The wisdom of Jesus ben Sira (Sirach) is contained in the book commonly called Ecclesiasticus.
By about the beginning of our era the Jews had given up Hebrew and wrote in Aramaic; the process of expulsion had been going on, doubtless, for some time; but comparison with the later extant literature (Chronicles, the Hebrew Ecclesiasticus or Ben-Sira, Esther) makes it improbable that such Hebrew as that of Koheleth would have been written earlier than the 2nd century B.C. (for details see Driver's Introduction).
So also the coincidences of thought with Ben-Sira (Ecclesiasticus) are not decisive: cf.
In any case, since Ben-Sira belongs to about 180 B.C., the date of' Koheleth, so far as these coincidences indicate it, would not be far from 200 B.C. The contrast made in x.
Scholars were held in honour in those days by princes and people, and Ben-Sira frankly adduces this fact as one of the great advantages of the pursuit of wisdom.
The extant writings of the Jewish sages are contained in the books of Job, Proverbs, Psalms, Ben-Sira, Tobit, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom of Solomon, 4th Maccabees, to which may be added the first chapter of Pirke Aboth (a Talmudic tract giving, probably, pre-Christian material).
S.) But there is absolutely no necessity for supposing that when the grandson of Ben Sira reached Egypt the Psalter had been translated into Greek.
The hymn of praise by Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus xlix.
The whole name is shortened sometimes to "Son of Sira," Ben Sira in Hebrew, Bar Sira in Aramaic, and sometimes (as in the title prefixed in the Greek cod.
Occasionally, again, Ben Sira touches the highest themes, and speaks of the nature of God: "He is All" (xliii.
What is certain is that the definite assumption of monogamy is found only in such late books as Ben-Sira (Ecclesiasticus), Tobit and Judith.
The picture of society given in Ben-Sira (ix.
Even in the beginning of the 2nd century B.C., when Ben Sira praises notable figures of the exilic and post-exilic age (Zerubbabel, Jeshua and Nehemiah), Ezra is passed over (Ecclesiasticus xlix.
His book was accepted early as part of the sacred literature: Ben-Sira (c. 180 B.C.) mentions him along with Isaiah and Jeremiah (Ecclus.
Of books of this period which are known to have existed in Hebrew or Aramaic up to the time of Jerome (and even later) we now possess most of the original Hebrew text of Ben Sira (Ecclesiasticus) in a somewhat corrupt form, and fragments of an Aramaic text of a recension of theTestaments of theTwelve Patriarchs,both discovered within recent years.
xxxvii., cxix., Ben-Sira, Tob.
2, we should indeed naturally infer that these two psalms were regarded by Ben Sira as the work of David; but this would prove nothing as to the date of the collection in which we now have them.
In spite, however, of the words just quoted it cannot be said that Ben Sira preaches a hopeful religion.
This was doubtless the general view of the time; Ben-Sira frankly regards the servant as a chattel (Ecclus, xxxiii.
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