Sirach 28:12

Ben Sira, Ecclesiasticus

12 If you blow on a spark, it will glow; if you spit on it, it will be put out; yet both come out of your mouth. 13 Curse the gossips and the double-tongued, for they destroy the peace of many. 14 Slander has shaken many, and scattered them from nation to nation; it has destroyed strong cities, and overturned the houses of the great. 15 Slander has driven virtuous women from their homes, and deprived them of the fruit of their toil. 16 Those who pay heed to slander will not find rest, nor will they settle down in peace. 17 The blow of a whip raises a welt, but a blow of the tongue crushes the bones. 18 Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not as many as have fallen because of the tongue. 19 Happy is the one who is protected from it, who has not been exposed to its anger, who has not borne its yoke, and has not been bound with its fetters. 20 For its yoke is a yoke of iron, and its fetters are fetters of bronze; 21 its death is an evil death, and Hades is preferable to it. 22 It has no power over the godly; they will not be burned in its flame.

James 3:6

New Testament

5 So, too, the tongue is a small part of the body, yet it has great pretensions. Think how small a flame sets a huge forest ablaze. 6 And the tongue is a fire! The tongue represents the world of wrongdoing among the parts of our bodies. It pollutes the entire body and sets fire to the course of human existence—and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of animal, bird, reptile, and sea creature is subdued and has been subdued by humankind. 8 But no human being can subdue the tongue; it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse people made in God’s image. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. These things should not be so, my brothers and sisters.

 Notes and References

"... Although an inner texture analysis has been performed on James 3:1-12, there still remains unanswered questions. It is evident that the controlling of one’s tongue was important enough for James to address, therefore leading to the question of why James gave advice for controlling the tongue. According to Neyrey, control of the tongue was a standard topic in traditional moral exhortations and much traditional material such as proverbs, stock phases, and typical illustrations are seen in the text as emphasis was placed on careful speech. DeSilva states that James “treats many of the same topics in much the same way as the earlier Jewish wisdom tradition, adding to the collective wisdom of that tradition.” Rieser also agrees that the book of James is considered wisdom theology; a letter that grows out of the Old Testament and intertestamental wisdom literature. James can be considered a book that employs Jewish wisdom tradition. As described by DeSilva, regarding the topic for control of the tongue, James can be compared with other wisdom literature such as James 1:19 and Sirach 5:11-6:1 (also Sirach 22:27-23:1; 23:7-8)—slow to speak; James 3:6, Proverbs 16:27—on speech being like a fire; James 3:9-12, Sirach 28:12—the anomaly of the mouth as the source of opposite substances and effects; James 5:12; Sirach 23:9-11—against swearing oaths ..."

Banks, Tonya Controlling One’s Tongue in Leadership: A Socio-Rhetorical Inner-Textual Analysis of James 3:1-12 and Quantitative Analysis Pilot Study (pp. 87-133) Regent University, 2012

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