Wisdom of Sirach (a.k.a. Ecclesiasticus)

The Book of the All-Virtuous Wisdom of Yeshua ben Sira, commonly called the Wisdom of Sirach or simply Sirach, and also known as the Book of Ecclesiasticus (abbreviated Ecclus.) or Ben Sira, is a work of ethical teachings, from approximately 200 to 175 BC, written by the Jewish scribe Ben Sira of Jerusalem, on the inspiration of his father Joshua son of Sirach, sometimes called Jesus son of Sirach or Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira.

In Egypt, it was translated into Greek by the author’s unnamed grandson, who added a prologue. This prologue is generally considered the earliest witness to a canon of the books of the prophets, and thus the date of the text is the subject of intense scrutiny. The book itself is the largest wisdom book from antiquity to have survived.


Sirach is accepted as part of the Christian biblical canons by Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and most of Oriental Orthodox. The Anglican Church does not accept Sirach as protocanonical, and says it should be read only “for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth not apply them to establish any doctrine.” Similarly, the Lutheran Churches do not include it in their lectionaries but as a book proper for reading, devotion, and prayer. It was cited in some writings in early Christianity. There are claims that it is cited in the Epistle of James, and also the non-canonical Didache (iv. 5) and Epistle of Barnabas (xix. 9). Clement of Alexandria and Origen quote from it repeatedly, as from a γραφή, or holy book.

The Catalogue of Cheltenham, Pope Damasus I, the Councils of Hippo (393) and Third Council of Carthage (397) (397), Pope Innocent I, the second Council of Carthage (419), the Council of Florence(1442) and Augustine all regarded it as canonical

The Greek translation made by Ben Sira’s grandson was included in the Septuagint, the 2nd-century BCE Greek version of the Jewish scriptures used by Diaspora Jews, through which it became part of the Greek canon. The multiplicity of manuscript fragments uncovered in the Cairo Genizah evidence its authoritative status among Egyptian Jewry until the Middle Ages.

Because it was excluded from the Jewish canon, Sirach was not counted as being canonical in Churches originating from the Reformation, although they retained the book in the Apocrypha.


In short, because the churches accepted Sirach as canonical based on its inclusion in the Jewish authoritative translation of the Old Testament into Greek (the LXX – Septuagint), the Jews, after Christ, rejected it in their canon. Then, because the Jews rejected it based on the churches’ inclusion of it, based on the Jews’ previous inclusion, the Protestant churches rejected it. The Protestants followed the Christ-hating Jews in nearly every point regarding the Old Testament, just to oppose the Catholic Church on as many issues as possible. Later, with the rise of the Sciences surrounding manuscripts, the Protestants, dominating the field, established whatever reasoning they could to support their ongoing rebellion, for the sake of rebellion. By this, I am not advocating a return to the Catholic Church, nor am I condoning ungodly practices that were common at the time of the Reformation. My evaluation is of the behavior of the Protestants with regards to obeying Scripture. As for Sirach, it was a casualty caught in the crossfires. I, therefore, advocate restoring it to canonical status, as it has enjoyed among the most ancient churches.

1 All wisdom cometh from the Lord, and is with him for ever.
Who can number the sand of the sea, and the drops of rain, and the days of eternity?
Who can find out the height of heaven, and the breadth of the earth, and the deep, and wisdom?
Wisdom hath been created before all things, and the understanding of prudence from everlasting.
The word of God most high is the fountain of wisdom; and her ways are everlasting commandments.
To whom hath the root of wisdom been revealed? or who hath known her wise counsels?
 Unto whom hath the knowledge of wisdom been made manifest? and who hath understood her great experience?
There is one wise and greatly to be feared, the Lord sitting upon his throne.
He created her, and saw her, and numbered her, and poured her out upon all his works.
10 She is with all flesh according to his gift, and he hath given her to them that love him.
11 The fear of the Lord is honour, and glory, and gladness, and a crown of rejoicing.
12 The fear of the Lord maketh a merry heart, and giveth joy, and gladness, and a long life.
13 Whoso feareth the Lord, it shall go well with him at the last, and he shall find favour in the day of his death.
14 To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and it was created with the faithful in the womb.
15 She hath built an everlasting foundation with men, and she shall continue with their seed.
16 To fear the Lord is fulness of wisdom, and filleth men with her fruits.
17 She filleth all their house with things desirable, and the garners with her increase.
18 The fear of the Lord is a crown of wisdom, making peace and perfect health to flourish; both which are the gifts of God: and it enlargeth their rejoicing that love him.
19 Wisdom raineth down skill and knowledge of understanding standing, and exalteth them to honour that hold her fast.
20 The root of wisdom is to fear the Lord, and the branches thereof are long life.
21 The fear of the Lord driveth away sins: and where it is present, it turneth away wrath.
22 A furious man cannot be justified; for the sway of his fury shall be his destruction.
23 A patient man will tear for a time, and afterward joy shall spring up unto him.
24 He will hide his words for a time, and the lips of many shall declare his wisdom.
25 The parables of knowledge are in the treasures of wisdom: but godliness is an abomination to a sinner.
26 If thou desire wisdom, keep the commandments, and the Lord shall give her unto thee.
27 For the fear of the Lord is wisdom and instruction: and faith and meekness are his delight.
28 Distrust not the fear of the Lord when thou art poor: and come not unto him with a double heart.
29 Be not an hypocrite in the sight of men, and take good heed what thou speakest.
30 Exalt not thyself, lest thou fall, and bring dishonour upon thy soul, and so God discover thy secrets, and cast thee down in the midst of the congregation, because thou camest not in truth to the fear of the Lord, but thy heart is full of deceit.

Here is the 1st chapter of Sirach. The book has a total of 51 chapters. You can read them all here.