The Laughable Stories of Bar-Hebraeus, by Bar-Hebraeus, tr. E.A.W. Budge, , at sacred-texts.com
CXXVI. A certain Hebrew sage said, "Chastity and wantonness exist not only in act, but also in word."
CXXVII. Unto another rich Hebrew sage it was said, "Why dost thou suffer hunger seeing that thou lackest nothing?" And he replied, "Because I do not forget those who hunger and are in want."
CXXVIII. Another Hebrew sage wrote over the door of a prison, "This is the house of tribulation, wherein life is buried, and wherein the love of friends and the hatred of enemies are tried."
CXXIX. Another Hebrew sage said, "Let thine enemy who is feeble be considered a mighty man by thee in order that thou mayest not neglect to beware of him, and let thy strong friend be accounted a feeble man by thee, thus that thou mayest rely upon his support, and thou shalt [not] be harmed by thy companions."
CXXX. Another sage said, "It is not meet for a king to hasten to [take] vengeance, because he is able to avenge himself whensoever he pleaseth."
CXXXI. A certain ascetic saw a man eating flesh and he said, "Behold flesh eating flesh."
CXXXII. It is said that a certain ascetic entreated God to shew him flesh wherein was no blood in order
that he might eat it, and He—Glory be to His goodness!—shewed him a grasshopper, saying, "Behold flesh wherein is no blood."
CXXXIII. Another sage said, "He who looseth any jot of the Law and doeth some other good work in its place, this good work is not imputed unto him for a reward, inasmuch as a gift doth not redeem a thing which is obligatory."
CXXXIV. Another sage said, "Overabundance of food poisoneth the heart even as a superfluity of water [ruineth] seed."
CXXXV. It is said that when Joseph put his brother Benjamin into prison straightway Jacob wrote to him, saying, "Prophets do not steal, neither do they beget thieves."
CXXXVI. It is said that God said unto Abraham, "Knowest thou why I have chosen thee to be My friend?" And Abraham replied, "Tell me, O Lord." And the Lord made answer to him, saying, "It is because thou hast taken upon thyself to be injured and not to do injury; therefore let him that would increase friends do likewise."
CXXXVII. Another sage said, "The man who worketh guile is like unto a drawn sword; it is fair in its appearance, but when it is in action heed must be paid to it."
CXXXVIII. Another sage commanded his son, saying, "Divide thy time into three seasons. A season for thy prayer, a season for thy trafficking, and a season for thy bodily recreation and for thy ordinary meat and drink; for if thou dost not take thy [season of] recreation thou wilt not be able to fulfil the other two of prayer and trafficking."
CXXXIX. Another sage said, "Do not despise a man of mean appearance and of humble garb, lest perchance some excellent quality be concealed and hidden within him although thou knowest it not."
CXL. Another sage ordered his son, saying, "If thou art brought to poverty do not make it known to thy neighbours, lest thou be despised in their sight and it be grievous unto thee."
CXLI. Another sage said, "The soul which is deprived of wisdom is dead; but through doctrine it becometh alive, even as doth the waste and barren land by rain."
CXLII. Another sage said, "The forgiveness of a fault is what is obligatory on the man of understanding."
CXLIII. Another sage said, "Liberality is the cloak of defects."
CXLIV. Another sage said, "The fact that a man hasteneth to behave nobly saveth him from penitence."
CXLV. Another sage said, "Hardihood is the vice of youth even though it driveth it to virtue."
CXVI. Another sage said, "By the examination of the deeds vices are detected."
CXLVII. Another sage said, "The confession of his folly by the sinner is an entreaty for forgiveness which shall be accepted, and his repentance is his apology."
CXLVIII. Another sage said, "Place not thy confidence in a friend who is easily made angry, even though he be hidden within much goodness."
CXLIX. Another sage said, "Greediness is a sister unto prodigality and it inviteth it [to come]."
CL. Another sage said, "Cast not out from thy heart the fear of the king, even though thou be a constant
member of his household, that his friendship for thee may increase."
CLI. Another sage said, "Make not a friend of thy house the man whose relatives make him a stranger unto them, for they are better acquainted with him than thou."
CLII. Another sage was asked, "What is the [greatest] labour in the world?" And he replied, "That of the feeble man who multiplieth hope."
CLIII. Another sage said, "Freedom of speech diminisheth honour, and it is bare of real love."
CLIV. Another sage said, "By gratitude gifts are made to abound, but by the cutting off of the same they also are cut off."
CLV. Another sage wrote to a certain man, saying, "I have sent such and such an one to thee in order that thou mayest satisfy my wants through him, not because I would not condescend to come in person, but in order that he might help me to return thanks unto thee, and be a witness of thy excellent behaviour towards me."
CLVI. Another sage said, "Despise not the mean man who hath been useful to thee in becoming great."
CLVII. Another sage said, "Fools pay attention to the errors and lapses of the children of men, but they take no heed of their excellent qualities, even as flies are persistent in setting upon the ulcerated members of the body, but never upon the limbs which are healthy."
CLVIII. Another sage said, "When thou askest for a gift which is greater than thy position and it is not granted unto thee, blame thyself because thou didst not ask something proportionate to thy condition."
CLIX. Another sage said, "Now, as concerning those who argue madly with each other in the debate, if they sought the truth they would never strive, because truth is a thing by itself, and truth and striving do not agree. But if they do not seek the truth but victory, then the contest must increase between them, for one of them cannot conquer unless the other be overcome."
CLX. Another sage said, "It is right that the governor of a nation should first of all order his own goings and then those of his people, for unless he doeth this it will happen to him as it would happen to the man who should wish to set in order the shadow of the thread before he had set in order the substance to which the shadow belonged."
CLXI. Another sage said, "It is right that the man who wisheth to do good things should thoroughly examine himself, [that he may do] even as he would that a man should do unto him. And he must be like the man who wisheth to sow seed, to whom it is therefore necessary to plough up thoroughly the ground in which he would sow the seed, lest peradventure it should be barren."
CLXII. Another sage said, "The king who is an oppressor speedily destroyeth his kingdom, but the righteous king prolongeth the life thereof; for the oppressor is a waster and a destroyer, and the righteous man is one who buildeth up. [With him] that which hath been laid waste speedily cometh into being [again], and in the process of time the edifice appeareth."
CLXIII. Another sage was asked by the wise men, "Wherein lieth the difference between fear and
affliction?" He replied, "Fear cometh into being before tribulation cometh, but affliction after it."
CLXIV. The perfection of the rhetorical art is to be able to make truth wear the guise of falsehood, and that which is false the garb of truth; and to force men to the doing of that from which they would rather be excused, and to keep them back from the doing of that which they earnestly desire to do; and that not by force but by the ready will of those who hearken unto it.
CLXV. Another sage said, "Silence is the sleep of the mind and speech is its waking state, and when either sleep or waking is in moderation the mind is praiseworthy; and whether it be asleep or awake it is meet that it should be praised."
CLXVI. Another sage said, "I have often repented that I have spoken, but very rarely that I have held my peace."
CLXVII. Another sage said, "As long as a word remaineth unspoken it is in the prison of him that wished to speak, but when once it hath been spoken the speaker thereof becometh its prisoner."
CLXVIII. Another sage said, "Beware of speaking overmuch, for much speaking is a wide gulf wherein stumbling-blocks are exceedingly many."
CLXIX. Another sage said, "If animals which are to be eaten had been sent to the . . . . of death, even like man, the flesh which is fat would never have been eaten."
CLXX. Another sage said, "Blessed is he who is occupied with his own defects, for he will not make it a care unto him to pry into the weaknesses of his companions."
CLXXI. To another sage it was said, "Who are the blessed of the Lord? and who are accursed by Him?" He replied, "The blessed of the Lord are the children who are like unto old men, and the accursed are the old men who are like unto children."
CLXXII. Another sage said, "The places for prayer which are in their own houses are better for women than the public congregations."
CLXXIII. Another sage said, "If only ye knew that which I know, your weeping would get the better of your laughter."