The Book of the All-Virtuous Wisdom of Yeshua ben Sira, commonly called the Wisdom of Sirach /ˈsaɪræk/ or simply Sirach, and also known as the Book of. The Book of Sirach, also known as Ecclesiasticus, is part of the Wisdom Literature of the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate Bible. The Book was not included in the Hebrew Masoretic Text as part of the Hebrew Canon of the Old Testament. Ben Sira, the author, was a devout man of. Daily Readings · May 30th, Reading 1, Acts Responsorial Psalm, Psalms , , Gospel, Luke Reading 2, Ephesians
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It is considered one of the “wisdom” books. Except for some Episcopal or Lutheran Bibles, Sirach and other books of the Apocrypha do not appear in Protestant. [–10] This brief poem serves as an introduction to the book. The Lord is the source and preserver of all wisdom, which he pours out upon all. See Jb – His name was Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach. He is often called simply "Ben Sira." The book has taken several different titles including "The Wisdom of.
And they are as though they had not lived, they and their children after them. Because of his worth there were survivors, and with a sign to him the deluge ended; 18 A lasting agreement was made with him, that never should all flesh be destroyed.
He fixed the boundaries for his tribes, and their division into twelve. He gave him the commandments for his people, and revealed to him his glory. He brought down upon them a miracle, and consumed them with his flaming fire. May he grant you wisdom of heart to govern his people in justice, Lest their welfare should ever be forgotten, or your authority, throughout all time. And because he was a devoted follower of God 7 and in Moses' lifetime showed himself loyal, He and CALEB, son of Jephunneh, when they opposed the rebel assembly, Averted God's anger from the people and suppressed the wicked complaint - 8 Because of this, they were the only two spared from the six hundred thousand infantry, To lead the people into their inheritance, the land flowing with milk and honey.
At God's word he established the kingdom and anointed princes to rule the people. When he assumed the royal crown, he battled 7 and subdued the enemy on every side. He destroyed the hostile Philistines and shattered their power till our own day.
With his whole being he loved his Maker and daily had his praises sung; 9 He added beauty to the feasts and solemnized the seasons of each year With string music before the altar, providing sweet melody for the psalms 10 So that when the Holy Name was praised, before daybreak the sanctuary would resound. He built a house to the name of God, and established a lasting sanctuary. Gold you gathered like so much iron, you heaped up silver as though it were lead; 19 But you abandoned yourself to women and gave them dominion over your body.
He does not uproot the posterity of his chosen one, nor destroy the offspring of his friend. So he gave to Jacob a remnant, to David a root from his own family.
Their sinfulness grew more and more, 25 and they lent themselves to every evil. Some scholars think that the book was used to train young Jewish men for positions of leadership. Ben Sira wrote in a time when Jewish identity was threatened by the extensive influence of Greek culture.
His writing invites his contemporaries to return to their spiritual and scriptural roots. The reader faced with Sirach may get very frustrated by trying to read it too quickly, looking for an all-encompassing intent. While the book is not organized by a central argument, it does propose a radical new idea that reinterprets the earlier wisdom books. That is, it identifies wisdom with the Law of Moses This important idea shapes the way Ben Sira understands wisdom in relation to Israel 's history and destiny.
The wisdom he offers is not simply good advice, but it is an explanation of the Law of Moses. Like the Law, Sirach reaches its fulfillment in the life of Jesus. Sirach ought to be read in small doses and thoroughly meditated on. The Syriac version has all the less critical value at the present day, because it was considerably revised at an unknown date , by means of the Greek translation. Of the other ancient versions of Ecclesiasticus, the Old Latin is the most important. It was made before St.
Jerome's time, although the precise date of its origin cannot now be ascertained; and the holy doctor apparently revised its text but little, previously to its adoption into the Latin Vulgate. The unity of the Old Latin version, which was formerly undoubted, has been of late seriously questioned, and Ph.
Thielmann, the most recent investigator of its text in this respect, thinks that chs. Conversely, the view formerly doubted by Cornelius a Lapide , P. Sabatier, E.
Bengel, etc. The version has retained many Greek words in a latinized form: eremus vi, 3 ; eucharis vi, 5 ; basis vi, 30 ; acharis xx, 21 , xenia xx, 31 ; dioryx xxiv, 41 ; poderes xxvii, 9 ; etc.
But a very recent and critical examination of all such features in i-xliii has let H. Herkenne to a different conclusion; all things taken into consideration, he is of the mind that: "Nititur Vetus Latina textu vulgari graeco ad textum hebraicum alterius recensionis graece castigato. Together with graecized forms, the Old Latin translation of Ecclesiasticus presents many barbarisms and solecisms such as defunctio, i, 13; religiositas, i, 17, 18, 26; compartior, i, 24; receptibilis, ii, 5; peries, periet, viii, 18; xxxiii, 7; obductio, ii, 2; v, 1, 10; etc.
Again, from a fair number of expressions which are certainly due to the translator, it may be inferred that at times, he did not catch the sense of the Greek, and that at other times he was too free in rendering the text before him.
The Old Latin version abounds in additional lines or even verses foreign not only to the Greek, but also to the Hebrew text. Owing to the early origin of the Latin version probably the second century of our era , and to its intimate connection with both the Greek and Hebrew texts, a good edition of its primitive form, as far as this form can be ascertained, is one of the chief things to be desired for the textual criticism of Ecclesiasticus.
Among the other ancient versions of the Book of Ecclesiasticus which are derived from the Greek, the Ethiopic , Arabic, and Coptic are worthy of special mention. Augustine bears witness, the work was oftentimes ascribed "on account of some resemblance of style" with that of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticle of Canticles, but to whom, as the same holy doctor says, "the more learned" apparently among the church writers of the time "know full well that it should not be referred" On the City of God, Bk.
XVII, ch xx. At the present day, the authorship of the book is universally and rightly assigned to a certain "Jesus", concerning whose person and character a great deal has indeed been surmised but very little is actually known. In the Greek prologue to the work, the author's proper name is given as Iesous, and this information is corroborated by the subscriptions found in the original Hebrew: 1, 27 Vulgate , 1, 29 ; li, His familiar surname was Ben Sira, as the Hebrew text and the ancient versions agree to attest.
He is described in the Greek and Latin versions as "a man of Jerusalem " 1, 29 , and internal evidence cf. His close acquaintance with "the Law, the Prophets, and the other books delivered from the fathers", that is, with the three classes of writings which make up the Hebrew Bible, is distinctly borne witness to by the prologue to the work; and the idioms or phrases, which the study of the Hebrew fragments has shown to be derived from the sacred books of the Jews , are an ample proof that Jesus, the son of Sirach, was thoroughly acquainted with the Biblical text.
He was a philosophical observer of life, as can be easily inferred from the nature of his thought, and he himself speaks of the wider knowledge which he acquired by traveling much, and of which he, of course, availed himself in writing his work xxxiv, The particular period in the author's life to which the composition of the book should be referred cannot be defined, whatever conjectures may have been put forth in that regard by some recent scholars.
The data to which others have appealed xxxi, 22, sqq. The time at which Jesus, the author of Ecclesiasticus, lived has been the matter of much discussion in the past.
But at the present day, it admits of being given with tolerable precision. Two data are particularly helpful for this purpose. The first is supplied by the Greek prologue, where he came into Egypt en to ogdoo kai triakosto etei epi tou Euergetou Basileos, not long after which he rendered into Greek his grandfather's work.
The "thirty-eighth year" here spoken of by the translator does not mean that of his own age, for such a specification would be manifestly irrelevant. It naturally denotes the date of his arrival in Egypt with a reference to the years of rule of the then monarch, the Egyptian Ptolemy Euergetes; and in point of fact, the Greek grammatical construction of the passage in the prologue is that usually employed into the Septuagint version to give the year of rule of a prince cf. Haggai , 10 ; Zechariah , 7 ; ; 1 Maccabees ; ; etc.
But to decide which is the one actually meant by the author of the prologue is an easy matter. This latter prince shared the throne along with his brother from B. But he was wont to reckon the years of his reign from the earlier date. Hence "the thirty-eighth year of Ptolemy Euergetes", in which the grandson of Jesus, the son of Sirach, came to Egypt , is the year B. This being the case, the translator's grandfather, the author of Ecclesiasticus, may be regarded as having lived and written his work between forty and sixty years before between and B.
The second datum that is particularly available for determining the time at which the writer of Ecclesiasticus lived is supplied by the book itself.
It has long been felt that since the son of Sirach celebrated with such a genuine glow of enthusiam the deeds of "the high priest Simon, son of Onias", whom he praises as the last in the long line of Jewish worthies, he must himself have been an eyewitness of the glory which he depicts cf.
This was, of course, but an inference and so long as it was based only on a more or less subjective appreciation of the passage, one can easily understand why many scholars questioned, or even rejected, its correctness. But with the recent discovery of the original Hebrew of the passage, there has come in a new, and distinctly objective, element, which places practically beyond doubt the correctness of the inference.
In the Hebrew text, immediately after his eulogism of the high priest Simon, the writer subjoins the following fervent prayer : May His i. Yahweh's mercy be continually with Simon, and may He establish with him the covenant of Phineas, that will endure with him and with his seed, as the says of heaven I, Obviously, Simon was yet alive when this prayer was thus formulated; and its actual wording in the Hebrew implies this so manifestly, that when the author's grandson rendered it into Greek, at a date when Simon had been dead for some time, he felt it necessary to modify the text before him, and hence rendered it in the following general manner: May His mercy be continually with us, and may He redeem us in His days.
Besides thus allowing us to realize the fact that Jesus, the son of Sirach, was a contemporary of the high priest Simon, chap. On the one hand, the only known title of Simon I who held the pontificate under Ptolemy Soter, about B.
Josephus , Antiq. XII, chap. On the other hand, such details given in Simon's panegyric, as the facts that he repaired and strengthened the Temple, fortified the city against siege, and protected the city against robbers cf.
Sirach , are in close agreement with what is known of the times of Simon II about B. While in the days of Simon I, and immediately after, the people were undisturbed by foreign aggression, in those of Simon II the Jews were sorely harrassed by hostile armies, and their territory was invaded by Antiochus, as we are informed by Josephus Antiq. It was also in the later time of Simon II that Ptolemy Philopator was prevented only by the high priest's prayer to God , from desecrating the Most Holy Place; he then started a fearful persecution of the Jews at home and abroad cf.
III Mach. As a matter of fact, recent Catholic scholars, in increasing number, prefer this position that which identifies the high priest Simon, spoken of in Sirach 50 , with Simon I, and which, in consequence, refers the composition of the book to about a century earlier about B.
Method of composition At the present day, there are two principal views concerning the manner in which the writer of Ecclesiasticus composed his work, and it is difficult to say which is the more probable. The first, held by many scholars, maintains that an impartial study of the topics treated and of their actual arrangement leads to the conclusion that the whole book is the work of a single mind.
Its advocates claim that, throughout the book, one and the same general purpose can be easily made out, to wit: the purpose of teaching the practical value of Hebrew wisdom, and that one and the same method in handling the materials can be readily noticed, the writer always showing wide acquaintance with men and things, and never citing any exterior authority for what he says.
They affirm that a careful examination of the contents disclosed a distinct unity of mental attitude on the author's part towards the same leading topics, towards God , life, the Law, wisdom, etc. They do not deny the existence of differences of tone in the book, but think that they are found in various paragraphs relating to minor topics; that the diversities thus noticed do not go beyond the range of one man's experience; that the author very likely wrote at different intervals and under a variety of circumstances, so that it is not to be wondered at if pieces thus composed bear the manifest impress of a somewhat different frame of mind.
The second view maintains that the Book of Ecclesiasticus was composed by a process of compilation. According to the defenders of this position, the compilatory character of the book does not necessarily conflict with a real unity of general purpose pervading and connecting the elements of the work; such a purpose proves, indeed, that one mind has bound those elements together for a common end, but it really leaves untouched the question at issue, viz.
Granting, then, the existence of one and the same general purpose in the work of the son of Sirach, and admitting likewise the fact that certain portions of Ecclesiasticus belong to him as the original author, they think that, on the whole, the book is a compilation. Briefly stated, the following are their grounds for their position.
In the first place, from the very nature of his work, the author was like "a gleaner after the grape-gatherers"; and in thus speaking of himself xxxiii, 16 he gives us to understand that he was a collector or compiler. In the second place, the structure of the work still betrays a compilatory process. The concluding chapter li is a real appendix to the book, and was added to it after the completion of the work, as is proved by the colophon in 1, 29 sqq.
The opening chapter reads like a general introduction to the book, and indeed as one different in tone from the chapters by which its immediately followed, while it resembles some distinct sections which are embodied in further chapters of the work. In the body of the book, ch. Other marks of a compilatory process have also been appealed to. They consist in the significant repetition of several sayings in different places of the book cf.
Finally, there seems to be an historical trace of the compilatory character of Ecclesiasticus in a second, but unauthentic, prologue to the book, which is found in the "Synopsis Sacrae Scripturae". In this document, which is printed in the works of St.