Sirach

As well as such inspiring passaghes as Chapter 24 (a hymn to Wisdom), Chapter 34:14-20 (on divine providence), Chapter 39:12-35 (in praise of the Creator), and the concluding hymn (51:13-30), we can find many gems of wisdom from Ben Sira, a remarkable teacher whose career in Jerusalem spanned the final decades of the third century BC, and continued into the early years of the second century.

There are times (but very few) where Christians reading this text can imagine Jesus saying: ‘It was said to you of old, but I say’. One obvious example is Chapter 12:1-7, where the author assumes that God hates sinners, and encourages his students to do the same. He speaks quite beautifully about forgiveness, but it does not extend to one’s enemies. He displays a special antipathy to the Samaritans. He encourages a caring attitude to those in need, but his attitude to women witnesses to the prevailing assumption that they are inferior to men. However, all in all, Ben Sira offers much practical and wise advice, as relevant in our day as it was in his.

1. Reading

In 2012 I published a commentary on Sirach (The Wisdom of Ben Sira) & the Book of Wisdom (The Wisdom of Solomon), published by Chevalier Press, 216 pages RRP $20.00. (www.annals.com.au. [email:annalsaustralasia@gmail.com; Phone: 61+2 96627894].

The commentary on Sirach can be read on this website by clicking below on the section that interests you: