The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiasticus
Among prophets, Nathan was the next to arise, and it was then the reign of David began.
Only the fat from the sacrifice, only David out of all Israel; the Lord must have ever the best!
Here was one that would use lion or bear as playthings for his sport, tussle with them as if they had been yearling lambs. Such was his boyhood;
and who but he should save the honour of his people, by slaying the giant?
He had but to lift his hand, and the stone aimed from his sling brought low the pride of Goliath;
prayer to the Lord, the Almighty, gave him the mastery over a great warrior, and retrieved the fortunes of his race.
Ere long, they had given him the title, Slayer of ten thousand, and sang his praises, blessing the Lord’s name; kingly honours they accorded him.
He it was that laid their enemies low all about them, extirpating, to this day, the malice of the Philistines, shattering their power for ever.
Yet there was no feat of David’s but made him thank the most High, the most Holy, and to him give the glory;
still with all his heart he praised the Master he loved so well, the God who had created him and endowed him with strength to meet his enemies.
He would have musicians wait around the altar, and rouse sweet echoes with their chant;
feast-days should be kept with splendour, times and seasons duly observed, all his life long; morning after morning the Lord’s holy name should be praised, God should receive his full tribute of worship.
So it was that the Lord pardoned his sins, and bade him carry his head high evermore; his by right was the kingship, and the proud throne of Israel.
To a wise son of his that throne passed; for David’s sake all the threats of the enemy were stilled,
and Solomon might reign undisturbed. If God gave him mastery all around, it was because he would have a temple built in his honour, to be his sanctuary for all time. Ah, Solomon, how well schooled in thy youth!
Deep as a river flowed thy wisdom; thy ambition it was to lay bare all the secrets of earth;
full scope thou wouldst have for riddle and proverb. Even to the distant isles thy renown spread, and everywhere thy peaceful reign made thee beloved.
The whole earth stood in awe of song and proverb and parable and interpretation of thine;
in awe, too, of the name of the Lord God, who is known among men as the God of Israel.
Gold thou didst amass in such plenty, as it had been only bronze; silver was abundant in thy domains as lead.
Yet women bowed thee to their will; of body’s appetites thou wouldst brook no restraint,
and thus thy renown was tarnished with the gendering of a breed unhallowed. So it was that vengeance fell upon thy children, that must rue thy folly in after times;
the kingdom divided, and in Ephraim a rebel dynasty exercising dominion, through thy fault.
Yet God is ever merciful; his own design he will not mar fruitlessly, nor undo; should he destroy it root and branch, the posterity of his chosen servant? Should the man that so loved him have begotten sons in vain?
Jacob must have a stock to breed from; the root of David should burgeon yet.
Solomon once laid to rest with his fathers, what heirs left he?
A man of his own blood, born to infatuate a nation,
insensate Roboam, whose ill counsel drove the people to rebellion;
and that other, Jeroboam son of Nabat, who taught Israel to sin. All Ephraim followed the example of his misdoing; high rose the tide of their sins,
till it swept them away altogether from their own country.
For all this wickedness of theirs God held them to account, waiting till the time should come for punishing them, and purging them of their guilt.
The Holy Bible