Wisdom of Ben Sira 47

Chapter 47

Nathan, the King’s Prophet[a]

1 After him arose Nathan
to prophesy in the days of David.

David, the Lord’s Warrior and Psalmist[b]

2 Just as the fat of the sacred offerings is set apart,
so David was chosen out of all Israel.
3 He frolicked with lions as though they were young goats,
and with bears as though they were lambs of the flock.
4 While still a young boy he killed a giant
and eradicated the shame of his people.
By hurling a stone from his sling
he put an end to the boastful arrogance of Goliath.
5 For he called on the Most High God,
who gave strength to his right arm
to strike down that mighty warrior
and demonstrate the power of his people.
6 Therefore, they exalted him as the conqueror of tens of thousands,
praised him while they blessed the Lord,
and offered him a crown of glory.
7 For he destroyed his enemies on every side,
annihilating the hostile Philistines
whose power remains crushed to the present day.
8 In everything he did he offered thanks to the Holy One,
proclaiming the glory of the Most High.
He sang hymns of praise with all his heart
to demonstrate his love for his Maker.
9 He assigned singers to stand before the altar
and to provide sweet melody with their voices.
[And they sang his praise daily.][c]
10 He invested the festivals with splendor
and designated their times throughout the year,
when the Lord’s holy name is praised
and the sanctuary resounds from the moment of dawn.
11 The Lord took away his sins
and endowed him forever with great power.
By a covenant he gave him the kingship
and a glorious throne in Israel.

Solomon: From a Wise Youth to a Sad End[d]

12 He was succeeded by a wise son,
who, thanks to him, ruled a vast domain.[e]
13 Solomon reigned in an age of peace,
for God gave tranquillity to all his borders,
so that he might build a house to his name
and prepare an everlasting sanctuary.
14 How wise you were in your youth, Solomon,
filled with intelligence like an overflowing river![f]
15 Your understanding covered the earth,
and you filled it with difficult sayings.
16 Your reputation spread to far-distant islands,
and you were loved for your peaceful reign.
17 Your songs, your proverbs, your sayings,
and the answers you provided astounded the nations.
18 In the name of the Lord God
who is called the God of Israel,[g]
you amassed gold like so much tin
and accumulated silver like lead.
19 However, you summoned women to be at your side
and became subject to them as a result of your bodily appetites.
20 You soiled your reputation
and sullied your family line,
bringing wrath upon your children
and grief at your folly,
21 because the empire was split in two,
and in Ephraim a rebel kingdom arose.
22 But the Lord never ceases his mercy
or allows any of his works to perish.
He will never wipe out the posterity of his chosen one
or destroy the line of the one who loved him.
And so he gave a remnant to Jacob
and let one root of David survive.

Rehoboam and Jeroboam[h]

23 Solomon finally rested with his ancestors
and left behind to succeed him one of his sons,
prone to folly and lacking in sense,
Rehoboam, whose policies caused the people to revolt.
Then Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, led Israel into sin
and provided Ephraim with its wicked course.
24 Their sins increased more and more
until they were driven into exile from their native land.
25 For they attempted every kind of wickedness
until punishment overtook them.

Footnotes

  1. Wisdom of Ben Sira 47:1 By mentioning Nathan at the beginning of this part of his Book, the author calls attention to a conviction dear to the hearts of the chosen people: that there had been a succession of prophets from the time of Moses (see Sir 46:1, 13, 20; 48:1-4, 12, 22; 49:6, 8, 10; Jer 7:25; Hos 12:14; Am 2:11; 3:7f).
  2. Wisdom of Ben Sira 47:2 By his exploits and his political shrewdness, David has made his people a prosperous and united nation (see the Books of Samuel). In addition, as musician and poet, this king composed numerous psalms and organized the cult at Jerusalem (1 Chr 16; 22–26). One cannot forget his adultery (2 Sam 11–12) or his pardon by God, together with the promise made to his lineage that it would retain the throne of the people of Israel (2 Sam 7).
  3. Wisdom of Ben Sira 47:9 Added by some early MSS.
  4. Wisdom of Ben Sira 47:12 The author of Sirach is more concerned with truth than the Chronicler (2 Chr 1–9), who is the inspiration for this historical fresco, and he does not hesitate to denounce the excesses that marred the end of a splendid reign (1 Ki 11).
  5. Wisdom of Ben Sira 47:12 Ruled a vast domain: Hebrew reads: “lived in security.”
  6. Wisdom of Ben Sira 47:14 Like an overflowing river!: Hebrew reads: “like the Nile.”
  7. Wisdom of Ben Sira 47:18 In the name of the Lord God who is called the God of Israel: the reference is to the name “Jedidiah,” which means “beloved of the Lord” and is used of Israel in Jer 11:15.
  8. Wisdom of Ben Sira 47:23 Solomon’s son and his rival Jeroboam consummated the division facilitated by the despotic needs of Solomon (1 Ki 12). Moreover, because of David, the Lord keeps his promise to his descendants. The impiety of Jeroboam and his successors led to the ruin of the northern kingdom in 721 B.C.

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