THE WISDOM OF JESUS THE SON OF SIRACH,
The Prologue of the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach.
WHEREAS many and great things have been delivered unto us by the law and the prophets, and by the others that have followed in their steps, for the which things we must give Israel the praise of instruction and wisdom; and since not only the readers must needs become skilful themselves, but also they that love learning must be able to profit them which are without, both by speaking and writing; my grandfather Jesus, having much given himself to the reading of the law, and the prophets, and the other books of our fathers, and having gained great familiarity therein, was drawn on also himself to write somewhat pertaining to instruction and wisdom; in order that those who love learning, and are addicted to these things, might make progress much more by living according to the law. Ye are intreated therefore to read with favour and attention, and to pardon us, if in any parts of what we have laboured to interpret, we may seem to fail in some of the phrases. For things originally spoken in Hebrew have not the same force in them, when they are translated into another tongue: and not only these, but the law itself, and the prophecies, and the rest of the books, have no small difference, when they are spoken in their original language. For having come into Egypt in the eight and thirtieth year of Energetes the king, and having continued there some time, I found *
a copy affording no small instruction. I thought it therefore most necessary for me to apply some diligence and travail to interpret this book; applying indeed much watchfulness and skill in that space of time to bring the book to an end, and set it forth for them also, who in the land of their sojourning are desirous to learn, fashioning their manners beforehand, so as to live according to the law.
1 All wisdom cometh from the Lord,
And is with him for ever.
2 The sand of the seas, and the drops of rain,
And the days of eternity, who shall number?
3 The height of the heaven, and the breadth of the earth,
And the deep, and wisdom, who shall search them out?
4 Wisdom hath been created before all things,
And the understanding of prudence from everlasting. 5 †
6 To whom hath the root of wisdom been revealed?
And who hath known her shrewd counsels? 7 ‡
8 There is one wise, greatly to be feared,
The Lord sitting upon his throne:
9 He created her,
And saw, and numbered her,
And poured her out upon all his works.
10 She is with all flesh according to his gift;
And he gave her freely to them that love him.
11 The fear of the Lord is glory, and exultation,
And gladness, and a crown of rejoicing.
12 The fear of the Lord shall delight the heart,
And shall give gladness, and joy, and length of days.
13 Whoso feareth the Lord, it shall go well with him at the last,
And in the day of his death he shall be blessed.
14 To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
And it was created together with the faithful in the womb.
With men she §
laid an eternal foundation;
And with their seed shall she be had in trust.
16 To fear the Lord is the fulness of wisdom;
And she satiateth men with her fruits.
17 She shall fill all her house with desirable things,
And her garners with her produce.
18 The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom,
Making peace and **
perfect health to flourish. ††
19 He both saw and numbered her;
He rained down skill and knowledge of understanding,
And exalted the honour of them that hold her fast.
20 To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom;
And her branches are length of days. 21 ‡‡
22 Unjust wrath can never be justified;
For the sway of his wrath is his downfall.
A man that is longsuffering will §§
for a season,
And afterward gladness shall spring up unto him;
He will hide his words †††
for a season,
And the lips of many shall tell forth his understanding.
25 A parable of knowledge is in the treasures of wisdom;
But godliness is an abomination to a sinner.
26 If thou desire wisdom, keep the commandments,
And the Lord shall give her unto thee freely:
27 For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and instruction;
And in faith and meekness is his good pleasure.
Disobey not the fear of the Lord;‡‡‡
And come not unto him with a double heart.
29 Be not a hypocrite in the mouths of men;
And take good heed to thy lips.
30 Exalt not thyself, lest thou fall,
And bring dishonour upon thy soul;
And so the Lord shall reveal thy secrets,
And shall cast thee down in the midst of the congregation;
Because thou camest not unto the fear of the Lord,
And thy heart was full of deceit.