The Holy See
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2002 11 11
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Chapter 50


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.


In his time also the wall was built with powerful turrets for the temple precincts;


In his time the reservoir was dug, the pool with a vastness like the sea's.


He protected his people against brigands and strengthened his city against the enemy.


How splendid he was as he appeared from the tent, as he came from within the veil!


Like a star shining among the clouds, like the full moon at the holyday season;


Like the sun shining upon the temple, like the rainbow appearing in the cloudy sky;


Like the blossoms on the branches in springtime, like a lily on the banks of a stream; Like the trees of Lebanon in summer,


like the fire of incense at the sacrifice; Like a vessel of beaten gold, studded with precious stones;


Like a luxuriant olive tree thick with fruit, like a cypress standing against the clouds;


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.


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;


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.


Once he had completed the services at the altar with the arranging of the sacrifices for the Most High,


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,


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.


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.


Then hymns would re-echo, and over the throng sweet strains of praise resound.


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;


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.


Then again the people would lie prostrate to receive from him the blessing of the Most High.


2 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!


May he grant you joy of heart and may peace abide among you;


May his goodness toward us endure in Israel as long as the heavens are above.


3 4 My whole being loathes two nations, the third is not even a people:


5 Those who live in Seir and Philistia, and the degenerate folk who dwell in Shechem.


6 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.


Happy the man who meditates upon these things, wise the man who takes them to heart!


If he puts them into practice, he can cope with anything, for the fear of the LORD is his lamp.



1 [1-21] The son of Jochanan here mentioned was Simon II, in whose time as high priest (219-196 B.C.) great works were accomplished for the benefit of public worship and welfare ( Sirach 50:1-4). The author, a contemporary of this high priest, describes in great detail and by numerous comparisons the impression of awful majesty received, the lofty joy aroused, at sight of the high priest fully vested entering the sanctuary, ascending the altar ( Sirach 50:6-11), and, in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, encircled by assistant priests bearing offerings, sacrificing the burnt offering on the Day of Atonement, while the trumpets blast and the people bow down in adoration of the Most High ( Sirach 50:12-17). The hymnody, the joyful shouts of the multitude, and finally the high priest's blessing, in which he pronounces-once only in the year, on this occasion - the holy name of Yahweh, climax the description of this most solemn Jewish liturgical function ( Sirach 50:18-21).

2 [22-24] Praise and thanksgiving are given to God for his wondrous works, and a blessing is invoked on man that he may enjoy peace and gladness of heart and the abiding goodness of the Most High.

3 [25-26] The author's abhorrence of the pagan Edomites (Idumeans), Philistines and Samaritans can be understood in the light of Old Testament thinking, which does not always distinguish between hatred of evildoers and hatred of the evil they do.

4 [25] Not even a people: the Samaritans.

5 [26] Seir: Mount Seir in the territory of the Edomites. Shechem: a city in Samaria.

6 [27-29] These verses contain the subscription of the author, Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach, to his long and beautiful treatise on wisdom as applying to all of human life, integrating it under the direction of the fear of the Lord.

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