The Law, the Prophets, and the later writers have left us a wealth of valuable teachings, and we should praise Israel for the instruction and wisdom they provide. But it is not enough that those who read them should gain understanding for themselves. Anyone who values learning should be able to help others by what he himself says and writes. That is why my grandfather Jesus devoted himself to reading the Law, the Prophets, and the other books of our ancestors. After he had mastered them, he was led to write a book of his own in order to share his wisdom and learning with others, so that anyone who shared his love for learning should have his book available as well, and be all the more able to live according to the Law.
Let me urge you, then, to read this book carefully and with an open mind. And please be patient in those places where, in spite of all my diligent efforts, I may not have translated some phrases vry well. What was originally written in Hebrew does not always have exactly the same sense when it is translated into another language.[a] That is true not only of this book, but even of the Law itself, the Prophets, and the other books. The translations differ quite a bit from the original.
I came to Egypt in the thirty-eighth year of King Euergetes' reign and stayed for some time. While I was there, I had the opportunity for a good deal of study and felt the necessity of translating the following book. I wanted to use all my diligence and skill to complete it and make it available for all those living in foreign lands who wish to learn and who have the strength of character to live by the Law of Moses.
In Praise of Wisdom
1 All wisdom comes from the Lord, and Wisdom is with him forever. 2 Who can count raindrops or the sand along the shore? Who can count the days of eternity? 3 How high is the sky? How wide is the earth? How deep is the ocean? How profound is Wisdom? Can anyone find answers to these questions? 4 Wisdom was created before anything else; understanding has always existed.[b] 6 Has anyone ever been shown where Wisdom originates? Does anyone understand her subtle cleverness?[c] 8 There is only one who is wise, and we must stand in awe before his throne. 9 The Lord himself created Wisdom; he saw her and recognized her value, and so he filled everything he made with Wisdom. 10 He gave some measure of Wisdom to everyone, but poured her out on those who love him. 11 If you fear the Lord, honor and pride will be yours; you will be crowned with happiness and joy. 12 To honor the Lord is a heartfelt delight; it will give you a long and happy life, 13 and at the end of your days all will go well for you. God will bless you on the day of your death. 14 To fear the Lord is the first step to Wisdom. Wisdom is given to the faithful in their mothers' wombs. 15 She has lived with us from ancient times, and generations to come will rely on her. 16 To fear the Lord is Wisdom at her fullest; she satisfies us completely with her gifts 17 and fills our homes and our barns with all that our hearts can desire. 18 To fear the Lord is the flower of Wisdom that blossoms with peace and good health.[d] 19 She sends knowledge and understanding like the rain, and increases the honor of those who receive her. 20 To fear the Lord is the root of Wisdom; her branches are long life.[e]
22 There is no excuse for unjustified anger; it can bring about your downfall.23 Wait and be patient, and later you will be glad you did.24 Keep quiet until the right time to speak, and you will gain a reputation for good sense.
Wisdom and Reverence for God
25 Wisdom has a treasury of wise sayings, but sinners have nothing but contempt for godliness.26 If you want to be wise, keep the Lord's commands, and he will give you Wisdom in abundance.27 Fearing the Lord is Wisdom and an education in itself. He is pleased by loyalty and humility.28 Be faithful in the practice of your religion; when you worship the Lord, do it with all your heart.29 Be careful about what you say, and don't be a hypocrite.30 Don't be arrogant; you may suffer a fall and be disgraced. The Lord will reveal your secrets and humble you in front of everyone in the synagogue, because you did not come there with reverence for the Lord, but with a heart full of hypocrisy.
Sirach 1:1the book of Sirach was written in Hebrew, but the writer of this foreword translated it into Greek.
Sirach 1:4Some manuscripts add verse 5: The source of Wisdom is the word of God on high; her ways are eternal commands.
Sirach 1:6Some manuscripts add verse 7: To whom has the knowledge of Wisdom been revealed? Who has understood her great experience?
Sirach 1:18Some manuscripts add: He saw her and recognized her value (see 1.9).
Sirach 1:20Some manuscripts add verse 21: Honoring the Lord takes sin away; where the fear of the Lord is found, it turns away anger.
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