1If you do good, know for whom you are doing it,*
and your kindness will have its effect.
2Do good to the righteous and reward will be yours,
if not from them, from the LORD.a
3No good comes to those who give comfort to the wicked,
nor is it an act of mercy that they do.
4Give to the good but refuse the sinner;
5refresh 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.
6For God also hates sinners,
and takes vengeance on evildoers.*
8In prosperity we cannot know our friends;*
in adversity an enemy will not remain concealed.b
9When one is successful even an enemy is friendly;
but in adversity even a friend disappears.c
10Never trust your enemies,
for their wickedness is like corrosion in bronze.
11Even though they act deferentially and peaceably toward you,
take care to be on your guard against them.d
Treat them as those who reveal secrets,*
and be certain that in the end there will still be envy.
12Do not let them stand near you,
lest they push you aside and take your place.
Do not let them sit at your right hand,
or they will demand your seat,
And in the end you will appreciate my advice,
when you groan with regret, as I warned.
13Who pities a snake charmer when he is bitten,*
or anyone who goes near a wild beast?
14So it is with the companion of the proud,
who is involved in their sins:
15While you stand firm, they make no move;
but if you slip, they cannot hold back.
16With their lips enemies speak sweetly,
but in their heart they scheme to plunge you into the abyss.
Though enemies have tears in their eyes,
given the chance, they will never have enough of your blood.e
17If evil comes upon you, you will find them at hand;
pretending to help, they will trip you up,
18Then they will shake their heads and clap their hands
and hiss repeatedly, and show their true faces.
* [12:1] The import of this verse is brought out in vv. 4–5.
* [12:6] Verse 7 is a variant of verse 4 and is omitted.
* [12:8–18] Adversity distinguishes friends from enemies; to trust the latter or permit them intimacy is to invite disaster. Cf. note on 6:5–17.
* [12:11] Ben Sira has harsh words for those who reveal secrets; see also 8:18; 27:16–21; 42:1; Prv 11:13; 20:19.
* [12:13] For v. 13a, see especially Eccl 10:11.