Wisdom of Ben Sira 51

Additions[a]

Chapter 51

Prayer of Thanksgiving

1 I give thanks to you, O Lord and King,
and praise you, O God my Savior.
I give thanks to your name,
2 for you have been my protector and my support.
You have rescued me from destruction,
from the snare laid by a slanderous tongue,
and from lips that fabricate falsehood.
In the face of my adversaries you came to my aid;
3 in the greatness of your mercy and of your name you rescued me:
from the gnashing teeth waiting to devour me,
from the hands of those who sought my life,
and from the many ordeals I endured,
4 from the choking fire that enveloped me,
and from the fire that I had not kindled,
5 from the deep recesses of the netherworld,
from deceiving lips and lying words
6 and a treacherous slander delivered to the king.
I was at the point of death,
and my soul was hovering near the depths of the netherworld.
7 I was surrounded on every side
and there was no one to help me.
I looked for human assistance
but there was none.
8 Then I remembered your mercy, O Lord,
and your kind deeds from the ages.
For you deliver those who put their trust in you
and rescue them from the power of their enemies.
9 Therefore, from the earth I sent up my plea,
begging to be rescued from death.
10 I cried out: “Lord, you are my Father,
and the champion of my salvation;
do not abandon me in my days of ordeal,
for I am helpless when confronted by the arrogant.
I will praise your name continually
and sing hymns of thanksgiving.”
11 Thereupon my prayer was heard,
for you saved me from destruction
and delivered me from my desperate plight.
12 For this reason, I thank you and I praise you;
I bless the name of the Lord.[b]

Invitation to Wisdom[c]

13 While I was still young, before I set off on my travels,
I openly sought wisdom in my prayers.
14 Outside the temple I prayed for her,
and I will seek her until my death.
15 From the first blossoming to the ripening of her grape,
she has been my heart’s delight.
My foot has continued unswervingly on a level path;
I have sought her since my youth.
16 I inclined my ear slightly and received her,
and I profited thereby with much instruction.
17 Thanks to her I have advanced,
and I will give glory to him who has granted me wisdom.
18 I resolved to put into practice what I had learned;
I earnestly pursued goodness, and I will never be put to shame.
19 With all my strength I strove to possess wisdom,
and I was scrupulous in keeping the law.
I stretched out my hands on high
and lamented how little I really knew of her.
20 I set my heart on possessing wisdom,
and by keeping myself pure I found her.
With her I gained understanding immediately;
therefore, I will never be forsaken.
21 I yearned to discover her from the very core of my being;
therefore, I have gained a prize possession.
22 As my reward the Lord has granted me eloquence,
which I will use to sing his praises.
23 Come close to me, you who are unlearned,
and take up your lodging in my school.
24 Why do you complain that you still lack these things,
and why do you continue to endure such great thirst?
25 I have opened my mouth and spoken:
Acquire wisdom for yourselves without cost.
26 Put your neck under her yoke,
and allow your souls to receive instruction;
it is close by if you wish to find it.
27 See for yourselves that my labors were minimal,
but my reward of serenity has been great.
28 You may expend a great deal of silver to acquire instruction,
but, as a result, you will gain much gold.[d]
29 May your soul rejoice in the mercy of the Lord,
and may you never be ashamed to praise him.
30 Do your work in the appointed time,
and in his own time God will give you your reward.

Footnotes

  1. Wisdom of Ben Sira 51:1 Two passages are added to the original work, a prayer of thanksgiving and a poem about wisdom. They exhibit a tone of trust and a manner of composition that set them off from the style of the original author.
  2. Wisdom of Ben Sira 51:12 After verse 12, the Hebrew adds the following psalm of praise:

    Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to the God of praises,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to the Guardian of Israel,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to the Creator of all things,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to the Redeemer of Israel,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to him who gathers the dispersed of Israel,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to him who rebuilt his city and his sanctuary,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to him who causes a horn to sprout for the house of David,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to him who has chosen the sons of Zadok to serve as priests,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to the Shield of Abraham,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to the Rock of Isaac,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to the Mighty One of Jacob,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to him who has chosen Zion,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    Give thanks to the King of the kings of kings,
    for his mercy endures forever.
    He has raised up a horn for his people,
    praise for all his faithful ones.
    For the children of Israel, the people close to him,
    praise the Lord!
  3. Wisdom of Ben Sira 51:13 At the end of the wisdom literature, it is good to reread this last text. The search for a good life and right thinking is a work that demands one’s whole existence. The road seems long and arduous, but it is a road to happiness. Thus, the author invites his readers to become his companions in wisdom.
  4. Wisdom of Ben Sira 51:28 You . . . gold: Hebrew reads: “Hear but a little of my instruction, / and through me you will acquire silver and gold.”

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