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given to enthusiasm, and free from superstitions." In the Book of Sirach, as in Montaigne or Bacon, there is always the charm of following one who thoroughly knows his way through the beaten tracks of human nature.
As Ben-Sira lived before the Pharisee and the Sadducee had definitely diverged we do not find in his teaching the hard-and-fast lines of the partisan. Yet there is no doubt that he was in essence a Sadducee. He insists on the Law of Moses, not on any oral ordinances, as the rule of duty; he has little room for the hope of a Messiah; he has no belief in a conscious life after death. In all this he agrees more with the Sadducees, as well as in his tolerant attitude towards the Greek world, in spite of his programme to show
the superiority of Jewish over Hellenic wisdom. The Book of Sirach must have been well known to the writers of the New Testament. There are significant parallels between the Language of the Gospel and Sirach; the following have been notedMatt. vi. 14
Sirach xxviii, 2. Matt. vi, 19 seq.
Sirach xxix. 12. Matt. xvi. 27
Sirach xxxii. 24. Luke i. 17
Sirach xlviii. 1o. Luke xii. 15 seq.
Sirach xxxi. 3 (The Rich Fool)}
and xi. 18–19. But the Epistle of St. James shows actual and close dependence-e. g. cf. Jas. i. 2-4: “Count it all joy, my brethren," etc., with Sirach ii. 1: “My son, if thou comest to serve the Lord, prepare thy soul for temptation.” And Jas. I–19:
And Jas. I-19: “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak," with Sirach v. II: “ Be swift to hear." And note also James i. 5
Sirach xviii, 18.
Sirach i. 28. James i. 13-15
Sirach xv. II-20. James i. 23
Sirach xii. 11. James v. 5
Sirach xxvii. 10. James V. 14
Sirach xxxviii. 9-15.
It will be acknowledged, too, that Ben-Sira's recognition of the value of sacrifice only on its ethical, not on its ex opere operato side, in its high spiritual tone is in full accord with the teaching of the New Testament. He could write in the manner of the great prophets“ The sacrifice of the unrighteous man is a mocking
offering, And unacceptable are the oblations of the godless. The Most High hath no pleasure in the offerings of
the ungodly, Neither doth He forgive sins for a multitude of sacrifices.
Note.--The S.P.C.K. edition, by Oesterley. 1916.
THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON
THE Book of the Wisdom of Solomon is generally ascribed to a Jew of Alexandria, as it blends Greek and Hebrew thought in the manner of Philo. There are writers, however, who maintain that it was written in Palestine. It falls naturally into two divisions, which are so different in manner and purpose that, as we shall see, it is almost certainly a work of a composite character, its component parts being of different dates. The first part, if this be so, would probably be dated from 50 B.C. to 30 B.C., the second some twenty years later. It should be said, however, that important scholars place it from fifty to sixty years earlier.
Its ascription to Solomon was seen as early as the time of Jerome to be only a literary device, and there are many indications that the name was adopted because the book was intended to be a corrective of the materialistic and pessimistic teaching of Ecclesiastes, also ascribed to Solomon.
The first part of the book extends to xi. I, and includes (a) a mass of eschatological teaching on the destiny of the righteous and the wicked, and (6) the praise of Wisdom, which gives its name to the book. Its teaching is as follows: Wisdom cannot co-exist with sin, purity of life is the only road to knowledge of God. The sinner will not ultimately escape punishment, for there is an ear of jealousy which listeneth to all things.” The world is inherently healthy,
God made not death," it is men that bring punishment on themselves. The pessimist and the sualist are both wrong: those who say, Short and sorrowful is our life, by mere chance were we born," and those who cry, Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds, before they wither," and do not hesitate to oppress the poor and helpless. Their victims will be justified and avenged, for “the souls of the righteous are in the hand of the Lord, and there shall no torment touch them," whereas the ungodly shall suffer both themselves and in the persons of their descendants; their remorse at the Judgement will be bitter when they cry, What did our arrogancy profit us?” The following of Wisdom is most incumbent on the great, for "mighty men shall be searched out mightily (vi. 5). Then begins the panegyric of Wisdom.
She “is radiant and fadeth not away, and easily is she beheld of them that love her.' She forestalleth them that desire to know her, making herself first known.” She came to Solomon in answer to prayer, and she is his chief treasure, and the source of all his knowledge. “She is a breath of the power of God, and a clear effluence of the glory of the Almighty . . . from generation to generation passing into holy souls, she maketh them friends of God and prophets.” She becomes more and more a personal being as the writer proceeds; she is the bride Solomon desired, being enamoured of her beauty; she alone can be his teacher, prophet, and friend, she who is not weighed down with the corruption of the body, nor subject to mortal weakness. Her work in history is recounted from Adam to Moses : she ever guided, and prospered their works by the hand of a holy prophet” (xi. I).
Here we pass to the second part of the book, which is of a much more prosaic character : We have no longer a poem extolling goodness and celebrating Wisdom, but a Midrash in glorification of the Jews. Chapters xi, to xix. contrast the lot of Israel in their flight in the wilderness with that of Egypt beset by the plagues.
Chapters xiii. to xv. are a digression on the evil of idolatry. In the spirit of Isaiah xl, it is the height of folly to worship a piece of wood not good enough for the shipbuilder. În conclusion, the writer shows how the elements by their transmutation ruined the Egyptians and defended the Israelites, “ for the world fighteth for the righteous," and
: the creation, ministering to thee its maker, Straineth its force against the unrighteous for
punishment, And slackeneth it, in behalf of them that trust in thee, for beneficence.”
(XVI. 24.) Thus in the miraculous story of the Exodus the writer sees a change effecting itself under the surface of outward nature, making for moral ends. Fire forgot to burn, and water to quench. For the elements changed their order one with
another, Just as the notes of a psaltery vary the character of the rhythm."
(XIX. 18.) Such being a brief abstract of Wisdom, it will be plain that it had certain and definite objects, that it was written emphatically for a purpose : that purpose was to recall the Jews of the Dispersion, constantly in danger of succumbing to the materialism, scepticism, and idolatry of the environment of Hellenism, back to the simplicity and purity of their ancestral faith. Life, because it was short, was not to be squandered in vain pleasures; problems of God and man, hard though they might be, could be solved by patient study of the Jewish records; and after their long vicissitudes it would be shameful indeed because of persecution to go over to idolatry. These warnings must have been only too much needed by the Jews of a city like Alexandria.
There is little doubt that Wisdom had a considerable influence on the writers of the New Testament, and especially on St. Paul and St. John. Thackeray thinks that the former must have made "a close