Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Instead. Greek, “and instead,” &c. Syriac begins this chapter with the preceding verse, with which this is connected. Detraction will separate friends.
Ver. 2. Extol. This conduct is inimical to true friendship, which requires that we should make allowance for one another’s faults. (Calmet) — Like. Greek, “lest thy soul be torn away like a bull. Thou wilt eat,” &c. (Haydock) — Vulgate is better. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Wilderness. Thus was Nabuchodonosor humbled, Daniel iv. (Menochius)
Ver. 5. Appeaseth. Greek, “and an eloquent tongue multiplies good words.” (Haydock) — The affable gain our affections. Gideon pacified the incensed Ephraimites by a mild answer, Judges viii. (Worthington)
Ver. 6. Counsellor. Only few are capable of this office, (Haydock) or of keeping a secret. Yet we must have peace, if possible, with all, Romans xii. 18. (Calmet) — The Scythians condemned many friends, no less than many wives, (Luc. Tox.) and Aristotle (Eth. ix. 10.) commends this maxim of Hesiod: mete poluxeinos met azeinos; “neither to have too many guests, or intimate friends, nor to be without any.”
Ver. 7. Get. Literally, “dost possess a friend, possess him in trial,” (Haydock) as the Greek also has it. But the Hebrew term kanah, means likewise, “to acquire,” and a friend ought to be chosen with judgment. It is too late to try him after he has been received. (Calmet) — One must try much before a companion be chosen, that he may be afterwards preserved. (Plut.[Plutarch?]) — “Possess not friends quickly, but those whom thou hast obtained, reject not with disgrace.” (Solon; Laertius i., and ii. 8.)
Ver. 8. Trouble. Such are interested friends; but true friendship is a kind and perfect agreement in all divine and human affairs.” (Cicero) (St. Augustine, contra Acad. iii.) — Religion must be the foundation.
Ver. 9. Reproaches. Disclosing all your imperfections. (Calmet) — “The closest alliances, being broken, produce the most bitter enmities.” (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxxvii. 4.)
Ver. 12. Humble. “Friends must have a respect for each other.” (Cicero)
Ver. 13. Friends. Such as have been just described. Of these the maxim of Bias may be true, that people should “love as if they were to hate,” at some future period. (Laertius i.) — Entire confidence becomes those who are friends indeed.
Ver. 14. Defence. Jonathas and Chusai saved David.
Ver. 16. And immortality, is not in Greek. (Calmet) — But shews the meaning of life is this place; as a true friend will not cease to give good advice for eternity. (Haydock) — But even in this world, nothing can be more advantageous. (Calmet) — Amicus magis necessarius est quam ignis et aqua. (Cicero) (St. Ambrose, off iii.) — Him. Cicero himself says, “friendship can subsist only among the virtuous.” Yet these, judging others by themselves, are more easily imposed upon, and ought, therefore, to address themselves to God. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Be. He will instill into his friend sentiments of piety, if he have them not before. Amicitia similes invenit aut facit. “Pythagoras desires that in friendship one should be formed of many.” (Cicero v. 11.) (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Wisdom. A good education will, at last, bring forth fruit, though the passions may choke the good seed for a time. (Calmet) — “Take wisdom for the provision on thy journey, from youth to old age.” (Bias; Laertius i.)
Ver. 22. Trial. Such stones were used to try people’s strength, (Zacharias xii. 3.; Calmet) or to try gold. (Vatable) — The Syriac explains it of a precious stone. But the first idea is preferable. Many will not so much as attempt to become acquainted with wisdom and piety.
Ver. 23. Name. Perhaps the author may compare the Greek word Sophia, (Calmet) with Tsopuie, (Haydock) “hidden,” or with the Greek term, zophos, which means “darkness.” See chap. xliii. 8,. and xlvi. 1. The original Hebrew test is lost, so that we cannot determine to what word allusion is made. See Cornelius a Lapide, who has written the best commentary on this book. — But, &c., is not in Greek. (Calmet) — Many prefer learning before piety. But St. Augustine says, the unlearned rise and take the kingdom of heaven, while we with our learning, devoid of heart, (or charity; Haydock) behold we fall into the dirt. (Confessions viii. 8.) (Worthington)
Ver. 28. Thee. She will even seek thee first, Wisdom vi. 14., Proverbs viii., and Matthew vii. 7. — Gotten. Continence does not here signify being chaste, (Calmet) though this is one of the fruits of wisdom, Wisdom viii. 21., and Galatians v. 23. (Haydock)
Ver. 30. Firm. Literally, “bases of virtue;” (Haydock) which is not in Greek, and rather embarrasses the sentence; (Calmet) though it may signify, that if we serve the Lord with fidelity, our building will never be overturned. (Haydock)
Ver. 35. Wise. Literally, “prudent.” The Latin has this epithet, because old people are not always such, though it may be expected of them. (Calmet) — “While wisdom increases, all other faculties decrease.” (St. Jerome, ad Nepot.)
Ver. 36. Morning, with the utmost diligence. (Calmet) — “The very meeting of the wise is of advantage; and thou mayst learn something of a great man, though he open not his mouth.” (Seneca, ep. xciv.)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Of true and false friends: and of the fruits of wisdom.
1 Instead of a friend, become not an enemy to thy neighbour: for an evil man shall inherit reproach and shame, so shall every sinner that is envious and double-tongued.
2 *Extol not thyself in the thoughts of thy soul like a bull: lest thy strength be quashed by folly,
3 And it eat up thy leaves, and destroy thy fruit, and thou be left as a dry tree in the wilderness.
4 For a wicked soul shall destroy him that hath it, and maketh him to be a joy to his enemies, and shall lead him into the lot of the wicked.
5 A sweet word multiplieth friends, and appeaseth enemies, and a gracious tongue in a good man aboundeth.
6 Be in peace with many, but let one of a thousand be thy counsellor.
7 If thou wouldst get a friend, try him before thou takest him, and do not credit him easily.
8 For there is a friend for his own occasion, and he will not abide in the day of thy trouble.
9 And there is a friend that turneth to enmity; and there is a friend that will disclose hatred and strife, and reproaches.
10 And there is a friend, a companion at the table, and he will not abide in the day of distress.
11 A friend, if he continue steadfast, shall be to thee as thyself, and shall act with confidence among them of thy household.
12 If he humble himself before thee, and hide himself from thy face, thou shalt have unanimous friendship for good.
13 Separate thyself from thy enemies, and take heed of thy friends.
14 A faithful friend is a strong defence: and he that hath found him, hath found a treasure.
15 Nothing can be compared to a faithful friend, and no weight of gold and silver is able to countervail the goodness of his fidelity.
16 A faithful friend is the medicine of life and immortality: and they that fear the Lord, shall find him.
17 He that feareth God, shall likewise have good friendship: because according to him shall his friend be.
18 My son, from thy youth up receive instruction, and even to thy grey hairs thou shalt find wisdom.
19 Come to her as one that plougheth, and soweth, and wait for her good fruits.
20 For in working about her, thou shalt labour a little, and shalt quickly eat of her fruits.
21 How very unpleasant is wisdom to the unlearned, and the unwise will not continue with her.
22 She shall be to them as a mighty stone of trial, and they will cast her from them before it be long.
23 For the wisdom of doctrine is according to her name, and she is not manifest unto many, but with them to whom she is known, she continueth even to the sight of God.
24 Give ear, my son, and take wise counsel, and cast not away my advice.
25 Put thy feet into her fetters, and thy neck into her chains:
26 Bow down thy shoulder, and bear her, and be not grieved with her bands.
27 Come to her with all thy mind, and keep her ways with all thy power.
28 Search for her, and she shall be made known to thee, and when thou hast gotten her, let her not go:
29 For in the latter end thou shalt find rest in her, and she shall be turned to thy joy.
30 Then shall her fetters be a strong defence for thee, and a firm foundation, and her chain a robe of glory.
31 For in her is the beauty of life, and her bands are a healthful binding.
32 Thou shalt put her on as a robe of glory, and thou shalt set her upon thee as a crown of joy.
33 My son, if thou wilt attend to me, thou shalt learn: and if thou wilt apply thy mind, thou shalt be wise.
34 If thou wilt incline thy ear, thou shalt receive instruction: and if thou love to hear, thou shalt be wise.
35 *Stand in the multitude of ancients that are wise, and join thyself from thy heart to their wisdom, that thou mayst hear every discourse of God, and the sayings of praise may not escape thee.
36 And if thou see a man of understanding, go to him early in the morning, and let thy foot wear the steps of his doors.
37 *Let thy thoughts be upon the precepts of God, and meditate continually on his commandments: and he will give thee a heart, and the desire of wisdom shall be given to thee.
2: Romans xii. 6.; Philippians ii. 3.
35: Ecclesiasticus viii. 9.
37: Psalm i. 2.