For some parts we are still wholly depend ent upon the versions; and the earliest Greek translation remains our oldest testimony to the original text of the whole book. It is possible to show that the translator had insufficient knowledge of both Hebrew and Greek, a failing he shared with other translators of biblical hooks, but there is less reason for charging him with negligence or arbitrariness than for crediting him with quite unusual efforts to master the Greek language and to acquire a distinct literary quality. Nor should it be for gotten that we are far from having an auto graph copy of his work. It can only be ap proximately restored by a critical use of the Greek manuscripts, such versions as the Old Latin, Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, Syro-Hexa plane and Old Slavonic, and patristic quota tions. When this material is closely examined, three peculiarities tome to view that demand an explanation. All extant Greek manuscripts (including Cod. 248, as Ryssel and Bollig have verified), as well as the Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian and Syro-Hexaplaric, have suffered from a dislocation of xxxiii, 13 be; xxxiv, 1-xxxvi 16a from their original place between xxx, 24 and xxx, 25; while the Old Latin and the Old Slavonic (probably influenced by the Latin Vulgate) have preserved the order ex hibited in the Hebrew and the Syriac Peshita. A number of Greek minuscles headed by Cod. 248, printed in the Complutensian Polyglot, the Old Latin, and quotations in Clement of Alex andria and Chrysostomus present a longer text, while the uncial codices and another group of minuscles are free' from these additions. Yet in some other respects the former group comes much nearer to the original than the latter. Noldeke first suggested, and Smend, Hart and Oesterley have developed, a theory that may explain these remarkable facts. It is supposed that a second Greek translation was made, pos sibly in the 1st century Aka, based on the earlier version, but containing also a consider able number of additions freshly translated from the second, expanded edition of the He brew text. This would account for the presence of these additions both in the Old Latin and in the mannscripts and versions having the dislocation. The manuscript in which two layers of 160 stichi were put in a wrong place would be later than the Old Latin, and of such authority as to affect all subsequent copies. It be surmised that it was Origen s, and that he allowed the additions to stand, though indicating with his usual sign that he did not regard them as belonging to the original He brew text. In the uncials and agroup of minuscles they were not copied in deference to his direction; in other manuscripts his sign was wholly disregarded. The relative excel lence of Cod. 248 in other respects would be due to some good codex from which it was copied.
Concerning the date of the first translation we are unusually well informed. In his preface the translator tells us that he came to Egypt in the 38th year of King Euergetes. Ptolemy III Euergetes cannot be meant, for he reigned only 26 years (247-221 s.c.). Ptolemy IX Euergetes came upon the throne in 170 s.c., and though his reign was twice interrupted, he counted his regnal years from the original ac cession. There is nothing peculiar about the phrase that is used, as it is found elsewhere in the Greek Bible and in Egyptian papyri of the time, and the objection of Hart that, on ac count of this king's hostility to foreigners, no Jew would be likely to emigrate to Egypt in his reign is not of sufficient weight to throw doubt upon the national import of the state ment, It was consequently in 132 s.c. that the translator arrived in Egypt. His sojourn there had "synchronized" with the remainder of Euergetes reign, when he efound a book of no little learning ° or a work similar to the biblical books that had been translated which seemed to him of no small pedagogic value. It ap pears, therefore, that it was in the time of Ptolemy X Philometor, called Lathyrus (117 108 n.c.), that he undertook to translate this book which he ascribed to his grandfather, into Greek, fully realizing the difficulties of such a task. His preface is invaluable as a means of determining approximately the date of the original work, and also because it shows that in the time of John Hyrcanus (134-104 ac.) not only the Law, but also some prophets and other religious books had been rendered into Greek His description of his grand father's intention to write a book of the same kind as those he had mentioned, and calculated to serve the same end, and his own manifest purpose to give his translation a place among the books revered by his countrymen in Egypt, throw an interesting light on the slow development of the idea of a canon. In the Complutensian Polyglot another preface of an unknown author was printed. As substantially the same text has been found in the synopsis of biblical books wrongly ascribed to Athana sius, it has been supposed that it was taken from this source. But the reverse is also pos sible. It is of uncertain age. The translator's name may have been Jesus, and his grand father's work may to some extent have been a compilation, but the statements in this preface have no evidential value. The Old Latin was not made from the Hebrew, as Sabatier and Bengel attempted to prove. In this version, chaps. xliv-li were not translated by the same man, or in the same country, as the first part of the book This section is not found in the Armenian version; and there are other indi cations that it once circulated separately. That the Syriac was made from the Hebrew was already suggested by Cornelius a Lapide and seen more clearly by Bendtsen in 1789; but Bickell and Smend have recognized that it has frequently been corrected with the aid of the Greek. The order of the text in the Old Slavonic renders it probable that this transla tion has been corrected with the assistance of the Latin Vulgate. This version itself repre sents only the Old Latin, since Jerome con fesses that he °spared° his pen when he came to Ecclesiasticus. The Arabic version was translated from the Syriac Peshita.
The first translator distinctly states that his graruifather's name was Jesus. He prob ably also wrote the superscription designating the work as °The Wisdom of Jesus, son of Sirach.° Before the Hebrew text was dis covered, it had been inferred from 1, 27 that Jesus was the son of Eleazar, and that Ben Sira was the family name. The Syriac read ing in this passage: °Jesus, son of Simeon Sira° was puzzling, and even more so Saadia's reference to the author as °Simeon, son of Jesus. son of Eleazar Ben Sira.° But the lat ter is precisely what we find three times in the Hebrew text (1, 27; li, 30 a b). Most inter preters explain °Simeon, son of° as due to the carelessness of a copyist who, having Simeon on his mind since he wrote 1, 1, absentmindedly inserted the words three times in the colo phons before the name of the author of the book, and some editors have had such confi dence in this explanation that they have sim ply removed the name of Simeon from the Hebrew text. On the other hand, Schmidt in 1903 proposed to accept the statement in the colophons on the assumption that it referred solely to the Praise of Famous Men (icliv-1) which may have circulated separately at an early time in Palestine as it did afterward elsewhere and may have been written by Simeon a generation later than the original work composed by his father, Jesus Ben Sira. He was confirmed in this view by the very close correspondence between the description of Simon the high-priest in 1, 1 ff. and that of Simon, the Hasmonwan high-priest, in 1 Macc. xiii-xiv. The achievements of the former are also recorded of the latter, and the language ustd is strikingly similar. Simon is called in Ecclesiasticus °the greatest of his brothers, the glory of his people° (cp. 1 Macc. xiv, 4, 5, 26, 29); in his days "the house was glorified° (cp. 1 Macc. xiv, 15) and °the temple was forti fied° (cp. 1 Macc. xiii, 52) ; °the wall was built° (cp. 1 Macc. xiv, 37) and °the battle ments of the fortress on the temple hill were constructed° (cp. 1 Macc. xiii, 52); °he cared
for his people against the spoiler° (cp, 1 Macc. xiv, 4) and his city against the enemy* (cp. 1 Macc. xiii, 33; xiv, 37); and he was entitled to wear °robes of honor° and ((vestments of beauty)) more glorious than those of his predecessors (cp. 1 Macc. xiv, 43, 44). If Simon the Hasmonzan is meant, the closing prayer for the preservation of the high-priesthood in his family and the refer ence to the promise given to Phinehas are significant. The priests and the people had made Simon's pontificate hereditary (1 Macc. xiv, 41). But a high-priest marching sword in hand against the enemy was a new type that had to be justified by the example of Phinehas (Num. xxv, 6). The promise of an everlasting priesthood as a reward for such zeal helped to legitimatize the new pontifical family, and the emphasis shifted for a while from Aaron and Zadok to Phinehas (1 Macc. ii, 26; Ps. cvi, 30). The Hebrew text in xlv, 24 II even suggests that the pact with Phinehas included also the covenant with David, consequently such a union of princely and high-priestly dignity as was first ac corded to Simon the Hasmonman. Against this interpretation it may be urged that this Simon was the son of Mattathias, son of Johanan, while the Simon of chap. 1 is, accord ing to the Hebrew text, son of fohanan (Greek Onias). But the Syriac has Nethaniah, and in the Ethiopic the father's name is not given at all. The original may have read only °Simon, the high-priest.° Scholars generally, however, have identified him either with Simon I, who is supposed to be a contemporary of Ptolemy I, or with Simon II, who lived in the time of Antiochus III. The former has, as a mile, been identified with Simon the Just, and it has been thought that he may have repaired the temple and built some wall destroyed by Ptolemy I. Of this there is no evidence, and a man who came to Egypt in 132 B.C. cannot have had a grandfather who lived in the be ginning of the 3d century B.c. Simon II may indeed have been a contemporary of Jesus Ben Sira. Josephus ((Antiquities,) xii, 138 ff.) quotes a letter from Antiochus III to Ptolemy IT in which he informs him that he is re solved to confer certain gifts on the Jews for sacrifices and repairs of the temple, and to exempt them from certain taxes. But he does not even suggest that these promises were ever kept, and makes no mention of Simon in con nection with them. Gratz deemed it impossi ble that this cLaw-despising Hellenist° could have been the object of so much praise; but some scholars have recently denied the exist ence of Simon I, and maintained that Simon II earned by the deeds recorded in Ecclesi asticus the surname of °the Just.* In reality Simon the Just is a very shadowy figure. The Talmudic statements concerning him are so con tradictory and mixed with obvious legends as to be wholly unverifiable. Grotius supposed that chap. li was written by the grandson of Jesus Ben Sira; and the colophon at the end of chap. 1 certainly indicates that it is a later addition; but as it exists in the Hebrew, it is more likely to come from some earlier owner of the manuscript. The hymn interpolated after vs. 13 may have been written much later. Gal met and others have been struck by the ap parent allusions in ch. xxxvi to the persecu tions of the Maccabman period; they may have come from the hand of Simeon. That the work of Jesus Ben Sira, probably com pleted about 175 B.C., had received more or less extensive interpolations when it was found by his grandson in Egypt, is now widely recog nized. It was suggested in the second preface that the book was a compilation, and this view has been held by many scholars. It is sup ported by the analogy of Proverbs. Gfrorer maintained that ch. xxiv was copied by the author in Egypt. Ewald thought that only one of the three parts into which he divided the book was written by Jesus Ben Sira. Some sections have the appearance of being anthol ogies of gnomic sayings. They may have been taken from the lips of the people, heard in the conversation of sages, remembered from earlier reading, or copied from manuscripts; but the author undoubtedly wrote much himself, and his work became impressed with his own view of the world. Lowth recognized its poetic character, and its metrical structure has been recently studied by Bickel], Schloegl, Peters and others. Jesus Ben Sira was a diligent student of the older biblical books. He was well acquainted with Proverbs and Job, but apparently not with Ecclesiastes. His theo logical .views are substantially those of the Sadducees. He has no for angels. Those mentioned in Job xxxiii, 26, 2 Kings xix, 35, and Deuteronomy xxxii, 8, become, in his rationalistic interpretation, respectively a physi cian, a plague, and a ruler. He recognizes no devil or demons. He thinks that (divinations, soothsayings, and dreams are vain* (xxxiv, 5). He indulges in no speculations as to the future; he has no Messianic hope. He is con vinced that °the son of man is not immortal.* In his conception of God, his wisdom revealed in all his works, his goodness that leads to re pentance, and his fatherhood are emphasized. In xliv-1 an interest in the pomp of the cult, and an enthusiastic loyalty to the high-priest hood, manifest themselves that are not seen elsewhere in the book. The author of these chapters probably lived to see a most glorious high-priest through whom the promises to David had also been fulfilled. Ecclesiasticus is the most complete textbook on morals pre served to us from Hebrew antiquity. It teaches a man how to govern his wife, his children and his slaves; how to deal with his friends and his foes, his superiors and his in feriors, his creditors and his debtors, the rich and the poor; how to behave at the banqueting table and in the house of mourning, in the temple and in the market-place; how to control his passions, practise moderation, cultivate nobler tastes, emulate the example and seek the company of the wise. His moral philoso phy is utilitarian and individualistic. The mo tive is the happiness a certain line of conduct will bring, while the welfare of others is not urged as a consideration. He lays down rules rather than principles, and his work is a noble attempt to commend to the young a righteous and well-ordered life.
Bibliography.—The commentaries of Vener able Bede, Rhabanus Maurus, Lyranus; Jan senius of Gand, Camerarius, Palacios of Salazar, Hoeschel, Drusius, de Dina, a Lapide, Grotius, Calmet, Bretschneider, and especially Fritzsche, 0. F., 'Die Weisheit Jesus (1859); Reuss, E., (L'Ecclesiastique) (1878); Bissell, A., 'The Apocrypha) (1880); Lesetre, P., (L'Ecclesiastique) (1880); Edersheim, A., 'The Apocrypha' (1888); Udder, 0., 'Die Apokryphen des Alien Testamentes> (1891); Levi I., (1898-1901); Rys sel, V., in 'Apokryphen des Alien Testa mentes) (1900); Knabenbauer, J., 'Commen tarius in Ecclesiasticum> (1902); Peters, N, 'Der jiingst wiederaufgefundene Hehraische Text des Buches Ecclesiasticus' (1902); Schmidt, N., (Ecclesiasticus) (1903) ; Smend, R., 'Die Weisheit des Jesus Sirach)_(1906-07); Oesterley, W. 0. E., 'Ecclesiasticus) (1912); Box, G. H., and Oesterley, W. 0. E„ in Charles, R. H., 'The Apocrypha and Pseud epigrapha of the Old Testament' (1913). The introductions by Jahn, Eichhorn, Bertholdt, De Wette, Herbst-Welte, Glaire, Konig, Vatke, Comely, Kaulen, Bertholet, Gigot. Bendtsen, 'Specimen exercitationum in V. T. libris apocryphis' (1789); Gfrorer, A., (1831); Ewald, H., in Jahrbiicher fur die biblische wissenschaft (1864) ; Gritz, H., in Frankel's Monatsschrift (1872); Cowley, P., and Neubauer, A., 'The Original Hebrew of a Portion of Ecclesiasticus' (1897); Schechter, S., and Taylor, C., 'The Wisdom of Ben Sire (1899) ; Herkenne, H., 'De Veteris Lanni Ecclesiastici capitibus i-xliii' (1899) ; Noldeke, T., in Zeitschrift fu alttestamentliche Wissen schaft (1900); Hart, J. H. A., (1909) ; Buttenwieser, in Journal of Biblical Literature (1917).