#2

I think that you may have a correct understanding of providing empathy for individuals who are lonely yet may be foolish. Be mindful of your personal affairs, however.
There’s nothing wrong with being reserved in your manners, yet friendly. You don’t have to let people “know your business” or hang out with foolish people. You can still listen to their stories.


#3

According to the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, (with two forwards written by Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini, SJ and Augustin Cardinal Bea, SJ) this verse may be properly understood from verses 1 - 19. The theme may be said to be words for “Prudence in One’s Affairs”. The commentary speaks these verses in regard to “tradition of the elders”: “The wisdom that was handed down from one generation to the next.”

I believe it is safe to say this points to the apostolic succession which preserves the Sacred Deposit of Faith, by which - we may know (Prudence) what to obtain and what to avoid.

You say and ask, “But since we are to help everyone, what are we to do if we encounter a foolish person who is also lonely and in need of companionship? Or will a foolish person always have foolish friends, so they don’t need our companionship?”

I answer, consider the words of the Seraphic Doctor, Bonaventure, in his commentary on Ecclesiastes - “The fourth kind refers to prelates (spiritual, and more so these days temporal). First, in their teaching when the text says: A time to keep silence and a time to teach (Eccl 3:7), for a person must first learn and later teach. Sirach 18:19 reads:’ Learn before you speak.’ Sirach 32:9 advises: ‘Hear in silence.’”

Finally, a phrase I have read from the Magisterium recently is “theology on the knees”


#4

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