Vulgate Ecclesiaticus (חכמת ישוע בן סירא/Σοφία Ἰησοῦ ϒἱοῦ Σιράχ/Sirach) 24:1-30 reads as follows (for the sake of the reader, and of the question, the Douay-Rheims-Challoner translation thereof will suffice—and all chapter and verse numbering will be the Vulgatic/DRB from here on out):

1 Wisdom shall praise her own self, and shall be honoured in God, and shall glory in the midst of her people, 2 And shall open her mouth in the churches of the most High, and shall glorify herself in the sight of his power, 3 And in the midst of her own people she shall be exalted, and shall be admired in the holy assembly. 4 And in the multitude of the elect she shall have praise, and among the blessed she shall be blessed, saying: 5 I came out of the mouth of the most High, the firstborn before all creatures:1 6 I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never faileth, and as a cloud I covered all the earth: 7 I dwelt in the highest places, and my throne is in a pillar of a cloud. 8 I alone have compassed the circuit of heaven, and have penetrated into the bottom of the deep, and have walked in the waves of the sea, 9 And have stood in all the earth: and in every people, 10 And in every nation I have had the chief rule: 11 And by my power I have trodden under my feet the hearts of all the high and low: and in all these I sought rest, and I shall abide in the inheritance of the Lord. 12 Then the creator of all things commanded, and said to me: and he that made me, rested in my tabernacle, 13 And he said to me: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob, and thy inheritance in Israel, and take root in my elect.

14 From the beginning, and before the world, was I created, and unto the world to come I shall not cease to be, and in the holy dwelling place I have ministered before him.2 15 And so was I established in Sion, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and my power was in Jerusalem. 16 And I took root in an honourable people, and in the portion of my God his inheritance, and my abode is in the full assembly of saints.

17 I was exalted like a cedar in Libanus, and as a cypress tree on mount Sion. 18 I was exalted like a palm tree in Cades, and as a rose plant in Jericho: 19 As a fair olive tree in the plains, and as a plane tree by the water in the streets, was I exalted. 20 I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon. and aromatical balm: I yielded a sweet odour like the best myrrh: 21 And I perfumed my dwelling as storax, and galbanum, and onyx, and aloes, and as the frankincense not cut, and my odour is as the purest balm. 22 I have stretched out my branches as the turpentine tree, and my branches are of honour and grace. 23 As the vine I have brought forth a pleasant odour: and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches.3 24 I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. 25 In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue.4 26 Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits. 27 For my spirit is sweet above honey, and my inheritance above honey and the honeycomb.5 28 My memory is unto everlasting generations. 29 They that eat me, shall yet hunger: and they that drink me, shall yet thirst.6 30 He that hearkeneth to me, shall not be confounded: and they that work by me, shall not sin.

On the one hand, verse 25 (the only verse with which we shall be concerned with for the purposes of this question) seems overwhelmingly to be some kind of interpolation (since no extant Hebrew fragments or LXX variants I'm able to find support it). On other hand, it's quite possible that Jesus may have been alluding תֹ this passage in some Hebrew version of it (Jn 14:6), as it was originally a Hebrew book. However, the verse prior is also not present in any other versions or translations of the Book I can find.

Question: Are there extant any manuscripts (or other equivalent evidence) which might indicate that this is an in any way original reading?

Thank you.

1 24:5 "I came out of the mouth of the most High.." definitely seems to be the background for Jesus' "I came forth from God." (cf. Jn 1:1) 1 Cor 1:24; Lk 7:35; 11:49. While "firstborn before all creatures" would seem to be an interpolation, but of course reminds us of St. Paul's "firstborn of all creation." Col 1:15; Heb 1:3; Wis 7:25-26.

2 cf. Heb 8:1-2; Wis 9:4.

3 24:22-23—echoed by Jn 15:5; cf. Wis 4:4-5.

4 The verse in question. cf. Jn 14:6.

5 24:26-27—Mt 11:28-30; cf. Ecclus 6:25-29.

6 cf. Jn 4:13-14.

  • Just curious - where did you get the Hebrew? From an extant MSS, or is it simply the Greek of the LXX translated back into Hebrew? – Pilgrim Nov 8 '17 at 15:53
  • The Hebrew for..? – Sola Gratia Nov 8 '17 at 15:55
  • Ecclesiaticus (חכמת ישוע בן סירא/Σοφία Ἰησοῦ ϒἱοῦ Σιράχ/Sirach) 24:1-30 – Pilgrim Nov 8 '17 at 15:57
  • It has went by many names in both Jewish and Christian circles, but I chose the Hebrew equivalent of Σοφία Ἰησοῦ ϒἱοῦ Σιράχ—Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach. I think it's a fairly common Hebrew title for the book. – Sola Gratia Nov 8 '17 at 16:05
  • The answer is no. A search of bensira.org/navigator.php shows that there are none for chapter 24. I did not search fjms.genizah.org/?eraseCache=true but I doubt that the answer would change. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Nov 8 '17 at 16:40

It seems that Jerome did, in fact, have a "Hebrew" version of Sirach that he consulted. His Prologue to the Books of Solomon, addressed to Bishops Cromatius and Heliodorus, reads:

Also included is the book of the model of virtue (παναρετος) Jesus son of Sirach, and another falsely ascribed work (ψευδεπιγραφος) which is titled Wisdom of Solomon. The former of these I have also found in Hebrew, titled not Ecclesiasticus as among the Latins, but Parables, to which were joined Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs, as though it made of equal worth the likeness not only of the number of the books of Solomon, but also the kind of subjects.

  • 1
    This is also supported from the statement following: "If anyone is truly more pleased by the edition of the Seventy interpreters [LXX], he has it already corrected by us. For it is not as though we build the new so that we destroy the old. And yes, when one will have read most carefully, he will know our things to be more understood, which haven’t soured by having been poured into a third vessel, but have rather preserved their flavor by having been entrusted to a new container immediately from the press." Thanks. – Sola Gratia Nov 9 '17 at 20:13

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.