בן סירא

Map of Qumran and Masada by the Dead Sea.


The Book of Sirach, also known as Ecclesiasticus, is part of the Wisdom Literature of the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate Bible. While originally written in Hebrew, the Book was read only through its Greek translation, known as Σιράχ. The Book was not included in the Hebrew Masoretic Text as part of the Hebrew Canon of the Old Testament. However, most of the Hebrew text of Sirach has been uncovered in the Cairo Geniza, at Masada, and in three Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran. 2QSir designates Sirach from Cave 2 at Qumran, 11QPsª designates a scroll from Cave 11, which contained the canticle from Sirach Chapter 51:13-30, but which was found in the Psalms scroll! As with all ancient texts discovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Hebrew Scripture was in consonantal text only.

Ben Sira, the author, was a devout man of wisdom who lived in Jerusalem about 200 BC. The first 43 chapters of the Book provide moral instruction and common sense gained from experience, fitting of Wisdom literature. As with the Book of Job, the author notes the "beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord." Chapter One on Wisdom, Chapter Six on Friendship and Discipline, and Chapters 25-26 on Wives and Women represent the first section. Chapters 44-50 present a refreshing history of the ancestors, patriarchs, and leaders of Israel. Chapter 51 concludes the Book with a prayer.

In light of recent discoveries, while the Book had traditionally been called Sirach or Ecclesiasticus, the text is now often referred to as Ben Sira, in view of its Hebrew origin.

The Wisdom Literature included in the following order: the Books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. In addition to Sirach, the Greek Septuagint also included the Book of Wisdom. The Wisdom Literature is followed by the Prophets beginning with the Prophet Isaiah in the Greek Septuagint, Latin Vulgate, and the Christian Old Testament of the Bible.

Twelve chapters of Ben Sira are reproduced here. Scripture is from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms copyright 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


THE BOOK OF SIRACH



CHAPTER 1

Praise of Wisdom

1 All wisdom comes from the LORD and with him it remains forever.
2 The sand of the seashore, the drops of rain, the days of eternity: who can number these?
3 Heaven's height, earth's breadth, the depths of the abyss: who can explore these?
4 Before all things else wisdom was created; and prudent understanding, from eternity.
5 To whom has wisdom's root been revealed? Who knows her subtleties?
6 There is but one, wise and truly awe-inspiring, seated upon his throne:
7 It is the LORD; he created her, has seen her and taken note of her.
8 He has poured her forth upon all his works,
upon every living thing according to his bounty; he has lavished her upon his friends.

9 Fear of the LORD is glory and splendor, gladness and a festive crown.
10 Fear of the LORD warms the heart, giving gladness and joy and length of days.
11 He who fears the LORD will have a happy end; even on the day of his death he will be blessed.
12 The beginning of wisdom is fear of the LORD, which is formed with the faithful in the womb.
13 With devoted men was she created from of old, and with their children her beneficence abides.
14 Fullness of wisdom is fear of the LORD; she inebriates men with her fruits.
15 Her entire house she fills with choice foods, her granaries with her harvest.
16 Wisdom's garland is fear of the LORD, with blossoms of peace and perfect health.
17 Knowledge and full understanding she showers down; she heightens the glory of those who possess her.
18 The root of wisdom is fear of the LORD; her branches are length of days.

19 One cannot justify unjust anger; anger plunges a man to his downfall.
20 A patient man need stand firm but for a time, and then contentment comes back to him.
21 For a while he holds back his words, then the lips of many herald his wisdom.
22 Among wisdom's treasures is the paragon of prudence;
but fear of the LORD is an abomination to the sinner.

23 If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the LORD will bestow her upon you;
24 For fear of the LORD is wisdom and culture; loyal humility is his delight.
25 Be not faithless to the fear of the LORD, nor approach it with duplicity of heart.
26 Play not the hypocrite before men; over your lips keep watch.
27 Exalt not yourself lest you fall and bring upon you dishonor;
28 For then the LORD will reveal your secrets and publicly cast you down,
29 Because you approached the fear of the LORD with your heart full of guile.



CHAPTER 6

What to Avoid

1 Say nothing harmful, small or great; be not a foe instead of a friend;
A bad name and disgrace will you acquire: "That for the evil man with double tongue!"
2 Fall not into the grip of desire, lest, like fire, it consume your strength;
3 Your leaves it will eat, your fruits destroy, and you will be left a dry tree,
4 For contumacious desire destroys its owner and makes him the sport of his enemies.


True Friendship

5 A kind mouth multiplies friends, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings.
6 Let your acquaintances be many, but one in a thousand your confidant.
7 When you gain a friend, first test him, and be not too ready to trust him
8 For one sort of friend is a friend when it suits him, but he will not be with you in time of distress.
9 Another is a friend who becomes an enemy, and tells of the quarrel to your shame.
10 Another is a friend, a boon companion, who will not be with you when sorrow comes.
11 When things go well, he is your other self, and lords it over your servants;
12 But if you are brought low, he turns against you and avoids meeting you.
13 Keep away from your enemies; be on your guard with your friends.
14 A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure.
15 A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.
16 A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy, such as he who fears God finds;
17 For he who fears God behaves accordingly, and his friend will be like himself.


Cultivate Discipline

18 My son, from your youth embrace discipline; thus will you find wisdom with graying hair.
19 As though plowing and sowing, draw close to her; then await her bountiful crops.
20 For in cultivating her you will labor but little, and soon you will eat of her fruits.
21 How irksome she is to the unruly! The fool cannot abide her.
22 She will be like a burdensome stone to test him, and he will not delay in casting her aside.

23 For discipline is like her name, she is not accessible to many.
24 Listen, my son, and heed my advice; refuse not my counsel.
25 Put your feet into her fetters, and your neck under her yoke.
26 Stoop your shoulders and carry her and be not irked at her bonds.
27 With all your soul draw close to her; with all your strength keep her ways.
28 Search her out, discover her; seek her and you will find her.
Then when you have her, do not let her go;
29 Thus will you afterward find rest in her, and she will become your joy.
30 Her fetters will be your throne of majesty; her bonds, your purple cord.
31 You will wear her as your robe of glory, bear her as your splendid crown.

32 My son, if you wish, you can be taught; if you apply yourself, you will be shrewd.
33 If you are willing to listen, you will learn; if you give heed, you will be wise.
34 Frequent the company of the elders; whoever is wise, stay close to him.
35 Be eager to hear every godly discourse; let no wise saying escape you.
36 If you see a man of prudence, seek him out; let your feet wear away his doorstep!
37 Reflect on the precepts of the LORD, let his commandments be your constant meditation;
Then he will enlighten your mind, and the wisdom you desire he will grant.



CHAPTER 25

Worthy of Praise

1 With three things I am delighted, for they are pleasing to the LORD and to men:
Harmony among brethren, friendship among neighbors, and the mutual love of husband and wife.
2 Three kinds of men I hate; their manner of life I loathe indeed:
A proud pauper, a rich dissembler, and an old man lecherous in his dotage.
3 What you have not saved in your youth, how will you acquire in your old age?
4 How becoming to the gray-haired is judgment, and a knowledge of counsel to those on in years!
5 How becoming to the aged is wisdom, understanding and prudence to the venerable!
6 The crown of old men is wide experience; their glory, the fear of the LORD.

7 There are nine who come to my mind as blessed, a tenth whom my tongue proclaims:
The man who finds joy in his children, and he who lives to see his enemies' downfall.
8 Happy is he who dwells with a sensible wife, and he who plows not like a donkey yoked with an ox.
Happy is he who sins not with his tongue, and he who serves not his inferior.
9 Happy is he who finds a friend and he who speaks to attentive ears.
10 He who finds wisdom is great indeed, but not greater than he who fears the LORD.
11 Fear of the LORD surpasses all else. its possessor is beyond compare.


Women - Evil and Virtuous

12 Worst of all wounds is that of the heart, worst of all evils is that of a woman.
13 Worst of all sufferings is that from one's foes, worst of all vengeance is that of one's enemies:
14 No poison worse than that of a serpent, no venom greater than that of a woman.
15 With a dragon or a lion I would rather dwell than live with an evil woman.
16 Wickedness changes a woman's looks, and makes her sullen as a female bear.
17 When her husband sits among his neighbors, a bitter sigh escapes him unawares.

18 There is scarce any evil like that in a woman; may she fall to the lot of the sinner!
19 Like a sandy hill to aged feet is a railing wife to a quiet man.
20 Stumble not through woman's beauty, nor be greedy for her wealth;
21 The man is a slave, in disgrace and shame, when a wife supports her husband.
22 Depressed mind, saddened face, broken heart - this from an evil wife.
Feeble hands and quaking knees - from a wife who brings no happiness to her husband.
23 In woman was sin's beginning, and because of her we all die.
24 Allow water no outlet, and be not indulgent to an erring wife.
25 If she walks not by your side, cut her away from you.



CHAPTER 26

1 Happy the husband of a good wife, twice-lengthened are his days;
2 A worthy wife brings joy to her husband, peaceful and full is his life.
3 A good wife is a generous gift bestowed upon him who fears the LORD;
4 Be he rich or poor, his heart is content, and a smile is ever on his face.

5 There are three things at which my heart quakes, a fourth before which I quail:
Though false charges in public, trial before all the people, and lying testimony are harder to bear than death,
6 A jealous wife is heartache and mourning and a scourging tongue like the other three.
7 A bad wife is a chafing yoke; he who marries her seizes a scorpion.
8 A drunken wife arouses great anger, for she does not hide her shame.
9 By her eyelids and her haughty stare an unchaste wife can be recognized.

10 Keep a strict watch over an unruly wife, lest, finding an opportunity, she make use of it;
11 Follow close if her eyes are bold, and be not surprised if she betrays you:
12 As a thirsty traveler with eager mouth drinks from any water that he finds,
So she settles down before every tent peg and opens her quiver for every arrow.

13 A gracious wife delights her husband, her thoughtfulness puts flesh on his bones;
14 A gift from the LORD is her governed speech, and her firm virtue is of surpassing worth.
15 Choicest of blessings is a modest wife, priceless her chaste person.
16 Like the sun rising in the LORD'S heavens, the beauty of a virtuous wife is the radiance of her home.
17 Like the light which shines above the holy lampstand, are her beauty of face and graceful figure.
18 Golden columns on silver bases are her shapely limbs and steady feet.

19 These two bring grief to my heart, and the third arouses my horror:
A wealthy man reduced to want; illustrious men held in contempt;
And the man who passes from justice to sin, for whom the LORD makes ready the sword.
20 A merchant can hardly remain upright, nor a shopkeeper free from sin.



CHAPTER 44

Praise of Israel's Great Ancestors

1 Now will I praise those godly men, our ancestors, each in his own time:
2 The abounding glory of the Most High's portion, his own part, since the days of old.
Subduers of the land in kingly fashion, men of renown for their might,
3 Or counselors in their prudence, or seers of all things in prophecy;
4 Resolute princes of the folk, and governors with their staves;
Authors skilled in composition, and forgers of epigrams with their spikes;
5 Composers of melodious psalms, or discoursers on lyric themes;
6 Stalwart men, solidly established and at peace in their own estates -
7 All these were glorious in their time, each illustrious in his day.
8 Some of them have left behind a name and men recount their praiseworthy deeds;
9 But of others there is no memory, for when they ceased, they ceased.
And they are as though they had not lived, they and their children after them.
10 Yet these also were godly men whose virtues have not been forgotten;
11 Their wealth remains in their families, their heritage with their descendants;
12 Through God's covenant with them their family endures, their posterity, for their sake.
13 And for all time their progeny will endure, their glory will never be blotted out;
14 Their bodies are peacefully laid away, but their name lives on and on.
15 At gatherings their wisdom is retold, and the assembly proclaims their praise.


The Early Patriarchs

16 ENOCH walked with the LORD and was taken up, that succeeding generations might learn by his example.

17 NOAH, found just and perfect, renewed the race in the time of devastation.
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.

19 ABRAHAM, father of many peoples, kept his glory without stain:
20 He observed the precepts of the Most High, and entered into an agreement with him;
In his own flesh he incised the ordinance, and when tested he was found loyal.
21 For this reason, God promised him with an oath that in his descendants the nations would be blessed,
That he would make him numerous as the grains of dust, and exalt his posterity like the stars;
That he would give them an inheritance from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

22 And for ISAAC he renewed the same promise because of Abraham, his father.
The covenant with all his forebears was confirmed, and the blessing rested upon the head of JACOB.
23 God acknowledged him as the first-born, and gave him his inheritance.
He fixed the boundaries for his tribes, and their division into twelve.



CHAPTER 45

Praise of Moses, Aaron, and Phinehas

1 From him was to spring the man who won the favor of all:
Dear to God and men, MOSES, whose memory is held in benediction.
2 God's honor devolved upon him, and the Lord strengthened him with fearful powers;
3 God wrought swift miracles at his words and sustained him in the king's presence.
He gave him the commandments for his people, and revealed to him his glory.
4 For his trustworthiness and meekness God selected him from all mankind;
5 He permitted him to hear his voice, and led him into the cloud,
Where, face to face, he gave him the commandments, the law of life and understanding,
That he might teach his precepts to Jacob, his judgments and decrees to Israel.

6 He raised up also, like Moses in holiness, his brother AARON, of the tribe of Levi.
7 He made him perpetual in his office when he bestowed on him the priesthood of his people;
He established him in honor and crowned him with lofty majesty;
8 He clothed him with splendid apparel, and adorned him with the glorious vestments:
Breeches and tunic and robe with pomegranates around the hem,
9 And a rustle of bells round about, through whose pleasing sound at each step
He would be heard within the sanctuary,
and the children of his race would be remembered;
10 The sacred vestments of gold, of violet, and of crimson, wrought with embroidery;
The breastpiece for decision, the ephod and cincture
11 with scarlet yarn, the work of the weaver;
Precious stones with seal engravings in golden settings, the work of the jeweler,
To commemorate in incised letters each of the tribes of Israel;
12 On his turban the diadem of gold, its plate wrought with the insignia of holiness,
Majestic, glorious, renowned for splendor, a delight to the eyes, beauty supreme.
13 Before him, no one was adorned with these, nor may they ever be worn by any
Except his sons and them alone, generation after generation, for all time.
14 His cereal offering is wholly burnt with the established sacrifice twice each day;
15 For Moses ordained him and anointed him with the holy oil,
In a lasting covenant with him and with his family, as permanent as the heavens,
That he should serve God in his priesthood and bless his people in his name.
16 He chose him from all mankind to offer holocausts and choice offerings,
To burn sacrifices of sweet odor for a memorial, and to atone for the people of Israel.
17 He gave to him his laws, and authority to prescribe and to judge:
To teach the precepts to his people, and the ritual to the descendants of Israel.
18 Men of other families were inflamed against him, were jealous of him in the desert,
The followers of Dathan and Abiram, and the band of Korah in their defiance.
19 But the LORD saw this and became angry, he destroyed them in his burning wrath.
He brought down upon them a miracle, and consumed them with his flaming fire.
20 Then he increased the glory of Aaron and bestowed upon him his inheritance:
The sacred offerings he allotted to him, with the showbread as his portion;
21 The oblations of the LORD are his food, a gift to him and his descendants.
22 But he holds no land among the people nor shares with them their heritage;
For the LORD himself is his portion, his inheritance in the midst of Israel.
23 PHINEHAS too, the son of Eleazar, was the courageous third of his line
When, zealous for the God of all, he met the crisis of his people
And, at the prompting of his noble heart, atoned for the children of Israel.
24 Therefore on him again God conferred the right, in a covenant of friendship, to provide for the sanctuary,
So that he and his descendants should possess the high priesthood forever.
25 For even his covenant with David, the son of Jesse of the tribe of Judah,
Was an individual heritage through one son alone; but the heritage of Aaron is for all his descendants.

26 And now bless the LORD who has crowned you with glory!
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.



CHAPTER 46

Joshua, Caleb, and the Judges

1 Valiant leader was JOSHUA, son of Nun, assistant to Moses in the prophetic office,
Formed to be, as his name implies, the great savior of God's chosen ones,
To punish the enemy and to win the inheritance for Israel.
2 What glory was his when he raised his arm, to brandish his javelin against the city!
3 And who could withstand him when he fought the battles of the LORD?
4 Did he not by his power stop the sun, so that one day became two?
5 He called upon the Most High God when his enemies beset him on all sides,
And God Most High gave answer to him in hailstones of tremendous power,
6 Which he rained down upon the hostile army till on the slope he destroyed the foe;
That all the doomed nations might know that the LORD was watching over his people's battles.
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.
9 And the strength he gave to Caleb remained with him even in his old age
Till he won his way onto the summits of the land; his family too received an inheritance,
10 That all the people of Jacob might know how good it is to be a devoted follower of the LORD.
11 The JUDGES, too, each one of them, whose hearts were not deceived,
Who did not abandon God: may their memory be ever blessed,
12 Their bones return to life from their resting place, and their names receive fresh luster in their children!
13 Beloved of his people, dear to his Maker, dedicated from his mother's womb,
Consecrated to the LORD as a prophet, was SAMUEL, the judge and priest.
At God's word he established the kingdom and anointed princes to rule the people.
14 By the law of the LORD he judged the nation, when he visited the encampments of Jacob.
15 As a trustworthy prophet he was sought out and his words proved him true as a seer.
16 He, too, called upon God, and offered him a suckling lamb;
17 Then the LORD thundered forth from heaven, and the tremendous roar of his voice was heard.
18 He brought low the rulers of the enemy and destroyed all the lords of the Philistines.
19 When Samuel approached the end of his life, he testified before the LORD and his anointed prince,
"No bribe or secret gift have I taken from any man!" and no one dared gainsay him.
20 Even when he lay buried, his guidance was sought; he made known to the king his fate,
And from the grave he raised his voice as a prophet, to put an end to wickedness.



CHAPTER 47

Nathan, David, and Solomon

1 After him came NATHAN who served in the presence of David.
2 Like the choice fat of the sacred offerings, so was DAVID in Israel.
3 He made sport of lions as though they were kids, and of bears, like lambs of the flock.
4 As a youth he slew the giant and wiped out the people's disgrace,
When his hand let fly the slingstone that crushed the pride of Goliath.
5 Since he called upon the Most High God, who gave strength to his right arm
To defeat the skilled warrior and raise up the might of his people,
6 Therefore the women sang his praises and ascribed to him tens of thousands.
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.
8 With his every deed he offered thanks to God Most High, in words of praise.
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.
11 The LORD forgave him his sins and exalted his strength forever;
He conferred on him the rights of royalty and established his throne in Israel.

12 Because of his merits he had as his successor a wise son, who lived in security:
13 SOLOMON reigned during an era of peace, for God made tranquil all his borders.
He built a house to the name of God, and established a lasting sanctuary.
14 How wise you were when you were young, overflowing with instruction, like the Nile in flood!
15 Your understanding covered the whole earth, and, like a sea, filled it with knowledge.
16 Your fame reached distant coasts, and their peoples came to hear you;
17 With song and story and riddle, and with your answers, you astounded the nations.
18 You were called by that glorious name which was conferred upon Israel.
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.
20 You brought dishonor upon your reputation, shame upon your marriage,
Wrath upon your descendants, and groaning upon your domain;
21 Thus two governments came into being, when in Ephraim kingship was usurped.
22 But God does not withdraw his mercy, nor permit even one of his promises to fail.
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.
23 Solomon finally slept with his fathers, and left behind him one of his sons, E
xpansive in folly, limited in sense, REHOBOAM, who by his policy made the people rebel;
Until one arose who should not be remembered, the sinner who led Israel into sin,
Who brought ruin to Ephraim
24 and caused them to be exiled from their land.
Their sinfulness grew more and more,
25 and they lent themselves to every evil.



CHAPTER 48

Elijah and Elisha

1 Till like a fire there appeared the prophet whose words were as a flaming furnace.
2 Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits;
3 By God's word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire.
4 How awesome are you, ELIJAH! Whose glory is equal to yours?
5 You brought a dead man back to life from the nether world, by the will of the LORD.
6 You sent kings down to destruction, and nobles, from their beds of sickness.
7 You heard threats at Sinai, at Horeb avenging judgments.
8 You anointed kings who should inflict vengeance, and a prophet as your successor.
9 You were taken aloft in a whirlwind, in a chariot with fiery horses.
10 You are destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD,
To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to reestablish the tribes of Jacob.
11 Blessed is he who shall have seen you before he dies,
12 O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind!

Then ELISHA, filled with a twofold portion of his spirit, wrought many marvels by his mere word.
During his lifetime he feared no one, nor was any man able to intimidate his will.
13 Nothing was beyond his power; beneath him flesh was brought back into life.
14 In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds.
15 Despite all this the people did not repent, nor did they give up their sins,
Until they were rooted out of their land and scattered all over the earth.
But Judah remained, a tiny people, with its rulers from the house of David.
16 Some of these did what was right, but others were extremely sinful.


Hezekiah and Isaiah

17 HEZEKIAH fortified his city and had water brought into it;
With iron tools he cut through the rock and he built reservoirs for water.
18 During his reign Sennacherib led an invasion and sent his adjutant;
He shook his fist at Zion and blasphemed God in his pride.
19 The people's hearts melted within them, and they were in anguish like that of childbirth.
20 But they called upon the Most High God and lifted up their hands to him;
He heard the prayer they uttered, and saved them through ISAIAH.
21 God struck the camp of the Assyrians and routed them with a plague.
22 For Hezekiah did what was right and held fast to the paths of David,
As ordered by the illustrious prophet Isaiah, who saw the truth in visions.
23 In his lifetime he turned back the sun and prolonged the life of the king.
24 By his powerful spirit he looked into the future and consoled the mourners of Zion;
25 He foretold what should be till the end of time, hidden things yet to be fulfilled.



CHAPTER 49

Josiah and the Prophets

1 The name JOSIAH is like blended incense, made lasting by a skilled perfumer.
Precious is his memory, like honey to the taste, like music at a banquet.
2 For he grieved over our betrayals, and destroyed the abominable idols.
3 He turned to God with his whole heart, and, though times were evil, he practiced virtue.
4 Except for David, Hezekiah and Josiah, they all were wicked;
They abandoned the Law of the Most High, these kings of Judah, right to the very end.
5 So he gave over their power to others, their glory to a foolish foreign nation
6 Who burned the holy city and left its streets desolate, As JEREMIAH had foretold;
7 for they had treated him badly who even in the womb had been made a prophet,
To root out, pull down, and destroy, and then to build and to plant.
8 EZEKIEL beheld the vision and described the different creatures of the chariot;
9 He also referred to JOB, who always persevered in the right path.
10 Then, too, the TWELVE PROPHETS - may their bones return to life from their resting place!
- Gave new strength to Jacob and saved him by their faith and hope.


The Heroes after the Exile

11 How can we fittingly praise ZERUBBABEL, who was like a signet ring on God's right hand,
12 And Jeshua, Jozadak's son? In their time they built the house of God;
They erected the holy temple, destined for everlasting glory.
13 Extolled be the memory of NEHEMIAH!
He rebuilt our ruined walls, Restored our shattered defenses, and set up gates and bars.


The Earliest Patriarchs

14 Few on earth have been made the equal of ENOCH, for he was taken up bodily.
15 Was ever a man born like JOSEPH? Even his dead body was provided for.
16 Glorious, too, were SHEM and SETH and ENOS;
but beyond that of any living being was the splendor of ADAM.



CHAPTER 50

Simon, Son of Jochanan

1 The greatest among his brethren, the glory of his people, was SIMON the priest, son of Jochanan,
In whose time the house of God was renovated, in whose days the temple was reinforced.
2 In his time also the wall was built with powerful turrets for the temple precincts;
3 In his time the reservoir was dug, the pool with a vastness like the sea's.
4 He protected his people against brigands and strengthened his city against the enemy.
5 How splendid he was as he appeared from the tent, as he came from within the veil!
6 Like a star shining among the clouds, like the full moon at the holyday season;
7 Like the sun shining upon the temple, like the rainbow appearing in the cloudy sky;
8 Like the blossoms on the branches in springtime, like a lily on the banks of a stream;
Like the trees of Lebanon in summer,
9 like the fire of incense at the sacrifice; Like a vessel of beaten gold, studded with precious stones;
10 Like a luxuriant olive tree thick with fruit, like a cypress standing against the clouds;
11 Vested in his magnificent robes, and wearing his garments of splendor,
As he ascended the glorious altar and lent majesty to the court of the sanctuary.

12 When he received the sundered victims from the priests while he stood before the sacrificial wood,
His brethren ringed him about like a garland, like a stand of cedars on Lebanon;
13 All the sons of Aaron in their dignity clustered around him like poplars,
With the offerings to the LORD in their hands, in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel.
14 Once he had completed the services at the altar with the arranging of the sacrifices for the Most High,
15 And had stretched forth his hand for the cup, to offer blood of the grape,
And poured it out at the foot of the altar, a sweet-smelling odor to the Most High God,
16 The sons of Aaron would sound a blast, the priests, on their trumpets of beaten metal;
A blast to resound mightily as a reminder before the Most High.
17 Then all the people with one accord would quickly fall prostrate to the ground
In adoration before the Most High, before the Holy One of Israel.

18 Then hymns would re-echo, and over the throng sweet strains of praise resound.
19 All the people of the land would shout for joy, praying to the Merciful One,
As the high priest completed the services at the altar by presenting to God the sacrifice due;
20 Then coming down he would raise his hands over all the congregation of Israel.
The blessing of the LORD would be upon his lips, the name of the LORD would be his glory.
21 Then again the people would lie prostrate to receive from him the blessing of the Most High.
22 And now, bless the God of all, who has done wondrous things on earth;
Who fosters men's growth from their mother's womb, and fashions them according to his will!
23 May he grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you;
24 May his goodness toward us endure in Israel as long as the heavens are above.

25 My whole being loathes two nations, the third is not even a people:
26 Those who live in Seir and Philistia, and the degenerate folk who dwell in Shechem.
27 Wise instruction, appropriate proverbs, I have written in this book,
I, Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach, as they gushed forth from my heart's understanding.
28 Happy the man who meditates upon these things, wise the man who takes them to heart!
29 If he puts them into practice, he can cope with anything, for the fear of the LORD is his lamp.



CHAPTER 51

A Prayer

1 I give you thanks, O God of my father; I praise you, O God my savior!
I will make known your name, refuge of my life;
2 you have been my helper against my adversaries. You have saved me from death,
and kept back my body from the pit, From the clutches of the nether world you have snatched my feet;
3 you have delivered me, in your great mercy From the scourge of a slanderous tongue,
and from lips that went over to falsehood; From the snare of those who watched for my downfall,
and from the power of those who sought my life; From many a danger you have saved me,
4 from flames that hemmed me in on every side; From the midst of unremitting fire,
5 From the deep belly of the nether world; From deceiving lips and painters of lies,
6 from the arrows of dishonest tongues.
I was at the point of death, my soul was nearing the depths of the nether world;
7 I turned every way, but there was no one to help me, I looked for one to sustain me, but could find no one.
8 But then I remembered the mercies of the LORD, his kindness through ages past;
For he saves those who take refuge in him, and rescues them from every evil.
9 So I raised my voice from the very earth, from the gates of the nether world, my cry.
10 I called out: O Lord, you are my father, you are my champion and my savior;
Do not abandon me in time of trouble, in the midst of storms and dangers.
11 I will ever praise your name and be constant in my prayers to you.
Thereupon the LORD heard my voice, he listened to my appeal;
12 He saved me from evil of every kind and preserved me in time of trouble.
For this reason I thank him and I praise him; I bless the name of the LORD.

13 When I was young and innocent, I sought wisdom.
14 She came to me in her beauty, and until the end I will cultivate her.
15 As the blossoms yielded to ripening grapes, the heart's joy,
My feet kept to the level path because from earliest youth I was familiar with her.
16 In the short time I paid heed, I met with great instruction.
17 Since in this way I have profited, I will give my teacher grateful praise.
18 I became resolutely devoted to her - the good I persistently strove for.
19 I burned with desire for her, never turning back.
I became preoccupied with her, never weary of extolling her.
My hand opened her gate and I came to know her secrets.
20 For her I purified my hands; in cleanness I attained to her.
At first acquaintance with her, I gained understanding such that I will never forsake her.
21 My whole being was stirred as I learned about her; therefore I have made her my prize possession.
22 The LORD has granted me my lips as a reward, and my tongue will declare his praises.
23 Come aside to me, you untutored, and take up lodging in the house of instruction;
24 How long will you be deprived of wisdom's food, how long will you endure such bitter thirst?
25 I open my mouth and speak of her: gain, at no cost, wisdom for yourselves.
26 Submit your neck to her yoke, that your mind may accept her teaching.
For she is close to those who seek her, and the one who is in earnest finds her.
27 See for yourselves! I have labored only a little, but have found much.
28 Acquire but a little instruction; you will win silver and gold through her.
29 Let your spirits rejoice in the mercy of God, and be not ashamed to give him praise.
30 Work at your tasks in due season, and in his own time God will give you your reward.



THE BIBLE