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ALL wisdom is from the Lord God, and hath been always with him, and is before all time.

Ver. 1.  Wisdom.  In this book, Wisdom is taken for the Deity, the Son, or the gift communicated to men.  Prov. iii. 19.  Wisd. vii. 25.  C.


ECCLESIASTICUS.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

This book is so called from the Greek word that signifies a preacher: because, like an excellent preacher, it gives admirable lessons of all virtues.  The author was Jesus, the son of Sirach,  of Jerusalem, who flourished about two hundred years before Christ.  As it was written after the time of Esdras, it is not in the Jewish canon; but is received as canonical and divine by the Catholic Church, instructed by apostolical tradition, and directed by the Spirit of God.  It was first written in Hebrew, but afterwards translated into Greek by another Jesus, the grandson of the author, whose prologue to this book is the following: Ch.

*  *  *

--- If some forbear to urge the authority of this book, in disputes with the Jews, we need not be surprised, as there were other proofs against them.  We often act with Prot. in the same manner, even using their versions, &c.  H.

 

--- It was alleged in the controversies about baptism and grace, and no one thought of rejecting its testimony.  C. xxxiv. 30.  S. Cyp. ep. 65.  S. Aug. Bap. vi. 34. Grat. ii. 11. &c.

 

--- The Councils of Ephesus, 3d Carthage, (c. 47.) Francfort, 8th Toledo, and Trent, ought to settle all doubts on this head.  The Jews themselves have a great regard for the book, (though the Thalmud condemns it for admitting more persons than one in God) and seem to have copied many sentences from it into the two Syriac alphabets of Ben Sira.  This may be the work which S. Jerom (Pref. in Sal.) testifies he saw in Heb. as that test cannot at present be found.  C.

 

--- See ep. 115.  D.

 

--- But this is no proof that it was not extant in S. Jerom's time, and the many variations between the Greek copies themselves and the Vulg. may owe their rise to the different translators omitting some parts of it.  H.

 

--- The same person seems to have translated this and the former book into Latin in the earliest ages, though the present work is more obscure, because the Greek is less beautiful, of which the Rom. edit. is deemed the most correct; though the Compl. agrees with the Vulg.  He appears to have given frequently a double version, for fear of not having expressed the full sense in the first, unless the additions be his, or some other person's glosses, which have crept into the text.  C.

 

--- If this be the case, near one hundred verses ought to be cut off, yet as they are published without any distinction by the Church, perhaps it  would be as well to adhere to the former sentiment, or to suspend our judgment.  C. ix. 12.  H.

 

--- Many of the Fathers quote this book as the production of Solomon, because it contains many of his sentences preserved by tradition, (M.) and resembles his works.  S. Aug. de Civ. Dei. xvii. 20.

 

--- The Greek styles it "The Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach."  He has imitated (H.) the Proverbs to c. xxiv. Ecclesiastes to c. xlii. 15. where wisdom ends her exhortation, and the Canticle in the remainder of the work, praising God and the great men of the nation, down to Simon II.  Vales. in Euseb. iv. 22.  C.

 

--- The last chapter contains a prayer, which may be in imitation of the book of Wisdom.  This work is often styled  Panaretos, a collection of pious maxims, (H.) or a "receptacle of all virtues."  W.

 

--- Many think it was composed between A.M. 3711. and 3783; (Torniel.) but it seem rather to have appeared in times of persecution, (c. 36.) after Philopator had been incensed against Simon II. for opposing his entrance into the sanctuary, (c. l. 4. &c.) for which he ordered the Jews in Egypt to be cruelly butchered, (2 Mac.) and after Epiphanes, the Syrian monarch, had commenced his most cruel persecution of that people, and of Onias III. twenty-two years after the death of Simon II. (c. xxxv. and l.) A.M. 3828.  B.C. 176.  Euseb.  Grot.  Usher.  C.



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2 Who hath numbered the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of the world? Who hath measured the height of heaven, and the breadth of the earth, and the depth of the abyss? 3 Who hath searched out the wisdom of God that goeth before all things?

Ver. 3.  God.  This is eternal and unsearchable, more than the sand of the sea, &c.  Is. xl. 12.  H.

 

--- Man cannot comprehend God's works.  W.


4 Wisdom hath been created before all things, and the understanding of prudence from everlasting.

Ver. 4.  Created.  Or "generated," if it be understood of the Son.  S. Athan.  Bos.

 

--- The wisdom which is given to man, was in God before the creation.  Prov. viii. 22.  C.

 

--- The decree regarding the incarnation was from eternity.  M.


5 The word of God on high is the fountain of wisdom, and her ways are everlasting commandments.

Ver. 5.  Commandments.  The wise will observe the law (Deut. iv. 6.  H.) and the Scriptures.  This verse is not in the Gr. of Rome, &c. but it is in the edit. of Complut. and Camerarius.


6 To whom hath the root of wisdom been revealed, and who hath known her wise counsels? 7 To whom hath the discipline of wisdom been revealed and made manifest? and who hath understood the multiplicity of her steps? 8 There is one most high Creator Almighty, and a powerful king, and greatly to be feared, who sitteth upon his throne, and is the God of dominion. 9 He created her in the Holy Ghost, and saw her, and numbered her, and measured her.

Ver. 9.  In the Holy Ghost, or from himself.  See Wisd. i. 5. and vii. 22.  Gr. omits these words.  C.


10 And he poured her out upon all his works, and upon all flesh according to his gift, and hath given her to them that love him. 11 The fear of the Lord is honour, and glory, and gladness, and a crown of joy.

Ver. 11.  Joy.  Eternal glory is the fruit of the fear of the Lord; not that this virtue sufficeth, but it is the beginning, grounded on true faith, and bringeth forth other virtues, and fruits of the Holy Ghost, and a joyful crown in the end.  W.

 

--- The virtuous enjoy or deserve honour.  C.


12 The fear of the Lord shall delight the heart, and shall give joy, and gladness, and length of days.
13 With him that feareth the Lord, it shall go well in the latter end, and in the day of his death he shall be blessed. 14 The love of God is honourable wisdom. 15 And they to whom she shall shew herself love her by the sight, and by the knowledge of her great works. 16 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and was created with the faithful in the womb, it walketh with chosen women, and is known with the just and faithful.

Ver. 16.  Womb.  Grace has prevented them.  H.

 

--- They are free from evil dispositions.  Wisd. viii. 19.  Job xxxi. 18.

 

--- Women; feminis, or rather seminis.  C.

 

--- Gr. "it shall be intrusted to their seed."  H.

 

--- "His mercy is fixed with their seed."  Syr.  M.

 

--- This includes both men and women.



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17 The fear of the Lord is the religiousness of knowledge.

Ver. 17.  Religiousness, or proper application of knowledge.  H.

 

--- A learned impious man is most dangerous.  This and the two next verses are not in Greek.


18 Religiousness shall keep and justify the heart, it shall give joy and gladness. 19 It shall go well with him that feareth the Lord, and in the days of his end he shall be blessed. 20 To fear God is the fulness of wisdom, and fulness is from the fruits thereof. 21 She shall fill all her house with her increase, and the storehouses with her treasures. 22 The fear of the Lord is a crown of wisdom, filling up peace and the fruit of salvation: 23 And it hath seen, and numbered her: but both are the gifts of God. 24 Wisdom shall distribute knowledge, and understanding of prudence: and exalteth the glory of them that hold her.
25 The root of wisdom is to fear the Lord: and the branches thereof are longlived. 26 In the treasures of wisdom is understanding, and religiousness of knowledge: but to sinners wisdom is an abomination. 27 The fear of the Lord driveth out sin:

Ver. 27.  Sin, by vigilance or by repentance.


28 For he that is without fear, cannot be justified: for the wrath of his high spirits is his ruin. 29 A patient man shall bear for a time, and afterwards joy shall be restored to him.

Ver. 29.  To him, as may be seen in the lives of the patriarchs.


30 A good understanding will hide his words for a time, and the lips of many shall declare his wisdom. 31 In the treasures of wisdom is the signification of discipline: 32 But the worship of God is an abomination to a sinner.

Ver. 32.  Sinner.  Such imagine that God's service is insupportable.  W.


33 Son, if thou desire wisdom, keep justice, and God will give her to thee. 34 For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and discipline: and that which is agreeable to him, 35 Is faith, and meekness: and he will fill up his treasures.

Ver. 35.  Faith, or fidelity.  M.

 

--- The meek shall possess the land.  Matt. v. 4.  C.


36 Be not incredulous to the fear of the Lord: and come not to him with a double heart. 37 Be not a hypocrite in the sight of men, and let not thy lips be a stumblingblock to thee. 38 Watch over them, lest thou fall, and bring dishonour upon thy soul, 39 And God discover thy secrets, and cast thee down in the midst of the congregation.

Ver. 39.  Down.  Pride is usually thus treated.  Matt. xxiii. 12.  C.


40 Because thou camest to the Lord wickedly, and thy heart is full of guile and deceit.
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