Brenton translates:

Sir 51:10 I called upon [the] Lord, [the] Father of my Lord, that he would not leave me in the days of my trouble, and in the time of the proud, when there was no help.

(LXX) ἐπεκαλεσάμην κύριον πατέρα κυρίου μου μή με ἐγκαταλιπεῖν ἐν ἡμέραις θλίψεως, ἐν καιρῷ ὑπερηφανιῶν ἀβοηθησίας·

Who is "lord" and who is "father of my lord"?

  • 3
    FWIW, the Hebrew has the tetragram there (I assume that's the meaning of ייי anyway), no other "lord", and a second person address ("YHWH, you are my father").
    – Susan
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 14:31
  • 1
    @Susan Ah, I didn't realize that it was originally composed in Hebrew. Can I trouble you to recast your comment as an "answer" so I can zip this up? Thanks.
    – user10231
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 14:39
  • 3
    The Greek has some merits of its own I think (the Hebrew wasn't known for most of the history of the text if I recall), and I really have no idea what the relationship between the two is in this line (or more generally, honestly) or how the tetragram is handled elsewhere by the translator -- all questions worth asking IMO (and not ones I'm prepared to answer! but thank you for the vote of confidence... ).
    – Susan
    Commented May 23, 2016 at 14:46

1 Answer 1


The Medieval manuscripts of Sirach contain an unusual feature.

An example elsewhere in Sirach

For example, Cairo manuscript B XII recto contains the text of Sirach 42.16:

Sirach 42.16, B XII recto

(Scan from Cambridge University, via bensira.org.)

שמש ֯ זורחת על כל נגלתה [[ ]] וכבוד ייי על כל מעשיו׃

The rad[ia]ting sun is reveal[ed] over everything [[ ]] and the glory of yyy over all his works.

The Dead Sea Scroll manuscript Masada V, about a thousand years older, reads:

Sirach 42.16, Masada V

(Composite of scans from bensira.org and deadseascrolls.org.il.)

שמש זהרת על כל נגלת[] [[ ]] [כ]בוד אדני מלא מעשיו

The sun, shining over all, reveals itself [[ ]] the glory of the Lord fills his creation.

These each corresponding to the LXX:

ἥλιος φωτίζων κατὰ πᾶν ἐπέβλεψεν καὶ τῆς δόξης κυρίου πλῆρες τὸ ἔργον αὐτοῦ

The shining sun looked down upon everything, and its work is full of the glory of the Lord.

This would suggest that the Hebrew vorlage of Sirach originally mentioned Yahweh (יהוה‎), but the Tetragrammaton was replaced in one manuscript tradition with 'Lord' (אדני in Masada V, κυρίου in the LXX), but in another manuscript tradition with an obvious, ineffable euphemism (ייי).

Bearing on Sirach 51.10

As Susan pointed out in her comment, this triple-Yod appears in Sirach 51.10 of B XX verso of the Cairo manuscript:

And I raised up an acclamation, 'O yyy, you are my father [[ ]] for you are my mighty salvation!

Do not forsake me in the day of distress [[ ]] in the day of disaster and desolation.'

B XX verso is in good condition (unlike the two examples provided above), so we have no reason to suspect the translation provided is in error. This means the text of Sirach 51.10 contains a variant between the Cairo manuscript and the LXX.

In either text, a speaker is addressing yyy/the Lord, in prayer. This first 'lord' must God. Hence, the 'father of my lord' in the LXX is also referring to God.

The second 'lord' in the LXX may then be a reference to a royal figure. This would be a similar case to Psalm 110.1, which in Hebrew reads 'Yahweh said to my lord', while the LXX has 'The Lord said to my lord'.

  • +1. I would mark this as the answer but I no longer have access to this old account. An excellent answer.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Sep 25, 2018 at 23:36

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