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Chapter 49

Josiah and the Prophets[a]

The name Josiah is like blended incense,
    made lasting by a skilled perfumer.(A)
Precious is his memory, like honey to the taste,
    like music at a banquet.
For he grieved over our betrayals,
    and destroyed the abominable idols.
He kept his heart fixed on God,
    and in times of lawlessness practiced virtue.
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.
So he gave over their power to others,
    their glory to a foreign nation
Who burned the holy city
    and left its streets desolate,
As foretold by Jeremiah.(B) They mistreated him
    who even in the womb had been made a prophet,
To root out, pull down, and destroy,
    and then to build and to plant.(C)
Ezekiel beheld a vision
    and described the different creatures of the chariot;(D)
He also referred to Job,
    who always persevered in the right path.(E)
10 Then, too, the Twelve Prophets
    may their bones flourish with new life where they lie!—
They gave new strength to Jacob
    and saved him with steadfast hope.

The Heroes After the Exile

11 How to extol Zerubbabel?[b]
    He was like a signet ring on the right hand,(F)
12 And Jeshua, Jozadak’s son?
    In their time they rebuilt the altar
And erected the holy temple,
    destined for everlasting glory.
13 Exalted be the memory of Nehemiah!
    He rebuilt our ruined walls,
Restored our shattered defenses,
    and set up gates and bars.(G)

The Earliest Patriarchs

14 Few on earth have been created like Enoch;[c]
    he also was taken up bodily.(H)
15 Was ever a man born like Joseph?
    Even his dead body was provided for.(I)
16 Glorious, too, were Shem and Seth and Enosh;
    but beyond that of any living being was the splendor of Adam.(J)


  1. 49:1–10 Ben Sira’s praise of King Josiah (vv. 1–3) and of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel and the minor prophets (vv. 7–10) derives from their spirit of fidelity to the Lord and his Law (vv. 4–6, 10).
  2. 49:11–13 The rebuilding of the Temple and the repair of the walls of the Holy City led to a restoration of religious worship and civil authority.
  3. 49:14–16 The patriarchs here mentioned were glorious because of their spirit of religion, i.e., their profound reverence for God and obedience to him. The splendor of Adam: suggests his direct origin from God (Gn 1:26–27; 2:7).