Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach (RSV)


[1-14] Whereas many great teachings have been given to us through the law and the prophets and the others that followed them, on account of which we should praise Israel for instruction and wisdom; and since it is necessary not only that the readers themselves should acquire understanding but also that those who love learning should be able to help the outsiders by both speaking and writing, my grandfather Jesus, after devoting himself especially to the reading of the law and the prophets and the other books of our fathers, and after acquiring considerable proficiency in them, was himself also led to write something pertaining to instruction and wisdom, in order that, by becoming conversant with this also, those who love learning should make even greater progress in living according to the law.

You are urged therefore to read with good will and attention, and to be indulgent in cases where, despite out diligent labor in translating, we may seem to have rendered some phrases imperfectly. For what was originally expressed in Hebrew does not have exactly the same sense when translated into another language. Not only this work, but even the law itself, the prophecies, and the rest of the books differ not a little as originally expressed.


When I came to Egypt in the thirty-eighth year of the reign of Euergetes and stayed for some time, I found opportunity for no little instruction. It seemed highly necessary that I should myself devote some pains and labor to the translation of the following book, using in that period of time great watchfulness and skill in order to complete and publish the book for those living abroad who wished to gain learning, being prepared in character to live according to the law.


[1] All wisdom comes from the Lord
and is with him for ever.
[2] The sand of the sea, the drops of rain,
and the days of eternity -- who can count them?
[3] The height of heaven, the breadth of the earth,
the abyss, and wisdom -- who can search them out?
[4] Wisdom was created before all things,
and prudent understanding from eternity.
[5] The root of wisdom -- to whom has it been revealed?
Her clever devices -- who knows them?
[6] There is One who is wise, greatly to be feared,
sitting upon his throne.
[7] The Lord himself created wisdom;
he saw her and apportioned her,
he poured her out upon all his works.
[8] She dwells with all flesh according to his gift,
and he supplied her to those who love him.

[9] The fear of the Lord is glory and exultation,
and gladness and a crown of rejoicing.
[10] The fear of the Lord delights the heart,
and gives gladness and joy and long life.
[11] With him who fears the Lord it will go well at the end;
on the day of his death he will be blessed.

[12] To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
she is created with the faithful in the womb.
[13] She made among men an eternal foundation,
and among their descendants she will be trusted.
[14] To fear the Lord is wisdom's full measure;
she satisfies men with her fruits;
[15] she fills their whole house with desirable goods,
and their storehouses with her produce.
[16] The fear of the Lord is the crown of wisdom,
making peace and perfect health to flourish.
[17] He saw her and apportioned her;
he rained down knowledge and discerning comprehension,
and he exalted the glory of those who held her fast.
[18] To fear the Lord is the root of wisdom,
and her branches are long life.

[22] Unrighteous anger cannot be justified,
for a man's anger tips the scale to his ruin.
[23] A patient man will endure until the right moment,
and then joy will burst forth for him.
[24] He will hide his words until the right moment,
and the lips of many will tell of his good sense.
[25] In the treasuries of wisdom are wise sayings,
but godliness is an abomination to a sinner.
[26] If you desire wisdom, keep the commandments,
and the Lord will supply it for you.
[27] For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and instruction,
and he delights in fidelity and meekness.
[28] Do not disobey the fear of the Lord;
do not approach him with a divided mind.
[29] Be not a hypocrite in men's sight,
and keep watch over your lips.
[30] Do not exalt yourself lest you fall,
and thus bring dishonor upon yourself.
The Lord will reveal your secrets
and cast you down in the midst of the congregation,
because you did not come in the fear of the Lord,
and your heart was full of deceit.


[1] My son, if you come forward to serve the Lord,
prepare yourself for temptation.
[2] Set your heart right and be steadfast,
and do not be hasty in time of calamity.
[3] Cleave to him and do not depart,
that you may be honored at the end of your life.
[4] Accept whatever is brought upon you,
and in changes that humble you be patient.
[5] For gold is tested in the fire,
and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation.
[6] Trust in him, and he will help you;
make your ways straight, and hope in him.

[7] You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy;
and turn not aside, lest you fall.
[8] You who fear the Lord, trust in him,
and your reward will not fail;
[9] you who fear the Lord, hope for good things,
for everlasting joy and mercy.
[10] Consider the ancient generations and see:
who ever trusted in the Lord and was put to shame?
Or who ever persevered in the fear of the Lord
and was forsaken?
Or who ever called upon him and was overlooked?
[11] For the Lord is compassionate and merciful;
he forgives sins and saves in time of affliction.

[12] Woe to timid hearts and to slack hands,
and to the sinner who walks along two ways!
[13] Woe to the faint heart, for it has no trust!
Therefore it will not be sheltered.
[14] Woe to you who have lost your endurance!
What will you do when the Lord punishes you?
[15] Those who fear the Lord will not disobey his words,
and those who love him will keep his ways.
[16] Those who fear the Lord will seek his approval,
and those who love him will be filled with the law.
[17] Those who fear the Lord will prepare their hearts,
and will humble themselves before him.
[18] Let us fall into the hands of the Lord,
but not into the hands of men;
for as his majesty is,
so also is his mercy.


[1] Let us now praise famous men,
and our fathers in their generations.
[2] The Lord apportioned to them great glory,
his majesty from the beginning.
[3] There were those who ruled in their kingdoms,
and were men renowned for their power,
giving counsel by their understanding,
and proclaiming prophecies;
[4] leaders of the people in their deliberations
and in understanding of learning for the people,
wise in their words of instruction;
[5] those who composed musical tunes,
and set forth verses in writing;
[6] rich men furnished with resources,
living peaceably in their habitations --
[7] all these were honored in their generations,
and were the glory of their times.
[8] There are some of them who have left a name,
so that men declare their praise.
[9] And there are some who have no memorial,
who have perished as though they had not lived;
they have become as though they had not been born,
and so have their children after them.
[10] But these were men of mercy,
whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten;
[11] their prosperity will remain with their descendants,
and their inheritance to their children's children.
[12] Their descendants stand by the covenants;
their children also, for their sake.
[13] Their posterity will continue for ever,
and their glory will not be blotted out.
[14] Their bodies were buried in peace,
and their name lives to all generations.
[15] Peoples will declare their wisdom,
and the congregation proclaims their praise.

[16] Enoch pleased the Lord, and was taken up;
he was an example of repentance to all generations.

[17] Noah was found perfect and righteous;
in the time of wrath he was taken in exchange;
therefore a remnant was left to the earth
when the flood came.
[18] Everlasting covenants were made with him
that all flesh should not be blotted out by a flood.

[19] Abraham was the great father of a multitude of nations,
and no one has been found like him in glory;
[20] he kept the law of the Most High,
and was taken into covenant with him;
he established the covenant in his flesh,
and when he was tested he was found faithful.
[21] Therefore the Lord assured him by an oath
that the nations would be blessed through his posterity;
that he would multiply him like the dust of the earth,
and exalt his posterity like the stars,
and cause them to inherit from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
[22] To Isaac also he gave the same assurance
for the sake of Abraham his father.

[23] The blessing of all men and the covenant
he made to rest upon the head of Jacob;
he acknowledged him with his blessings,
and gave him his inheritance;
he determined his portions,
and distributed them among twelve tribes.


[1] From his descendants the Lord brought forth a man of mercy,
who found favor in the sight of all flesh
and was beloved by God and man,
Moses, whose memory is blessed.
[2] He made him equal in glory to the holy ones,
and made him great in the fears of his enemies.
[3] By his words he caused signs to cease;
the Lord glorified him in the presence of kings.
He gave him commands for his people,
and showed him part of his glory.
[4] He sanctified him through faithfulness and meekness;
he chose him out of all mankind.
[5] He made him hear his voice,
and led him into the thick darkness,
and gave him the commandments face to face,
the law of life and knowledge,
to teach Jacob the covenant,
and Israel his judgments.

[6] He exalted Aaron, the brother of Moses,
a holy man like him, of the tribe of Levi.
[7] He made an everlasting covenant with him,
and gave him the priesthood of the people.
He blessed him with splendid vestments,
and put a glorious robe upon him.
[8] He clothed him with superb perfection,
and strengthened him with the symbols of authority,
the linen breeches, the long robe, and the ephod.
[9] And he encircled him with pomegranates,
with very many golden bells round about,
to send forth a sound as he walked,
to make their ringing heard in the temple
as a reminder to the sons of his people;
[10] with a holy garment, of gold and blue
and purple, the work of an embroiderer;
with the oracle of judgment, Urim and Thummim;
[11] with twisted scarlet, the work of a craftsman;
with precious stones engraved like signets,
in a setting of gold, the work of a jeweler,
for a reminder, in engraved letters,
according to the number of the tribes of Israel;
[12] with a gold crown upon his turban,
inscribed like a signet with "Holiness,"
a distinction to be prized, the work of an expert,
the delight of the eyes, richly adorned.
[13] Before his time there never were such beautiful things.
No outsider ever put them on,
but only his sons
and his descendants perpetually.
[14] His sacrifices shall be wholly burned
twice every day continually.
[15] Moses ordained him,
and anointed him with holy oil;
it was an everlasting covenant for him
and for his descendants all the days of heaven,
to minister to the Lord and serve as priest
and bless his people in his name.
[16] He chose him out of all the living
to offer sacrifice to the Lord,
incense and a pleasing odor as a memorial portion,
to make atonement for the people.
[17] In his commandments he gave him
authority and statutes and judgments,
to teach Jacob the testimonies,
and to enlighten Israel with his law.
[18] Outsiders conspired against him,
and envied him in the wilderness,
Dathan and Abiram and their men
and the company of Korah, in wrath and anger.
[19] The Lord saw it and was not pleased,
and in the wrath of his anger they were destroyed;
he wrought wonders against them
to consume them in flaming fire.
[20] He added glory to Aaron
and gave him a heritage;
he allotted to him the first of the first fruits,
he prepared bread of first fruits in abundance;
[21] for they eat the sacrifices to the Lord,
which he gave to him and his descendants.
[22] But in the land of the people he has no inheritance,
and he has no portion among the people;
for the Lord himself is his portion and inheritance.

[23] Phinehas the son of Eleazar is the third in glory,
for he was zealous in the fear of the Lord,
and stood fast, when the people turned away,
in the ready goodness of his soul,
and made atonement for Israel.
[24] Therefore a covenant of peace was established with him,
that he should be leader of the sanctuary and of his people,
that he and his descendants should have
the dignity of the priesthood for ever.
[25] A covenant was also established with David,
the son of Jesse, of the tribe of Judah:
the heritage of the king is from son to son only;
so the heritage of Aaron is for his descendants.
[26] May the Lord grant you wisdom in your heart
to judge his people in righteousness,
so that their prosperity may not vanish,
and that their glory may endure throughout their generations.


[1] Joshua the son of Nun was mighty in war,
and was the successor of Moses in prophesying.
He became, in accordance with his name,
a great savior of God's elect,
to take vengeance on the enemies that rose against them,
so that he might give Israel its inheritance.
[2] How glorious he was when he lifted his hands
and stretched out his sword against the cities!
[3] Who before him ever stood so firm?
For he waged the wars of the Lord.
[4] Was not the sun held back by his hand?
And did not one day become as long as two?
[5] He called upon the Most High, the Mighty One,
when enemies pressed him on every side,
[6] and the great Lord answered him
with hailstones of mighty power.
He hurled down war upon that nation,
and at the descent of Beth-horon he destroyed
those who resisted,
so that the nations might know his armament,
that he was fighting in the sight of the Lord;
for he wholly followed the Mighty One.
[7] And in the days of Moses he did a loyal deed,
he and Caleb the son of Jephunneh:
they withstood the congregation,
restrained the people from sin,
and stilled their wicked murmuring.
[8] And these two alone were preserved
out of six hundred thousand people on foot,
to bring them into their inheritance,
into a land flowing with milk and honey.
[9] And the Lord gave Caleb strength,
which remained with him to old age,
so that he went up to the hill country,
and his children obtained it for an inheritance;
[10] so that all the sons of Israel might see
that it is good to follow the Lord.

[11] The judges also, with their respective names,
those whose hearts did not fall into idolatry
and who did not turn away from the Lord --
may their memory be blessed!
[12] May their bones revive from where they lie,
and may the name of those who have been honored
live again in their sons!

[13] Samuel, beloved by his Lord,
a prophet of the Lord, established the kingdom
and anointed rulers over his people.
[14] By the law of the Lord he judged the congregation,
and the Lord watched over Jacob.
[15] By his faithfulness he was proved to be a prophet,
and by his words he became known as a trustworthy seer.
[16] He called upon the Lord, the Mighty One,
when his enemies pressed him on every side,
and he offered in sacrifice a sucking lamb.
[17] Then the Lord thundered from heaven,
and made his voice heard with a mighty sound;
[18] and he wiped out the leaders of the people of Tyre
and all the rulers of the Philistines.
[19] Before the time of his eternal sleep,
Samuel called men to witness before the Lord and his anointed:
"I have not taken any one's property,
not so much as a pair of shoes."
And no man accused him.
[20] Even after he had fallen asleep he prophesied
and revealed to the king his death,
and lifted up his voice out of the earth in prophecy,
to blot out the wickedness of the people.


[1] And after him Nathan rose up
to prophesy in the days of David.
[2] As the fat is selected from the peace offering,
so David was selected from the sons of Israel.
[3] He played with lions as with young goats,
and with bears as with lambs of the flock.
[4] In his youth did he not kill a giant,
and take away reproach from the people,
when he lifted his hand with a stone in the sling
and struck down the boasting of Goliath?
[5] For he appealed to the Lord, the Most High,
and he gave him strength in his right hand
to slay a man mighty in war,
to exalt the power of his people.
[6] So they glorified him for his ten thousands,
and praised him for the blessings of the Lord,
when the glorious diadem was bestowed upon him.
[7] For he wiped out his enemies on every side,
and annihilated his adversaries the Philistines;
he crushed their power even to this day.
[8] In all that he did he gave thanks
to the Holy One, the Most High, with ascriptions of glory;
he sang praise with all his heart,
and he loved his Maker.
[9] He placed singers before the altar,
to make sweet melody with their voices.
[10] He gave beauty to the feasts,
and arranged their times throughout the year,
while they praised God's holy name,
and the sanctuary resounded from early morning.
[11] The Lord took away his sins,
and exalted his power for ever;
he gave him the covenant of kings
and a throne of glory in Israel.

[12] After him rose up a wise son
who fared amply because of him;
[13] Solomon reigned in days of peace,
and God gave him rest on every side,
that he might build a house for his name
and prepare a sanctuary to stand for ever.
[14] How wise you became in your youth!
You overflowed like a river with understanding.
[15] Your soul covered the earth,
and you filled it with parables and riddles.
[16] Your name reached to far-off islands,
and you were loved for your peace.
[17] For your songs and proverbs and parables,
and for your interpretations, the countries marveled at you.
[18] In the name of the Lord God,
who is called the God of Israel,
you gathered gold like tin
and amassed silver like lead.
[19] But you laid your loins beside women,
and through your body you were brought into subjection.
[20] You put stain upon your honor,
and defiled your posterity,
so that you brought wrath upon your children
and they were grieved at your folly,
[21] so that the sovereignty was divided
and a disobedient kingdom arose out of Ephraim.
[22] But the Lord will never give up his mercy,
nor cause any of his works to perish;
he will never blot out the descendants of his chosen one,
nor destroy the posterity of him who loved him;
so he gave a remnant to Jacob,
and to David a root of his stock.

[23] Solomon rested with his fathers,
and left behind him one of his sons,
ample in folly and lacking in understanding,
Rehoboam, whose policy caused the people to revolt.
Also Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin
and gave to Ephraim a sinful way.
[24] Their sins became exceedingly many,
so as to remove them from their land.
[25] For they sought out every sort of wickedness,
till vengeance came upon them.


[1] Then the prophet Elijah arose like a fire,
and his word burned like a torch.
[2] He brought a famine upon them,
and by his zeal he made them few in number.
[3] By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens,
and also three times brought down fire.
[4] How glorious you were, O Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!
And who has the right to boast which you have?
[5] You who raised a corpse from death
and from Hades, by the word of the Most High;
[6] who brought kings down to destruction,
and famous men from their beds;
[7] who heard rebuke at Sinai
and judgments of vengeance at Horeb;
[8] who anointed kings to inflict retribution,
and prophets to succeed you.
[9] You who were taken up by a whirlwind of fire,
in a chariot with horses of fire;
[10] you who are ready at the appointed time, it is written,
to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury,
to turn the heart of the father to the son,
and to restore the tribes of Jacob.
[11] Blessed are those who saw you,
and those who have been adorned in love;
for we also shall surely live.

[12] It was Elijah who was covered by the whirlwind,
and Elisha was filled with his spirit;
in all his days he did not tremble before any ruler,
and no one brought him into subjection.
[13] Nothing was too hard for him,
and when he was dead his body prophesied.
[14] As in his life he did wonders,
so in death his deeds were marvelous.

[15] For all this the people did not repent,
and they did not forsake their sins,
till they were carried away captive from their land
and were scattered over all the earth;
the people were left very few in number,
but with rulers from the house of David.
[16] Some of them did what was pleasing to God,
but others multiplied sins.

[17] Hezekiah fortified his city,
and brought water into the midst of it;
he tunneled the sheer rock with iron
and built pools for water.
[18] In his days Sennacherib came up,
and sent the Rabshakeh;
he lifted up his hand against Zion
and made great boasts in his arrogance.
[19] Then their hearts were shaken and their hands trembled,
and they were in anguish, like women in travail.
[20] But they called upon the Lord who is merciful,
spreading forth their hands toward him;
and the Holy One quickly heard them from heaven,
and delivered them by the hand of Isaiah.
[21] The Lord smote the camp of the Assyrians,
and his angel wiped them out.
[22] For Hezekiah did what was pleasing to the Lord,
and he held strongly to the ways of David his father,
which Isaiah the prophet commanded,
who was great and faithful in his vision.
[23] In his days the sun went backward,
and he lengthened the life of the king.
[24] By the spirit of might he saw the last things,
and comforted those who mourned in Zion.
[25] He revealed what was to occur to the end of time,
and the hidden things before they came to pass.


[1] The memory of Josiah is like a blending of incense
prepared by the art of the perfumer;
it is sweet as honey to every mouth,
and like music at a banquet of wine.
[2] He was led aright in converting the people,
and took away the abominations of iniquity.
[3] He set his heart upon the Lord;
in the days of wicked men he strengthened godliness.

[4] Except David and Hezekiah and Josiah
they all sinned greatly,
for they forsook the law of the Most High;
the kings of Judah came to an end;
[5] for they gave their power to others,
and their glory to a foreign nation,
[6] who set fire to the chosen city of the sanctuary,
and made her streets desolate,
according to the word of Jeremiah.
[7] For they had afflicted him;
yet he had been consecrated in the womb as prophet,
to pluck up and afflict and destroy,
and likewise to build and to plant.

[8] It was Ezekiel who saw the vision of glory
which God showed him above the chariot of the cherubim.
[9] For God remembered his enemies with storm,
and did good to those who directed their ways aright.

[10] May the bones of the twelve prophets
revive from where they lie,
for they comforted the people of Jacob
and delivered them with confident hope.

[11] How shall we magnify Zerubbabel?
He was like a signet on the right hand,
[12] and so was Jeshua the son of Jozadak;
in their days they built the house
and raised a temple holy to the Lord,
prepared for everlasting glory.
[13] The memory of Nehemiah also is lasting;
he raised for us the walls that had fallen,
and set up the gates and bars
and rebuilt our ruined houses.

[14] No one like Enoch has been created on earth,
for he was taken up from the earth.
[15] And no man like Joseph has been born,
and his bones are cared for.
[16] Shem and Seth were honored among men,
and Adam above every living being in the creation.


[1] The leader of his brethren and the pride of his people
was Simon the high priest, son of Onias,
who in his life repaired the house,
and in his time fortified the temple.
[2] He laid the foundations for the high double walls,
the high retaining walls for the temple enclosure.
[3] In his days a cistern for water was quarried out,
a reservoir like the sea in circumference.
[4] He considered how to save his people from ruin,
and fortified the city to withstand a seige.
[5] How glorious he was when the people gathered round him
as he came out of the inner sanctuary!
[6] Like the morning star among the clouds,
like the moon when it is full;
[7] like the sun shining upon the temple of the Most High,
and like the rainbow gleaming in glorious clouds;
[8] like roses in the days of the first fruits,
like lilies by a spring of water,
like a green shoot on Lebanon on a summer day;
[9] like fire and incense in the censer,
like a vessel of hammered gold
adorned with all kinds of precious stones;
[10] like an olive tree putting forth its fruit,
and like a cypress towering in the clouds.
[11] When he put on his glorious robe
and clothed himself with superb perfection
and went up to the holy altar,
he made the court of the sanctuary glorious.
[12] And when he received the portions from the
hands of the priests,
as he stood by the hearth of the altar
with a garland of brethren around him,
he was like a young cedar on Lebanon;
and they surrounded him like the trunks of palm trees,
[13] all the sons of Aaron in their splendor
with the Lord's offering in their hands,
before the whole congregation of Israel.
[14] Finishing the service at the altars,
and arranging the offering to the Most High, the Almighty,
[15] he reached out his hand to the cup
and poured a libation of the blood of the grape;
he poured it out at the foot of the altar,
a pleasing odor to the Most High, the King of all.
[16] Then the sons of Aaron shouted,
they sounded the trumpets of hammered work,
they made a great noise to be heard
for remembrance before the Most High.
[17] Then all the people together made haste
and fell to the ground upon their faces
to worship their Lord,
the Almighty, God Most High.
[18] And the singers praised him with their voices
in sweet and full-toned melody.
[19] And the people besought the Lord Most High
in prayer before him who is merciful,
till the order of worship of the Lord was ended;
so they completed his service.
[20] Then Simon came down, and lifted up his hands
over the whole congregation of the sons of Israel,
to pronounce the blessing of the Lord with his lips,
and to glory in his name;
[21] and they bowed down in worship a second time,
to receive the blessing from the Most High.

[22] And now bless the God of all,
who in every way does great things;
who exalts our days from birth,
and deals with us according to his mercy.
[23] May he give us gladness of heart,
and grant that peace may be in our days in Israel,
as in the days of old.
[24] May he entrust to us his mercy!
And let him deliver us in our days!

[25] With two nations my soul is vexed,
and the third is no nation:
[26] Those who live on Mount Seir, and the Philistines,
and the foolish people that dwell in Shechem.

[27] Instruction in understanding and knowledge
I have written in this book,
Jesus the son of Sirach, son of Eleazar, of Jerusalem,
who out of his heart poured forth wisdom.
[28] Blessed is he who concerns himself with these things,
and he who lays them to heart will become wise.
[29] For if he does them, he will be strong for all things,
for the light of the Lord is his path.