The Sun, God’s Herald[a]
1 The pride of the higher realms is the clear vault of the sky,
a vision of glory like the sight of the heavens.
2 As the sun comes into view, it proclaims as it rises,
“What a marvelous creation it is, the work of the Most High.”
3 At noontime it parches the surface of the earth,
and who can endure its blazing heat?
4 A man stokes a furnace in burning heat,
but three times as hot is the sun that scorches the mountains.
It breathes out fiery vapors,
and the eyes are blinded by the intensity of its rays.
5 Great indeed is the Lord who made it,
and whose command speeds it on its course.
The Moon, Queen of Feasts and Seasons[b]
6 He also created the moon that marks the changing seasons,
governing the divisions of time, their everlasting sign.
7 From the moon we are able to calculate when feast days are to be observed;
its light wanes when its course has been completed.[c]
8 “Month” derives its name from the moon;[d]
it waxes wondrously as its phases change.
It is a beacon to the hosts on high,
shining in the vault of the heavens.
The Stars, Heavenly Sentinels
9 The brilliance of the stars enhances the beauty of the heavens,
a glittering array in the heights of the Lord.
10 At the command of the Holy One they remain in their appointed places,
and they never relax in their vigils.
The Rainbow, Aureole of Glory[e]
11 Look at the rainbow and praise its Maker,
for it glows with a surpassing beauty.
12 It spans the heavens with its glorious ark,
a bow stretched out by the hands of the Most High.
13 By his command he sends the snowstorm
and speeds the lightning to execute his judgment.
14 In the same manner, the storehouses are opened,
and the clouds fly out like vultures.
15 In his majesty he gives the clouds their strength
and breaks the hailstones into smaller pieces.
16a At the sight of him the mountains quake,
17a the thunder of his voice makes the earth writhe.
16b At his will the south wind blows,
17b as do the storm from the north and the whirlwind.
He scatters the snowflakes like birds alighting;
they descend like a swarm of locusts.
18 The eye is dazzled by the beauty of their whiteness,
and the mind is entranced with its steady fall.
19 He scatters frost over the earth like salt,
and icicles form like pointed thorns.
20 At a blast from the frigid north wind,
water freezes to ice on the ponds,
settling on every pool of water
and covering it like a breastplate.
21 He consumes the hills and burns up the wilderness,
and withers the vegetation like fire,
22 but a mist restores them all,
and the dew brings refreshment after the intense heat.
23 By his design he calmed the deep
and planted islands there.
24 Those who sail the sea recount its perils,
and we are astonished at what we hear.
25 In it are strange and wondrous creatures,
all kinds of living things and huge sea monsters.
26 Because of him, each of his messengers succeeds,
and by his word all things are accomplished.
Where Can We Find the Skill To Glorify God?[f]
27 No matter how much we say, our words will never prove adequate;
to sum it all up: “He is the all!”[g]
28 Where can we find the skill to glorify him,
for he is greater than all his works.
29 The Lord is awe-inspiring in his majesty,
and marvelous is his power.
30 Glorify and exalt the Lord to the extent of your ability,
and yet even that will prove inadequate.
Summon all your strength to exalt him,
and do not grow weary, for you can never finish.
31 For who has seen him and can describe him,
or who can praise him as he truly is?
32 Many mysteries even greater than these remain,
for we have seen only a few of his works.
33 The Lord has created all things,
and to those who are devout he has granted wisdom.
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 43:1 In the metaphorical language of Scripture, the sun is symbolic of the law (Ps 19:7), of God’s cheering presence (Ps 84:11), of the person of the Savior (Jn 1:9; Mal 3:20), and of the purity of heavenly creatures (Rev 1:16; 10:1; 12:1).
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 43:6 The Israelites established their calendar starting from the observation of the lunar system. The unfolding of the days and the years flows from the regularity that the moon seems to possess in their eyes.
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 43:7 The full moon marked the beginning of the two greatest Jewish feasts (Passover and Tabernacles) and lasted eight days.
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 43:8 “Month” derives its name from the moon: Hebrew reads: “As its name suggests, each month the moon renews itself.”
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 43:11 The Jews regarded the rainbow as a sign of the covenant that God made with the human race after the great catastrophe of the flood (Gen 9:13).
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 43:27 The astonishment that human beings feel in the midst of such a varied universe is a direct result of their contemplation of it.
- Wisdom of Ben Sira 43:27 He is the all!: i.e., all creatures manifest the divine presence.