Simeon, Son of Jochanan
1Greatest of his family, the glory of his people,
was SIMEON the priest, son of Jochanan,*
In whose time the house of God was renovated,
in whose days the temple was reinforced.
2In his time also the retaining wall was built
with powerful turrets for the temple precincts.
3In his time the reservoir was dug,
a pool as vast as the sea.
4He protected the people against brigands
and strengthened the city against the enemy.
5How splendid he was as he looked out from the tent,
as he came from behind the veil!
6Like a star shining among the clouds,
like the full moon at the festal season;
7Like sun shining upon the temple of the King,
like a rainbow appearing in the cloudy sky;
8Like blossoms on the branches in springtime,
like a lily by running waters;
Like a green shoot on Lebanon in summer,
9like the fire of incense at sacrifice;
Like a vessel of hammered gold,
studded with all kinds of precious stones;
10Like a luxuriant olive tree heavy with fruit,
a plant with branches abounding in oil;
11Wearing his glorious robes,
and vested in sublime magnificence,a
As he ascended the glorious altar
and lent majesty to the court of the sanctuary.
12When he received the portions from the priests
while he stood before the sacrificial wood,
His sons stood round him like a garland,
like young cedars on Lebanon;
And like poplars by the brook they surrounded him,
13all the sons of Aaron in their glory,
With the offerings to the LORD in their hands,
in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel.
14Once he had completed the service at the altar
and arranged the sacrificial hearth for the Most High,
15And had stretched forth his hand for the cup,
to offer blood of the grape,
And poured it out at the foot of the altar,
a sweet-smelling odor to God the Most High,b
16Then the sons of Aaron would sound a blast,
the priests, on their trumpets of beaten metal;
A blast to resound mightily
as a reminder before the Most High.c
17All the people with one accord
would fall with face to the ground
In adoration before the Most High,
before the Holy One of Israel.
18Then hymns would re-echo,
and over the throng sweet strains of praise resound.
19All the people of the land would shout for joy,
praying to the Merciful One,
As the high priest completed the service at the altar
by presenting to God the fitting sacrifice.
20Then coming down he would raise his hands
over all the congregation of Israel;
The blessing of the LORD would be upon his lips,
the name of the LORD would be his glory.d
21The people would again fall down
to receive the blessing of the Most High.
22And now, bless the God of all,*
who has done wonders on earth;
Who fosters growth from the womb,
fashioning it according to his will!
23May he grant you a wise heart
and abide with you in peace;
24May his goodness toward Simeon last forever;
may he fulfill for him the covenant with Phinehas
So that it may not be abrogated for him
or his descendants while the heavens last.
25My whole being loathes two nations,
the third is not even a people:*
26The inhabitants of Seir* and Philistia,
and the foolish people who dwell in Shechem.e
27Wise instruction, appropriate proverbs,*
I have written in this book—
I, Yeshua Ben Eleazar Ben Sira—
as they poured forth from my heart’s understanding.
28Happy those who meditate upon these things;
wise those who take them to heart!
29If they put them into practice, they can cope with anything,
for the fear of the LORD is their lamp.
* [50:1–21] Son of Jochanan: Simeon II, in whose time as high priest (219–196 B.C.) great works were accomplished for the benefit of public worship and welfare (vv. 1–4). Ben Sira, a contemporary, describes detailed liturgical action, perhaps pertaining to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur, cf. Lv 16).
* [50:22–24] Ben Sira urges the reader to praise and bless God for his wondrous works and then invokes a blessing on all that they may enjoy peace and gladness of heart and the abiding goodness of the Most High.
* [50:25] Not even a people: the Samaritans.
* [50:26] Seir: Mount Seir in the territory of the Edomites. Shechem: a city in Samaria.
* [50:27] This colophon may have been the original ending of the book. It is unusual for a biblical writer to append his name.
a. [50:11] Sir 45:8–13; Ex 28:2–43; 39:1–31.
e. [50:26] 2 Kgs 17:24; Jn 4:9.