The deuterocanonical Septuagint additions

The Roman Catholic Bible editions usually include seven other books that are from the Septuagint, but not in the Hebrew Bible.  On the other hand, many of the English Protestant Bibles, particularly the King James Bible used only the Hebrew texts.  These later Greek works became known as deuterocanonical or apocryphal works of the Bible.  These post-exilic books tell the stories of various Israelite figures.  These seven extra books have the story of Tobit, the story of Judith, as well as the stories of 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees.  However, they also include writings the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus or Sirach, and Baruch.

The final blessing (Sir 51:37-51:38)

“May your soul rejoice

In God’s mercy!

May you never be ashamed

To praise him!

Do your work in good time!

In God’s own time,

He will give you your reward.

The wisdom of Jesus,

Son of Sira.

May the name of the Lord

Be blessed now and forever!”

We now have the final blessing from Sirach. In fact, he kind of signs off on this when he says that this is the wisdom of Jesus, son of Sira, Ben Sira, or Sirach. He wanted our souls to rejoice in God’s mercy. We should never be ashamed to praise God. However, we were to continue our work. God would then reward us in his time schedule. Therefore the name of the Lord should be blessed forever.

The mystery of wisdom (Sir 1:1-1:10)

“All wisdom is from the Lord.

It remains forever with him.

Who can count?

The sand of the sea?

The drops of rain?

The days of eternity?

Who can search them out?

The height of heaven?

The breadth of the earth?

The abyss?

Wisdom?

Wisdom was created before all other things.

Prudent understanding is from eternity.

To whom has it been revealed

The root of wisdom?

Who knows her subtleties?

There is but one who is wise.

He is greatly to be feared.

He is seated upon his throne.

The Lord!

It is he who created her.

He saw her.

He took her measure.

He poured her out upon all his works.

He poured her out upon all the living.

According to his gift,

He lavished her upon

Those who love him.”

This author Sirach starts his work like the beginning of Proverbs with the insistence that all wisdom comes from the Lord. Since this is a Greek translation, the normally tendency was to translate Yahweh or God as Lord, Κυρίος. There is also a minor problem with the numbering of verses. However, no one can count the amount of sand in the sea, the drops of rain, or the days of eternity. No one can tell you how high heaven is, or the width of earth, or the depth of the sea abyss, or about wisdom itself. Wisdom was the first thing created, even though there is no explicit mention of this in Genesis. Understanding is from eternity. No one knows the subtleties of wisdom. The Lord, who sits on his throne, is truly wise and needs to be feared. He created wisdom and poured her out on all his works, including all the living things. Those who love him will receive wisdom.

Grandpa Jesus (Sir 0:5-0:14)

“My grandfather Jesus

Devoted himself especially

To the reading of the Law,

To the reading of the Prophets,

To the reading of the other books of our ancestors.

After acquiring considerable proficiency in them,

He was himself also led to write something

Pertaining to instruction,

Pertaining to wisdom.

By becoming familiar with this book,

Those who love learning

Should make even greater progress

In living according to the law.”

Who is Grandpa Jesus? Obviously, he is the grandfather of this writer/translator. This ‘Jesus’ is the Anglicized form of the Greek name Ἰησοῦς or the Aramaic Yeshua. He was the son of Sirach, a Jewish scribe who had been living in Jerusalem. He then authored this work in Alexandria, Egypt, around 180–175 BCE, where he is thought to have established a school. He is sometimes referred to as Ben Sira, son of Sir, or as it has been rendered in Greek, ‘Sirach’. There are all kinds of Jewish stories about his background. This ‘Jesus’ or ‘Sirach’ was a devoted scholar of the Hebrew Law, Prophets, and the other books of the Hebrew Bible. He wanted to share some of the instruction and wisdom that he had received from these books. Thus this author, his grandson, wants those who loved learning to become familiar with this work. With that, they would be better able to follow the Law itself.