The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Ecclesiasticus
Chapter 45
Well loved by God, well loved among men, on the name of Moses a benediction rests.
The Lord gave him such honour as he gives to his holy ones; gave him renown by striking terror into his enemies, and then, at his word, abated the prodigies that had befallen them.
He made him great in the eyes of kings, entrusted commandments to him in full view of the chosen people, made a revelation to him of the divine glory.
The Lord set him apart, chosen out from the rest of mankind, so loyal he was and so gentle;
answered his prayer by taking him up into a cloud,
and there, face to face, imparting commandments to him, the law that gives life and wisdom; here, Jacob, was thy covenant, here Israel, the rule thou wast to live by.

Of Levite blood, too, sprang another renowned as Moses himself, his brother Aaron. To Aaron the Lord gave high office,
making an eternal covenant with him, investing him with the priesthood of the chosen race, enriching him with his own glory.
Bright was the cincture that girded him, bright the robe that clothed him; no ornament he wore but spoke of majesty.
The long tunic, the breeches, the sacred mantle, and golden bells a many compassing him about,
that tinkled still as he walked, echoing through the temple to keep Israel’s name unforgotten!
The hallowed robe, all gold and blue and purple, work of a master weaver, that lacked neither skill nor faithfulness!
What craftsmanship of twisted thread dyed scarlet, of rare stones in a gold setting, engraved with all the gem-cutter’s art, twelve of them to commemorate the twelve tribes of Israel!
The gold finishing, too, of his mitre, engraved with the legend, Holiness; so proud an adornment, so noble a work of art, such a lure for men’s eyes in its ordered beauty!
Never vesture till then was seen so fair; and, from time immemorial,
no other might put it on, only the sons of Aaron’s line, in undying succession.

Day in, day out the fire should consume his sacrifice;
when Moses consecrated him with the holy oil’s anointing,
this was a right granted in perpetuity, long as the heavens should last. His to perform the priest’s office, to echo God’s praise, to bless the people in his name.
Alone of living men, he was chosen out to offer sacrifice, and the sweet-smelling incense that is a people’s plea for remembrance, a people’s atonement.
Power was his to administer the divine decrees, a justiciary by right, handing on to Jacob its tradition, giving Israel the law’s light to guide it.
Once, out in the desert, that right was challenged; with envious cries, men of another clan surrounded him, Dathan and Abiron for their leaders, espousing Core’s quarrel.
Ill-content was the Lord God at the sight of it; his vengeance swept them away;
by no common doom, a raging flame devoured them.
Fresh privileges for Aaron were kept in store; he must share in the conquest by receiving all the land’s first-fruits;
his clan first of all must have bread enough and to spare, his children should inherit the eating of the Lord’s own sacrifice.
But he must have no lands in the conquered territory, no share like the rest of his race; the Lord should be his wealth, the Lord his portion.

Next to these two, Phinees the son of Eleazar won high renown; like Aaron, with the fear of God to guide him,
he stood firm while the people shrank away; a loyal and a willing heart that made amends for Israel.
For his reward, he received assurance of the divine favour; command he should have of sanctuary and of people both, and the high priesthood that was his should descend to his heirs for ever.
David the son of Jesse, of Juda’s tribe, should bequeath to his children a legacy of kingship …

… with wise hearts endowing us, to preserve justice among his people, and keep safe the blessings he has given to it; and this pre-eminence over his people he has settled on them in perpetuity.