Wisdom of Ben Sira 50

Chapter 50

Praise of the High Priest Simon[a]

1 It was the high priest Simon, son of Onias,
in whose lifetime the house was repaired
and in whose days the temple was fortified.
2 He also laid the foundations for the high double walls
that enclosed the temple precincts.
3 In his time a water cistern was constructed,
a pool with the vastness of the sea.
4 His concern was to ward off disaster from his people,
and he fortified the city against siege.
5 How glorious he was, with the people thronging around him,
as he emerged from behind the veil of the sanctuary.
6 He was like the morning star shining among the clouds,
like the full moon at the festal season,
7 like the sun shining on the temple of the Most High,
like the rainbow appearing in a cloudy sky,
8 like a rose in springtime,
like a lily by a spring of water,
like a green shoot on Lebanon on a summer’s day,
9 like incense set afire in the censer,
like a vessel of beaten gold
embellished with every kind of precious stone,
10 like an olive tree laden with fruit,
like a cypress reaching to the clouds.
11 When he put on his magnificent robes
and clothed himself in his garments of splendor,
as he went up to the holy altar,
he brought majestic glory to the court of the sanctuary.
12 When he received the portions from the hands of the priests
while he stood by the hearth of the altar,
with his brethren encircling him like a garland,
he was like a young cedar of Lebanon
surrounded by the trunks of palm trees.
13 All the sons of Aaron in their splendor
held the Lord’s offerings in their hands
as they stood in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel.
14 When he had completed the rites at the altar
and arranged the sacrificial offerings to the Almighty, the Most High,
15 he stretched forth his hand for the cup
and poured out a libation from the juice of the grape,
pouring it out at the foot of the altar,
a sweet-smelling fragrance to the Most High, the king of all.
16 Then the sons of Aaron would shout
and blow their trumpets of beaten metal,
sounding a mighty fanfare
as a reminder before the Most High.
17 Then all together the people
would quickly fall prostrate to the ground
in adoration of their Lord,
the Almighty, God Most High.
18 Then the choir would chant hymns of praise
that were sweet, melodious, and full-toned,
19 while the people were pleading with the Lord Most High
and praying before the Merciful One,
until the service of the Lord was finished
and the liturgical ceremony was completed.
20 Then Simon would come down and raise his hands
over the whole assembly of the Israelites
to pronounce the blessing of the Lord with his lips
and to glory in his name.
21 And once again the people would bow down in worship
to receive the blessing of the Most High.
22 And now, bless the God of all
who works great wonders everywhere on the earth,
who has raised us up from our birth
and who deals with us according to his mercy.
23 May he grant us joy in our hearts,
and may there be peace in our days
in Israel, for all time to come.
24 May his mercy toward us be confirmed,
and may he deliver us in our times.

Hereditary Foes of Israel[b]

25 My whole being detests two nations,
while a third is not a nation at all:
26 those who live on the mountains of Samaria, the Philistines,
and the foolish people who dwell in Shechem.

The Author’s Signature and Farewell[c]

27 Instruction in understanding and knowledge
I have written in this book,
I, Jesus, son of Sirach, son of Eleazar, of Jerusalem,
whose heart has poured forth a fountain of wisdom.
28 Blessed is the one who devotes himself to these things;
if he takes them to heart, wisdom will be his.
29 And if he puts them into practice, he will be able to cope with anything,
for the light of the Lord is their path.
[He gives wisdom to devout men.
Blessed be the Lord forever. Amen. Amen.][d]


  1. Wisdom of Ben Sira 50:1 To the review of the glories of the past, the author has added—possibly at a later date—a long compliment in honor of the high priest Simon II (220–195 B.C.), whom he seems to have known. The discourse evokes the works realized by the pontiff but above all, in the exercise of his religious functions.
  2. Wisdom of Ben Sira 50:25 It is a question here of the Edomites, Philistines, and Samaritans, whose quarrels with the Jews are indicated, notably in the Books of Kings, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Shechem: a city of Samaria.
  3. Wisdom of Ben Sira 50:27 The author can give only good wishes to his eventual readers.
  4. Wisdom of Ben Sira 50:29 Added by some early MSS.

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