Beginning of Wisdom

Proverbs from the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East

One good turn brings another (Sirach 3:31)

Posted by jac/cdc on February 23, 2007

פועל טוב יקראנו בדרכיו ובעת מוטו ימצא משען

po-AYL TOV yik-RE-nu b’-dar-KAV u-b’-AYT mu-TO yim-TSA mish-AN

Whoever does a good deed, it will find him along the way; at the time he falls, he will find support.

This proverb is not quite equivalent to “one good turn deserves another,” which is a warning against ingratitude. Nor is it quite the same as “Do unto others as you would have them do to you,” which is a warning against being nasty toward others. This proverb seems rather an encouragement to do good with the promise that when you need help it will be there in return. I can only vaguely recall some TV commercial and a country and western song that both based on this idea. Most of the time, however, this sort of think is explained in terms of karma or law of attraction. No doubt Sirach thought instead in terms of God’s justice: everyone receives their “come-uppens,” and for the sages this was generally, and somewhat idealistically, thought to happen in this life.

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